Melbourne by-election results for the Greens

Parliament house flag post

Melbourne by-election results for the Greens

Posted 2/08/2012 by Joy McCann

A by-election was conducted for the Victorian state electorate of Melbourne on Saturday 21 July 2012. Vote-counting and rechecking has now been completed, with the ALP emerging as the winning party with 51.51 per cent of votes after distribution of preferences. 

The Melbourne District takes in the CBD, Docklands, East Melbourne, Carlton, North Melbourne, Flemington, Kensington and parts of Ascot Vale. According to the 2011 Census data, the population of the Melbourne electorate is generally younger, better educated and more affluent than other Victorian electorates, with a significant proportion of workers employed in the knowledge and communications industries. The Victorian Electoral Commission reports that 68.62 per cent of those enrolled in the electorate voted, which is the second lowest recorded vote for a lower-house Victorian seat since compulsory voting was introduced in the 1920s (the lowest was in 1977 with 66.8 per cent also recorded in Melbourne District). Monash University’s Nick Economou has attributed the low turnout to voter apathy.

Sixteen candidates stood for the by-election, which was triggered by the resignation of former minister and state Labor MLA Bronwyn Pike. The two main contenders were Jennifer Kanis (ALP) and Cathy Oke (Australian Greens). The Liberal Party, which directed its preferences to Labor at the last Victorian state election, did not contest this by-election. The ALP has held the seat almost continuously since 1908. At the 2010 state election, the ALP candidate for Melbourne District, Bronwyn Pike, won 35.67 per cent of first preference votes whilst the Greens candidate, Brian Walters, won 31.92 per cent. The Liberal candidate, Luke Martin, won 27.96 per cent.

The by-election proved to be a close competition between the ALP and Greens. Pre-election opinion polling and political commentators were suggesting that the Greens could beat Labor on primary votes, as occurred in the 2002 Cunningham federal by-election in NSW and the 2009 Fremantle state by-election in WA where, in each case, the Greens won a traditional Labor seat in the absence of a Liberal candidate. In the 2010 Commonwealth election, the Greens’ Adam Bandt won the House of Representatives seat of Melbourne with the assistance of Liberal Party preferences directed to the Greens over the ALP. His win also signalled the Greens’ ability to attract strong local support in inner-city areas.

If the Greens had won in the Melbourne by-election, it would have been the first lower house seat for that party in the Victorian Parliament. The Greens had come close to winning the seat in both the 2002 and 2006 state elections as a result of Liberal Party preferences. In the 2010 state election, Liberal preferences went to Labor ahead of the Greens. The following table shows the results for the Greens in Melbourne District for the past three state elections:

State election
Australian Greens
Result after preferences

Source: Victorian Electoral Commission, State election, Melbourne District: 2002, 2006 and 2010

Early counting in the 2012 by-election showed a swing against Labor and an increase in the Greens’ primary vote. However, as counting continued, the Labor candidate retained her lead and the party claimed victory on 23 July. The Australian Greens conceded defeat via the social networking service, Twitter, on the following day. The final result for the two main parties is as follows:

First preference votes
After distribution of preferences
Two candidate preferred vote
Jennifer Kanis, ALP
Cathy Oke, Australian Greens

Source: Victorian Electoral Commission

The Melbourne by-election has prompted considerable speculation about the implications of the results for the ALP and Greens at the federal level. As one academic commentator has noted, the by-election attracted national interest because it highlighted current tensions between the ALP and the Greens federally over the Greens’ decision to vote with the Opposition on asylum-seekers. The Greens wanted a regional agreement or an onshore processing solution to the asylum-seeker issue. The by-election also coincided with attempts by some in the ALP to draw a clear distinction between the party’s core values and those of the Greens. According to The Age’s political editor, Michelle Grattan, some senior Labor figures have used the party’s close win in Melbourne to strengthen their argument that the Prime Minister’s agreement with the Greens following the 2010 federal election ‘went unnecessarily far’. Since the by-election, media reports have also speculated about the Greens’ electoral prospects in the next Commonwealth election due to be held sometime before 30 November 2013, particularly given recent statements by senior Victorian Liberals opposing future Liberal preferences going to the Greens. The Liberal Party is still to decide how it will distribute its preferences in Victoria at the 2013 Commonwealth election.



  • 21/01/2014 2:44 PM
    Joy McCann said:

    The AEC has compiled information on voter turnout for Commonwealth referendums and elections since 1901. Whilst there is no consolidated list relating to Commonwealth by-elections, information is available for each by-election from the AEC’s Virtual Tally Room. There is also a useful AEC paper on Compulsory voting in Australia (see which discusses voter turnout in Australia within an international context, and information for states and territories is available on their respective electoral commission websites. In addition, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the ANU’s Democratic Audit of Australia have published information about the level of voter turnout in Australian elections in recent years. Joy

  • 21/01/2014 2:44 PM
    Martin Butterfield said:

    So some 31.38% of the electorate (100- 68.62) are going to get a "Please explain." notice from the electoral officials? Has a flagpost covered the issue of what proportion of the electorate actually comply with their obligations? That rate possibly resembles the levels 'achieved' in countries which lack compulsory voting requirements. Martin

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration parliament climate change Australian foreign policy elections social security women welfare reform Australian Defence Force welfare policy school education private health insurance Taxation Indigenous Australians health financing higher education emissions trading Australian Bureau of Statistics employment people trafficking statistics Middle East illicit drugs gambling health reform federal election 2010 income management Medicare disability Sport United Nations Asia politics criminal law Afghanistan health forced labour transport aid Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget Industrial Relations Carbon Pricing Mechanism dental health OECD Senate Australian Public Service constitution Australian Electoral Commission WADA child protection environment poker machines Australia in the Asian Century steroids National Disability Insurance Scheme detention aged care 43rd Parliament slavery health system defence capability multiculturalism ASADA Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Fair Work Act governance labour force people smuggling debt international relations New Zealand food Australian Crime Commission pharmaceutical benefits scheme leadership electoral reform Census election results UK Parliament Papua New Guinea banking International Women's Day corruption pensions public service reform children's health Aviation federal election 2013 foreign debt gross debt net debt parliamentary procedure Senators and Members ALP Newstart Parenting Payment Youth Allowance sea farers domestic violence military history by-election political parties High Court skilled migration voting mental health Federal Court terrorist groups science social media Higher Education Loan Program HECS federal state relations accountability youth paid parental leave same sex relationships coal seam gas customs planning doping crime health risks Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery Special Rapporteur Northern Territory Emergency Response social policy Productivity United Kingdom firearms public policy Population violence against women China ADRV terrorism transparency research and development welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carbon tax mining employer employee renewable energy regional unemployment fishing European Union family assistance United Nations Security Council Australian economy forestry food labelling vocational education and training Drugs welfare systems Indonesia children Constitutional reform local government codes of conduct terrorist financing homelessness Parliamentary remuneration money laundering Trafficking in Persons Report energy social inclusion human rights paternalism Ireland election timetable citizenship asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity standards NATO Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse World Trade Organization Australia public health housing affordability bulk billing water health policy Governor-General US economy trade unions export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation public housing expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry regulation Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets animal health middle class welfare Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government referendum consumer laws PISA competition policy royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition citizen engagement policymaking Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol forced marriage rural and regional alcohol entitlements ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship maritime Iran ANZUS regional students school chaplains federal budget 2011-12 salary Medicare Locals primary care Building the Education Revolution family violence government financial advisers financial planners Financial System Inquiry Murray Inquiry China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Defence High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders prime ministers sitting days First speech defence budget submarines workers Somalia GDP world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission limitation period universities cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports infant mortality honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Rent Assistance obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Members suspension workplace health and safety marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education Social Inclusion Board early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits qantas counselling Korean peninsula Work Choices biosecurity hendra environmental law federalism federation preselection therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration plebiscites computer games pests suicide nuclear COAG Ministerial Councils floods ADHD stimulant medication advertising electricity extradition conscience votes poverty preventative health rural health coastal erosion Parliamentary Budget Office work-life balance

Show all
Show less
Back to top