The Poll Bludger’s Victorian election guide is now open for business, sort of – profiles are available for all Labor-held seats, but only the two most marginal Coalition seats have been completed at this stage. The others will be mopped up over the coming days. Also:
• The Geelong Advertiser has surveyed 245 voters in South Barwon, but we aren’t told how the poll was conducted. Labor’s Michael Crutchfield, who holds the seat on a margin of 2.3 per cent, was found to be trailing Liberal candidate Andrew Katos 32 per cent to 48 per cent, with the Greens on 10 per cent.
• Newspoll and Nielsen have both published further results from the polls which appeared in The Australian and The Age on Saturday. Newspoll finds health rated a very important issue by 86 per cent of respondents, compared with 67 per cent during the 1992 campaign and 79 per cent in 2006, with education roughly steady on 73 per cent, law and order up from 57 per cent in 2002 to 68 per cent and public transport up from 54 per cent to 64 per cent. For some reason, water planning is down from 87 per cent in 2006 to 65 per cent, and environment from 68 per cent to 49 per cent. Labor has a 10 point lead as best party to handle education, but the Coalition leads by 10 points on public transport, eight points on law and order and six points on the economy – although the latter hasn’t translated to the leaders, with 50 per cent rating John Brumby better to handle the economy against 39 per cent for Ted Baillieu. The two leaders were fairly evenly matched on a range of personal attributes, but Baillieu performed better as trustworthy (nine points ahead) and arrogant (eight points behind), while Brumby had a 19 point lead as experienced. Full results can be viewed courtesy of GhostWhoVotes. Nielsen inquired about the growth rate of Melbourne, which 50 per cent deemed “too fast” and 43 per cent “about right”, with effectively zero opting for “too slow”. There was a striking uniformity in these responses among Labor, Coalition and Greens supporters. Respondents were fairly evenly divided as to whether Labor (27 per cent) or the Coalition (29 per cent) were better to handle growth, with 14 per cent opting for the Greens.
• The Peter Mickelburough of the Herald-Sun reports Labor polling shows voters resisting the Liberals “because they view Mr Baillieu as lacking leadership, having a weak and negative personality, being out of touch with real people and being ‘part of the boys’ club’”. I’m not sure what the paper means when it refers to “the latest betting, exclusively for the Herald Sun”, but it apparently shows “the Coalition could pick up six seats or more in Melbourne, while the Greens are hot favourites with bookies to win the inner seats of Melbourne and Brunswick” (this was before the Liberal preference arrangements were announced). That would leave Labor with a small majority of 47 seats out of 88.
• James Massola of The Australian reports the Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, claims to have seen polling for Melbourne, Richmond and Brunswick which puts his party’s primary vote in the forties, giving them a good shot of winning each even without Liberal preferences. However, we are not told on whose behalf the poll was conducted.
• Many a column inch has been spent on the Liberals’ bombshell preference announcement, further enhancing the campaign’s status as the most Greens-centric in mainland Australian history. Liberal sources quoted by Patricia Karvelas and Milanda Rout of The Australian describe the decision as “suicidal”, and say they are “convinced it will condemn them to another four years in opposition”. One source quoted in the article said the decision was largely motivated by “rising anger among grassroots members” about the existing practice of favouring the Greens over Labor, and the need for the party to retain said members “to do basic tasks such as man polling booths”. Writing in The Age, Paul Strangio of Monash University emphasised the Nationals’ bearing on the decision, in light of the recently formalised coalition arrangement between the two parties.
• As John Brumby prepares to officially launch Labor’s campaign in Bendigo today, Stuart Rintoul of The Australian writes of a “fierce bidding war” for the city’s electorates of Bendigo East and Bendigo West. Labor and the Liberals have respectively promised $528 million and $630 million for a new hospital, while Labor “has also pledged $91m for four new junior secondary schools (a $19m blowout on 2006 estimates), and has spent big on highway and rail infrastructure”.
• Labor has also targeted Geelong with a $165 million health plan that will fund a new $85 million hospital in Grovedale, which is of particular interest to the electorate of South Barwon. The remainder of the money will fund an expansion of Geelong Hospital.
• Antony Green weighs up the upper house preference tickets, and offers a projected outcome in which Labor and the Democratic Labor Party each lose a seat and Liberal and the Nationals each gain one, with the Greens retaining three seats and the balance of power.
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• With the closure of nominations and ballot paper draws having transpired at the end of last week, Antony Green also surveys the field and finds an increase in the number of lower house candidates from 459 in 2006 to 502, driven by the entry of the Democratic Labor Party (36 candidates after having only contested the upper house in 2006), the Country Alliance (29 candidates) and the Sex Party (17 candidates), and a near doubling in the number of independents from 33 to 75.
• In late candidate announcement news, the Liberals have endorsed Cindy McLeish as their candidate for the regional seat of Seymour, which Ben Hardman holds for Labor on a margin of 6.7 per cent. Their original candidate, Mike Laker, withdrew a week into the campaign for “personal reasons”, which few doubt revolve around a talk radio caller’s claim that Laker had told him that the government was planning to house 50 Somali families in the electorate and provide them with free cars. McLeish ran against Laker in the original preselection vote, but lost by 45 votes to 12. She was reportedly backed in the original ballot by local electorate chairman Mike Dalmau and upper house MP Donna Petrovich, and Laker has declared himself “frustrated” by the lack of support the two had been giving to his campaign.