Victorian election 2014

Macedon

Margin: Labor 2.3%
Region: Northern Victoria
Federal: McEwen (43%)/Bendigo (38%)/Ballarat (17%)/Gorton (2%)

Outgoing member: Joanne Duncan (Labor)

Candidates in ballot paper order

macedon-alp

macedon-lib

NEIL BARKER
Greens

MARY-ANNE THOMAS
Labor (top)

PETER HARLAND
Family First

DONNA PETROVICH
Liberal (bottom)

2010 BOOTH RESULTS MAP

PAST RESULTS
(GISBORNE/MACEDON)

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.

Taking its name from the Macedon Ranges to the north-west of Melbourne, Macedon has been substantially redrawn by the redistribution, losing the satellite town of Sunbury at its southern end to the new electorate of the same name. This costs it about half of its voters and gives the seat a more rural orientation, with gains of 12,000 voters in and around Daylesford and Kyneton from Ballarat East, which has been renamed Buninyong; 1400 voters around Elphinstone to the north, from Bendigo West; and 1400 voters around Blackwood from Melton in the south. Despite the scale of the changes, the Labor margin in the seat is little changed, up from 1.3% to 2.3%.

Macedon was created at the 2002 election in place of abolished Gisborne, which was held by the Liberals from its creation in 1967 (by Athol Guy of The Seekers fame from 1971 to 1979) until Labor’s dramatic win in 1999, when a 9.4% swing thwarted senior Kennett government minister Rob Knowles in his bid to transfer from the upper house. The new electorate had a notional Liberal margin of 0.4% going into the 2002 election, but Duncan secured a 9.6% swing against Liberal candidate Bernie Finn, who had lost his lower house seat of Tullamarine in 1999 and would return in the upper house region of Western Metropolitan in 2006. Successive swings against Duncan of 1.0% in 2006 and 6.9% in 2010 were not sufficient to unseat her, her margin at the 2010 election being 1.3%.

Joanne Duncan’s retirement announcement ahead of the coming election initiated a controversial Labor preselection contest that was won by Mary-Anne Thomas, former executive manager of child rights organisation Plan International and an unsuccessful federal preselection candidate for Batman in 2013. The plebiscite of local party members was won resoundingly by Christian Zahra, the former federal member for the west Gippsland seat of McMillan from 1998 to 2004, who had support from Paul Keating and federal Ballarat MP Catherine King. However, Thomas was the favoured candidate of the Socialist Left, to which the seat was reserved under its “stability pact” with the prevailing forces within Labor Unity. This caused her to overwhelmingly dominate the 50% of the vote determined by the party’s factionalised Public Office Selection Committee, securing her a narrow win when the two were added together.

Zahra’s failure after recording 81% of the local vote caused grave resentment among branch members, fuelled by the fact that Thomas hailed from inner-city Northcote (although she has since moved to Kyneton). Other critics of the decision including John Cain, Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson, who pointed to the precedent of the Liberals’ unsuccessful attempt to parachute Rob Knowles into Gisborne in 1999.

The Liberal candidate is Donna Petrovich, who held an upper house seat for the Northern Victorian region from 2006 to 2013, and served as a parliamentary secretary for the period after the November 2010 election. Petrovich quit the seat to run in McEwen at the 2013 federal election, but landed 313 votes short of victory despite picking up a 9.0% swing.