Two sitting MPs contest Bayswater


Ben Richards

Battle in Bayswater

The last Victorian state election saw an unprecedented swing towards Labor in the electorate of Bayswater. That was until 2018 when last-minute Labor candidate Jackson Taylor was elected by less than 300 votes, gaining a  swing exceeding five percent.

Now, after a redistribution abolished nearby Ferntree Gully, a new Liberal contender will be vying for the job in the up-coming November election.

The Liberal-held seat has consistently leaned to the right, about five percent more than Victoria generally, since its creation in 1992 and, in 2014, the Liberal Party recorded majorities in 94 percent of Bayswater polling places.

But after the Liberal majority fell to below 30 percent in 2018, when Labor recorded a swing at every polling place in the electorate, then-incumbent Liberal MP Heidi Victoria lost her re-election.

ABC election expert Antony Green has profiled Bayswater as a notionally Liberal-held seat, by a margin of 0.7 percent — a swing of 1.1 per cent to the Liberals.

The incumbent Taylor is running for re-election in November. But Liberal Member for Ferntree Gully, Nick Wakeling, will also be contesting.

Taylor is a local resident of the area, and a former Victoria Police officer, previously working as a Police Prosecutor at the rank of Senior Constable. Taylor has served on Knox Council and was elected Deputy Mayor shortly before the 2018 election.

Taylor joined the Labor Party at age 19 and is one of the youngest members of Victorian Parliament.

“There are currently two MP’s in Victoria under the age of 30 and I am proud to be one of them,” he said.

In his inaugural speech, Taylor recalled his childhood experiences around witnessing mental health, family violence, substance abuse, and his time in foster care, but his formative years in school provided him “direction” and “purpose” when all else appeared hopeless.

Taylor said he would be “a fierce advocate when it comes to improving the lives of young people” through investment in the power of education.

Taylor said a belief in a strong health system is a value he “hold[s] dear”, and has a “focus on mental health, family violence, and youth issues”.

Taylor is active on social media, and in the community.

Taylor’s challenger, Fernstree Gully Liberal MP Nick Wakeling, was first elected to Parliament in 2006 with a slim margin of 27 votes, only 0.04 percent. Over the two previous state elections, Wakeling has received a swing of almost 10 per cent.

Under the Napthine Government, Wakeling served as the Minister for Higher Education and Skills in 2014. Wakeling is currently Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and Trade in the Guy Opposition.

In 2021, Wakeling supported Matthew Guy to succeed Michael O’Brien as Liberal Party leader.

Wakeling has been critical of the Andrews Government and its COVID-19 response, and attended protests opposing new health measures after Victoria’s lockdowns ended in 2021, before being directed by party leader Matthew Guy to not address them.

Wakeling has previously said many residents in Knox feel the area has been neglected and hasn’t had its fair share of government investment.

“It’s been a great honor representing Knox residents in the Victorian Parliament, and I’ll continue to represent Ferntree Gully,” he said.

Wakeling’s presence on social media is largely coverage of the Liberal Party and the party’s vision for Victoria approaching the election.

Both candidates won their seats by less than a thousand votes in 2018 and in 2022.