At times during the Victorian election campaign — which mercifully draws to a close on Saturday — it has seemed like the trio of high-profile parties have been aggressively trying to alienate voters. A huge part of this is due to the rich tapestry of candidates who have been forced to resign or withdraw.
Let’s take a look.
The story broke just this morning that Greens candidate for Sandringham, Dominic Phillips, had been withdrawn pending an investigation after being accused of rape. And like many on this list, this wasn’t even the first controversy to become public about him. Oddly, the same party who said former candidate Joanna Nilson did “the right thing by resigning” over old Facebook antics (see below), stood by Phillips when it was revealed he’d followed a series of Facebook pages with names like “Twinkle twinkle little slut, name one guy you haven’t fucked“.
Back in 2015, recently-withdrawn upper house candidate Nilson posted on private Facebook group “Bad Gals Club” that she stank of the weed she kept in her handbag, that a service which home-delivered nitrous oxide canisters sounded “like a dream“, and that she was “the baddest shoplifter there is”. Further, heaven forefend, she was terribly uncharitable about Michaelia Cash.
After being contacted about the story, Nilson resigned.
Yan Yean is a marginal Labor seat (held by 3.7%), so you know the Liberal Party wanted the best possible candidate to run for it. Presumably that person wasn’t available, so they put up Meralyn Klein. She subsequently stepped down following the surfacing of anti-Muslim comments featured in a video by anti-Islam group Australian Liberty Alliance.
Prior to that, however, there had already been all manner of oddness: in June, she penned two posts on Facebook calling on people to “wake up” to the “push by the homosexual community to force their idealoligy [sic] onto our children through the school system”.
And her response to backlash was, essentially: you’re not offended, I’M offended:
I’ve been upset and offended that people have called me a Christian zealot because I happen to believe and have faith in God. Many people might think it’s OK to say to your little boy that you’re allowed to have a different gender. You don’t have to stick to the one gender. As a Christian, I find that offensive.
Liberal upper house candidate Neelam Rai had to quit after it was revealed the charity group she was a director for, No Hunger — which says it is “working to eradicate poverty” and has raised over $10,000 — is not actually a registered charity or fundraiser, nor does it have deductible gift recipient status.
Former Labor candidate for Bayswater Peter Lockwood quit after allegations that, back in 2015 when he was the mayor of Knox, he punched a councillor after a meeting. In a separate incident, he allegedly called another a cunt. Lockwood denied this, saying his accusers had “an axe to grind”.
When Justin Mammarella withdrew as Labor’s candidate for the safe seat of Melton, Labor said it was due to “family reasons”, telling the Herald Sun that his father was ill. It certainly can’t have helped that his dad was also caught up in an alleged printing rort during his time as former office manager for Western Metro MP Khalil Eideh.
Angus McAlpine (honourable mention)
During a less bizarre campaign, McAlpine would have really stood out. But, as it stands, his candidacy is unaffected. The Footscray candidate got in hot water over rap lyrics he performed in his pre-politics music career. These featured such bon mots as “date rape drugs in her drink then have my way”. The Greens have stood by him — doing very little to help their crumbling reputation regarding the treatment of women.
Michael Lamb (honourable mention)
Like McAlpine, Michael Lamb has kept his candidacy, but has anyone done a “Lamb to the slaughter” headline? In some of the purest performance art we’ve seen for years, behold the grilling — oh my God, “Grilled Lamb” — of Frankston Liberal candidate Michael Lamb, about his party’s energy policy as opposed to the Labor government. It comes at the hands of Sky News political editor David Speers, the celebrity we’re most likely to accidentally call “dad”:
Lamb: ‘We’ll tender to the sector, whatever the markets decides, we’ll tender out…’
Speers: ‘They can do that already, can’t they? The private sector can build a power station if they want?’
L: ‘Well, they haven’t been allowed to under this government.’
S: ‘Haven’t been allowed to…’
L: ‘Build a power station.’
S: ‘I’m still a little unsure…’
L: ‘We are going round in circles … all my understanding is we will tender to get private industry to build a power station.’
S: ‘With a bit of help from the state, presumably, a bit of taxpayers’ money?’
S: ‘Earlier you said it wouldn’t be.’
Again, like Yan Yean, Frankston is an incredibly marginal, and therefore important, seat.