Abbey Saxon gives you the political rundown on Melbourne's most (in)famous inner-northern suburb.
The Victorian State election is fast-approaching, and it’s been four years since the last one. Many of our students will be heading to the state polls for the first time or voting in a new home district, so it seems timely to put together an electorate profile!
So where better to head than the district of Brunswick, home to the beloved Green Refectory, Italian restaurant strip, and loads of share-housing students?
Let’s get on a #19, #1, or #6 tram towards Sydney Rd or Lygon St from the Parkville campus and we’ll be there in a matter of minutes.
In each state electorate, Victorian residents must vote for a Member of Parliament in the Legislative Assembly (the lower house) through preferential voting. The Brunswick district includes the suburbs of Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, Princes Hill, Carlton North, and Fitzroy North.
Parkville was in there too in 2018, but it’s since moved to Melbourne, so check out those deets if you’re a Parkville resident!
The Brunswick district used to be a strong Labor seat since its creation in 1904, with a working class background, history of left-wing campaigning and public protest. Traditionally housing significant Italian and Greek migrant communities, the area has become a more contemporary home to a large student population, and is increasingly known for its diversity, arts and cultural scene, and progressive outlook.
But the situation changed after the 2018 state election, when a Greens candidate won the seat of Brunswick for the first time with a 2.53% swing, making Brunswick a marginal seat. Therefore, the contest will be exciting to watch this year!
Brunswick is one of the Greens’ three seats in the lower house, with the party predicted to retain their 2% lead over Labor despite redistribution since the last election, but Labor will be hoping to pick up votes and win back the seat to shore up a third consecutive term in government.
Interestingly, the Liberals have changed their Brunswick How to Vote card since 2018, suggesting that the Greens should be above Labor in voters’ preferences, a blow to Labor who have historically benefited from Liberal preferences. They don’t typically have a strong showing in Brunswick, so their preference redistributions may have an impact if the primary votes are close.
Let’s do a quick run-through of our candidates!
Greens: In the incumbent seat is Dr Tim Read, the first non-Labor MP elected in Brunswick in 2018. His platform focuses on climate action, affordable housing, and sustainable transport. He is the only candidate in the electorate running again from 2018, giving him the advantage of being a familiar face.
Labor: Mike Williams was selected as the Brunswick Labor candidate earlier this year, and is a union official and former government advisor. The Brunswick East local particularly advocates for climate action, pre-school education, and mental health.
Liberal: Minh Quan Nguyen is running for the Liberal Party in an uphill battle, after the Liberal candidate in 2018 won just 10% of the primary vote. He is prioritising cheap public transport, hospital development, and climate action.
Victorian Socialists: Nahui Jimenez, a Mexican-Australian activist, is running for the Victorian Socialists as their first Brunswick candidate. Her participation adds another leftist party into the mix in the young, left-leaning electorate, potentially raising a challenge to Labor and the Greens. She is concerned about climate change, migrants and refugee rights and Indigenous oppression.
Animal Justice: Rachel Lamarche-Beauchesne is running for the Animal Justice party, which polled around 1.8% of the primary vote in 2018, and supports animal welfare and nature rehabilitation.
Fiona Patten’s Reason Party: Shea Evans is running as Brunswick’s candidate for the Reason party, representing what he describes as progressive and pragmatic politics. In 2018, the Reason Party candidate won the fourth most primary votes.
Family First Victoria: Lilian Sabry Shaker is running for Family First Victoria, a party which advocates for the centrality of the nuclear family in politics, and against “radical political correctness”. Shaker has not provided a personal statement to any media outlet.
Finally, two independent candidates are running in Brunswick. Ken Taylor represents the Indigenous-Aboriginal Party of Australia, an unregistered political organisation. Anthony Helou is a former mayor of Merri-bek Council advocating for local concerns, such as parking availability and aged care.
Statistics from the 2022 Federal election this May highlighted continued growing support for the national Greens in the Brunswick area, with the Greens winning 42% of the primary vote at Brunswick polling booths. Whilst federal results are not the same as state results, it’s evident that support for the Greens is not going away, and Labor will certainly have to fight to win back their historical seat.
Early voting is open now, and 26 November will be the final day to vote, and make a decision about our state’s future!
Happy voting Brunswick-ites!
Image Source: "Sydney Rd 03 N Brunswick near Brunswick Hotel with traffic" by Orderinchaos is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0