Altona by-election: February 13

Monday, February 8

The Sunday Herald Sun (report available at VexNews) reports that Labor internal polling conducted by Auspoll has Labor “bracing for a similar sized swing to the 2008 Kororoit by-election where its vote dropped by almost 17 per cent on a two-party preferred basis” – although this meaninglessly compares the Labor-versus-Liberal result in Kororoit at the 2006 election with the Labor-versus-independent result at the by-election. It has been widely noted that new developments around Point Cook and Sanctuary Lakes will have brought an infusion of high-income new voters to the electorate.

Monday, February 1

Background on the candidates from Antony Green.

Friday, January 29

Ballot paper order here.

Thursday, January 28

The Age reports Jill Hennessy, “a 37-year-old lawyer who lives in West Footscray and sits on the board of Western Health”, has won formidable backing in her preselection bid from Steve Bracks, Joan Kirner, Lynne Kosky and Gellibrand MP Nicola Roxon. However, she appears to be facing a serious challenge from 24-year-old Hobsons Bay councillor Luba Grigorovitch, who is determinedly playing the true-local-versus-head-office-outsider card. VexNews reports Grigorovitch is a “rebel Left” candidate running in defiance of an arrangement which reserved the seat for the Right, and in doing so has won support from the NUW and SDA forces which had been frozen out in the Left-Right unity deal (CORRECTION: Andrew Crook points out in comments that I’ve got this wrong: both candidates are from the Left, for whom the seat is reserved). The issue will be decided by a vote split evenly between branch members and the state party’s Public Office Selection Committee.

UPDATE: The ABC reports Hennessy has won; much, much more from VexNews.

Monday, January 25

The Greens’ candidate is David Strangward, a management consultant from Altona North, who managed to get a soundbite on the Channel Ten news this evening. Comments thread chat informs us Margarita Windisch will run for the Socialist Alliance.

Friday, January 22

I am pleasantly surprised to discover, via VexNews, that the Liberals look set to turn the by-election into a two-party contest by endorsing Mark Rose, a Wyndham councillor and police officer who ran in Tarneit at the 2006 election. Meanwhile, The Age reports Labor Left figureheads wish to preselect former state party president Jill Hennessy, but she may face opposition from an as yet undetermined candidate sponsored by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, which last night announced it was walking out on the faction.

Thursday, January 21

The Age reports:

The contest for Labor preselection for the seat has already drawn a wide field, including the daughter of the late trade union leader John Halfpenny and a former Victorian Labor president. Party insiders say six women have expressed interest in nominating for the seat. Lori Faraone, a former ministerial adviser to Lynne Kosky, is believed to be the current front-runner, with strong support also for former ALP state president Jill Hennessy. Catherine Van Vliet, a research officer at Melbourne University, and Ingrid Stitt, an officer with the Australian Services Union, have also expressed interest. Other names in the mix are Luba Grigorovitch, a former electorate officer to Ms Kosky and current Hobsons Bay councillor, and Bronwyn Halfpenny, who works for the Victorian Trades Hall Council. The ALP administrative committee will meet on Thursday night to open nominations. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party is yet to decide whether to contest the safe Labor seat, but insiders say there is a strong expectation among members that the party should run. The Greens are planning to pre-select a candidate this weekend.

Tuesday, January 19

Victorian Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky has announced she is quitting politics immediately, citing “significant” but unspecified health problems in her family. This will initiate a by-election in her safe western suburbs seat of Altona, which she won by a margin of 20.2 per cent in 2006. VexNews‘s sources relate that the government is keen to get the by-election out of the way as soon as possible, and that Kosky’s Socialist Left will determine her successor under the terms of the cross-factional unity deal – and will be meeting “as early as today” to decide who gets the nod.

UPDATE: Peter Young in comments relates that writs have been issued in what might be world record time, for a by-election on February 13.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

111 comments on “Altona by-election: February 13”

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  1. If the Libs can’t get a sizeable swing, Baillieu should put his cue back in the rack or perhaps retire to the billiard table full time. Bound to be a blazing hot week with lots of canceled trains blamed on the former member and minister. The Opposition can try out their latest law and order populist agenda as well.

  2. I can’t see there being much of a chance for a swing – less than a month to campaign in the summer, and this *is* Altona we’re talking about. Will the Libs even run?

  3. Libs will of course run>
    The trouble here for Brumby, and the reason they are trying to bury the byelection in the second week back at school, is momentum. Anything more than a 5% swing to the COALition and ‘bang’ perception of a swing starts. This is a real danger for the ALP as it has no up side, any swing is bad and it also allows for independants. A good old Lefty independant here coudl shake things up, pick up Greens preferences then Coalition preferences and who knows?
    The troops around the Kitchen table also had a great deal of sympathy for Ms Kosky and a few hard words for Brumby. ‘I bet the bastard wished he hadn’t given her that shit portfolio etc.” interesting.

  4. I also question whether the Liberals would run. A mega safe seat they have zero chance of even coming close in, plus why waste money that will be badly needed later in the year, especially to defend seats at the federal election.

  5. I hear it will be a current councillor Luba Grigorovitch.. She’s from socialist left and won 55% of the primary vote in last years council elections .

  6. My money’s on a Lib nomination. If Ted doesn’t run a candidate, he’s dead meat. Anyway there will be a host of right wingnuts and deniers running no doubt to keep up the interest. Not to mention a green or two.

  7. This is a safe ALP hold! regarding the Liberals there was a moment of bemusment a few elections ago when Antony Green’s computer played games with him and had the Liberals ahead.

    When all was said and done there was actually no booth that went to the Liberals.

    And the Greens have absolutely no hope so please don’t any Green get excited.

  8. William I would be interested to know your thought behind the non running of the LIbs, it would be bizarre in an election year. Whats the point of being there, Also if they don’t its just another free kick for the Greens. The ALP got 60% of the primary here, the libs can’t lose. any sing would be good anything over 5% could be great. The Coalition have to start doing something, they are in desperate shape, coming out swinging would atleast allow them a lucky ouch, they are going to get flogged in November unless they change the momentum, here comes a left field chance and what, they don’t run>?
    Also last time we had byelections ‘big Ted’ wanted to run in both and they didn’t. It was seen as a real weakness of his position. he needs to push the ‘referendum on something line to get something back.?? It will be interesting to see how they go. As for funding, bull dust, if they can’t run a good tight campaign on $100,000 what are they doing.

  9. [And the Greens have absolutely no hope so please don’t any Green get excited.]

    The fact you even need to say that shows how far the Greens have come :kiss:

  10. Rolls close : 25 January 2010.

    Nominations close: Party candidates – 12 noon Thursday 28 January 2010.
    Independent candidates – 12 noon Friday 29 January 2010

    Election: Saturday 13 February 2010.

  11. Barking, by-election campaigns are expensive and the Liberals don’t have much money. The polls suggest they would not make enough headway to embarrass the government. To the extent that not running would be a free kick for the Greens, why should they care?

  12. This is Altona. It’s about as unfriendly to the Greens as Labor territory ever comes. I really doubt that’s going to factor remotely into any Liberal decision to run or not.

    Since Kosky’s actually gone, and that assumedly Labor will be replacing one of the most unpopular politicians in the country with someone less hated, and that this is going to happen in a snap three-week campaign in January and February of an election year, the Liberals have far more to lose than to gain by running.

  13. I predict the Greens will do in Altona what they did in Fremantle: double their vote. 😛

    More seriously, Family First did pretty well in parts of Melbourne’s western suburbs in 2006, sometimes to the point of coming third ahead of the Greens (7.1% in Altona, 6.3% in Tarneit, 6.5% in Melton, 8.0% in Keilor, 13.0% in Kororoit – them last two had some donkey vote). If their bubble hasn’t burst and the Libs don’t run, they’ve got a reasonable chance of coming second. Have the god-bothering parties ever made a 2cp cut before?

  14. I’d be surprised if one of them hadn’t, especially since prior to the 2000s and the rise of the Greens the second spot in the 2PP was very much up for grabs if a major party didn’t contest a by-election.

  15. The Greens will need every vote to hold their Leg Council seat in the west this year so it is in their interests to run a strong campaign in Altona to lift their profile.

  16. Fair point. I still don’t think they’ll do well, but you’re right that it’s in the interests to give it their best shot. I’m quite curious to see who’ll they’ll preselect.

  17. If Luba isn’t pre-selected and an import brought in instead there will be an uproar. She had an historical win at the council elections – the best Labour win ever in the locality, and she is known and liked by many. Mark my words Labour, after the Kosky fiasco there needs to be a major healing in the area and IMO Luba can do it.

  18. What Deal? There is no longer a Deal anymore guys. Ther is no such thing as Labor Unity and there is no such things as Socialist Left. Each has gone there own way. The roosters have goone independent and so have their members.

    That’s the truth. Nominations are yet to be open and you don’t have to be female nor do you have to be in the Socialist Left faction to nominate. If you’re an ALP member go for it!

  19. So looks like the Libs are running after all.

    But really, the only chance of this being remotely interesting is if Labor stuff up their pre-selection and have some losing candidate run as an independent.

  20. Believe me MDM, this is what they are risking. Kosky’s candidate, the carpetbagger Hennessy, will be run-out of Altona even before she arrives.

  21. Peter Young, or anyone else for that matter:

    Why do independents get one more day to nominate? Do independents cause less paper work for the electoral commission than party candidates or something?

  22. Last election was:
    Ian Soylemez LIB 8,012 23.7 +0.8
    Andreas Bischof GRN 2,759 8.2 -0.8
    Lynne Kosky ALP 20,591 61.0 -7.1
    David Bernard FFP 2,407 7.1 +7.1
    For a 2PP of 70.5%ALP to 29.5%LIB.

    How close do the Libs have to get for their gamble of running to pull off? A repeat of the 2006 results would not look good for them.

  23. [How close do the Libs have to get for their gamble of running to pull off?]

    Perception is everything.

    More than a 5 percent swing and the media will have a field day.

  24. The Heysen Molotov at 26

    Candidates for a party can be nominated by the party’s administrators while independents need to do it themselves, so independents are given a little more time to complete the paperwork and submit it.

    William, the ‘Friday, January 22’ update appears to say at first read that the Liberals are nominating two people, Mark Rose and Mark Rose.

  25. Barking
    Posted Monday, January 18, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
    Libs will of course run>
    The trouble here for Brumby, and the reason they are trying to bury the byelection in the second week back at school, is momentum.

  26. Any swing is more than 2-3% is bad for the ALP, there is just a bit of momentum going on here. The analysis would be interesting., If there is say 5% or more away from the ALP, then where that goes will be interesting. If it goes to the COALition and the Greens evenly its bad news for the COALition. they need 66% of the votes that drift from the ALP. Anything less than a 2-3% swing away from them and the ALp would be very happy.?

  27. #31

    The Libs and Nats are not in “COALition” in Victoria, so you’ll need to get some other ETS-related pun out of “Liberal”….

    What we might see, if FF, the DLP or other independent types are running, is a fall in Labor vote that splinters among minor parties, and very little primary vote gain for the Liberals. So an on-paper 2PP swing but hardly a boost for the Libs.

    Whether such a result in a mega-safe Labor seat really means anything is another story.

  28. “MDMConnell
    Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The Libs and Nats are not in “COALition” in Victoria, so you’ll need to get some other ETS-related pun out of “Liberal”….”

    Strange, Peter Ryan is the Shadow Minister for police and the leader of the Nationals, I think you should check your info. They joined in what has been a fairly strange coming together after the last thrashing. They will be running one only in the lower house and ‘tickets’ in the upper. Happy to call them a coalition if it annoys.

  29. if Jill Hennessy ran there would be an abundance of ALP workers for the by-election, her preselection defeats for Holt and Isaacs are the worst recent example of the ALP passing over talent

  30. David Strangward has launched his campaign as the Greens candidate for the Altona by-election at a bus stop in Point Cook today.

    “I am the public transport candidate”, said Mr Strangward.

    “I’m launching the campaign at a bus stop in Point Cook, to show you how our buses only work part-time.”

    “The Greens want a bus that meets every train, from the first train to the last, seven days a week, in this and every electorate.”

    “The new Minister for public transport says he’s going to take the bus to work. That’s fine for him. His bus to the train station runs all day and late at night, seven days a week. We just want what he’s got.”

    “The last 413 bus leaves at 6.30 on a week night, 5.30 on a Saturday and on Sundays you’re walking. ”

    “So people in our area need cars for everything. Work, study, sport, entertainment. If young people want to get a start in the workplace with a part-time job, they need a car to get there.”

    “You can tell from the number of cars getting off the freeway that the public transport system isn’t working yet.”

    “The Greens provide a new opportunity for people who are politically weary. I like the community engagement in the Greens. We are accessible. Colleen Hartland is a shining example of that.”

    David Strangward is a 45-year old small businessman who lives in Altona North with his partner Kathy.

    Well bludgers, the Greens have gone for a good local candidate, I wonder what the Anti-Clive people will make of this?

  31. If that works well for the Greens, then they’ll probably run very hard on it in all the new suburbs of Melbourne at the general election… places like Narre Warren. It won’t win them any lower house seats in suburbia, but might see them right for upper house ones. 1 in each metro region for 5 out of 40 is a good thing to aim for.

    What’s the local media like in Altona – any well-read local papers?

  32. Geoff, the woman has been shopping around for years for a seat but doesn’t want to do the hard yards within a single branch. We don’t want that sort of opportunist in Altona and from all accounts she is being shunned by local ALP members (local leader newspaper) 80% of whom are running with the local candidate Luba Grigorovitch.

  33. Not sure if there are any local papers, it is not to be under-estimated just how rolled gold this seat is for the ALP . Kosky had a 7% swing against her and got 60% of the Primary vote at the last election.
    The next state upper house election is going to be interesting, the Greens will win two at least in primaries, and the rest are chook raffles, it will have more to do with preferences than much else. Unless the polls hold and they get 15% of the primary. if that holds they will get the balance of power!

  34. Let’s see if plumber’s prediction of grassroots revolt comes true then….

    (reality: Altona will vote for a headless corpse if it had ‘ALP’ written on it).

  35. William, Altona is reserved for the SL under the stability pact, both Hennessy and Grigorovitch are from the left (28 January update – “VexNews reports Grigorovitch is a “rebel Left” candidate running in defiance of an arrangement which reserved the seat for the Right”)

  36. Jill Jill Hennessy will be a great candidate for Labor and a good campaigner and this is a case of a candidate actually been endorsed by the rules of the ALP rather than national executive interventions as in the case of the legislative Council.

  37. With nominatons for party endorsed candidates now closed, the Victorian Electoral Commission website reveals the only party candidates will be:-
    Windisch – Socialist Alliance
    Strangward – Greens
    Rose – Liberal
    Hennesy – Labor.

    Although nominations for independent candidates don’t close until 12 noon tomorrow (Friday) already the following have nominated:-
    Andrew Rixon
    Brijinder Nain
    Brian Shaw

    Anyone got any bio information on these independents or knowledge of the platform they are standing on?

  38. #42 – GG

    Hennessy was hardly a “winner” of the Labor pre-selection.

    Hennessy was the ONLY nominee.

    Vexnews reports that the local, Luba Grigorovitch, withdrew from the pre-selection contest.

    Just another shameful exercise by Labor in denying true democracy to members.

  39. PY,

    Using the nebulus concept of “true democracy” is one of those sure signs that the writer is talking through their arse. Afterall, what does it mean? If it did mean something, would it be something of aspirational worth.

    Seriously, The Greens in recent times have parachuted Clive Hamilton in to Higgins, overturned a local heroes pre selection in Willaga and imposed a HO preferred candidate (who subsequently got cained) and in Brunswick here in Victoria have pre selected a white male Melbourne millionaire lawyer (politics sure needs more of them) over a well known community activist. Shame, shame shame at this apparent loss of true democracy. (See, I too can use it to mean whatever I like).

    The reality is that Labor’s processes have delivered quality candidates in Victoria both Federally and Statewise for the last decade or so. This is the reason Labor dominates politics in this State.

    Jill Hennessy was clearly the best candidate this time. Luba is young and has impressed with her campaign. No doubt her time will come.

    Labor has nothing to be ashamed about.

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