Chisolm is one of the most hotly contested seats in the upcoming Federal election. It is key for either of the two major parties to form government.
Currently Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu holds the seat by a margin of only 0.5 percent. This makes it the third tightest seat in Australia and the smallest margin in Victoria.
Chisolm covers 77 square kilometres in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and is seen as a reflection of modern Australia.
In 2019 the average weekly wage was $1472, marginally higher than the national average of $1431. A third of voters in the area own their own homes also in line with the national average.
The area is rich in diversity, close to a fifth of the electorate has Chinese or Hong Kong heritage, almost eight percent were born in India or Sri Lanka and just under four percent from Malaysia. As well as a healthy mix of Greek, Italian and other European backgrounds.
Polling has been extremely tough to conduct for the electorate as there are roughly 109,000 eligible voters, however there are a further 19,000 adults living in the electorate who are unable to vote.
Currently the polls have Liu’s majority by only 0.2 percent.
Housing affordability, cost of living, national security, education, and small business assistance are amongst the most important issues that will sway voters coming into the election.
The Incumbent (LNP)- Gladys Liu
Hong Kong born Liu immigrated to Australia 37 years ago in 1985 to study speech pathology at La Trobe University. She then worked for the Victorian Education Department for 14 years while also running two restaurants in Box Hill and Richmond. Liu went on to join the Liberal Party in 2003, where she took on roles such as being a multicultural advisor to the Baillieu and Napthine Governments. She was an unsuccessful Liberal candidate for the Victorian Legislative Council in 2006, 2010 and 2014 before winning Chisholm at the 2019 Federal election.
Her first term as the member for Chisholm began with a series of controversies. On election day in 2019, the Liberal Party was accused of placing signs at 13 polling booths in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong and 29 sites in Chisholm. These resembled official signs from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The signs directed voters in Chinese script to give their first preference to the Liberal candidate.
She was also accused of having links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), through the United Front Work Department, a CCP agency that aims to promote China’s political interests over Chinese communities and foreign governments.
Ms Liu has been praised by her local Asian community for “fighting very hard for us,” a constituent of hers, Jennifer Teng told The Age.
“She is a fighter” who helped represent “one of the minorities in our community, and, of course, we have Penny Wong too,” Ms Tang said.
The Age reported Ms Liu delivered more than $570,000 in funding for the Migrant Information Centre in Box Hill to back-up this “fighting”.
“As a migrant, I can tell you that finding support in your first language can be so important,” Ms Liu said in a Facebook post.
In the last three years Ms Liu has brought multiple developments to community sporting centres in the electorate, such as a $4 million grant to the Waverly Blues Football Netball Club to fund the construction of a new pavilion and important works around the ground. She was able to help provide funding to the Bennettswood Reserve for a lighting upgrade.
Ms Liu has secured funding for the development of the new Headspace centre in Box Hill.
“The centre will be established as part of the largest ever expansion of the Headspace network,” said Ms Liu in her Facebook post.
Coming into this election Ms Liu, says her focus is on cutting the cost of living for her constituents, creating jobs, and seeing further developments in infrastructure for the multicultural communities and local sporting clubs.
The Opposition (ALP)- Carina Garland
Dr Carina Garland, 38, a former Victorian Trades Hall Council assistant secretary, grew up in Melbourne’s south-east, and now lives in Clayton. She studied at Monash university and undertook her PhD in gender and cultural studies at the University of Sydney.
She prides herself on her Italian heritage, as her grandfather migrated from Italy in the 1950s.
“It’s a positive migrant story that mirrors others in this area,” Garland said in an interview with The Age.
Ms Garland said she is committed to working with the diverse community against racism and racially motivated attacks.
“I will work to unite communities, not divide them,” she says.
Ms Garland says her professional experience working in the Trades Hall Council will make the working lives of Australians better, safer, and more secure.
“I’ve seen first-hand the impact that flat wages and insecure work has on families as well as on the local economy and has led the fight to secure better jobs for our community,” Ms Garland said on her website.
In the lead up to the election, Ms Garland has made multiple election commitments to her local community such as, $500,000 towards Box Hill Plaza and Station Street Trading Precinct Safety Project, $2 million into Mirrabooka Reserve for a new pavilion and upgraded facilities and $3 million to fund a new pavilion and upgrade facilities at Mount Waverley Reserve.
Ms Garland says she is committed to delivering a future for her community with more secure jobs, affordable childcare, protecting Medicare and increasing investments in renewables.
The Greens- Sarah Newman
Sarah Newman is a full-time university student who works at JB-HI-FI.
Ms Newman says she does not “feel” like the Greens can win Chisholm. But, Ms Newman said in an interview, she is “look[ing] forward to seeing our presence and first preference votes grow”.
In the last federal election, the Greens were able to register 12,000 votes, 86 percent of the preferences going to Labor.
Ms Newman says her and the Greens are committed to “making Australia a more liveable country for all people”.
“That includes real climate change action, getting mental health and dental care into Medicare,” Ms Newman said.
The goal for the Greens in this election is to obtain the balance of power in Canberra. Ms Newman said the Greens can provide an “objective and independent government that isn’t being bought out by big corporations and billionaires”.
United Australia Party (UAP)- Melanie Kempson
Ms Kempson is a Criminology graduate who works as a career in aged care and lives in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.
Ms Kempson says she aligns with the UAP’s core beliefs such as reviving manufacturing, removing vaccine mandates and protecting free speech.
“UAP’s fight to do what is right for our country and intends to speak up on community problems and to be a proactive representative for the Chisolm electorate,” Ms Kempson said on her UAP website.
Citizens Party- Ryan Dare
Mr Dare is a 28-year-old who lives in Blackburn. Mr Dare started working as a diesel mechanic after completing his VCE. He is currently working in fleet maintenance at a local government.
The Australian Citizens Party’s policies are centred around breaking the “money power of the private banks” by initiating “a Commonwealth Postal Savings Bank”, Mr Dare says on his website.
The Citizens Party’s plan for a “development and an Infrastructure bank will catapult our economy and standard of living to a new level”, Mr Dare says.
“Supporting a larger population, growing our economy and ensuring future generations can have the opportunity to thrive.”
Democratic Alliance Party- Max Mok
“I’m Max Mok. Hongkonger Australian, running in the seat of Chisholm 2022. I’m fighting for freedom,” Mr Mok says on his Facebook page.
Mr Mok is best known for handing out ‘Where is Peng Shuai’ T-shirts at the 2022 Australian Open.
The Democratic Alliance party is committed on investing in renewables, tackling homelessness and poverty, relations with China and strengthening Australia’s democracy.
Liberal Democrats- Ethelyn King
Ethelyn King is a Chisholm local and has lived in Melbourne’s south-east for nearly 30 years. Ms King is a full-time worker in education and is married to a small business owner.
Ms King’s website tells voters she believes in the values of freedom, “freedom of speech, freedom to work, freedom to travel”.
Her website says she is running on tackling the effects of cost of living and housing unaffordability “caused (both emotional and economical) by pandemic restrictions”.