A lot of Victorians are going to get a nasty surprise on November 30.

You read it here first. Robert Dean is only the first of possibly thousands
of Victorians to get a nasty surprise over their electoral enrolment.
Despite the Government’s advertising campaign, the real impact of changes to
the Victorian Electoral Act are yet to sink in.

Until recently, an elector could stand and/or vote if he or she was on the
roll or “eligible to be on the roll”. This remains true for federal or
local government elections, and covers people who could normally vote but do
not meet the residency criteria.

Now, under the Bracks Government changes to the Electoral Act, thousands of
Victorians who are not on the role but would have been able to vote under
the “provisional vote” arrangements of the old act will be disenfranchised.

To put it simply, if you’ve moved house lately, you’re stuffed.

To be eligible to enrol to vote in Victoria, a prospective elector has to
have been occupying their current place of residence for one month. People
who have moved lately are going to miss out. They will be unable to enrol
at their new address as they do not meet the residency requirement and,
going by the Robert Dean example, they will not be able to vote at their old
address as the Electoral Commission has been conducting a vigorous “roll
cleansing” exercise.

The Electoral Act now limits provisional votes to electors who are “at the
close of the roll for the election enrolled for the address claimed or
omitted from the roll in error”. It is silent on what happens to people who
otherwise would be eligible to vote but for the fact they are not on the
roll.

The potential for chaos is enormous.

By the way, we should point out that Federal Labor bleated like mad when the
Teenage Toecutter Christopher Pyne carried out his enquiry into election rorting that closing
the Federal rolls on the dissolution of Parliament would result in thousands
of people being disenfranchised.

Now, their Victorian bruvvers have managed to do exactly that – via the back
door.

Harry Jago, eat your heart out!

Who? Trivia buffs know.

Harry Jago was the Liberal member for the New South Wales state seat of
Gordon who, back in the 1973 election, forgot to lodge his nomination form –
prompting Mungo McCallum to observe that “Gordon” was an anagram of
“drongo”.

(The hard core trivia buffs will also tell you that the seat went to a Kevin
Harrold, who became the only DLP member ever to win a lower house berth on
Macquarie Street, and ask for an extra point.)

Poor old Robert Dean seems destined to end up similarly as a quiz night
curio. But what a disaster for the Victorian Libs.

If Bracks has been vulnerable anywhere, it’s been on the financial
management front. It is catastrophic for the Liberal Party to lose its
shadow treasurer – the man supposed to have his eye on the details – in this
way.

The blackest of black moods descended on Exhibition Street on Thursday morning. The campaign team was ready to pack up and go home.

So, now we have another event to add to the list of Great Campaign Stuff-Ups
de Nos Jours:

* 1987: John Howard makes a $500 million error and double counts on his tax
policy

* 1990: Peter Shack fronts the meeja to announce that the Liberal Party’s
health policy is that there is no health policy

* 1996: Ralph Willis falls for a forged letter from the Jeffmeister cooked
up by some zealous Liberal Student types, decrying “secret” Lib spending
plans.

Still, there’s a small silver lining in all of this. If – or, more, when –
the Libs go down on November 30, they’ll have a handy scapegoat. That will
help minimise post election unpleasantness.

Robert Doyle’s war on terror

Robert Doyle, thank God, has stopped talking about “the things that matter”
– only to see that replaced with an even more egregious slogan.

“The Liberals will do the things that need to be done to protect Victoria.”
Yep. “Protect”. Yet another subliminal scare campaign. We didn’t know
that Glenferrie Road was the new front line of the war on terror.

The really big news from the Victorian campaign

It’s hard to get celebrity candidates to run in hard luck seats – but the
Victorian Liberal Party seems to have found a celebrity by association to
contest Brunswick at the state election.

Remember Rebecca Gauci? No? Here’s a hint. What was the name of the
friend of kit-off Katrina, of the topless Tory – the Young Liberal and nude
model from Big Brother – who appeared in the first episode? Yep. You
guessed it. Rebecca Gauci.

Those lucky, lucky people.

Plush campaign headquarters

In an election campaign, every dollar counts – as Victorian Liberal Vice
President Peter Clarke is learning.

Clarke is fighting an intense guerilla campaign from the party’s
rank-and-file after presiding over a blow-out in renovating Liberal Party
Headquarters at 104 Exhibition Street.

Branches are furious that Clarke was responsible for a $3,000,000.00
renovation to party headquarters, completed just months before the most
underfunded campaign in the history of the Victorian Division. Little old
ladies forced to attend morning tea after morning tea to raise funds for
their local candidates are reportedly aghast at the luxury of what has now
been nicknamed the “Winter Palace”.

Clarke has just one chance to save his political career. He has taken
responsibility for negotiations with the Greens. If he succeeds in getting
preferences in the key marginals needed to win government, the membership
might just forgive him. If he fails, there is little doubt that his chances
of ascension to the State Presidency next year are completely over.

Meanwhile, the other contender, Michael Ronaldson seems to be quietly
working away at assisting a number of rural and regional campaigns. Nothing
like putting in the yards when you’re looking for numbers.

Libs on their uppers in Narre Warren

The Victorian Liberals have been alarmed by soft results from internal
polling in the new, notionally safe upper house seat of Narre Warren.
Resources are being deployed to protect candidate Maree Luckins.

Those frogs become an election issue

Crikey readers have long thrilled to the saga of 20 year old Darebin Shire
Councillor Melissa Salata and her concern for the local frogs – and now
they’ve become an issue in the Victorian election campaign.

November 20 – a mere 10 days before the poll – will see a frog census in
Darebin Creek, the boundary for part of Mary Delahunty’s Northcote and
Michael Leighton’s Preston electorates.

Many of the good burghers of Darebin Shire have volunteered to take part in
the census – but our Mary won’t respond to requests that she join in.

Then again, she hasn’t been very good with dealing with branch stacking in
her electorate. Perhaps numbers aren’t her strong point.

That desperate?

If you go to www.google.com and type in “Victoria election” as the search
subject, up pops a Victorian Liberal Party ad at the top of the results.

The big question is will it drag in any extra votes?

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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