Vandalism claims as Higgins goes to the polls


Voting at Hughesdale Primary School. Photo Maddison Wrench

In an otherwise respectful day of campaigning in the south-east Melbourne seat of Higgins, there were reports of vandalism at a Glen Iris booth where Greens and Labor signs were removed. At other locations parties had guards protecting campaign material.

Despite record-breaking pre-polling this election, the booth at Armadale Primary School had a much larger showing than anticipated, running out of ballots, and having to restock sausages three times.

Among the high-profile Labor figures spotted in Higgins, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and NSW senator Kristina Keneally made an appearance in Carnegie, in the seat’s south-east. Labor hope to expand their support in this area.

As voting wrapped up, volunteers at polling places headed in for a snag where Liberal candidate Katie Allen, a paediatrician who unsuccessfully stood for the Liberals in Prahran in the recent state election, was soon on track to comfortably hold the seat was formerly held by Minister for jobs, industrial relations and women, Kelly O’Dwyer, despite a swing against the party.

Allen, Labor’s Fiona McLeod and Greens Jason Ball finished the day side by side in a final push at South Yarra Library.

Earlier in the day, there seemed at times to be more people lined up at the Hughesdale Primary School booth for the famous democracy sausage than to vote.

When asked about her hopes for this election, a voter who preferred to remain anonymous said she was not expecting change in the seat.

“Nothing will happen,” she said, citing “previous [election] histories” in the safe Liberal seat founded in 1949 and previously represented by two Prime Ministers, Harold Holt and John Gorton, and a treasurer, Peter Costello.

Brendan Kenna, a local volunteer for ‘Change the Rules’, said he was expecting big things from the Greens, especially in Hughesdale. “We need change,” he said, “and action on climate.”

He said the seat had become a prime example of “the inner-suburb voting trends starting to flood out into the middle suburbs”.