News / Politics

Election battle lines drawn as Labor names Brunswick candidate

Mike Williams will start as underdog but says electorate needs an MP who is part of the government

Labor candidate Mike Williams.

Mark Phillips
Wednesday, July 27, 2022

LABOR has chosen union official Mike Williams to be its candidate as it seeks to win back the seat of Brunswick at this year’s state election. 

Mr Williams, an industrial organiser at the Australian Services Union, will begin as the underdog after Labor lost the seat for the first time in its history in 2018. 

Following a slow pre-selection process which was impacted by the takeover of Victoria Labor pre-selections by the party’s federal office, Mr Williams has four months to introduce himself to voters leading up to election day on November 26. 

He has hit the ground running by greeting commuters at Anstey and Jewell stations last week and will soon begin street stalls and doorknocking around the electorate. 

Greens’ MP Tim Read now holds the seat on a 2.3% margin following a redistribution last year

“It’s going to be incredibly difficult because I’m not the incumbent,” Mr Williams said in his first interview since his candidacy was formalised. 

“But having said that, it’s a very tight seat and my pitch to people will be if you elect me, I’m a doer, I’ve got a history of getting things done with the community and whether it’s funding or policy, I will work hard every day to find solutions.” 

Mr Williams, 40, has worked as a solicitor and a government adviser, including in the office of former Attorney-General Jill Hennessey, before joining the ASU’s private sector branch in 2021. 

He has lived in Brunswick East for 16 years with his partner, Juan.  

“I love this community and thought I would put my hand up to run for the state election because I wanted to get things done for the community,” he said.  

“This is an area which is really unique and has a history of driving change and people working on solutions together whether it’s transport or the environment and I want to be part of that. 

“I want Brunswick to have the best of everything and we can only do these things when we’ve got a local MP who is part of government working for them.” 

Mr Williams has identified climate change, pre-school education, and mental health as three key issues that he will campaign on in Brunswick. 

On climate change, he says he wants to make voters aware of the Andrews’ government’s plans for a network of offshore wind farms which will help it achieve its target of cutting emissions by 50% by 2030. In his early morning railway station meet and greets, he has also been informing people of the government’s $250 power saving cash rebate program. 

He is keen to see Brunswick residents take advantage of the Andrews’ governments recently announced $9 billion investment in early childhood education, including free kindergarten and an enhanced pre-prep program. 

On the contentious issue of competing transport demands on Sydney Road, Mr Williams said that cyclist safety has to be prioritised, but he also wants to preserve the shopping strip’s distinctive character and not do anything that would harm employment.  

He said that having an MP who is a member of the government would give Brunswick residents a better pathway to advocate for improvements to Sydney Road. 

While state and federal results do not always mirror each other, the Greens outperformed Labor in Brunswick at this year’s federal election, winning 10 out of 11 booths and 42% of the overall primary vote in the area. 

Dr Read made history when he won Brunswick in 2018 with a 2.53% swing in his favour. 

Labor’s Cindy O’Connor ran a highly visible campaign that year, but could not overcome the impact of the shift of popular MP Jane Garrett to an upper house seat. Ms O’Connor did not seek pre-selection to run again this year. 

Labor has also finalised its team for the upper house Northern Metropolitan province, which will be headed by Sheena Watt, the first Indigenous female MP in the state’s upper house, who was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Health Minister Jenny Mikakos in 2020. 

Victorian Socialists have announced that Nahui Jimenez Ludekens will be the party’s candidate for Brunswick in November. The Liberal Party has yet to reveal who will be its candidate.

This story has been amended to clarify that Sheena Watt is the first Indigenous female MP in the Legislative Council. The first Indigenous female MP in the Victorian Parliament was Lidia Thorpe, who served as Member for Northcote in 2017 and 2018.