After 37 straight defeats, the drought is broken

February 2, 2010

Dear Mayne Reporters,

Who would have thunk it folks but after 37 consecutive defeats in contested elections, the first victory has finally been registered.

Yes, Australia's most unsuccessful candidate will be serving on Manningham Council as one of three representatives from the Heidi Ward for the next 4 years.

And with a process underway that could see an appointment to the Centro Retail board, life it set to change in a pretty major way. The professional independent outsider is set to step inside the tent, fully realising that it is a whole lot easier criticising from afar than actually wrestling with issues from a position of responsibility.

774 ABC Melbourne's Ali Moore certainly liked that line. Have a listen to our chat at 9.15am this morning.

The most sprawled suburbs in the world's most sprawled city

Manningham used to be the City of Doncaster & Templestowe until Jeff Kennett sacked all of Victoria's 210 councils in 1993-94 before restoring democracy in 1997 after appointed commissioners ran the much reduced but bigger 78 new councils for three years.

Manningham's history revolves around gold being discovered at Anderson's Creek, just near Mick Gatto's old place, in the 1850s plus some world famous orchards, all of which were the subject of my year 12 history option.

The municipality is said to be Victoria's healthiest and it features some of Melbourne's leafiest eastern suburbs such as:

Templestowe: where Alphonse Gangitano was murdered, plus famed for Brian Quinn's extravagant Coles Myer-funded mansion renovations. More private tennis courts per house than any other suburb in the world. We can't afford one of these numerous acre blocks.

Doncaster: Westfield has just spent $600 million upgrading "Doncaster Shoppingtown", which is now pitched as "the Bondi Junction of Melbourne".

Park Orchards: further out and part of the green wedge with Essendon legend Kevin Sheedy as the most famous resident.

Wonga Park: parts of it are semi-rural and home to Johnny Farnham.

Warrandyte: scene of the famous Wayne Carey, Glenn Archer and Anthony Stevens bust-up.

Bulleen: known for the Bulleen Boomers in basketball and also discovered socceroo Mark Bresciano through the Bulleen Lyons.

Donvale: former ANZ CEO Don Mercer lived out here before bailing to East Melbourne.

How the count unfolded

Whilst the polls in Manningham closed at 6pm on Friday, the count in Heidi didn't start until about 6pm on Sunday afternoon. The hard-working scrutineer was the wonderful wife and she didn't get home with the complete preference distribution breakdown and final result until 11pm.

Under a new voting system, one of the four existing wards was abolished so there were three vacancies in each of the three remaining wards. In a proportional prepresentation and compulsory preferential voting system, the quota was 25% with the key information vehicle being the postal voting pack which included 150 words and a photo from each candidate, plus preference allocations.

Whilst several candidates took out ads in the local Murdoch paper, distributed flyers and placed posters in shop windows, my campaign was very low key as the decision to run was only made the night before nominations closed and then we were right in the peak of the AGM season, which finished on Friday. However, that doesn't mean we won't be giving the gig a red hot go.

The VEC website is yet to update the figure but this is how the primary votes of the 10 candidates finished in Heidi:

Geoff Gough (incumbent Liberal mayor): 4708 (21.03%)
Stephen Mayne: 4205 (18.78%)
Grace La Vella (incumbent): 3132 (14%)
Andrew Travaglini: 2026 (9.05%)
Mia Spizzica: 2011 (8.98%)
Bob Beynon (former mayor): 1942 (8.67%)
Gus Morello: 1396 (6.24%)
David Wolnizer: 1216 (5.43%)
Alexander Reece: 1194 (5.33%)
Garry Addison: 556 (2.48%)

I swapped second preferences with Garry Addison who is a Liberal Party member and the father of the wife of my oldest friend in Templestowe, who was MC at our wedding. This connection was only discovered after nominations had closed.

About two thirds of voters followed the how to vote cards of candidates. Alexander Reece and David Wolnizer both went to Andrew Travaglini, Gus Morello went to Grace La Vella and then Bob Beynon was eliminated and this put Geoff Gough over the 25% quota first.

Mia Spizzica then went to Grace La Vella putting her into the second spot, then I picked up the final position with 5666 votes, ahead of Andrew Travaglini who finished fourth on 4573.

Think Manningham, think Menzies, think Kevin Andrews

The Manningham boundaries are very similar to the Federal seat of Menzies (see map), which is held by former Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews, who some observers are tipping will retire at the next election.

It has 106,000 residents and about 86,000 registered votes in roughly 45,000 homes. These residents will be served by 9 councillors for the next four years, so let's hope we all get along pretty well.

New broom in majority at Manningham

Counting was scheduled to start at 7.30am on Sunday morning in the Koonung, but it was delayed for an hour and then took about 10 hours to complete given there was a massive 18 candidates chasing three spots.

Incumbent Charles Pick, an ALP staffer, topped the primary vote and the two other successful candidates were Fred Chuah, a stalwart of the local Chinese community, and Ivan Reid who has raised issues around inappropriate development.

Counting in the final ward of Mullum Mullum finished at 4am this morning and it produced a clean sweep of fresh faces, including Labor Party stalwart Meg Downie, former Federal and state Greens candidate David Ellis and financial accountability campaigner Graeme MacMillan.

The Manningham Leader has some details on the results and this page on the VEC website has all the final statistics.

What happens now?

The formal declaration of the poll takes place at 6pm tonight and we'll be dragging the whole family along as Laura and Alice were so excited they took forever to get to sleep tonight. On Tuesday night there is a detailed briefing from the CEO and four divisional managers ahead of a dinner.

We then have some intensive training through the umbrella group for local government in Victoria, before the councillors gather to elect a mayor next Monday. I'll be pushing for this process to be as open as possible.

Rather than huddlling in private after all sorts of caucusing and deal making, why not conduct it in public, require candidates to give a speech and then allow other councillors and members of the public to ask questions before then having an open vote in the chamber?

This first week should prove to be fascinating.

That's all for now.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

* The Mayne Report is a multi-media governance website published by Stephen Mayne with occasional email editions. To unsubscribe from the emails click here.