Docklanders desert Libs in Greens rout

David Schout

Voters in Docklands mirrored their Melbourne counterparts with an overwhelming vote for the Greens in the latest federal election, but it was a drastic swing against the Liberal Party that was perhaps the most notable trend locally.

A total of 1702 voters headed to the polls at Victoria Harbour’s Library at The Dock on Saturday May 21, slightly up on last year’s total of 1667.

Almost half of voters (47.6 per cent) in Docklands put a “1” next to Greens leader Adam Bandt on their lower house paper, largely in line with the entire Melbourne electorate.

Mr Bandt was elected with a huge primary vote of 50.9 per cent across Melbourne, the first time a candidate had received more than half of all first preference votes in the seat since Labor in 2004.First elected in 2010, the victory secured Mr Bandt a fifth consecutive term.

This primary vote distribution in Docklands was a strong result for The Greens, who have never received more than 40 per cent in the local area. Since the 2010 election — the first time the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) opened a polling place in Docklands — votes in the local area have bucked the trend of the electorate and swayed more conservatives than the rest of Melbourne.

For example, in 2019 the Liberal Party received just 21.5 per cent of primary votes across Melbourne, however that figure was considerably higher in Docklands at 34.6 per cent.

In 2022, however, local voters turned their back on the Liberals — and it was a damning result for candidate James Damches.

 

While the swing against the Liberal Party across the electorate was at 7.1 per cent, in Docklands the swing was more than 17 per cent.

 

That is, the party received just 16.4 per cent of primary votes from Docklanders (from a high of 41 per cent in 2013).

In fact, such was the Liberal Party’s lack of confidence in the seat of Melbourne, one insider told Docklands News that when they cast their vote there were no Liberal volunteers handing out “how-to-vote” flyers at Library at the Dock.

It was also the first time ever that more Docklanders voted for the Labor Party (23.7 per cent) than the Liberals, noting that the first time the area hosted a local polling place was in 2010.

That year, and the following two elections (in 2013 and 2016), locals cast their vote at The Hub on Harbour Esplanade, before moving to Library at the Dock for the 2019 count.

As the Greens revelled in an eighth-straight election where their primary vote went upwards in the seat of Melbourne, voters across the municipality expressed frustration at polling place wait times.

This included Library at the Dock, where one local took to social media to complain about a two-hour-plus wait at the polling station.

Similar queues were reported at nearby North Melbourne Primary School.

The issue was forecast by the AEC prior to election day, who said the issue delays were largely as a result of COVID-19.

In fact, the commission hired a record 105,000 staff for the 2022 election, including extra staff for safety, as well as padding for turnover.

The humble democracy sausage was this year provided by volunteers at the Alma Doepel; a five-minute stroll down North Wharf from the Library.

Docklands resident and City of Melbourne Cr Jamal Hakim cast his vote on the day and noted the privileged position we have in a functioning democracy.

“Today is about democracy in action. I voted at the Docklands library. What a fabulous sunny day. I take our obligation and responsibility to vote seriously as it is an important part of our democracy. I’ll continue to fight for bodily autonomy, equity and representation,” he said.

Docklands votes: Greens surge, Libs slide

  • 2016: Greens 31.9 per cent of first-preference votes, Liberals 39.8 per cent
  • 2019: Greens 38 per cent, Liberals 34.6 per cent
  • 2022: Greens 47.6 per cent, Liberals 16.4 per cent

Above shows the percentage of first-preference votes received in Docklands in the last three Federal Elections.

Burns returned in Macnamara

For Yarra’s Edge residents on the south side of the Yarra River, the news of who would lead them through the next three years in Federal Parliament remained a mystery until May 31 - more than a week after the federal election.

Labor MP Josh Burns ultimately retained his seat ahead of Greens candidate Steph-Hodgins May despite a near six per cent swing to her party. The win for Labor in Macnamara provided it with its magical 76th seat and majority government.

The seat of Macnamara accounts for Southbank, Fishermans Bend, Port Phillip and the Caulfield region. Mr Burns defeated Liberal Party candidate Colleen Harkin on two-party preferred, but faced a strong challenge from Ms Hodgins-May, who finished second on first preference. •

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