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An Investigation Into The Price Difference Of Living In A Liberal Or Labor Seat

We travelled to opposite ends of a tram line to find out what a basket of essentials cost when people vote very differently.

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Let's give you some background. Toorak is in the safe Liberal electorate of Higgins, held by assistant treasurer Kelly O'Dwyer. The electorate is as "blue ribbon" as they come ... meaning it always goes to the Liberal party.

Kelly O'Dwyer/Peter Khalil

On the other side, the suburb of Coburg is in the electorate of Wills. The Labor member who holds the seat is retiring and Labor candidate Peter Khalil is favoured to win it in July.

It's socially progressive and has a large ethnic community of migrants.

According to latest data, economic growth is the same in both electorates, with people living in Toorak earning about $81,665 per year compared to $51,800 a year in Coburg.


So the rules of the game? We go to either end of the tram line and find out how much the essentials cost. After a coin toss, it was decided Mark would head north, to the safe Labor stronghold of Coburg, while Alice would head east to upper class Toorak.

1. Avocados.

Alice Workman/Mark Di Stefano

Alice: "There was no shortage of avocados in Toorak's many independent grocers. The cheapest I could find were $2.49 each."

Mark: "As soon as I got off the tram I found some 98c avos at a street seller!!"

Verdict: Liberal 154% more expensive

2. A litre of milk.

Alice Workman/Mark Di Stefano

Alice: "$2.50 for some independent milk brand was the best I could get."

Mark: "Mmmmm $2.73. The milk war was pinching hard here."

Verdict: Labor 9% more expensive.

3. A dirty kebab.

Alice Workman/Mark Di Stefano

Alice: "I tried to find a kebab but there were literally zero kebab shops in Toorak. WTF. So I went for a chicken and taragon pie with a side of coleslaw for $12."

Mark: "You can't go a block here without stumbling on a halal kebab store. $9 for a mixed kebab was fucking delicious tbh."

Verdict: Liberal 33% more expensive.


4. A beer.

Alice Workman/Mark Di Stefano

Alice: "Again I struggled to find a pub. What's with Toorak?! At cafe, stubbies of VB were going for $7."

Mark: "A pint of the Very Best was $9.50 at the pub I went to. But for parity's sake, the same pub was selling schooners during afternoon happy hour for $5."

Verdict: Liberal 40% more expensive.

5. A regular coffee.

Alice: "Toorak was full of cafes. So finally no problem. Average seemed about $4 but I got a latte for $3.50."

Mark: "The A1 bakery on Sydney road made me a delicious regular latte for $3."

Verdict: Liberal 16% more expensive.

8. A trip to the doctor.

Alice Workman/Google Maps

Alice: "Several medical centres would not bulk bill. I found a GP consultation would cost $75/hour, with about $37.05 coming back through Medicare."

Mark: "The first medical centre I walked into offered bulk billing, meaning the whole GP consultation would be covered on Medicare."

Verdict: Liberal WAY more expensive.

Our verdict. Di Stefano

It was clearly more expensive to live in Toorak! The biggest differences came in weekly rent and trips to the doctor, which if you're looking for long term affordability is very important.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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