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Federal Election 2016

Jun 1, 2014

Seat of the week: Gorton

Labor front-bencher Brendan O'Connor is securely ensconced in what remains Labor's sixth safest seat, despite a 7.5% swing to the Liberals at last year's election.

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Red numbers indicate size of two-party majority for Labor. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Gorton is located at Melbourne’s strongly Labor-voting western edge, covering the rapidly growing fringe suburbs of Derrimut and Deer Park in the south, Caroline Springs and Kings Park in the centre and Hillside in the north, and from there extending westwards through semi-rural areas to the satellite town of Melton. The latter area was gained with the redistribution that took effect at the 2013 election, adding 32,000 voters who had previously been in Lalor. This was counterbalanced at the city end through transfers of 33,000 voters at Sydenham, Keilor and Taylors Lakes to Calwell in the north, 9000 west of the rail line in St Albans to Maribyrnong in the centre, and 13,000 in Ardeer and Sunshine West to Gellibrand in the south. This boosted the ample Labor margin of 22.2% to 23.6%, which was then cut at the election by a 7.5% swing to the Liberals.

The electorate was created at the previous redistribution ahead of the 2004 election in place of abolished Burke, which furnished it with 12,000 voters around Sydenham and also included Melton and areas beyond the city to the north. This area was covered by Corio prior to pre-war urbanisation and the expansion of parliament in 1949, after which it was accommodated by shifting aggregations of Lalor (created in 1949), Burke (1969) and Calwell (1984). With the exception of one defeat in Lalor at the Liberals’ statewide high water mark in 1966, each of these three seats has been won by Labor at every election since their creation. Gorton’s inaugural member was Brendan O’Connor, who had entered parliament as member for Burke in 2001. His exchange of the predominantly rural outskirts seats of Burke for one anchored in outer suburban Melbourne was a welcome development, boosting his margin from 5.5% to 20.2%.

O’Connor rose through Labor ranks as an official with the Australian Services Union with factional backing from the Ferguson Left, which is now more likely to be identified under its formal name of the Independent Left. He was promoted to shadow parliamentary secretary when Kevin Rudd became leader in December 2006 and then to the junior ministry after the 2007 election victory, serving first in employment participation, then in home affairs in June 2009. Justice was added to his workload after the 2010 election, and in December 2011 he was shifted to human services. O’Connor stood by factional colleague Julia Gillard during Rudd’s leadership challenges in February 2012 and June 2013, and won promotion to cabinet as Small Business Minister on the former occasion. Further promotion to the troublesome immigration portfolio followed in February 2013, and he did well to be moved to employment after Rudd assumed the leadership the following June. Since the September 2013 election defeat he has served in shadow cabinet in the employment and workplace relations portfolios.

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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1728 comments

1,728 thoughts on “Seat of the week: Gorton

  1. Kouk makes a point:

    Stephen Koukoulas ‏@TheKouk 22m

    Again @qanda lots of economic issues discussed without an economist on the panel. #qanda

  2. Retweeted by Political Alert
    Stephen Murray ‏@smurray38 3m
    Tomorrow’s Newspoll 2PP Coalition 46 ALP 54. Primary: Coalition 36 (Unchanged); Labor 37 (-1); Grn 12 (+1) Others 15 (Unchanged) #qanda

  3. Bernardi plays the victim. The 42% of Liberals represented in the audience are not all that enthusiastic for a guy who is not really a member of the Government.

  4. This Rowan Dean guy is more of a kool aid sucker than Mod Lib. Notice how he seems to be playing the same tactic as JoHo. Just speak LOUDER and FASTER!!!

  5. Stephen Koukoulas ‏@TheKouk 1m

    Dear dear dear dear dear dear dear … Rowan Dean. So much confidence with his views, so little substance #qanda

  6. [imacca
    Posted Monday, June 2, 2014 at 10:16 pm | PERMALINK
    This Rowan Dean guy is more of a kool aid sucker than Mod Lib]

    I never imbibed.

  7. So NP essentially unchanged, apart from a 1% swap between Labor and Green. The real problems for Tony and co will start when the uni fees bills are delivered to students and pensions are cut and people have to pay more for medical care, unemployment increases, etc. This is when the real big drop in Tory support will occur.

  8. Meher Baba
    ________
    Your summary re swinging voters and fairness is very true,and I fully agree with all your excellent points

    Another problem for the Libs on these matters is that unlike the USA there is a long history here ion Oz of Govt involvement in all aspects of the nationasl economic life
    In the US the Tea Party zealots are full on re their hatred of “governmemnt and the state” and this is a very American view of society,formed from a very different history…and geography to ours

    I think this is a great problemns for the Libs in trying to impose the Tea Party’s hard line (BTW at the last US elections..Seb=n Bernardi went to the US and worked and supported the Republicans Right and in particular the Tea Party
    zealots The outcome must have disappointed him greatly

  9. What is Rowan Dean?

    Wasn’t he on that olden days TV comedy show “Laugh In”? You know the one with Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin and Jud Strunk.

  10. meher baba

    Posted Monday, June 2, 2014 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    AA@1631: it’s crazy crap whoever says it, be that Joh Bjelke, Peter Beattie, Bob Katter, Kevin Rudd, Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott or whoever.

    I can’t think of a better way to waste taxpayers’ money than on the Northern Myth. From Port Essington to the Ord River to the Alice to Darwin railway. Waste, waste, waste.

    Still waiting for dual carriageway bridges over a LOT of the rivers. Roads still impassable when it rains. It will cost billions upon billions. But then as Tony has shown with so many other decisions – What Gina wants, Gina gets!!.

    Best thing that happened was Federal Labor, a significant number of bridges got upgraded. Nothing got done under Howard.