Victorian State Election 2010: Bass
Margin: Liberal 4.5%
Upper house region: Eastern Victoria
Federal: Flinders/La Trobe/McMillan
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Bass covers the eastern coastline of Westernport Bay from Koo Wee Rup to Phillip Island, and extends inland to take in Pakenham in the north and Wonthaggi in the south. It was created in 2002 out of territory from the abolished electorates of Gippsland West and Pakenham. Gippsland West gave the Kennett government an early foretaste of its ultimate fate when it was narrowly lost at a February 1997 by-election, held after one-time Liberal leader Alan Brown was appointed agent-general to London. The winner was independent candidate Susan Davies, who had been Labor’s candidate at the previous election. With no official Labor candidate contesting, Davies was carried to victory by a heavy flow of preferences from a large field of independents, most of whom had the Liberals last on their how-to-vote cards. Davies’ re-election by a 4.0 per cent margin in 1999 made her one of three independents holding the balance of power, and few were surprised that she joined her cross-bench colleagues in supporting Labor.
The subsequent redistribution was not kind to Davies, and she finished third behind Labor at the 2002 election with 22.2 per cent of the vote. Her preferences were almost enough for Labor to close their deficit of 28.2 per cent 40.2 per cent on the primary vote, but they ultimately fell 410 votes short of Liberals candidate Ken Smith, who had previously been member for the South Eastern upper house province since 1988. With the 2002 election debacle having knocked off much of the competition, Smith was given the first minor portfolio responsibilities of his career in gaming and fisheries, before moving to local government after the 2006 election. However, he was dropped in February 2008 when Nationals members had to be accommodated on the front-bench under the new coalition agreement.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.