Three weeks out from the election, The Australian today has a Newspoll state poll for Victoria showing Labor with a two-party lead of 54-46, in from 56-44 at the last such poll in August. Labor and the Coalition are tied at 37% on the primary vote, respectively down four and up one, with the Greens steady on 13%. Daniel Andrews is down three on approval to 51% and up three on disapproval to 44%, while Matthew Guy is respectively steady on 32% and up three to 52%. Daniel Andrews leads 52-33 on preferred premier, little changed from 51-34 last time. The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday from a sample of 1007.
The formal campaign period began with the issuing of the writs on Tuesday: enrolments close next Tuesday; nominations close on Friday (a day earlier for those endorsed by registered parties), with ballot paper draws to follow immediately after; early voting begins the following Monday, November 14; and the big day is November 26. Registration of parties closed last week, so the full list of eligible parties is here. My election guide is here – I hope for the Legislative Council guide to be added to it at some point over the weekend.
• There was a late retirement last week from Jaala Pulford, who holds a Legislative Council seat for Labor in Western Victoria region and was seat to lead the party’s ticket. There has been no specific reporting on what this might mean for the party ticket, but the Herald Sun reported Pulford’s place was likely to be taken by a female candidate of the Right, and in particular to one associated with Richard Marles.
• A report in the Herald Sun on October 13 noted discontent in some Labor quarters that recent spending commitments have focused on Melbourne’s outer east and south-east and have ignored the north and west. Those pushing the story expressed concern over Melton, Werribee, Point Cook, South Barwon, Bellarine and Yan Yean. In a similar vein, a report from Rachel Baxendale in The Australian on Wednesday cited unidentified Labor sources complaining that the northern and south-western corridors, which “probably need an additional new hospital each”, were being neglected to indulge Brunswick, where eight level crossings are being removed, and Bayswater, which has been targeted with commitments including a $60 million train station.
• Another Labor source, or possibly the same one, has briefed Kieran Rooney of the Herald Sun on preference negotiations with the Greens which would “sell out” the party’s own upper house members and “allies”, the latter seemingly referring to micro-party cross-benchers. Presumably the concern is that Labor’s own lower order candidates would be endangered if the party dealt itself out of negotiations with micro-parties for the sake of a deal with the Greens, the quid pro quo for which would be the Greens direct preferences to Labor in lower house seats. The report also speaks of “internal angst about the idea of preferencing the party in regional areas with coal and logging industries”.
• The contest for the outer western Melbourne seat of Melton is proving a source of particular fascination for the media, with a profile on the seat appearing in the Sunday Age and Virginia Trioli hosting a candidates’ forum on ABC Radio yesterday. The seat has traditionally been safe for Labor, but it dramatically bucked the trend at the 2018 election in recording a 6.9% two-party swing to the Liberals as voters abandoned both major parties for a huge field of independent and minor party contenders. Infrastructure has not kept up with growth in the area, and there is particular bitterness locally on lack of progress for a promised hospital. The strongest performing of the independents, Florey Institute brain scientist Ian Birchall, is again taking the field at this election.