McEwen – Australia 2022

ALP 5.3%

Incumbent MP
Rob Mitchell, since 2010.

Geography
Northern Victoria. McEwen covers the northern fringe of Melbourne and rural areas further north, including Gisborne, Romsey, Macedon, Whittlesea, Strathewen, Kilmore, Diamond Creek, Woodend and Wallan.

Redistribution
A number of changes were made to McEwen’s borders. The seat lost Sunbury to Hawke, gained Woodend from Bendigo and gained Diamond Creek from Jagajaga. These changes increased the Labor margin from 5.0% to 5.3%.

History

McEwen was created when the Parliament was expanded in 1984, and was first won by Peter Cleeland of the ALP. The seat has traditionally been considered a marginal seat, although the Liberal Party held it continuously from 1996 until 2010.

Cleeland held on in 1987 before losing to Fran Bailey in 1990. Cleeland returned in 1993 before Bailey defeated him again in 1996. Bailey held on at every election from 1996 to 2010, but never with a great margin. She held on with a 2.2% margin in 1996, 1.0% in 1998 and 1.2% in 2001. She gained a 6.4% margin in 2004, but that melted away in 2007, when her margin was wiped out and the seat became the most marginal seat in the country.

Bailey led for most of the count after the 2007 election but her Labor opponent, Rob Mitchell, was declared the winner by six votes. A full recount gave Bailey a margin of twelve votes. This result was challenged in court and after seven months Bailey was declared the victor with a margin of twenty-seven votes.

In 2010, Bailey retired and Mitchell was comfortably elected.

Mitchell has been re-elected three times.

Candidates

  • Neil Barker (Greens)
  • Paul McRae (United Australia)
  • Christopher Neil (Federation)
  • Chris Bradbury (One Nation)
  • John Herron (Liberal Democrats)
  • Richard Welch (Liberal)
  • Rob Mitchell (Labor)
  • Assessment
    McEwen is not quite so marginal as it was in 2007-2013, but could still be in play if Labor does poorly.

    2019 result

    CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
    Rob Mitchell Labor 37,91139.4-2.839.8
    Phillip Fusco Liberal 33,16234.5-1.335.0
    Neil Barker Greens 8,0268.3-0.29.5
    Ronnie GrahamOne Nation5,6935.9+5.95.1
    Chris HaymanUnited Australia Party3,0163.1+3.13.3
    Deb ButlerDerryn Hinch’s Justice3,8784.0+4.03.2
    Ruth ParramoreAnimal Justice2,8903.0+0.22.5
    Robert James HyndmanIndependent1,5521.6+1.61.4
    Others0.3
    Informal5,3345.3-0.3

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    CandidatePartyVotes%SwingRedist
    Rob Mitchell Labor 52,89255.0-1.055.3
    Phillip Fusco Liberal 43,23645.0+1.044.7

    Booth breakdown

    Polling places in McEwen have been divided into three areas. Polling places in the Macedon Ranges council area have been grouped as “West”, those in the Mitchell council area have been grouped as “North-East” and those in the Nillumbik and Whittlesea council areas have been grouped as “South-East”.

    Labor won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote in all three areas, ranging from 55.7% in the west to 57.7% in the north-east.

    The Greens primary vote ranged from 6.7% in the north-east to 12% in the west.

    Voter groupGRN prim %ALP 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    South-East10.656.122,26625.6
    West12.055.713,99716.1
    North-East6.757.76,6437.6
    Pre-poll7.754.028,29732.5
    Other votes10.055.015,93118.3

    Election results in McEwen 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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    30 COMMENTS

    1. Probably agree with you Daniel, should Labor win the election then Rob Mitchell as 2nd Deputy Speaker will be well positioned to be appointed as House speaker. I believe former Labor Speaker Harry Jenkins Jr (who served during Kevin Rudd’s term as PM) was 2nd Deputy Speaker during the entire term of John Howard’s period as PM from 1996 to 2007.

    2. Interesting one to watch, $12 odds on sportsbet for the coalition. One of the best odds this election I think

    3. He is visiting probably to bolster the senate vote and stop a complete collapse of the vote here. He knows they won’t win this but they could stop a big swing.

      Mitchell actually was nominated by Labor for speaker twice, once in 2013 when Brownlyn Bishop became speaker I believe and again last year against Wallace.

      He is certainly extremely qualified to be the next speaker of the house and house Labor win I hope he is nominated again.

    4. *should Labor win

      I’ll also add this isn’t the same seat it was when Fran Bailey held it. It is less conservative than it was back then. Demographic shifts perhaps?

    5. Daniel, I would say it is a combination of both demographic change (in the outer fringe parts of Melbourne like Mernda at the southern end of the district) and also successive redistributions which have shed more rural areas like Seymour into the neighboring seats of Indi and Nicholls (formerly Murray).

    6. Agreed, Mernda/Wollert is urbanising and voting patterns are now similar to that of the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne. Similar trend can be seen around Wallan which is now really an outer northern suburb of Melbourne. Having said that Nillumbik and Macedon Ranges shire are quite affluent. This seat always gets affected by redistributions so it will be interesting what the next redistribution brings to this seat

    7. Further to Morrison’s visit to McEwen – a strange choice it would seem outwardly – The Oz reports today that Libs polling detects weakness for Labor in Outer Melbourne and Outer Metro areas. In McEwen and Corangamite, it is the State government that is unpopular. Other seats listed include Gilmore, Lyons, Dobell, Hunter, Lingiari and Cowan. If they feel they can go on the offensive in those two Victorian seats it would suggest they are feeling comfortable about La Trobe, Flinders, Casey and Monash. It also raises a question about Dunkley or even Holt that are not mufh different.

    8. It could possibly signal a new political realignment happening where inner city affluent but socially progressive areas like Higgins/Macnamara/Kooyong etc. increasingly vote Labor/Greens while the poorer and socially conservative outer suburban areas increasingly vote for the Liberals. Perhaps voters in such seats find the rightward shift by the Liberal Party appealing, with a stronger focus on social issues rather economic issues. The goal for the Liberals may be to build a political base in the area with the aim of gaining this seat and other socially conservative mortgage belt outer suburban seats in future elections, not unlike how Lindsay and Hughes in NSW were once Labor strongholds but are now Liberal leaning.

    9. Having read the Oz article, it seems to be a peculiar mixture of hyperbole mixed with kernels of truth. Lots of talk from ‘senior Liberals’ and ‘outer-suburban weakness’ but very light on details. The impression I get is that voters aren’t exactly impressed by either state Labor or with Albanese. That said, it’s a long way from general feelings of dissatisfaction to outright switching your vote. How else could national polling be reconciled? Of course, the national polling could be disastrously wrong for the second time. Either that, or Labor are gonna get huge swings in safe Liberal/ALP seats but do poorly in the marginals a la 1998.

      Who knows? Maybe this barnstorming style of campaigning will yield dividends while Labor languishes with an overly cautious campaign (the type they seem to be sticking to). More likely imo, the Libs would be trying to build a base/limit the swing in these outer suburbs for a strong comeback and potential realignment next time.

    10. @WoS
      I really think that is a possibility that the Labor swings in the polling is coming from the safe seats, rather than marginals. Wouldn’t know if that was the feeling in 1998, I was a toddler.

      Whilst the Vic state Libs are being criticised from a policy/ideological standpoint, they at least appear to be organised in contrast to NSW – hopefully this can be a saving grace.

    11. How strong are the transport links to unify Lancefield, Romsey & Riddells Ck with Wallan, Wandong & Kilmore?

    12. @BJA thanks for your comments. I was also very young at the time so I couldn’t say either. According to more seasoned observers than I, not many believed that Howard would actually lose because of his large majority and good incumbents in marginal seats (e.g. Fran Bailey in McEwen, Trish Draper in Makin, Danna Vale in Hughes etc).

      1998 is unique in that Howard lost 49-51 and yet held on, which is the lowest 2PP vote for a winning party. Similarly, I believe Hawke could have theoretically held on in 1987 with a vote as low as 48-52 (I don’t have access to the data on hand, but I’m pretty sure that’s right).While Morrison would be seeking to emulate these examples, he doesn’t have the same aforementioned advantages.

      I do agree that much of what’s driving the national swing is emanating from WA and from safe seats. That said, an 8 – 10 point lead is not close and so I find it difficult to imagine the marginals withstanding the tide.

    13. If polling is way out in Accuracy I Think we would find that polling organisations would have pulled out a political polling.. Political polling is conducted predominantly as advertising for commercial polling.
      Wrong results lead to a decline in commercial polling which is the bread and butter of polling organisations.

    14. All signs are that Morrison’s government is facing a backlash in Victoria and the notion that outer suburban areas are going to be an exception sounds like the usual wishcasting from the Australian. I have no doubt that Andrews’ government is being blamed to an extent but they are certainly not sparing the federal government from the baseball bats.

      As for realignment, the most clear indication to me would be to view which seats swung towards and away from the Coalition in 2019, mimicking the global pattern of urban areas trending to the left and regional towards the right. McEwen swung in line with the national trend (+1 Coalition) and Corangamite against the trend (+1 ALP). They don’t strike me as seats that are particularly likely to go towards the Coalition against a statewide or national swing towards the ALP.

    15. It’s worth noting that both major parties have pledged a major infrastructure project here (new Beveridge Interchange).

      Obviously it could simply be “it’s just needed regardless of seat”…..but I guess there’s at least something to indicate that maybe that McEwen talk has some sort of merit.

    16. I don’t think they ever really had a chance, always thought it was a strange target with its decent Labor margin.

    17. 1998 was the only example of a party winning well 51/49v and losing. There are other examples 1954… 1961… 1969.and 1987 where this happens but the margin was less than 1% what I would consider down the wire. Last time the vote was 52/48 in favour of the libs. I think this is wrong and an adjustment mechanism put in place

    18. I might be naive, but I don’t get the repeated talk in the media about the infrastructure spend here and the suggestion that the Libs must therefore have McEwen on a target list. It’s quite a big seat. Is anyone really going to change their vote because a new transport interchange, however humongous, is going to be built in one part of it?

    19. Apparently the AFR have reported liberals are boosting resources in this seat but Labor expect to retain it, as per them cost of living and anger at scott morrison are registering as strongly here as anywhere else.

    20. You can see what the Liberals were going for here. There has been a swing to them, driven mostly by big swings in the growth areas around Mernda, Doreen, and Wallan (which seems a common pattern in the outer northern and western suburbs)

    21. Swings to the Liberals have come in the outer suburban Labor strongholds in Victoria, but nowhere near enough to threaten any seat. Meanwhile, in the inner urban heartlands the Liberals have received a shellacking. At least 4 seats lost, up to potentially 6. In the latter case, their only seats in Melbourne will be on the outer southeastern fringe.

      Kos Samaras seems to have it broadly on the money. The Liberals spent too much time talking to their own frustrated constituents in campaigning against Dan and lockdowns and did not listen to the crucial median voters.

    22. Labor have a problem here as if they fair poorly in Victoria this electorate could be lost, the liberals have being slightly improving each time , definitely a seat to watch for 2025.

    23. I did suspect that we could see a swing to the Libs in electorates like McEwen and Hawke even if Labor won big and that’s what happened. Probably a bit early to start speculating but I think this would be one of the first seats to fall in the next election in 2025 with continuing demographic trends working against Labor.

    24. Adda, it might be too early to make those sorts of assessments. We could be in the middle of a longer-term genuine realignment that just hasn’t been completed yet.

      For McEwen specifically, this usually gets knocked around at redistributions so it’s difficult to make any predictions for 2025…if Victoria loses a seat, we could see McEwen undergo significant change once again.

    25. I’m not commenting on future elections or asserting that this seat will be in Labor hands forever. I’m talking about this election specifically, where it is quite clear the median voter wasn’t into the anti-Dan campaigning and the strategy comprehensively failed. Frustration over lockdowns might have had appeal to a few in the outer suburbs but the swings can also be explained as part of a long-term realignment, as has been discussed.

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