|Legislative Assembly election, 2006|
The Australian Labor Party government of Premier Steve Bracks, first elected in 1999, won a third consecutive term with 55 of the 88 lower house seats, down seven from the 62 Labor won in 2002. The Liberal Party of Australia opposition of Ted Baillieu won 23 seats, and the rural conservative National Party of Australia, led by Peter Ryan, won nine seats. One independent member was re-elected, while one lost his seat.
In the lower house, Labor polled 43.06% of the vote, a decline of 4.89%. The Liberal Party polled 34.44%, an increase of 0.53%. The National Party polled 5.17%, an increase of 0.87%. The Greens polled 10.04%, an increase of 0.31%. Family First polled 4.29% at its first Victorian election, and won no seats.
In the Legislative Council, Labor won 19 of the 40 seats, the Liberals 15, the Greens three, the Nationals two and the Democratic Labor Party one. This was the first time the DLP had won a seat in the Victorian Parliament since 1955.
Opinion polls predicting a large swing against the Bracks government proved to be incorrect, as did polls predicting that the Australian Greens would win seats in the Legislative Assembly. Although the seat of Melbourne was in doubt on election night, it was retained by the Health Minister Bronwyn Pike.
Steve Bracks became only the second Labor Premier of Victoria to win three elections, and the first to win a third election with a large majority. Despite speculation that he would go on to become the longest serving Labor Premier in Victoria, he resigned in July 2007 and was replaced by his treasurer John Brumby.
Terms are now fixed at four years. Key dates for the election were:
The polls were open from 8am to 6pm, and results began to posted at about 7pm. By the close of counting at about 11pm, the result in most Legislative Assembly seats was clear. Counting in the new Legislative Council regions, which have enrolments of over 300,000 voters, was in its early stages and the results were not clear at the close of counting.
|Composition of the Parliament of Victoria|
|Source: Victorian Electoral Commission|
The Parliament of Victoria consists of the lower house Legislative Assembly, the upper house Legislative Council and the Queen of Australia. Eighty-eight members of the Legislative Assembly are elected to four-year terms from single-member electorates. After this election the new Legislative Council will consist of 40 members - the five members for each of the eight new regions will be elected via proportional representation for four year terms.
For decades, lower house districts covering metropolitan Melbourne have always been won by either ALP or Liberal candidates. At the 2002 election, however, the Victorian Greens emerged ahead of the Liberals to challenge Labor for inner-city seats such as Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote. The ALP is strongest, and arguably unchallenged, in most seats north and west of the Yarra River - Melbourne's traditional cultural divide.
In fact, the Liberals had not held a metropolitan seat in the western suburbs since 1996, when they lost the seat of Essendon. At the 1996 election, the Liberals also lost Ivanhoe (their remaining seat north of the Yarra - Eltham - was lost in 2002). After the 2002 election landslide, the ALP held every Melbourne seat except for a thin band of strong Liberal seats in the eastern suburbs. To win government, the Liberals needed to win back their traditional heartland seats in eastern and south-east Melbourne.
For the Liberals and Nationals to win government with a majority of lower house seats, they needed a uniform swing of nearly 8 per cent to gain 20 seats, which would result in them almost doubling their numbers.
The ALP's success in 1999 and 2002 was partly due to its success in regional Victoria. To hold onto power, the ALP sought to retain seats outside Melbourne, and to hold its eastern suburban gains in 2002.
The Nationals had suffered heavily in recent years from the abolition of country seats they easily won, the rise of independents in Mildura and Gippsland East and direct competition from the Liberals. They aimed to hold on to their seven rural seats and also get members elected to the new upper house.
The Legislative Assembly, or lower house, is the chamber of government in the Parliament of Victoria. It consists of 88 members directly elected under a preferential voting system. The state is divided into 88 electorates called districts for voting purposes. Each district consists of approximately 38,000 eligible voters. After the 2002 state election, the ALP held 62 seats, the Liberals 17 and the Nationals 7. Two seats were held by independent members.
The tables belows lists all 88 districts in order of strength, including the sitting members, their party affiliation and the swing required for members to lose their seats.
|Ferntree Gully||Anne Eckstein||ALP||2.29%|
|Mount Waverley||Maxine Morand||ALP||2.30%|
|South Barwon||Michael Crutchfield||ALP||5.02%|
|Forest Hill||Kirstie Marshall||ALP||5.79%|
|Ballarat East||Geoff Howard||ALP||7.62%|
|Ballarat West||Karen Overington||ALP||9.01%|
|Yan Yean||Danielle Green||ALP||9.54%|
|Narre Warren North||Luke Donnellan||ALP||9.71%|
|Albert Park||John Thwaites||ALP||12.60%|
|Narre Warren South||Dale Wilson||ALP||12.61%|
|Bendigo East||Jacinta Allan||ALP||12.97%|
|Bendigo West||Bob Cameron||ALP||15.95%|
|Pascoe Vale||Christine Campbell||ALP||24.21%|
|Mill Park||Lily D'Ambrosio||ALP||26.79%|
|South-West Coast||Denis Napthine||LIB||0.75%|
|Box Hill||Robert Clark||LIB||1.10%|
|Gippsland South||Peter Ryan||NAT||10.86%|
|Murray Valley||Ken Jasper||NAT||13.90%|
|Swan Hill||Peter Walsh||NAT||14.16%|
|Gippsland East||Craig Ingram||IND||11.75%|
For information on winning margin trends on the 20 most marginal seats for this election see 2006 Victorian election marginal seats.
Under the new structure of the Legislative Council, the number of members dropped from 44 to 40 after this election. This introduced considerable competition within all parties for preselection for Legislative Council seats. The switch from provinces electing one member at a time to regions electing five members also meant that the major parties were more likely to lose seats to smaller parties such as the Greens. The balance in the 2002-2006 Legislative Council was ALP 24, Liberals 14, Nationals 4 and 2 independents (both of whom were former ALP members).
For details on candidates preselected for the Legislative Council see Candidates of the Victorian state election, 2006.
|Preferred premier ratings^|
|8/9 November 2006||28%||56%|
* Results are for former Liberal leader Robert Doyle.
^ Remainder were "uncommitted" to either leader.
No poll to date has been published that indicates voting intentions as applies to the current Victorian Legislative Council regions. A poll showing voter intentions based on the Legislative Council regions would indicate which party or coalition of parties will most likely hold the balance of power between the two State legislative bodies.
The tables below list voting intentions for the 2006 election. Conducted by Roy Morgan Research and Newspoll/The Australian, the surveys asked approximately 1000 voters each month: "If a State election were being held today — which party would receive your first preference?" The table also includes the two-party preferred vote.
|Victorian state voting intention|
|Political parties||Two-party preferred|
|8-9 November 2006||44%||36%||4%||8%||8%||55%||45%|
|Source: Newspoll/The Australian|
|! colspan=9 bgcolor="#cceeff" align="center"|Victorian state voting intention|
|Political parties||Two-party preferred|
|October 2006||41%||38%||comb w/ Libs||12%||2.5%||1%||5.5%||55%||45%|
|September 2006||41%||44%||comb w/ Libs||8%||1%||0.5%||4.5%||52%||48%|
|Source: Roy Morgan Research|
N/A Family First did not contest 2002 election.
The Morgan Poll on 4 March 2006 found that ALP support rose 1.5% from January to 60.5%. This translated to a significant lead of 21% over the L-NP (39.5%) on a two-party preferred basis. With primary support for the Liberal Party declining, if a Victorian State Election had been held in February, the ALP would have won easily. Primary support for the Greens was 7.5% (unchanged), Australian Democrats 2.5% (unchanged), National Party 2.5% (unchanged), Family First 2.5% (up 0.5%) and Independent Candidates and Other Parties 5% (up 1%)
A Galaxy Poll of 800 voters, conducted on October 17 and 18, showed the ALP down at 44%, the Libs up at 39% and the Greens vote collapsing at 7%; and said that would amount to a 10 -17 seat swing to the Liberals .
An ACNielsen poll of 1005 voters showed the ALP at 42%, the Liberals and Nationals combined at 40% and the Greens at 13%. After distribution of preferences it had the ALP on 56% and the Libs/Nats on 44%.
A McNair Gallup poll of 609 voters, conducted between November 14 and 16, showed the ALP primary vote at 39%, a combined Liberal and National vote at 46%. After distribution of preferences it had the ALP on 50.5% and the Liberal/National on 49.5%. The poll suggests a 7% swing against the ALP and a heavy reliance on preferences for a re-election of a Bracks government .
Tensions emerged between the conservative parties over issues such as the Liberal policy of halving tolls on the EastLink freeway. Peter Ryan stated that his party did not back the policy, because it would mean public money was spent on motorists in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, at the expense of services for country Victorians.
The Nationals also took offence at then Liberal leader Robert Doyle's repeated statement that the Liberals only needed 20 seats to win government, a figure which implied the support of the Nationals.
Robert Doyle's media director Rob Clancy's resignation became public on 26 April 2006, two weeks after his chief of staff Ron Wilson left for a job in the private sector. The Liberal Party state president Helen Kroger is another Doyle supporter who moved on. This string of resignations raised questions about the strength of Doyle's team in the lead up to the election. In response, Doyle denied that people were leaving because they did not think the party could win the election and that the resignations did not reflect well on the Liberals.
Strong rumours of an imminent "forced resignation" and Doyle "losing the support of the party" were aired on the front page of Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper on 4 May 2006. Doyle did indeed resign as both Opposition Leader and MP for Malvern that day, although he stated that the "decision was his own and that "his best was not enough to lead the party to victory in a state election just six months away".
On 5 May 2006, it became clear that Ted Baillieu would become Opposition and Liberal Party Leader after former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett and Shadow Minister for Transport Terry Mulder both withdrew from the leadership race. Baillieu was subsequently elected unopposed on 8 May 2006.
With declining voter support over the last two Victorian state elections the Nationals almost lost Third Party status in the 2002 State Election. They entered the 2006 election with 11 seats (7 in the Legislative Assembly and 4 in the Legislative Council), the minimum required to for official party status. Several of their Assembly seats were marginal, particularly Shepparton (4.27%) and Benalla (1.97%).
Several commentators predicted that the Nationals would face destruction at this election. The changes to the Legislative Council created large country regions which would negate the personal appeal of several candidates. Upper house member Bill Baxter became the candidate for the lower house electorate of Benambra in an attempt to remain in Parliament.
In the absence of a Liberal/National coalition, preference deals between Labor and the Liberals looked set to crush Nationals representation in the Assembly as well. Leader Peter Ryan gave what one commentator called "the speech of the campaign thus far" on November 16, when he lambasted the major parties for their (perceived) action against the Nationals.
In fact the Nationals increased their vote and won two additional Assembly seats
In the lower house, Dr Richard DiNatale needed a 2.4% swing in the seat of Melbourne to unseat Labor's cabinet minister Bronwyn Pike, but wasn't successful in taking the seat from her, although he came quite close. Gurm Sekhon also wasn't successful in winning a seat, he needed a 3.1% swing in the seat of Richmond to unseat Labor's Richard Wynne.
Overall, The Greens exceeded their expectaions for the election by getting 3 people into the upper house.
The two current independent lower house MPs, Russell Savage (Mildura) and Craig Ingram (Gippsland East) had comfortable margins and were therefore considered highly likely to be re-elected. However, Russell Savage lost his seat to the Nationals, with the planned Nowingi toxic waste dump in the electorate cited as one of the main factors contributing to his defeat.
The fate of the two independent upper house MPs was less clear. Maverick Labor-turned-independent MLC Dianne Hadden attempted to shift to the lower house and run in Ballarat East against the incumbent Labor MP Geoff Howard, but no polling was carried out as to the potential result. Liberal-turned-independent Andrew Olexander attempted to retain his seat in the Legislative Council, having attempted to build a profile for himself after being expelled from the Liberal Party over disputes stemming from a drink driving conviction.
Also running for the Northern Victoria Seat in the Legislative Council was Mildura cook Stefano de Pieri, ambassador for the Murray River and television star of 'Gondola on the Murray'.
The CDP ran candidates in the Northern, Eastern, and South Eastern Metropolitan regions in the upper house.
Family First announced Cameron Eastman as their lead candidate and spokesperson for the election. Eastman works in a civilian capacity for the Victoria Police and contested the upper house region of Eastern Victoria. He stated that Family First's Victorian campaign would include a strong anti-gambling stance and would raise concerns about hospital waiting lists and the sale of public assets. Family first contested all upper house seats and all 88 lower house seats.
Other parties registered in Victoria that fielded candidates include: