Victorian State Election 2010: Northcote
Margin: Labor 8.5% versus Greens
Upper house region: Northern Metropolitan
Click here for Victorian Electoral Commission map
Electorate analysis: Northcote covers Melbourne’s inner north-east from the Yarra River north to Thornbury. It has been in Labor hands since its creation in 1927, past members including John Cain Senior, who held the seat from its creation until his retirement in 1957; Frank Wilkes, who was Opposition Leader from 1977 until he was deposed by John Cain Junior in 1981; and Tony Sheahan, who served as Treasurer in the final year of the Kirner government and held the seat from 1982 until his mid-term retirement in 1998. The subsequent Labor preselection was won by Mary Delahunty, a celebrity candidate by virtue of her role as presenter of the Victorian edition of ABC TV’s 7.30 Report. This was achieved with the support of the Right faction, which had steadily become ascendant in local branches as powerbrokers Theo Thephanous, Nazih Elasmar and Telmo Languiller defected from the Socialist Left, although Delahunty herself remained unaligned after entering parliament. After a variable career as a minister, Delahunty bowed out at the 2006 election citing ill health, although it had previously been reported she was under pressure to make way for ministers endangered by the reduction in upper house numbers.
The initial expectation was that the vacancy would be contested by two Labor Unity rivals: Fiona Richardson, faction convenor and wife of party state secretary Stephen Newnham, and Kathy Jackson, state secretary of the Health Services Union. However, Steve Bracks intervened to enforce a deal whereby Richardson exchanged her existing position on top of the Western Metropolitan upper house ticket for the Northcote preselection, Justin Madden abandoned his claim to Bundoora to replace Richardson, and Colin Brooks was finally given the Bundoora nomination he had long coveted. Despite suggestions Richardson might suffer electorally from local displeasure over the manner of her endorsement, Richardson was elected with a primary vote majority and an 8.5 per cent two-party margin over the Greens. She was immediately appointed parliamentary secretary entering parliament, her responsibilities shifting from education to Treasury and finance in the reshuffle that followed Steve Bracks’s departure in July 2007.
The Greens candidate is Anne Martinelli, an agricultural scientist who has various worked for the Victorian Farmers Federation, Oxfam and Environment Victoria.
Analysis written by William Bowe. Read William’s blog, The Poll Bludger.