Margin: Labor 13.0%
Location: South-Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Held by the Liberals until 1980, demographic change has since transformed Hotham into a safe Labor seat. Simon Crean became member in 1990, and has been threatened here only by a preselection challenge ahead of the 2007 election.
Electorate analysis: Hotham has covered a shifting area of Melbourne’s south-western suburbs since its creation in 1969, currently taking in Clayton, Oakleigh and Springvale. Demographic change explains its drift from marginal Liberal seat, held by Don Chipp from 1960 to 1977, to safe Labor, held by Simon Crean since 1990. He was immediately promoted to the front bench, and bears the remarkable distinction of having remained there ever since. After the 2001 election defeated he succeeded Kim Beazley as leader, but he resigned in November 2003 when it became apparent he had lost the party’s support, making him the first Labor leader to be replaced without contesting an election.
Crean faced an anti-climactic preselection challenge ahead of the 2007 election from National Union of Workers state secretary Martin Pakula, whom he saw off after winning 70 per cent of the votes from local branch preselectors (Pakula became a member for the state upper house region of Western Metropolitan after the state election the following November, and is now a senior minister in the Brumby government). After the 2007 election win he served as Trade Minister, and did well out of Julia Gillard’s ascenscion to the leadership by taking over her education and workplace relations portfolios.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.