If the opposition is going to take full advantage of its new-found competitiveness in Victoria, one thing it will need is a full slate of candidates for November’s state election. It’s still some distance off: a memo yesterday from Liberal Party state director Tony Nutt pointed out that applications for preselection remain open for 29 lower house seats.
Sure enough, there’s the list on the party’s website, plus 13 Victorian House of Reps seats for good measure.
To be fair, these are seats that could be described as “winnable” only under a fairly generous interpretation of that term. The most marginal of the state seats is Yan Yean, on 7.9%; the others all require more than 10%, most of them much more. (You can check them on Antony Green’s pendulum.)
But several are out in the mortgage belt, where big swings do happen. If Saturday’s result in Altona has any predictive value, then seats like Narre Warren South (10.9%) and Tarneit (12.5%) could move within target range – Narre Warren South actually swung 11.1% to Labor in 2002.
More to the point, if you ever wanted to be a Liberal MP, this is probably a good time to be putting your hand up. There are swings there to be had, and a candidate who makes up substantial ground this time has a good chance of being retained for 2014, when prospects may be even better: more seats look vulnerable when you think of the task being spread across two elections. A strong personal performance this time might even attract promotion to a more winnable slot.
The fact that the party is still looking for candidates suggests that not everyone has found this logic compelling. Or maybe it’s just that nobody much wants to be a state MP?