Margin: Liberal 1.1%
Location: South-Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Dunkley was one of nine Victorian seats to the fall to the Liberals in 1990 and has stayed with the party ever since, Labor having just fallen short at its statewide high-water mark in 2010.
The candidates (ballot paper order)
KATE DOLINA RYDER
Dunkley covers an area of bayside Melbourne about 40 kilometres from the city centre which has been effectively unchanged by the redistribution. It consists of two distinct electoral parts, with Labor-leaning Frankston and its northern coastal neighbour Seaford slightly outweighed by blue-ribbon Mount Eliza immediately to the south. The electorate further extends south to Liberal-leaning Mornington along the coast, and inland to marginal Langwarrin. The north-south electoral cleavage reflects a straightforward divide in incomes, the area being notably Anglo at both ends.
Dunkley was created with the enlargement of parliament in 1984 and won for Labor by Robert Chynoweth, who had cut short Peter Reith’s brief first stint in parliament by winning Flinders for Labor at the 1983 election. Chynoweth was re-elected with a small swing in 1987 and then gained a 3.9% boost with a redistribution that shifted the electorate northwards, exchanging Mornington for Chelsea. However, even this was not sufficient to hold back a tide that costs Labor nine Victorian seats at the 1990 election, with Liberal candidate Frank Ford gaining the seat off a 6.8% swing. Chynoweth ran again in 1993 and emerged a surprise winner, securing a slender 0.6% margin after a 1.9% swing. His hopes for another term was effectively dashed when a new redistribution effectively undid the last, leaving him to defend a negative margin at a losing election.
Dunkley has since been held for the Liberals by Bruce Billson, who by the 2004 election had built enough of a buffer to survive swings to Labor of 5.3% in 2007 and 3.0% in 2010. Billson rose to the outer ministry in the last two years of the Howard government and then to the front bench in opposition, but he was demoted to the outer shadow ministry by Malcolm Turnbull after backing other horses in progressive leadership ballots. He would return in the small business portfolio when Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009, and has held it and related portfolios ever since.
Billson’s Labor opponent at the coming election is Sonya Kilkenny, a commercial lawyer from Seaford.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.