Victorian State Election 2010: Mitcham
Margin: Labor 2.0%
Upper house region: Eastern Metropolitan
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: The eastern suburbs seat of Mitcham extends from Blackburn eastwards to Mitcham itself, with Whitehorse Road and the Belgrave/Lilydale line neatly bisecting it from west to east. Federally, the booths in this area moved almost without exception from the Liberal to the Labor column in 2007, delivering them a long-denied victory in Deakin. At state level the seat was held by the Liberals from its creation in 1967 until John Cain’s Labor government came to power in 1982, and it remained in Labor hands until their landslide defeat in 1992.
The successful Liberal candidate was Roger Pescott, whose existing seat of Bennettswood was bequeathed to Geoff Coleman after his own seat of Syndal was abolished. Long a rival of Kennett’s, Pescott was dumped from the ministry after the 1996 election, and exacted revenge a year later by resigning over the goverment’s controversial changes to the powers of the Auditor-General. With this issue at front and centre stage during the subsequent by-election campaign, Labor’s Tony Robinson won the seat with a 16 per cent swing, enough for him to survive a 10 per cent at the correction at the 1999 election with a 0.5 per cent margin. A 7.6 per cent swing in 2002 gave him enough fat to withstand the backlash over the Mitcham to Frankston tollway issue, which helped drive a 5.6 per cent swing so the Liberals.
Before entering parliament Robinson had worked with John Brumby during his time as Opposition Leader, and later for federal Wills MP Kelvin Thomson – though unlike the latter he is associated with the Right faction. Robinson spent Labor’s first eight years in government as a parliamentary secretary, before winning promotion to cabinet as Gaming and Consumer Affairs Minister in the reshuffle that followed Steve Bracks’s resignation in July 2007. The Liberal candidate is Dee Ryall, a former nurse and hospital administrator and current managing director of business consultancy Quality Award Partners. Ryall also sought preselection for the corresponding federal electorates of Deakin and Aston.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.