Apart from the extremely close count in Prahran, one of the most interesting races in the recent Victorian state election was the seat of Morwell in eastern Victoria.
The Nationals won Morwell off Labor in 2006, and leading in to the November election the Nationals held the seat by a 13.3% margin. Morwell was the only seat in Victoria where Labor seriously challenged the Nationals for a seat, and it experienced the largest two-party-preferred swing to Labor in the state. The swing to Labor after preferences was 11.5% – the swing was not over 9% in any other seat.
In addition, Morwell was home to a strong independent campaign from ‘Latrobe Valley First’, who conducted a community preselection and ran a campaign mostly focused on the town of Morwell.
One of the major political issues in the electorate was the ongoing effects of the Hazelwood mine fire, which shrouded Morwell in smoke for weeks earlier this year.
I was interested in finding out whether the results varied between the two main towns in the seat. While the seat is named after Morwell, only 14% of ordinary votes were cast at booths in Morwell, while 37% of the votes were cast at booths in Traralgon.
In my pre-election guide, I split booths in Morwell into four separate parts: the main towns of Morwell and Traralgon, and the booths to the north and south of those two main towns.
|Voter group||NAT 2PP %||ALP 2PP swing||IND prim %||Total||% of votes|
Firstly, it’s worth noting that there was a variation between the booth-level two-party-preferred counts and the final distribution. The final distribution increased the Nationals vote by two votes, and cut the Labor vote by 94 votes. Overall this increased the Nationals margin from 51.68% to 51.8%.
It’s also worth noting that the swing on ‘special votes’ (based on my estimated of the 2010 special votes on the new boundaries, which likely vary from other estimates) was substantially less than in the main towns of Traralgon and Morwell.
You can see in the above table that the ALP actually gained a larger swing in Traralgon than in Morwell. The Labor swing was bigger in both towns than in other parts of the seat. Overall, Labor won a 52% majority in the north, and 59.3% majority in the town of Morwell. The Nationals held on to 57.5% of the 2PP vote in Traralgon, but that was off a very high 2010 vote. In 2010, the Nationals won almost 75% of the 2PP vote in Traralgon.
While you don’t see a stronger pro-Labor swing in Morwell compared to Traralgon, you do see a difference in the vote for independent Tracie Lund. I understand that Lund’s campaign was much stronger in Morwell compared to Traralgon, and you can see that in the vote – 9.5% in Traralgon, and 10-11% in the north and south, compared to 16.7% in Morwell.