Labor tipped to hold seats in Geelong region

Andrew Katos

Matt Hewson

As the state election draws near, one might have expected candidates in the Greater Geelong region to have ramped up their campaigning in recent weeks

But Dr Zareh Ghazarian, politics lecturer at Monash University’s School of Social Sciences, said Geelong’s election battles had been distinctive in their lack of energy.

“In terms of its prominence, Geelong’s had a really flat campaign,” Dr Ghazarian said.

“The parties have really focused on traditional, bread and butter state government issues of health care, education, transport and service delivery.”

But despite the lack of fireworks, Dr Ghazarian said the Geelong area was no less important in this state election than it had been in the past.

“I think Geelong will be an electorally important part of this election puzzle,” he said.

Dr Geoff Robinson, senior lecturer in Politics and Policy Studies at Deakin University, said Labor was likely to hold all three seats as well as the Bellarine, with the two major parties the only real contenders.

“I don’t think there are any credible independents that could cause any surprises,” Dr Robinson said.

“Although the Green vote continues to pick up in the area, I still think it’s going to be a Labor/Liberal contest with the Labor Party retaining its hold on the four Geelong seats.”

Dr Ghazarian predicted Labor MP Christine Couzens, would retain her seat against Liberal challenger James Bennett-Hullin, and retiring Member for Lara John Eren’s replacement Ella George would almost certainly be elected ahead of Liberal candidate Ralph Krein.

However, he said South Barwon was a key battleground between the incumbent, Labor MP Darren Cheeseman, and Liberal candidate Andrew Katos.

“If we look at Geelong and Lara, they’re both safe seats for Labor, and if Labor was to lose either one of them it would be a very poor outcome.

“South Barwon is really interesting, and if the Liberals are going to be in with a chance of winning a seat in the region, that’s the first one that comes to mind.”

Dr Robinson said while Liberal candidate Mr Katos was a well-known figure, Mr Cheeseman had a similarly recognisable brand.

“It’s a plus for Andrew Katos, being the former member for South Barwon,” he said.

“And there is some evidence that having been a member of parliament boosts your profile and is worth votes.

“But that’s more the case in rural and provincial seats, and South Barwon is pretty suburban these days. And of course, Darren Cheeseman has a fair amount of name recognition as well.”