News / State Election

Labor dismay as Read sweeps to second term

ALP’s primary vote crashes below 30% for first time
Cianflone holds on in Pascoe Vale

Mark Phillips
Updated: Wednesday, November 30, 2022

INCUMBENT Tim Read has cruised to a second term in Parliament, firmly entrenching Brunswick as a Greens stronghold.

Dr Read won all 14 booths in the Brunswick district, some by a ratio of two to one against his main opponent, Labor’s Mike Williams.

With most other candidates preferencing the Greens, Dr Read was sitting on a margin of 13.2% on Sunday afternoon.

Labor insiders had privately conceded for months that the seat was unwinnable, but the size of Dr Read’s victory and a primary vote of below 30% was a devastating blow to Labor’s hopes.

Dr Read scraped home in 2018 with a winning margin of just 0.6%, and the result that year was not known until days after the election.

But this time, he was able to celebrate victory by the middle of Saturday night.

But in neighbouring Pascoe Vale, Green hopes were dashed despite early optimism on election night, with Labor’s Anthony Cianflone retaining the seat that had been vacated by Lizzie Blandthorn.

Mike Williams gave his all, but it wasn’t enough.

Greens’ chances of retaining the seat had already been boosted by a redistribution of electoral boundaries that had incorporated Carlton North and North Fitzroy into the district and increased his nominal margin to 2%.

Dr Read secured 43.4% of the primary vote to Mr Williams’ 29.4%, with Liberal Minh Quan Nguyen receiving 10.4% and Victorian Socialists’ Nahui Jimenez 8.3%.

The primary vote swing to the Greens was just 1%, while Labor suffered a swing of 8.5%, but preferences flowed strongly to give the Greens a two-candidate preferred swing of 11.3%.

After preferences, Dr Read had 63.2% of votes.

Dr Read said that while he had been confident of victory, he had not expected the margin to be so large.

“I was very keen to increase the margin because half a per cent was too close for comfort, but you never know when you campaign what things get noticed and what’s the impact of what you do,” he said.

“And I think, obviously, some of my work in Parliament and some of my work in the community and the things the Greens chose to emphasise in this campaign, all probably contributed to the result, as well as the fact that we’re riding a bit of a wave from the federal election.”

Brunswick preference count
70.4% of available ballots counted at 2.04pm, Wednesday, November 30

Tim ReadTim Read (Greens)

Mike WilliamsMike Williams (Labor)

Tim Read

Mike Williams

Brunswick primary count

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Mr Williams said he had always known the odds were against him winning back the seat Labor had held for 83 years before Dr Read’s historic victory in 2018.

He had sought to capitalise on the big announcement of the campaign, the multi-billion dollar Upfield skyrail through Brunswick, arguing that as a Labor MP in a Labor government, he was best equipped to deliver for local residents. But the Greens outflanked Labor on climate change and rental housing affordability and made an issue of the future of Sydney Road for cyclists.

“It has been a tough couple of years for everyone and Brunswick is literally a different electorate since 2018,” he said.

“It was obviously an uphill battle for Labor once the Liberals determined to put us last in their preferences. We know across Victoria they preferenced extremists above Labor.

“We put forward a strong agenda for Brunswick: transforming the suburb through the removal of every level crossing with more open space and a dedicated bike park; rebuilding our closest public hospitals at the Royal Melbourne and the Women’s; and free kinder.

“While I am disappointed we didn’t win Brunswick, I am elated that the Andrews Labor Government will be returned with a strong majority to deliver its commitments … This is the most progressive government in our history and has not wasted a minute.”

Labor returned in Pascoe Vale

In Pascoe Vale, Mr Cianflone had an early scare before winning the seat after preferences with a margin of 2.8% from the Greens’ Angelica Panopoulos.

Both Labor and the Greens saw their primary votes increase to 39.5% and 22% respectively, while Liberal Tom Wright had a 9% swing for a primary vote of 20.7%, picking up support from people who voted for Merri-bek councillor Oscar Yildiz in 2018.

Ms Panopoulos benefitted from preferences from other candidates to lift her two-candidate vote to 47.2%, turning Pascoe Vale into a Labor-Greens contest for the first time.

She won two of the three booths that were inside the Brunswick district in 2018.

Pascoe Vale preference count
69.8% of available ballots counted at 2.04pm, Wednesday, November 30

Anthony CianfloneAnthony Cianflone (Labor)

Angelica PanopoulosAngelica Panopoulos (Greens)

Anthony CianfloneAnthony Cianflone

Angelica PanopoulosAngelica Panopoulos

In the upper house region of Northern Metropolitan, high-profile Reason Party leader Fiona Patten looks set to lose her seat to former Labor MP-turned-DLP candidate Adem Somyurek. After initially looking to have been returned as the fourth of the five representatives in the region, Ms Patten has failed to secure enough preferences to grab the fifth position.

The others are Labor’s Sheena Watt and Enver Erdogan, Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, and Liberal Evan Mulholland.

Ms Patten, whose office is in Sydney Road, Brunswick, had to take time out during the election campaign for cancer surgery.

On polling day, the Greens were hopeful of holding the balance of power in both chambers should Labor be unable to win government in its own right. The party fell short of expectations, winning only one new seat in the lower house taking its total to four, but is likely to triple its presence in the Legislative Council, making it crucial to pass any legislation.

“Having more MPs in both the upper and lower houses gives us more speaking time and more influence,” Dr Read said.

“And seeing big swings in seats like Pascoe Vale, which we’ve turned into a marginal seat … all of that won’t go unnoticed by the major parties and the vested interests that control them. And so they’ll see that and they’ll respond.”