Electoral Form Guide: Deakin
Margin: Labor 1.4%
Location: Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Deakin was one of only two Victorian seats gained by Labor as part of their 2007 election victory and the only one in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, where so many past elections have been won and lost. The coming election looms as a rematch of 2007, with former Liberal member Phil Barresi seeking to recover the seat he lost to Labor’s Mike Symon.
Two-party vote map
Swing % map
Electorate analysis: Deakin was one of Labor’s modest harvest of two Victorian seats at the 2007 election, along with Corangamite. Centred on the eastern Melbourne suburbs of Blackburn and Nunawading, and extending east down the Maroondah Highway to Ringwood and Croydon, the seat was created in 1937, at which time it extended far beyond the city limits to Seymour and Mansfield. It gained its wholly urban orientation in 1969, and assumed roughly its current dimensions when it lost Box Hill in 1977. Despite its middle suburban location, Deakin does not fit the mortgate belt mould: census figures show an average number of dwellings being purchased, a high level of full ownership and few renters. A trend of increasing Liberal support as the electorate extends eastwards does not correlate with income levels, which are in fact slightly higher in the west, and might instead be explained by a notable lack of ethnic diversity in the east.
For a seat that has been marginal for most of its history, Deakin has brought Labor remarkably little joy: prior to 2007 their only win was when the Hawke government came to power in 1983, and it was lost again when Hawke went to the polls early in December 1984. The seat presented a picture of electoral stability from 1984 to 2001, when Liberal margins ranged only from 0.7 per cent to 2.5 per cent (although the 1990 redistribution muffled the impact of a 4.3 per cent Liberal swing). Barresi came to the seat in 1996 after winning preselection at the expense of controversial incumbent Ken Aldred, who in turn became member in 1990 after his predecessor, Julian Beale, defeated him for preselection in his existing seat of Bruce. The 2004 election gave Barresi the biggest margin the Liberals had known since 1977, requiring Labor to achieve the biggest swing since 1980 in order to win. Mike Symon duly achieved this with 1.4 per cent to spare, on the back of a swing that was evenly distributed throughout the electorate.
Mike Symon had previously been an official with the Electrical Trades Union, and became a target of Coalition barbs ahead of the election amid controversies surrounding ETU colleagues Dean Mighell and Kevin Harkins (ousted as member for Franklin). His preselection was achieved through a three-vote win over local general practitioner Peter Lynch, the candidate from 2004, who reportedly won the 50 per cent local vote component before being rebuffed by the state party’s tightly factionalised Public Office Selection Committee. Phil Barresi won the right to recontest his old seat in the first round of a preselection vote amid a field that again included Ken Aldred (whose preselection win for Holt was overturned by wiser heads after the last election), along with local businesswoman Deanna Ryall.
Deakin was one of four Victorian marginals covered by a Galaxy survey of 800 respondents in the second last week of the campaign, and it showed a collective swing to Labor of 1.6 per cent. The JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted during the final weekend of the campaign, covering 400 respondents in the electorate with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, had Labor leading 61-39.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.