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Adam Carr's Election Archive

Australian federal election, 2019
Division of Higgins, Victoria

< Herbert previous seat | next seat Hindmarsh >
Return to alphabetical list of seats

Inner Melbourne: Carnegie, Glen Iris, Malvern, Prahran, Toorak
State seats: All of Malvern, parts of Burwood, Hawthorn, Oakleigh and Prahran
Local government areas: Parts of Boroondara, Glen Eira and Stonnington
Enrolment at close of rolls: 111,035
1999 republic referendum: Yes 63.7
2018 same-sex marriage survey: Yes 78.3

Sitting member: Hon Kelly O’Dwyer (Liberal): Elected 2009 by-election, 2010, 2013, 2016. Retiring 2019

2007 Liberal majority over Labor: 7.0%
2009 by-election Liberal majority over Greens: 10.2%
2010 Liberal majority over Labor: 6.8%
2013 Liberal majority over Labor: 9.9%
2016 Liberal majority over Greens: 8.0%
2016 notional Liberal majority over Labor: 10.7%

Status: Fairly safe Liberal versus Greens and Labor

Best Liberal booths, two-party vote: Toorak (74.4), Toorak West (73.4), Malvern Lower (72.1), Malvern PPVC (67.5), Darling (63.2)
Best Greens booths, two-party vote: Prahran East (60.8), Prahran (59.8), South Yarra (55.8), Hughesdale (55.7), Hawksburn Central (55.2)
  • 2016 results
  • Statistics and history

  • Candidates in ballot-paper order:

    1. Jason Ball
    Australian Greens
    2. Michaela Moran
    Sustainable Australia
    3. Alicia Walker
    Animal Justice Party
    4. Dr Katie Allen
    Liberal Party
    5. Fiona McLeod
    Australian Labor Party
    6. Timothy Ryan
    United Australia Party

    Candidate websites:

    Dr Katie Allen
    Jason Ball

    Division of Higgins

    Higgins was created in 1949, based in Melbourne's wealthy inner south -eastern suburbs, initially Malvern and Caulfield, and expanding over successive redistributions to take in Toorak and South Yarra to the west and Ashburton to the east, while losing Caulfield in 1990. It has one of the highest median income levels, one of the highest rates of home ownership, and one of the highest proportions of people in professional occupations of any electorate. Not surprisingly, it has always been a safe seat for the Liberal Party, although somewhat less so on its current boundaries than in the past: there are pockets of Labor strength in Alamein, Carnegie and Hughesdale.

    Higgins was won in 1949 for the Liberals by Harold Holt, who had been member for Fawkner since 1935. He was Prime Minister from 1966 until his death in 1967. The 1968 by-election was won by his successor as PM, John Gorton, who was transferring from the Senate. Higgins is thus the only seat to have been held by two Prime Ministers. Gorton retired in 1975 and was succeeded by Roger Shipton, a backbencher who was dumped in 1990 in favour of the ambitious young lawyer Peter Costello, who became Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in 1994 and was Treasurer throughout the Howard Government. He was widely expected to succeed Howard as Liberal Leader, but after the 2007 defeat he declined to stand and resigned his seat in 2009.

    Kelly O'Dwyer, Liberal MP for Higgins since the 2009 by-election that followed Costello's resignation, was a lawyer, banker and senior adviser to Costello before becoming his successor. She became a parliamentary secretary in 2014 and a minister in 2015. In August 2018 she was promoted to Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations and Minister for Women in the Morrison Cabinet.

    At the 2016 election the Greens captured most of the Labor vote in the Prahran-South Yarra area, which is socially part of the inner city, and managed to come second, although there was little change in the two-candidate vote. The 2018 redistribution has removed most of Prahran from the seat, while adding more Labor-voting territory around Murrumbeena. This makes the seat less favourable to the Greens while not much changing its Liberal-versus-Labor status.

    In January 2019 O'Dwyer unexpectedly announced that she would not recontest Higgins at the 2019 election. Although she cited personal reasons for the decision, it is likely that she was influenced by polls showing the Coalition heading for a heavy defeat, and particularly facing heavy losses in Victoria. Her decision left the Liberals scrambling to find a new candidate at short notice. In late February they chose Dr Katie Allen, a paediatrician who was the unsuccessful but well-regarded Liberal candidate for Prahran at the November state election.

    The Labor candidate was Josh Spiegel, formerly Michael Danby's chief-of-staff, but in late March he was replaced by Fiona McLeod SC, a leading human rights lawyer. This was seen as a sign that Labor believed it can win the seat with a more high-profile candidate. The Greens candidate in 2016, Jason Ball, is running again.


    Median weekly household income: $1,911 (Australia $1,438)
    People over 65: 14.6% (Australia 15.8%)
    Australian born: 60.8% (Australia 66.7%)
    Ancestry: Chinese 7.3%
    Non-English-speaking households: 29.1% (Australia 22.2%)
    Catholics 19.0% (Australia 22.6%)
    Orthodox Christian: 5.0%
    No religion 36.7% (Australia 29.6%)
    University graduates: 46.5% (Australia 22.0%)
    Professional and managerial employment: 57.2% (Australia 35.2%)
    Employed in manufacturing and construction: 12.4% (Australia 22.9%)
    Paying a mortgage: 24.8% (Australia 34.5%)
    Renting: 43.4% (Australia 30.9%)
    Traditional families: 25.6% (Australia 32.8%)


    Rt Hon Harold Holt (Lib) 1949-67
    Rt Hon John Gorton (Lib) 1968b-75
    Roger Shipton (Lib) 1975-90
    Hon Peter Costello (Lib) 1990-2009
    Hon Kelly O'Dwyer (Lib) 2009b-19

    Boundaries following 2018 redistribution:

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