AT 33,595 sq km, WANNON is the second largest electorate in Victoria, stretching from Anglesea in the east to the South Australian border, and including inland towns Ararat, Winchelsea and Colac. It has been held by the Liberal Party since 1955, including by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, then the Liberal Speaker of the House David Hawker. Dan Tehan, a minister in the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments, has held Wannon since 2010.

Alex Dyson was born and brought up in Warrnambool, the largest population centre in Wannon, and was a breakfast host on ABC Triple J. He’s now an author and comedy club owner, Alex ran as an independent in 2019, achieving ten percent of the vote.

This election Voices for Wannon chose Alex as its #IndependentsDay candidate

Voices of Wannon gather to meet their new candidate, Alex Dyson at Fletcher Jones Gardens. (Photo: Wayne Jansson)

The 2022 election brought me everything I wished for Australia:

* the dismissal of the corrupt misogynist Morrison ‘government’;

* the election of an ALP government under Anthony Albanese;

* the rise of a wave of Community Independent women; 

* the recognition of the Greens as a powerful political force; and

* the complete rejection of the Murdoch media as politically influential.

Well done Australia. But now it’s all over, it is hard not feel a little disappointed – which seems at the same time churlish of me – our community Independent candidate Alex Dyson did not win. 

We volunteers for Alex are very pleased at what we achieved in Wannon, but a little deflated too. We had achieved so much of what I was hoping for the country, and yet did not quite realise what we wanted for Alex himself and for Wannon. It was always going to be a total long shot of course.  Wannon MP Dan Tehan sat on a 10.2 percent margin after the recent redistribution.  

Deb Campbell – Deans Marsh booth – #WannonVotes 2022

The Dyson campaign was energetic, enthusiastic and gruelling, especially for Alex himself and the key campaign team based in Warrnambool. Just hearing about, listening, watching him and his core campaign team was exhausting. I reckon Alex at least 9800kms on the road – self-drive, public transport, lifts from friends – or was driven by his Dad Ian, campaign stalwart and soup provider. It was a fantastic effort all round.

Where I live, in eastern Wannon around Lorne, Winchelsea and Deans Marsh – redistributed to Wannon since the 2019 election – Alex made eight visits for small Meet and Greets, where he engaged everyone with warmth, courtesy and interest.  He drew on the stories told and the questions asked and linked related issues across key policy areas.

While only a dozen or so met him at most of those meetings, many multiples of that number voted for him in those areas.  He won several smaller booths in our district, and much larger ones in Warrnambool.   

Voting and goat walking at Deans Marsh – #WannonVotes 2022

Our campaign received little national media coverage

Local papers across Wannon interviewed Alex several times, and several sought and printed campaign pitches from Alex and the other candidates.  One made an error which, if things had been closer, might have cost our campaign dearly.  The May 12 print edition of the Surf Coast Times [SCT] said Alex was preferencing the ALP first then the Greens, the Liberals at six with UAP and PHON taking up the last spots.

The paper apparently attributed the preferences of the ALP candidate in a neighbouring electorate to Alex.  Of course, like all Community Independents Alex did not recommend preferences at all.

The paper corrected the digital story but the mistake may have affected the voting choices of older readers who read the print version.  

Surf Coast Times – after correction

Curiously the same edition of the SCT failed to report that Dan Tehan had preferenced PHON and UAP and put Alex last, which we took as a compliment. 

An enthusiasm for change

For younger voters, Alex’s career history and social media networks were evident – on Facebook, Instagram and lots of YouTube clips -throughout the campaign:  

But as far as the MSM was concerned, we were invisible, just one of many failures by many in the media across the whole national election campaign. 

In a way the Dyson4Wannon campaign was a gesture – a gift – a passing of the mantle from we older voters to the next generations.  Most of us who actively engaged with Voices of Wannon and the Dyson campaign were what you might call ‘mature’. Most would not seem the type to be so energised by the long-shot political campaign of a 33 year old former Triple J comedy club owner. 

For me it was part enthusiasm for change and part desperation at the parlous state of Australia. Something had to change, and as Zoe Daniel said,

‘If not me, then who? If not now, then when?’ 

I expect we all felt a bit of that, and wanted to help change happen. 

And we did. 

Voices of Wannon members always said our goal was to make Wannon marginal. 

And we did.

Bay93.9 reported

“In the newly expanded seat of Wannon (which now takes in Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, Forrest and Beeac), Independent candidate and former radio announcer Alex Dyson again saw a huge jump in primary votes, following on from a strong performance in the 2019 election. Dyson picked up 19.3 percent of primary votes, ahead of the Labor candidate Gilbert Wilson (19.11 percent, -6.83 percent). Mr Dyson picked up enough preferences to cut incumbent Liberal MP Dan Tehan’s margin to just 3.8 percent, down -5.3 percent.”

#WannonVotes 2022

We hope the result gives everyone in Wannon something to build on next time. I’d like to see Dan Tehan have a long hard look at the poor way he has ‘represented’ people in Wannon since 2010.  As a former Corangamite voter, throughout the campaign I saw the vivid difference between our previous marginal representatives and aspirants and Tehan’s largely invisible performance. 

Although it was known for months that much of the Great Ocean Road and hinterland communities had been redistributed to Wannon, we never heard from Tehan.  He didn’t turn up in Lorne to my knowledge until Josh Frydenberg’s birthday party. Telling.  

I have no idea of the truth of rumours that Tehan ‘planned to retire before the 2025 election assuming his win in 2022, and that the Liberal Party intended to parachute Peta Credlin into Wannon’. Given our result in Wannon, I can only imagine we are looking less attractive to Ms Credlin.  

Deans Marsh booth – #WannonVotes 2022

The ALP utterly failed to assist its candidate. The ALP booth captain at my local booth on election day said that when he picked up the How to Votes cards, there were no corflutes or posters for the booth. Driving around the eastern part of the huge Wannon electorate I never saw any promotion of the ALP candidate. Someone somewhere in ALP head office needs to pay attention. 

Greens candidate Hilary McAllister and her team were enthusiastic and energetic:  Her vote was slightly down due to strategic voting by Greens voters who put Alex Dyson first.

Wannon is now there for the taking by a quality community independent. While Alex may decide to have another go in 2025, he might also want to take some time to have a life.  As he said to me in early June:

“My priorities and Wannon’s were climate action, integrity, equality, housing and connectivity of all sorts in Wannon.  We have a new government and with luck they will have a really good go at all of these things.”

Alex Dyson

Let’s hope you are right Alex. Thank you for all your efforts.

Independent candidate for Wannon, Alex Dyson and supporters. (Photo: Twitter)


No Fibs #WannonVotes coverage

January 8: What #WannonVotes wants: seeking a community minded candidate, dancing optional

January 13: Covid halts Alex Dyson’s campaign launch in #WannonVotes

January 17: PODCAST: Alex Dyson’s “sick of the politics of politics” taking priority over #WannonVotes community

May 7: The young people’s campaign by Alex Dyson in #WannonVotes

May 21: Anything could happen today in Dyson’s #WannonVotes, it’s anyone’s guess