Victoria's record as an electorally progressive state is recently acquired, and has only been clearly reflected in Senate results since the Greens' first win in 2010. When the Australian Democrats won seats at three of the five half-Senate elections between 1990 and 2001, they did so each time at the expense of a third seat for Labor. The state provided the first taste of the distortions group voting tickets would create when Steve Fielding won a seat for Family First in 2004, the result not of micro-party harvesting, but of deals that caused Labor and the Australian Democrats to place them ahead of the Greens, in the forlorn hope that they would be their beneficiary. With the Greens thus deprived, four of the six seats up for election went to the right, contributing to the uniquely favourable Senate configuration enjoyed by the Howard government in its final term.
The Greens again came short in 2007 as the surge to Labor boosted them to near three quotas, despite polling 10.1% of the vote, their highest ever share in a losing result. This was followed by a downward spiral in Labor's Senate vote while Greens support remained in double figures, ensuring them seats at each of the next three elections, including two at the 2016 double dissolution election. The state has also remained fertile for micro-parties, with soft Coalition support causing their third candidates to be overtaken by preference snowballs in 2010 and 2013, respectively to the advantage of the Democratic Labor Party and the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, the latter win achieved by Ricky Muir off 0.5% of the vote.
The result at the 2016 double dissolution election was five for the Coalition, including four Liberals and one National; four for Labor; two for the Greens; and one for media identity Derryn Hinch, polling 6.0% at the head of Derryn Hinch's Justice Party. Hinch would have been allocated a six-year term if the Senate had implemented the result of the recount conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission under Section 282 of the Electoral Act to provide a basis for allocating long term and short term seats in a manner consistent with the principles of proportional representation, but the major parties served their own purposes by determining the allocation according to order of election. This resulted in three Coalition Senators getting six-year terms (including the Nationals Senator, Bridget McKenzie), Labor getting two and the Greens one, with the three-year terms going two apiece to Liberal and Labor and one each to the Greens and Derryn Hinch. One of Labor's long-term Senators, Stephen Conroy, has since resigned, to be replaced by Kimberley Kitching.
The Coalition agreement grants the Nationals the second seat on the Victorian Senate ticket at every second election, and with Bridget McKenzie ensconsed in a six-year term, this post-double dissolution election is being treated as an off cycle for the Nationals, with all three winnable positions going to Liberals. The two Liberals who were allocated three-year terms after the double dissolution, James Paterson and Jane Hume, are both seeking re-election at the top of the Liberal ticket. However, it took intervention from the newly installed Scott Morrison last September to ensure their preselection, which seemed particularly imperilled in Hume's case. This reflected the rising influence of conservative numbers man Marcus Bastiaan, who hoped Hume might be deposed in favour of Karina Okotel, a Legal Aid lawyer one of the state party's vice-presidents, and the fifth candidate on the ticekt in 2016.
The ticket will now be headed by James Paterson, who came to the Senate in March 2016 by filling the casual vacancy of Michael Ronaldson, who was approaching the end of his second six-year term. Paterson was 28 at the time, and had worked as a staffer to Senator Mitch Fifield and deputy director at the Institute of Public Affairs. His preselection also entitled him to Ronaldson's top position on the ticket for a half-Senate election, but he managed only the fourth position at the double dissolution, which required the accommodation of two ministers and the designated candidate of the Nationals. Paterson supported Peter Dutton against both Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison during the party's leadership crisis in August 2018.
The second Liberal is Jane Hume, a former banker and policy adviser at Australian Super who came to the Senate as the last of the five Coalition candidates elected in 2016. Hume won a preselection in 2015 for the third position on the ticket at an anticipated half-Senate election, then sought to fill the vacancy created by Michael Ronaldson's retirement, but was defeated by Paterson. The threat to her preselection last year may have reflected her status as a regular target of conservative commentator Andrew Bolt over her liberal positions on social issues. Hume sided with Malcolm Turnbull when Peter Dutton challenged him for the leadership in August 2018, but then became one of the decisive final signatories to the petition calling for a second spill, as a view took hold that Turnbull's leadership was terminal in any case. However, media reports accounting for the votes in the second leadership vote between Dutton and Scott Morrison placed her on a short list of those whose loyalties were unknown.
The third position, which is looking an increasingly unlikely prospect for the Coalition in Victoria, is filled by David Van, managing director of the De Wintern Group, a public relations agency.
The two Labor Senators allocated three-year terms after the 2016 election were Jacinta Collins, who resigned in January to become executive director of the National Catholic Education Commission, and Gavin Marshall, who has been demoted to the difficult third position. The ticket is now headed by Raff Ciccone, who filled Collins' vacancy in the Senate in January. Ciccone is a former adviser to Collins who had lately been assistant secretary of the Victorian branch of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association, a powerful Right faction union noted for its social conservatism. The union was likewise the power base that sustained Collins through a Senate career that went back to 1995, with an interruption for a term after she failed to win re-election from third position in 2004.
The second position goes to Jess Walsh, state secretary of the Left faction United Voice union. Walsh has been elevated up the Left's pecking order ahead of incumbent Gavin Marshall, despite the party's national executive having taken over the Victorian preselection process ostensibly to protect sitting members.
With the elevation of Walsh, the third position goes to Gavin Marshall, a long-standing figure of influence in the Socialist Left who is particularly noted as an ally of his Victorian Senate colleague Kim Carr. Marshall was first elected from second position in 2001 and 2007, then promoted to first position in 2013, despite having spent his parliamentary career on the back bench. He was demoted to fourth position at the 2016 double dissolution election, behind both Jacinta Collins, who had second position in 2013, and the two Senators elected in the previous cycle. His defeat in last year's factional vote for the Senate preselection was widely interpreted as a sign of Carr's diminishing influence, although suggestions Carr himself had become less than wholehearted in his support for Marshall were encouraged when he failed to attend the meeting at which the vote was held.
The lead Victorian candidate of the Greens is Janet Rice, who won the party's second Victorian seat in 2016. Rice was first elected in 2013 as only the second Greens Senator from Victoria, following on from Richard Di Natale, who was elected on the second attempt in 2010 after falling short in 2007. She had previously been mayor of Maribyrnong, a staffer to state upper house MP Colleen Hartland, and a transport planner for the City of Hume.
The other incumbent seeking re-election after being allocated a three-year seat is Derryn Hinch, elected under the banner of the Derryn Hinch's Justice Party in 2016. Hinch's journalism career began in newspapers in the 1960s and moved to television in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he hosted his own national current affairs program on Seven and Ten. His fame was solidified by three contempt of court convictions and two prison sentences relating to his reporting, specifically breaches of suppression orders and revealing the prior conviction of a priest facing trial for child sex offences. Derryn Hinch's Justice Party pulled off a remarkable feat in winning three upper house seats at the state election in November, through a combination of preference harvesting and genuinely solid electoral support in some regions of the state.