Victoria State Election 2010: Bellarine
Margin: Labor 7.9%
Upper house region: Western Victoria
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Bellarine takes its name from the peninsula to the east of Geelong which forms the western part of the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. The electorate includes the outer suburbs of south-eastern Geelong, which are strong for Labor, and peninsular towns including Ocean Grove, Point Lonsdale and Portarlington, which are collectively marginal. Known from 1976 to 1985 as Geelong East, the seat was in Liberal hands until the 1979 election, when Labor’s Graham Ernst unseated Liberal member Phil Gude (who would later return as member for Hawthorn in 1985 and eventually serve as a senior minister in the Kennett government). Ernst was defeated in the 1992 landslide by Liberal candidate Garry Spry, who held the seat until his retirement at the 2002 election. It was then won for Labor by Barwon Health board president Lisa Neville with a swing of 9.7 per cent. Neville won preselection with support from her ex-husband, ACTU federal secretary and future federal Corio MP Richard Marles, leaving defeated candidate Heather Wellington complaining of branch stacking. A member of the Right faction, Neville was promoted to the ministry in the mental health, aged care and children portfolios after the 2006 election, exchanging the latter two for the poisoned chalice of community services in the reshuffle that followed Steve Bracks’ departure in August 2007. This role has lately brought her unwelcome publicity regarding failures of the Department of Human Services in child protection cases. Her Liberal opponent is Kurt Reiter, managing director of IT consultancy Digital Quay.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.