Sunday, August 4, 2013

Victorian seats hold the key to election result -

Rebecca Sutherland, from Larpent in the seat of Corangamite, with husband Lachie and son Angus, 4, will vote Liberal. Source: HeraldSun

THE battle in Victoria's marginal seats could decide who becomes Prime Minister.

The most intense focus will be on whether Labor can withstand the Liberal assault on its three most marginal seats of Corangamite, Deakin and La Trobe.

Tony Abbott has visited Victoria more than 100 times since the last election.

But with Kevin Rudd needing to gain seats to stay in power, the spotlight will also be on the government's bid for the Liberal-held Aston and Dunkley and whether the ALP can win back the seat of Melbourne snatched away by the Greens' Adam Bandt.

Victorians will vote in 37 federal electorates and choose six senators.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, seeking asylum in the Ecuador embassy in London, will be among an estimated 60 people asking Victorians to put them in the Upper House.

Former boxer Barry Michael and footballer Doug Hawkins are running under billionaire Clive Palmer's banner while the Greens are hoping Janet Rice can increase their numbers.

Victoria was Labor's fortress at the 2010 election under Julia Gillard. While the government suffered big swings in Queensland and NSW, the ALP's two-party result in Victoria increased by 1 per cent to 55.3 per cent - its best result since World War II.

The ALP holds 22 out of 37 seats. The Liberals have 12 and the Nationals two.

Victoria was the only state where Labor gained seats in 2010, winning McEwen and La Trobe. Eight of Labor's 10 safest seats are in Victoria. But so are its two most marginal seats.

Corangamite, which stretches from Geelong to the Otways, will see a rematch between Labor's Darren Cheeseman who beat Liberal candidate Sarah Henderson by just 771 votes.

In Deakin in the eastern suburbs around Ringwood and Nunawading, Labor's Mike Symon has a 0.6 per cent margin to defend against Liberal challenger Michael Sukkar. A third vulnerable seat for Labor is the Berwick-based mortgage belt seat La Trobe where Laura Smyth beat the former Liberal MP and policeman Jason Wood who is trying to wrest it back.

Mr Rudd's return as PM has improved polling in some safe seats such as Isaacs but it is unclear if there will be a backlash in others such as Melbourne Ports where Ms Gillard had strong personal support.

Labor is attacking the eastern suburbs seat of Aston held by Alan Tudge and Frankston-based Dunkley where former minister Bruce Billson has a 1.1 per cent buffer.

The Coalition is at war with itself in its safest seat of Mallee where Nationals MP John Forrest is retiring after 20 years. The Liberals have selected Chris Crewther to go against Nationals candidate Andrew Broad. If the Liberals win, it will reduce the Nationals to just one MP in Victoria - Darren Chester in Gippsland.

The election will also see a generational change in a swag of Victoria's safest Labor electorates.

Ms Gillard is being replaced by school principal Joanne Ryan in Werribee-based Lalor and former Cabinet minister Nicola Roxon's Footscray seat of Gellibrand is being contested by Tim Watts.

The Greens have their sights on an upset win in Batman where Senator David Feeney replaces Martin Ferguson.

Simon Crean leaves Hotham after 23 years for Monash councillor Geoff Lake and former Speaker Harry Jenkins is handing Scullin to Andrew Giles.

Lisa Chesters is seeking to replace Steve Gibbons in Bendigo.

Labor has selected Mehmet Tillem to take Mr Feeney's third spot on the Victorian upper house ticket. Regardless of the election result he will sit in the Senate as his replacement until June 30.

There has been a redistribution across Victoria but no seats have been abolished. Some boundaries have moved, meaning residents may be voting in a different seat and should check the Electoral Commission website at

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