Conservative voters in the CBD are likely to be set adrift by the Liberal Party State Council when it considers on April 28 whether to run a candidate in Melbourne at the November state election.
The state seat of Melbourne is one of a number of inner city seats the party is considering abandoning. The idea is motivated by a desire to concentrate its resources on seats it has a realistic chance of winning.
But City of Melbourne’s only Liberal councillor Philip Le Liu argues such a move would remove all the gains and progress the Liberal party has made within Melbourne.
Cr Le Liu said the demographic was changing rapidly, with more professional residents and retirees choosing to live in the city after downsizing in the suburbs. It is also noted that the city has a big Chinese community which tends to vote conservatively.
“While the strategy might work in other areas, to abandon Melbourne when the Liberal Party vote has increased would be disastrous and undo years of hard work.” Cr Le Liu said. “The Liberal vote, in my opinion, will continue to grow as young professionals move to take advantage of central city apartment living.”
In the 2016 federal election, Cr Le Liu was the Liberal Party candidate and he out-polled the Labor Party for the first time in 100+ years, picking up 25.5 per cent of the primary vote. In the 2014 state election, Liberal Party candidate Ed Huntington attracted 24 per cent of the primary vote (8913 votes).
Cr Le Liu said ultimately it will be up to the party to decide its course of action but warned that if the Liberals vacated the city, generations would pass before they could attempt to return. He also warned such a policy would affect the party’s chances in the Northern Metro Legislative Council as well as cost the party vital electoral funds.
Labor candidate Jennifer Kanis said if the Liberals failed to contest the seat it would prove “that Matthew Guy does not want to represent all Victorians”.
But, she said, it was a matter for the Liberal Party to manage.
Sitting member and Greens candidate, Ellen Sandell, said: “I’m sure Melbourne residents will be disappointed that, yet again, one of the old parties is ignoring them.”
“These political games from the old parties show why we need a strong, independent voice here in Melbourne advocating for the issues that affect us and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“I’m focused on delivering good policy for local residents – from more affordable housing and getting developer donations out of politics to better climate change policies and public transport and I’ll continue to do that regardless of what Liberal and Labor do.”
“I’m aiming to win a majority here in Melbourne regardless of the games Liberal and Labor may play.”