Margin: Liberal 4.0%
Location: Bayside Outer Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Dunkley was in Labor hands for most of the Hawke-Keating years, but the margins built up under Howard were more than enough to stave off the swing in 2007. Liberal front-bencher Bruce Billson has held the seat since 1996.
YASMIN DE ZILWA
Electorate analysis: Dunkley was created in Melbourne’s eastern bayside outskirts when parliament was enlarged in 1984, its focal point being the outer urban centre of Frankston. The inaugural member was Labor’s Robert Chynoweth, who had dislodged Peter Reith as member for Flinders in 1983. After staying with Labor in 1987, Dunkley was one of nine Victorian seats that fell to the Coalition in 1990, but Chynoweth was able to recover it in 1993. Chynoweth was inevitably turfed out with the Keating government’s defeat in 1996, and the seat has since followed the outer suburban pattern in swinging decisively to the Liberals.
Bruce Billson has held the seat for the Liberals since 1996, surviving a relatively mild swing to Labor in 1998 and adding 3.9 per cent and 4.2 per cent to his margin in 2004. That left him with enough fat to easily survive a 5.3 per cent swing in 2007. Billson was promoted to parliamentary secretary in 2004 and Veterans Affairs Minister in 2006. In opposition he lined up against Malcolm Turnbull in both the leadership contests, explaining his progress from broadband and communications under Nelson to sustainable development under Turnbull to small business under Abbott.
Late in the second last week of the campaign, Newspoll targeted three Victorian marginals including Dunkley with a 600-sample survey, which produced a striking 6.2 per cent swing to Labor at least 3 per cent higher than the statewide trend. One of the surprise results of the JWS Research-Telereach poll conducted during the final weekend of the campaign, which covered 400 respondents in the electorate with a margin of error of about 5 per cent, was that Labor led 57.4-42.6.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.