Malvern: A Liberal Haven

Malvern is a southern metropolitan electorate, approximately seven kilometres to the south-east of Melbourne’s CBD, and located entirely within the municipal boundary of the City of Stonnington and the Federal electorate of Higgins (a famously Liberal seat). In the electorate boundaries are affluent suburbs of Malvern, Malvern East, Armadale, Kooyong and parts of Glen Iris and Toorak.


For its entire existence, the electorate has been held by the Liberals, and has been known for being one of the Liberal party’s safest seats in Melbourne, with a 16.3 per cent advantage over Labor, though the Liberals suffered a 2.8 per cent swing against them at the 2014 election. Only once in its existence – in 1985- has the Lib’s two-party preferred vote been less than 60 per cent (it was 59.8). The seat is currently held by Michael O’Brien, who replaced former Liberal leader Robert Doyle in the 2006 Victorian election.


The electorate is a largely residential area, with a wide variety of private and public schools. In the 2016 Census, it found that the median age of residents in the area was 41, with a majority of residents married (51.7 per cent), most residents being Australian or come from parents who are Australian born. Also, notable was that the average gross weekly income for households was more than $3000 with a majority of members being working professionals with families.


Considering the high-income, average age, career types and family history of the area, along with it being one of the most affluent areas in the state, it comes as no surprise the Liberal party has remained fairly safe since the electorate’s creation.


Only the Liberal and Greens candidates have been announced at this point, and both seem to agree on a few of the primary issues of the electorate, which could provide an interesting November election. Crime has been a primary concern for sitting Liberal member Michael O’Brien, but also Greens candidate Polly Morgan. Both also appear to be concerned about the rising cost of living in the area, worsening congestion on roads and an ageing public transport system in the area that some locals say needs desperate attention.


According to Michael O’Brien, there has been a big increase in crime in the Malvern electorate since the election of the Andrews Government. While crime in Victoria has increased by 20 per cent, crime in the Malvern electorate has risen by 33.6 per cent (according to the Crime Statistics Agency). Areas with the highest rates are Glen Iris and Malvern East. Crimes include home invasions, car jackings, armed robberies and street assaults.


A concern for the Green’s Morgan is the big increase in house prices around the area. O’Brien’s other concern is the cost of living. O’Brien argues that the Andrews Government has introduced 12 new or increased taxes since 2014, where Victorian’s tax bills have increased by 35 per cent, yet they are struggling to see any personal wage growth. Similarly, he argues, the tripled tax on coal has led to Victorian’s electricity bills to increase by over $300 a year.


Public transport and roads continue to be issues for the southern metropolitan electorate, with an ageing public transport system under much needed attention, according to both the Greens and Liberal parties. High congestion on major roads, including Glenferrie and the Princess highway alongside a weak tram route in the area (trams 3 and 5, respectively). With a growing population, an increase in trams is being wanted by members of the electorate alongside the demand for a fix on congestion.


Morgan puts down a lot of the problems Malvern faces to the influences of big business in the area, where O’Brien blames the current Labor government. This will be investigated throughout the upcoming election campaign here on The Junction.