Various developments on the Victorian election front:
• Antony Green’s eagerly awaited Legislative Council calculators are open for business.
• Today’s Herald Sun leads with a video conference recording showing micro-party preference negotiator Glenn Druery plying his trade. While most of its “bombshell” revelations are old hat, it does show Druery discussing a deal ahead of the 2018 election in which the CFMEU scored preferences for Andy Meddick of Animal Justice and micro-parties got Labor preferences ahead of the Greens, and describing the Restore Democracy Sack Dan Andrews Party as “one of mine”. It was noted here on Monday that the latter party’s preference tickets were not appreciably harsher towards Labor than the Coalition, although both are consistently near the bottom of the pile. Druery was also in the news this week after Animal Justice reneged on deals with his network to instead direct preferences to Labor, the Greens, Reason, Legalise Cannabis and Victorian Socialists.
• Further detail from the RedBridge Group poll published in the Herald Sun on Monday: 73.3% rate that the health system is in crisis, with only 14.5% actively disagreeing; 54.7% think “Matthew Guy and the Coalition” better placed to fix it, strikingly far ahead of Daniel Andrews and Labor on 24%;, 64.9% support the Coalition’s plan to delay construction of the Suburban Rail Loop to divert the money to the health system, with only 18.5% opposed; and 36.4% rated cost-of-living pressures the most important determinant of vote choice, ahead of health on 15.5%, climate change on 10.6% and COVID health and management on 7.8%. It needs reiterating here that the poll’s voting intention question showed Labor on track to win the election. The field work dates, which I said in my previous post were not provided, turned out to be October 31 to November 6.
• Bianca Hall of The Age reports disquiet in the Liberal Party over its decision to direct preferences to the Greens ahead of Labor in Northcote, Richmond and Albert Park. A member of the party’s administrative committee, Ian Quick, blamed the decision on Matthew Guy, party president Greg Mirabella and state director Sam McQuestin. The Age reported on Tuesday that the Liberal candidate for Richmond, Lucas Moon, had bucked the directive by handing out how-to-vote cards with Labor ahead of the Greens, but “later switched to handing out the party’s official how-to-vote cards with Labor last”.
• Neil Mitchell of 3AW related on Tuesday that “leaked” Labor polling had the party “very edgy”, expecting to lose Hawthorn and Oakleigh to the Liberals, Albert Park to the Greens and Point Cook to an independent. Tim Pallas was said to be in danger of losing Werribee (to whom is unclear); and Daniel Andrews would survive only narrowly in Mulgrave, where independent Ian Cook is said to be gaining traction; and there was a “swing against the government” across regional areas. (UPDATE: Kos Samaras is not convinced).
• Clay Lucas of The Age reports Melissa Lowe and Sophie Torney, teal independent candidates in Hawthorn and Kew, are preparing legal challenges against a Victorian Electoral Commission determination that election material directing supporters to make up their own mind beyond the first preference fell foul of the law against misleading voters in relation to the casting of their vote. A VEC spokesperson told The Age that “visuals of blank boxes next to candidate names” could “mislead the voter to cast an informal vote”, whatever the material’s actual intention.
• The Age reports the Liberal candidate for Ashwood, Judah Asher, appears to be behind a how-to-vote card advocating a first preference for an independent and a last preference for Labor, while how-to-vote cards being circulated in Northcote direct Liberal supporters to put Labor ahead of the Greens, contrary to the party’s official recommendation.
• Police are investigating an incident in which a Labor activist’s leg was broken during an alleged assault by an opponent of the government’s COVID measures in Wodonga, and both parties to an incident at a Werribee pre-poll booth involving Treasurer Tim Pallas and Freedom Party candidate Mark Strother have lodged harrassment complaints.
• The Victorian Electoral Commission’s site records that just over 400,000 votes have been cast in the first three days of pre-polling, compared with a total of 1.36 million in 2018. The VEC is actively encouraging early voting due to concerns about COVID, with plans to allow those who had tested positive to vote by telephone having been scuttled when the state’s remaining isolation rules were lifted.