Victorian election minus three weeks

News aplenty from the Victorian campaign trail as the week one reaches its conclusion.

On top of my review of minor party and independent prospects in Crikey yesterday (paywalled), I can offer the following polling and other horse race news:

The Guardian reports on ReachTEL polls of the inner city seats for the Goongerah Environment Centre, and while the details are sketchy, such results as are provided are encouraging for Labor. Labor is credited with primary vote leads of 40.6% to 32.1% in Richmond, compared with 33.3% to 31.5% at the 2014 election; and 34.2% to 21.4% in Prahran, compared with 25.9% to 24.8%. There’s lots more on the organisation’s website, but unfortunately not relating to the voting intention numbers that are the chief source of interest to readers of this site. However, I’m hoping to chase up further information on this count.

John Ferguson of The Australian reported on Wednesday that the Liberals were not likely to follow through on suggestions they would not field candidates in the inner-city quartet of Melbourne, Richmond, Northcote and Brunswick, where their absence would likely help the Greens. However, the Liberals are reportedly unlikely to direct preferences this time, contrary to their policy of putting the Greens last in 2010 and 2014. Labor is said to be confident of retaining Richmond, if not the other three.

• On Thursday, the Liberals promised to impose a two-storey building limit along a stretch of the bayside that encompasses the crucial marginal seats of Mordialloc and Carrum. Partly this was by way of drawing attention to the government’s contentious “sky rail” constructions to replace level crossings in Carrum.

• Unperturbed, Labor was promising more sky rail to remove level crossings, this time in the south-eastern Melbourne satellite suburb of Pakenham. This reflects Labor’s hopes for the seat of Bass, which Brian Paynter holds for the Liberals on a margin of 4.6%. As The Australian noted earlier in the week, the electorate has been “transformed by more than 17,000 new residents who have moved in since 2014 thanks to a slew of new housing estates”. Evidently the Liberals take the threat seriously, as they promised the next day to instead remove the level crossings by lowering the rail lines beneath the road.

• Daniel Andrews visited Morwell on Tuesday to announce financial support for SEA Electric to establish an electric car manufacturing industry in the Latrobe Valley. The seat is held by ex-Nationals independent Russell Northe, who is still yet to announce whether he will run again. Also in the field is Ricky Muir, the former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator, now with Shooters Fishers and Farmers. The seat has been electorally volatile and highly sensitive to local factors, with the Hazelwood coal mine fire of early 2014 contributing to an 11.5% swing to Labor that reduced Northe’s margin to 1.8%.

• Some extra details from the Newspoll earlier in the week that I neglected to relate at the time. Labor is favoured over Liberal to handle the economy (45-37), the energy supply (43-32) and population growth (33-30), with the Liberals holding only a bare 39-38 lead even on their normal strong point of law and order.

• Ladbrokes has opened individual betting markets on all eighty-seat seats, odds for which can now be found at the bottom right hand corner of my election guide pages (and if you’re interested, you can do this site a small good turn by signing up through one of the Ladbrokes ad featured on the sidebar). Labor are rated favourites in a bare majority of 43 out of the 88 seats, the Coalition are favoured in 38, and there is nothing in it in Bentleigh and Carrum. Labor are slight favourites to retain Frankston, Cranbourne, Eltham and Ivanhoe, while the Coalition has the edge to retain its seats of Morwell and South Barwon. The Greens are favoured to retain Melbourne and Northcote, are just ahead in a tight three-way race in Prahran, and are very slightly favoured to take Brunswick from Labor, although Labor has the edge in Richmond. Independent incumbent Suzanna Sheed is favoured to retain Shepparton. Ladbrokes is paying $1.33 on Labor and $3 on the Coalition to form government, which is more favourable to Labor than Sportsbet, which respectively has it at $1.45 and $2.70.

Notable independents in the field:

• The electorate of Pascoe Vale is plastered with billboards advertising independent candidate Oscar Yildiz, the former mayor of Moreland, who is running against Labor incumbent Lizzie Blandthorn after being knocked back for Labor preselection in Northcote. Yildiz tells The Age he expects his campaign will end up costing him $150,000.

• Darryn Lyons, former Fleet Street paparazzo and Geelong mayor, will run against Labor’s Christine Couzens in Geelong. Lyons was mayor when the council was sacked in April 2016 after a commission of inquiry reported widespread internal dysfunction, examples of which included a “loud and abusive outburst” by Lyons towards a council officer. Lyons also threatened defamation action against the council and its chief executive if bullying allegations against him were made public, an action the commission deemed “regrettable in every way”.

• Former Wangaratta councillor Tammy Atkins may be a show in Ovens Valley, where the Nationals are encumbered by the fact that their member, Tim McCurdy, is facing charges of allegedly falsifying documents relating to the sale of two dairy farms.

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.

40 comments on “Victorian election minus three weeks”

  1. Last night I was reading Antony Green’s stuff about the maldistribution in Victoria’s Lower House caused by the massive increase in population in Melbourne’s outer North and West. The redistribution in 2020 will likely favour Labor fairly significantly. I wonder whether if Labor does ‘only’ manage to get back as a minority government whether the redistribution may well then help them to a majority in 2022?

    Similar to Bracks’ minority in 1999, and then majority in 2002.

    Interesting about Ovens Valley – I think the independent in Shepparton will be returned, and I think Mildura may be won by the independent also.

    And can anyone explain what is the meaning of the second part of the name of this new Party “Australain Country Party / Give it Back”? – I have this slight feeling they are probably not intending to echo the sentiments of the Midnight Oil song “Beds Are Burning”!

  2. Re reports in the Fairfax media about an alleged incident involving allegedly Sudanese youths in St Kilda (I use the term “alleged” because the police use that term until a prima -facie case is established) , the response from obviously Liberal supporters was overwhelming. All of a sudden, previously subdued commentary about racial violence is racked up. This is nothing less than desperate fear-mongering, a la Trump, to influence the result of the Victorian election. Shades of the Republicans’ tactics in the upcoming Mid-Term elections. I find this response disgusting and disquieting in the extreme. This tactic will obviously become apparent again once the Federal campaign begins.
    One can only hope that this upcoming Federal election will focus on policies, not individuals and fear-mongering, but I’m not optimistic.

  3. @Rocket Rocket

    Your feeling is correct, they probably aren’t fans of Midnight Oil.

    The “Australian Country Party” are a rebranding of the “Country Alliance”. They may be what saves Ovens Valley for the Nationals, as they are running local GP Julian Fidge who pulled about 10% there last time. Fidge will give some of the Nationals voters who are angry about their candidate probably being a criminal somewhere to send their protest vote, but still allowing preferences to flow back there.

    That said – there may be enough locals keen to see Tammy Atkins repeat Cathy McGowan’s effort, now that they know a charismatic local independent is a realistic option.


    Crime was meant to be the battlefront of this state election, but neither Victoria’s Attorney-General, Labor MP Martin Pakula nor the Liberals’ shadow attorney-general John Pesutto found support for their tough-talking policies from an audience of legal professionals at the Melbourne Press Club on Wednesday.

    Legal experts panned moves from both parties to introduce mandatory sentencing to tackle violent crime in Victoria, arguing it does not deal with the root causes of violent offending.

  5. Hi Cud Chewer

    This is an excellent scholarly article by Pavlina Tcherneva that contrasts a UBI with a buffer stock JG:

    A helpful list of her writings on this topic (with links to the articles) is here:


    “The Job Guarantee: Delivering the Benefits that Basic Income Only Promises”,

    16 Reasons Matt Yglesias is Wrong about the Job Guarantee vs. Basic Income

    Guaranteed Income? How about Guaranteed Jobs (10min video)

    Income for All: Two Visions for a New Economy (video/panel discussion)

    (for more on JG vs UBI, see research and media links)

    And a larger list of her publications is here:


    The likely heavy favourability of the next redistribution for the ALP is partly the Liberals fault for allowing/promoting heavier controls on suburban densification in Liberal held and marginal suburbs than safely non-Coalition seats, driving growth to safe non-Coalition areas.

    The prospects for the Liberals in the north and west are very thin on the ground.

    Northern Metro has no prospects for the Liberals, with both Ivanhoe and Eltham in Eastern Metro.

    Sunbury is a marginal seat the Liberals could win if the swing is on. Inner-city population growth shifting Essendon south and switching their best areas into Niddrie (which has Liberal voting Kelor, which was a significant part of the Kennett area seat of Tullamarine (held by Bernie Fin under the Kennett Government, now Liberal MLC for Western Metro, since 2006, and the only non-1-term Liberal in the west since the 1970s)) is the Liberals best hope at the next redistribution.

    In the longer term, I think a marginal seat is likely to emerge around Point Cook but it will take more than one redistribution.

  7. Apropos your Richmond page

    > The Greens candidate for the third successive election is Kathleen Maltzahn, an author on sex trafficking and advocate for sex workers – although more critical voices on the left have characterised her stance as anti-sex work.<

    I really suggest that you ask sex worker organisations themselves what they think of Kathleen Maltzahn. It's not just "critical voices on the left" that characterise her stance as anti-sex work, it's the workers who do so – and their opinion in this characterisation surely must have priority.


  8. May I also suggest the inclusion in the guide of a couple of significant independent candidates in Pascoe Vale, Morland councillors Oscar Yildiz and John Kavanah. Yildiz is a former member of the ALP and has had campaign posters up for months. Kavanah has a history in the DLP. They are likely to make this contest very interesting and where preferences are advised will likely be crucial to the result.

    The Reason Party also has a candidate and they have a history of disliking Pascoe Vale`s SDA social conservative candidates and are thus likely to preference against the ALP in this seat.

  9. Hi Tom, who quoth:

    The likely heavy favourability of the next redistribution for the ALP is partly the Liberals fault for allowing/promoting heavier controls on suburban densification in Liberal held and marginal suburbs than safely non-Coalition seats, driving growth to safe non-Coalition areas.

    But do people pick their party based on where they live? I think if growth were faster out here in the Liberal-held east, surely it would simply be margin reducing (perhaps against the Greens, since I guess a relatively large proportion of the growth would be urban professionals).


    Many people chose which party or independent to vote for based on how they treat the area and the Liberals treat the east, south and south east of Melbourne much better than most of the west and north and so people in the safe from the Liberals seats there have less reason to vote Liberal. The disproportionately eastward and southward growth of Melbourne was likely one of the reasons that the ALP were on the back foot during the Bolte-Hamer era (it was a compounding factor, as a more competitive ALP would have been better placed in the east) and not that eastward growth has hit the Dandenongs and can`t grow that way much any more, it is the Liberals on the back foot.

    The growth of the population in the west and comparative lack of growth in the east and much of the south is likely to mean the creation of a seat in the west at the expense of a seat in the east or south. That is likely to mean the abolition of a Liberal seat and the creation of an ALP seat. This is likely to combine with the comparative lack of growth seats beyond the V-Line Commuter network either leading to the abolition of a Coalition seat or two in regional Victoria and the creasing of a new seat or two on the Melbourne fringe (in the west or north) in combination with seat regional seats moving Melbourne-ward (as has happened in previous redistributions) or just significant Melbourne-ward movement of regional seats. The westward movement of Melbourne seats is also going to mean that in the Legislative council Eastern Metro Region gains safe Bundoora, while Northern Metro Region will loose Essendon to Western Metro Region.

  11. So your theory really is that people chose their party based on where they live. Interesting. It has some explanatory value (I wish I could upload an image showing a certain level of stasis in Melbourne). Taking into account some of the motivations of pro-incumbant bias it begins to get a bit less surprising. But it will probably take some more evidence (that also contradicts some other possible explanations of the same data that are percolating it my head but need more analysis).

  12. It is more that where people live effects several factors that effect how people vote and these factors include:

    How different parties treat you local area. There are probably a couple of hundred of thousands potential Liberal voters in safe ALP seats in the north and west of Melbourne that could be won over by by marginal seat style targeting but that would win the Liberal no extra seats (except potentially in the Senate and since 2006 the Legislative Council as well), so they don`t spend the money (both campaign money and in government public money) to get the votes there. The same is true with the ALP and safe Liberal seats.

    Educational, employment opportunities and outcomes. They have a significant effect on how people vote.

    Socio-economic status has a significant effect on where people can live and how they vote.

    Who is in power at a local level and thus who people seek to join to make change. The ALP hold more political power in the west and north and less in places in the wealthy areas and rural areas and vice-versa with conservative forces and the Greens have most power in the inner-city.

    Religions tend to have places they are stronger and places they are weaker and they effect people`s vote.

    Local events also shape political views through exposure to ideas. Such as rural villages in France in otherwise conservative areas voting for the Communists in the second half of the 20th Century because the local priest was one of the minority of priests who accepted the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in the 1790s.

    Housing tenure. Tennants are more disposed to favour tenant favourable regulation. The Liberals, being the party that the landlords mostly support for, are less favourable to tenant rights.

    Rural versus urban. Rural life has a tendency to more promote more right-wing, except among the landless poor and rural ethnic minorities (which Victoria has a low proportion of).

    Industry of employment has an effect, mining is not a major employer in Victoria, leading to use having less less regional left than other states. Manufacturing is also a left wing worker`s industry.

  13. I just read this very generous Age article that sums up the political animal that is Matthew Guy. It refers to the infamous “lobster dinner” with an “alleged maffia figure” who has never been charged with any crime. No mention that Italian police have made the allegations, or that the family only got visas for Australia after donating money to the Liberal Party.

    The internal Liberal ciivl war involving far right religious groups is mentioned in the last few paragraphs. 10 out of 78 party admin positions are filled by mormons, a religion practised by less than 1% of Australians. It would be less remarkable if there were 10 Hindus or Sikhs.

  14. We had the opportunity to have some discussions with a couple of Victorians the other day. This couple used to be regular Labor voters.
    I would rate them as being slightly more interested in politics than average but really not very interested at all. Their local member is an independent.
    (Co-incidentally, the Indie’s husband is a very distant acquaintance, and is also a somewhat closer friend of one of our in-laws).
    They thought that the Indie did not have much power to make any real changes. They were not particularly aware of the policies she espoused.
    But they raised specifically the fact that they saw her between elections more than the other sort of politicians.
    And, above all, they were going to vote for her because she is a decent person.
    Her name is Suzanna Sheed.
    (They were aware of, and not impressed by, SchwartzGate.

  15. I recently received a 40th birthday card (I reach that milestone soon) in the mail from my local MP (who I don’t know), in a marginal Liberal State seat. Desperate or what? Not to mention extremely tacky.

  16. It has been put to me that the polling for Hodgett is causing concern

    Resources are being thrown in his direction including calling in the local Murdoch Leader Press to assist by giving prominence

    The Libs do not understand that Labor is throwing any resources at the seat as they are not in surrounding Liberal held seats – hence the level of concern at the polling

    They are relying on the spend and Leader to reverse the polling and retain the seat

  17. Calling Kathleen Maltzahn an “advocate for sex workers” is like calling Peter Reith an “advocate for workers”, and “more critical voices on the left” is a poor description of where the anti-Maltzahn outrage is coming from. Playing along with candidates’ attempts to spin their most controversial attributes is unhelpful.

  18. Oh geez, I didn’t even see that he’d described Maltzahn as an “advocate for sex workers”. That’s a terrible representation of what she does – Rebecca summed it up pretty well.

    Ultimately she doesn’t want sex work to be legal in any shape or form. She’s been involved with e.g. pulling out Asian migrants who were held basically as slaves in sex work with their passports confiscated etc, which everyone would agree is a good thing. But she also wants to entirely criminalise sex work also for those who choose to do it willingly (of which Fiona Patten was one at one point) – hence most sex workers absolutely loathing her.

    Her criticism also doesn’t come exclusively “from the left”. It comes from right across the spectrum, from people who value personal liberties. SWERFs (and TERFs) are a sub-branch of feminists who the rest of the feminist community generally cannot stand.

  19. Hi Expat, can you clarify what you mean about Fiona Patton? Is she a former voluntary, legal sex worker, or a former advocate to criminalise sex work?

  20. @Felix

    Fiona Patten is a former sex worker.

    When I went to the union rally in Melbourne last month there were a number of sex workers/campaigners handing out anti-Greens pamphlets about Richmond candidate. Don’t see it being too influential but there are people that are seriously pissed off about Green’s candidate.

  21. @Felix

    Fiona Patten is a former (consensual) sex worker. From memory, the story is that she originally was a fashion designer or something like that, and a lot of her clients were sex workers. One time one of the women was off sick, and she decided to volunteer to work in her place. Ended up being a sex worker (by choice) for about two years. She’s pretty open in talking about it.

    This is largely what led to her career after that, being a voice for sex workers’ rights and decriminalisation being part of improving regulation and safety.

  22. One other point. I have advocated increased spending on light and heavy rail projects to better manage population growth for some time. Both Sydney and Melbourne are trying to do that now. But consider Skyrail vs Sydney LRT or Metro. Andrews has a far better record in delivery than Gladys, and deseves some praise for it.

  23. Channel 7 news did an item on the Victorian State election. Basically, it was Guy saying that Labor will increase taxes and then for balance, they had Andrews saying he couldn’t rule out raising taxes.

  24. Channel 7 = Stokes, Liberal Party luminary who with Murdoch determines who our pm will be

    Channel 9 = Costello, former Liberal Party MP

    Then there is Murdoch including the local Leader Press

    Simply, the media do Labor no favours but I am of the view that all except the rusted on Liberal Party demographic are well aware of media bias and discount it – hence Labor are elected at both State and Federal jurisdictions including in one paper jurisdictions such as Adelaide

    Then we have the polling – which only seems to result in media going to the next level such as the Channel 7 presentation referred to

    Hence the send us your iPhone video of any criminal act and we will pay you and use it

  25. So the Liberals have officially begun their retreat from Melbourne. They will not stand in four inner city seats. So these four will be won by Labor or the Greens. I wonder then whether the “Brisbane line ” will then move at subsequent elections with the Liberals ceding more and more of Victoria’s capital to the Left.

    This decision will likely reduce their Upper House vote a few percent.

  26. @Rocket

    I assume then that they have announced a candidate for Pascoe Vale? I was half expecting them to ditch there also, with a view to helping Oscar Yildiz get over the line.

  27. I think that would just make Oscar Yildiz look like a pseudo Liberal Party candidate. Hence it would hinder more than help his campaign.

  28. Having withdrawn from contesting seats I would view they are compromised in ever standing candidates in those seats

    This is after all a general election to elect the government of Victoria

    And the Liberal Party is not fielding candidates in seats in metropolitan Melbourne

    So, in 2022 or in any subsequent election how will they be regarded if they reverse their 2018 decision

    And what other seats will they not contest having set this precedent?

    This is the problem when your focus is on playing politics and not representing

    They obviously have such a low regard for any acceptance of their representations that they do not field candidates in the inner suburbs of Melbourne

  29. With the Liberals running in Pascoe Vale, it significantly decreases the chances of him making the top 2 candidates because the the Liberal voters will still be voting Liberal, instead of mostly looking for a neither ALP or Green candidate. If he gets eliminated, which would be unlikely if the Liberals were out of the race, where his preferences go will be critical. If they flow Greens-ward, that is favourable to the Greens (who the demographic movements in the seat are favouring). The Pascoe Vale result may well not be known until the final preference distribution is in.

    Of course, the Green not making second place last time makes it harder for the Liberals to justify not running. They have a plausible claim of surprise if the Greens come second and their preferences re-elect the ALP MLA. In Preston, where the Greens came (a relatively distant) second (on the preferences of an independent, a local councillor, who is apparently running again this year) but it has escaped media attention because the ALP won before the Liberals were eliminated and thus not caused an ALP versus Green count, the Liberals have a slightly smaller claim to surprise at the ALP loosing on Liberal preferences.

    If the Liberals not to run in all 6 seats that the Greens are chances in in Northern Metro, it would risk them loosing their sitting MLC by falling bellow quota, if the preference flow went against them. That would probably end them not running in lower house seats.

    The redistribution before the 2022 election (or the election after an earlier election) is likely to take Bundoora out of Northern Metro (to give to the comparatively declining Eastern Metro) and bring in the seat that is currently Essendon (from growing Western Metro), however given the distribution of population growth in Melbourne, Brunswick and Essendon, the Electoral Boundaries Commission may decide to move the current seat of Essendon south by giving parts in the north to Niddrie (that is where the parts most friendly to the Liberals are) and taking Kensington from Melbourne and thus making the seat (which may well be renamed Moonee Ponds) a seat where the Greens might not come third and thus give the Liberals another seat to consider not running in.

  30. So the Liberals will now run in every Victorian seat except Richmond. As I said yesterday – put it out there, and if the blowback is bad enough, retreat at the last moment (noon today) !

    I am a bit disappointed they couldn’t stick with their original decision for even 24 hours.

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