News aplenty from the Victorian campaign trail as the week one reaches its conclusion.
On top of my review of minor party and independent prospects in Crikey yesterday (paywalled), I can offer the following polling and other horse race news:
• The Guardian reports on ReachTEL polls of the inner city seats for the Goongerah Environment Centre, and while the details are sketchy, such results as are provided are encouraging for Labor. Labor is credited with primary vote leads of 40.6% to 32.1% in Richmond, compared with 33.3% to 31.5% at the 2014 election; and 34.2% to 21.4% in Prahran, compared with 25.9% to 24.8%. There’s lots more on the organisation’s website, but unfortunately not relating to the voting intention numbers that are the chief source of interest to readers of this site. However, I’m hoping to chase up further information on this count.
• John Ferguson of The Australian reported on Wednesday that the Liberals were not likely to follow through on suggestions they would not field candidates in the inner-city quartet of Melbourne, Richmond, Northcote and Brunswick, where their absence would likely help the Greens. However, the Liberals are reportedly unlikely to direct preferences this time, contrary to their policy of putting the Greens last in 2010 and 2014. Labor is said to be confident of retaining Richmond, if not the other three.
• On Thursday, the Liberals promised to impose a two-storey building limit along a stretch of the bayside that encompasses the crucial marginal seats of Mordialloc and Carrum. Partly this was by way of drawing attention to the government’s contentious “sky rail” constructions to replace level crossings in Carrum.
• Unperturbed, Labor was promising more sky rail to remove level crossings, this time in the south-eastern Melbourne satellite suburb of Pakenham. This reflects Labor’s hopes for the seat of Bass, which Brian Paynter holds for the Liberals on a margin of 4.6%. As The Australian noted earlier in the week, the electorate has been “transformed by more than 17,000 new residents who have moved in since 2014 thanks to a slew of new housing estates”. Evidently the Liberals take the threat seriously, as they promised the next day to instead remove the level crossings by lowering the rail lines beneath the road.
• Daniel Andrews visited Morwell on Tuesday to announce financial support for SEA Electric to establish an electric car manufacturing industry in the Latrobe Valley. The seat is held by ex-Nationals independent Russell Northe, who is still yet to announce whether he will run again. Also in the field is Ricky Muir, the former Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party Senator, now with Shooters Fishers and Farmers. The seat has been electorally volatile and highly sensitive to local factors, with the Hazelwood coal mine fire of early 2014 contributing to an 11.5% swing to Labor that reduced Northe’s margin to 1.8%.
• Some extra details from the Newspoll earlier in the week that I neglected to relate at the time. Labor is favoured over Liberal to handle the economy (45-37), the energy supply (43-32) and population growth (33-30), with the Liberals holding only a bare 39-38 lead even on their normal strong point of law and order.
• Ladbrokes has opened individual betting markets on all eighty-seat seats, odds for which can now be found at the bottom right hand corner of my election guide pages (and if you’re interested, you can do this site a small good turn by signing up through one of the Ladbrokes ad featured on the sidebar). Labor are rated favourites in a bare majority of 43 out of the 88 seats, the Coalition are favoured in 38, and there is nothing in it in Bentleigh and Carrum. Labor are slight favourites to retain Frankston, Cranbourne, Eltham and Ivanhoe, while the Coalition has the edge to retain its seats of Morwell and South Barwon. The Greens are favoured to retain Melbourne and Northcote, are just ahead in a tight three-way race in Prahran, and are very slightly favoured to take Brunswick from Labor, although Labor has the edge in Richmond. Independent incumbent Suzanna Sheed is favoured to retain Shepparton. Ladbrokes is paying $1.33 on Labor and $3 on the Coalition to form government, which is more favourable to Labor than Sportsbet, which respectively has it at $1.45 and $2.70.
Notable independents in the field:
• The electorate of Pascoe Vale is plastered with billboards advertising independent candidate Oscar Yildiz, the former mayor of Moreland, who is running against Labor incumbent Lizzie Blandthorn after being knocked back for Labor preselection in Northcote. Yildiz tells The Age he expects his campaign will end up costing him $150,000.
• Darryn Lyons, former Fleet Street paparazzo and Geelong mayor, will run against Labor’s Christine Couzens in Geelong. Lyons was mayor when the council was sacked in April 2016 after a commission of inquiry reported widespread internal dysfunction, examples of which included a “loud and abusive outburst” by Lyons towards a council officer. Lyons also threatened defamation action against the council and its chief executive if bullying allegations against him were made public, an action the commission deemed “regrettable in every way”.
• Former Wangaratta councillor Tammy Atkins may be a show in Ovens Valley, where the Nationals are encumbered by the fact that their member, Tim McCurdy, is facing charges of allegedly falsifying documents relating to the sale of two dairy farms.