12 August 2013
Gellibrand is the safest ALP seat in Australia, if another party wants to win it, they would need a swing of about 24 per cent to do so.
Gellibrand covers mostly the inner west of Melbourne as well as some suburbs to the northwest. The electorate is quite mixed with new homeowners attracted by price and the proximity to the CBD who have been priced out of other areas, first, second and third generation migrants and a mix of light and heavy industrial areas, such as the Toyota car manufacturing plant.
The AEC indicates that those suburbs include: Altona, Altona Meadows, Altona North, Braybrook, Brooklyn (part), Footscray, Footscray West, Kingsville, Maidstone, Maribyrnong (part), Newport, Seabrook, Seaholme, South Kingsville, Spotswood, Tottenham, Yarraville and Williamstown.
The parts of Brooklyn and Maribyrnong that aren’t part of Gellibrand are actually part of the federal seat of Maribyrnong, which is held by Bill Shorten. Next to Maribyrnong and Gellibrand is Gorton, also requiring a swing of over 20 per cent to change hands. The electorate to the west is Lalor, to the east is Melbourne Ports (ALP) and Melbourne (Greens).
The seat is named after Joseph Tice Gellibrand (1786–1837) who was the first Attorney General of Tasmania (in 1826, then Van Diemen’s Land). After some issues locally, he decided to explore the land to the north, and was eventually to die on an expedition up the Barwon River in 1837.
Many people would argue that safe seats are not that interesting. But because the seats can be sown up by one party or another, it gives the other players a chance to get information out in local papers and on social media. Local papers love having views of other candidates as it shows balance. Although, often the most interesting parts of safe seats are the goings on within the party organisations. There was a spat in Gellibrand over the insertion of Tim Watts for the ALP, who didn’t live in the seat, and was a former staffer to right wing ALP power broker, Senator Steven Conroy (a Williamstown resident).
I’ve lived in safe seats most of my voting life. And I was an ALP member back in the mid 90s, in the safe Liberal seat of Higgins. In Higgins, we were more interested in securing votes for our internal ALP grouping than just about anything else. Some of our group went onto become Victorian Ministers, State Secretaries, the Chief of Staff to Prime Minister and many are still in advisor roles now with the State opposition. Internal ALP fighting was often nasty, involved large groups of people who joined the party to vote for us, some of these were friends and family. I haven’t been a member of the ALP for over a decade now, but would still describe myself as left, but not hard left. At one time, I was even a paid up member of Labor Unity!
Eventually, I moved to another electorate and was tired of the internal goings on, which can take a good amount of time and effort if you decide to get involved. I wasn’t keen on taking part any further, so didn’t re-join. The exact year would be around 1997 or 1998. As I was only a member for at most five years, I’ve been a non-member longer than I have been a member.
So there you have it, an ex ALP member reporting on the safest ALP seat in Australia. So far, I have already got my self blocked by one candidate after putting him under some scrutiny, so anything is possible. Don’t let anyone tell you that campaigns in safe seats can’t be fun!
A major issue in the electorate is trucks. Around 20,000 truck movements occur through this electorate a day, and all parties have ideas on how to do this. Some believe in more public transport, others tunnels. The previous ALP state government had a proposal for a East/West Link, which would have taken trucks from the Docks, through to the Western Ring Road. This proposal would have included off ramps for trucks to get to the many ‘container farms’ that are prevalent in parts of this electorate. The Coalition government here in Victoria has recently committed to part of this, although it is the eastern part, which includes a tunnel from the eastern suburbs to a major toll road.
In reality, this link will do very little for those in the West, and most of the complainers about the proposed western part were from those who didn’t live here. The Western Link was something I support and continue to do so, even though a major part of it would be within easy walking distance to my home.
Public transport is always a hot issue in Gellibrand and a way of easing this is the Metro Rail Tunnel which both ALP federally and state have said they will back, so too do the Greens. This tunnel is to run from South Kensington station into the CBD and then along St Kilda Road, providing a cross-city option. Part of the original proposal was to extend the tunnel further to South Yarra station, but this has little commitment at this stage. Workers along St Kilda Road have to put up with very busy trams in peak times, and a tunnel would ease this congestion.
Another issue locally is childcare. There are a number of Council run facilities, but these often have long waiting lists. It is an area I am keen to hear more from the candidates about, as we were offered one day a week for our daughter when she was three and a half years old at a Council facility. This didn’t suit us, as we had found private childcare. Private childcare is increasing in costs, and can be as difficult to get into as Council facilities where there is high demand.
So far there have been confirmed candidates from the ALP and Greens, with the Liberal Party (LP) nominating David McConnell, who also ran in 2010, an Independent in John Green, Dwayne Singleton standing for Palmer United Party (PUP), Allan Cashion from the Australian Sex Party (ASP) and Anthony O’Neill Australian Christians Party (ACP). There is always the possibility of more nominating as well, but these are those known at this time.
On a two party preferred basis in 2010, the ALP and the LP duked it out, with ALP getting 73.90 per cent of the vote with the LP 26.10. It will be interesting to see which minor parties will increase their numbers. In 2010 it was really a fight between the ALP, LP and Greens who gathered over 97 per cent of the primary votes.
The Greens will be hoping to increase their primary vote, and I would suspect be aiming to get as many votes locally as the LP. They probably believe they can win outright, but it would be a big ask in a seat where they haven’t had wide support across the whole seat.
No doubt the ALP will be hoping to better the previous election where they polled 59 per cent. Interestingly, the Greens polled well at the 2010 state election in the seat of Footscray, and the number one Greens Senate candidate is a Footscray and Gellibrand local, (and ex Mayor of Maribyrnong) Janet Rice. The Greens candidate has been campaigning with Mr Rice so having a friendly and locally known face will always help.
Greens are already running a strong social media campaign, and so is the ALP. The other parties are yet to start fully their campaigns, but would want to start soon.
I have decided to every week tweet the number of followers/likes on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to give an indication of who has the most. A winner will also be declared. Last week it was the ALP, with Greens winning Google+.
The ALP will win this seat. But it gets interesting in the details. Who will get second, Greens or the LP? Where will the preferences go? Will the Greens be able to keep their momentum going for the whole campaign? Can they spread their vote further into the electorate? When are the billboards going to arrive? When is Clive coming back to Williamstown?
I hope to interview as many of the candidates as I can with a short survey of the same questions, keeping them to word limits to avoid waffle. If Gellibrand has a ‘meet the candidates’ I’ll attend that as well, and will generally report back on the seat and how the campaigns are going.
You can follow me on Twitter @Dusty_1. It is not always political what I tweet, so you have been warned.