Greens romp home for a fifth consecutive term in Melbourne; Shorten reclaims Maribyrnong
Greens leader and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt enjoyed his best Federal Election yet on May 21, winning a fifth consecutive term with an increased percentage of the primary vote, while his party expanded its presence in the House of Representatives. For Kensington residents, who are a new addition to the seat of Maribyrnong, long-serving local MP and former Labor leader Bill Shorten will lead them for the next three years after a comfortable victory.
In addition to the emergence of “Teal Independents” helping to dismantle the Coalition Government across the country, the Greens increased its number of Lower House seats from one to four, picking up Brisbane, Ryan and Griffith in Queensland.
While fellow Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May, who was contesting the neighbouring seat of Macnamara for the third consecutive election, drew a significant swing to The Greens, Labor incumbent Josh Burns narrowly emerged the victor of the close contest which was only called on May 31, more than one week after the election.
The cross bench has more than doubled from six seats in the 2019 election to a whopping 16, leaving the incoming Labor Government with only a slender majority of 77 seats in the Lower House.
Speaking with North West City News following his re-election, Mr Bandt said he was “really humbled” to be elected to Melbourne again with an increased vote but said he and his team had worked “really hard” locally through its “people-powered model”.
“We were getting really strong messages of increased support; the question was how big it was going to be. We knew more people would turn to the Greens, but it was great to see so many seats turn Green for the first time,” he said.
“Melbourne is a really diverse electorate. While we’ve got some of the most expensive real estate in the country, we’ve also got a huge amount of public housing. Part of the reason why there is so much cohesion and respect among the people in Melbourne is that everyone in Melbourne knows that the more equal we are as a society the better off we’ll all be.”
“People now want politics to reconnect with the community; that’s one take away lesson from this election. Across the country people had started to switch off from politics. Our message was that politics can actually make people’s lives better. We can do it in a way that brings the community together.”
Mr Bandt told North West City News that some of the feedback he found the “most moving” was from younger people, who he said were delivered “a real moment of hope” by the election result.
“The thing I found most moving was the amount of young people who came up to me, very emotionally, and said, ‘this is the first time that I feel hopeful about politics in the future’,” he said.
“For a lot of younger people, they just had a decade of terrible government, houses becoming more unaffordable and the climate crisis getting worse, and that’s been their whole experience of politics.”
While many commentators put the May 21 demolition of the Liberal Party down to a repudiation of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government, the results were underpinned by a desire for stronger action on climate, integrity and gender equality.
Between The Greens and the many Teal Independents who ran in traditionally Liberal seats on a strong platform of action on climate, Mr Bandt said a “very clear message” had resonated among voters across the country.
“We’ve just lived through three years or drought, fires and floods and people know we’ve got to get out of coal and gas and take climate action, and that the window to do it is now,” he said.
“You now see that right across the political spectrum, with people now shifting the way they vote to call for more climate action and that is really encouraging.”
“This has always been something that matters to the people of Melbourne and we’re going to work hard to push on that in the next term of parliament.”
As far as for as Melbourne was concerned, he said its post-pandemic recovery would “be a priority for me.”
“I’ll be pushing hard for support for our creative sector in Melbourne to ensure that as we still deal with the consequences of the pandemic that we’re still able to get those creative and arts events back on their feet and functioning sustainably again,” he said.
In neighbouring Maribyrnong, which as of last year now incorporates Kensington, incumbent Bill Shorten claimed a comfortable win with 62.4 per cent on two-party preferred.
While the former Labor leader won with 42.3 per cent of the primary vote, he did experience a 2.4 per cent swing against him from 2019, however, this was dwarfed by Liberal candidate Mira D’Silva, who experienced a swing against of 7.7 per cent.
Mr Shorten, who campaigned strongly on a number of local issues including Moonee Ponds Creek and a new community battery in Kensington, said with 35 per cent of Australians voting against the two major parties, the new government would to work hard to “win the confidence”.
“In the case of about 35 per cent of the people they picked another party, other than Labor or Liberal,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell following the election.
“I think it would be wrong of us not to acknowledge that we need to win the confidence and get more of the first votes of more Australians at the next election.”
“We do that by just keeping our promises and working hard every day for the people.”
Council reiterates priorities with new government
At the City of Melbourne May 31 ordinary council meeting, councillors voted unanimously in support of writing to new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to confirm areas of advocacy and “our willingness to work together”.
In stating that it was “imperative to pursue election commitments made for Melbourne as a matter of priority”, the council moved an urgent item of business reiterating its priorities and election commitments made by the new government in Melbourne.
Notably, those included a commitment by the Albanese Government to partner with the council on Greenline, support Power Melbourne with community batteries in Southbank and Kensington, as well as $5 million towards the revitalisation of Moonee Ponds Creek.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council was looking forward to working closely with the new head of Prime Minister and Cabinet and former University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glynn Davis.
“Our commitments from federal Labor are most relevant now that they’ve been able to form a majority government. This is an opportunity for us to move forward with a good sense of urgency,” Cr Capp said.
Both Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece and Cr Rohan Leppert also expressed their excitement at working with new Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Local Government Catherine King, who Cr Leppert described as “a bloody good operator”.
“I think it’s great we now have a local government minister from Victoria, even if she is not metropolitan she is a bloody good operator and she commands a lot of respect in this field,” Cr Leppert said.
“This [motion] is a brilliant start. I love the motion because we’ve got a brand-new government sworn in today and the very first thing we’re doing mere minutes later is saying, ‘thank you, can we have the cash?’ But this is just the start and there’ll be a whole lot more to it.”
Cr Reece said it had been a “transformative fortnight in Australian politics”, which represented an “exciting time ahead for the City of Melbourne and this new federal government to forge a new partnership for the benefit of the city.” •