Margin: Labor 19.3%
Location: Outer North-Western Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Unloseable Labor seat in Melbourne’s outer north with two names on its honour roll: Andrew Theophanous, member from 1984 to 2001 and prison inmate from 2002 to 2004, and incumbent Maria Vamvakinou.
Electorate analysis: Calwell is a safe Labor seat that was created when the size of parliament was increased in 1984, originally being centred on Keilor and St Albans to the south of the airport. It was substantially reoriented at two later redistributions: in 1990, when it shifted north-eastwards to take in Broadmeadows, and in 2004, when it moved deep into Melbourne’s north-western outskirts to take in Sunbury.
The inaugural member for Calwell was Andrew Theophanous, who had been member for Burke from 1980. Theophanous quit the party in April 2000 after claiming factional leaders had reneged on a deal in which he was to be succeeded by his brother Theo, then and now a member of the state upper house. At the time, Theophanous was facing criminal charges relating to abuse of his position as MP, which he allegedly abused to receive bribes and sexual favours from Chinese nationals seeking immigration assistance. He would eventually be sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, although this was halved after one of the major charges was quashed on appeal.
Labor’s new candidate at the 2001 election was Maria Vamvakinou of the Socialist Left faction, who went entirely untroubled by Theophanous’s forlorn attempt to hold the seat as an independent. Vamvakinou’s 17.7 per cent margin after the 2001 election was pared back 1.6 per cent by redistribution and 6.9 per cent by Liberal swing in 2004, before going a thumping 11.1 per cent the other way in 2007.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.