Margin: Labor 6.1%
Location: Outer South-Eastern Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Redistributions over the years have shifted this seat back and forth along the bayside: the Liberals have been competitive when it has taken in the Beaumaris area, but when it has been oriented further to the south, as at present, it has been safe for Labor. Incumbent Mark Dreyfus succeeded Ann Corcoran as member in 2007.
Electorate analysis: Isaacs covers south-eastern bayside Melbourne from Mordialloc south to Carrum, and extends inland through Keysborough, Dandenong South and Lyndhurst to Western Port Highway. A seat bearing the name existed in the Caulfield area in 1949 to 1969, at which point it was abolished and the name given to the newly created seat. The redistribution before the 2004 election produced big exchanges of territory with neighbouring Holt, adding the Noble Park area in the the north-east and removing the outer urban centre of Cranbourne. The seat’s ups and downs over the years can be explained by the presence or absence of Beaumaris, which has shifted back and forth between Isaacs and its more affluent northern neighbour Goldstein (formerly Balaclava).
Labor’s only win in the seat’s first 11 years came at the 1974 election, when it was a valuable gain for a beleagured Whitlam government. The detachment of Beaumaris in 1977 helped David Charles win the seat for Labor in 1980, and he held on for two more terms when the Beaumaris area was brought back in 1984. The seat was one of nine in Victoria to fall to the Coalition at the 1990 election, when Rod Atkinson won the seat for the Liberals upon Charles’s retirement. Atkinson went on to fall victim of the 1996 redistribution, when Isaacs again lost Beaumaris and moved south along the bay into Chelsea and inland to Cranbourne.
Greg Wilton was able to win the seat for Labor in 1996, despite a 2.3 per cent swing to the Liberals, and he added 4.8 per cent of fat to his margin in 1998. Wilton’s career ended in tragic circumstances in 2000 when he committed suicide amid widely publicised domestic troubles. This did much to embitter Wilton’s friend Mark Latham towards Kim Beazley, whom Latham accused of failing to support Wilton during his period of crisis. Ann Corcoran was elected as the new Labor member at the by-election following Wilton’s death, which the Liberals did not contest. Corcoran went on to suffer swings of 3.6 per cent in 2001 and 5.1 per cent in 2004, pushing the seat deep into the marginal zone despite the 3.8 per cent boost she received at the redistribution.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.