Victorian State Election 2010: Ripon
Margin: Labor 4.3%
Upper house region: Western Victoria
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Ripon covers 12,000 square kilometres in Victoria’s central west, from Stawell east to Maryborough and south through Ararat to Beaufort and Skipton. Labor trades off strong support in the larger towns of Ararat and Maryborough (Stawell normally leans to the conservatives, but voted Labor in 2002 and 2006) against a general pattern of weakness in the myriad small rural booths. The electorate was created in 1945 and was marginal until the 1955 Labor split, which ushered in 44 years of Liberal dominance. This ended when Steve Elder, Liberal member of 11 years, became a surprise casualty of the 1999 regional backlash against the Kennett government, losing to motor mechanic and service station proprietor Joe Helper after a 7.2 per cent swing. Helper picked up a further 5.9 per cent swing in 2002, before suffering a 3.1 per cent correction in 2006.
A member of the Right faction, Helper gained a parliamentary secretary position after the 2002 election in regional development, won promotion to Agriculture Minister after the 2006 election and further gained small business after Steve Bracks’ departure in August 2007. The Liberals have again nominated their candidate from 2006, police inspector and Clunes resident Vic Dunn. VexNews reported Dunn won preselection with 53 votes against 26 for preselection perennial Louise Staley, an agriculture policy expert at the Institute of Public Affairs, and four for local winery owner John van Beveren.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.