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Federal Election 2013

Aug 3, 2013

Seats of the week: Swan and Dawson

Two seats which Labor might hope to gain if they can recover from historically poor results in their respective states in 2010.

As talk firms of a September 7 election, we review another two seats which might form part of a hypothetical Labor majority, being conservative marginals in the relatively promising states of Western Australia and Queensland.

Swan (Liberal 2.5%)

The perennially tight marginal seat of Swan covers areas of inner Perth bounded to the north by the Swan River and the west and south by the Canning River. It extends from South Perth and Como north-eastwards through Victoria Park to Belmont, and south-eastwards through Bentley to Cannington. There is a division in the electorate between the affluent and Liberal-voting west and lower-income Labor-voting east, reflected in the corresponding state seats of South Perth and Victoria Park which are respectively safe for Liberal and Labor. The combination of the two areas has left the federal electorate finely poised, being decided by margins of 164 votes in 2007, 104 votes in 2004 and 294 votes in 1993.

Swan in its present form is unrecognisable as the seat that was created at federation, which covered the state’s non-metropolitan south-west. The seat’s inaugural member was John Forrest, explorer, colonial Premier, federation founding father and senior minister in early non-Labor governnments. The electorate was drawn into the metropolitan area when parliament was enlarged in 1949, at which point it continued to cover the eastern suburbs as far north as Midland. Labor only intermittently held the seat until 1969 when it was won by Adrian Bennett, who retained it until his defeat in 1975 by John Martyr.

Swan returned to the Labor fold in 1980 with the election of 32-year-old Kim Beazley Jr, future party leader and son of the Whitlam government Education Minister and long-serving Fremantle MP Kim Beazley Sr. Beazley strengthened his hold on the seat with consecutive swings of 8.1% and 8.6% in 1980 and 1983, but the expansion of parliament in 1984 cut his margin by 4.1% by transferring inner eastern suburbs around Bassendean to Perth. A sharp swing at the 1990 election further pared back Beazley’s margin, and he began to cast around for a safer seat after surviving the 1993 election by 294 votes. A safety hatch opened when Wendy Fatin retired in the somewhat safer seat of Brand along Perth’s coastal southern suburbs at the 1996 election, which Beazley was nonetheless able to retain by just 387 votes.

Swan meanwhile fell to Liberal candidate Don Randall, who was tipped out by a 6.4% swing in 1998 before returning at the 2001 election in his present capacity as member for Canning. The new Labor member for Swan was former farmer and prison officer Kim Wilkie, who barely survived a poor performance by Labor in Perth at the 2004 election despite a disastrous campaign for his Liberal opponent Andrew Murfin. A correction after the Liberals’ under-performance in 2004 presumably explains the seat bucking the trend of the 2007 election, at which the seat was one of only two in the country to fall to the Liberals, the other being the northern Perth seat of Cowan.

The seat has since been held for the Liberals by Steve Irons, a former WA league footballer and proprietor of an air-conditioning business. Irons’ tiny margin was erased by a 0.4% redistribution shift ahead of the 2010 election, but he retained the seat with a 2.8% swing that was closely in line with the statewide result. Labor’s candidate is John Bissett, deputy mayor of the Town of Victoria Park.

Dawson (Liberal National 2.4%)

Extending along the central Queensland coast from Mackay northwards through the Whitsunday Islands, Bowen and Ayr to southern Townsville, Dawson has had a wild ride after the past two elections, firstly falling to Labor with an epic swing of 13.2% in 2007 before returning to the conservative fold in 2010. The swing on the latter occasion was 5.0%, approximately in line with the statewide result, which rose to double figures in the Whitsunday region booths around Airlie Beach and Proserpine. The seat was created with the expansion of parliament in 1949, and has consistently been centred on the sugar capital of Mackay. While Mackay has consistently been an area of strength for Labor, the surrounding rural territory has tended to keep the seat in the conservative fold. The only Labor member prior to 2007 was Whitlam government minister Rex Patterson, who won the seat at a by-election in February 1967 and kept a tenuous hold until his defeat in 1975.

The Nationals retained the seat throughout the Hawke-Keating years, despite close calls in 1983 (1.2%) and 1990 (0.1%, or 181 votes). De-Anne Kelly succeeded Ray Braithwaite as the party’s member in 1996, become the first woman ever to represent the party in the House of Representatives. The swing that unseated Kelly in 2007 was one of three double-digit swings to Labor in Queensland at that election, and the only one to strike a sitting member. Labor’s unxpected victor was James Bidgood, a former Mackay councillor noted for linking the global financial crisis to biblical prophecy. Bidgood bowed out after a single term citing health problems, and was succeeded as Labor’s candidate by Whitsunday mayor Mike Brunker. Brunker however proved unable to hold back a statewide tide at the 2010 election which almost entirely undid the party’s gains of 2007.

Dawson has since been held by George Christensen, a former Mackay councillor and local newspaper publisher who sits in parliament with the Nationals. Christensen suffered an embarrassment during the 2010 campaign with the emergence of newsletters he had written as a university student containing what Tony Abbott conceded were “colourful” views on Jews, gays and women. He has more recently been noted for his hostility to Islamic radicalism, having been the only federal MP to attend rallies held in Australia by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders. His Labor opponent for the coming election is Bronwyn Taha, a former Proserpine restaurant owner and electorate officer to state Whitsunday MP Jan Jarratt.

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2259 comments

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Darn
Guest

Just wondering.

Apart from Meguire Bob is there anyone here who is

A. Very confident Labor will win

B. Quietly confident Labor will win.

I must admit my own level of optimism has taken a bit of a hit after this past week.

Sean Tisme
Guest

[So why would the punters go toward the Coalition Party knowing they would be worse off?]

Can the punters be more than $30 Billion Dollar Deficit worse off?

WeWantPaul
Guest

But then again take the biggest and most useless fool in any local govt and they are gonna be smarter, more honest and more competent than Joe “hogwarts” Hockey, Scott “drown em all” Morrison and that other guy.

WeWantPaul
Guest

[Treasury: Hockey vs.
1. Swan and
2. Bowen

Immigration: Morrison vs.
1. Chris Evans
2. Chris Bowen
3. Brendan O’Connor
4. Tony Burke

Small Business: Billson vs.
1. Craig Emerson
2. Nick Sherry
3. Mark Arbib
4. Brendan O’Connor
5. Chris Bowen
6. Gary Gray]

Funny I think competence should be, where we can produce up to 6 cabinet ministers more competent than the opposition in a single portfolio, clearly they are hopeless.

Utopia
Guest

I reckon stability will be a big issue in this election

Treasury: Hockey vs.
1. Swan and
2. Bowen

Immigration: Morrison vs.
1. Chris Evans
2. Chris Bowen
3. Brendan O’Connor
4. Tony Burke

Small Business: Billson vs.
1. Craig Emerson
2. Nick Sherry
3. Mark Arbib
4. Brendan O’Connor
5. Chris Bowen
6. Gary Gray

Boerwar
Guest
sprocket_
Guest

I suspect it was a mistake to not implement the Debates Commission, and a follow up mistake of not having the debate schedule and format ready and released as part of the election announcement.

Now Rudd’s big advantage, that his IQ is double that of Abbott’s, is going to be gamed by Loghnane and Credlin.

Rorted Hill Mark2.

citizen
Guest

It’s quite possible that there won’t be any Rudd-Abbott debates face to face this election.

Rudd certainly holds the upper hand and will more than likely continue to goad Abbott throughout the campaign.

It seem to be developing into a staring contest as to who will blink first. Rudd is unlikely to blink and Abbott may just go through the campaign promising to participate in a debate but continuing to avoid one.

mexicanbeemer
Guest

Mod Lib

When considering Treasury budget papers we need to remember that the Accounting process is a complex process which is open to change as the Accounting period proceeds.

Centre
Guest

Boerwar

If you are in a marginal seat in Victoria you are being very foolish if you don’t vote properly!

Henry
Guest

Howard, like Labor now; spent as to treasury forecast.
Pretty simple really.

Dee
Guest

[Australia has a triple AAA rating under Rudd-Gillard-Rudd which they never had under Howard or any Coalition Government.

Get it?]

And unlike Howard who was governing during boom times the ALP achieved this during an economic downturn.

gloryconsequence
Guest

If Labor starts the campaign at 48-52 that’s fine, and probably standard.

zoidlord
Guest

@Mod Lib

They did not have a few hours with the new numbers, they had a week.

If they cannot work with that sort of time frame then they do not deserve to be elected.

Centre
Guest

Mod Lib, don’t tell me to get it because you don’t.

Treasury makes forecasts. Forecasts with really, really big numbers. Treasury was even less accurate under Howard, but lucky for him on the upside, not downside with Labor.

Howard wasted excess government revenue from the mining boom!

Scarpat
Guest

Howard didnt spend every last cent that Treasury said he was going to get.

Rudd-Gillard-Rudd did.

Australia has a triple AAA rating under Rudd-Gillard-Rudd which they never had under Howard or any Coalition Government.

Get it?

cud chewer
Guest

[Get it?]

Howard was lucky.

Get it?

ruawake
Guest

Mod Lib

Surely you will admit the L-NP have to come up with some serious budget cuts to fund their promises.

The revenue falls are facts, they will happen whoever is elected. Where do your mob find $69 billion?

Bet you can’t answer the question.

New2This
Guest

Six years.
Pink batts. Dead children house fires.
Grocery watch, fuel watch.
Mining tax debacle.
Failed ETS. Green alliance carbon tax.
Knifed pm. School hall rorts.
Failed NBN rollout. Cost blowout.
AWU scandal. Craig Thomson. Peter slipper.
Pm knifed again.
Boats boats boats. Over a thousand people dead.
Billions blown on asylum seekers.
Png solution 1600 arrive 40 sent. Millions wasted.

wpDiscuz