Photo by Sarah Emery
Kat Theophanous, the Labor candidate for Northcote, defeated the Greens’ Lidia Thorpe to reclaim the long standing Labor seat.
“It’s a diverse electorate built on old migrant communities—then there’s a whole new generation of young families,” she said.
To appeal to the electorate, Ms Theophanous endorsed policies such as bi-lingual childcare, three-year-old kinder, triage for children and the royal commission into mental health. She mentioned the success of her mentor Fiona Richardson in advocating for a royal commission into family violence.
“It was inspiring working with Fiona,” she said.
At the beginning of the day at Santa Maria College, Ms Theophanous was uncertain of her victory.
“We’re the underdogs, it’s a tough contest,” she said.
The race was neck and neck with Lidia Thorpe dominating the polls in the 2017 by-election and Kat Theophanous gaining momentum through the popularity of the Andrews Government.
The fractured nature of the electorate was reflected in the ambiguous mood throughout the day. And the addition of a last-minute Liberal candidate, three minor party nominees and an independent increased the intensity of the competition.
One voter said the past four years have been stable and she wanted it to continue. She had previously voted for the Greens in every election.
“It’s been a really good progressive government,” she said. “It’s refreshing to see a government that actually does stuff.”
Another voter praised Lidia Thorpe for personally campaigning to save the Great National Forest.
“I want to see the Leadbeater’s Possum and native fish saved,” he said.
The priorities of most voters were scattered across a number of social policy issues including school funding, housing availability, mental health, harm minimisation and public housing.
At the close of polls at Fairfield Primary School, Lidia Thorpe was proud of what she had achieved during her short time in office. She said the establishment of the Northcote MPs Youth Council and the Northcote Electorate State Schools Alliance were programs worth celebrating.