Victorian election 2014

Eltham

Margin: Labor 0.8%
Region: Eastern Metropolitan
Federal: Jagajaga (89%)/Scullin (11%)

Outgoing member: Steve Herbert (Labor)

Candidates in ballot paper order

eltham-alp

eltham-lib

CHRIS BYRNE
Independent

STEVEN BRIFFA
Liberal (bottom)

JANNA FENN
Family First

MICHAEL JANSON
Australian Christians

VICKI WARD
Labor (top)

LIEZL SHNOOKAL
Greens

RYAN EBERT
Independent

2010 BOOTH RESULTS MAP

PAST RESULTS

DEMOGRAPHICS

RESULTS MAP: Two-party preferred booth results from 2010 state election showing Liberal majority in blue and Labor in red. New boundaries in thicker blue lines, old ones in thinner red lines. Boundary data courtesy of Ben Raue of The Tally Room.

PAST RESULTS: Break at 1999 represents effect of the subsequent redistribution.

DEMOGRAPHICS: Based on 2012 census. School Leavers is percentage of high school graduates divided by persons over 18. LOTE is number identified as speaking language other than English at home, divided by total population.

Covering suburbs at the outer north-east of metropolitan Melbourne, Eltham is Labor’s most marginal seat, and a key target for the Liberals with the departure of incumbent Steve Herbert for an upper house berth. The electorate extends from Eltham itself westwards to Lower Plenty and the northern part of Greensborough, and eastwards to Research. The redistribution has added three unconnected areas from neighbouring Yan Yean – Greensborough and part of Diamond Creek in the north, and Research in the east – collectively accounting for nearly 5000 voters, with no impact on Labor’s slender 0.8% Labor margin.

Eltham was a notionally Labor seat when it was created at the 1992 election, but a massive 14.3% swing delivered an easy victory to Liberal candidate Wayne Phillips. Phillips’ margin was whittled away at the 1996 and 1999 elections, and what remained of it was easily accounted for by an 8.5% swing to Labor in the 2002 landslide. The seat has since been held by Steve Herbert, who did well to further increase his majority by 1.7% in 2006, leaving him with a sufficient buffer to withstand a 5.7% swing as the tide went out on Labor in 2010.

Herbert is vacating Eltham at the election to assume the top position on the party’s upper house ticket for Northern Victoria. James Campbell of the Herald-Sun reports a “widespread belief” among Labor sources that he will retire mid-term if Labor loses the election, making his casual vacancy available to Emma Walters, a lawyer and organiser for the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union. Walters’ parliamentary ambitions have been a headache for Daniel Andrews owing to her connections with the union, and in particular her relationship with its controversial state secretary John Setka. An upper house casual vacancy could give her a path to parliament away from the glare of an election campaign.

Labor’s new candidate is Vicki Ward, an electorate officer to federal Jagajaga MP Jenny Macklin, and formerly to Steve Herbert. The Liberals have endorsed Banyule councillor Steven Briffa, whose Hawdon ward covers Lower Plenty and southern Montmorency, together with Viewbank in neighbouring Ivanhoe.

cuOn the morning of polling day, the Herald-Sun reported that the Liberals believed themselves a “strong chance”, and I have also heard concerned talk from the Labor camp. The Australian had earlier offered mixed messages from Eltham and neighbouring Yan Yean. In the first week, it was reported that Labor’s internal polling showed it on track to retain both seats. But the following week, it was related that the Liberals believed themselves to be competitive or better.