UPDATE (6.07pm). With two booths counted, Ben Carroll is travelling nicely on 52.2 per cent, with the Sex Party (9.4 per cent) leading the Greens (8.6 per cent) for second place.
The Queensland election is not the only electoral game in town tomorrow: voters in the north-western Melbourne suburbs seat of Niddrie, which covers suburbs south of the airport from Niddrie itself west to Keilor and south to Avondale Heights, go to the polls to choose a successor to former Deputy Premier Rob Hulls. The Liberals, rather weakly, have opted to sit this one out despite Labor’s solid but by no means overwhelming margin of 6.9 per cent. There is nonetheless a large field of nine candidates, but there is little reason to suspect Labor’s Ben Carroll has much to worry about. A former adviser to Stephen Conroy and earlier to Steve Bracks, Carroll won preselection ahead of Jaclyn Symes, a former electorate officer to Hulls, and solicitor Sebastian Sam Agricola. Carroll in fact came third in the local branch with 35 votes to 46 for Agricola and 43 for Symes, with Moonee Valley councillor John Sipek on nine. Agricola, who according to an entry in Crikey’s not-always-reliable tips and rumours section is not a member of Labor Unity and hence never had a serious chance in the factional bailiwick of Niddrie, then withdrew before the party’s Public Office Selection Committee added its 50 per cent share of the vote. Labor Unity was split over which of Carroll and Symes to support, with Conroy and Bracks supporting their former employee but John Brumby and Rob Hulls backing Symes. However, John Ferguson of The Australian reported that the factional vote produced a strong 20-4 victory for Carroll, ensuring him an easy victory when the votes from the POSC ballot were added. The Moonee Valley Weekly reports Symes might be a prospect to replace Justin Madden in Essendon, should the eventuality emerge.
The candidates in ballot paper order are Gerrit Hendrik Schorel-Hlavka (Independent), Ben Carroll (Labor), Andrea Surace (Independent), David Hugh Linaker (Independent), Josie Lester (Greens), Michael Deverala (DLP), Amy Myers (Sex Party), Jim Little (Independent) and Frank Papafotiou (Independent).