Greens romp home for a fifth consecutive term in Melbourne

Greens romp home for a fifth consecutive term in Melbourne
Sean Car

Greens leader and Melbourne MP Adam Bandt enjoyed his best Federal Election yet on May 21, winning a fifth consecutive term with an increased percentage of the primary vote, while his party expanded its presence in the House of Representatives.

In addition to the emergence of “Teal Independents” helping to dismantle the Coalition Government across the country, the Greens increased its number of lower house seats from one to four, picking up Brisbane, Ryan and Griffith in Queensland.

While fellow Greens candidate Steph Hodgins-May, who was contesting the neighbouring seat of Macnamara for the third consecutive election,  drew a significant swing to The Greens, Labor incumbent Josh Burns narrowly emerged the victor of the close contest which was only called on May 31, more than one week after the election.

The cross bench has more than doubled from six seats in the 2019 election to a whopping 15, leaving the incoming Labor Government with only a slender majority in the lower house.

Speaking with Inner City News following his re-election, Mr Bandt said he was “really humbled” to be elected to Melbourne again with an increased vote but said he and his team had worked “really hard” locally through its “people-powered model”.

“We were getting really strong messages of increased support; the question was how big it was going to be. We knew more people would turn to the Greens, but it was great to see so many seats turn Green for the first time,” he said.

“Melbourne is a really diverse electorate. While we’ve got some of the most expensive real estate in the country, we’ve also got a huge amount of public housing. Part of the reason why there is so much cohesion and respect among the people in Melbourne is that everyone in Melbourne knows that the more equal we are as a society the better off we’ll all be.”

“People now want politics to reconnect with the community – that’s one take away lesson from this election. Across the country people had started to switch off from politics. Our message was that politics can actually make people’s lives better. We can do it in a way that brings the community together.”

Mr Bandt told Inner City News that some of the feedback he found the “most moving” was from younger people, who he said were delivered “a real moment of hope” by the election result.

“The thing I found most moving was the amount of young people who came up to me, very emotionally, and said, ‘this is the first time that I feel hopeful about politics in the future’,” he said.

“For a lot of younger people, they just had a decade of terrible government, houses becoming more unaffordable and the climate crisis getting worse, and that’s been their whole experience of politics.”

While many commentators put the May 21 demolition of the Liberal Party down to a repudiation of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his government, the results were underpinned by a desire for stronger action on climate, integrity and gender equality.

Between The Greens and the many Teal Independents who ran in traditionally Liberal seats on a strong platform of action on climate, Mr Bandt said a “very clear message” had resonated among voters across the country.

“We’ve just lived through three years or drought, fires and floods and people know we’ve got to get out of coal and gas and take climate action, and that the window to do it is now,” he said.

“You now see that right across the political spectrum, with people now shifting the way they vote to call for more climate action and that is really encouraging.”

“This has always been something that matters to the people of Melbourne and we’re going to work hard to push on that in the next term of parliament.”

As far as Melbourne’s CBD was concerned, he said its post-pandemic recovery would “be a priority for me.”

“Once we know the shape of the government and know who’s responsible for looking after cities, there are a number of issues we would like to raise with the relevant ministers including the push for assistance with recovery,” he said.

“I’ll be pushing hard for support for our creative sector in Melbourne to ensure that as we still deal with the consequences of the pandemic that we’re still able to get those creative and arts events back on their feet and functioning sustainably again.” •

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