With the arrival of today’s deadline for nominations, the campaign action cranks up a notch:
• With party nominations closing yesterday (independents have until noon today), the mystery of the Liberals’ intentions in the inner-city seats is solved: candidates will be fielded in Melbourne, Northcote and Brunswick, but not in Richmond. According to The Australian, the Liberals believe this deals a “near unassailable blow” to Labor’s Richard Wynne in Richmond. Another report in The Australian relates that the Liberals’ high hopes of recovering Prahran, into which they have “poured huge resources”, are looming large in their strategic calculations, the hope being that Labor will take the foot off the pedal in Prahran due to its need to focus efforts on Richmond.
• Reports suggest the Liberals will not make a preference recommendation in the inner-city seats where they are running, which is a happier state of affairs for the Greens than their previous practice of putting them last. The Herald Sun reported Labor had sought Liberal preferences as part of a swap in which they would direct preferences to Coalition candidates ahead of independents in Benambra, Ovens Valley and SouthWestCoast.
• Also confirmed is that Nationals-turned-independent MP Russell Northe will run again in Morwell, which has developed into a highly complex contest that also encompasses Labor, Liberal and Nationals candidates, along with Ricky Muir, the former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator now running for Shooters Fishers and Farmers.
• The closure of nominations will kick off a frenzy of negotiations over preferences ahead of the deadline for submission of group voting tickets noon on Sunday. The Greens are briefing journalists that they fear losing three of their five seats, leaving them with their core of Northern Metropolitan and Western Metropolitan. While such fears may be sincerely held, publicising them puts pressure on Labor by raising the spectre of a right-wing lockout if they prioritise deals with micro-party preference networks.
• Upper house preferences are again placing the spotlight on Glenn Druery, staffer to Senator Derryn Hinch and freelance preference broker. Druery has been the subject of a police complaint from Fiona Patten, upper house member for the Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party), who raises concerns about the $5000 fee he charges small parties to be privy to his preference networking, and his $50,000 “success fee”.