Friendly debate at polling booth

Rhonda Dredge

The big issue at the polling booth on Grey St, East Melbourne was who could afford to live and vote in the area.

Seasoned politician Owen Guest was claiming a local advantage and standing for the Liberals.

“I live three streets away in what used to be Jolimont,” he told Inner City News.

Mr Guest stood for Melbourne Ports in the 2016 Federal election and said he had a chance of gaining an upper house seat in the Legislative Council.

East Melbourne is in the Northern Metropolitan region (with the rest of the Melbourne electorate) and Mr Guest is second on the Liberal ticket.

“My background is in finance. I was a futures fund manager and I believe the state budget is out of control,” he said. “I have a small chance, but a chance because of lockdowns and cost blow-outs.”

He had a team of locals, including his daughter, handing out at the polling booth and he was scoring high on the local cred indicator.

By contrast, Isaac Jennings who was handing out for the Victorian Socialists, lived far away in Wantirna. This didn’t stop him from buying into the debate. 

“I would love to be a local but can’t afford it,” he said. “This is a Liberal haven.” 

Greens campaigner Rebecca Langman actually lived closest to the Uniting Church polling booth, having recently moved to Melbourne from Adelaide and was scoring points for her positive outlook about the area. 

“I live in Grey St on the corner,” she said. “We’re getting lots of interest. Lots of young people are renting here.”

She said that renters have more rights in Melbourne. “You can’t put pictures on the wall in South Australia. It’s really nice and quiet here compared to the hustle and bustle of Fitzroy and Collingwood.”

The Unitarian Church on Grey St was the third quietest booth in the electorate of Melbourne with 868 voters for the day, and campaigners plus the sausage team outnumbered voters for most of it.

At other nearby Melbourne booths, such as the Drill Hall in Victoria St, there were long queues at peak times.

The relaxation of pre-polling rules meant that a majority in some electorates had already cast their votes before election day.

Policies did get a chance of an airing, but local cred was counting for more at the Grey St booth, judging by the friendly debate.

“You’re bussing in people from New South Wales to man the booths,” Mr Guest said, accusing the Victorian Socialists of not having enough people in the state to back them.

The Socialist did not deny the accusation. “We have got people to come in from New South Wales,” Mr Jennings said. “It’s a moot point though, something that someone who was feeling insecure would raise.” •


Photo caption 1: Owen Guest: Liberal candidate for the upper house.

Photo caption 2: Isaac Jennings: campaigner for the Victorian Socialists.

Photo caption 3: Rebecca Langman: campaigner for The Greens.

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