CANDIDATES for the Saturday 26 November state election are steadily tailoring their campaigns to attract Mornington Peninsula voters.
Long regarded as a Liberal Party stronghold, Labor gained a foothold with Chris Brayne winning Nepean at the 2018 election, albeit with a majority of less than two per cent.
The other two peninsula electorates, Mornington and Hastings were held by the Liberals, but neither of the winning candidates are standing for their party this time around.
The picture will become clearer after Friday 11 November, the final day for all candidates to register with the Victorian Electoral Commission.
Boundary changes have nominally made Hastings a Labor seat and in Mornington long standing Liberal MP David Morris has been dropped in preference to Chris Crewther, a former MP for the federal seat of Dunkley, which he lost in 2019 after one term.
In Hastings, Briony Hutton has replaced Neale Burgess as the Liberal candidate. Mr Burgess announced he would not be seeking re-election.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has decided to become a highly visible player in the election by listing candidates’ promises of money that effect the peninsula on its website.
On Sunday, there were no promises listed by Labor, the Greens or any other candidates for any of the peninsula’s three electorates.
Liberal promises measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars, covering anything from sports fields (including the non-existent Somerville Sporting Precinct) to schools, a hospital (Rosebud) and extending and electrifying the rail line from Frankston to Baxter and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.
The Animal Justice Party last week called on the state government to organise a “soft herding” solution to move hundreds of kangaroos trapped on private property outside of the Mornington Peninsula National Park at Cape Schanck.
The party’s candidates say that if elected they will work towards ensuring “biodiversity-sensitive urban design as a consideration in all planning decisions”.
While not listed on the shire’s website, Labor candidate for Mornington, Georgia Fowler, issued a news release basically reminding voters that the state government was “investing” $2.9m “towards Alexandra Park Community Health Hub” at Mornington.
If the bookies are anything to go by, teal independent candidate Kate Lardner is now the favourite to win Mornington, closely followed by the Liberals with Labor and the Greens far behind.
In Hastings, Local Government Minister Melissa Horne announced the government was “investing” a very exact figure of $246,997 towards a children’s playground on a reserve in Olivia Way. Accompanying Horne’s news release were pictures featuring Labor’s Hastings candidate Paul Mercurio, a shire councillor.
Futurefish Foundation director David Kramer, once touted as a possible Labor candidate for either Hastings or Mornington, issued a statement welcoming a Liberal Party announcement that, if elected, it would centralise the management of boat ramps in Port Phillip and Western Port.
“This means [the shire] will no longer be responsible for boat ramps such as Sorrento, Rye, Mornington and Hastings and the car parks that go with them. It also spells the end for the various committees of management who have responsibility for smaller boat ramps,” Kramer said.
But it was the future of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway that sparked the most heated exchange.
Liberal leader Matthew Guy promised $175m to duplicate the freeway between Jetty and Boneo roads, build an overpass “pedestrian safety improvements” at Jetty Road as well as an “upgraded intersection for Boneo Road”.
The Liberal candidate for Nepean, Sam Groth, said the state Labor government had “ignored” peninsula families.
Brayne accused the Liberals of repeating undelivered promises.
He said the promises were made “with the intent of winning a seat back, and not at all with the intent of actually delivering the project”.
“The choice is clear this election; do we continue to get things done on the southern peninsula with a member of parliament who has lived and breathed this community their whole life, or do we simply go back to the previous situation where nothing happens on the Mornington Peninsula?”