Bendigo – Australia 2022

ALP 8.9%

Incumbent MP
Lisa Chesters, since 2013.

Bendigo and surrounding parts of northwestern Victoria. Bendigo covers Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander council areas, as well as parts of Loddon, Mitchell and Macedon Ranges. A majority of the population lives in Bendigo, and the other major town is Castlemaine.

Bendigo lost an area on the south-eastern edge of the electorate to McEwen, including Woodend. This change decreased the Labor margin from 9.0% to 8.9%.

Bendigo is an original federation electorate. The seat has switched back and forth between the major parties over its long history.

Bendigo was first won in 1901 by Protectionist candidate John Quick. Quick was a Victorian colonial MP and a delegate to the Constitutional Conventions. Quick served as a member of Alfred Deakin’s third ministry in 1909, and held the seat until his defeat in 1913.

Bendigo was won in 1913 by prominent lawyer John Arthur, standing for the ALP. Arthur won re-election in 1914 and was appointed Minister for External Affairs in the third Fisher government, but quickly fell ill and died in December 1914, aged 39.

The 1915 Bendigo by-election was won by the ALP’s Alfred Hampson. Hampson remained loyal to the ALP when it split over the issue of conscription in 1916, but at the 1917 election he was challenged for his seat by Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who had switched from the ALP to the new Nationalist Party.

Hughes had been a member of the House of Representatives since federation, holding the seat of West Sydney. He had served as a minister in the Labor governments of Chris Watson and Andrew Fisher, before becoming Prime Minister in 1915 upon Fisher’s retirement.

Hughes held Bendigo until 1922, when he switched to the seat of North Sydney. At that election his party lost its majority, and the price of Country Party support for the Nationalist government was Hughes’ replacement as Prime Minister by Stanley Bruce.

Hughes remained in Parliament for another three decades. He served on the backbench through Stanley Bruce’s government, before leading a group of rebels in 1929 which saw Bruce lose his majority and then lose the following election. Hughes later served in ministerial roles and indeed as leader of the United Australia Party, and served as an MP until his death in 1952.

Bendigo was won in 1922 by Nationalist candidate Geoffrey Hurry, who defeated the Country Party’s Edmund Jowett, whose seat of Grampians had been abolished in the redistribution. Hurry held the seat until the 1929 election, when he lost his seat.

Bendigo was won in 1929 by Richard Keane, who was General Secretary of the Australian Railways Union. He only held Bendigo for one term, losing in 1931, but later was elected to the Senate in 1937. He served as a minister in the wartime Labor governments, and died in 1946 while on government business in Washington DC.

Eric Harrison of the United Australia Party won Bendigo in 1931. He was re-elected in 1934, and attempted to move to the new seat of Deakin in 1937, but failed to win preselection, and retired.

In 1937, Bendigo was won by the Country Party’s George Rankin. Rankin held the seat until 1949, when the redistribution changed Bendigo substantially, and he was successful in winning election to the Senate. He served in the Senate until he retired in 1955.

In 1949, the ALP’s Percy Clarey won Bendigo. Clarey had been a member of the Victorian upper house and a state minister, while also serving as President of the ACTU. Clarey held the seat until his death in 1960.

The 1960 by-election was won by the ALP’s Noel Beaton. He held the seat until he resigned in 1969, triggering another by-election. The second by-election was won by the ALP’s David Kennedy. Kennedy lost Bendigo in 1972, against the flow of an election where Gough Whitlam won power for the ALP.

The Liberal Party’s John Bourchier won Bendigo in 1972, and held it until 1983, when he lost to the ALP’s John Brumby.

Brumby was re-elected in 1984 and 1987, but lost in 1990. Brumby was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council at a by-election in 1993, and only four months later was elected Leader of the Victorian ALP and won a second by-election for a Legislative Assembly seat. Brumby served as Opposition Leader until early 1999, when he stepped aside for Steve Bracks. Brumby served as a senior minister in the Bracks government from 1999 until Bracks’ retirement in 2007, when Brumby was elected as Premier. Brumby served as premier for three years before losing the 2010 election, and retiring from Parliament.

Bruce Reid won Bendigo for the Liberal Party in 1990. He held the seat until 1998, when the ALP’s Steve Gibbons won the seat. Gibbons was elected in Bendigo six times, and retired in 2013.

Labor candidate Lisa Chesters won Bendigo in 2013, and has been re-elected twice.


Bendigo is a safe Labor seat.

2019 result

Lisa Chesters Labor 44,34043.6+5.143.6
Sam Gayed Liberal 32,21031.7-6.131.8
Robert Holian Greens 11,38111.2+0.310.9
Vaughan WilliamsOne Nation6,2786.2+6.26.2
Adam VeitchUnited Australia Party4,3214.3+4.34.3
Julie HoskinConservative National Party1,6671.6+1.61.7
Sharon BuddeRise Up Australia1,4641.4-0.71.5

2019 two-party-preferred result

Lisa Chesters Labor 60,01659.0+5.258.9
Sam Gayed Liberal 41,64541.0-5.241.1

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five areas. Polling places in the Mount Alexander and Macedon Ranges shires have been split up into two groups.

Polling places in the Greater Bendigo council area have been split into three groups. Those polling places in the Bendigo urban area have been split into “south” and “north”, with the remainder grouped as “Bendigo Rural”.

Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 52.0% in Bendigo Rural to 72.8% in Mount Alexander.

The Greens primary vote ranged from 7.6% in Bendigo Rural to 22.5% in Mount Alexander.

Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
Bendigo South12.761.213,67614.1
Bendigo Rural7.652.010,94111.3
Bendigo North8.565.18,4438.7
Mount Alexander22.572.87,0567.3
Macedon Ranges15.660.83,8894.0
Other votes11.057.711,52611.9

Election results in Bendigo at the 2019 federal election
Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for Labor, the Liberal Party and the Greens.

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  1. Solid Labor hold, this is not a competitive seat anymore: Side note, i noticed this seat had an anti-litmus test run voting AGAINST the party forming government from 1943 to 1974. Has there ever been a seat with a longer run?

  2. Marko, since the 1999 state election labor has gained strength in Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong at both levels. State Labor has devoted a lot of funding to the regions and reaped the rewards the shift of public service jobs to the Regional cities as well University campuses has meant there is favourable demographic trends for Labor. Also Castlemaine is becoming very left wing.

  3. agree Marko, good point about anti-lithmus test in the past. As you correctly pointed out it is not really a competitive seat anymore. The reasons i believe it is stronger for ALP is mentioned in my commentary above.

  4. That’s true although the NT did not get a vote for determining who formed government back then and Blain was an independent.

  5. With respect to Bruce, there was a big redistribution that shifted the seat into the SE Manufacturing belt in 1996. It changed from a solid Liberal seat based on the middle class Waverley area into one that had a big social divide and was Labor leaning. On the 2019 boundaries it was one of the safest Labor seats and also one of the most disadvantaged. It had none of its original territory. The future of Bruce is dependent on redistributions. Reid is similar and has very little of the pre-2010 territory.

  6. There’s been a consistent trend over the decades that the electoral divisions of Melbourne have moved outwards. In 1968, Camberwell was in Chisholm, Box Hill was in Deakin, Ringwood was in Casey, Wantirna was in La Trobe, Sandringham was in Isaacs, and Springvale was in Holt. And all that is with the abolition of the Division of Henty!

  7. In terms of sheer distance and speed, Hume would have to be the winner. In 1990, it went from Wagga to Yass – neither of which are now in Hume – and it now reaches into Camden.

  8. Good point, We can also see that Preston was in Scullin and Footscary in Gellibrand. Urban sprawl and little population growth in Middle Ring suburb are the reason why as Nicholas correctly pointed out seats have shifted outwards. There is one notable exception to this being the seat of Melbourne with the increased population density leading it to shrink geographically. For example until recently it included Ascot Vale. If Victoria loses a seat at the next redistribution and as many expect Hotham is abolished then many seats will shift inwards. Alternatively, if the is no change in state seat entitlement perhaps a new seat can be created around Narre Warren/Berwick and Hotham abolished to improve communities of interest.

  9. Interesting to note that the Greens actually topped the primary in a couple of Castlemaine polling places.


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