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The political backwater

04 Aug 2016

By Shane Scanlan

Is Docklands Melbourne’s most politically disenfranchised suburb?  Voting patterns revealed at the July 2 federal election would suggest so.

Despite Docklands being the fastest growing suburb in inner-Melbourne with an Australian Bureau of Statistics-estimated population of 8871, only 1428 turned out to vote.

More Docklanders placed their first preference with the Liberal Party (559) than any other party, but the Liberals and the ALP both suffered swings against them.  Winning Greens candidate and incumbent MP, Adam Bandt’s, primary vote was up slightly (+0.97 per cent).

The wider Melbourne electorate recorded Victoria’s lowest percentage of voter participation (less than 75 per cent of enrolled voters turned out), but this number doesn’t even come close to explaining the apathy in Docklands.

A high-proportion of non-Australian citizens here would also help fill in the pieces to the puzzle.

But, in the three years since the last federal election, Docklands has been a virtual politician-free zone.  Sex Party leader Fiona Patten dropped by in May 2015 and ALP candidate Sophie Ismail also visited in May 2015 to have her photo taken.

But Docklands News knows of no visits by local MP Adam Bandt and had not even heard of Liberal candidate Philip Lui.

Ms Ismail took out a couple of small ads in the lead up to the election, but no candidate has ever sent this local newspaper any news about themselves.

The Australian Electoral Commission must take some of the responsibility for the low voter turnout, with no local print advertising in the lead up to the election to encourage people new to Docklands to enroll to vote.

The low residential political participation rate suits the dominant business-backed Team Doyle faction contesting the October 22 City of Melbourne municipal election.  Businesses get two votes in Melbourne, whereas residents get just one.


First preference voting at the Docklands Hub booth was:
FREEMAN-HARRISON, Lewis    Australian Sex Party    57    4.06    +1.10
ISMAIL, Sophie    Australian Labor Party    273    19.46    -0.28
LIU, Le    Liberal    559    39.84    -1.11
SMITH, Miranda Joyce    Animal Justice Party    42    2.99    +2.56
BANDT, Adam    The Greens    448    31.93    +0.97
RILEY, Matt    Drug Law Reform    24    1.71    +1.71

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