Higgins – Election 2010

LIB 7.0%

Incumbent MP
Kelly O’Dwyer, since 2009.

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

Higgins covers the entirety of the safe Liberal state seat of Malvern. It also covers about half of the marginal ALP seat of Prahran. Higgins also covers parts of three other seats: marginal ALP Burwood, safe Liberal Hawthorn and safe ALP Oakleigh.

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. Hamilton polled 32%, a record primary vote for a Greens candidate in a federal electorate, but O’Dwyer held on comfortably with a 10% margin after preferences.


Political situation
The Liberal Party has held Higgins ever since it was created in 1949. In that time, the seat has never gone to preferences. O’Dwyer retained the seat comfortably despite a strong Greens campaign in 2009, and she shouldn’t have any trouble retaining the seat in 2010.

2007 result

Peter CostelloLIB43,76153.61-1.59
Barbara NormanALP25,36731.08+0.58
Michael Wilbur-HamGRN8,77710.75-0.60
Stephen MayneIND1,6151.98+1.98
Mary DettmanDEM9901.21-0.61
Penny BadwalFF6270.77-0.06
Genevieve Marie FordeIND2650.32+0.32
Graeme MeddingsIND2270.28+0.28

2007 two-candidate-preferred result


Peter CostelloLIB46,55957.04-1.72
Barbara NormanALP35,07042.96+1.72

2009 by-election result

Kelly O’DwyerLIB36,42154.57+0.96
Clive HamiltonGRN21,62832.40+21.65
John MulhollandDLP2,5723.85+3.85
Fiona PattenSXP2,1443.21+3.21
David CollyerDEM1,5312.29+1.08
Stephen MurphyIND1,1451.72+1.72
Joseph ToscanoIND5230.78+0.78
Isaac RobertsLDP3360.50+0.50
Peter BrohierIND2360.35+0.35
Steve RaskovyON2110.32+0.32

2009 two-candidate-preferred result

Kelly O’DwyerLIB40,17960.23
Clive HamiltonGRN26,53139.77

Booth breakdown
I have divided polling booths in Higgins into four groups.

  • West – Toorak, Prahran and South Yarra
  • Central – Malvern
  • South-East – Malvern East, Carnegie
  • North-East – Glen Iris, Burwood, Camberwell

As the following chart shows, the ALP won a majority in the South-East, while the ALP polled slightly above average in the West and North-East. In the centre of the electorate the Liberals polled over 60% of the two-party-preferred vote.

The Liberal Party gained ground in all four areas at the 2009 by-election, with the Greens particularly performing worse than the ALP had in the south-east, which the ALP won by a slim margin in 2007. The Greens also performed poorly amongst other votes, with the Liberal Party polling almost 70% amongst these votes.

Polling booths in Higgins. Central in green, West in blue, North-East in red, South-East in yellow.

2007 election breakdown

Voter groupGRN %LIB 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes11.1159.9222,78727.91

2009 by-election breakdown

Voter groupLIB 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes69.2214,82622.21
Two-party preferred votes in Higgins at the 2007 federal election.
Greens primary votes in Higgins at the 2007 federal election.
Two-party preferred votes at the 2009 Higgins by-election.


  1. Some of the biggest swings to Liberals in the by-election were in the Prahran/Windsor booths where the Labor vote is traditionally stronger. Local businesses owners in the area very upset by State Government’s clearway extensions. Obviously very safe for Libs but if the Labor vote is collapsing in the west end I would be very worried for the State election if I were Tony Lupton

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