Election 2007: Voters and VAMPIREs: The electoral geography of household exposure to rising petrol, mortgage and general price pressures

Jago Dodson, Griffith University
Neil Sipe, Griffith University

This article examines the geography of household socio-economic vulnerability to rising fuel and mortgage interest rates in Brisbane, Melbourne Sydney, Adelaide and Perth to assess the potential influence these patterns may exert on the forthcoming Australian federal election. We find that transport and housing costs are now considerable concerns for many households and are likely to place pressure on household finances. Given the geography of Australian cities, the distribution of households experiencing such cost pressures is likely to be geographically uneven. We explore the extent to which high levels of such socio-economic exposure to rising fuel and housing costs—described here as oil and mortgage vulnerability—coincide with electoral marginality. We suggest that household vulnerability is present in a sufficiently large number of electorates that it poses an important challenge for political parties.

Household financial vulnerability poses an important challenge for political parties.

The challenge is new, given the historically unusual combination of a strong economy and low but rising interest rates with high fuel prices and high levels of household indebtedness. The challenge is one of presenting a political strategy that can capture the attention, and subsequently the support, of households facing these financial pressures. From the standpoint of the Liberal Party meeting this challenge would likely emphasise the government’s claimed record of delivering aggregate prosperity and managing national economic risk. By comparison, the Australian Labor Party is likely to emphasise the extent of household financial pressures, especially for economically less prosperous households, and to contrast these with the broader claims made by the government about overall prosperity.

We do not claim to predict electoral outcomes. Rather, we aim to identify the intersection of urban household socio-economic vulnerability with electoral geography, to assist evaluation of how much this vulnerability will be a factor in the forthcoming election. We conclude by considering how political candidates might respond to the challenge of suburban oil and mortgage vulnerability.


Earlier this year the Howard Coalition Government celebrated eleven years in office, the result of four election wins. They gained their most recent electoral victory over the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 2004 in a contest fought on economic ground. With the peak of a housing boom barely passed and faced with a novice ALP leader in the form of Mark Latham, Howard and his colleagues played on popular sensitivity to rising mortgage interest rates by promising to keep interest rates low.

Since 2004 the Australian economy has continued its unbroken sixteen-year period of economic expansion. But the Reserve Bank of Australia has also increased official interest rates four times since the last election, from 5.5 per cent in 2004 to 6.25 per cent in November 2006. These increases have, in turn, stimulated increases to mortgage interest rates. Many households with mortgages who anticipated the Howard Government’s commitment to ‘keep interest rates low’ would mean interest rates would remain at their historically modest levels, have since faced marked increases in the cost of their borrowing. This growth in the cost of mortgage debt has coincided with softer urban housing markets in Australian cities compared to the earlier years of the decade, with the exception of Perth. On average households are facing higher debt servicing costs but lower capital gains from house price growth than in the period 2001–2004. Also, capital gains have been unevenly distributed with some areas of Australian cities, notably western Sydney, experiencing negative price growth relative to highs seen earlier this decade.

A further prominent feature of the post-2004 economic environment has been the sharp and sustained increase in the global price of oil. The international price of crude oil has risen from around US$20 per barrel in the early-2000s to around US$50 per barrel in late 2004, then to US$70 during in 2006 and 2007. This fuel price growth has had a number of effects on the Australian economy. Rising transport costs, driven by rising fuel prices, have stimulated general inflation, which has in turn provoked the Reserve Bank to raise official interest rates. Rising transport fuel costs have also put pressure on household budgets, particularly in the suburbs of Australian cities where housing, employment, and other activities are dispersed and where people have few viable transport alternatives to automobile use. Official assessments of global petroleum markets increasingly suggest that the prospect of decline in fuel prices in the medium term is low.


Transport costs comprise around 15 per cent of average household spending.

These problems of rising urban transport and housing cost pressures are amplified by the 1997–2004 housing market boom, which itself has partly been enabled by low interest rates. Low interest rates produced three demand effects in housing markets. First, they have resulted in the bidding up of prices for existing housing and have assisted to generate marked house price inflation. This means larger borrowings have been required to enter the housing market. Australian aggregate home owner debt rose has risen massively, from around $125 billion in 1996 to over $400 billion by 2007 (Reserve Bank of Australia 2007). Second, low interest rates mean that people buying new houses can afford larger or better houses at a given level of income. As a result the average size of new detached dwellings in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne has increased about 25 per cent over the past decade (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005). As home builders have added features such as fourth bedrooms, home theatres, and walk-in wardrobes, mortgage burdens have grown.

Transport costs comprise around 15 per cent of average household expenditure in Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005) so recent fuel price growth alone is unlikely to have alone created excessive household cost pressures. But fuel and mortgage costs are linked by the way the Reserve Bank manages inflationary pressures by consistently increasing interest rates to counter fuel-driven general price inflation. This means that for many suburban households, a small increase in immediate household fuel costs as a result of rising oil prices is amplified by the Reserve Bank interest rate policy into a much bigger additional financial impost through rising mortgage costs.

The three cost pressures of housing debt, fuel and general price growth will inevitably impact more heavily on lower income households because this group tends to be more highly financially geared than those on higher incomes. La Cava and Simon (2005) have shown that households in lower income quintiles have higher levels of housing debt and higher incidence of financial stress than higher income households. But the structure of Australian urban housing markets means these pressures will also be unevenly spatially distributed and concentrated.

Lower income home purchasers tend to locate in outer suburban areas where land prices are relatively cheaper (Burnley, Murphy & Jenner 1997). Hence around half of all first-home owners in Melbourne and Sydney buy into outer suburban zones (Productivity Commission 2004). Because historical lags in public transport infrastructure and service provision persist in Australian cities, low income households who move to the outer suburbs because they can afford to buy a home there tend to become more car dependent and so more exposed to rising fuel costs (Burnley, Murphy & Jenner 1997). There is anecdotal evidence that these pressures have already exerted unsustainable pressure on the budgets of some households. The past year has seen increasing reports of mortgagee sales in the outer suburbs of some Australian cities (Wade 2007; Walsh & Singer 2006).


The Government argues that it is
the only guardian
of prosperity.

The socio-economic geography of highly indebted car-dependent households on modest incomes in the outer suburbs inevitably intersects with the Australia’s electoral geography. The phenomenon of ‘battlers’ and ‘aspirational’ households struggling in the outer urban ‘mortgage belts’ of Australian cities has long been noted by Australian social and political observers. But the changing global petroleum security context which is driving increased fuel prices, and so inflation and mortgage costs, has added a new and potentially volatile socio-economic dynamic to the suburbs of Australian cities. This new dynamic means that political imperatives probably differ now from 2004, when fuel prices had only just begun their upward march.

These developments are registered in political rhetoric. Prime Minister John Howard has consistently argued that his party has ensured the continuing economic growth that has delivered unprecedented prosperity to Australian households. Yet the geography of Australian cities means that prosperity is unevenly distributed between different socio-economic groups and different urban sub-regions. While average prosperity may have increased across the nation as a whole, many suburban households are feeling the combined pressures of volatile transport costs, rising general prices, and steadily ratcheting mortgage costs. For these households the prosperity spruiked by political leaders may be less apparent than official aggregate statistics record. A concentration of households experiencing insecure prosperity in particular sub-regions could translate into concentrated electoral insecurity for a government which has promoted growing mortgage debt as a marker of economic vitality. It is notable, then, that the Opposition Australian Labor Party has recently identified the pressures of rising petrol and grocery prices and the cost of housing finance as emerging and growing concerns for suburban households. For example, one of Labor’s advertisements currently screening on YouTube and on television proclaims:

Despite the big picture on the economy appearing good, under the surface many family budgets are simply stretching to breaking point. Mr Howard says working families have never been better off, but housing is becoming less affordable and taking more and more of the family budget. Mr Howard has broken his promise on interest rates—we’ve now had nine increases in a row—and the rising cost of petrol, groceries, childcare and the loss of penalty rates and overtime under WorkChoices people are asking ‘if the economy is doing so well, why aren’t we?’. (Rudd 2007)

Household financial pressures may prove to be one of the quiet yet potent determinants of the forthcoming federal election along with the already prominent concerns about the Iraq war, global warming, and industrial relations. The Government argues that it is the only guardian of prosperity and that Labor poses a risk to household finances. Labor, by comparison, has sought to show sensitivity to the potentially precarious financial circumstances of many suburban households and to promise that a Labor Government would seek to moderate cost pressures. Current political polling indicates the voting public is prepared to countenance trusting Labor to protect household finances.

Neither party can be assured that it will gain electorally from the pressures of suburban mortgage and oil vulnerability. One hypothesis is that accelerating household financial pressures will be more challenging for the incumbent government than for the opposition at the ballot box. Households experiencing high exposure to financial pressures may be less assured than the government’s prosperity rhetoric suggests, especially after having been assured that interest rates would remain low. Such pressures may be exacerbated by the potential remuneration insecurity generated by the government’s WorkChoices reforms. An alternative hypothesis is that high and increasing levels of household financial insecurity may stimulate a conservative response from households and encourage support for the government as the protector of prosperity.

The fairly safe Labor seat of Rankin is heavily affected by mortgage and oil vulnerability.

What evidence do we have to indicate how these alternative scenarios might play out in terms of metropolitan electoral geography? In which electorates might the political contestation of household oil and mortgage vulnerability be most pressing? What might these patterns mean for Labor’s task of gaining 16 seats from the government to take office? The remainder of this article examines the highly uneven geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability relative to the electoral geography of Australian cities. We show that, despite aggregate claims about national prosperity, these pressures are very unevenly distributed within urban areas and between electorates.

We have previously investigated the likely urban geographic distribution of rising fuel prices and their potential impacts on households with mortgages in Australia’s major cities (Dodson & Sipe 2006; Dodson & Sipe 2007). One of our reports presented the ‘vulnerability assessment for mortgage, petrol and inflation risks and expenditure’ or ‘VAMPIRE’ index, which depicts household socio-economic vulnerability to rising fuel prices and mortgage interest rates. With a federal election due in late 2007, the VAMPIRE can assist in identifying the potential electoral implications for areas of Australian cities with concentrations of oil and mortgage vulnerable households. Accordingly, we have combined the VAMPIRE with the results of the 2004 Australian election and 2007 electoral boundaries to assess broad patterns of oil and mortgage vulnerability relative to electoral tendency.


We developed the VAMPIRE to assess the oil and debt vulnerability of households in Australian cities (Dodson & Sipe 2006). The assessment operates at a very fine level of spatial detail by using Australian Census data on household car use and ownership, mortgage debt, and income to produce a single index that can be mapped at the level of the Census Collection District (approximately 200 households). We calculated the VAMPIRE for the Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth urban areas using 2001 census data. (We would have used 2006 Census data, but these have not yet been released in the format we need.) We found an overall pattern of high mortgage and oil vulnerability in suburban zones, particularly in the outer and fringe areas of Australian cities (Dodson & Sipe 2006).

In this contribution, we overlay the VAMPIRE maps for Australian cities with the results of the 2004 Federal election, using the electoral district boundaries for the forthcoming election. Using the Australian Electoral Commission’s two-party preferred calculations from the election in 2004, we have divided electoral districts into three groups: safe seats (held with margins of more than 12 per cent), fairly safe seats (held with margins of between 6 and 12 per cent) and marginal seats (held by 6 per cent or less). This method provides a simple but immediate means of identifying the intersection of oil and mortgage vulnerability with electoral geography.



Areas of high and very high oil and mortgage vulnerability, as measured by our VAMPIRE index, are found in the outer suburban areas of Brisbane’s north, east, south-east and west (see Figure 1, pdf format, 201 Kb). The most marginal electorate in Brisbane is Bonner which contains some highly vulnerable households but where the majority of areas are moderately oil and mortgage vulnerable. By comparison, the adjacent safe Liberal electorate of Bowman to the east of Bonner is dominated by areas of high or very high vulnerability. If our first hypothesis is proven valid, the level of oil and mortgage vulnerability suggests the safe Liberal status of this seat could become more marginal.

A significant swing might weaken the Liberal hold on Macquarie and Hughes.

Comparable patterns are found in other safe Liberal seats such as Longman, Dickson and Petrie north of Brisbane and Dixon, Blair and Forde to the west and south respectively: all contain high proportions of mortgage and oil vulnerability. Dixon, Blair and Forde have large rural hinterlands, which are not included in our urban VAMPIRE. While oil and mortgage vulnerability is likely to be high in some rural sub-regions, any possible adverse VAMPIRE effects for the government in such seats may be countered by the general tendency for rural voters to favour the National or Liberal parties over Labor.

Labor’s safe seat of Griffith appears to be only moderately affected by mortgage and oil vulnerability, a pattern that also holds for the safe Liberal seat of Ryan. Only moderate levels of oil and mortgage vulnerability are present in the fairly safe Labor seats of Brisbane and Lilley. The fairly safe Liberal seat of Moreton is also only lightly affected by mortgage and oil effects. In contrast, the fairly safe Labor seat of Rankin is heavily affected by mortgage and oil vulnerability.

Overall the Brisbane picture suggests both opportunities and challenges for both parties. If Labor is able to amplify voter concerns about rising household cost pressures and convert these into dissatisfaction with the government, it stands to gain the seats of Bonner and Moreton while also weakening, if not breaking, the Liberal hold on Longman and Petrie, Bowman and Blair. By contrast the government faces a significant, but not insurmountable challenge, in converting its record on prosperity into retention of, or a stronger hold on, these oil and mortgage vulnerable electorates.


The geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Sydney is highly variegated at the local scale, but exhibits some overall regional patterns (see Figure 2, pdf format, 211 Kb). In general northern and eastern areas tend to be less oil and mortgage vulnerable while those in the west and south tend to be more vulnerable. The very low levels of mortgage and oil vulnerability in the north and east mean that these factors are likely to have minimum effect in the safe liberal electorates of Berowra, Mackellar, Bradfield, Warringah, and North Sydney. Similarly, the safe Labor seats of Watson, Grayndler, Barton, Kingsford Smith, and Sydney are largely unaffected by the VAMPIRE, as are the fairly safe Liberal seats of Wentworth and Bennelong.

Many electorates of western Sydney contain large zones of highly oil and mortgage vulnerable areas. The marginal seats of Greenway and Parramatta are perhaps the sites of greatest weakness. However, some fairly safe and safe Liberal seats such as Lindsay, Macquarie, Mitchell, Hughes and Macarthur also show zones with high VAMPIRE ratings. Labor’s safe seats of Chifley, Fowler, Prospect, and Werriwa are all moderately or highly oil and mortgage vulnerable. For the safe Labor seats of Blaxland and Reid, oil vulnerability is likely to be only a moderate electoral concern.

The major parties face significant challenges in responding to the high level of household vulnerability apparent in these electorates. If Labor can convert this vulnerability into electoral support, it would likely retain Parramatta and could take Greenway and even Lindsay. A significant swing might weaken the Liberal hold on Macquarie and Hughes. For the Government, the current polls suggest a struggle to retain Greenway and Lindsay if oil and mortgage vulnerability effect outcomes. However, a successful Coalition campaign on household prosperity could retain these seats and shore up Macquarie as well as Macarthur and Hughes.


Melbourne’s mortgage and oil vulnerable areas are largely distributed in a broad band around the outer and fringe suburbs—probably the closest to a continuous ‘mortgage belt’ of any Australian city (see Figure 3, pdf format, 242 Kb). With the exception of Melbourne Ports, Melbourne’s marginal electorates are mostly situated within moderately oil and mortgage vulnerable zones, such as Labor’s seats of Chisholm, Bruce, and Isaacs in the city’s middle-outer eastern suburbs. The most highly oil vulnerable marginal electorate we found is Labor’s Holt on the south-eastern fringe.

Labor faces perhaps the greatest electoral challenges in Melbourne.

Areas of high oil and mortgage vulnerability are also apparent in the fairly safe Labor seats of Jagajaga and Bruce, and in the safe Labor seats of Calwell, Hotham, Lalor, Gellibrand, Gorton, and Scullin. By comparison the two fairly safe Liberal seats of Deakin and La Trobe hold a large proportion of highly vulnerable zones. Very high VAMPIRE ratings may also be found in the safe Liberal seats of Dunkley, Aston, and Casey.

Labor faces perhaps the greatest electoral challenges from the geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Melbourne given the current electoral geography. Bruce, Holt and Isaacs in Melbourne’s east could all be vulnerable for Labor if the government was able to depict the party as a political risk for voters in terms of their socio-economic exposure to petrol price or mortgage cost risks. By comparison the weakest Liberal seat within Melbourne’s high-VAMPIRE eastern zones is the fairly safe seat of La Trobe with Deakin next weakest. In mortgage and oil vulnerability terms it would probably require a very strong and probably unlikely negative opposition campaign to generate a sufficiently strong swing that could break the Liberal party’s hold its safe outer-eastern Melbourne seats of Dunkley, Flinders, Casey, and Aston.


As with other Australian cities, low oil and mortgage vulnerability in Adelaide is strongly centralised around the central business district (see Figure 4, pdf format, 155 Kb). The middle suburbs to the north and south of central Adelaide exhibit a mix of low to high VAMPIRE ratings. The outermost northern and southern suburbs of Adelaide show the highest overall VAMPIRE ratings although these are not universally highly oil and mortgage vulnerable. Even in these outer zones some lower vulnerability neighbourhoods are found.

Of Adelaide’s marginal seats, the least oil vulnerable are the Labor seats of Hindmarsh and Adelaide in the mid-east and centre of the city, so the combination of oil and mortgage pressures are unlikely to be electorally significant. By comparison the three Liberal held marginal seats of Wakefield and Makin in the north and Kingston in the south all contain many areas of high or very high oil and mortgage vulnerability. Of the safer seats Labor’s Port Adelaide in the north-west contains some high VAMPIRE areas as does the Liberal’s Mayo in the east and to a lesser extent Sturt. The fairly safe mid-southern Liberal seat of Boothby also contains a small number of high VAMPIRE neighbourhoods.

If rising fuel and mortgage costs become a significant electoral issue, the concentration of more socio-economically vulnerable households in Liberal marginal seats suggests the government will face a challenge in retaining them at the forthcoming election. While Labor also holds two marginal seats in Adelaide, oil and mortgage vulnerability are not likely to be decisive factors in these electorates.


The geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Perth is, like other Australian cities, highly differentiated with higher vulnerability zones distributed around the urban periphery (see Figure 5, pdf format, 174 Kb). Lower vulnerability areas are clustered in the central and inner areas while a wide band of middle-suburban areas exhibit a mix of high and moderate vulnerability.

Of Perth’s four marginal seats, Stirling in the mid-north of the city, held by the Liberal party and Swan in the inner east, held by the Labor party contain a mix of low, moderate, and high VAMPIRE zones. By comparison, the outer suburban marginal seats of Cowan, held by the ALP in the north, and the Liberal party’s Hasluck in the east contain large tracts of highly oil vulnerable areas. The safe seats also contain high levels of oil and mortgage vulnerability, including Labor’s Fremantle and Perth seats and the Liberal party’s Canning, Moore, Tangney, and Pearce.

The intersection of
oil and mortgage vulnerability with electoral geography is most diverse in Perth.

Of the Australian cities we’ve studied, the intersection of oil and mortgage vulnerability with electoral geography is perhaps most diverse in Perth. Here the two major parties face major challenges in retaining marginal seats or gaining new electorates in a context in which almost every electorate (with the exception of Curtin) contains a large number of highly oil and mortgage vulnerable households. Although many of these electorates are held by strong margins, oil and mortgage vulnerability cannot be ruled out as an electoral challenge—this means Perth will be one of the key cities in the 2007 electoral contest.


What does the geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability in Australian cities imply for the fortunes of the major political parties at the forthcoming election? It is clear from our analysis that high levels of household socio-economic and financial exposure intersect with many marginal electorates in Australian cities. This pattern is exemplified by the seats of Cowan and Hasluck in Perth, Kingston and Makin in Adelaide, Melbourne’s Holt and Isaacs, Parramatta and Greenway in Sydney, and Brisbane’s Bonner. Then there are the slightly less oil and mortgage vulnerable but similarly marginal seats, such as Perth’s Stirling, and Melbourne’s Chisolm.

Beyond the marginal seats, several electorates held fairly safely by each party also contain large zones of mortgage and oil vulnerability. These include seats such as Labor’s Rankin in Brisbane or Bruce in Melbourne and the Liberal seats of Moreton in Brisbane, La Trobe in Melbourne and Canning in Perth. These fairly safe seats may also be vulnerable to strong electoral swings pivoting on issues of household financial stress.

The VAMPIRE suggests that even safe Labor and Liberal seats could be exposed to electoral volatility. This means that the security of Liberal seats such as Dickson, Longman, Petrie, Blair and Forde in Brisbane, Macarthur and Mitchell in Sydney, Deakin Casey and Dunkley in Melbourne, or Moore, Tangney or Pearce in Perth might be less secure than the 2004 voting patterns indicate. Labor also has a number of oil vulnerable safe seats, such as Lalor, Gorton, Calwell, and Scullin in Melbourne’s north and west, Oxley in Brisbane or Chifley in Sydney. If these issues drove voters to seek security in the arms of the present government, Labor could face difficulties in these electorates.

That said, the geography of oil and mortgage vulnerability intersects with electoral patterns in a highly variable way. There is a discernable pattern of fringe suburban seats with large rural hinterlands being safely by the Liberal party, but only some of these electorates contain large areas of oil and mortgage vulnerability—such as Berowra and Macquarie in Sydney or Dickson, Forde and Blair in Brisbane. Meanwhile, in Melbourne’s east there is a reasonably consistent tendency towards higher oil vulnerability with increasing distance from the centre, yet the electoral geography is highly varied, with a mix of marginal, fairly safe and safe Labor and Liberal seats. Similar patterns are found in southern Perth and southern Brisbane.

Clearly, oil and mortgage vulnerability provide opportunities for political parties to frame their respective messages to the electorate and to develop innovative policy responses. The current rhetoric about prosperity promoted by the Liberal party and the countervailing concern about household cost pressures enunciated by the Labor party appear to have established the basic poles in this discussion.

Neither of the major parties has so far released anything like a comprehensive policy to address suburban challenges, whether socio-economic or environmental. The prevalence and distribution of our VAMPIRE analysis relative to electoral geography suggests a great oversight. Given the presence of high levels of oil and mortgage vulnerability in many marginal and fairly safe seats it would seem risky for either party to ignore these patterns. Nor is there a shortage of inspiration for policy ideas, especially given the extensive examination of attention to urban issues signified in the House of Representatives Inquiry into Sustainable Cities (2004).

There is real scope for the major parties to develop policies
to improve life in the suburbs.

We have argued that there is real scope for the major parties to develop policies to improve life in the suburbs, policies that would reduce oil and mortgage vulnerability for households under stress (Dodson & Sipe 2006, Dodson & Sipe 2007). One key policy idea we have promoted is the expansion of high quality public transport networks to the outer suburbs of Australian cities, to relieve the pressure of rising transport costs due to the combination of high car dependence and rising fuel prices. This would enable households to switch from cars to more affordable public transport. Over the longer term improved public transport could also contribute to relative reductions in household fuel demand and so reduce the inflationary impact of rising oil prices.

Another policy opportunity is in improving housing affordability. Low interest rates have been promoted as supporting affordable home ownership but in many suburbs these have generated high levels of financial stress for households with modest incomes. Policy makers need to revisit their policies on housing affordability. Labor has promoted its National Affordable Rental Incentive (NARI) scheme to produce 50,000 new rental housing units over five years. While a valuable initiative, this level of provision is unlikely to alter the dynamics of suburban oil and mortgage vulnerability. Both parties could identify home ownership policies that remove some of the interest rate risk from suburban households, perhaps by transferring part of this cost to the federal government which, after all, sets the basis for the Reserve Bank’s interest rate policy.

It is impossible to predict how the combined geography of household petrol and mortgage financial pressures will influence the forthcoming election. But it seems that the incumbent party faces a difficult task in convincing many suburban households that expanding overall prosperity has not come at too great a stress. There are eleven marginal and fairly safe Liberal seats that all have large numbers of households facing petrol and mortgage stress: Moreton, Bonner, Lindsay, Greenway, Deakin, La Trobe, Wakefield, Makin, Kingston, Cowan, and Stirling. Even if mortgage and petrol stress was to motivate voters to hand half of these seats to Labor such a shift might be sufficient to unseat the government if accompanied by comparable movement across the broader electoral map of Australia. Given that the Liberal party has a stronger historical commitment to private ownership and individual household responsibility for the provision of housing and transport in Australian cities, compared to the Opposition, the Liberal party perhaps faces the greatest challenge in winning an election when so many households are experiencing fuel and mortgage cost pressures. At the time of writing the price of oil was sitting around US$80 per barrel. The VAMPIRE in Australia’s suburbs may yet have some political bite.


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Rudd, K. 2007, Do you feel like you have ‘never been better off’?’, Australian Labor Party Advertisement, YouTube [Online], Available: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dU02l8savA&mode=user&search= [2007, Sep 26].

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Jago Dodson is a Research Fellow in the Urban Research Program at Griffith University. He has published on a wide range of urban topics including metropolitan planning, housing markets, social disadvantage, transport planning and oil vulnerability, as well as teaching urban management at Griffith.

Neil Sipe is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Environment at Griffith University. His research publications cover a breadth of issues such as planning for child friendly cities, transport accessibility, urban planning, and oil vulnerability. Neil teaches transport planning and geographic information systems at Griffith.

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