Thursday, December 9, 2010
THE Baillieu government appears set to control both houses of Parliament, after a late surge in voting for the Greens knocked maverick independent Stephen Mayne out of the race in the Northern Metro region.
With almost all votes counted, the Liberals appear set to squeeze home in all three of the close races for the new Legislative Council. This would give the Coalition a bare majority of 21 seats in the 40-member chamber a gain of four seats from the 17 it held in the old Council.
Labor looks set to end up with just 16 seats, down from 19 in the old chamber.
The Greens have retained their three seats in the Council but lost the balance of power. And the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) has lost its one seat, that of its leader, Peter Kavanagh.
The final result will be known for certain on Monday, when the Victorian Electoral Commission will feed all 3.2 million votes to its computer to allocate the preferences.
But there is now only an outside chance of an upset.
Ironically, a massive late surge in the Greens' vote has ended their hopes of retaining the balance of power.
Big gains in counting of absentee and postal votes lifted the Greens' vote to 12 per cent statewide, and 19.1 per cent in Northern Metro.
That not only re-elected their de facto leader Greg Barber, but lifted his running mate Alex Bhathal well above Mr Mayne, who polled just 1 per cent, knocking him out of the race.
The Liberals' Craig Ondarchie will end with the final seat, held by retired Labor minister Theo Theophanous.
Sex Party leader Fiona Patten also fell short of sneaking an upset win in the same race.
The late surge to the Greens also saw their Member of the Legislative Council, Colleen Hartland, win her battle with the President of the Council, Labor's Bob Smith, for the final seat in Western Metro.
Mr Smith, most famous for taking 10 overseas trips in his four years as Council President, will be replaced by Andrew Elsbury of the Liberals.
The closest race of all is in the vast electorate of Northern Victoria, where Liberal MLC Donna Petrovich has narrowly rolled back a strong challenge by Steve Threlfall of the Country Alliance.
The Country Alliance polled 20 per cent of the vote in Shepparton, where they beat Labor into third place, but ran out of puff in the Mallee.
David O'Brien of the Nationals took the final seat in Western Victoria from DLP leader Peter Kavanagh, the first seat the Nationals have won in the west for 40 years.
And in Southern Metro, the Liberals' Georgie Crozier unseated Labor MLC Jennifer Huppert.
Mr Mayne's loss maintains his record as Australia's most unsuccessful candidate for Parliament and the boards of top 100 companies a record blemished only by him win-ning election to Manningham Council.
LIB/NAT ALP GREENS
Eastern 3 2 No change
Northern 2 2 1 Libs gain from ALP
South Eastern 2 3 No change
Southern 3 1 1 Libs gain from ALP
Western 2 2 1 Libs gain from ALP
Eastern 3 2 No change
Northern 3 2 No change
Western 3 2 Nat gain from DLP
TOTAL 21 16 3