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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.

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.

1297
  • 1251
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1252
    rummel
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    But I love your confidence

    its a great time to be a optimistic lib

  • 1253
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Nielsen out and bad for Labor. 56/44

  • 1254
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Labor primary down to 30%

  • 1255
    gloryconsequence
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Abbott +9 on PPM.

    Ffs

  • 1256
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Abbott takes PPM lead

  • 1257
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1258
    BK
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Abbott +9 on PPM.

    What can one say?

  • 1259
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    L-NP primary up to 47%

  • 1260
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    State break-ups will be interesting.

  • 1261
    rummel
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

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

    wow!

  • 1262
    rummel
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

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

    nice

  • 1263
    shellbell
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1264
    zoidlord
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    @rummel/1252

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

  • 1265
    gloryconsequence
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1266
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    shellbell:

    Bob Ellis? Yesterday’s man. Sorry.

  • 1267
    BK
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Whatever Gillard has on Abbott now she needs to deploy.

  • 1268
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Shellbell I thought you were too smart to take either seriously ;)

  • 1269
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    We know how the MSM operates.

    Yes we do indeed.

  • 1270
    Henry
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly a majority want the coalition to change leader…

  • 1271
    davidwh
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1272
    Henry
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1273
    gloryconsequence
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1274
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1275
    sprocket_
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Rudd and Murdoch got the poll they wanted.

  • 1276
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1277
    feeney
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1278
    Just Me
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    1268
    BK

    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.

  • 1279
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    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

  • 1280
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1281
    guytaur
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1282
    gloryconsequence
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    Newspoll is confirmed for tonight also.

  • 1283
    Jackol
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1284
    confessions
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    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

  • 1285
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    New thread.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/2013/02/17/nielsen-56-44-to-coalition-3/

  • 1286
    Player One
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    BK@1258



    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.

  • 1287
    zoidlord
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    @confessions/1284

    Small sample size + NSW negative level probably?

  • 1288
    Socrates
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1289
    guytaur
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1290
    BK
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Player One
    I hope you are right.

  • 1291
    crikey whitey
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    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.

  • 1292
    Space Kidette
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    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

  • 1293
    deblonay
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    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

  • 1294
    deblonay
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

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

  • 1295
    crikey whitey
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    This is rubbish. Whatever your view, Deblonay.

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

  • 1296
    crikey whitey
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Deblonay.

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

  • 1297
    crikey whitey
    Posted Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    William.

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