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Kennett Government Mauled in Election Upset; Independents May Hold Balance Of Power; Country Voters Turn On Coalition; Majority Prefers Labor

The Kennett Government has suffered a mauling in the Victorian State election held on September 18 and is struggling to maintain its majority in the Legislative Assembly.

At the close of counting on Saturday night, the government had lost at least 11 seats and was struggling in at least two more. The ALP appears to have secured 41 seats, the Government 42 and Independents 2. There are two seats in doubt. The final result may hinge on a supplementary election to be held in Frankston East.

45 seats are required to form a government, although the government also needs to provide a Speaker from amongst its members.

A hung parliament is possible, as is a minority coalition government. Negotiations with the Independent members, Russell Savage (Mildura) and Susan Davies (Gippsland West) may well be vital to the formation of the next government.

Labor Wins 11 Seats From Coalition

The ALP has won the following seats from the coalition: Ballarat East, Ballarat West, Bendigo East, Carrum, Geelong, Gisborne, Narracan, Oakleigh, Ripon, Seymour, Tullamarine.

Large swings against Liberal and National Party candidates have been recorded in rural electorates. The ALP has won 7 rural seats from the coalition parties.

The ALP has secured an overall swing of around 2.6% of the primary vote. The Liberal vote declined by 2.0% and the National Party’s by 1.9%. Minor parties and independent candidates increased their share of the vote by 1.3%.

The ALP has won a majority of the two-party-preferred vote, 50.1% to the coalition’s 49.9%.

Death of Liberal Renegade May Delay Election Outcome

The State election may ultimately hinge on the result in Frankston East where the election has been declared invalid following the death of the sitting independent and former Liberal member, Peter McClellan.

McClellan won the seat as a Liberal, but resigned during the last Parliament to sit as an Independent. He died overnight. Under such circumstances the result in Frankston East is declared void and a supplementary election will take place some time in the next 6 weeks.

Bracks Jubilant, Kennett Subdued

Opposition Leader Steve Bracks was jubilant when he spoke to cheering Labor supporters on Saturday night. He claimed the result was too close to call and was a victory for decency in Victoria.

Premier Jeff Kennett spoke of a possible new election and a halt to the program of innovation and vision experienced in Victoria over the past 7 years.

Read and listen to the leaders’ speeches by clicking here.

  • Listen to Steve Bracks (6m)

Liberals Lose Prospective Deputy and Future Premier

The defeat of Health Minister Rob Knowles in Gisborne throws into doubt the Liberal Party’s plans to groom a successor to Jeff Kennett. Knowles was defeated in his attempt to transfer from the upper house to the Legislative Assembly. The ALP also won the by-election for his vacant Legislative Council electorate of Ballarat Province.

It is now highly probable that the new member for Brighton, Louise Asher, will be elected deputy leader and be favoured to replace Jeff Kennett.

A.L.P. Hangs Onto 1996 Gains

The A.L.P. has comfortably held the seats it gained at the last State Election in 1996, strengthening its hold on Ivanhoe, Essendon and Bendigo West.

The ALP appears likely to retain Mitcham, a seat it won at a by-election in 1997. The by-election was held to replace long-time Kennett rival, Roger Pescott. The ALP secured a swing in excess of 15% at the by-election. At the close of counting on Saturday, much of that swing had been dissipated, but Tony Robinson was ahead on preferences.

Labor Gains Seats in Legislative Council

The ALP appears likely to win an extra six seats in the Legislative Council, increasing its numbers from 10 to 16 in the 44 seat chamber.

Labor is ahead in Ballarat Province and will also win the by-election created by the resignation of Rob Knowles. Labor is also ahead in the Provinces of Chelsea, Geelong, Eummemering and Waverley.


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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