Margin: Labor 15.3%
Location: Western Melbourne, Victoria
In a nutshell: Part of a vast complex of unloseable seats in Melbourne’s north and west, Maribyrnong has been held for Labor since the last election by former Australian Workers Union secretary Bill Shorten, who emerged as one of the principal movers behind the June leadership putsch.
Electorate analysis: Maribyrnong has covered a shifting area around Essendon in Melbourne’s inner north-west since its creation in 1906, becoming increasingly oriented over time towards Sunshine and St Albans to the west. The seat was held by Labor for all but one term from the election of the Fisher government in 1910 until the party split of 1955, when preferences from the ALP (Anti-Communist) candidate delivered a 114-vote victory to Liberal candidate Philip Stokes. Stokes did well to hold the seat until 1969, when he was defeated by Labor’s Moss Cass. Further swings in 1972 and 1974 added enough fat to Cass’s margin to survive the winter of 1975 and 1977. In 1983 he bequeated a double digit margin to his successor Alan Griffiths, who enjoyed a 7.4 per cent boost when the 1990 redistribution added St Albans. Griffiths was succeeded in 1996 by Bob Sercombe, who chose to bow out in 2007 rather than face preselection defeat at the hands of Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten.
Shorten came to parliament with a boy wonder reputation, in large part through his success in positioning himself as the public face of the Beaconsfield mine disaster rescue effort in April-May 2006, along with great influence in the Victorian party factional system as a chieftain of the Right. However, Shorten was known to be hostile to Kevin Rudd, and he rose no higher than parliamentary secretary for disabilities and children’s services on Rudd’s watch. He emerged as one of the initiators of the June 2010 leadership coup, together with Victorian Right colleague Senator David Feeney, and interstate factional allies Mark Arbib in New South Wales and Senator Don Farrell in South Australia.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read Bowe’s blog, The Poll Bludger.