Margin: Labor 6.1%
Location: Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Transformed by the addition of Noble Park and Dandenong North at the 1996 redistribution, Bruce was always held by the Liberals beforehand and has always been held by Labor since. Alan Griffin has remained the member since defying the John Howard landslide in 1996.
The western Melbourne seat of Bruce extended far beyond the city limits when it was created in 1955, stretching east and south as far as Cranbourne and Berwick. Suburban expansion soon drew it into its long-term base of Glen Waverley, which is currently situated at the northern end of the electorate. From there it extends southwards through Wheelers Hill, Mulgrave, Springvale and Noble Park to Dandenong North. The electorate was created in 1955 and held by the Liberals until 1996, when it assumed roughly its current dimensions by absorbing Labor-voting Noble Park and Dandenong North. The inaugural member was newcomer Billy Snedden, who went on to lead the party from December 1972 to March 1975. Ken Aldred, who had been defeated in the since-abolished seat of Henty in 1980, succeeded Snedden in Bruce upon his retirement at the 1983 election. In 1990 Aldred was defeated for Liberal preselection by Julian Beale, whose seat of Deakin had been made notionally Labor by a redistribution. Aldred then ran for Deakin himself, and won the seat on the back of a statewide backlash against Labor. Beale was forced to stand and fight when a second unfavourable redistribution was visited upon him at the 1996 election, pitting him against Labor’s member for the abolished seat of Corinella, Alan Griffin. Requiring 1.6 per cent to retain his seat, Beale could only manage 0.8 per cent in a rare disappointment for the Liberals at that election.
Alan Griffin consolidated his hold on the seat with the big swing at the 1998 election, but it returned to the marginal zone in 2004 with a 3.0 per cent shift to the Liberals, before swinging to Labor by 4.8 per cent in 2007. He was promoted to parliamentary secretary after the 1998 election, and to the shadow ministry in July 2003. In government he has served as Veterans Affairs Minister, further gaining the defence personnel portfolio in April 2010. Although noted for his influence in the Socialist Left faction, Griffin was lucky to survive a preselection challenge ahead of the 2007 election from Matt Carrick, a staffer for Right faction state Police Minister Tim Holding backed by the National Union of Workers. Griffin was reportedly saved by one vote from a Transport Workers Union delegate who split from his faction due to animus towards the NUW.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.