The Poll Bludger’s visit to Melbourne is not off to a good start, for reasons you need not concern yourselves with; suffice to say that the weather hasn’t helped. There has been a good deal more heat on the electoral front, mostly generated by the Labor and Liberal parties’ stimulating preference tactics. Matthew Murphy and Farrah Tomazin of The Age report that Nationals are "planning an anti-Liberal advertising assault throughout country Victoria; no word yet on whether they are going so far as to withhold preference recommendations from the Liberals. That will become clear after tomorrow’s noon deadline for the registration of how-to-vote cards. If there has been a deal, Labor would seem to have the better half of it: not only are they a chance of maintaining control of the upper house, but they will be relieved of the necessity to devote campaign resources to holding off Greens challenges in the inner city; by contrast, the Coalition parties will be turning their efforts against each other.
Further local developments to be added to the election guide when I can get a reliable internet connection:
Cranbourne (Labor 10.8%): Glenn Osborne of the Cranbourne Leader provides a useful summary of the public transport auction for this area in Melbourne’s outer east, in which the Liberals appear to be placing the higher bids: "The Liberals have offered a $6 million rail link to Cranbourne East, and while Labor has not committed to that project, it has promised a $25 million upgrade of the Dandenong rail corridor to improve service frequency on the Cranbourne and Berwick-Pakenham lines. The Liberals also promised to build a rail overpass or underpass at Clyde Rd and duplicate the missing 900m stretch between Kangan Drive and Berwick for $25 million. Labor says it can’t be done at that price and has instead pledged to upgrade the intersection with lights at Enterprise Ave. Labor also says it will provide extra bus services for Cranbourne and Narre Warren. Casey residents, with high numbers of under-driving age residents, would benefit from the increased frequency of buses from Frankston to Cranbourne West (route 791), Berwick to Narre Warren circle (route 840) and Cranbourne to Narre Warren South (route 841)".
Doncaster (Liberal 0.8%): and Box Hill (Liberal 1.1%): Labor has declined to match a Liberal promise to spend $35 million extending the number 48 tram route a further four kilometres from Balwyn North to Doncaster. Michael Howard of the Manningham Leader reports a claim from Transport Minister Peter Batchelor that the line would "cause traffic congestion on Doncaster Road, would be unable to make regular stops due to the road’s gradient and would actually cost as much as $60 million to construct". The latter claim has been rejected by the Public Transport Users’ Association. The government has also rejected local calls for a train line to be built to Doncaster, instead having committed to an $80 million upgrade of bus services.
Morwell (Labor 4.9%): Labor’s Traralgon branch secretary Lisa Proctor, a former Latrobe councillor and unsuccessful preselection contestant at the 2002 election, has quit the party along with three other "senior members" of the branch and will run against Brendan Jenkins as an independent, directing preferences against him. Local unrest also worked against Jenkins in 2002 when Brad Platschinda, a CFMEU-backed timber worker campaigning against the Bracks government’s logging policies, polled 14.7 per cent and contributed to an unusual 4.4 per cent swing to the Liberals.
Albert Park (Labor 12.5%): Deputy Premier John Thwaites’ seat of Albert Park is not itself an electoral hot-spot, but it is home to St Kilda’s Palace nightclub and Palais theatre, ownership of which has reverted to the government following a ruling yesterday in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The government hopes to use the land for a $100 million redevelopment of an area that also includes Luna Park and the Esplanade Hotel; however, the owners are considering an appeal. The Liberals have promised to re-start the tender process for the project if elected.
Macedon (Labor 9.3%): Among the independent candidates fielded against Labor member Joanne Duncan is Dave Barry, a Sunbury police officer unhappy with understaffing at Sunbury area police stations. Wayne Flower of the Herald-Sun reports that Barry rang 3AW to tackle Steve Bracks over the issue, claiming "numbers were being distorted by inner-city stations, which had retained higher police numbers despite a downward trend in crime figures".
Monbulk (Labor 8.3%): The Liberals have promised to commit $22 million to building a bypass around the town centre of Belgrave, which Labor has criticised on the grounds that it would deprive the main street of business and require construction of an "ugly" bridge. Ellen Whinnett of the Herald-Sun reports that "the announcement brings to $909 million the amount of money promised by the Liberals for upgrading roads across Victoria".
South Barwon (Labor 5.0%): Labor was shedding support locally due to its plans to end the Geelong ring road at a T-junction in Waurn Ponds, feeding 30,000 vehicles a day into one set of traffic lights. It has now promised to commit an extra $62.5 million to creating a continous link to Angelsea Road via a two kilometre overpass even if the federal government does not agree to provide funding.
Yan Yean (Labor 9.5%): Labor campaign promises in this area have included a 112-bed "medi-hotel", a new mental health team and expanded chemotherapy services at the Northern Hospital in Epping, along with a $10.5 million expansion of the TAFE campus at Epping. The Liberals have promised to spend $12 million extending the Epping rail line to South Morang.