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

  • Katie Allen (Liberal)
  • Michelle Ananda-Rajah (Labor)
  • Sonya Semmens (Greens)

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.

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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12 COMMENTS

  1. Given Hughesdale moved into Hotham in the most recent redistribution, I’m wondering if in future redistributions, Carnegie + Murumbeena gets shaved off from Higgins and also joins Hotham (or gets split between Goldstein and Hotham), given that’s the only section left in Higgins that is below the Princes Highway.

  2. I’m hoping in future redistributions that they finally do the sensible swap with Macnamara of Prahran, Windsor and South Yarra for the Caulfield area. In that scenario, Murrumbeena and Carnegie fit well with Caulfield (they really should already be united).

    That proposal being reversed was quite a shock which received backlash this year, so I don’t know if the campaign to keep Caulfield in Macnamara would survive another inevitable proposal for the long overdue swap of territory. Especially as the Jewish community west of Hotham St continues to shrink further and further below that which is already in the Higgins.

    What would be interesting to see, is if the Greens manage to win Macnamara off Josh Burns prior to another redistribution (more difficult now especially without Windsor, but possible), will there even be such an objection to moving the Caulfield area into Higgins? Would that community be fighting as hard to stay in a Greens held seat?

  3. It’s much more likely Higgins will “shave off” Glen Iris and Ashburton, given the sluggish growth in Kooyong.

  4. With all the commentary around the Jewish community last time, I suggested the possibility of uniting all of the Caulfield/Elsternwick area (including the bits currently in Goldstein) in Higgins. This would allow Goldstein to unite all of Bentleigh/Ormond, and put Hughesdale and Carnegie in with Oakleigh in the seat of Hotham.

    It was a big change from the current boundaries, but it at least offered an alternative way for Higgins to expand instead of constantly pushing east.

  5. Labor still wants to be competitive in Higgins regardless of what happens in Macnamara, and keeping Greens voting suburbs where they are is their best hope for it. If Labor ends up winning Higgins then they’re likely to fight even harder for it.

  6. The Libs will be in trouble here if there primary vote goes below 45% and the combined ALP +Greens vote get close to or over 50%. Prahran results in 2014 show this well where the Libs were on 44.8% and just lost. Interested to hear from the pundits on this one – if in a situation like this where the ALP and Greens are closely matched – do the Libs do better if the ALP or Greens come third? Which of the ALP or Greens are generally better at following the HTV card?

  7. Generally the Greens voters follow HTV cards the least, but whether preferences flow stronger from Greens to Labor or vice versa seems to differ by area.

    In the 2018 state election, preferences flowed about 0.1% better from Greens to Labor than Labor to Greens in Prahran (Greens 2CP was 57.45% and Labor’s 2CP was 57.55%) so not much difference.

    That could differ in the wealthier parts of Higgins though (Malvern, Toorak, Armadale etc) that are more blue/green areas.

  8. Labor voters tend to vote more Green than vice versa mainly because some Greens voters are wealthier (especially in Higgins) and are fundamentally opposed to the Labor party generally. Tree tories if you will.

  9. Is there a more idiotic choice of candidate than Labor’s one here?

    Only one I can see topping it is Victoria Fielding winning preselection for the Senate.

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