• Held by: Joe Helper, Labor (retiring at the 2014 election)
  • Since: 1999
  • Swing at 2010 election: -1.6 per cent
  • Redistribution details: Ripon has grown in size dramatically by moving north and absorbing the towns of Inglewood, St Arnaud and Donald and the vast areas of countryside between. Although it loses parts of its southern and western territory, it retains the towns of Ararat, Avoca, Beaufort and Stawell. As a consequence of the changes, Ripon has flipped to become pro-Liberal with a notional margin of 1.6 per cent.
  • Size of electorate: 16,761 sq kms

KEY COMMENTS: Ripon is an interesting one to watch as the redistribution has altered its status and the retirement of sitting member Joe Helper hasn’t helped Labor’s chances. The question is whether the statewide swing to Labor, reflected in opinion polls, will extend into the electorate’s new, but traditionally Liberal, areas in order to off-set the effects of the boundary changes.

Ripon a real contest of local rural issues

The sprawling electorate of Ripon lies to the west of both Ballarat and Bendigo. The popular Labor member, Joe Helper, is retiring at this election and the seat has been made more marginal by the recent re-distribution. The margin has shifted from the 2.7% in favour of Labor at the last election to a notional 1.6% for the Liberals.

With so many smaller towns and settlements across a large area, very local issues are front and centre in the minds of many voters – from Ararat’s sub-standard swimming pool to the ‘frozen approvals’ for local windfarms.

Common to most rural districts, the leakage of younger residents to the cities has rapidly aged the population profile and sapped much needed vitality and potential growth from the area. Vivienne Mah from RMIT University took the electoral temperature of Ripon and reports on a seat that all eyes will be on come election night 2014.

Ripon news

The fight over windfarms in Macedon

Windfarms are a big deal in the seat of Macedon. The Ballieu Coalition Government legislated for a blanket ban on windfarms within two kilometers of a residential zone.Some in this electorate oppose windfarms on aesthetic, health and fire-risk grounds. Supporters simply want a choice and see this form of renewable energy as inevitable and good for local jobs and the environment. Both sides invoke “community” to justify their positions. Sumeyya Ilanbey from RMIT University reports on a rural electorate facing one of the most contentious of... read more