National swings don't tell the full story of an election; individual seats hold the key to success.
Polls have now closed in the eastern states and the counting has started. Keep an eye on these 24 key seats which could change hands.
Macquarie (NSW): ALP 0.2%
Macquarie lies on Sydney's western and north-western fringe. It has traditionally been a marginal Liberal seat won only occasionally by Labor. Gained by Labor's Susan Templeman in 2016, her narrow victory in 2019 was the first time since 1983 that a Labor member had been re-elected. Her victory margin was just 371 votes and Macquarie the last seat declared in 2019. As in 2019 the Liberal candidate is Sarah Richards.
Bass (TAS): LIB 0.4%
Bass — in the north-east corner of Tasmania centred on Launceston — has become known as the "ejector" seat in recent decades, with nine of the last 10 elections resulting in a change of sitting member, and eight seeing a switch in the seat's party status. In 2022 it will be Liberal MP Bridget Archer who takes her turn trying to break the string of one term Bass MPs. She will be opposed by the MP she defeated in 2019, Labor's Ross Hart.
Chisholm (VIC): LIB 0.5%
Chisholm — in the eastern Melbourne suburbs — is a perennial marginal seat, though usually Labor held in recent years. Former speaker Anna Burke's retirement in 2016 saw Chisholm become the only seat gained by the Liberal Party, a victory that saved the Turnbull government. New Liberal MP Julia Banks walked away from the party after Turnbull was replaced as leader in 2018, but Chisholm did not become the expected Labor gain. It was won by new Liberal candidate Gladys Liu. She is opposed by Labor's Carina Garland.
Cowan (WA): ALP 0.9%
Cowan is an inner-northern Perth seat and has been represented by Labor's Anne Aly since gaining it at the 2016 election. The new Cowan contains roughly equal numbers of voters from the old Cowan and the abolished Stirling, so Vince Connelly has almost as many claims to represent the seat as Aly. Cowan has moved against the national trend before, being one of only two seats lost by Labor in the election of the Rudd government in 2007, but there are not great expectations of a repeat performance in 2022.
Corangamite (VIC): ALP 1.1%
Once a safe Liberal seat in Victoria's western districts, successive redistributions have caused Corangamite to shed rural areas and contract towards Geelong. Labor won Corangamite for the first time in nearly eight decades in 2007 and retained it for a second term in 2010. The seat was re-gained for the Liberal Party by Sarah Henderson on the election of the Abbott government in 2013. After two terms as MP, Henderson had her margin wiped out by a redistribution ahead of the 2019 election and she was defeated by Labor's Libby Coker. Henderson has since been appointed to the Senate. The Liberal Party has a high-profile candidate for the 2022 election in former Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher.
Blair (QLD): ALP 1.2%
Blair is based on Ipswich to the south-west of Brisbane. It has been held by Labor's Shayne Neumann since 2007, even managing to hold on against the anti-Labor mood in 2013 and 2019. Unless Labor performs even worse than in 2019, then Neumann should be able to retain Blair. The LNP candidate is Sam Biggins.
Wentworth (NSW): LIB 1.3% v IND
Wentworth has traditionally been a safe Liberal seat. Malcolm Turnbull took the seat's margin out beyond 15 per cent, but his departure saw Wentworth won by independent Kerryn Phelps at an October 2018 by-election. Phelps was narrowly defeated by Liberal Dave Sharma at the 2019 election, but he now defends his narrow 1.3 per cent margin against a new independent challenger — Allegra Spender, a businesswoman in her own right but also daughter and granddaughter of prominent Liberal MPs and daughter of the late fashion designer Carla Zampatti.
Boothby (SA): LIB 1.4%
Boothby, covering the southern suburbs of Adelaide, has been Liberal held for decades, but it has become more marginal over the last 20 years. Siting Liberal MP Nicolle Flint is retiring, leaving Boothby as the key seat to watch in South Australia. The new Liberal candidate is Dr Rachel Swift, opposed by Labor's Louise Miller-Frost. Boothby is also being contested by independent and former Adelaide Writer's Week director Jo Dyer.
Gilmore (NSW): ALP 2.6%
Gilmore was Labor's only real seat gain in 2019 but should never have been lost by the Liberal Party. The victory of Labor's Fiona Phillips in 2019 was only the second time Labor had won the South Coast seat since it was first contested in 1984. Scott Morrison's choice of former Labor Party President Warren Mundine as Liberal candidate upset local branches, causing the Nationals and the previously chosen local candidate to run as an independent, preference leakage allowing Labor to win. The new Liberal candidate is Andrew Constance, until recently member for the local state seat of Bega and the high-profile transport minister.
Higgins (VIC): LIB 2.6%
Higgins covers a string of once strongly conservative-voting inner eastern Melbourne suburbs where demography and voting patterns are shifting. Former Liberal member Kelly O'Dwyer retired in 2019 and new candidate Dr Katie Allen saw the Liberal first preference vote drop below 50 per cent for the first time, the seat's usual double digit margin dipping to 3.7 per cent. Higgins is a seat that both Labor and the Greens think is winnable, and Allen's opponents in 2022 are Labor's Dr Michelle Ananda-Rajah and the Greens' Sonya Semmens.
Hunter (NSW): ALP 3.0%
Long-term Hunter Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon is retiring in 2022. The Labor National Executive has chosen coal miner and Olympic shooting medallist Daniel Repacholi as the party's candidate, upsetting local party members and triggering the nomination of several independents. One Nation finished third with 20 per cent of the vote in 2019 and the party's preferences came close to defeating Fitzgibbon. The National Party's candidate is James Thomson.
Solomon (NT): ALP 3.1%
Despite the seat's remote location compared to the bulk of Australia's population, Solomon behaves more like an outer metropolitan electorate where cost of living and service issues dominate. First contested in 2001, Solomon was won by the Country Liberals at four of its first five contests before being gained by current Labor member Luke Gosling in 2016. He won re-election in 2019 despite a 3 per cent swing against him. His CLP opponent will be Tina MacFarlane who has twice previously been the CLP candidate for Lingiari.
Braddon (TAS): LIB 3.1%
Braddon takes in the north-west and west coasts of Tasmania and includes the major centres of Devonport, Burnie and Queenstown. While Braddon has re-elected more sitting members than neighbouring Bass, it has still changed party at six of the last eight elections. Current Liberal member Gavin Pearce was first elected at the 2019 election and will be opposed in 2022 by Labor's Chris Lynch.
Reid (NSW): LIB 3.2%
For decades it was a safe Labor seat in Sydney, but on its current boundaries, Reid is essentially the abolished seat of Lowe which had long been a marginal seat won by both sides of politics. Fiona Martin is the sitting Liberal member while the Labor candidate is Sally Sitou.
Swan (WA): LIB 3.2%
Swan — across the river from the Perth CBD — was traditionally a marginal seat that tended to be Labor-held until won by Liberal Steve Irons in 2007. Irons is retiring this year. The new Liberal candidate is former journalist and ministerial adviser Kristy McSweeney, opposed by Labor's Zaneta Mascarenhas.
Parramatta (NSW): ALP 3.5%
Parramatta has been held by Labor's Julie Owens since taking it from the Liberal Party in 2004. Owens is retiring this election which opens the seat to a Liberal challenge. Liberal Party results in local state seats have been strong in recent years, and the party will hope to capitalise on the loss of Owens' personal vote. The Labor Party has taken the potentially dangerous decision to appoint an outsider as its candidate, choosing former Kevin Rudd Economics Adviser Andrew Charlton despite living in Sydney's eastern suburbs. The Liberal candidate is businesswoman Maria Kovacic. Former Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou is running as an independent and recommending preferences away from Labor.
Leichhardt (QLD): LNP 4.2%
Leichhardt — which extends north from Cairns — is the sort of far-flung regional seat where sitting members can entrench themselves, which is exactly what Liberal Warren Entsch has done. First elected in 1996, the only time he hasn't been elected since was in 2007 when he temporarily retired. As in 2019, his Labor opponent is Elida Faith. More than any other tourism seat in the country, Leichhardt has suffered from border closures during COVID, losing all international tourists and most interstate tourists courtesy of Queensland's closed border.
Brisbane (QLD): LNP 4.9%
Brisbane has been held by Liberal Trevor Evans since 2016, but faces a threat from two opponents in what has become a three-way contest. In 2019, Evans polled 47.8 per cent of the first preference vote to 24.5 per cent for Labor and 22.4 per cent for the Greens. Unless Evens keeps his first preference percentage in the high 40s, strong flows of preferences could deliver victory to whichever of Labor or the Greens has the higher first preference vote. The Labor candidate is Madonna Jarrett, the Greens represented in the contest by Stephen Bates.
Lingiari (NT): ALP 5.5%
There will be more attention than usual on Lingiari with the retirement of long-serving Labor member Warren Snowdon. Snowdon's personal vote will be missed by Labor, especially in the larger population centres. The new Labor candidate is former NT Deputy Chief Minister Marion Scrymgour, opposed by former Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan. Lingiari covers 99.9 per cent of the Northern Territory and around a third of votes are collected by mobile polling teams visiting remote communities.
Kooyong (VIC): LIB 6.4%
That such an establishment inner Melbourne electorate can be listed as at risk highlights recent problems in the Victorian Liberal Party as well as the shifting demographics of Kooyong. It has been held by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg since 2010. Kooyong's Liberal margin is 6.4 per cent based on a two-party contest, or 5.7 per cent in the final two-candidate contest versus the Greens in 2019. The Labor Candidate is Dr Peter Lynch, the Green candidate Piers Mitchem, but the bigger threat is Independent Dr Monique Ryan.
Goldstein (VIC): LIB 7.8%
Goldstein has been held by Tim Wilson since 2016. His Independent challenger in 2022 is former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel.
North Sydney (NSW): LIB 9.3%
North Sydney has been held by Liberal Trent Zimmerman since a 2015 by-election. While North Sydney is traditionally a safe Liberal seat, it previously left the Liberal fold when won by independent Ted Mack in 1990 and 1993. Hoping to emulate Mack's success in 2022 is former charity CEO Kylea Tink. As with several other inner-Sydney Liberal seats, the "teal" independent challenge is forcing the Liberal Party to devote considerably more resources to North Sydney than is normal at a federal election.
Fowler (NSW): ALP 14.0%
Fowler is in Sydney's outer south-west and is one of the city's most ethnically diverse electorates and the centre of the city's Vietnamese community. Fowler has been a safe Labor seat since it was first contested in 1984, generally held by relatively low-profile Labor MPs. Retiring MP Chris Hayes tried to engineer pre-selection for a member of his staff with a Vietnamese background, but the Labor Party decided to move former NSW premier and current Labor Senator Kristina Keneally into the seat. While there is no chance of the seat being won by the Liberal Party, Keneally's candidacy has encouraged City of Fairfield Councillor Dai Le to nominate. Le has previously run Labor a close race as first a Liberal and later an Independent in the state seat of Cabramatta.
Nicholls (VIC): NAT 20.0%
Nicholls is a very safe Coalition seat, but sitting National MP Damian Drum is retiring, opening up the seat for both Coalition parties to contest. The new National candidate is Sam Birrell opposed by Liberal Steve Brooks. At the two previous three-cornered contests in 1996 and 2016, Labor finished a distant third and Labor preferences played a role in the result. Nicholls is of interest because it is being contested by a high profile Independent, Rob Priestly. Nicholls is a seat open to a strong Independent challenge given it sits next to Independent-held Indi, and the local state seat of Shepparton is also represented by an Independent. If Priestly polls higher than one of the Coalition candidates, he could win on leakage of preferences.