Today’s injection of former Lord Mayor Big Kev Chamberlin into the battle, warms up the heat beads on the charcoal griller that is the traditionally safe ALP seat of Melbourne.

He sees the Libs and Labor both getting about 25 per cent of the primary vote, with himself and Big Kev (Labor rebel Cr Kevin Chamberlin) coming in with about 20 per cent each and the final 10 per cent being split among the dozen or so also-rans.

In Dr Dick’s perfect world, the also-ran candidates are eliminated first and give the Greens the great bulk of their second preferences and push him up to near the 30 percent stratosphere. Big Kev?s card is next to fall on the wool-classing table and that pushes Dr Dick to around 45 per cent of the three-party preferred count.

From here it doesn’t really matter if it’s the Libs or Labor who come third. Dr Dick suspects it will be Labor and he will win the seat of Melbourne 70:30 from the Liberals’ Sue Bourke on a two-party preferred basis.

Political fantasies don’t come much better than this. It’s what the candidates call redline fever, where all the cards fall in place in your dreams and you see yourself crossing the finishing line on election night… You see yourself mounting the podium as the flashbulbs flash and the arc lights arc? Your mind starts preparing your acceptance speech and you prompt yourself to remember to thank your partner and kids and all the volunteers and political flunkies who helped you fulfill your political destiny… You then hear Sam Kekovich conclude The Fat commentary be saying “you know it’s right”.

Unfortunately, the only way this Green Dream could possibly come true would be for the Libs not to run and for Labor and Big Kev to run dead in the water. Fat chance!

That didn’t stop the extinct political boofhead, Jeff Kennett, accusing Chamberlin of being a Labor stooge in a 3AK interview to mark Big Ken?s announcement yesterday that he was quitting the ALP after 30 years to run as an Independent in Melbourne.

Big Kev assured Jeff that he was seriously severing his ties with the party he represented as Lord Mayor of this city, and which now no longer represents True Believers. Chamberlin patiently pointed out that the factions had foisted Brownyn Pike, an Adelaide girl, on the electorate three years ago, and she was now seriously on the nose with locals.

Sue Bourke tells Crikey she will definitely run and will pull in the Liberal Party’s traditional 30 per cent of the vote. She says the Libs have endorsed Michael Christo for the upper house province of Melbourne and that she spent the day annoying Bronny at photo opportunities for Federal community grants.

It could well be that Labor’s Bronwyn Pike might wake up in a cold sweat on Sunday morning, December 1, to see her primary vote has halved from near 60 per cent in 1999 to around 30 per cent under a combined onslaught from Dr Dick and Big Kev. But the nightmare can not possible get any worse than that and Bronny will still take the seat of Melbourne on Big Kev and Green preferences. No sweat!

Green preferences in the seat of Melbourne flow 80 per cent to Labor. Even undirected Green preferences flow 70 per cent to Labor. The Greens might promise Big Kev all of their second preferences but they are unable to deliver on their promises and he would be extremely lucky to get a 30 per cent flow-on.

This places Dr Dick, a passionate compassionate medico, in that very uncomfortable position between a rock and another hard place. He knows in his heart of hearts that at the end of the day, any vote for him is a vote for Bambi Bracks and his Bunny Bronny.

Bunny Bronny is the only major candidate standing in the District of Melbourne who is gung ho in opposing the two causes that Dr Dick feels most passionate about. Dr Dick desperately wants to save all the trees in Royal Park from Bambi’s bulldozers and he also gets quite distraught talking about the terrible social harm caused by Bambi’s addiction to the $1.4 billion revenue he gets each year from gambling. Bambi gives Bunny less than one per cent of these ill-gotten gains to hand out in problem gambling programs. Dr Dick thinks it is criminal.

Dr Dick really wants to make a difference in these two areas but he is enough of a political realist to know that his party will always support the Labor Party and in doing so, support the continuation of problem gambling and the destruction of Royal Park.

He does acknowledge that the Federal Liberals did a lot for National Parks in the past. But mostly he likes to set up the Liberals as a straw man whose potential to reek havoc on the environment will always see them knocked down and the Greens place them last on their how to vote cards. The costs of this symbiotic embrace with the Labor Party are the fleas (like Royal Park and problem gambling) that you inevitably get from laying down with dogs.

He knows that the Greens can’t do anything to stop Labor governments in Tasmania, NSW and Queensland from wrecking the environment and stuffing-up our river systems and our agriculture by clear-felling the remaining forests. He is hoping, against hope, they can do it in Victoria. He is cynical enough to know that the Labor promises will only last till the votes are counted but he likes to live in hope.

The Greens, he stresses, are no longer a single-issue party: “We are here to form governments and to gain the balance of power. We are here to change the world. We have had an influx of intellectual capital. We have coherent policies on reducing class sizes and the reintroduction of tram conductors and they would all be costed.”

Crikey’s ears pricked up at this point. “Who would do these independent costings of these election promises,” we asked? “We will do them internally,” Dr Dick replied disappointingly.

It is then that you realise that the Greens are still very much part of the loony left where the repetition of simplistic slogans take the place of reason and the politics of compromise and consensus building. The “light on the hill” to the Greens are the few sparks that fall to the ground when you rub two sticks together vigorously.

Dr Dick relishes the thought that “people working together for common goals” should propel the Green economic model. He warns that there are “still a few crazy people in the party” but he is quite happy to support Senator Bob Brown?s latest economic pupil poppers. These include the repeal of the GST and its replacement with a sales tax on luxury goods; putting the company tax rate up to at least 49 per cent; a $500 tax rebate to farms more than 50 km from regional centres; and a new fuel tax to replace vehicle registration and third-party insurance.

He laughs at the Financial Review editorial last week that said ‘the Greens’ Whitlam-era policies on tax, jobs, foreign investment, trade and State-ownership loom like weapons of mass destruction trained on our major industries, our national prosperity and our way of life’.

‘They would say that wouldn’t they,’ he said.

But with Dr Dick competing with Bunny and the Trotskyites for the hard left vote on opposing the US imperialist war on Iraq, opening the borders and freeing all the asylum-seekers from detention centres, there should be plenty of room for Big Kev to strive for the middle ground.

He told Crikey today that he was standing “to give people in Melbourne a choice” (presumably between the loony left and the Liberals). “Even if we make Melbourne marginal, it’s going to make them sit up and listen. They will never take us for granted again. I will direct my preferences to other candidates before Labor and Liberal,” he said.

Crikey hasn’t heard from Bunny since our meeting last week. Perhaps, it’s something we said?

Peter Fray

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