“I’ve got literally nothing to lose”: 18yo joins election race


Max Martucci

This time last year, Max Martucci was in his last year of high school. Now, the teenage candidate is representing The New Liberals among other minor party candidates, contesting for the newly redistributed electorate of Hawke.

“The teachers always told me to shut up and focus on the work rather than reading what was going on with politics or economics,” he said.

Swapping university for politics, Mr Martucci is contesting the notionally labor held seat at the upcoming May election. Mr Martucci joined The TNL party in 2021 and earlier this year decided he “might as well” put his hand up as a candidate to run as the representative for Hawke.

“I’m a bit young, as I’ve been told, but the problems are now, the moment’s now. We don’t exactly have time to be waiting another decade to see what happens,” he said.

Mr Martucci has lived in the electorate his whole life, having attended school locally.

“Because I’m comfortable with the area, I can actually go and talk to people and explore more in depth,” he said.

Redistributed in 2021, from the parts of Gorton (Melton), McEwan (Sunbury) and Ballarat (Bacchus Marsh and Ballan), Hawke straddles a split between rapidly growing development areas and rural areas. Parts closer to Melbourne such as Melton and Sunbury have experienced major population growth during the pandemic, with people swapping the city for a regional commute.

Mr Martucci said infrastructure is at the top of his list for Hawke in order to “keep up with the population boom that is happening”.

This includes finishing the Melton 24/7 hospital, an issue Mr Martucci was recently affected by when he was a “first responder” to a local incident.

“A woman got hit by a truck the other day, and she had to get airlifted miles away because there’s no support in the local area,” he said. “You don’t have to defund Bacchus Marsh to build in Melton.”

The rural areas further west of the city, towards Bacchus Marsh, provide a different set of challenges including “high bushfire risk”.

“We want to reach net zero by 2030 and we want to support farmers,” he said.

Mr Martucci joins six other candidates contesting for the seat of Hawke, including three representing minor parties alongside United Australia Party’s Andrew Cuthbertson, Liberal’s Dr Enamul Haque and the Labor Party’s former Victorian secretary, Sam Rae.

Sam Rae, Labor’s candidate for Hawke is concentrating on addressing issues facing families. According to his candidate website, this includes public and social housing, schools and healthcare. The former Labor state secretary and partner at PWC was preselected last year after a controversial internal battle underpinned his preselection. A group of Labor women fought for the selection of a female candidate for the new seat, however Labor went ahead with the selection of Rae.

The three component areas all recorded safe Labor majorities in the 2019 election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission. This gives Hawke a notionally Labor margin of 10.2 per cent.

United Australia Party’s Andrew Cuthbertson said the area has been “ignored” by both major Parties in the past because it is seen as a safe labor seat.

“They take it for granted,” he said.

Mr Cuthbertson, a self-employed entrepreneur had “no inclination to go into politics”, but decided to run after the Covid-19 lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations.

“Basically people were being coerced without freedom of choice,” Mr Cuthbertson said. “This went against the grain of everything we used to stand for.”

Mr Cuthbertson said the biggest factor was his 19-year-old daughter’s “severe reaction” which led her to hospital.

Mr Cuthbertson said this was due to the vaccine.

“Freedom is the cornerstone of a functional and healthy democracy, freedom of movement, freedom of choice and freedom of speech,” he said.

Mr Cuthbertson said he aims to get the Western and Calder freeway upgrades, and the Melton Hospital, underway “within the next three years” if elected.

“It’s really a sad indictment on both existing parties,” he said. “A hospital is an essential service.”

Jack Hynes is the Victorian Socialist Party’s candidate. A self-described “ordinary worker”, Mr Hynes’ background is in the education sector as a casual worker at Victoria University and an activist in the National Tertiary Education Union.

He said he is fighting to “link up social justice and economic justice”.

Mr Hynes has focused his campaign on the repercussions of the growth in the area, pledging to increase access to childcare to “take the burden off families”.

He said unemployment and housing are big areas of focus in Hawke.

“Suburbs in the electorate, like Melton, have above average levels of unemployment,” Mr Hynes said.

“A high first preference vote for Victorian Socialists sends a message to the Labor Party,” he said. “It sends a message for them to do better.”