Wills – Australia 2022

ALP 8.5% vs GRN

Incumbent MP
Peter Khalil, since 2016.

Northern Melbourne. Wills covers most of the City of Moreland. Key suburbs include Brunswick, Moreland, Coburg, Pascoe Vale, Oak Park, Glenroy, Hadfield and Fawkner.

Wills lost part of Brunswick East to the seat of Melbourne, increasing the Labor margin from 8.2% to 8.5%.

Wills was created for the 1949 election as part of the expansion of the House of Representatives. Apart from a period in the early 1990s, it has always been held by the Labor Party.

Wills was first won in 1949 by the ALP’s Bill Bryson. He had previously held the seat of Bourke from 1943 to 1946. Bryson served as a member of the ALP until the split of 1955, when he joined the new Labor Party (Anti-Communist), which became the Democratic Labor Party. He lost the seat at the 1955  election.

The seat was won in 1955 by the ALP’s Gordon Bryant. Bryant served as a minister in the Whitlam government from 1972 to 1975, and retired in 1980.

Wills was won in 1980 by former President of the ACTU, Bob Hawke. Hawke was in the rare position of a politician who was already a significant national figure in his own right before entering Parliament, and he was immediately appointed to the Labor frontbench. Hawke failed in an attempt to replace Bill Hayden as Labor leader in 1982, but was successful in another attempt on the very day that Malcolm Fraser called the 1983 election, and he won that election, becoming Prime Minister.

Hawke won re-election at the 1984, 1987 and 1990 elections, but in 1991 he was defeated in a caucus leadership ballot by Paul Keating, and he resigned from Parliament in 1992.

The 1992 Wills by-election was a remarkable campaign, with 22 candidates standing. The seat was won by former footballer Phil Cleary on a hard-left socialist platform. Cleary’s victory was overturned in the High Court due to his status as a public school teacher on unpaid leave, shortly before the 1993 election. He was re-elected at the 1993 election, and held the seat until his defeat in 1996.

Wills was won back for the ALP in 1996 by Kelvin Thomson, a Victorian state MP since 1988. Thomson was appointed to the Federal Labor shadow ministry in 1997, and remained on the frontbench until early 2007. Thomson retained his seat until his retirement in 2016.

Labor’s Peter Khalil won in 2016, and was re-elected in 2019.


  • Tom Wright (Liberal)
  • Jill Tindal (One Nation)
  • Emma Black (Victorian Socialists)
  • Sam Sergi (Federation)
  • Sue Bolton (Socialist Alliance)
  • Irene Zivkovic (United Australia)
  • Peter Khalil (Labor)
  • Leah Horsfall (Animal Justice)
  • Sarah Jefford (Greens)
  • Assessment
    The Greens would need to do very well to have a chance in this seat, although a change in Liberal preference policy would get the Greens much closer to winning.

    2019 result

    Peter Khalil Labor 42,35544.1+6.244.3
    Adam Pulford Greens 25,57526.6-4.326.3
    Peter Killin Liberal 17,24117.9-3.618.1
    Sue BoltonVictorian Socialists4,3444.5+4.54.5
    Chris MilesAnimal Justice3,5963.7+2.13.8
    Manju VenkatUnited Australia Party2,9793.1+3.13.1

    2019 two-candidate-preferred result

    Peter Khalil Labor 55,89858.2+3.258.5
    Adam Pulford Greens 40,19241.8-3.241.5

    2019 two-party-preferred result

    Peter Khalil Labor 72,88875.9+4.275.7
    Peter Killin Liberal 23,20224.1-4.224.3

    Booth breakdown

    Booths have been divided into three areas:

    • North-East – Coburg, Fawkner and other suburbs.
    • North-West – Glenroy, Pascoe Vale and other suburbs.
    • South – Brunswick and other suburbs.

    Labor won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote in the north-east (60.8%) and the north-west (67.4%). The Greens polled 51.9% in the south.

    The Liberal Party came third, with a primary vote ranging from 10.3% in the south to 22.4% in the north-west.

    Voter groupLIB prim %ALP 2CP %Total votes% of votes
    Other votes22.157.215,58316.7

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

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    1. This seat will most likely become marginal between the Greens & the ALP however I don’t see this seat changing hands.

    2. I suspect that Wills will stay ALP at this election, with a swing to the Greens cutting the margin and be highly competitive at the next election. Although the likely redistribution could help the ALP`s margin at the next election (Victoria is likely to loose a seat at the next election, due to the border closures hitting our population hardest).

    3. The state had 2007 and 2010 on the same boundaries and then again for 2013 and 2016 but then 2016, 2019, 2022, and potentially 2025 with different boundaries! I’m assuming Melbourne will bounce back to being the highest growth city in Australia going forward to reclaim the lost seat.

    4. How long did it take Melbourne/Victoria to recover from the population losses of the late 80s and early 90s? Might be a good indicator.

    5. With all due respect Melbourne isn’t a growing population in that seat is going to go to Perth which will make the boundaries a little bit interesting

    6. Assuming Victoria loses a seat at the next redistribution i think the impact on this seat will be less pronounced than in the Eastern Suburbs like Chisholm etc. The Southern part of the electorate is undergoing new apartments etc especially close to the transport corridors. It may go north and take Jacana etc which will help Labor or go South and take parts of Parkville/Princess Hill etc. Potentially just the rest of Moreland LGA would be the best bet.

    7. As a side interesting tidbit, I had to do a little background and wondered why there’s a party called Victorian Socialists (VSO) and Socialist Alliance (SA). Seems the latter was going to join the former but decided not to… so now we have this situation of two socialists parties running in Victoria! The irony being the VSO candidate at the 2019 Election, Sue Bolton, is now running for the SA. So far this is the only seat where candidates from the two parties overlap but could be more with more to be announced closer to the election…I just had a look at the local council (Moreland) in the area that overlaps the seat and it’s very left-leaning, with Sue Bolton a Councillor.

    8. Both are trots and both are marxists, those are not mutually exclusive categories.

      I think VS was formed as an umbrella group of a number of socialist orgs including Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative but Alliance has since left and are back running their own candidates.

    9. In response to Wreathy and Ryan, Victoria stayed at 37 seats for almost 2 decades, from the late 90s all the way to the 2019 election, so it took a long while for the population to recover from the fallout.

      Also from recent statistics, it appears Queensland is going through a new boom phase that may be a recurrence from the early 00’s.

    10. Bit of a local scandal unfolding in Wills (as reported in The Age) with a local ALP Councillor charged with vote tampering. Unless it widened and sucked in more senior figures, it is unlikely to make any difference in Wills. As it no doubt has more time to run, it could be a state election issue.

    11. The circumstances of the impending lost of a seat in Victoria and the previous losses are quite different.

      Victoria was already declining in proportion of the population of the Commonwealth in the 1980s and lost seat 39 in the 1988 determination, before the recession. Victoria was increasing as a proportion of the population of the Commonwealth until early 2020.

      Part of the comparative decline in Victoria since early has been the border closure to new immigration, already mostly lifted and so one source of comparative population decline this time is of shorter duration.

      Regional Victoria has taken about half the net internal migration loss from Melbourne, unlike the 1980s, when regional Victoria was not doing better than Melbourne.

      I therefore don`t think Victoria will loose seat 38 this time around and seat 39 may not take more than a term or two to return.

      May of the industries hit by the current pandemic are less replaced than manufacturing was the in the 1980s and 1990s, making it easier for them to recover.

    12. Khalil has been on social media to defend his vote on religious discrimination (although claiming he opposed it in caucus). Greens will presumably run hard on this here.

    13. Khalil’s claim is backed up by newspaper accounts. Nevertheless, perception is reality at the ballot box, and it remains to be seen how social progressives view the episode.

    14. Greens don’t seem to be prioritising this campaign. It’s not one of their top 8 according to the Saturday paper – along with Cooper they think their chances will be better after the first term of an ALP government. Sarah Jefford isn’t popping up in any central campaign social media.

      However Labor are spending $ here – Khalil has a big billboard on Bell St. His signs south of Bell St talk about “renewable energy jobs”, and north of Bell St he talks about “Manufacturing jobs”

      Khalil along with Josh Burns and Justine Elliot are Labor Right ghouls occupying seats where Greens do well, but I haven’t seen any strong campaigns on that basis since Batman 2016. So called Labor left like Kearney and Terri Butler vote exactly the same way, same as non-factional Alicia Payne, and the caucus vote on the religious discrimination bill didn’t split neatly along factional lines.

      Winnable with LNP preferencing Greens over Labor. Perhaps Greens know this, but don’t want to emphasise a campaign here, lest it be seen as a preplanned deal should it happen. However Canberra is in their top 8 and has similar dynamics (extremely safe ALP seat where Libs might come 3rd).

    15. I have a question: Why do the Liberals do quite well in Oak Park/Glenroy (West of Pascoe Vale Rd)? Like 21-28% in the primaries in Northern Melbourne is nothing to laugh at.

    16. It is a more Liberal friendly area, near the Liberal`s best area in Northern Melbourne around Essendon (the Liberals actually held Maribyrnong 1955-69, with strong DLP preference and may have won it in 1990 if the 1988 determination had not cost Victoria a seat and expanded Maribyrnong to include some safer ALP suburbs on the other side of the Maribyrnong river. The Liberals have also won the state seat of Essendon as recently as 1992).

    17. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the ALP vote holds in booths north of Bell St this time round. I sense that the demographics of suburbs like North Coburg and Fawkner have changed a lot since the last election. More young couples, student households and youngish musician types entering the community. I suspect the Green vote will improve in the Fawkner booths. By how much I dunno.

    18. Lots of Greens corflutes have gone up recently in the Brunswick parts of the electorate, not seeing many Peter Khalil corflutes outside of a few in storefronts, as well as his quite large advertisement off Sydney Road at the Coburg end. There’s also quite a few One Nation posters for the Melbourne candidate on walls and the like, though they seem to be defaced quite frequently.

      Greens will likely in my opinion make some form of large recovery in the area as they will Cooper, though a long shot off winning it if we are basing it off the flawed science of corflute density alone.

    19. Hello folks!
      Don’t you think is time for a big change?
      Did you forget what happened during Covid in Victoria state?
      Let’s vote for right parties and try to bring a better Victoria and better Australia!

    20. Liberal preferences are flowing to Labor over Greens, and Liberal donkey votes will as well.

      As I said earlier in the thread, Greens are not targeting Wills this time. On the Greens website, they have moved the Higgings, Kooyong, Macnamara and Cooper candidates to the top of the page, but not Sarah Jefford. Jefford seems to be running a fairly standard campaign for a Melbourne seat.

      I suspect Greens may actually do worse than last time, especially on a 2PP basis (due to much weaker Liberal preferences). Jefford will be able to hang on to their base, maybe do even better than last time in Brunswick, but Greens won’t win until they can make more of a dent in the sea of red north of Bell St, which requires a big campaign.

      Again, I think Greens are saving this one for next election, after the first term of a Labor government.

    21. I can confirm that, apart from a handful of Greens signs here and there, there seems very little campaigning by the Greens here (I’m in Pascoe Vale). So it wouldn’t surprise me if indeed this was not a key Green target this time around.

      As others have noted, it is interesting to see Khalil running what might be called an old school Labor campaign this time around: lots of references to manufacturing and “local jobs for local people” in his advertising. Seems to clearly trying to distinguish himself from the Greens instead of compete directly with him head on.

    22. Since my last post, there has been a significant increase in visible campaigning and activity, with Khalil himself and various other Labor types now being a frequent presence at Pascoe Vale station.

      I notice some of the ALP’s material has a clear “Only a vote for Labor can get rid of Scomo” message, obviously trying to play on the idea of the Greens indirectly helping the Liberals….

    23. @Mark Mulcair Very interesting to note that the old school Labor campaign stuff on more manufacturing jobs and jobs for locals is increasingly being what the Coalition is campaigning on, especially in Queensland.

    24. @Dan M

      Actually I saw some of Khalil’s billboards down near Brunswick, and they’re focussing much more on Climate Change and renewable energy, etc.

      So he seems to be going for the green policies in the “Green” part of the seat, and more traditional Labor ideas in the “Labor” parts.

    25. Socialist Alliance members were part of the Victorian Socialists back in 2019, but they left VS not long afterwards. Socialist Alliance is an organization in its own right that publishes Green Left Weekly. Victorian Socialists are primarily made up of Socialist Alternative members, but there is also another faction known as Socialist Unity, within the party.

    26. @Marisa: How would right wing parties make this country any better? Freedom for Clive Palmer means the freedom to rob his workers of wages, and the freedom to dig up minerals on stolen land.

      One Nation are fascist adjacent. They would make everything worse than it already is. They don’t care about workers either. They are anti union, and don’t support penalty rates.

      We need a swing to the left.

    27. I am happy to say I live in the most left wing electorate in Australia. Wills, according to Anthony Green’s vote compass, and PCA chart is the most left wing electorate in Australia.

    28. The comment about the Greens website downplaying Jefford seems odd in hindsight, considering she’s done pretty well here by eating further into Labor’s marign.

      It’s interesting to note the slightly different dynamic between Wills and Cooper. The Greens seem to be more solid in the south of the seat here than in Cooper, but they’re not making the same inroads against Labor north of Bell Street that they seem to be in Cooper. There’s still quite a solid chunk of territory around Fawkner, Glenroy and Hadfield that is holding out strongly for Labor.

      Greens are also struggling to get above the Liberals in areas like Oak Park and Pascoe Vale where the Lib vote is relatively strong.


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