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. GG – #49

    Would you be gracious enough to admit Hennessy is not a “winner” as previously described by you. There was no contest, there was no the end there was only one nominee. Where there is only nominee – and no vote….how can there be a “winner”?

  2. PY,

    A nominee puts their application to win pre selection of a seat. As far as I can see Jill Hennessy won the nomination. Your pedantry is pathetic.

    Andrew Crook,

    Yes, you’re right. My apologies. However, my point remains the same.


  3. GG do you have a problem with Brian or just the use of true democracy?

    Because Brain is also a well known local activist, so if him being male, white and a lawyer is the problem, does that mean that you have a problem with most MP’s?

    I’ve met both Rose and Brian and believe that Brian is better for Melbourne, although Rose would be better then Brian in somewhere like Brunswick.

  4. Dave,

    Do you know what “true democracy” is and does it really matter?

    Yes, I am bemused that a white, rich old male lawyer won Greens pre selection in Melbourne. But, I’m sure he’ll go down a treat with the locals.

  5. Let me get this straight. The Greens members in Melbourne voted amongst five candidates with a diversity of talents and backgrounds. Greensborough Growler is surprised by, and disapproves of, their choice and concludes the Greens don’t understand democracy.

    I await his definition with interest.

  6. Barking,

    Shorten seems to get good reviews from people with disabilities for his attention to detail and genuine attempts to make the system work better. There’s plenty of links but this one seems typical.

    Shorten has also drawn wide praise for his role in the “Black Saturday” relief effort here in Victoria. His role has been to cut red tape and shorten processes for freeing up money. (This is not meant to undervalue the efforts of many including Fran Bailey)

    I also recall the prominent role Shorten played in the Beaconsfield mine disaster a couple of years ago. The Miners always praise his contribution.

    So, off the bat, I’d say Bill Shorten has very good social activist credentials. Unlike many who talk the talk, he’s actually got some achievements on the board.

    But, if you want to sledge him, fill your boots.

  7. Stephen,

    I have no interest in voting Greens and am entirely indifferent to their processes for selecting candidates. So, no doubt they have no particular interest in pandering to my opinions. But, if the Greens seek to be seen as an alternative, why are they pre selecting “whitebread” politicians? From my view, he makes Bronwyn Pike’s job of winning much easier. From that perspective I am most approving.

    However, if you can be bothered checking back through the thread you’ll notice that a Greens chuck knuckle was opining that the Labor pre selection for Altona was in some way a shameful crime against “true democracy” (patent pending). I’ve just pointed out some examples where the Greens have committed the same shameful crime.

    It’s amusing how Greens supporters make their earnest rhetorical flourishes of nothingness and then start hyper ventilating when they are shown to engage in the exact same behaviour they so disapprove.

    My point is that he was talking horseshit.

  8. Mystery meat google time:

    Liz Mumby is the ‘Point Cook Residents Association secretary’ (via here), and was a independent Wyndham council candidate in 2008 (got 10% in Truganina Ward)… seems to be running mainly on local issues. Her website is a bit broken… try the ‘about me’ tab.

    Andrew Rixon appears to be mentally ill, so I guess we can chalk him up as the CEC candidate. 😛

    Brijender Nain has this and this on him (couple of different addresses in the northern suburbs), and that’s about it.

    Brian Shaw may be the whack job responsible for these, ranting on about masons and the anti-christ and socialists, etc.

    So, out of that I’d pick Mumby to get her deposit back. The other three and SA probably won’t. I’m surprised to see no right-wing minor parties like Family First… the Libs should get 30% since they’re not around.

  9. Bird of paradox – #60

    Thanks for giving us the benefit of your research into the non-party candidates. Very handy for non-Victorians interested in elections per se and interested in knowing the “form” of the various starters in the race.

    Labor has drawn the bottom of the ballot paper which isn’t a bad barrier.

    The Liberals are the highest drawn main contender party candidate, and thus should, for what it is worth, gain the benefit of the donkey vote (I understand Victorian elections are compulsory preferential voting).

    The Greens have drawn between Liberal and Labor and probably have the worst barrier of the main contenders.

  10. My picks for numbers:

    ALP 50
    Lib 30
    Grn 10
    Mumby 5
    Nain 2 (donkey vote)
    Shaw, Rixon, SA: 1 each

    2pp: ALP 63%.

    Those semi-educated guesses come from the 2006 election, mainly. Add FF to Lib (they got 7% last time, not even with a donkey vote), and add a couple of points to the Greens considering they’re doing consistently OK in the polls lately. The rest of the others can come off Labor’s vote… call it a by-election swing. As for prefs, I’d imagine SA and Grn would go mostly to Labor, Mumby and unknown donkey-man about even, Shaw and Rixon mostly Liberal.

    My smokey bet would be Liz Mumby coming close on 20%-odd of the vote. That’s based on nothing more than her having some sort of profile in the area, and how Labor got blindsided in Kwinana last WA election (a seat about as safe as Altona got made extremely marginal by the local mayor finishing ahead of Lib and Grn). Both areas are heavy industrial on the coast, and equally bad for both major non-Labor parties. It probably won’t happen with what’s effectively a 2 week campaign, though.

  11. The fact that there are no wingnut right wingers is of importance here. The thing we don’t know, that would fill out the picture is this, Was there any communication between the coalition and these nutbags. If so and the libs said, ‘look leave this alone, we need as many primaries as we can, you will only muddy the waters, its a ALP heartland etc, then that is important because it would indicate what many suspect ,.”that there is a bit of collusion’ going on between the Coalition and the wing nuts. On the other hand the wingnuts might be exhausted/broke and just couldn’t get it together. I’m surprised the DLp for instance have decided not to run? They need as much profile as possible if they are going to retain some upper house presence!
    If the ALP primary falls to 50% its a disaster for the ALP. I estimate 55% and that is enough to start the media talking about the narrowing, fed alp people swing to the coalition at state etc,
    Any swing of more than 2-3% for the Greens would be huge.

  12. I’m gonna go all Occam’s Razor on ya there: maybe the other minor parties just didn’t have time to organise anything. It is giftmas after all.

    I don’t think it’d be terrible for Labor if their primary vote went down to 50%. There’s 8 candidates here compared to 4 in 2006, 3 in 2002 and just 2 in 1999; plus, those two most recent elections were colossal thumpings for the Liberals. A bit of a swing to the Liberals would be proof that they could do better in the 2010 election than they did in 2002/06, which is a pretty low bar. If they can’t even manage that, then Ted Bailueau (the man with the hardest to spell name in Australian politics) might be in a bit of trouble. Speaking of that dude, where’s Glen?

  13. Bird,

    Next you’ll be telling me that they(the minors) all have 500 paid up and active members.
    Whilst we are on members, one of the interesting things to come out of the by-election was that when there is no branch staking there are about 80 members of the ALP in a lower house seat. As a rule of thumb that sounds about right,(I ws a member of the ALP years ago and in the federal seat they had about 120-150 with no branch stacking. It would be interesting to have a breakdown of the membership numbers for other seats and sitting members etc.

  14. Bird.

    I went and Wikied Occam’s razor.

    “The principle is attributed to 14th-century English logician, theologian and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. Occam’s razor may be alternatively phrased as pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate (“plurality should not be posited without necessity”)”

    So let me get this right, a theologian has decided that the simplest most obvious explanation is often the best.
    1) That would explain that when faced with a physical universe he would then take the obvious explanation that it was created by a white bearded unphysical apparition who resides in the metephysical sphere. Umm that sounds like the most obvious explanation, he would then go on to explain that a young girl who became pregnant to this entity would then give birth to his son who would then be nailed to a cross fo the future sins of us, Umm Ok I’m right with you on this theory.
    2) Back to reality, so the minor parties running around Australian politics don’t have any other agenda but to decide whether to run in elections or not depending on what time of the year it is and if they have got over their xmas(devoit in most cases) lunch. Get out of here.

  15. GG, I wouldn’t describe the ALP preselection in Altona as a travesty of true democracy personally. However, I’m not sure how a ballot where all the members in the seat, and only the members in the seat, got one vote each is the same as one where half the votes were held by a central party body.

    Along with the mentions of Higgins and Willagee you went on about how the Greens selecting Brian Walters was an example of the same sort of behaviour, and I fail to see the basis for the claim.

  16. Stephen Luntz – #67

    It goes a little further in this case. The “electing body” did not actually vote as there was only one candidate.

    The other proposed candidate was convinced to pull out of the race, presumably on the basis of a promise to be given a seat elsewhere at some time in the future. In other words the “electing body” of some other electorate in the future is going to miss out on having a say in the candidate, and likely this new non-contest will create another promise in another electorate etc etc.

    Under this scenario, members of the local branches will hardly ever get a say in who their local candidate is. I suspect that a significant reason people belong to a political party is to have an input into the selection of the local candidate. That they rarely get a say, may be a significant reason for the decline in party memberships.

  17. Curious that nothing about the by-election on Labor or Liberal websites: some risk-averse behaviour here? Both majors fear a bad outcome and would rather nobody noticed? As for preselection rules having a central/local blance seems fair enough the problem is when the local component disappears altogether, the ALP examples of this are the Senate and the Legislative Council, Lindsay Tanner has raised this point but on issues of party structure his proposals are ignored.

  18. Geoff – #69
    I came here looking for some excitement about the by-election, especially with only 2 weeks to go. Must be someone who can post something as to what is happening !!!

  19. The Greens have a Facebook group for their candidate. I have driven through the electorate four times in the last week but no activity visible from the highway! Could Labor’s vote by affected by the expansion of Point Cook? This area is separate from the rest of Altona and full of brand new expensive houses, it looks like a movie set. I could understand Labor wanting to downplay as they really have nothing to gain from a good performance but it does suggest the Liberals are unenthusiastic: was Bailieu’s hand forced on this?

  20. Yes, William uses Vex. But he also uses other sources to back up the opinion. But most of the timme he uses it for news rather then opinion.

    After all Vex is run by an ALP right winger. You need balence.

    You, GG, are using an ALP member run blog to say that the Greens are wrong.

    And no, Brian isn’t the future. He isn’t meant to be. He was picked as the best person who nominated to attempt to win. Not to hold forever. If he does win he has to step down for 2018 if he stays that long anyway.

    But I know you have made your mind up that the Greens are losers so maybe I should just ignore you.

  21. Dave,

    Landeryou is not a member of the ALP.

    You could always just talk to the little coterie of Greens supporters as some sort of self help therapy.

    Why come here if all you want is your own opinion reflected back?

  22. I come here for objective posts as well as discussions between people willing to admit when they have made a mistake.

    I rarely get either anymore.

    Landeryou WAS a member of the ALP right and cheers them on at every opportunity at VEX while trashing everyone else no matter what.

    See, I can admit when I am wrong.

  23. Oh, christ. Brian Shaw’s written his own Australian constitution. He’s also got a slightly more normal looking page specifically about his by-election campaign here… only very slightly. In his words:

    [ For example, a new Commonwealth Constitution under the banner of “Republic” is intended to remove all private ownership of land and to abolish the States of Australia, inclusive of the State of Victoria.

    Which means that the State electorate of Altona, would cease to exist, without the prior knowledge of nor consent of the electorate of Altona. ]

    As for the other flake-a-zoid, Andrew Rixon, his front page has this as a second paragraph:

    [ Unfortunately as I predicted I am now back on a Community Treatment Order and now I’m on Clozapine. However don’t worry about it as this action is a joint maneuver by Rudd, Abbott and the Queen, as now they can all see that I’m just playing with them. ]

    Dr Google tells me clozapine is an anti-psychotic drug for schizophrenics, and a CTO seems to be one step down from being committed. Basically I guess he’s under a health department order to take his meds or get carted off to the funny farm… I wonder what his doc thinks of his candidacy here. Another quotable quote from him:

    [ This particlar technology centres around Australia’s cars and trucks fuel system. Ofcourse I’m refering to Petrol and Diesel. In order to cut Carbon emissions ALL one has to do is put an air conditioning system inside the fuel tank of said vehicle. This means that the fuel becames cold which should be NO colder then minus five degrees. Then one has to place avocado juice into said tank. This WILL make the fuel turn into vapour. Because the fuel is now vapour one has to add a part of the crop circle technology to the tank,so as the fuel makes it’s way to the engine the fuel is under very high pressure, therefore once the fuel reaches the engine, it is vapour. Remember that the air conditioning system MUST extend all the way to the engine, This is so the fuel is constantly chilled. ]

    If there’s a candidates forum in the next week and a half, and these two guys turn up, somebody must video it and post it on Youtube. It’ll be amazing. 🙂

  24. “In order to cut Carbon emissions ALL one has to do is put an air conditioning system inside the fuel tank of said vehicle. This means that the fuel becames cold which should be NO colder then minus five degrees. Then one has to place avocado juice into said tank. This WILL make the fuel turn into vapour.”

    As Wolfgang Pauli once said, this is not even wrong…….

  25. #83

    Safe Labor seat with no chance of anything but a safe Labor victory. So I guess all sides are keeping their powder dry for Novermber……..

  26. One week to go and it seems like everyone is dis-interested. Maybe the non-voter figure will set an Australian record for a state or federal by-election.

  27. Labor will bolt in , that is only news that counts great isn’t it guys

    So we got insteads an amusin lot of posts from Greens whinging due to there irelevense

    fist , a Green whinge is GG gets accused of using vex news as a souse ,
    when pointed out Willianm does also , then Greens look silly

    2nds , a green whinge Landeryou that GG used is an ALP member
    when pointed out Laneryou is not , then Greens again look silly

    3rd , greens whinge cause there candidate is anothr male lawyer , when a female activist was availabel

    4th , greens whinge about Labors candidat Jill Hennesssy , despite her past excelent record in blue electons

    5th , green whinge was about ALP selecton process , but rite well qualified person got ALP pre selected democraticaly

    6th Greens whing re there great process , producing a nother male lawyer no less

    so back to start , a huge labor win that Libs hav no money to waste in a Labor stronghold , but Libs gain politcaly by not contestin seeing Labor vote must drop

    Labor does same thing in reverse often , nothing new about this except Greens politcaly naive , or just a anti labor snipe

    my interst was those working out likely %’s movemnts resulting

  28. Ok Ron I’ll play your game.

    1. I am not a Green. Nor have I been a Green for a long time. I am only going to vote Green this election because the candidate is a good friend. Otherwise it would be the ALP.

    2. My problem was not with useing Vexnews. It was how Vexnews was used. Andrew was a student ALP. So just using his opinion is not objective. GG used Vex to say that Rose is better then Brian. An opinion only and not a common one shared by the people she represents apparently. But thats my opinion. William usies Vex as a sourse. eg: Brian has been selected as candidate. News, not opinion.

  29. The swing against the ALP is going to happen, I’ve just got off the phone to my ALP relatives in Altona, and they are all going off, Coot Island, yes everyone had forgotted, the explosion in America, and the blatant favoritism of the majors towards the big end of town, They are all going to vote Green, fancy that.
    These types of events, 4 days before an election is not the sort of thing anyone wants or can predict but they are the exact type of thing that causes people to pause, think, and vote.

  30. Ron,

    I agree with most of what you say except you don’t emphasise the whinging characteristic of Greens supporters nearly enough.

    Vexnews is a legitimate source of information and comment. Clearly, the truth cuts a bit too close for perssonal comfort for the Greens petals.

    They need to learn to deal with alternative opinions.

  31. So apart from a few (4 voters) switching to the Greens, there seems to be no news on the by-election.

    I am sticking to my prediction that this will set a record for the lowest turn-out figure ever for an Australian state by-election.

    BTW – what is the benchmark that has to be beaten for me to be proved right?

  32. Oh GG,
    I always believe what the mass media tell me, also I believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden and that Global warming is a left wing conspiracy.,

  33. Barking,

    You’re a Green. Of course you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. As for Global Warming, well that’s the first honest explanation by a Greens supporter of why they voted down Labor’s climate change legislation and why they are comfortable in the Company of the Libs, Fielding and X on that matter.

    BTW, has the spill at Altona been sorted or are you still running around the Western suburbs screaming “the sky is falling”.

  34. Well GG what about some put up etc.

    Predictions time.


    Swing away from the ALP at primary time of greater than 5%.
    Green Vote up 2-3% or more.

    Lib vote about the same.
    Independants, no return of deposits.

    A better result for the Greens than either the ALP or the LIBS.

  35. GG
    Haw Haw Haw,
    You and Gary Bruce are the same person.
    If your not interested in swings etc, what are you doing at a blog site dedicated to polls, swings etc.
    Haw Haw Haw.

  36. Vex says
    “Presumably Premier John Brumby, who has not won an election in his own right, now will be taking a greater interest in a by-election in which a 10 per cent swing against him should be on the cards.”

    GG says “Only mugs predict margins and swings.”

    GG you are a comedian.

  37. Barking,

    I subscribe to the adage that it is better people think you are a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    You obviously disagree.

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