La Trobe – Australia 2013

ALP 1.7%

Incumbent MP
Laura Smyth, since 2010.

La Trobe covers the south eastern fringe of Melbourne and parts of the Dandenong Ranges. Major centres include Belgrave, Berwick, Narre Warren and Ferntree Gully. It covers parts of Cardinia, Casey, Knox and Yarra Ranges local government areas.

La Trobe lost areas around Bayswater and Boronia (in Knox local government area) to Aston. The seat also lost two pieces of territory near the towns of Pakenham and Pakenham Upper in Cardinia local government area to the seat of McMillan. La Trobe gained territory from Holt near Narre Warren South in Casey LGA. The ALP’s margin in the seat was increased from 0.9% to 1.7%.

Map of La Trobe’s 2010 and 2013 boundaries. 2010 boundaries appear as red line, 2013 boundaries appear as white area. Click to enlarge.

La Trobe was first created after the Second World War when the House of Representatives was expanded at the 1949 election. The seat was first won by Richard Casey, who had previously been an MP and minister before resigning from Parliament in 1940 to serve in a variety of diplomatic roles during the war.

Casey served as a minister for eleven years before resigning in 1960. John Jess won the seat for the Liberal Party in a by-election that year and held the seat until his defeat in 1972, when Whitlam’s national victory swept Tony Lamb into La Trobe. He lost the seat in 1975 and later returned to Parliament serving in the seat of Streeton from 1984 to 1990.

Marshall Baillieu won the seat for the Liberals in 1975 and held it until 1980. That year he was defeated by Peter Milton who held it until 1990 for the ALP. Bob Charles defeated Milton in 1990 and held the seat until 2004, during which he served on the shadow ministry from 1994 to 1996.

Charles retired in 2004 and he was succeeded by Jason Wood. Wood’s 5.8% margin in 2004 was cut to 0.5% in 2007, but he held on in the face of the election of the Rudd government. In 2010, Wood was defeated by Labor candidate Laura Smyth. Both major party candidates suffered negative swings, but Smyth benefited from a swing to the Greens and the Sex Party’s candidacy. La Trobe was one of only two seats that the ALP gained off the Coalition in an election where Labor lost ground and lost its parliamentary majority.


  • Michael Schilling (Greens)
  • Jason Wood (Liberal)
  • Martin Leahy (Sex Party)
  • Laura Smyth (Labor)
  • Rachel Jenkins (Democratic Labour Party)
  • Daniel Martin (Family First)
  • Jason Kennedy (Palmer United Party)
  • Kevin Seaman (Rise Up Australia)

La Trobe bucked the trend in 2010, and it will be a key focus of the 2013 campaign. La Trobe was Labor’s third most marginal seat in the country after the last election, but is now the eighth-most marginal seat thanks to the redistribution. The ALP has generally performed better in Victoria than in other states in recent times and it is possible that this seat won’t follow the national trend. Smyth should benefit from the sitting member’s personal vote, but Wood will surely maintain a personal vote in the area. The redistribution will make the race more difficult for Wood in attempting to win back his old seat.

2010 result

Jason WoodLIB39,05343.88-2.60
Laura SmythALP33,97038.17-2.22
Jim ReiherGRN10,93112.28+3.44
Martin LeahySXP2,5392.85+2.85
David BarrowFF1,9172.15-0.69
Shem BennettLDP5870.66+0.56

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Laura SmythALP45,30850.91+1.42
Jason WoodLIB43,68949.09-1.42

Booth breakdown
Booths have been divided into three areas. Those booths contained in Casey local government area in the south-west were grouped as ‘south’. Those contained in Cardinia LGA, along with a single booth in Yarra Ranges which is separated from the remainder of the booths in that council, have been grouped as ‘west’. The remaining booths in Yarra Ranges and Knox have been grouped as ‘north’.

The south has the largest concentration of voters, in the area close to Narre Warren South. The ALP won a large majority in the north. The Liberal Party barely won a majority (50.03%) in the south, while they won a larger 52% majority in the west. The Greens vote varies hugely from 19% in the north to 7.6% in the south.

Polling booths in La Trobe at the 2010 federal election. North in orange, South in blue, West in green. Click to enlarge.
Voter groupGRN %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of ordinary votes
Other votes11.5448.0821,616
Two-party-preferred votes in La Trobe at the 2010 federal election.
Greens primary votes in La Trobe at the 2010 federal election.


  1. Casey made mistake in leaving parliament from viewpoint of his domestic career, could have been alternative leader to Menzies. There is a whole book on 1960 by-election by Creighton Burns. I have heard some optimism from Labor about this but that was last year.

  2. I’d say a 4.2% swing against labor here but optimistic i think theres momentum that Smyth can hold this

  3. LaTrobe is a swinging seat (look at history) and when a national swing is on it goes that way. The coming election could see the biggest national swing since Whitlam (how ironic) so history says we are going blue.

  4. Interesting to see what happens here. It didn’t swing enough when Rudd was leader but did with Gillard. Will Smyth’s active support for Rudd pay off both electorally and possibly ministerially?

  5. DB
    Former member Jason Wood is re-contesting this seat (again) . What persistence !!!. 3 campaigns for 1 term, + a possible to come. Well no-one will ever be able to question his dedication, work ethic, or belief.

  6. Not sure it necessarily translates into dedication there could just be a low pool of talent in the branches of the liberal party

  7. interesting that Newspoll has only a swing of 1% in Victoria. If unifrom, La Trobe isn’t in the bag and as I hear, the libs are concerned here

  8. polling has shown an expected Liberal gain here for some time. Haven’t had updated numbers here for a while.

  9. I’m hearing the sugar hit for the libs is starting to wear off at the worse possible time for them, wouldn’t be surprised at all if only Corangamite changes hands

  10. No if you look at Victoria and the polling history for the last year, there was a stage where the coalition were doing very well in Vic, but with the greens support rising in the state, labor holding similar ground to last time, theres more momentum back with labor and a seat like La Trobe is too close to call even if your small sample poll of 75 voters indicates otherwise

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