Victoria Votes – Issue 3
The first two days of pre-polling saw record attendance, with more than 75,000 people casting their vote on Monday alone. Both major parties are aware of the growing trend toward early voting; the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) expects around 40 to 50 per cent of votes to be cast before polling booths open at 8am on 24 November. Recent seat-by-seat Galaxy polling published in the Herald Sun has confirmed Labor’s lead in the marginal electorates of Frankston and Mordialloc, along with Richmond and Geelong. The results will provide some comfort for the Labor campaign, which may now have the luxury of diverting resources away from these four seats to other key marginal electorates.
Premier Daniel Andrews kicked off the campaign this week with a visit to the Monash Children’s Hospital, where he announced that a re-elected Labor Government will open five new emergency departments for children in Melbourne and Geelong. At the Royal Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, Mr Andrews also pledged to extend subsidised IVF services for low-income Victorians at a cost of $32 million. In a unique and unexpected campaign announcement, Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan also committed $350,000 to install 32 mobile phone charging bars at key Melbourne train stations.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy joined Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the campaign trail at the re-opening of Pellegrini’s on Tuesday. In response to Friday’s attack, Mr Guy has pledged to introduce a new court power to issue “terrorism restriction orders”, which would ban individuals from entering areas such as the CBD, should they be considered a potential threat. He has also pledged to introduce counterterrorism training for 100 police officers and hire 50 new analysts and surveillance staff.
The Minor Parties and Independents
Following the close of nominations last Friday, political pundits have begun speculating on the composition of Victoria’s new Parliament and the effect this will have on policy outcomes. Whether the Victorian Greens can hold onto their existing representation or gain seats in the Legislative Assembly will have a significant impact on whether Labor govern in their own right or with the support of Greens and independents.
As such, the key ‘Labor-versus-Greens’ seats of Richmond, Brunswick, Melbourne and Northcote have attracted significant focus. Following the breakdown of preference negotiations between the major parties, the Liberal Party has chosen not to endorse a candidate for the seat of Richmond, which is currently held by Planning Minister Richard Wynne. In doing so, Liberal preferences will not flow as strongly to Labor under a wider deal, instead boosting preferences towards the Greens. In addition to these four target seats, a lively contest is underway for the seat of Prahran. Labor insiders are hopeful of stealing Prahran from the Greens, who won this seat off the Liberal Party in 2014. A minority Government remains a very real prospect for the Labor Party.
Outside of Melbourne, the Nationals are fighting in earnest to regain the seat of Shepparton from incumbent Independent Suzanna Sheed, and the seat of Morwell from former Nationals Minister-turned-independent Russell Northe. There are also concerns that former Liberal Leader Denis Napthine’s seat of South-West Coast could fall to a strong independent candidate such as Warrnambool veterinarian Dr Michael McCluskey or Upper House Member James Purcell.
The influence of controversial ‘preference whisperer’ Glenn Druery could see a diverse field of crossbenchers in the Parliament’s Upper House, comprised of old and new minor parties and independents whom he advises on a cross-preferencing strategy.
Analysis of group voting tickets registered with the VEC reveals that the little-known Transport Matters Party, founded by President of the Commercial Passenger Vehicle Association of Australia Rod Barton, has received second preference allocations from nine of the other 17 parties contesting the Eastern Metropolitan Region. There is also a distinct possibility that the Greens could lose up to three of their five Legislative Council Members due to intricate preference deals.