Victorian State Election 2010: Gembrook
Margin: Labor 0.7%
Upper house region: Eastern Victoria
Federal: La Trobe/McMillan/McEwen
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Gembrook is a mixed electorate that extends from Melbourne’s outer east at Narre Warren East and Berwick through 80 kilometres of semi-rural and rural territory to the north-east, including Emerald, Gembrook, Warburton and the Yarra Valley. The urban area is traditionally strong for the Liberals, making them competitive in the federal seat of La Trobe by balancing out Labor-leaning Boronia, while Labor is stronger in Warburton and Cockatoo.
The electorate was created at the 2002 election as a result of the abolition of Pakenham and Berwick, which had always been held by the Liberals since their respective creations in 1992 and 1976. The Liberals intended that the new seat would be contested by Robert Dean, Shadow Treasurer and member for Berwick, but this came spectacularly unstuck 16 days out from polling day when he was removed from the electoral roll because he no longer lived at his registered address, thereby making him ineligible to stand. The 8.9 per cent Liberal margin in the seat was subsequently erased by an 8.9 per cent swing, putting Labor’s Tammy Lobato into parliament at the expense of last-minute Liberal substitute Neil Lucas, previously the member for the upper house province of Eumemmering.
Lobato’s pre-parliamentary occupation is listed as bookkeeper and office administrator in the retail industry, and it seems fair to suggest Labor did not consider the seat a likely prospect during its preselection process. While Lobato’s public profile is not high, she did well to win re-election in 2006, limiting the swing against her to 0.9 per cent. Labor sources say Lobato was a member of the Socialist Left at the time of her 2002 election victory, but was subsequently recruited by Labor Unity. Her Liberal opponent is Brad Battin, a former senior constable and Bakers Delight outlet owner.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.