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Federal Election 2013

Feb 16, 2013

Seat of the week: Bendigo

The federal electorate of Bendigo has been trending to Labor since Steve Gibbons gained it for them in 1998, but it is reportedly back on the Liberals' radar with his impending retirement.

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Created at federation, the electorate of Bendigo currently extends from the city itself south to Castlemaine and the Macedon Ranges around Woodend, also taking in smaller rural centres to the west and north. The redistribution to take effect at the next election has added the Macedon Ranges area from McEwen in the electorate’s south-east, and transferred Maryborough and its surrounds to Wannon in the west. The changes respectively affect about 7000 and 10,000 voters but have only a negligible impact on the Labor margin, which goes from 9.5% to 9.4%.

Bendigo was first won by Labor in 1913, having earlier been in Protectionist and Liberal hands. Billy Hughes contested the seat as the Nationalist Prime Minister in the wake of the Labor split of 1917, having recognised he would be unable to retain his existing safe Labor seat of West Sydney, and succeeded in unseating Labor incumbent Alfred Hampson with a 12.5% swing. Hughes would remain member for five years before moving to North Sydney. Bendigo was in conservative hands thereafter until 1949, except when Richard Keane held it for a term after Labor came to office in 1929. George Rankin gained the seat for the Country Party when United Australia Party incumbent Eric Harrison retired in 1937.

Bendigo emerged with the curious of distinction of being gained by Labor when it lost office in 1949, and next lost by them when they finally returned to power in 1972. The win in 1949 resulted from the redistribution giving effect to the enlargement of parliament, which accommodated the state’s northern rural reaches in the new seat of Murray and transferred Castlemaine and Maryborough to Bendigo. John Bourchier won the seat for the Liberals against the trend of a substantial pro-Labor swing in Victoria in 1972, which was variously put down to the entry of a popular Country Party candidate and attacks on Labor member David Kennedy over state aid and his liberal position on abortion. Bourchier would in turn hold the seat until the Fraser government’s defeat in 1983.

Bendigo was then held for Labor by future Victorian Premier John Brumby, who served for three terms before joining Victorian Labor’s extensive casualty list at the 1990 election. Bruce Reid served for three terms as Liberal member until his retirement in 1998, when Labor’s Steve Gibbons, a former Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union official and electorate officer to Brumby, gained the seat with a swing of 4.4%. Gibbons came within 1.0% of defeat at the 2004 election before enjoying consecutive swings of 5.2% and 3.4% in 2007 and 2010. After announcing in September 2011 he would not seek another term, Gibbons became less disciplined in his public pronouncements, proclaiming on Twitter that Kevin Rudd was a “psychopath”, Tony Abbott a “douchebag”, Julie Bishop a “narcissistic bimbo”, and Australia Day an “Invasion Day” celebrated by “throwing bits of dead animals on a cooking fire just like the people we dispossessed”.

Labor’s new candidate is Lisa Chesters, a Kyneton-based official with the same Socialist Left union that once employed Gibbons, which has lately been rebadged as United Voice. Earlier speculation that the seat might be used to accommodate electorally endangered Senator David Feeney or even a return to federal politics for John Brumby was quickly scotched. Greg Westbrook, director of legal firm Petersen Westbrook Cameron, was an early nominee, but in the event Chesters was preselected without opposition. The Liberal candidate is Greg Bickley, owner of a local transport business. Other reported nominees for Liberal preselection were Jack Lyons, owner of construction business Lyons Constructions, and Peter Wiseman, a teacher and owner of a website design business.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

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1,296 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Bendigo

  1. Dan Gulberry


    “Every Australian owes a debt to Western Australia and in an important sense, West Australians are the best Australians,” Mr Abbott said.

    Just what the feck do you mean by this Abbott? Please stay there if you like it so much.

    Shit, no. NSW is welcome to him.

  2. Diogenes


    As a wise person said

    [“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

  3. davidwh

    Rua 1156 seems very clear to me what they were saying?

  4. lizzie


    I’ve heard of that but never made it. (Food notes make a pleasant change, dotted amongst the political angst!)

  5. confessions

    [“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”]


  6. confessions

    [margo kingston ‏@margokingston1
    Qld Govt puts out call to place hospital in private hands | Sunshine Coast Daily http://bit.ly/YfTS20 Abbott approve? Will anyone ask him?]

  7. ruawake

    [Rua 1156 seems very clear to me what they were saying?]

    What that Labor is not trying to win seats in NSW and that their vote in Vic is about as high as it can go.

    Its kindergarten stuff and Sam Maiden should do much better.

  8. This little black duck


    I have the recipe somewhere and I’m sure Google would be your friand.

  9. davidwh

    No I think the article is saying the challenge is to hold their ground in NSW & VIC and pick up seats in other states. Seems like a sound strategy if they can pull it off.

    I don’t believe the article is saying they don’t try in NSW & VIC just that seats there don’t seem vunerable.

    Can’t see where your problem is?

  10. confessions

    Why Credlin’s ban on Liberals using twitter this year is dumb:

  11. confessions

    Of course, it would be good to have Australian data. But still, use of social media is growing.

  12. kezza2


    [I just reckon a three year tantrum is long enough.]

    Well, GG, I’ve been called all the nasties in the universe for calling out all the male commentators “sexist” in their opinionastering.

    These guys, who would never have subjected another bloke to a three-year onslaught – oh, what, stabbed in the back, get over it, this is just politics, get over it – won’t let up.

    They’re consumed by a homo sapient sapient with a hole between her legs taking the top role.

    Talk about domestic violence on a grand scale.

    There are so many of them. Both on independent media and the msm.

    I won’t reiterate the roll call, for fear of being branded as “NASTY” by the moderator, but sheesh it’s not hard to point them out.

    Every time one of them takes a step forward, and says, well she’s not so bad, another 50 jump out of the woodwork to say yes she is, get back in line.

    Then we have blokes’ sphincters arrayed in a line, all tightened and afraid of losing their jobs in case they praise JG for anything.

    It’s pathetic, especially when we are over 50% of the population. But then women have to look after their sons as well as their daughters.

    And to make the peace, because men have a few more muscles that can do more damage than women, women always have to make the peace for harmony.

    It has ever been thus.

    That JG claimed the PMship without a drop of blood being spilled, makes no difference.

    There must have been. Abbott continually said in the first days of parliament “Out damn spot” – a reference to an illegal Shakespearian taking of Ruling that did not belong.

    The msm have continuously, fraudulently, portrayed to the public that JG is illegitimate, as if she belonged to a warring faction of the Wars of the Roses.

    What a fkn farce.

    When they discovered it wasn’t between the Catholics and the Protestants – hey, JG is an atheist – that’s worse. The keepers of the Sky Fairies can’t/won’t cope.

    So, what are you blokes going to do about it? It’s about time you stepped up to the mark to stop this nonsense.

  13. This little black duck


    Son used to work at Coolum Surf Club till about four years ago. Bar Boss. 6’3″.

  14. ruawake


    People are livid at the plan to sell the Sunny Coast Hospital before it has opened. Newman knows how to lose votes.

  15. NathanA

    rua 1133

    I don’t know if you could call this a flat-out lie, as there are funds from this announcement that were included from the industry research transformation hubs in todays announcement. The Govt has been upfront about this but the funds have increased substantially, as I understand from news reports, which may not be entirely accurate.

    Also, if the scheme was announced in 2011 then it would be perfectly normal for nothing to have happened by now, many grant processes take around a year from application to spending the money, and they are wel established processes. Just look at the ARC funding timelines to give you an idea of this, and they haven’t changed with a change of Government. So to say that it won’t happen because nothings happened yet, isn’t justified at all.

    So I would say the shadow minister for industry, innovation and science isn’t lying, instead she is just ignorant about things that are happening in her portfolio. Things like science, industry and innovation.

  16. confessions

    Ch10 news chose to omit JBishop’s year of the goat remarks, and edited out the more arrogant displays by Abbott, but got Ben Wyatt saying Barnett was playing puppy dog to his federal leader while he’s in town, and described the launch as an American style campaign launch.

  17. This little black duck

    Another comment just got lost in the Crikey Triangle.
    [instead she is just ignorant about things that are happening in her portfolio]
    She does not have the nous or desire to get the facts; much less to talk coherently about them.

  18. This little black duck

    [an American style campaign launch]
    And we know what happened to Mitt.

  19. sprocket_

    A good read from an ex journo on Murdoch’s last gasp of relevance


  20. This little black duck

    Did Troy Boy have an empty chair?

  21. confessions


    Troy Boy got the loudest applause from the crown and a VERY enthusiastic intro by JBishop.

    WA Liberals clearly love seat warmers.

  22. confessions


  23. Paul Austin

    Opinion polls taken in 2001 indicated that over 90 percent supported Howard’s policies on the boats. That means that less than ten percent support left-wing policies. The very definition of an elite.

  24. sprocket_

    Did Buswell try any dry humping at the launch?

    Fair dinkum, these Tories get an easy ride here.

  25. This little black duck

    [Troy Boy got the loudest applause from the crown]

  26. This little black duck

    ABC says they are doing Minister v Shadow on Q&A. There are not enough weeks left to do all the portfolios. I smell rotten fish.

  27. confessions

    [Tony Abbott has addressed the WA Liberal Party’s campaign rally, telling the crowd he hopes to model his government on Premier Colin Barnett’s.]

    A minority government?

  28. Diogenes


    They could just do Cabinet level portfolios. Then it would fit on.

  29. Inner Westie

    Someone found a quokka in Buswell’s dressing room… Must have been a stray.

  30. BK

    How many genuine head-to-heads do you reckon will occur?
    Not many, Id say.

  31. confessions

    [ABC says they are doing Minister v Shadow on Q&A.]

    Then why is Greg Hunt on tomorrow night with Plibersek instead of Dutton?

  32. deblonay

    Re the terrible dry in Vic…
    Bloody Baileau !
    Today the B.O.M map shows a vast monsoonal trough and much rain all across our north though
    none for poor unfortunate Melb gardens
    So Lizzie…are your vegies suffering fron thew Melb drought ??

  33. This little black duck

    [Australia Women 32/0 (5.4 ov)]
    Off to a good start.

  34. ruawake

    Paul Austin

    Its 2013 you know.

  35. lizzie


    Not only vegies. Trees (30m gums) and many 2m bushes dying. Couldn’t water everything even if I wanted to. Just have to wait and see what’s alive come autumn.

  36. confessions

    [Bridget O’Flynn ‏@BridgetOFlynn
    Julie Bishop: It’s a productivity measure (Paid Parental Leave) No Jules it’s a tax on big business.]

    Is anyone bothering to watch JBishop blunder her way through on Sky?

  37. my say


    will you be passing that experience on to who ever
    you thinks best.
    hope so

  38. This little black duck


    How many genuine head-to-heads do you reckon will occur?
    Not many, Id say.

    No Abbott, no Hockey, No Robb, a Morrison, a Hunt, no Mirabella, a BishopJ, an Andrews.

  39. confessions

    [Craig Emerson MP ‏@CraigEmersonMP
    Why are Libs so attracted to recessions? Abbott lauded NZ during GFC = 5 -ve growth quarters. Now lauding Germany with negative Dec quarter.]

  40. lizzie

    Keep up the fight, chaps. I luv yous all.

  41. Tricot

    Incidentally, that power-packed survey of 800 or so Oz women, Australia wide, from which it was, with a straight face touting that “Women fall for Abbott” (if one can be straight-faced in print)has virtually disappeared from news services.

    To think there were one or two r/w hacks here who actually took it seriously and actually quoted from it as though it was credible.

    The sounds of laughter I think caused it to die of embarrassment.

    Such a blatant suck-up to Abbott and polishing of brass knobs.

  42. gloryconsequence

    How many women under 30 have a landline anyway.

  43. confessions

    Ah I see. The show JBishop is on is hosted by Chris Kenny.

    No wonder nobody’s watching it!!!

  44. BK

    Mesma and LittleFace – a match made in heaven!

  45. ruawake

    [How many women under 30 have a landline anyway.]

    How can a pollster get them when they are not chatting on the phone?

    Runs and hides. 😆

  46. mimhoff

    [No Abbott, no Hockey, No Robb, a Morrison, a Hunt, no Mirabella, a BishopJ, an Andrews.]

    Abbott and Gillard will probably be offered the whole program to themselves (as was done last election, and as Gillard has done a couple of times since).

    They should go ahead with the shows anyway even if only one side turns up. I’d watch a genuine “audience gets to question ministers” discussion…

  47. mimhoff

    [No Abbott, no Hockey, No Robb, a Morrison, a Hunt, no Mirabella, a BishopJ, an Andrews.]

    Abbott and Gillard will probably be offered the whole program to themselves (as was done last election, and as Gillard has done a couple of times since).

    They should go ahead with the shows anyway even if only one side turns up. I’d watch a genuine “audience gets to question ministers” discussion…

  48. mimhoff

    It would also be interesting if neither one shows up and the audience gets to grill Tony Jones for an hour.

  49. rummel

    Im going for 60/40 Libs on Newspoll tonight.

    and for once in months its a very good chance of happening tonight.

  50. shellbell

    Cricinfo accepts that this photo on their profile page for one of the West Indian players in the women’s World Cup final may need updating


  51. davidwh

    No guarantee we will see any poll results tonight Rummel. But I love your confidence which is right up there with MB’s 😉

  52. gloryconsequence

    Just for shits and giggles I’m calling a 52-48 rogue Newspoll

  53. davidwh

    Trying to pick Newspoll results is like trying to catch an greasy pig.

  54. rummel

    [But I love your confidence ]

    its a great time to be a optimistic lib

  55. davidwh

    Nielsen out and bad for Labor. 56/44

  56. davidwh

    Labor primary down to 30%

  57. gloryconsequence

    Abbott +9 on PPM.


  58. davidwh

    Abbott takes PPM lead

  59. confessions

    [Peter Brent ‏@mumbletwits
    Nielsen on a Monday usually means a Newspoll on Monday too ….]

  60. BK

    [Abbott +9 on PPM.]
    What can one say?

  61. davidwh

    L-NP primary up to 47%

  62. davidwh

    State break-ups will be interesting.

  63. rummel

    GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll Preferred PM: Gillard 45 (-5) Abbott 49 (+9)


  64. rummel

    [GhostWhoVotes ‏@GhostWhoVotes
    #Nielsen Poll Primary Votes: ALP 30 (-5) L/NP 47 (+4) ]


  65. shellbell

    That poll cannot be right because Bob Ellis, darling of Independent Australia, said Nielsen would be good for ALP and Fairfax were suppressing it.

  66. zoidlord


    That’s what you said when polls were at 60-40.

  67. gloryconsequence

    7 months left etc etc etc…

    But this is dismal. Gillard will not get any clear air regardless of what she says. We know how the MSM operates.

    Pretty dire.

  68. confessions


    Bob Ellis? Yesterday’s man. Sorry.

  69. BK

    Whatever Gillard has on Abbott now she needs to deploy.

  70. davidwh

    Shellbell I thought you were too smart to take either seriously 😉

  71. confessions

    [We know how the MSM operates.]

    Yes we do indeed.

  72. Henry

    Interestingly a majority want the coalition to change leader…

  73. davidwh

    Looks like Ghost decided to get in early and trump James.

  74. Henry

    Rudd is all over the joint, no focus on policy and this is what we get.

  75. gloryconsequence

    Henry – there’s a reason Rudd has upped his exposure.

  76. confessions

    Just saw another Liberal ad on TV declaring R4R is here to stay. This on top of the Lib candidate flyer saying the Liberals are fully committed to R4R.

    They must be really worried about the campaign the Nats are waging in the regions.

  77. sprocket_

    Looks like Rudd and Murdoch got the poll they wanted.

  78. confessions

    [Rudd is all over the joint, no focus on policy and this is what we get.]

    Expect it to continue. The only way Rudd becomes invisible is when Labor polling improves.

  79. feeney

    Amazed at PPM figures but not 2PP. A lot has been going on.

    Bob Ellis is a pathetic drunk and should not be taken seriously on any matter.

  80. Just Me

    [Whatever Gillard has on Abbott now she needs to deploy.]

    Timing might not be under her control, might depend on external factors, like court cases, etc.

  81. confessions

    [Adonis the Geek ‏@geeksrulz
    The PM and the many LOTOS she is facing and fighting. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/DvAgEPjd GOLD from @Thefinnigans #auspol ]

    Says it all

  82. confessions

    So, bets on Newspoll then? Mumble seems sure they’ll release tonight as well.

  83. guytaur

    ITs a long way until September 14. Remember May is a big month. Some way to go until then.

  84. gloryconsequence

    Newspoll is confirmed for tonight also.

  85. Jackol

    The ALP have had a bad couple of weeks, and as I said before I think the sport doping scandal is a big factor.

    No surprise at the bad result for the ALP. It doesn’t change anything in the short term.

  86. confessions

    What does this mean?

    [Peter Brent ‏@mumbletwits
    Yes, with sample size caveats. Big NSW component? (Nielsen) RT @littleaud1 The state splits will be interesting just to c the trend ]

  87. Player One


    Abbott +9 on PPM.

    What can one say?

    That we knew this was likely – BB (among others) predicted it. And that it is 6 months or so till the real campaign starts.

    Do you seriously believe Abbott – a man of zero substance – can sustain a 7 month election campaign?

    I don’t – and I think Gillard’s plan all along has been to make this plain to the electorate. Abbott has to spend the next 7 months in electioneering mode, with nothing in the way of policies. All Labor has to do for the next 6 months or so is govern effectively while Abbott is busting a gut trying to make his flimsy brainfarts look like policy.

    Then, when it is plain as a pikestaff that the LNP are so full of hot air that they will have to start buying carbon offsets just to keep their campaign going, Labor can begin the real election campaign.

    Lots of water to go under the bridge tonight. And (with luck) perhaps a few bodies as well – like those who continue to white-ant the ALP.

  88. zoidlord


    Small sample size + NSW negative level probably?

  89. Socrates

    Sorry to hear about the 56/44 Neilsen but not surprised. The last week has been all focused on Labor, and in a bad way. Meanwhile Abbott had almost no scrutiny at all, again.

    I remain very concerned. The budget is in May, discussion of it will occupy June, and July/August will be largely the campaign proper. That leaves only about 8 weeks to influence voters about Abbott’s nature before events overtake Labor. Abbott was not a bad campaigner in 2013, and will have 50% of the press supporting him as well. The campaign period will be too late.

    Unless we want an economically illiterate, misogynistic, fundamentalist, speedo-wearing megalomaniac as PM, Labor must clean out the NSW right faction and focus on Abbott and nothing else immediately. A change to Rudd will not solve this; IMO the NSW legacy would swamp him too. Plus the look of panic from another change wold be disastrous.

    Today’s manufacturing announcement was well meaning, but again insufficient. They are a small share of total workers. Focus on Abbott’s misogyny ( while telling the Labor catholic right to button their lips for six months) and you stand to pick up a much larger share of 51% of all voters.

  90. guytaur

    When Labor kills the Coaltion on economy, education, health and the NBN the LNP agenda folds.

    There is only so long LNP will get away from running from policy. We also do not know how soft the result is. That being what is said before a campaign and when a campaign starts.

    We know most do not pay attention to politics until then. We also know people are likely to say they are for the opposition to scare the government to get more results.

    The narrowing is not a figment and will happen come the campaign. As even Abbott concedes when he states complacency is the enemy.

  91. BK

    Player One
    I hope you are right.

  92. crikey whitey

    BK 1267

    ‘Whatever Gillard has on Abbott now she needs to deploy’.

    I am dismayed, but not surprised.

    Cannot imagine what Julia has on Abbott.

    Windsor has the goods.

  93. Space Kidette

    Jane Austin ‏@JaneAustinALP

    The #battle4denison is on. Here’s my 1st video telling you a little bit about me: http://youtu.be/sb2372xhtoA Pls retweet 🙂 #politas

  94. deblonay

    Re Polls
    Why is anybody suprised ??

    A whole catalogue of disasters…Obeid/NSW Right/Gillard’s unpopularity(yes she really is not much loved apart from some here like GG who thinks she is The Virgin Mary and can work miracles!!)
    For two years we have heard the manta that it will come good before the elections…but no sign of that

    The rise in Abbott’s support seems to show the extent of the electoraL swing to the Libs _…they are going to vote for him so they might as well like him…feel good politicss !

    A disaster too in terms of caucus members in a whole range of marginals…not just NSW either
    So what now…Rudd,,could he win ..well we now nowq that Gillard cannot
    Not many options left

  95. deblonay

    A great silence has fallen over PB ?
    No posts for 3/4 of an hour!

  96. crikey whitey

    This is rubbish. Whatever your view, Deblonay.

    I hold to the certainty that Labor will be the preferred option. On polling day.

  97. crikey whitey


    I had not read your post before posting. No idea what has happened.

  98. crikey whitey