Research
10
min read

Victorian Election Preview

Published on
November 25, 2022
Author
William Wright
for GovConnex Research
Before GovConnex Research is published here, it's sent exclusively to GovConnex Platform subscribers.

Summary

  • The Victorian state election takes place on Saturday the 26th of November.
  • Polls close at 6:00 pm AEDT time.
  • Over 50% of Victoria’s 4.4 million registered voters are expected to have voted in the pre-poll according to the VEC.
  • The messy and vicious race has tightened significantly going into election day.
  • The big unknown is the polarising leadership of Daniel Andrews, and whether the events of 2020/2021 will have a greater impact on the election than polls currently suggest.
  • Key issues in the race have been healthcare/hospitals, integrity questions around both leaders, cost of living, and solutions to the energy crisis.
  • Labor faces a significant challenge from the Coalition in suburban seats. They also face a strong challenge from the Greens in at least five inner-city seats, notably Northcote, Richmond, and Albert Park.
  • Labor also faces the prospect of losing three outer western safe Labor seats to independents: Melton, Point Cook, and Werribee.
  • Teal independents should see some success in affluent Eastern Melbourne seats such as Kew, Brighton, and Caulfield.
  • This is following the trend of an erosion of support for the two major parties that was on display in the federal election.
  • Despite these challenges for the Labor party, it remains unlikely that Matthew Guy will be able to take Spring St, requiring a 9.3% swing, which would be the 5th largest swing in Australian political history.

State of play

Post redistributions, Labor enters the election with 56 of the 88 seats, the Coalition with 27, the Greens with 3, and Independents with 2. Labor needs to hold on to 12 seats to remain in majority government. The Coalition needs to win 18.

Labor has governed the state for 19 of the last 23 years. Andrews is seeking his third term in government. Ted Ballieu was the last successful Liberal leader elected Premier of Victoria in 2010.

Legislative Assembly

Legislative Council

Victoria is the last state in Australia to retain group voting tickets, whereby preferences are distributed according to party agreements and not necessarily voter intentions. This has historically led to a proliferation of minor party candidates in the Legislative Council. The candidates are elected using a form of proportional representation, with five candidates being elected from eight different regions (five metropolitan, three regional).

Seats to watch

The following four key battles are critical in determining whether Labor can retain majority government:

Note * indicates notional seat change due to redistribution.

Teal independents

Kew 4.7% LP

Polarising former shadow attorney general Tim Smith MP is vacating the seat, leaving it open to a teal challenge. Kew sits entirely within the federal seat of Kooyong, now held by teal Monique Ryan. Climate 200 is again supporting teal candidates, however they are limited by Victoria’s strict $4320 donation limit. Kew is seen as the best chance for a teal victory with local businesswoman Sophie Torney seeing a groundswell of local support.

 

Brighton 0.5% LP

Affluent bayside seat of Brighton has never been held by Labor, despite coming close in 2018, it will be teal Felicity Frederico trying to unseat Liberal up-and-comer James Newbury.

Caulfield 0.2% ALP* 

Notionally a Labor seat, this is more likely to be a Coalition/Teal battle. Lawyer Nomi Kaltmann is up against deputy Liberal leader and campaign spokesman David Southwick. The seat has the state’s highest Jewish population (28.6%). Labor is likely to suffer for their federal decision to reverse recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Hawthorn 0.6% ALP

Deputy Liberal leader John Pesutto was left stunned in 2018 when 70 year old Labor candidate John Kenendy took the seat. Labor is unlikely to hold on and the biggest challenge will be teal director of student equity at Swinburne University, Melissa Lowe. Hawthorn is 98% in the teal federal seat of Kooyong.

Mornington 5.0% LP

50 kms south east of the Melbourne CBD on the Mornington Peninsula, teal Dr Kate Lardner is running a robust campaign with significant support on the ground. She is trying to defeat new Liberal candidate Chris Crewther. Lardner has spent much of the final week isolating with Covid-19, this may have a negative effect on her chances.

Note: if Labor can achieve 2nd spot in any of the above seats they will benefit from teal preference flows and could cause a surprise result.

Greens

The Greens are benefiting from a move away from the two major parties. They are also benefiting from the Liberals preferencing them above Labor in a number of key seats. A similar dynamic took place in Brisbane, Griffith, and Ryan at the federal election. If those preference flows are repeated (60-70%), the Greens will do particularly well.

Richmond 5.8% ALP

Seen as the best chance for the Greens, retiring Labor MP Richard Wynne makes way for associate director of First Nation foundations at the Melbourne Arts Centre Lauren O’Dwyer. Former Yarra city mayor Gabrielle de Vietri is the Greens candidate.

Northcote 1.7% ALP

Greens primary school teacher Campbell Gome looks to take the seat off Labor’s Kat Theophanous. The Greens briefly held this seat in 2017 when Lidia Thorpe won the seat at a by-election. It returned to Labor in 2018.

Albert Park 13.1% ALP

At the start of the campaign, Albert Park was seen as unlikely to fall Green. The momentum has shifted and the contest is now a genuine 50/50. Greens candidate and Alfred Health executive assistant Kim Samiotis is looking to defeat new Labor candidate Nina Taylor. Taylor has previously served in the Legislative Council, acting as the government whip. Labor’s Michael Foley is retiring in the seat.

Footscray 27.6% ALP

One of the safest Labor seats in the state, it has come into play in the last week of the campaign. Labor’s Katie Hall is looking for a second term, while the Greens are running architect Elena Pereyra who has spent much of her campaign on the housing and cost of living crisis.

Pascoe Vale 22.3% ALP

Similar to Footscray, Pascoe Vale has come into play in the last week of the campaign. Greens insiders are privately confident, and Adam Bandt has publicly talked up their chances. Labor’s Lizzie Blandthorn is retiring, making way for City of Darebin government relations advisor Anthony Cianflone. The Greens are running Merri-bek councillor Angelica Panopoulous.

Outer West (Labor vs. Ind)

These three seats share similar demographics and issues. Having experienced rapid population growth over the last 20 years, critics claim the government has neglected these once safe Labor seats, with some residents demanding more government services and infrastructure upgrades. These seats were also disproportionately affected by the lockdowns of 2020-2021, with many residents in roles where they couldn't work from home.

Melton 5.0% ALP

Medical researcher and independent Ian Birchall is now the favourite to unseat Labor’s Steve McGhie. Labor saw their primary vote drop 15.5% in Melton at the 2018 election. Anger has continued to rise in the electorate and Cook is taking full advantage.

Point Cook 12.8% ALP

New name for the seat of Altona, GP and independent Joe Garra looks to win the seat. Labor’s Jill Hennessey is retiring at this election, with lobbyist Mat Hilakari looking to take the seat. Despite the large margin, Garra has a strong chance of winning the seat. Garra came close to winning Werribee, outpolling the Liberal’s on primary in 2018.

Werribee 9.1% ALP

Labor Treasurer Tim Pallas’ seat is under threat from independent and car dealership owner Paul Hopper. Joe Garra (running for the seat of Point Cook in this election), came close to Pallas in getting 40.9% of the TCP vote.

Labor vs. Liberal

Bayswater 0.6% LP*

Labor seat now notionally Liberal due to a favourable redistribution. Labor’s Jackson Taylor (who was just 26 when he won the seat in 2018) is looking to hold off member for Ferntree Gully Nick Wakeling as he looks to move seats.

Bass 0.7% LP*

Taking up outer Melbourne, Bass extends all the way to Phillip Island and Venus Bay. A Labor seat, it is now notionally Liberal due to a favourable redistribution. Labor’s member is Jordan Crugnale who is up against Aaron Brown, the former deputy mayor of South Gippsland Shire Council and cattle farm owner. Brown’s father Alan was Victorian opposition leader from 1989-1991.

Nepean 0.7% ALP

Taking up the tip of the Mornington Peninsula, Nepean includes the affluent towns of Portsea and Sorrento. Labor’s Chris Brayne (who was 25 when he won the seat in 2018) is up against former professional tennis player and Liberal Sam Groth.

Pakenham 2.2% ALP*

Liberal held seat made notionally Labor by a favourable redistribution. New Liberal candidate and home design company owner David Farrelly is up against Daniel Andrews Mulgrave electorate officer Emma Vulin.

Ashwood 2.0% ALP

New name for the eastern suburbs seat of Burwood. IT company owner Matt Fregon is again contesting the seat, up against building products company owner and Liberal Asher Judah.

Box Hill 3.1% ALP

Eastern suburbs seat won by Paul Hamer in 2018 for Labor for the first time since 1992. He is up against former Pentecostal pastor Nicole Ta-Ei Werner. The seat has the second highest percentage of Chinese language speakers in the state.

Premier Andrews’ Seat

Mulgrave 15.8% ALP

The surprise of the election could come in Mulgrave, where catering company owner and independent Ian Cook (of Sluggate notoriety) is looking to unseat the Premier. Cook has generated significant noise on the ground and is remarkably a real chance. Watch this closely on election night. Should Andrews lose his seat, Jacinta Allen as deputy is the likely Premier in waiting.

If there is a larger than expected swing towards the Coalition also look out for these Labor seats:

  • Ringwood
  • South Barwon
  • Monbulk
  • Cranbourne
  • Eureka
  • Frankston
  • Narre Warren North
  • Narre Warren South
  • Eltham
  • Bentleigh
  • Carrum
  • Mordialloc

Power rankings

Pendulum

Retiring MPs

Legislative Assembly (lower house)

Gary Blackwood (LP) - Narracan

Neale Burgess (LP) - Hastings

Luke Donnellan (ALP) - Narre Warren North

John Eren (ALP) - Lara

Martin Foley (ALP) - Albert Park

Danielle Green (ALP) - Yan Yean

Dustin Halse (ALP) - Ringwood

Jill Hennessy (ALP) - Point Cook

Marlene Kairouz (ALP) - Kororoit

Frank McGuire (ALP) - Broadmeadows

James Merlino (ALP) - Monbulk

David Morris (LP) - Mornington

Lisa Neville (ALP) - Bellarine

Russel Northe (IND) - Morwell

Martin Pakula (ALP) - Clarinda

Steph Ryan (NP) - Euroa

Robin Scott (ALP) - Preston

Tim Smith (LP) - Kew

Richard Wynne (ALP) - Richmond

Legislative Council (upper house)

Bruce Atkinson (LP) - North Eastern Metropolitan Region

Catherine Burnett-Wake (LP) - Eastern Victoria Region

Mark Gepp (ALP) - Northern Victoria Region

Craig Ondarchie (LP) - Northern Metropolitan Region

Jaala Pulford (ALP) - Western Victoria Region

Gordon Rich-Phillips (LP) - South Eastern Metropolitan Region

The leaders

Daniel Andrews (age 50)

Leader of the Victorian Labor Party and Premier of Victoria

Short bio: Andrews entered Victorian Parliament at the 2002 election as the member for Mulgrave. Andrews grew up in the North Eastern Victorian town of Wangaratta, moving to Melbourne to attend Monash University in 1990. Andrews obtained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in political science and classics. Andrews went on to work for Federal Labor MP Alan Griffin and the Labor Party head office, where he reached the position of assistant state secretary. Andrews lives in Mulgrave with his wife Catherine and three children.

Party voting history: Andrews is a member of the Socialist Left faction of the Victorian Labor Party.

Notable other: Andrews is a supporter of the Essendon Bombers in the AFL, his wife and children support the Collingwood Magpies. Andrews has never served a day on the backbench. Andrews has an “incredibly constructive” relationship with New South Wales Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet. In 2021, Andrews was forced to take three months leave after falling down a set of wet stairs in the Mornington Peninsula. Andrews suffered a fractured vertebra and multiple broken ribs.

Matthew Guy (age 48)

Leader of the Victorian Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition

Short bio: Guy entered the Victorian Legislative Council in 2006, serving in the upper house until 2014 when he made the move to the Legislative Assembly as the member for Bulleen. Guy studied a Bachelor of Arts in politics and history at La Trobe University. He also studied a postgraduate course in Ukrainian language and culture at Monash University. Prior to entering parliament, Guy worked as a ministerial advisor to former Premier Jeff Kennett and to Assistant Federal Treasurer Rod Kemp. Guy went on to work as Victorian opposition leader and future Premier Denis Napthine’s chief of staff, as well as holding roles at the Victorian Farmers Federation and ASIC. Guy is married to Renae, they have three children.

Party voting history: The Victorian Liberal Party is not as factionalised as other states, however Guy is more conservative than moderate.

Notable other: Guy is a supporter of the St Kilda Saints in the AFL and the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the NRL. Guy is a Christian attending the Scots’ Church in Melbourne. Guy is of Ukrainian descent. Guy was leader of the Liberal Party at the 2018 election, suffering a landslide defeat to Daniel Andrews, he returned to the leadership in 2021.

Key issues

  • Hospitals and healthcare lead the way as the key issue of the election campaign. Labor has been forced to defend their healthcare record as the Coalition promises to shelve infrastructure projects like the Suburban Rail Loop in favour of investment in the healthcare system.
  • The Greens have spent much of their energy on climate change, cost of living, the housing crisis, and more recently integrity.
  • Both the Labor and Liberal parties have accused each other’s leaders of integrity issues - namely, various IBAC investigations
  • Labor has promised to bring back the State Electricity Commission. In return, Matthew Guy has promised to bring in a locally produced gas reservation policy, similar to that of Western Australia.

Polling

Polling has tightened significantly as the campaign has gone on. Polling continues to indicate a strong result for independents and minor parties. Here is a summary of the most recent major polling:

Newspoll

November 3

TPP - Labor 54, Coalition 46

Primary - Labor 37, Coalition 37, Greens 13, Others 13

Freshwater Strategy

November 8

TPP - Labor 56, Coalition 44

Primary - Labor 37, Coalition 34, Greens 14, Others 15

Resolve Strategic

November 22

TPP - Labor 53, Coalition 47

Primary - Labor 36, Coalition 36, Greens 10, Others 18

Redbridge Group

November 24

Redbridge believes Labor will be reduced to a minority government with 43 out of 88 seats.

Earlier this month GovConnex hosted a mini-webinar with Freshwater Strategy’s Dr Michael Turner. We went through Freshwater’s Victorian election polling that was published exclusively in the Australian Financial Review. You can watch the full video here.

Odds

Sworn in Government

Labor - $1.12

Coalition - $5

Type of Government

Labor Majority - $1.55

Labor Minority - $2.85

Coalition Majority - $15

Coalition Minority - $8

Mulgrave (Premier Andrews’ seat)

Labor - $1.20

Independent - $4

Coalition - $18

GovConnex in the press

GovConnex’s Head of Insights William Wright has been appearing weekly on Sky News to analyse the election. You can catch up on some of his appearances here:

https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/politics/high-unlikely-matthew-guy-will-win-victorian-election/video/47df7102ba9b6f1668bace4b04eb9381

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/nation/politics/greens-will-do-particularly-well-in-victorian-election-thanks-to-university-students/video/9a67a1b447354d83d11b2d2d95b9e6d5

William and Ian Hancock will be travelling down to Melbourne on Saturday to call seats for the Sky News election broadcast. Be sure to tune in!

If you have any questions on any of the above research do not hesitate to contact our 

Head of Insights William Wright at wwright@govconnex.com

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