Federal election aftermath: the changing face of Melbourne's (federal) electoral map

Having fun yet? Saturday's federal election has delivered a result that loosely tracks what all the polling was saying right up until July 2nd and now the waiting game - similar to the election back in 2010 - begins.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) put out a media release on Sunday stating that counting will continue once postal and absentee votes are returned to the respective electorates. This is likely to occur on Tuesday (July 5).

On the face of it, if you only pay attention to the mainstream media TV news, the changing seats in Melbourne are either due to retiring members (Chisholm) or the state-focused issue of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) has allowed the Liberals to hold on to various outer suburban seats (La Trobe, Dunkley).

In seeking to provide decisive commentary in the vacuum of uncertainty, in my view, the CFA "reason" for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) not picking more seats up in Victoria seems to be at most overblown or at least not giving the much talked about Mediscare campaign proper credit.

Another perfectly good "reason" for the ALP swing not being at the same level as the national swing could quite possibly be the commentariat glossing over the swing from the ALP and the Liberal party to the Greens in inner Melbourne.

Is enough attention being paid to inner Melbourne?

The headlines and comment have thus far broadly focused on Labor versus Liberal contests underway on the fringes of the city; not much attention has been given to the Greens and how they're extracting more and more votes after having created the beachhead at the 2010 election.

Adam Bandt solidified his position as the member for Melbourne, obtaining an increase of 1% on the preliminary two-candidate preferred results on AEC's website.

As I wrote in the week before the election, Wills, Batman and Higgins are seeing large amounts of development - and therefore population growth - and the new population moving into these areas is seeing more and more Greens voters.

The two seats north of Melbourne - Wills and Batman - have in both cases seen the primary votes for the Greens increase.

Wills 2013 result: ALP 40,931, Liberal 20,710, Greens 20,157. Wills 2016 results (at time of writing 70% of the vote was counted): ALP 28,346, Greens: 22,373, Liberal 16,015.

Batman 2013 result: ALP 36,798, Greens 23,522, Liberal 20,017. Batman 2016 results (at time of writing, 70.5% of the vote was counted): Greens 26,377, ALP 25,794, Liberal 13,593.

In 2013, Wills had 105,498 electors and three years later there were 113,856 on the electoral roll. Likewise in Batman in 2013 there were 103,246 on the electoral roll and at the election on Saturday, 108,942 people were registered to vote.

Assuming the next parliament runs for three years and similar population growth continues - which I believe is a highly likely case based on the development pipeline numbers - the election in these seats next time around are likely to be even closer and it's even more probable that at least one of those two seats goes Green (if one doesn't fall to them at this election).

Progressive state, increasingly a three party city

Much has been made of Victora's de facto progressive capital status among the regions of Australia. We have a Premier who actively trumpets his own and the state's progressive credentials, heavily through social media which is broadly backed up in the state government's legislative agenda.

At the state level, the Greens established beachheads on both sides of the river - in the seats of Melbourne and Prahran - in the most recent election and in the state seat of Brunswick, the Greens achieved the highest amount of first preference votes yet it was only Liberal Party preferences which got the ALP candidate - Jane Garret - over the line.

This crossover from state to federal electorates points to a very real shift underway.

This shift from the two big parties to the Greens in inner Melbourne gets a little bit of airtime every now and then however from this point on, it's my view that this state-specific competition like the marginals in Western Sydney and fickle flip-flopping Queenslanders, is and will be for the foreseeable future now Victoria's federal electoral topic du jour.

The development activity translating to population growth in the seven seats that share a boundary with the seat of Melbourne at the federal level would theoretically all be in play from this point on. Clearly, the Greens are focusing on only a handful of those seven seats at a time, but it's now having a measurable impact when you look at the knife-edge that Batman is sitting on.

Urban Melbourne doesn't endorse political parties because all three parties that are competitive in Melbourne have something to bring to the greater urban agenda. Yet we hope the increased three-way competition in Melbourne will have a positive impact on urban policies and one area that requires work from all three political parties at the federal level is housing.

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