Bill Shorten wins votes but not hearts

Jun 01, 2016 Daniel Connell
Bill Shorten's electorate office. Photo: Daniel Connell
Congestion is a major issue in Maribyrnong. Photo by: Daniel Connell
Moonee Valley racecourse, one of the landmarks of Maribyrnong. Photo by: Daniel Connell
Sitting Member:
Shorten, B (ALP)
Size of electorate:
73 sq. Km

Key Comments

Maribrynong is a safe seat held by Labor Leader Bill Shorten, located in Melbourne's inner west. Maribyrnong's major issues include transport, employment, urban development, security at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre and contamination of a disused defence site. It has the highest proportion of Catholic residents of any Australian electorate.

Electorate Profile

For a full list of candidates please see 'election at a glance' and use the electorate search tool or click Maribyrnong.

As the Labor Leader and member for Maribyrnong Bill Shorten is almost certain to retain his seat.

It’s possible he might even become Prime Minister - recent opinion polls indicate Labor and the Coalition are neck-and-neck. Yet he remains largely unloved by voters tired of politics and politicians.

The federal electorate of Maribyrnong is in Melbourne's west and stretches from inner-western suburbs such as Essendon to St Albans further west. The electorate is in some ways a tale of two cities: divided between the disadvantaged outer western suburbs with a declining manufacturing base and the wealthier inner areas..

Arguably the biggest local issue is the high cost of housing.  Moonee Valley Mayor, Andrea Surace, blames property developers for increasing competition in the market and crowding out home buyers. "This is driving up prices and many people can't afford to compete”, said Surace. 

Surace claims the problem is exacerbated by property developers who tend to build apartments rather than houses. This suits some, but hurts families looking for something bigger. For them, this means looking further from the city, which makes them more dependent on infrastructure such as transport. "They often have to live an hour or an hour-and-a-half out [from the city]. That means their trip is longer and that puts more of a burden on the transport system”, said Surace.

To address this, the Victorian Labor government has proposed spending $5.5 billion on a road project called the Western Distributor. It aims to ease congestion through widening major arterial roads and highways as well as building a road connecting Footscray to the city. 

Shorten has as described the project as "good"but the Federal Labor Party has no current plans to fund itThe Coalition has also ruled out funding the project.

The project is supported by the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group, who argue that traffic from the ports is causing congestion in local residential streets and potential health risks for residents.  "The Western Distributor is necessary to ensure streets in the region are less clogged and more safe for residents," said MTAG secretary Martin Wurt.

But the Public Transport Users Association opposes the plan. They argue more money should be spent on rail, not roads. "Western Distributor is inconsistent with sound transport planning practice, it would provide temporary relief", said Ian Hundley from the PTUA.

The treatment of asylum seekers is a heated election issue, even though both Labor and Coalition support offshore immigration detention. Maribyrnong is one of the few electorates which has an immigration detention facility, although the Coalition government has recently announced plans to close it..

The detention centre has become a source of controversy in recent years. Private company Serco and the government body, Border Force, are both responsible for managing the centre. Recently, they have been accused of unfairly treating asylum seekers and not ensuring their safety.

Sivan Barak from a lobby group called Jews for Refugees regularly visits the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. She says the treatment of asylum seekers has steadily worsened. "The place has become more militarised [...] Many of the asylum seekers feel like they have no hope of a future. When they do get out, they often suffer depression and some lapse into drug use”, she said.

Barak is also critical of the detention centre keeping non-citizens who have committed an offence with asylum seekers. She believes some of the convicted offenders, especially those who have been found guilty of a violent offence threaten the safety of the asylum seekers. "It's like putting criminals in a nursing home. It’s madness” she said. 

The upcoming closure of the Maribyrnong Detention Centre will raise questions as to how the government will handle the asylum seekers currently detained there. The other question of what the government will do about the detainees on the offshore immigration detention facility on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea will also be the subject of intense public discussion. 

If Labor wins the election, how Bill Shorten handles issues like housing, transport and asylum seekers will in large part determine how well he performs as Prime Minister. And in no place is this truer than in Maribyrnong. 

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
KEECH, Richard The Greens 8920 9.9 -2.01
PATERNO, Joe Australian Christians 888 0.99 +0.99
SHORTEN, BillElected Australian Labor Party 43162 47.9 -7.67
CUTLER, Philip William Palmer United Party 2470 2.74 +2.74
KAVANAGH, Marguerita DLP Democratic Labour 1258 1.4 +1.40
HATZAKORTZIAN, Ted Liberal 29767 33.03 +4.44
MYERS, Amy Sex Party 2313 2.57 +2.57
CARLSON, Hayleigh Family First Party 944 1.05 -1.81
TRUSCOTT, Jeff Rise Up Australia Party 395 0.44 +0.44
...... Australian Democrats 0 0 -0.89
...... CEC 0 0 -0.01
...... SEP 0 0 -0.08
...... SAL 0 0 -0.09


Daniel Connell




Moonee Valley mayor Andrea Surace, Maribyrnong Truck Action Group secretary Martin Wurt, Ian Hundley from the Public Transport Users Association, Sivan Barak from Jews for Justice

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