Higgins – Australia 2022

LIB 3.7%

Incumbent MP
Katie Allen, since 2019.

Geography
Higgins covers suburbs in the inner south-east of Melbourne. Its suburbs include South Yarra, Prahran, Toorak, Carnegie, Malvern, Glen Iris, Murrumbeena and Hughesdale. Most of the seat is covered by Stonnington LGA, as well as southern parts of Boroondara LGA and small parts of Glen Eira LGA.

Redistribution
Higgins experienced minor changes around the edge, gaining part of Windsor from Macnamara in the west, and losing Hughesdale in the south-east to Hotham and losing the north-eastern corner to Kooyong. These changes cut the Liberal margin from 3.9% to 3.7%.

History
Higgins was first created in 1949 when the Parliament was expanded in size. Its first member was Harold Holt, who had previously been Member for Fawkner in the same part of Melbourne. Holt was a minister in the Menzies United Australia Party government at the beginning of the Second World War.

Holt returned to the ministry in 1949 as Minister for Immigration. He became Menzies’ Treasurer in 1958 and became Prime Minister upon Menzies’ retirement in 1966.

Holt disappeared in sensational circumstances in December 1967 while swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria. Higgins was won by new Prime Minister John Gorton in a 1968 by-election. Gorton had previously been a Senator and was required to move to the House of Representatives.

Gorton held the seat continously until the 1975 election. Following Malcolm Fraser’s accession to the Liberal leadership Gorton resigned from the Liberal Party and sat as an independent. At the 1975 election he stood for an ACT Senate seat and Higgins returned to the Liberal Party.

Roger Shipton won the seat in 1975 and maintained his hold on the seat until 1990, when he was challenged for preselection by Peter Costello. Costello held the seat from 1990 until his 2009 resignation, triggering a by-election.

The ensuing by-election became a contest between the Liberal Party’s Kelly O’Dwyer and the Greens candidate, prominent academic Clive Hamilton, as the ALP refused to stand a candidate. O’Dwyer won the seat comfortably, and was re-elected three times.

O’Dwyer retired in 2019, and was succeeded by Liberal candidate Katie Allen.

Candidates

Assessment
Higgins has a long history as a solid Liberal seat but it has been trending towards the left over the last few decades. The swing in 2019 moved it into the marginal seat category for the first time. Both Labor and Greens hold ambitions here and either could have a chance here.

What is unknown is whether the 2019 result was an outlier, or the extension of a long-running trend as seats like this shift to the left. It seems that the Coalition is in trouble in seats like Higgins at the moment, which may create enough space for either Labor or the Greens to win.

2019 result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Katie Allen Liberal 48,09147.9-3.747.6
Fiona McLeod Labor 25,49825.4+8.925.2
Jason Ball Greens 22,57322.5-1.722.9
Alicia WalkerAnimal Justice1,7291.7+0.21.7
Michaela MoranSustainable Australia1,3381.3+1.31.3
Tim RyanUnited Australia Party1,2491.2+1.21.2
Others0.1
Informal2,0632.0-1.7

2019 two-party-preferred result

CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
Katie Allen Liberal 54,13953.9-6.153.7
Fiona McLeod Labor 46,33946.1+6.146.3

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into four areas: central, north-east, south-east and west.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in the centre (58%) and the north-east (53.3%). Labor won 51.1% in the west and 56.0% in the south-east.

The centre and north-east of the electorate is best for the Liberal Party, while the south-east is stronger for Labor and the west is the best part of the Greens, who outpolled Labor there.

Voter groupGRN primALP primLIB 2PPTotal votes% of votes
West30.223.548.815,36915.8
South-East22.634.244.012,30612.7
Central21.922.458.012,17612.5
North-East22.026.653.37,8258.1
Pre-poll21.423.656.732,18133.2
Other votes20.524.356.417,99918.5

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

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179 COMMENTS

  1. If this still includes the Prahran end in 2025 I’m very doubtful of it going back to the Liberals. The continued inner-urban realignment in 3 years time plus an incumbent probably makes it out of reach even if Labor is on the nose (then it might just go to the Greens instead). Even if it loses the west part and gains Caulfield it is still challenging albeit much more winnable.

  2. Adda the Higgins result was driven by big swings in the Malvern end and if the Malvern end swings back to the Liberals then the Liberals would be a strong chance to regain it.

  3. With Dutton as leader, I can’t see the Libs regaining this seat or any of the other seats that fell to Labor and the teals in Melbourne. These areas are already trending to the left and Dutton won’t be able to win these areas back given the issues and factors which led to the loss of such seats and the fact that he is even more hard right than Morrison. If the Libs continue on this path just like how the state Libs did after their 2018 loss, then I’d expect the seats that the Libs currently only just hold like Deakin and Menzies to fall. Speaking of the state Libs, I’d expect the seats in Melbourne that they managed to retain in 2018 like Malvern, Bulleen, Glen Waverley etc. to be in play and possibly fall since they clearly haven’t learnt their lessons from 2018 and the results in the federal election for Eastern Melbourne are even worse than in the 2018 Danslide.

  4. I would almost go as far as to say that Caulfield, Sandringham and Brighton can already be written off as Liberal losses if Dutton is the federal leader and the Liberal brand is even more tainted in November than it already is; and Kew will certainly be in play.

    Liberals will gain Pakenham for sure but there aren’t too many other outer suburban gains available to counter the inner city losses.

  5. If the Liberals receive a 12% uniform swing in the northwestern suburbs of Melbourne at the state election, they win a grand total of ZERO seats in that region.

  6. I’d say Caulfield, Sandringham, Brighton and Glen Waverley are gone. Kew, Malvern, Bulleen, Warrandyte, Bayswater and Croydon are in play. The Libs won’t win back any of the seats they lost to Labor in 2018. The only positive is the Libs would retain Berwick and likely gain Pakenham but that’s about it. They may get swings to them in the North and West but it’s more likely that those wouldn’t be enough to unseat Labor of if it does, it would be a right wing minor party or a Dai Le style independent that gains it, not the Libs.

  7. Dutton or no Dutton it is probably too early to directly link last Saturday and the state election in November. Last Saturday, the visceral anger toward Scott Morrison was a factor – that won’t be there in November. In Victoria, we also have a state government that is losing control of the ambulance system, has a mounting debt, and is starting to develop a whiff of corruption. On the other hand we do have a Victorian Liberal Party that is lazy and useless. Two factors from 2018 – the Vic Libs had no money and were saving what they had for the Federal poll – and they had almost no preference flows – lots of 4 candidate seats – Lib, ALP, Greens and Animal Justice. That might change this time. Also, will Teal issues translate to State politics – they had two big issues neither of which really apply in Victoria (and definitely not in NSW).

  8. The Vic Libs are incredibly inept to say the least. They have not used the past 4 yrs to improve themselves and learn from the 2018 disaster. In fact, they’ve become even worse and lurched further to the right.
    It’s true Dan Andrews has a lot more baggage than 4 yrs ago so I’d expect some backlash particularly in the Western and Northern suburbs. It certainly doesn’t help that all the new candidates in the north and west are parachuted and often not even from the area after the Somyurek faction was purged. However, in the Eastern Suburbs and the Frankston Line suburbs which traditionally decide the Vic elections, the Libs are too much on the nose with them seeming to be in even worse shape than in 2018. It would be interesting to see if the Teals or other Dai Le style independents contest the state elections since I’d imagine the both could do quite well.

  9. Dan M, Higgins and the Teal seats have not turned left, if the Teals and the ALP had campaigned on a left wing platform of higher taxes and cuts to private schools then the Liberals would have held Higgins and all the Teal seats. I would expect it will take a few terms for the Liberals to win back Higgins and the Teal seats however eventually most if not all of them will return to the Liberal column.

  10. Re-D
    There were eight such 4-way contests in 2018. That is, including the Animal Party along with the three largest polling parties. I don’t think the preference flows in 2018 were so different, other than the axiom that; as goes the swing in the primary preferences, so to for subsequent preferences.

  11. I wouldn’t expect the ALP will make any gains in November and the Liberals could pick up Nepean, Pakenham and Ripon.

  12. Pencil
    At 75.16% counted according to AEC, the Libs still have as much chance of winning Higgins this time as they do in any future election. i.e. negligible.
    Urban consolidation will see to that.

  13. Phil urban consolidation wont stop Higgins from eventually swinging back to the Liberals. The only thing that might is if the seat boundaries were extended into St Kilda or Oakleigh.

  14. Higgins has had a slow demographic change, I would expect Labor to improve next time round with the LNP to improve in the outer suburbs, with Dutton as leader the Liberals can forget this electorate. Dutton would have an appeal in McEwen but not here especially if Katie Allen doesn’t recentest here next time round.

  15. “The Vic Libs are incredibly inept to say the least. They have not used the past 4 yrs to improve themselves and learn from the 2018 disaster. In fact, they’ve become even worse and lurched further to the right.”

    They are most certainly inept but how have the state Liberals “lurched further to the right”?

  16. Victoria is likely to loose a seat because of comparative population loss during the lockdowns/with work from home, so a redistribution is likely with expanded Higgins boundaries and a seat in the eastern or south-eastern suburbs chopped.

  17. How would abolishing Dunkley work? Flinders can’t move so you’d be chopping both Isaacs and Holt in half.

  18. Dunkley is a logical corridor seat that is hard to abolish. Hotham is more likely. It was Henty, in a relatively similar position to Hotham, that got the chop in 1990 when Victoria last dropped from 39 to 38. Higgins would then be one of the seat to expand into what is not Hotham.

  19. Dunkley wont be abolished due to Frankston being a regional centre however one possible candidate could be Hotham which would enable the AEC to shift Prahran/South Yarra into MacNamara and Caulfield to Higgins then send the western part of Hotham to Goldstein, then the AEC could unite Clayton, Spingvale and Dandenong into one seat.

  20. With the loss of a Victorian seat – I have long thought Hotham would get the chop – indeed I thought and advocated for it to go last time. Lately, however my thoughts have been turning toward Higgins as the candidate to go. Or JagaJaga if the need is north of the river.

  21. Pencil 3.08 pm
    Hastings is now nominally Labour held, and would be my tip as the first pick-up for the Libs. Can’t say which year.
    Seriously though, with a liberal incumbent, limited Teal risk, COVID refugees from wealthy seats (positive swing in Flinders federally), & Teal flops probably help Libs.

  22. Wonder if Katie Allen will contest here in 2025, as I reckon the swing would have been bigger if it had been for her running.

  23. @Bob Was something mentioned. Have the LNP or Josh Frydenberg said he’ll run or consider running here.

  24. North East,
    It seems for the time being speculation with him currently denying it but some liberal strategies believe it could work, however I personally think the only reason why the swing against the liberals wasn’t bigger was because of how popular Katie Allen was with her absences I expect the seat to go further to ALP.

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