It’s nearly half time in the Melbourne city council election. Whatever
the result, a farce of a campaign has ensured the winner will lead a
tarnished Town Hall.
Amidst the heaving mass of candidates, stooges and dummies, the growing
certainty is the winner of the City’s chaotic poll will be the State
Government. They will be dealing with either a puppy-dog mayor beholden
to Spring St, or a council discredited by a campaign as messy as
Melbourne’s maddening weather.

A few bizarre stars have emerged:

Serial candidate James Long, who’s stacked the ballot with a troop of
stooges in a $200,000+ campaign, is a leading troublemaker. He’s in
strife, not least because it’s emerged that:

(a) his stooges are starting to unravel – already one, fashion designer
Milo Vulin, has pulled out, after it appeared he falsely enrolled by
claiming to live in a house owned by Long. Doubts about the
eligibility of others have also been raised – as The Age reports here.

(b) The Herald Sun revealed Long was taken to court a few years back
for having an affair with a 15 year old girl when he was 39;. Today,

she has come out and thrown a bucket on him.

And Long’s stooges have started edging away from their paymaster who,
until the revelations began, preferred to turn up in the newspapers on
horseback or in a Ferrari accompanied by models.

Council maverick Kevin Chamberlin has eagerly thrown around the bile,
publicly targeting incumbent Lord Mayor John So as a cosy do-nothing
mate of the State.

Since jumping ship from the doomed Peter Sheppard campaign – as Crikey reported here, Chamberlin has conducted a canny preference swap with the Greens – which could
propel either him or the Greens’ mild-mannered Richard Di Natale into
the top job.

John So will have to outspend the $200,000 he paid to buy his election
last time, after negotiating a dead hand of preference deals

which looks to have cruelled his bid for re-election.

Pollster Gary Morgan yesterday cheekily challenged
communication-challenged So to a debate. Which makes for interesting
logistics, because Morgan is in New York on business – obviously more
important for him at the moment than running for Melbourne’s top civic

But this hasn’t stopped Morgan swinging his boiler room polling crews
into action, conducting what looks suspiciously like push-polling.

Residents have reported being called up by Morgan operatives asking
what at first seem neutral questions on the election – before being

treated to a series of positive pro-Morgan messages.

Meanwhile, the Labor campaign has been hijacked by former councilor
Kimberley Kitching, who ditched the council and joined forces with her
old friend and serial candidate Anthony Van Der Craats.

Comely Kimberley, and husband Andrew Landeryou appear to be bankrolling no fewer than three teams, most prominently the Active

Local Progressive (ALP – geddit) outfit led by Anthony Van Der Craats,
a local election obsessive who’s been helping her smoke out

council expense rorts.

Van Der Craats is a controversial fellow, who previously had a restraining order taken out against him by mild-mannered former

councillor Rosemary Daniel.

Kitching and Landeryou have stepped back from their fight with Solly
Lew over their gaming company, IQ Corporation, to handle the

campaign, which can be seen as a proxy for Kimberley’s plan to get a seat in State Parliament – read more here.

The other two Kutching/Landeryou front teams appear to be [email protected] Up 4
Melbourne, and Residents First:- Stop the Rates Rip Off. The deputy
Lord Mayoral candidate for this team is former Robert Ray/Labor Unity
operative and now AWU official David Cragg, who is flowing his
preferences to a Liberal candidate.

The Labor Unity influence is an interesting one. Kitching candidate Ray
Collins has also preferenced the Liberal, industrial relations

consultant Warren Stooke, ahead of fellow Labor cardres, causing no end of grumbling – more Age coverage here.

The Stooke machine has been pumping out daily media releases, and the
cross-party preference deals have put him in with a good shot at the
title. And why not? In a fruity campaign chock full of nutty
ingredients, a win by a Liberal candidate supported by Labor Unity

unions would ice the cake.