The disparate crossbenchers could increase their grip on Victoria's upper house - Legislative Council - with good chances of winning seats in all eight regions, under group voting tickets revealed on Monday.
Two new parties registered this year have excellent chances of making the new council, after getting indulgent treatment from the other micro-parties in the deals masterminded by “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery.
In the Eastern Metropolitan region, for example, the little-known Transport Matters party founded by hire car owner Rod Barton has been allocated second preferences by nine of the other 17 parties in the race, including Labor. ABC analyst Antony Green estimated yesterday that Barton could be elected with as little as 0.31 per cent of the vote.
A similar set of deals in South-Eastern Metropolitan could see medico Dr Ali Khan elected for the party. And another preference swag could see Carrum Downs “life coach” Stuart O’Neill elected in the western suburbs as leader of the Aussie Battler party.
All but one of the 18 parties standing appear to have been involved in some way in the deals organised by Mr Druery, now chief of staff to Senator Derryn Hinch, and the mathematical talent who has installed many clients into Australian parliaments after winning few votes but many preferences.
The group voting tickets, now abolished everywhere except Victoria and Western Australia, allow voters to simply tick a box above the line, allowing the parties to allocate their preferences. In 2014, Team Druery won five of the 40 Council seats that way.
It is impossible to say at this stage who will win with any certainty, but the Liberals stand to lose another two seats to Team Druery, and the Greens could lose another two of the five they hold. Here is a quick summary.
NORTHERN METRO (now ALP 2, Lib 1, Greens 1, Reason 1): The battle royal for the micro-parties of the left! Animal Justice leader Bruce Poon and socialist Stephen Jolly challenge Fiona Patten for her seat, while Hinch’s candidate Carmela Dagiandis will get a swag of preferences. Labor’s surplus will go to Patten, the Greens’ surplus to Jolly, and the Liberals to Dagiandis. But Patten would get preferences from Poon or Jolly if either drop out.
EASTERN METRO (now Lib 3, ALP 1, Greens 1): Liberals should win two, Labor one, with the last two fought out between Liberal, Labor, Green, Transport Matters, with the anti-vaccination Health Australia and Sustainable Australia parties well-placed if they can win enough votes to survive the cull. Derryn Hinch’s Justice party also has a chance.
SOUTH-EASTERN METRO (now ALP 2, Lib 2, Greens 1): Labor’s backroom boys gave their preferences to Transport Matters – who responded by putting them last in every seat! The Greens’ seat is the marginal one. Here too, the new taxi-drivers’ party has swept the preference deals, and could battle the Greens for the final spot.
SOUTHERN METRO (now Lib 3, ALP 1, Greens 1): The Liberals and the Greens have the vulnerable seats. The micro-party preferences are directed to Sustainable Australia, but it may not get the votes to take advantage of them. The Greens and Animal Justice both have a chance, as does the Justice party, if the smaller parties drop out.
WESTERN METRO (now ALP 2, Lib 1, Greens 1, Ind 1): The Greens’ seat here is marginal, and Rachel Carling-Jenkins, elected for the DLP in 2014, is standing elsewhere. Battlers’ leader Stuart O’Neill lives in Carrum Downs, but is standing here, and stands to gain a swag of preferences.
EASTERN VICTORIA (now Lib/Nat 2, ALP 2, Shooters 1): The two major parties should win two each. Liberal preferences got the Shooters home above the Greens in 2014, and it could be the same again this time. The microparties’ preference swaps are less disciplined in this one: the new Aussie Battlers party got the best of them.
NORTHERN VICTORIA (now Lib/Nat 2, ALP 2, Shooters 1): The Shooters’ seat is the vulnerable one; the preference deals don’t point to a clear-cut favourite. Independent Josh Hudson and the Battlers could also be in it if they clear the initial cull.
WESTERN VICTORIA: (now ALP 2, Lib/Nat 2, Ind 1): Port Fairy accountant James Purcell pinched the final seat from the Greens in 2014 on a swag of preference deals; but he too is standing for the Assembly. This time the preference deals favour Geelong police officer Stuart Grimley of the Justice party, but the Greens, Australian Country Party and DLP all have a chance.