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Focus on politics: Victoria

20 June 2022 at 4:06 pm
Neil Pharaoh
This week we’re switching up Happenings on the Hill and turning our attention to state politics. Neil Pharaoh takes a deep dive into Victoria, the parliament, people, and the election due on 26 November this year. 

Neil Pharaoh | 20 June 2022 at 4:06 pm


Focus on politics: Victoria
20 June 2022 at 4:06 pm

This week we’re switching up Happenings on the Hill and turning our attention to state politics. Neil Pharaoh takes a deep dive into Victoria, the parliament, people, and the election due on 26 November this year. 

Just over one in every four Australians lives in Victoria (25.8 per cent). When combined with NSW (which accounts for 31.8 per cent), these two states represent almost 60 per cent of all Australians. I say this because what happens in Victoria and NSW matters – and both states have elections in the next 12 months. Victoria will be first off the bat in November, where Dan Andrews will be seeking his third term, against Matthew Guy from the Liberal National Coalition.

So let’s kick off with the basic numbers in Parliament in Victoria. Victoria is a bi-cameral (two houses) Parliament with 88 seats in the Legislative Assembly, and 40 in the Legislative Council. Of those 88 seats, Labor holds 55, the Liberals 21, Nationals six, the Greens Party three, and then there are three Independents. With a majority of 45 seats needed to form government, the Liberals and Nationals will need to secure 18 seats to change government, a 66 per cent increase on their current held seats. 

The story in the Legislative Council is a little different. In Victoria, the Legislative Council has eight regions, five metro and three regional – each region elects five members of the Legislative Council (MLCs). The Upper House region encompasses 11 lower house seats, which means unlike WA, the regions are balanced in size. The Legislative Council is also a very mixed bag of parties and seats. Labor holds 16, LNP 11, with a cross bench of 13, including multiple independents: Liberal Dems, Justice Party, Animal Justice, Greens Party, Reason, Shooters & Fishers, Sustainable Australia as well as Transport Matters. The complexity of the Victoria Upper House can still be impacted by “preference whispering”, and group voting tickets. 

So, what does this mean for the 2022 election? 

In 2020, Victoria went through its boundary redistribution – of the 88 districts, 56 remain unchanged. The boundary changes this time removed two seats from Liberal parts of Melbourne, into growing suburbs which are typically more Labor. The sum of this means assuming the results of 2018, Labor would have 57 seats going into the election, and the LNP would have 25 – a result largely due to the very low LNP vote in 2018. 

What does campaigning look like for you and your organisation?

There are 16 Labor seats and 19 Liberal seats under the 10 per cent margin, and 11 Labor and 15 Liberal under a 5 per cent margin. These under 5 per cent seats are considered marginal seats – be sure to use the new electoral pendulum based on the redistribution to work out where your organisation and efforts are focused. This means “marginal” territory-wise that 26 seats are marginal in Victoria – this should be a key focus for your campaigning. 

Major parties have selected most of their candidates for the election; the benefit of fixed terms means Victoria typically preselects about a year before the election. Given we are about five months, or 150 days from the election, you should now be in full swing on meeting with members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and MLCs. 

The “Voices of” movement is also actively considering which seats in Victoria they will be going after, with rumours that they will focus on Kew, Brighton, Caufield, Sandringham and Malvern. If votes carry similar to the federal election, they stand a great chance of taking some of these seats from both Liberal and Labor MPs. 

Remember, the best way to map out your campaign is working backwards from election day. Candidates and members will spend the final two weeks largely on pre-poll in marginal seats. In the four weeks before, those candidates and members will be expected to be doing voter contact – think calls, door knocking, street stalls and train stations. About six weeks out is also when caretaker mode kicks in – knowing this will be key in relation to any contracts, announcements and work you have with the current government. What this means is your meet and greets and candidate engagements need to be happening largely from now until September – October and November can almost be written off for long meetings, discussions and engagement, as everyone moves to election readiness. 

Adding another variable into this mix is the fact 12 Labor MPs (both MLA and MLCs) are retiring this election, along with four Liberals and one Liberal Democrat. This is of particular note given some retiring MPs have a substantial personal following and are in marginal seats – Richard Wynne in Richmond and Luke Donnellan in Narre Warren North will be the hardest to hold against the Greens Party and Liberal Party respectively for these seats. 

Big picture wise, Victoria (as well as South Australia) has historically been a leader across social policy reform in Australia. While anecdotal research points to the high prevalence of philanthropy in Victoria, Victoria continues to punch above its weight with social policy reform, and the nationalisation of successful reforms to federal level as well. 

We have also seen NSW and Victoria both partner up recently around early education, and despite political differences in colours, the productive working relationship between the two largest states will be a good thing – noting NSW has its election in March 2023, not long after Victoria. 

Finally, it’s important to remember all politics is local, and entering the winter months with the Victorian election front and centre will do your organisation well. The Victorian government has substantial allocations in the budget which are “yet to be announced”, which means there are pots of money available for policies and announcements between now and the election. 


PS: This fortnight has seen a change in Happenings on the Hill – while every second edition will continue to focus on federal politics, every other edition will explore the happenings of the six states and two territories and their political landscape around Australia. 


About the author: Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy and advocacy. Neil has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns on gender rights, equality, medical research and education, and ran for Parliament in Victoria in 2014 and 2018. Neil is co-founder and director of Tanck, which focuses on better engagement with government, and regularly runs workshops and advocacy sessions and advises leading social purpose organisations on their government engagement strategy and systems. 

Happenings on the Hill is a fortnightly column focusing on all things politics, policy, campaigns and advocacy. Focusing on both federal and state and territory politics, stay tuned for updates around political trends and elections, lobbying and advocacy news, and hints, tips and ideas on government engagement that are specifically written for the social purpose/for purpose sector.

Neil Pharaoh  |  @ProBonoNews

Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy and advocacy.

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