Victorian election landslide puts six more federal seats in Labor's sights

Paul Karp
Matthew Guy and Scott Morrison with Pellegrini’s co-owner Nino Pangrazio after the Bourke Street terror attack. Photograph: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

The Liberal senator Jane Hume has called on her party to recruit more women and achieve a better balance between its liberal and conservative wings after the shock landslide Victorian election loss.

As Labor moved to cast Daniel Andrews’ massive win as partly a protest against Liberal chaos in Canberra and the new prime minister, Scott Morrison, Liberals from Victoria, including deputy leader Josh Frydenberg and MP Sarah Henderson, played down the federal implications.

Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles has suggested that the 6% statewide swing against the Liberal party – with double-digit swings in parts of Melbourne’s east – could put six more federal seats in Labor’s sights for the 2019 federal election.

Hume told the ABC that the result in what she called “the most progressive of states” nevertheless had “some implications for the federal team”.

“When both traditions in the Liberal party work well together I think that’s when we work well together overall,” she said. “There are different wings but it takes both wings to fly.”

The comments reflect a view that the Liberal party has swung too far to the right, replacing Malcolm Turnbull with Morrison and attempting to fight the state election on law and order politics and population issues.

Hume said the party needed to consider “a number of reforms” and noted the Liberals had fielded women largely in “unsafe”, or marginal, seats. “We probably need to reconsider what our party looks like,” including the possibility of more women in the parliamentary leadership group, she said.

Appearing alongside Hume on the ABC panel, Frydenberg noted the opposition leader, Matthew Guy, had accepted it was “ a state election run on state issues”.

“Scott Morrison and I and other federal colleagues didn’t play an active role in this campaign, and it was fought on state issues.”

Marles credited Andrews for the win but said the result also showed “the Liberals have lost the ability to speak Victorian” and the spill against Turnbull was a factor.

“The federal Liberals are toxic in Victoria,” he told ABC Radio. “We knew that, which is why they featured so heavily in our ads.”

Marles said the massive swings in Melbourne’s east, including Hawthorn, struck at the “heart of small-l liberal Melbourne”.

“This is a seat that is wholly contained in the federal seat of Kooyong – Josh Frydenberg’s seat.”

Marles suggested the federal Liberal leadership spill was designed to save seven Coalition-held Queensland marginal seats, but the price the Coalition paid was to “open up a huge flank in Victoria”, putting seats including Deakin, La Trobe, Chisholm, Dunkley, Aston and Casey in play for the 2019 federal election.

Those seats range from a margin of 1.24% in Julia Banks’ seat of Chisholm up to 8.6% in Alan Tudge’s seat of Aston, and include seats held by former assistant treasurer Michael Sukkar and the speaker, Tony Smith.

Henderson – who holds the marginal seat of Corangamite – told ABC Radio the change of leadership from Turnbull to Morrison “did play in some people’s minds” but blamed the loss on state factors including Labor’s campaign of “lies” on health and education funding.

She said the Liberal vote had “not collapsed” in all areas within her seat, saying the Liberals had achieved “strong results” in regional Victoria.

“I have to say, though, the federal implications down here are quite different – there’s a very strong recognition that we have worked very hard delivering city deals, massive investment for rail and the new international terminal.

“I think we’re going to see a very, very different set of circumstances [in the federal election], underpinned by the fact that Victorians do not like Bill Shorten.”

As well as the large statewide swing to Labor, the Coalition suffered a swing to independents in regional Victoria.

In Mildura, the deputy mayor and former Labor candidate Ali Cupper is on track to win the seat with 51.3% of the two-party preferred vote and a 12% primary swing.

In Benambra, independent MP Cathy McGowan’s former adviser Jacqui Hawkins won 48.6% of the two-party preferred vote, falling just short to Liberal Bill Tilley.