Victorian council elections: November 29

UPDATE (29/11/08): For inside dope on progressive counting, Ben Raue of The Tally Room will feed through results provided by his contacts in the Greens. Andrew Landeryou at VexNews might be good for news from the other side of the fence. The Poll Bludger Investigations Unit is also at work in comments.

Local government is the proverbial bridge too far as far as my own commentary is concerned, but here by popular demand is a thread for reader discussion of the imminent Victorian council elections. I gather that most of these are held by post with a deadline of Friday, November 28 for receipt of ballots, but a few holdouts (Banyule, Brimbank, Greater Dandenong, Glen Eira, Hobsons Bay, Knox, Moreland, Port Phillip and my old home of Yarra) do it the old-fashioned way the following day (see the Victorian Electoral Commission for more detail).

Not sure how much success I’ll have with this, but it’s a worth a try. Readers who know or care about a particular local government contest are invited to write a brief, non-partisan overview in comments. If it meets my specifications I will give it a run up here, while keeping an ongoing invitation to other commenters to suggest additions or amendments. To get the ball rolling, I’ll start with everything I can tell you about the race for the lord mayoralty.

Melbourne City Council: After serving two four-year terms as lord mayor, John So is not seeking a third. The candidates to watch appear to be former state Liberal leader Robert Doyle; Adam Bandt, the Greens candidate who came within swinging distance of Lindsay Tanner in the seat of Melbourne at last year’s federal election; current councillor Catherine Ng; Will Fowles, who I’m told is from the Labor Left; Peter McMullin, former Geelong mayor and Labor election candidate linked to the party’s Right faction (although his running mate is the none too Labor-friendly Tim Wilson, director of the Institute of Public Affairs’ free trade unit); and Gary Morgan of Roy Morgan Research fame. The latter has helpfully furnished us with his very own opinion poll, which shows Doyle well ahead of Bandt on first preferences with Ng in third place. Second preferences are apparently set to produce a close race for second between Bandt, Ng and Morgan, with none posing a threat to Doyle. Bandt appears not to have done well out of preference recommendations, including those of candidates linked to Labor.

Darebin City Council: Three wards electing three councillors. Hat tip to Martin B and Caroline Church for the following.
Rucker ward: There are two Labor candidates, two Greens (Trent McCarthy and Helen Brown) and five others, only one of whom has much of an independent local profile – Darren Lewin-Hill. The ward is the stronghold of the Labor Unity sub-faction associated with state MPs Theo Theophanous and Nazih Elasmar, and is not being contested by the rival sub-faction of Michael Leighton and Robin Scott, the former and current members for Preston. At corresponding booths in the 2007 federal election, Labor polled 49 per cent of the primary vote, the Greens 31 per cent and Liberal 16 per cent. If those numbers are reflective of this vote, the result should be straightforward: one Labor and one Greens candidate will be comfortably elected, with the third seat going to the other Labor candidate or, less likely, Lewin-Hill if he can gather enough Labor preferences and votes from Liberals.
Cazaly ward: There are 17 candidates, nine of whom identify as Labor members (4 Unity, 4 Socialist Left, one unaligned), plus one Greens, one “conservative independent” (allegedly a former Labor member with a decidedly non-conservative activist history) and six other independents. The Labor candidates include incumbents Vince Fontana, a former mayor and member of the Leighton-Scott faction, and Alison Donohue, who is also receiving Leighton-Scott preferences but is apparently not directly linked. Haphazard preference arrangements suggests their proliferation might be down not to dummy candidates, as one might suspect, but to poor party organisation. Donohue and two other candidates, Ben Morgan and Joe Cutri, seem to have fared the best of the nine on preferences. The corresponding federal booth results were Labor 60 per cent, Liberal 20 per cent and Greens 16 per cent, suggesting Greens candidate Mohammed El-leissy will have to rely on Labor fragmentation to get a look-in.
La Trobe ward: Even more candidates than Cazaly ward, with better organisation lending greater credence to suspicions of dummy candidates. No fewer than 16 candidates recommend some permutation of preferences for Gaetano Greco and Tim Laurence of the Labor Socialist Left, while five candidates recommend preferences for the Unity ticket of Stanley Chiang (another associated of Leighton and Scott) and Tania Sharkas. Also on the receiving end of most Socialist Left preference arranagements is Melissa Salata of the Theophanous-Elasmar sub-faction of Labor Unity, who is hostile to the Leighton-Scott sub-faction. That leaves only the Greens candidate, Sara Scally, and another who recommends a preference to her. The campaign between the Socialist Left and Unity has been bitter: Laurence took internal party action against Chiang (which was dismissed), and there were counter-claims that Laurence broke party rules with his material. The federal election booth numbers here were Labor 62 per cent, Liberal 23 per cent and Greens 8 per cent, suggesting the issue is likely to be how the three seats divide between Socialist Left and Unity.

Banyule City Council: Consists of seven wards in Melbourne’s inner north-east. Olympia ward: Incumbent Anthony Carbines is chief-of-staff to Education Minister Bronwyn Pike (and the son of upper house MP Elaine Carbines), and thus unquestionably aligned to Labor. Beale ward: Incumbent Wayne Phillips was the Liberal member for Eltham from 1992 to 2002, when he became one of dozens of victims of the first Brackslide. Ibbot ward: Incumbent Tom Melican is said to be an independent. Hawdon ward: Vacant ward being contested by two Labor members, Sandra MacNeil and Martin Appleby, along with an independent and a Green. Grimshaw ward: Labor incumbent Dean Sherriff is being contested by two fellow party members, Frank Beard and Jess Paul. Sherriff’s career on council was saved in April 2007 when a conviction for criminal damage was overturned on appeal, but he retains a conviction for assault relating to the same incident. Griffin ward: Incumbent Jenny Mulholland challenged by Steve Walpole, a Labor member, and Dora Bergman, a one-time running mate of Mulholland. Bakewell ward: A rematch between Liberal incumbent Peter McKenna and Labor member Michael Paul, following a very close result in 2005. Andrew Landeryou’s VexNews reports that Greens candidate Ian Kirk has raised eyebrows by giving McKenna his second preference. A Greens supporter in comments claims this was in response to Paul’s attitude in preference negotiations, but the Labor camp insists discussions were entirely cordial until Kirk advised he would preference McKenna on the grounds that he was a “serious candidate”.

Glen Eira City Council: Glen Eira has gone against the prevailing trend by changing from postal to attendance voting. This has apparently discouraged dummy candidates, resulting in 26 nominations compared with 61 in 2005. The council consists of three wards which each elect three councillors, with seven sitting councillors seeking re-election. The assessments that follow come direct from Winston in comments. Camden ward: Michael Lipshutz and Helen Whiteside are standing for re-election and appear to be working together with the backing of the Liberal Party – although neither are members. Other candidates include local businessman Frank Penhalluriack (who actually lives in Kew) and a residents group ticket headed by Peter Blight. Lipshutz is a prominent member of the Jewish community and with over one third of the ward Jewish should have no problems getting re-elected. Penhalluriack has number one position on the voting card which will help him. Lipshutz, Whiteside and Penhalluriack are spending big and will probably be elected. Rosstown ward: Nine candidates. Three sitting councillors standing: Margaret Esakoff, Steven Tang and Rob Spaulding. This is the only ward with a Greens candidate – Neil Pilling – who could be the wild card as he is getting some flow of preferences. Tucker ward: Ten candidates, two sitting councillors standing: Nick Staikos (Labor) and Henry Buch (Liberal). Buch may struggle as he only recently joined council on a countback after the resignation of former Mayor David Feldman. Fellow Liberal and former councillor Jamie Hyams has scored number one position and should be elected. The other candidate with a chance is Jim Magee, who lead the fight to save the local swimming pool and polled well in the 2005 election.

Kingston City Council: The council has been reformed from seven single-member wards to three three-member wards. Hat-tip to Deano in comments for the following. North ward: Incumbent councillors Greg Alabaster and Arthur Athanasopolous are likely to be returned, but the third is up for grabs. Contestants are Paul Peulich, son of Liberal MP Inga Peulich, and Liz Larking, a past councillor and former ALP member. Mara Hayler is running for the Greens. Central ward: No fewer than 21 candidates have nominated, included 73-year-old mayor Bill Nixon and councillor Rosemary West. Other candidates include past councillor Ron Brownless, said to have done well out of preference recommendations, and John Natoli, an independent running a “well-organised campaign”. Three candidates have Labor links, including former state upper house MP Noel Pullen. Geoff Heard is said to be a “dark horse” and a “greenie”, although the actual Greens candidate is Dean Andrew. South Ward: John Ronke, incumbent for the Braeside Park ward, is said to be certain to win one of the three seats. Twelve candidates are competing for the other two. They include Donna Bauer, said to have run a “big spending campaign”; Trever Shewan, a former councillor; Carlos Lopez, the candidate of the Greens; Jeremy Nash, a member of the ALP; and Peter Wertheimer, an RSL captain.

Port Phillip City Council: JH writes in comments: “Another interesting council will be Port Phillip with the Unchain crew looking a reasonable chance in Catani Ward (Serge Thomann has been getting lots of press) and MAV boss Dick Gross could have a fight on his hands to be re-elected in Junction Ward. Having said that, I’ve not seen HTVs for anyone, so I don’t know who’s giving what. The Greens are running in every ward bar Albert Park, which is uncontested.”.

Bendigo Shire Council: The Greens have an incumbent mayor here in David Jones, seeking re-election in Kangaroo Flat ward. Another Greens incumbent is former mayor Julie Rivendell of Eppalock ward. The council consists of nine single-member wards: I gather councillors have an annual vote to determine who hte mayor will be for the coming year. The Greens between them have held the position for three of the past four years. North West Plains ward councillor Kevin Gibbins was a Liberal candidate at the 2004 federal and 2006 state elections.

Mount Alexander Shire Council: Commenter Follow the Preferences has high hopes for the Greens here. The council consists of the three-member Castlemaine ward in the centre, which is surrounded by the single-member rural wards of Tarrengower, Calder, Coliban and Loddon. The Greens have one incumbent in Philip Schier of Castlemaine ward, with Jan Garood and Doug Ralph respectively contesting Coliban and Calder.