Swan – Australia 2019

LIB 3.6%

Incumbent MP
Steve Irons, since 2007.

Swan covers suburbs in the inner south of Perth. This includes Belmont, South Perth, Victoria Park and parts of Canning and Kalamunda LGAs. Swan goes as far east as the airport and High Wycombe, and also covers the suburbs of Victoria Park, Cloverdale, Kewdale, Rivervale, Bentley, Cannington, Como and Manning.

Swan is an original federation electorate. It was first held by John Forrest for the Protectionist party from 1901. Forrest was the first Premier of Western Australia and moved to federal politics in 1901. He served as a minister in various governments, including four stints as Treasurer, the last being in the year up until his death in 1918 under Billy Hughes.

The ensuing by-election was won by 21-year-old Labor candidate Edwin Corboy when the Nationalist and Country Party candidates split the conservative vote. This led to the government introducing preference voting, and he lost the seat at the 1919 election to John Prowse of the Country Party. The  Country part held the seat until 1943, first John Prowse then Henry Gregory and Thomas Marwick. Marwick was defeated by the ALP’s Donald Mountjoy in 1943, and Mountjoy was defeated by the Country Party’s Leonard Hamilton in 1946.

The Parliament was expanded in 1949 and Hamilton moved to the new seat of Canning, and the Liberal Party’s Bill Grayden won the seat. The ALP’s Harry Webb won the seat in 1954 and held it for one term until 1955, when he moved to the new seat of Stirling. Richard Cleaver of the Liberals won the seat in 1955 and held it until his defeat in 1969.

Adrian Bennett held the seat for the ALP from 1969 until 1975, when John Martyr won the seat for the Liberals. Martyr was a former state secretary of the Democratic Labor Party. He was defeated in 1980 by Kim Beazley.

Beazley held the seat until 1996, when he moved to the safer seat of Brand. Don Randall won the seat for the Liberals in 1996 and was defeated in 1998. He later moved to the nearby seat of Canning and held it from 2001 until his death in 2015.

ALP candidate Kim Wilkie won Swan in 1998. He held the seat until the 2007 election, when he was the only sitting Labor MP to be unseated, losing to Steve Irons. Irons has been re-elected three times.


Swan is a marginal Liberal seat, and will likely be a top target for Labor.

2016 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Steve Irons Liberal 39,220 48.2 -1.4
Tammy Solonec Labor 26,869 33.0 +3.0
Sarah Nielsen-Harvey Greens 12,227 15.0 +3.8
Steve Klomp Australian Christians 3,086 3.8 +2.1
Informal 3,062 3.6

2016 two-party-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Steve Irons Liberal 43,625 53.6 -3.8
Tammy Solonec Labor 37,777 46.4 +3.8

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four parts, mostly along local government boundaries. Polling places in the South Perth council area have been grouped as “west”. Those in Belmont and Kalamunda council areas have been grouped as “north-east”. Those in Canning council area, and southern parts of Victoria Park council area, have been grouped as “south-east”, with the remainder of Victoria Park council area being grouped as “central”.

The Liberal Party only won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in one out of the four areas, with 66% in the west. Labor’s two-party-preferred vote in the other three areas ranged from 51% in the centre to 54.7% in the south-east. The Liberal Party also won large majorities amongst pre-poll and other votes.

The Greens vote ranged from 13% in the north-east to 18.5% in the centre.

Voter group GRN prim % LIB 2PP % Total votes % of votes
North-East 13.1 46.9 18,752 23.0
West 13.7 65.9 17,423 21.4
South-East 14.5 45.3 11,596 14.2
Central 18.5 49.0 10,173 12.5
Other votes 16.6 55.4 14,497 17.8
Pre-poll 15.9 56.7 8,961 11.0

Election results in Macquarie at the 2016 federal election
Click on the ‘visible layers’ box to toggle between two-party-preferred votes and Greens primary votes.

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  1. Almost Certain Liberal Loss, Hannah Beazley is a well known and popular figure especially with Kim Beazley becoming governor of WA. Also, given the fact that all of the state seats are held by labor bar one (South Perth) this seat is almost certain labor gain.

  2. Easy Labor gain. Main reason the Libs have a 3.6% margin is poor candidate selection by Labor in 2016. A friend of mine who was doing union calls in Swan last election heard a massive decline in enthusiasm for Labor as the election day got closer due to the comments made by the candidate.

    Take a suburb like Lathlain being +4% for the Libs in 2PP in 2016 shows how inflated the margin still is, Laithlain was -3% for the Libs at there electoral high point in 2013. In 2017 Laithlain was around -14% for the Libs.

    Hard to see how Libs can remain competitive with the margins anything near the state seats in 2017 (Vic Park -16.5, Cannington -18.1, South Perth +7.1, Belmont -11.4).

    Greens are surprising close to the labor primary votes (for Perth at least), potentially in a few elections the seat could start to become more of a 3 way contest (melbourne ports style). Areas throughout the electorate are slowly increasing in density and becoming more desirable for students and young people.

    Hannah Beazley should easily be high enough profile to take the seat, I wouldnt be surprised to see Labor ahead by over 4% in the end.

  3. Swan, along with Hasluck and Pearce, is indeed a top tier Labor target. But I don’t think it’s as easy a pick up as some you have it.

    Labor failed to hold this seat at its 2007 high point. And there’s no evidence that Hannah Beazley is a particularly strong vote winner. She suffered a sharp swing in Riverton in 2013.

    Swan of course was the seat her father fled in 1996, after nearly losing it three years earlier.

  4. David Walsh: WA ran against the tide in 2007 in general – the only seats that swung to the Libs were either in WA (and one – Franklin – in Tas). The swing in WA was very muted as none of the ALP talking points were resonating with WA booming at the time.

    I seem to also recall there were a couple of policies and things said by the ALP that made it hard to get traction in WA – in addition to how Rudd had rolled WA’s Beazley.

    I’d think it’s more likely the Libs will be looking further up the pendulum for seats to sandbag, and this looks like low hanging fruit for the ALP.

  5. East of Albany Highway Swan is a pretty solid working class area, more so then the current Labor vote would suggest. I’d expect that most booths in this area will register a 2PP of 60%+ to Labor at the next election with an average campaign and with it a fairly comfortable win in Swan.

    Not sure there is much potential for a big Greens vote outside perhaps the Vic Park area currently, perhaps the relatively high vote last election was due to a general protest vote and there being only 4 candidates.

  6. Minor update re Canning and Don Randall.

    ” He later moved to the nearby seat of Canning and has held it from 2001 until his death in 2015.”

  7. Does anyone have any ideas on why the Green vote went up so much in 2016 ?

    It seems like the personal vote of Irons will be overwhelmed. The ultimate margin will be interesting

  8. winediamond it fits the trend.

    The Green vote increased in almost all inner city lower house seats in 2016. Neighbouring Perth, in VIC Wills, Batman, Melbourne, Melbourne Ports, and Higgins, in QLD Brisbane, Griffith, and Ryan are the most obvious examples.

    Kooyong, Moreton, Adelaide, Grayndler, and Sydney are arguably also examples. Kooyong and Moreton are smaller swings, Adelaide is just a noticeable hold despite the emergence of the NXT, while the NSW seats are modest Green gains obfuscated by left wing micro parties running (3 party preferred Green vote went from 24.37 to 26.68 in Grayndler and 19.36 to 22.29 in Sydney).

  9. Bennee
    Thanks interesting POV. I take your point about an overall trend, however Swan was an increase of around 25%.

  10. a few factors probably came together here for the greens, Victoria Park and surrounding areas are becoming more desirable for young people. Curtin Uni and Technology Park are probably attracting more greens voters to live in the area. New apartments along great eastern highway having similar effects to inner city areas of other cities.

    then having no other left wing minor or independent candidate probably inflates greens votes.

    maybe candidate choice contributed as well, Tammy Solonec although a former greens candidate may have been off putting to some labor voters.

    Greens were coming from a lower vote percentage compared with eastern states inner cities, Swan has had a strong greens vote for a long time (7.3% in 1990) but was still stuck around 10%. Greens got 19% of the senate vote in swan at the senate by-election 2014.

  11. This seat is marginal only because of South Perth …state figures would make Swan Labor..except a swing here to Labor……

  12. Will be the first WA Liberal seat to go, I’m expecting the TPP to be about 53-47 in favour of Beazely, who I think will serve the electorate well.

  13. The Liberal voters in Swan are very much of the “small-l” variety and will judge more harshly than most the current shenanigans in the Liberal party. Now a near certain Labor gain, will be lucky if the swing is below 10%.

  14. Easy Labor gain, booth splits will be the most interesting thing about this seat on election night. But should be one to watch keenly next time to see if Labor hold.

  15. I believe Hannah Beazley will hold Swan for a long time. She seems to have done the leg work and formed a great base to work from. It may be even a safe seat after this election

  16. Booth results will be interesting, I suspect very safe western booths which held up well for the Government last election will see swings against the Government as large if not larger than the eastern, more Labor friendly eastern areas of the electorate. Steve Irons is smart enough that he didn’t vote for a leadership spill but as a fairly obscure member of the governing party will have little influence in the result.

  17. Hannah Beazley is very similarly positioned to her father politically/factionally (centre-right neoliberal), which will give the Greens something to work with in future elections.

    Both Irons and Beazley are very active on social media but off their pages I’m not seeing all that much hype surrounding this seat. I assumed this one was a goner but WA isn’t where it was a year ago.

  18. A lot of advertising here in Swan but I agree that the local electorate is not so engaged with the local campaign. While the candidates haven’t caught Swan’s attention they both come across as fairly benign representatives of their respective parties the result will be close but a probable Labor gain.

    It’s a very diverse and polarised electorate in a socioeconomic sense, but I think that both the small-l Liberal and working class areas of the seat will swing more heavily than average to Labor but on distinct but broader election issues such as climate change and equity.


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