Victorian State Election 2010: Essendon
Margin: Labor 11.7%
Upper house region: Western Metropolitan
Outgoing member: Judy Maddigan (Labor)
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Essendon is an elongated north-south electorate with Moonee Ponds Creek as its eastern boundary, running from Ascot Vale in the south to Strathmore Heights in the north. It was created in 1904 and was highly marginal until Labor established ascendancy from 1979 onwards. Their only defeat since came with the 1992 disaster, by a margin of 1.2 per cent. Judy Maddigan recovered the seat for Labor with a 4.6 per cent swing in 1996, and she went on to serve as Speaker for a term after the 2002 election. Before the 2006 election she announced the coming term would be her last, and that she would spend it on the back bench.
Maddigan is to be succeeded as Labor candidate by Justin Madden, an upper house member since 1999 who is still remembered far beyond Victoria as a towering ruckman who played 332 VFL/AFL games for Carlton and Essendon from 1980 and 1995. Madden came to politics via his role as president of the AFL Players Association from 1990, and was recruited by the Right to assume the safe upper house seat of Douta Galla within two years of his last AFL game. Madden was immediately made Sports Minister in the Bracks government, a role that included responsibility for the 2006 Commonwealth Games. After the 2006 election he was promoted to Planning Minister, and has since hit numerous hurdles including the recent exposure of an embarrassingly candid “media strategy” document from his office.
The first suggestions Madden might move to the lower house came before the 2006 election, when reform of the upper house left his position up in the air. It was originally planned that he would replace the retiring Sherryl Garbutt in the lower house seat of Bundoora, but Mary Delahunty’s subsequent decision retirement from Northcote produced a new arrangement that gave him top position on the Western Metropolitan ticket. Further factional rearrangements ahead of the current election demanded that he make way at the top of the Western Metropolitan ticket for Martin Pakula, and despite Madden’s protests the arrangements held firm this time. He was accommodated in Essendon after knocking back an initial offer of Keilor, on the grounds that his staffer Hakki Suleyman had been embroiled in some of the same controversies as the seat’s contentious outgoing member, Right faction numbers man George Seitz.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.