Eminent Victorians

Victorian state preselection news from both sides of the aisle, following Labor’s recent talent exodus and a number of challengers to Liberal incumbents in the upper house.

State polling being not what it used to be, I have resolved to make an effort in future to do occasional posts updating electorally relevant affairs in each state. Presumably we will see some polling from New South Wales and Victoria in the not too distant future, but it does not appear we will continue to get regular bi-monthly polling from Resolve Strategic now that it has wrapped up its monthly polling for Nine Newspapers.

There is much to report right now from Victoria, whose state election will be held on November 26. Four cabinet ministers announced their resignations from cabinet on Friday effective immediately, to be followed by their retirements at the November election: Deputy Premier James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Police Minister Lisa Neville and Industry Minister Martin Pakula. This has resulted in a reshuffle that has resulted in Jacinta Allan succeeding Merlino as deputy, and brought into cabinet Pascoe Vale MP Lizzie Blandthorn, Bundoora MP Colin Brooks, Oakleigh MP Steve Dimopoulos, Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing and Carrum MP Sonya Kilkenny.

The retirements raise the stakes on Daniel Andrews’ request earlier in the month for Labor’s national executive to maintain its control over the state branch, which was established in the wake of the Adem Somyurek branch-stacking scandal and resulted in it determining preselections at the federal election without reference to the party rank-and-file. Reports at the time suggested most in the party expected the request would be granted.

Vacancies are now available in Merlino’s seat of Monbulk on Melbourne’s eastern fringe, held on a post-redistribution margin of 8.4%; Neville’s seat of Bellarine outside Geelong, with a margin of 11.4%; and Foley’s seat of Albert Park to the south of central Melbourne, with a margin of 12.9%; but not in Pakula’s seat of Keysborough, which has been abolished. Despite these seemingly comfortable margins, Monbulk and Bellarine in particular would be considered marginal seats in the context of a competitive election. Albert Park is of interest because it has been brought on to the Greens’ radar by the result of the federal election, at which the party came within a hair’s breadth of poaching the corresponding seat of Macnamara.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party have an eventful round of upper house preselections to contend with. Of the seven members elected to the chamber amid the party’s disastrous result in 2018, two are retiring, one (Bernie Finn) was recently expelled from the party and three are facing preselection challengers, with only Matt Bach set for a smooth passage to the next parliament as the lead candidate for what will become the North Eastern Metropolitan region (now Eastern Metropolitan). One of the nominees for the second position in that region is Gladys Liu, the recently defeated federal member for Chisholm. Others are Ranjana Srivastava, an oncologist and Fulbright scholar who has the backing of outgoing member Bruce Atkinson; Shilpa Hedge, a software consultant; and Monica Clark, a family lawyer.

Rachel Baxendale in The Australian reports that nominees to replace Bernie Finn in Western Metropolitan, where the Liberals usually only win one seat, include Tamsin Lawrence, deputy director of workplace relations at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mark Briers, a senior adviser in the Morrison government senior adviser, Fred Ackerman, an education consultant, and Jenny Matic, a staffer to Shadow Treasurer David Davis; and Fred Ackerman, an education consultant.

The party’s sole member for Northern Metropolitan region, Craig Ondarchie, is rated by Baxendale’s sources as likely to lose to one of three challengers: Evan Mulholland, communications director at the Institute of Public Affairs; Catriona Rafael, Leukemia Foundation advocate; and Owen Guest, the party’s state treasurer. In Eastern Victoria, Cathrine Burnett-Wake is being challenged by chiropractor Renee Heath; in South Metropolitan, Colleen Harkin, who was the party’s federal candidate for Macnamara, has challenged both David Davis and Georgie Crozier by nominating for all three positions at the top of the ticket. Baxendale reports this has “put noses out of joint” in the party; Harkin earlier challenged James Newbury in the lower house seat of Brighton, but found little support.

Potential new elements at the election include Climate 200, which according to The Guardian is “understood to be considering the Liberal-held marginal seats of Brighton and Kew and Labor-held Hawthorn”, and the newly established Victorians Party, launched on the back of anti-lockdown sentiment by Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang, which if nothing else is receiving heavy publicity in the Herald-Sun.

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.

75 comments on “Eminent Victorians”

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  1. @Blanket Criticism, I totally understand the frustrations and especially the negative impacts that the pandemic had on you, although I do believe a lot of that anger is misdirected at the Premier because of the way the media in particular has created a narrative that things were so much tougher in Victoria than other states (untrue) and that Daniel Andrews was solely to blame for it.

    I’ll just address a few of the points you raise:

    – Being locked out of interstate travel at Christmas time: This cannot possibly be attributed to Dan Andrews or the Victorian Government. Other states make the decisions about their own borders, so whichever state you were locked out of is the state responsible for you not being able to travel.

    Victoria actually had the most open border in the whole country during the pandemic. Even moreso than NSW which locked out Victoria a few times.

    – The additional 3 months of lockdown in 2021 when we already had vaccines: This is actually untrue. We didn’t have vaccines yet, which is why we had the lockdown. As soon as we hit our vaccine targets, the lockdown (and almost all associated restrictions) lifted. Victoria was also not the only state to lock down during this period. Both NSW & ACT actually locked down longer than Victoria while QLD also went in & out of lockdown too.

    Since October 2020, Victoria was also not the most locked down state; NSW actually was, yet somehow the narrative in the media has been that NSW somehow “led the way” to living with the virus and Victoria was draconian. That is simply not true, as NSW had a month more lockdown than Victoria, and it eased lockdown slower too: it waited until higher vaccination rates and lower case numbers than Victoria before it opened up. You would never know it from how it was reported, but that is actually true.

    Victoria ended lockdown after 79 days at 70% fully vaccinated, while cases numbers were still high. NSW ended lockdown after 108 days at 76% fully vaccinated and after case numbers had gone down a lot more. Victoria also reunited the metro & regional areas earlier, and subsequently eased other restrictions earlier too.

    I don’t mean to make this into a NSW vs Victoria argument, I don’t think that was helpful at all. But what I’m trying to illustrate is that despite the very different narratives in the media, NSW & Victoria have mostly acted jointly since midway through 2021, and if anything Victoria – more lockdown weary due to 2020 than NSW was – was actually quicker to end lockdowns than NSW.

    That brings me to the 2020 lockdown. Yes, only Victoria experienced that one, and that lockdown is actually the only reason we have had more total days in lockdown than other states (as I said earlier, we have been more open than some other states since then). But in 2020 there were no vaccines at all and we protected the rest of Australia, and undoubtedly saved a lot of lives, by making that sacrifice.

    The plan was never to eradicate Covid for good. It was to suppress it until enough of us were vaccinated. This was a national strategy, not a Victorian one, and Victoria never acted outside the nationally agreed strategy by all states. And we opened up as agreed, as soon as those vaccine targets were reached.

    In addition to that, we saw that even with no restrictions, businesses still struggled due to customers not being confident to go out when Covid was still raging. So to assume that in the peak of the 2020 and 2021 outbreaks that businesses would have thrived with no lockdowns (and therefore also no JobKeeper or business support) is probably not realistic. They may actually have been in a worse position because without lockdown, there still would have been no customers but there also would have been no support to keep employees on the books.

    On a final note, the decisions during our two major lockdowns were those of the CHO who at the time had the pandemic powers, not the Premier, although he was the face of it.

    It’s interesting to note that since the “controversial” pandemic laws that shifted that power from the CHO to Dan Andrews, we have not had a single day in lockdown, he has not implemented a single restriction, and he has removed pretty much every single restriction, despite us having our worst Covid numbers of the whole pandemic. So clearly Dan Andrews himself is not just locking us down for the sake of it; because as soon as the powers were given to him, he got rid of every single restriction in the state.

    Again, just to reiterate, I am not taking away from anything that you or your employer personally went through or experienced as a result of the pandemic. But this is a global pandemic. People in other states experienced the same too. People in other countries experienced much worse. The only difference between Victoria and the northern states was that we had a 4 month outbreak in 2020 that other states were lucky not to have (partly because we contained it), before there was a vaccine.

    Frustration and anger is completely understandable, but it’s also important to take a step back to look at the bigger picture, dispel some of the myths, assess the facts in a wider context, and not misdirect that frustration.

  2. Trent

    Thank you for your excellent post.

    We are living through a global pandemic and we were let down badly by the feds with respect to proper quarantine and vaccines in a timely manner.

    Yet it is the bad dan andrews that is to blame.

    Whilst everyone did it hard. My care and concern is for the health professionals, aged care workers and the paramedics.
    They are the ones who did and continue to do the hard yards.

    I will be voting for vic labor. I hope they get another four years.

  3. The Andrews Cabinet choose what advice to follow and when to follow it but they made the decisions and clearly supported the advice because Brett Sutton is still the CHO.

  4. Victoria, I agree.

    Difficult decisions had to be made, there was no playbook so mistakes would be inevitable too, but everything was done with the public’s interest at heart.

    The fact that despite pressure on the NSW government to be the model of “a different way” they still ended up having to adopt all of Victoria’s strategies (including curfews and travel limits) last year, shows that it was the only way to suppress it until we had sufficient vaccine coverage.

    Health workers on the front line copped the worst experience out of everyone, and if not for the sacrifices the rest of us had to make, it would have been so much worse for them.

    When it all boils down, two things would have avoided the long lockdowns:

    1. A suitable, purpose-built (not hotels) quarantine system to keep the virus out of the community;

    2. The 2021 lockdowns – which as nationally agreed were only until 70% vaccine coverage was achieved – would have been avoided or at least much shorter if we were 70% vaccinated by June/July. It is none of the states’ faults that we didn’t reach those targets until September/October.

    So we had to do what was necessary to protect the health system and its frontline workers (that was the goal, not to eradicate the virus) until we reached that level of protection. And it wasn’t just Victoria who did so, it was also NSW, ACT and QLD.

  5. Numbers: Oz covid response has one tenth the mortality of the US. I’ve had shit years in my life. You’ll get over it.

    I’ve lived in Melbourne for years. The biggest problem I saw during covid, and this includes some of my mates, was too many unsophisticated people spending way too much time online. The cooker riots had zero to do with lockdowns. They’re the same riseup (literal) nazis of the past decade.

    Victoria has moved on from that. The gang meme that the LNP tried to fabricate in times past didn’t lead to support; it repelled people. The anti lockdown crazy sing-alongs that liberal state and federal members were giving speeches at are those people. Currying that rump has proven spectacularly unsuccessful in Victoria.

  6. Toby I agree. It will be at the Liberals’ peril to try to focus on lockdowns 13 months after they ended, when everybody has moved on and doesn’t want to go back to dwelling on it.

    If the election campaigns are between Labor avoiding the topic while focusing on infrastructure and the future, and the Liberals banging on about 2020 and 2021, then advantage Labor.

  7. Blanket Criticism says:
    Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 3:06 pm
    Yeah I’m still angry about it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being angry about it.

    I find your views repugnant. Just how selfish are you? Or stupid. You choose.

    Not much of a society if we’re catering to the whims of people like you.

  8. Others have said everything that needs to be said in regards to BC.

    Unfortunately around %10 of population have developed a weird Andrews derangement over the pandemic. Nothing we say will matter. I hope they can find a way to get back to some normality.

    If Andrews wins again some people will breakdown and some will go violent. That’s how far down these people have gone.

  9. The anti-covid and anti-vaccine mandate stance in the Victorian Liberal Party seems similar to the shift happening with Canadian Conservatives with their support for the trucker’s rally. I think Pierre Poilievre (most likely to be leader) has for months supported the anti-vax truckers’ movement regardless of how violent and disruptive it is. Poilievre in many aspects seems similar to Matthew Guy where they both attack their center-left leaders with hardline language and almost identical covid stances. The only difference is that, unlike Poilievre, Guy could not get his fame to the anti-vax base.

    Btw, Poilievre will attend the alt-right Canada Day Convoy on July 1

  10. I can be specific about my criticisms if anyone cares. I thought the hotel quarantine system was embarrassingly mismanaged, the enquiry into the mismanagement was a farce and the performance of much of the vic Labor establishment and their parroting of the phrase ‘I don’t recall’ about this or that key piece of information extremely disturbing and embarrassingly undemocratic insult to everyone affected by the disastrously mismanaged program. Promises of additional ICU beds that were never delivered we’re also a complete insult to the people of Victoria as was the Premier gaslighting the state by arguing he never made the promise in the first place in spite of video evidence to the contrary. The biggest thing is the blatant corruption in the grants programs that the state government bragged were saving lockdown affected businesses and industries. That was really the biggest spit in the face of all of it. I know of a specific CBD bar and restaurant owned by the close personal friend of a prominent Vic Labor MP who received a 30 thousand dollar grant despite not being charged any rent during the pandemic and despite this business owner being more than financially well off enough to cover his businesses losses whilst other businesses who we’re not fortunate enough to have such political connections went up in flames trying to pay rent, public liability and losing stock with every false start reopening. Occupancy restrictions that continued for months after the removal of most restrictions were also a complete insult to my industry, especially due to the lack of any scientific justification for them. We were still limited to 25 percent occupancy and then 50 percent occupancy whilst football stadiums had 10s of thousands of people a game.

    These are just a few things.

    I imagine much of this sites commenters are white collar people with families and so weren’t really that affected by the lockdowns and see them very differently, but I work in hospitality and live events and although it is not fashionable to say so publicly, many of my friends in these and adjacent industries have admitted to me that they cannot vote for Vic Labor at the next election after everything they have been put through.

  11. @Somethinglikethat

    I sacrificed the better part of two years of my life, my career trajectory, my mental health and physical well-being and my financial prosperity and I wasn’t even given a say in whether I wanted to do it or not. I would hardly describe that as selfish. This is another thing that annoys me about the whole thing. The people who were actually made to suffer as a result of many of these decisions, for the most part, younger and lower income workers have not been shown any gratitude for the sacrifices we were forced to make. Just being told to eat shit and smile about it like we always are. I suspect a large shift away from Labor in Victoria amongst my generation and my class. I’m sure given the prevailing attitudes here it will be towards the greens, but I see every seat that Vic Labor doesn’t win as a victory, so good luck to them.

    My conservative acquaintances have said that the liberals are toothless and corrupt and that Labor is incompetent and corrupt. My left-wing friends have largely echoed those sentiments but in reverse. I expect that the major swing towards independents and minor parties that we saw in the federal election will be echoed in a much more exaggerated way in the upcoming Victorian state election.

  12. Stop watching so much YouTube. It’s a big problem with the cookers of the internet that think that because they found the other cookers on the internet, that they are more numerous than they are. Nope. You just had more time on your hands to find each other.

    Exactly the same people who were protesting against immigration and ‘African gangs’ in 2019. Literally exactly the same people.

  13. It’s just the cooker cohort. They’re proto-fascists, but thankfully not very sophisticated ones. Alas, it is their unsophistication that leads to them doing down the rabbit-hole of conspiracy theories and becoming cookers in the first place. They ALWAYS want to talk about how much support they have. Their neighbors that ‘have always voted labour but never will again after muh lockdowns”. About how the great comeuppance is ‘just around the corner’. There’s always some new information that is going to ‘blow the whole thing wide open’, and some new event that is going to crystallize the great masses into their delusion. A year ago they were screaching about how lockdowns were the precursor to “the great reset” or whatever they want to call their cooker civil war. They were legitimately planning for being sent to concentration camps. But really they’re just the angry-set. They were angry before, and they found a bunch of other angry people because they had so much spare time on their hands, and they all got angry together and sang sing-alongs at picnics about how angry they were. They just haven’t stopped, even after none of the things they were frothing at the mouth about occurred. They effectively have zero restrictions, and NONE of the things they said were going to happen, happened, but STILL they want YOU to UNDERSTAND how JUSTIFIED they are in their continued ANGER.

    One thing that should be gleaned from it, however, is the expanded understanding of how important mental health services are at a public level. The expansion of tele-health is one of the developments that came out of the pandemic response that will pay dividends for decades. We should be exporting these services to our very populous neighbors.


    But these are literally the same people who were screaching about african gangs, and the liberal party in Victoria, and the murdoch press, has actively encouraged and even incited their behaviour. The last time this was attempted in Victoria, the liberals got crushed. Now they’re trying to do the same thing again, except this time the events that they’re oh-so-very-angry about happened in the past. So now they’re relying upon vistigial anger of events that most Victorians want to forget about. And people don’t like being reminded about the things they want to forget about.

    Even if there wasn’t a pandemic, they’d be looking for another target for that perma-rage, because that’s just who these people are. They’re addicted to it. If you feel the stirrings of impotent rage about that, the only person who can resolve that is you. Oh, and my sympathy for the cooker-set ended at the time you all decided you wanted to stand up and be counted with Avi, Finn, Palmer and Kelly. I pretty much don’t care what you believe if those are the people that are in your support group. Don’t like that? Find better people to associate yourself with. You might also want to learn how numbers work, because that whole belief that the cooker set is going to overturn the ALP played out only a few weeks ago in the federal arena, and the libs got crushed. Worst defeat since 1949.

  14. Blanket Criticism, I think you’re mistaking your social group as representative of the wider population.

    We’re all free to vote however we like. I suspect the govt will be easily re-elected, because the group you refer to is small and insignificant.

  15. https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/scorned-labor-mp-ponders-resignation-that-would-force-unwanted-byelection-20220629-p5axp4.html

    Does she want to lose 5 months of pay (so about $80K) and the three month extra package they get if a member loses or loses pre-selection at an election. Kairouz is just an attention hog…. I guess this the last moment she can cause stress to the government, so she will um and ahh about it but if there is one thing that members of that faction love it is the cash. So I can’t see it happening.

    But she will probably try to deliver it at 11.55pm and then complain when she can’t make it in time.

  16. Hey all, just appearing to ask how good is Australia?? Impatiently waiting for the first sitting week so Labor can begin to implement its agenda. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent rewatching the coverage on YouTube.

    I must say the staff numbers call by Albo was a bad one – the relatively small cost saving is not worth the negative coverage and risk of lost crossbench support in the Senate. Thus, one can only conclude it was a purely cynical move that sets out Labor’s approach to independents and its strategy to stave them off at the next election.

    Progressive voices are rightly criticising Labor for this decision – I’m torn between principles and “party first.” I’ve always thought it is Labor’s refusal to stoop as low as the tories that kept them out of office – refusal to run proper negative campaigns, to crush your political opposition when in power. How many wrongs can be committed for the “right” reasons?

  17. @somethinglikethat

    We’ll see… As a general rule I think writing off the working class as ‘insignificant’ is pretty stupid when it comes to politics, but that it’s never stopped the middle class from doing it over and over again.

  18. Stop. Watching. So. Much. Youtube.

    Read a fiction book. Get your mind off of this stuff. Find a hobby. You talk of ‘the working class’ like you have read about it in an instruction manual. If you really want to learn about that subject, join a union.

  19. Kairouz contemplating triggering a by election in Kororoit at the last possible moment (though as the deadline was midnight last night I assume she didn’t pull the trigger, unless it comes out today). I’m really hoping the Vic ALP has learned the lessons of the Somyurek disaster, and that reforms designed to prevent such abuses of power aren’t just window dressing.


  20. I doubt she pulled the trigger last night. Firstly, there is the issue of the money (and the dispute is over the legal costs therefore the lost pay to her is an issue).
    Secondly, she would have had members of the press with her as she delivered the letter so that it would not have been disputed when it happened.
    Thirdly, she is not the only one to lose her job if she resigns. So do her electoral office staff. And she might not want to hurt them.

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