MPs face 3 more years of Opposition

Clare O''Neil during the election campaign. 193589_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Labor MPs in the Greater Dandenong area were emphatically returned while their party crushingly lost the ‘unloseable’ 18 May federal election.

ALP incumbent MPs Julian Hill (in the seat of Bruce), Clare O’Neil (Hotham) and Mark Dreyfus (Isaacs) were re-elected with greater margins than 2016.

This was in defiance what appeared a national swing to the Coalition Government.

Mr Hill, while “delighted”and “humbled” by the local result, said constituents were “devastated” that Labor didn’t ascend to power.

“People in Dandenong and Casey are facing the prospect of three more years of being forgotten.”

The Liberal Party had “promised nothing” in the area, Mr Hill said.

“They ran on tax cuts yet no one earning under $45,000 gets a dollar from the Liberals, and that’s a hell of a lot of people in our community who don’t feature in their world.”

He said it would “take some time” to reflect on why the national battle was lost and who would be the best to lead after Bill Shorten’s resignation.

“We were upfront with people about our view and the change that was needed. That of course runs a political risk of giving ammunition for fear and lies, and that was part of the story.”

He said but for the donkey vote, Fraser Anning’s candidate in Bruce and his “xenophobic racist fear” campaign was “roundly rejected”.

He added “all Australians will need to reflect on the fake news that was spread”.

“Just one example was the complete lie and nonsense that Labor was considering an inheritance or death tax. It simply wasn’t true.”

Locally, the Liberal campaign barely got out of the blocks. Its Isaacs tilt derailed when candidate Jeremy Hearn was disendorsed for anti-Muslim social media posts.

A Liberal candidate wasn’t decided in Bruce until less than a month before the poll. Due to an electoral boundary re-distribution, the formerly marginal seat became notionally safe anyway.

Instead the Government successfully threw resources at sandbagging marginal seats like La Trobe and Chisholm (which is still on a knife-edge).

It also spent big on protecting ministers threatened in blue-ribbon electorates such as Flinders and Kooyong.

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