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.