Victorian State Election 2010: Melbourne
Margin: Labor 2.0% versus Greens
Upper house region: Northern Metropolitan
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: The electorate of Melbourne includes the CBD and areas to the west (the Docklands) and north (Carlton west to Flemington). It has been in Labor hands since 1908, barring a brief period in 1955 when member Tom Hayes defected to the Anti-Communist Labor Party as part of the Labor split. Hayes was defeated by the official Labor candidate at the election held later that year, and Labor was thereafter untroubled until the Greens first emerged as a threat at the 2002 election. Their candidate Richard Di Natale polled 23.3 per cent of the primary vote on that occasion to relegate the Liberals to third place, finishing 3.5 per cent short of Labor member Bronwyn Pike after preferences. Di Natale increased the Greens vote to 27.4 per cent on his second attempt in 2006, but made no headway on two-party preferred. At the 2010 federal election he became the Victorian Greens’ first ever successful Senate candidate.
Bronwyn Pike came to the seat at the 1999 election, having earlier been a Uniting Church official, head of the Victorian Council of Social Service and director of Greenpeace Australia. She had earlier sought preselection for the Mitcham by-election in 1997, but was defeated by Tony Robinson. Pike was backed by the hard left Pledge faction in a preselection challenge against the Socialist Left member for Melbourne, Neil Cole, which also received support from the Right. However, she is now associated with the Socialist Left herself. Pike was immediately elevated to the position of Housing and Aged Care Minister upon her election, to which she added the community services portfolio in February 2002. A further promotion after the 2002 election saw her entrusted with the all-important health portfolio; when John Brumby became Premier in August 2007 she was shifted sideways to education. Brumby had considered Pike for the deputy leadership, the factions having left the decision to him, but instead favoured the “more experienced” Rob Hulls.
The Greens candidate is Brian Walters, a barrister and former president of Liberty Victoria, who won preselection ahead of Moonee Valley councillor Rose Iser.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.