Victorian State Election 2010: Brunswick
Margin: Labor 3.6% versus Greens
Upper house region: Northern Metropolitan
Outgoing member: Carlo Carli (Labor)
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Traditionally an inner suburban Labor stronghold, Brunswick now looms as a three-way contest with the retirement of sitting Labor member Carlo Carli, the growing momentum of the Greens and the entry into the field of former federal independent MP Phil Cleary as an independent. The electorate covers an area immediately north of the city from Moonee Ponds Creek in the west to Merri Creek in the east, and from Brunswick in the south to Moreland in the north. Brunswick was created in its current form at the 2002 election with the abolition of Coburg, having previously existed from 1904 to 1955 and again from 1976 to 1992. The seat was in Labor hands throughout each period, the only interruption being member Peter Randles’ alignment with the Anti-Communist Labor camp following the 1955 split. In 2002 and 2006 it was among four seats where the Greens finished second, their vote progressing from 8.7 per cent in Coburg in 1999 to 24.3 per cent in Brunswick in 2002 and 29.7 per cent in 2006. Carli’s margins over the Greens after preferences were 9.3 per cent in 2002 and 4.6 per cent in 2006.
Carlo Carli was member first for Coburg and then for Brunswick after entering parliament at a 1994 by-election, which followed the retirement of senior Cain/Kirner government minister Tom Roper. In June 2009 Carli announced he would not seek another term, initiating a preselection contest won by Jane Garrett, Slater and Gordon lawyer and former adviser to Steve Bracks. Also in the field were Enver Erdogan, 23-year-old Moreland councillor and staffer to House of Representatives Speaker Harry Jenkins, and Alice Pryor, also a Moreland councillor. The latter two were respectively linked to the Kim Carr and Alan Griffin sub-factions of the locally dominant Socialist Left, but Carr along with John Brumby decisively threw their support behind Garrett. Also mentioned as a possible starter was former party state secretary Eric Locke, another figurehead in the Socialist Left, but he withdrew in favour of Garrett.
Shortly after Carli announced his retirement, Phil Cleary indicated that he intended to contest the seat in a bid to revive a political career that stalled when he lost Wills to Labor’s Kelvin Thomson, a decision he confirmed a week into the election campaign. Cleary won Wills in the 1992 by-election that followed Bob Hawke’s retirement, and was narrowly re-elected in 1993. He has more recently worked for the Electrical Trades Union, which disaffiliated from the ALP and for a period threw its support behind the Greens. The Greens have again nominated their candidate from 2006, Cyndi Dawes, currently a public sector consultant and formerly an official with an unspecified union.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.