Scientist and a snake catcher hope it’s independents’ day in Melton

Victorian election 2022

Melton has been safe Labor territory since its founding 30 years ago, but the Liberals and a handful of independents have sniffed winds of change and campaigned on the claim that turfing the ALP is the surest way to end decades of the outer western electorate being taken for granted.

Steve McGhie, Labor candidate, was campaigning at Kurunjang Secondary College in the final hour of voting, where voters were arriving at the booth in dribs and drabs.

Liberal candidate for Melton, Graham Watt, said there was a “mood for change” in the electorate.Credit:Scott McNaughton

McGhie said he received a favourable reception from voters.

“The odd person wants to have a dash about whatever it is, ‘I wouldn’t vote Labor’, but I think generally it’s been pretty good,” he said. “I’m reasonably confident, without being overly confident,” he said.

Labor won Melton with a margin of 5 per cent at the last election, but suffered a 15 per cent swing, and McGhie said he did not sense a strong anti-Labor sentiment this time. He said that the Andrews government had delivered for the area in the past four years.

“At the end of the day I can’t deal with what went on before me, I can only deal with what I’ve done … I think there’s been a change in Melton.”

Current Labor MP for Melton, Steve McGhie.Credit:Rachael Dexter

He cited commitments to build a TAFE, a hospital, and to remove the area’s three level crossings as evidence the electorate was not being overlooked.

Liberal candidate Graham Watt, who was the member for eastern suburban Burwood until he lost his seat in 2018, said he felt a “mood for change” in Melton.

“I think people understand that they’ve been neglected and that the infrastructure deficit out here in Melton is a problem. There is a lot of growth here, but there’s not been growth in infrastructure,” he said.

Independent candidates Dr Ian Birchall, a scientist, and Jarrod Bingham, a snake catcher, were both hopeful that Melton voters would embrace their pitch to turn the seat independent. Both directed their preferences against Labor.

“I’m running on the line that you put an independent in and at least I might be able to shine a bit of light on Melton’s neglect and get things happening,” Birchall said.

At 7.30pm on Saturday the Victorian Electoral Commission had not posted any progress on the vote count in Melton.

Melton voter Parav Vij said he was swayed by Labor’s promise to remove level crossings.Credit:Scott McNaughton

Parav Vij voted Labor, and said he was swayed by the party’s promise to remove level crossings in the area.

“I think it’s a good decision, they’ve delivered it in other places, so I hope they’ll deliver it here,” he said.

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