Federal election field firms

January 20, 2022 BY

Firming: One pundit has the Labor Party’s Libby Coker holding Corangamite at the next Federal election. Photo: MICK TSIKAS/ AAP IMAGE

THE Federal seat of Corangamite will keep its sitting member “unless Labor does very badly”, according to Deakin University political historian and lecturer Geoffrey Robinson.

Labor’s Libby Coker holds Corangamite with a margin of only one per cent, but Dr Robinson said the recent redistribution means Corangamite is now a Geelong-dominated seat, populated by people with “traditional” Labor attributes – “fairly young, well-educated and employed in the public sector.”

Corangamite was one of the most fiercely-contested seats at the 2019 election, the Coalition throwing more than $55.2 million at it in an unsuccessful bid to retain former Liberal member Sarah Henderson, who has since returned to politics as a Senator.

“I don’t think this will be replicated,” Dr Robinson said.

“[Corangamite] formerly had a sitting Liberal member able to attract a lot of support from the party. This time round I expect the party’s focus will be elsewhere… marginal seats like Chisholm in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.”

Dr Robinson said current Liberal candidate Stephanie Asher was a reasonably high-profile pick for Corangamite – “Mayor of Geelong, she’s obviously pretty popular at a local government level” – but he believed the odds were stacked against her.

Five candidates are confirmed so far in Corangamite: Ms Coker, Ms Asher, former Liberal Party member turned independent Tom Roe, Surf Coast Shire councillor Paul Barker for the Liberal Democrats, and disability support worker and bachelor of commerce student Alex Marshall for the Greens.

There may be a sixth candidate in Neil Harvey, who has previously contested the seat for Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party.

His various social media pages list him as a candidate but he could not be reached for comment.

An election date is yet to be announced, but it must be held by 21 May this year.

Dr Robinson expected the election would be close as “the Coalition is only holding on by a seat,” but said unlike 2019 there would be much less policy difference between the major parties – “intense fighting, but not over that much.”

“Last election, people saw more of a policy differentiation than normal, but this seemed to scare voters away. This time Labor is playing a small target, almost to the point of obsession.”