Shifting energies in marginal McMillan

May 15, 2016 By student reporters
BJ Wallis Gardens in Pakenham, one of the green strips in the city. Photy by: Ida Munch.
McMillan citizens are concerned with the rate of the development of the green areas. This is a new area outside Officer. Photo by: Ida Munch.
Sitting Member:
Broadbent, R (LP)
Size of electorate:
8358 sq. Km

Sitting Member

Russell Broadbent was first elected to the seat of McMillan in 1996 but lasted one term before winning re-election in 2004. He has held the Liberal seat ever since.

Key Comments

McMillan is a largely rural electorate in the south-east of Victoria, known for its dairy farming, forestry and tourism, particularly the always popular Wilsons Promontory. Some farming areas are retreating in the face of urban expansion, with the area's key cities undergoing rapid population growth.

Electorate Profile

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McMillan was created in 1949 and is named after Angus McMillan, a pioneer and explorer of west Gippsland in rural Victoria. The electorate is a marginal Liberal seat held by 4.2%.It was a conservative seat until 1980, when the demographic of the electorate changed with the growth of the local brown coal mining and electricity generation industries.The seat is held by long-time Liberal backbencher and McMillan local Russell Broadbent, who has served since 2004, as well as from 1996 to 1998. Mr Broadbent’s win in the 2004 election came after a local redistribution saw the traditional Labor-voting cities of Traralgon and Morwell taken into the neighbouring Gippsland electorate.

Mr Broadbent has lived within the electorate of McMillan his entire life. Heavily focused on his community, Mr Broadbent is pushing for funding towards local safety and crime prevention initiatives. He is a strong advocate for bike paths, transport and the environment, and has said global warming is “an issue for Australia and an issue for the world”. On the issue of treatment of refugees, he is known as a rebel in his party. He crossed the floor in 2006 to vote against a bill that meant refugees who arrived by boat would be processed on Nauru, without access to Australian courts. Mr Broadbent has described the ongoing detention of children as a “weeping sore” and on March 2, 2016, he presented a “welcome petition” to Parliament on the issue.

The key issues for McMillan are unemployment and environmental concerns. Residents have raised concerns about the pace of urban expansion in the area, which means Pakenham especially is surrounded by less farmland and green areas. Every day four new families arrive to Cardinia Shire within the electorate of McMillan, The Age reported. Both the Liberal and Labor candidates have focused their campaigns around the high unemployment and creating job security in McMillan, especially for the young population. The future of power generation remains an issue, with increasing pressure on ageing coal power stations and the jobs associated with them.

McMillan has a large variety of industries and businesses, ranging from dairy farming to tourism and fishing. Dairy is a key industry, which is renowned for award-winning cheeses and other high-quality products. Leongatha is also home to the widely popular Devondale dairy label.

Timber goods, beef, vegetables and wool are important to the local economy, and are sold domestically and internationally. Wilsons Promontory is a major drawcard for tourism, but the area offers a range of other, often unexpected, attractions. The historic town of Walhalla and its Goldfields Railway has wide appeal, while Mt Baw Baw and Mt St Gwinear are popular all year round. Inverloch is known for its dinosaur exhibition, being the town in which the first Australian dinosaur bones were found, and Korumburra is home to the world’s largest earthworms.

The median house price varies greatly across the electorate, sitting between $175,000 (Moe) and $429,000 (Inverloch).The median house price in Pakenham, which contains a third of the electorate’s constituents, has risen 75 per cent since 2007, from $220,000 to $365,000.This differs to other areas of the electorate, which has typically seen only minor shifts in property value. For example, Moe, which contains the second greatest amount of constituents, has risen only 20 per cent since 2008, from $125,000 to $162,000. Many of the areas are considered a low-demand market, and all areas are priced below the average market in Victoria.

McMillan is a rural electorate which has a population of about 138,000 people and a median age of 39. Most were born in Australia (82.5%). There were 37,513 families at the last Census, with an average of 1.9 children per family. The main industries for McMillan constituents include construction at 12.1%, retail trade (11%) and health care and social assistance (10.4%). Of the working population, the median personal income is $499 a week. The unemployment rate is 5.2%. More than a quarter of the adult population say they have no religion, (28.4%), while the Catholic Church has the largest local following (22.8%).

McMillan is a large electorate, covering five local government areas: South Gippsland, Baw Baw, Latrobe, Bass Coast and Cardinia. The main towns include Drouin, Erica, Foster, Inverloch, Korumburra, Leongatha, Mirboo North, Moe, Neerim South, Newborough, Nyora, Pakenham, Trafalgar, Walhalla, Warragul, Wonthaggi, Yallourn North and Yarragon. Given the dominance of rural land, council policy agendas tend to focus on agriculture and sustainable living, especially for the South Gippsland and Baw Baw shires. Issues surrounding power generation now and into the future are also a feature.

One of the areas in McMillan, the corridor along the Princes Highway and the main Gippsland Railway line, is the fastest growing area in rural Victoria. Due to this growth, there are many important business concerns and opportunities within the electorate, such as maintaining a low unemployment rate with a growing population. The vast increase in prices in real estate in Pakenham is also a reflection of the area’s rapid development over the past few years. 

2013 Election Results

Candidate Party Votes % Swing(%)
AMOR, David John Katter's Australian Party 2262 2.41 +2.41
PATTON, Gary Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) 209 0.22 +0.22
STAGGARD, Benjamin Sex Party 2168 2.31 +2.20
McKELVIE, Malcolm The Greens 7157 7.62 -2.09
PARKER, John Independent 1245 1.33 +1.33
KIS-RIGO, Andrew DLP Democratic Labour 1641 1.75 +1.75
SHERRY, Matthew John Palmer United Party 4380 4.66 +4.66
BAKER, Norman Rise Up Australia Party 627 0.67 +0.67
BROADBENT, RussellElected Liberal 47316 50.36 +1.31
NAUS, Anthony Australian Labor Party 23537 25.05 -10.71
GATT, Leigh Independent 695 0.74 -1.35
FISHER, Ross Country Alliance 822 0.87 +0.87
CONLON, Luke Family First Party 1893 2.01 -1.24
...... National Party of Australia 0 0 +0.00
...... Liberal Democratic Party 0 0 -0.02


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