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Federal Election 2016

Aug 31, 2014

Seat of the week: Menzies

The 2013 election delivered the Liberal Party its biggest margin yet in the eastern Melbourne seat of Menzies, which it had held comfortably since its creation in 1984.

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Blue numbers indicate size of two-party Liberal polling booth majorities. Click for larger image. Map boundaries courtesy of Ben Raue at The Tally Room.

Menzies covers eastern Melbourne suburbs from Bulleen at the western end through Templestowe, Doncaster, Donvale and Warrandyte to Wonga Park and Croydon North at the eastern end. It was created with the expansion of parliament in 1984, prior to which the area had been divided between Diamond Valley in the west and Casey in the east. At the time of its creation it extended northwards to Eltham, but this area was exchanged for the Warrandyte end of the electorate in 1996. The entire area is solid or better for the Liberals, who have held the seat at all times by margins of no less than 5.4%. The present margin of 14.5% is the highest in the electorate’s history, following consecutive swings of 2.7% against the statewide trend in 2010 and 5.8% in 2013.

The inaugural member for Menzies was Neil Brown, who had held Diamond Valley from 1969 to 1972 and again from 1975 to 1983, having lost the seat with the defeats of Coalition governments on both occasions. Established in the safe new seat of Menzies from 1985, he served as the party’s deputy leader under John Howard from 1985 to 1987. Brown retired in February 1991 and was succeeded by Kevin Andrews, who won the by-election held the following May without opposition from the Labor Party.

Noted for his religious convictions and social conservatism, Andrews came to prominence when he spearheaded a successful push to overturn Northern Territory euthanasia laws in federal parliament. He was promoted to the outer ministry as Ageing Minister after the 2001 election and then to cabinet in October 2003, serving first as Workplace Relations Minister during the introduction of WorkChoices and then as Immigration Minister from January 2007 until the government’s defeat the following November, in which time he was dogged by the Muhamed Haneef affair.

Andrews was dropped from the Coalition front bench after the November 2007 election defeat, but returned as Shadow Families, Housing and Human Services Minister when Tony Abbott became leader in December 2009. He had played a key role in Abbott’s rise to the leadership, having made a tokenistic challenge to Turnbull’s leadership a week earlier in protest against his support for the Rudd government’s emissions trading scheme. Andrews was back in cabinet following the election of Abbott’s government in September 2013 in the role of Social Services Minister, a newly packaged portfolio encompassing aged care, multicultural affairs and settlement services.

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