Nicholls – Australia 2022

NAT 20.0%

Incumbent MP
Damian Drum, since 2019. Previously member for Murray, 2016-2019.

North-western Victoria. Murray covers all of Greater Shepparton, Moira and Campaspe council areas and parts of Strathbogie and Mitchell council areas. The largest towns in Murray are Shepparton and Echuca.

No change.

The electorate of Nicholls was created in 2019 as a new name for the seat of Murray, which was created at the 1949 election. It has always been held by Coalition parties. It was held by the Country Party and National Party until 1996, when it was won by the Liberal Party, who held it until 2016.

The seat was first won in 1949 by the Country Party’s John McEwen. McEwen had previously held Echuca from 1934 until it was abolished in 1937, and then held Indi from 1937 until 1949.

He served as a minister in the Coalition government from 1937 to 1941. He then became a minister in the Menzies government in 1949. McEwen became Country Party leader in 1958.

When Robert Menzies retired in 1966 McEwen became the most senior figure in the government, with tremendous influence over the Country Party’s larger ally, the Liberal Party.

When Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in late 1967, McEwen briefly served as Acting Prime Minister, and he vetoed the choice of the Treasurer, William McMahon, leading to Senator John Gorton moving to the House of Representatives and becoming Prime Minister. McEwen retired from Murray in 1971.

The 1971 by-election was won by Bruce Lloyd, also of the Country Party. Lloyd served as deputy leader of the National Party from 1987 to 1993, and retired in 1996.

At the 1996 election, the Liberal Party stood Sharman Stone, and the Nationals stood John Walker. The ALP candidate was pushed into third place, with Stone polling 43% of the primary vote, and winning on preferences.

Stone held Murray for twenty years, winning the seat seven times before retiring in 2016.

The Nationals’ Damian Drum ran for Murray in 2016 against Liberal candidate Duncan McGauchie. Drum was elected with a margin of 5.1% against the Liberal Party. Drum was re-elected in 2019 to the renamed seat of Nicholls.

Sitting Nationals MP Damian Drum is not running for re-election.

  • Tim Laird (Liberal Democrats)
  • Sam Birrell (Nationals)
  • Rikkie-Lee Tyrrell (One Nation)
  • Bill Lodwick (Labor)
  • Jeff Davy (Citizens Party)
  • Robert Peterson (United Australia)
  • Ian Christoe (Greens)
  • Andrea Otto (Fusion)
  • Steve Brooks (Liberal)
  • Eleonor Tabone (Federation)
  • Rob Priestly (Independent)
  • Assessment
    Nicholls is a very safe Nationals seat.

    2019 result

    Damian Drum Nationals 48,85551.3+18.6
    Bill Lodwick Labor 18,49319.4+2.3
    Rikkie-Lee TyrrellOne Nation10,75411.3+11.3
    Stewart John HineUnited Australia Party5,0775.3+5.3
    Andrew BockIndependent4,5814.8+3.4
    Nickee Freeman Greens 4,0114.2-0.2
    Jeremy ParkerIndependent1,7721.9+1.9
    Nigel HicksIndependent1,7491.8+1.0

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Damian Drum Nationals 66,73270.0-2.5
    Bill Lodwick Labor 28,56030.0+2.5

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into five areas along local government boundaries.

    The Nationals won the two-party-preferred vote in all five areas, ranging from 53% in Mitchell to 75.2% in Campaspe.

    One Nation came third, with a primary vote ranging from 9.7% in Strathbogie to 17.9% in Mitchell.

    Voter groupON prim %NAT 2PP %Total votes% of votes
    Greater Shepparton11.369.319,28120.2
    Other votes10.466.48,2778.7

    Election results in Nicholls at the 2019 federal election
    Toggle between two-party-preferred votes and primary votes for the Nationals, Labor and One Nation.

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    1. If a well known independent ran here they could win this off the Nationals as the state seats that are overlapped with this are held by independents.

    2. Drum just announced he won’t be running at the next election. Nats would be smart to run Steph Ryan – state member for Euroa (I think). Seats have a lot of overlap and Steph seems to have done a pretty good job as the local member.

      Will it also cause a three cornered contest which will drain libs resources from the more marginal Victorian seats such as… every seat other than Wannon…..

      Best Pollster

    3. Pollster, are you an actual pollster? What do the internal polls say about this seat? I doubt there would be much shift but perhaps a strong independent like the ”voices of” like in neighbouring Indi

    4. Pollster
      Hard to Steph Ryan moving considering:

      1. Peter Walsh is 67 and can’t be Vic Nats leader for that much longer.
      2. Steph Ryan has publicly bagged Barnaby Joyce – which would not make for a harmonious party room.

      It will be a three way contest so it will depend on whether the ALP comes second or third.

    5. Nats have pre-selected former CEO of the Committee for Greater Shepparton, Sam Birrell, who nominated unopposed after Walsh heavied other contenders to vacate the field. Birrell is a mate of Rob Priestly and shares similar progressive left views on issues like climate change. His sister is a very prominent climate activist and academic.

      Local reaction pretty mixed, apparently Birrell supported the shutdown of 4 local public schools in the Shepparton area to build a single ‘super school’, denying the average local family choice while Birrell sends his own kids to a private school. Surprising to see such virulent reaction so early, which indicates that the electorate is pretty pissed at the Nats and the major parties.

      Steph Ryan was never a serious contender for this seat, she wouldn’t handle the scrutiny of federal politics. Not having much talent by way of policy intellect or public speaking skills, better for her to stay in the obscurity of state politics where she can remain a legend in her own lunchtime.

    6. If there is a Lib or an independent who runs hard on the super school issue, the Nats could be toast here. Especially if they highlight the fact that the Vic Nats were jumping up and down about how bad it was (the press releases are still on their website), and now their candidate is a big supporter of it.

    7. Stephen Brooks, a 38 year old farmer and teacher from Cobram has been endorsed as the Liberal candidate.

    8. Does anyone know if One Nation is running here or in Victoria as a whole? One Nation did receive a substantial vote here which could be crucial to who holds this seat if it gets tight.

    9. @Daniel – not a pollster but used to have a position which we obtained a lot of polling about branding. Had many discussions with real the pollsters about polling which inevitably led to politics. One thing that stood out was a well know pollster who told me that “most polling is rubbish – in political polling only one poll question really counts, namely “which candidate / leader will best represent (look after / fight for) people like you?”.

      The winners of Boris v Corbin / Trump v Hilliary elections are good examples of the winner of the above question.

      It was also mentioned that the biggest polling issue today is actually obtaining a representative sample of respondents to poll. 20 plus years ago, a phone book was a pretty good starting and finishing point. Today people don’t answer the phone and those that do have an older slant. Having people answer on-line surveys and causes the reverse (and volunteer selection bias etc).

      Old friend Kevin Bonham writes very good blogs on polling and has recently started a “poll shaped objects” series poking fun at really really questionable polling…..

      Steph didn’t run. If she is leader post next state election she might be opposition leader like Mia Davies in WA…..

      @Harini – interesting assessment of Steph. Suspects she does pretty well on the “which candidate will best represent (look after / fight for) people like you in Euroa?”

      Nats to retain.

      PS: if Libs win Nats should fold.

      Not sure how accurate or credible this polling is but the results are after undecides excluded:
      Liberal: 23.0 (+23.0)
      Nationals: 19.4 (-31.9)
      Independent (Rob Priestly): 18.6 (+18.6)
      Labor: 17.3 (-2.1)
      One Nation: 6.7 (-4.6)
      Greens: 6.2 (+2.0)
      UAP: 4.7 (-0.6)
      Others: 4.1 (-4.4)

      Combined Coalition Vote: 42.4 (-8.9)

      Priestly would have to overtake either the Libs or Nats to get to the 2CP, which seems unlikely. Might be an interesting electorate to watch.

    11. Agree with David Walsh, even if Rob Priestly finishes third, he is close enough to the National candidate that he can overtake into 2nd place by receiving a majority of Green and Labor preferences

    12. In 2019 in both Nicholls and Mallee the Greens prefs to the ALP were only 73%. Very high (for Greens) preference flow to L/ NP. That small number of votes could be decisive in a close contest.

    13. It’s not going to help the Coalition that Lib and Nat are going head-to-head here. It invites leakage. Considering they’re also losing the incumbent candidate advantage, and Priestly is likely to pull in a decent chunk of preferences from ONP and UAP due to the “not the majors” aspect that many of them currently have, I’d say this is definitely one to watch. Could be the start of an Independent Bloc in northern Victoria?

    14. No chance the Liberals win a country seat like this. Stone was elected back in 1996 and no National party candidate stood against her when she was the sitting MP

      1996 was the last time the Nats really lost this as they didn’t stand other times. The Nats are much stronger in the regions than the Liberals and only win when the Nats are weak or have a weak candidate or the Liberals stand a very strong candidate.

      Indi is a different story however as not all of Indi is rural. I think some of that seats borders Casey. Shepparton will go National easily. And I also expect the neighbouring seat of Farrer to go National after Ley is defeated by an independent or she retires (more likely)

    15. Reminds me of Mallee last time (Nat retiring incumbent, lots of candidates) but unlike 2019 Priestly has the independent vote solely. He’s a better chance of knocking off the Libs and finishing second, potentially getting close to knocking off the LNP. The SA election showed a very strong flow from ONP to Independents, potentially making it more marginal.

    16. Ryan Spencer
      Agreed. Nicholls is one of the seats that would be very hard to call on the night/beforehand along with Hughes since they have lots of candidates with a chance of winning/ final two and everything depends on order of exclusion. Blair could also become like this.

    17. Marko
      Probably not Hughes. Labor don’t have a candidate (and don’t need one anyway), combined with the fact that Kelly won’t get much more than 10%, Steele no more than 15-20% and Seymour no more than 8%. Ware seems to be competent and not a complete crazy, and even if Steele comes second, Kelly’s preferences will favour Ware anyway.
      With the collapse for One Nation in Queensland and the four or five anti-vax, anti-mandate parties running in Blair, I highly doubt it’ll be anything more than a classic marginal seat, albeit with lots of discontent against the major parties.

    18. Ryan
      Labor will run in Hughes. What percent do you think they will get?
      IRT Blair, according to BludgerTrack PHON are actually up 0.9% in QLD.

    19. Ryan,
      Labor does have a candidate in Hughes.
      I’m surprised you haven’t seen any Riley Campbell signs.

    20. I noticed on Wikipedia a short time after I made this comment.
      I haven’t seen any Riley Campbell signs (assuming this isn’t sarcasm) as I live in Perth.
      It’s worth noting that Labor haven’t started putting signs for their candidate(s) at all in WA, only the Libs and Greens.

    21. The ABC says that it’s a three-way race (Lib vs Nat vs Rob Priestly) and the independent has a chance. I predict Nationals will hold this, though with a much smaller margin.


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