Division of Higgins

The Division of Higgins is an Australian Electoral Division in Victoria for the Australian House of Representatives. The division covers 41 km2 (16 sq mi) in Melbourne's inner south-eastern suburbs. The main suburbs include Armadale, Ashburton, Carnegie, Glen Iris, Kooyong, Malvern, Malvern East, Murrumbeena, Prahran and Toorak; along with parts of Camberwell, Ormond and South Yarra. Though historically a safe conservative seat, Higgins was won by the Liberal Party by a margin of just 3.9 percent over the Labor Party at the 2019 election, the closest result in the seat’s history.[1] It then flipped to Labor in the 2022 election.[2]

Australian House of Representatives Division
Division of Higgins 2022.png
Division of Higgins in Victoria, as of the 2022 federal election.
MPMichelle Ananda-Rajah
NamesakeH. B. Higgins
Electors107,782 (2022)
Area39 km2 (15.1 sq mi)
DemographicInner metropolitan

In June 2021, the AEC announced that the electoral division would include the locality of Windsor at the following federal election, but that part of the suburb of Glen Iris and the suburb of Hughesdale would be transferred to the Division of Kooyong and Division of Hotham respectively.[3][4]

Higgins is a largely white-collar electorate. According to the 2016 census, 46.5% of electors hold a Bachelor's Degree, more than twice the national average.[5]

The current member for Higgins, since the 2022 federal election, is Michelle Ananda-Rajah, a member of the Australian Labor Party, and the first Labor member in the seat's history.


Since 1984, federal electoral division boundaries in Australia have been determined at redistributions by a redistribution committee appointed by the Australian Electoral Commission. Redistributions occur for the boundaries of divisions in a particular state, and they occur every seven years, or sooner if a state's representation entitlement changes or when divisions of a state are malapportioned.[6]


H. B. Higgins, the division's namesake

The division was created in 1949. Like other seats in inner-eastern Melbourne, Higgins had historically been a stronghold for the Liberal Party. It was considered a "leadership seat", in part because the seat's first two members, Harold Holt and Sir John Gorton, were Prime Ministers of Australia in the period between 1966 and 1971.

More recently, the seat was held by the longest serving Treasurer of Australia and former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Peter Costello, who was a prominent member of the Howard Government. Costello resigned from the seat on 19 October 2009, and was succeeded in the ensuing by-election by Kelly O'Dwyer, who would go on to become a minister in the Abbott and Turnbull governments.

O'Dwyer retired in 2019. At that election, Labor came reasonably close to winning this seat for the first time ever, with their highest two-party preferred vote in the history of the seat (46.12%). Liberal candidate Katie Allen, however, saw off a challenge from barrister Fiona McLeod, despite suffering a swing of six percent, making Higgins marginal against Labor for the first time ever. Allen became the first Liberal candidate to come up short of an outright majority on the first count. High-profile Greens candidate and former Australian Rules footballer Jason Ball also contested the seat, receiving almost a quarter of the vote.

At the 2022 election, Labor took the seat for the first time. While Allen led Labor challenger Michelle Ananda-Rajah for most of the night, on the seventh count the Green candidate's preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Ananda-Rajah, allowing Ananda-Rajah to win on a swing of 4.7 percent.

Higgins is the only Division to have been held by two Prime Ministers. This occurred when Holt went missing while Prime Minister, and then-Senator Gorton used the ensuing by-election to transfer to the House. Prior to 2022, it has only been out of Liberal hands for eight months in its existence, when Gorton became an independent to protest against Malcolm Fraser's becoming Liberal leader.

The seat is one of the few to have produced two federal Treasurers; Holt and Costello served as Treasurers during their respective tenure in Higgins. Another member, Kelly O'Dwyer had a stint as Assistant Treasurer.[7]


The division is named after Justice H. B. Higgins (1851–1929), who was a Member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly (1894) and president of the Carlton Football Club (1904). He was a founding Member of Australian House of Representatives, serving as the Protectionist member for Northern Melbourne and was the Attorney-General in the Watson Government (1904). He went on to become a Justice of the High Court of Australia (1906–1929)


Image Member Party Term Notes
    Harold Holt
Liberal 10 December 1949
17 December 1967
Previously held the Division of Fawkner. Served as minister under Menzies. Served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1967. Died in office
    John Gorton
Liberal 24 February 1968
23 May 1975
Previously a member of the Senate. Served as Prime Minister from 1968 to 1971. Served as minister under McMahon. Did not contest in 1975. Failed to win a Senate seat
  Independent 23 May 1975 –
11 November 1975
    Roger Shipton
Liberal 13 December 1975
19 February 1990
Lost preselection and retired
    Peter Costello
Liberal 24 March 1990
19 October 2009
Served as minister under Howard. Resigned to retire from politics
    Kelly O'Dwyer
Liberal 5 December 2009
11 April 2019
Served as minister under Turnbull and Morrison. Retired
    Katie Allen
Liberal 18 May 2019
21 May 2022
Lost seat
    Michelle Ananda-Rajah
Labor 21 May 2022

Election resultsEdit

2022 Australian federal election: Higgins[8]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Katie Allen 38,859 40.69 −5.84
Labor Michelle Ananda-Rajah 27,187 28.46 +2.39
Greens Sonya Semmens 21,632 22.65 −0.06
Liberal Democrats Matthew Ford 2,648 2.77 +2.77
United Australia Ingram Spencer 1,917 2.01 +0.84
Reason Andrew Johnson 1,458 1.53 +1.53
Animal Justice Alicia Walker 1,295 1.36 −0.40
Australian Federation Suzie Menoudakis 515 0.54 +0.54
Total formal votes 95,511 97.18 −0.31
Informal votes 2,774 2.82 +0.31
Turnout 98,285 91.23 −2.45
Two-party-preferred result
Labor Michelle Ananda-Rajah 49,726 52.06 +4.67
Liberal Katie Allen 45,785 47.94 −4.67
Labor gain from Liberal Swing +4.67
Primary vote results in Higgins (Parties that did not get 5% of the vote are omitted)
  Australian Democrats
Two-party-preferred vote results in Higgins


  1. ^ "Higgins (Key Seat) - Federal Electorate, Candidates, Results - ABC News". Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  2. ^ "Higgins (Key Seat) - Federal Electorate, Candidates, Results". abc.net.au. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  3. ^ corporateName=Australian Electoral Commission; address=10 Mort Street, Canberra ACT 2600; contact=13 23 26. "Step 6. Announcement of final boundaries – Victorian federal redistribution". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "2021 Federal Redistribution – Boundaries Finalised for Victoria – Antony Green's Election Blog".
  5. ^ "2016 Higgins, Census All persons QuickStats | Australian Bureau of Statistics". www.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  6. ^ Muller, Damon (14 November 2017). "The process of federal redistributions: a quick guide". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Under fire Kelly O'Dwyer scuttles Twitter joke while Peter Costello rushes to her aid". 25 June 2016.
  8. ^ Higgins, VIC, 2022 Tally Room, Australian Electoral Commission.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 37°51′32″S 145°02′49″E / 37.859°S 145.047°E / -37.859; 145.047