By Royce Millar and Najma Sambul
Candidates for Goldstein: Independent “Voices” candidate Zoe Daniel and Liberal MP Tim Wilson.Credit:Simon Schluter
Federal election 2022
Independent candidate Zoe Daniel has made history, convincingly winning the once-safe Liberal seat of Goldstein and ousting incumbent, Tim Wilson who refused to concede.
Before a jubilant crowd of hundreds at the Brighton Bowling Club in Melbourne’s inner south, Daniel claimed victory and promised to be an “honest broker from the cross benches”.
Goldstein was long regarded as one of the Liberal party’s safest seats in Victoria. It had been held by the Liberals and their predecessors since federation.
In her victory speech, Daniel referenced Australian suffragette Vida Goldstein who unsuccessfully contested the seat and after whom it is named.
“Vida was not elected. This seat is in her name, and today I take her rightful place,” said Daniel.
“This will bring hope” she said. “I am here to bring about progress.”
Zoe Daniel and Tim Wilson.Credit:Chris Hopkins
With about 70 per cent of the vote counted, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has Daniel on a projected vote after preferences of 55 per cent to Wilson’s 44 per cent.
It was a dramatic reversal for Wilson. He first won the seat with a historic high vote in 2016 and a primary vote of 52.7 per cent in 2019.
He needed a primary of 45 per cent or more to hang on, but his vote crashed to about 38 per cent.
Daniel was on about 36 per cent but attracted the vast bulk of crucial Labor and Green preferences.
After Daniel made her victory speech, Wilson took to the stage at his event at the Black Rock Yacht Club to the remaining faithful supporters.
“Tonight is going to be one thing – long,” he said. “The good news is despite the challenges we face, we are still, I think, in a very competitive position. The reality is that there are so many results we do not know,” Wilson told the thinning crowd.
But speaking quietly to individual supporters Wilson conceded his chances were slim. He told The Age he needed a “good night’s sleep” before he could comment on what had lost the Liberal party the election. “There’s obviously something bigger going on,” he said.
By 9.30pm some of Wilson’s supporters were shedding tears and the event was being packed down at 10.40pm with only a couple dozen people left. Wilson left the venue without conceding.
Wilson remained dogged on Saturday night in his insistence that the Independent campaign was fraudulent and an “unholy alliance” between GetUp, Extinction Rebellion and the Greens “all going under one banner to back so-called independents”.
But the Coalition strategy of bashing independents as fakes supported by outsiders failed dismally in Goldstein where Daniel reflected local concern about climate, government integrity and gender equality, all issues on which the Coalition was vulnerable.
Liberal supporters in Goldstein, and especially in bayside suburbs like Brighton and Sandringham have long been characterised as well-educated, small-l Liberals, interested in issues such as the environment and refugees.
Wilson ran on issues including national security – claiming Australia is in “its most dangerous decade” – economic management, and the Coalition’s technology-led approach to cutting emissions.
Tim Wilson looks on as Zoe Daniel campaigns Saturday.Credit:Chris Hopkins
Daniel’s policy priorities have been a 60 per cent emissions cut by 2030, a federal integrity commission with teeth and action on gender equality.
The Goldstein campaign has been unusually bitter and marked by heated rows over the local council ban on election signs, vandalism of signs, and allegations of anti-semitism.
Electioneering in Goldstein has tended to be less well-resourced and less combative than other seats simply since, until now, it’s been considered a safe Liberal seat. All that changed when former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel declared her candidacy in November, making this seat a real contest with incumbent Liberal MP Tim Wilson.
In old footy parlance, there is a real feeling between the major candidates – a feeling made all the more intense by the immediate, relentless and often incendiary influence of social media.
From pitched battles over campaign flyers, phantom political parties and allegations of anti-Semitism, Twitter in particular has fuelled an often bitter campaign.
That has been especially the case when Twitter posts focused on the controversies around old media, like posters and corflutes and Bayside council’s on again, off again ban on election signage.
The Liberal line that the so-called “teal” independents like Daniel and Monique Ryan in Kooyong are “fake” candidates was also taken up with gusto by Wilson who has repeatedly railed against cashed up, left wing “outsiders” invading the pleasant streets of Goldstein.
Signs re-emerged as a major issue when both camps accused each other of dead-of-night vandalism.
While Wilson is renowned for his pugilistic approach to politics and posting, Daniel supporters also fired up, especially over the vexed issue of Israel and alleged anti-semitism.
Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb, who runs the Twitter account Voices of Goldstein – the grassroots political group which endorsed Daniel – lashed out in a tweet that pictured Wilson, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Victorian Liberal MP David Southwick wearing yarmulkes at the Holocaust Museum in Elsternwick, describing the photo opportunity as “all bullshit”.
“What sort of idiotic virtue-signalling garbage is this? Why do they all have yarmulkes on?” Gottlieb wrote in the late-night tweet. “It is a museum, not a synagogue,” he continued.
A now-deleted tweet from the organiser of the ‘Voices of Goldstein’ political group.Credit:Twitter
The tweet was deleted but not before it kicked off a new row with Wilson tweeting: “At some point, [Zoe Daniel’s] campaign team should show a little respect to the Jewish community as [David Southwick] and [Josh Frydenberg] & I have done.”
Late in the campaign the Liberals have filled letterboxes with sneakily teal-coloured flyers claiming Daniel’s policies will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and that she supports more high-rise development in Goldstein. She says that as a result of experience of this campaign she will make truth in political advertising laws a priority if elected to parliament.
Residents say some flyers were targeted only at women which led Daniel and her supporters to invoke a formidable female figure in response.
And in the dying days of this long political stoush, Daniel is also concerned that “people” are spreading “disinformation” claiming it is only necessary to mark her number 1 for a ballot to be valid.
Related posts – there is no evidence they are Liberal-aligned – are taking advantage of the fact that the independent is not recommending preferences on a how to vote card.
Daniel describes the social media posts as a “new low”.
We suspect there is lower yet to come before voting concludes Saturday.
As we edge toward the conclusion of this long campaign, and with pork-barrelling very topical across the nation, we thought it time to catch up with what the two main candidates have promised locally.
Readers will recall that the Liberals and incumbent Tim Wilson were generous indeed with taxpayer funds ahead of the 2019 poll, notably in the surprise promise of $23.1 million for six commuter car parks.
We’ll come back to that shortly.
But what about 2022?
Probably the most eye-catching of Wilson’s promises this campaign is $560,000 for six new electric vehicle charging stations, which would bring the total number of charging stations in Goldstein to 13. It’s notable because the Coalition’s support of EVs is such a big backflip after Scott Morrison in 2019 claimed Labor’s pro-EV policy would “end the weekend”.
Wilson’s other promises this campaign are:
- $5 million for a new public warm-water pool and “wellness” facility
- $2 million for a new pavilion at Peterson Street Reserve in Highett
- $1.3 million for new women’s change rooms at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham
- $1.6 million for a new pavilion at Brighton Beach Oval.
There is scant detail in the media statements accompanying these announcements, and no explanation, for instance, about which federal programs the projects are being funded through. The local Bayside council also says there that there is no location decided for the $5 million warm water pool although the Brighton Golf Course is the preferred location.
Goldstein residents and taxpayers in general have good reason to be wary about lack of detail about and rigour around such spending given recent experience. Of the six commuter car parks Wilson and the Coalition promised to help fund in 2019, not one has been built nor even started.
They were part of the Coalition’s controversial $660 million National Commuter Car Park Fund which has been slammed for its lack of planning and transparency by the Australian National Audit Office and as the “ultimate example” of “political corruption” in a new book by former Court of Appeal judge Stephen Charles, QC.
At the Bayside council meeting on Tuesday night a senior council executive confirmed that only one of four car parks earmarked for that municipality had the green light to proceed, in Hampton. Even then, a start to real, on-the-ground-work could be 24 months away.
Cr Clarke Martin told the meeting that the commuter car park scheme was a “mess” and a stark example of how not to plan and fund infrastructure.
At Glen Eira, also in Goldstein, the council is looking at the feasibility of two car parks under the troubled scheme, one in Bentleigh, another in Elsternwick. Mayor and ALP member Jim Magee says the study was necessary to decide “if car parks have merit or are they a simple case of pork barrelling”.
In a statement from Wilson’s office a spokesman says all the MPs’ election commitments “will be met upon the re-election of a Liberal Government” but does not explain out of which programs. He says Wilson is “proud” to have secured commitment for such projects which “align with plans from either Bayside or Glen Eira Councils”. He says the location of the warm water pool is a matter for Bayside. Of the four car parks proposed in Bayside, the spokesman says those earmarked for North Brighton and Sandringham are awaiting State government approval for use of state land.
Independent candidate Zoe Daniel has made no specific local funding promises through the campaign. On the commuter car parks she says: “Whatever the merits and benefits of the car parks proposed or under development in Goldstein, the way they were announced before the 2019 election amounted to nothing less than naked vote buying.”
In the avalanche of election material hitting Goldstein postboxes in the final weeks of the campaign, one flyer in particular has riled independent challenger Zoe Daniel.
So much so she has vowed to make new truth in political advertising law a high priority in negotiations with the major parties, if she is elected after Saturday.
The Liberal flyer is “teal” coloured and raises questions about the potential impact of Daniel’s tax and other policies. It raises the prospect of $9750 in land tax and capital gains tax on “your family home” and “more high-rise development” in Goldstein.
The Liberal flyer including what Zoe Daniel describes as “straight out lies”.
The flyer does not claim Daniel actually backs such things, instead it uses the old trick of adding question marks at the end of alarmist statements about higher taxes and buildings.
Daniel’s tax policy calls for a “good faith” and “all on the table” tax review like the one by former Treasury secretary Ken Henry, more than a decade ago. A “good faith” review is independent and not prejudged, leaving those conducting it to arrive at their own conclusions about reform.
Daniel’s policy does say that such a review should consider “the impact of stamp duty, capital gains tax and other market distortion” and at how the Commonwealth can assist the states “to smooth the consequences of an equitable shift to a land tax regime”. She does seem to favour the idea of land tax replacing other taxes like stamp duty.
She’s not on her own. The federal government’s recent housing inquiry also called for states to replace stamp duty with land tax.
The front of the fake teal flyer.
As for the claims about “more highrise development”, the only relevant reference in Daniel’s policy document appears to be on local planning matters: “I believe we must keep medium density development as close as possible to commercial centres and public transport for both environmental and community character reasons.”
The claim on the flyer seems a rather large stretch, question mark or not.
Daniel says the flyer as an example of the “straight out lies” that “pollute our communities during election campaigns” and is an “insult to the intelligence of voters”.
“It erodes the quality of our democracy and public confidence in it.”
She says if she is elected, legislation for truth in political advertising will be one of her highest policy priorities. Whether it would be a dealbreaker in negotiations with either the Coalition or Labor, is not clear.
The flyer is authorised by the Liberal Party.
Speaking on behalf of the party, Victorian Senator James Paterson stood by it: “If Zoe Daniel had her way, family homes would pay land tax, capital gains and first home buyers would be denied support to enter the market,” he says. “Goldstein locals deserve to know exactly what Zoe Daniel’s new housing taxes will mean for them.”
Whatever you make of it all, we strongly suspect most Australian voters would welcome rules to requiring honesty in political campaigning.
As we enter the final few days of the election we wanted give readers a bit better sense of the two main Goldstein candidates – both their policies and the beliefs that underpin them.
Always up for some philosophic reflection, incumbent Tim Wilson cites philosopher Edmund Burke who, in 1774, famously told his Bristol constituents he was not in parliament to represent their local “prejudices”. He says he that unlike “so-called” independents with their “parochial” focus, he has to fight for the “national interest”.
In doing so, he acknowledges that holding onto his seat will be difficult.
Wilson’s is a narrative consistent with Prime Minister’s Scott Morrison’s election pitch to voters beyond inner-city Melbourne and Sydney, even if it’s at the expense of Liberal heartland seats like Wilson’s.
Go here for an insight into the views of the incumbent MP and an interesting twist on the Edmund Burke story.
Zoe Daniel’s camp senses historic change on the horizon and even the hitherto “keep a lid on it” candidate tells The Age she is “optimistic” about Saturday.
The former ABC reporter has talked widely about her three priority policies: climate, integrity and gender equality. But she has not spoken a lot about policy areas like housing, schools or defence, or what she will if she is elected and there is a hung parliament.
Go here for Zoe Daniel on Scott Morrison, tax, international treaties, refugees and even public housing.
By Rachael Dexter
The fight for Melbourne’s bayside electorate of Goldstein has boiled over as a key Jewish volunteer for independent candidate Zoe Daniel called a photo opportunity for incumbent Tim Wilson at the Holocaust Museum “all bullshit”.
Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb, who runs the Twitter account Voices of Goldstein – the grassroots political group backing former ABC journalist Zoe Daniel – lashed out in a tweet that pictured Wilson, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Victorian Liberal MP David Southwick at the museum in Elsternwick last week.
During the visit, Wilson, Frydenberg and Southwick all wore yarmulkes, the customary Jewish caps worn by men.
“What sort of idiotic virtue-signalling garbage is this? Why do they all have yarmulkes on?” Gottlieb wrote in the late-night tweet. “It is a museum, not a synagogue,” he continued. “This sums up modern Liberal Party perfectly … All bullshit photo op. No substance.”
A now-deleted tweet from the organiser of the ‘Voices of Goldstein’ political group.Credit:Twitter
Wilson tweeted back: “At some point, [Zoe Daniel’s] campaign team should show a little respect to the Jewish community as [David Southwick] and [Josh Frydenberg] & I have done.”
Goldstein has a substantial Jewish population, with 6.8 per cent describing their religion as Judaism in the 2016 census.
Last month, Daniel apologised for a series of comments made by her and members of her team made in the past that Jewish community leaders deemed offensive.
News Corp publications have highlighted Daniel’s previous comments, including a 2017 ABC article in which she said that then-US president Donald Trump had declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in part, as way of “satisfying his wealthy Jewish donors”.
She has since formally apologised, saying: “[The] mischaracterisation of Jewish people, including myths such as their enjoying outsize wealth or power, must be identified immediately as the starting point for much worse.”
Daniel is backed by the independent Voices of political group and partly funded by Climate 200.
Wilson told The Age that Gottlieb’s tweet was representative of Daniel’s views.
“I would have thought that Zoe Daniel’s team would respect that the Holocaust was above politics, but it clearly falls into a pattern of behaviour, having already had to apologise for anti-Semitic comments, calling Israel an apartheid state, and [the] exposition of her digital dark arts strategy,” he said.
Gottlieb said the Voices of Goldstein group was not connected to Daniel’s campaign. However, Daniel’s own website says her campaign is supported by the group.
“I am a Jewish volunteer who has watched over the past few weeks as the Liberal Party have weaponised the Jewish experience based on lies and misinformation,” the rabbi said. “When I saw the Liberal MPs walking around with yarmulkes on in a museum (not culturally required, as can be seen from the fact that none of the Holocaust centre staff [were wearing them]), it angered and upset me personally, and that was the context of the tweet.
“This is a further example of the Liberal Party using my culture and trauma as a backdrop for their campaign.”
Daniel did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
By Rachel Eddie and Royce Millar
Signs, signs everywhere there’s signs, and in early election campaigning for Goldstein in December and January most of them were in support of Zoe Daniels.
Then, in a curious move in February the Bayside City Council changed how it read state planning provisions and banned pre-election signage, the only council in Victoria to do so.
Now Freedom of Information of documents released by the council reveal how incumbent MP Tim Wilson personally and repeatedly pressed the council on the signs issue, his office even compiling a spreadsheet with the addresses of properties displaying Daniel signs.
For the full story go here.
We’re now approaching the final fortnight of an election campaign in which seats once safe Liberal seats like Goldstein are at centre stage like never before. The Coalition’s anxiety about the threat posed by the so-called teal independents in a swathe of seats across the country is only mounting.
This was only heightened by the intervention of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told an American audience on Friday (AEST) that the way voters could avoid the “thrall” of a move to the right by the Coalition was “by voting for an independent who has a real chance of success”.
Coalition MPs are claiming the independents threaten “chaos” in parliament, that they’re “fake”, a phantom political party and, even, that they’re election spending is immoral.
Today we examine these claims in detail and ask the question: who really are the teal independents?
For the full story go here.
Malcolm Turnbull.Credit:Jessica Hromas
Political polling tarnished its reputation at the 2019 election when, without exception, the pollsters called victory for Bill Shorten. But with a variety of changes to address the errors of 2019, polling continues. Newspapers such as ours do it, the political parties do it and rely on it in part to see how they are travelling, and independent pollsters are also in the field.
Seat by seat polling, which tries to work out how individual candidates are doing, should be treated with particular caution because of their small sample sizes. On the ABC’s Media Watch on Monday night polling analyst Kevin Bonham said such polling “should be treated with great caution”, and Australian National University politics senior lecturer Jill Sheppard, said it was “almost impossible” for pollsters to reliably identify and contact the population they wanted to survey.
A thumping victory for Daniel?Credit:Darrian Traynor
Which brings us to a poll in Goldstein released this week by the Australia Institute. They are left-leaning but not being paid by either of the parties, and they have given us the full results of their poll, so we can see their working out, which is why we’re even having this conversation.
The poll shows such a thumping victory for Zoe Daniel on May 21 that both candidates are playing it down. It has a primary vote for Daniel of 35 per cent and incumbent Liberal Tim Wilson on 34 per cent, which would be a dramatic, almost unbelievable, 20 per cent collapse in Wilson’s primary vote from 2019.
Once the pollsters, uComms distribute preferences, most of which will flow from Labor and the Greens to Daniel, it points to a two party preferred result of Daniel 62 per cent to Daniel and Wilson 38 per cent. (Using a different method of distributing preferences the figure was 57 per cent to 43 per cent for Daniel). Even the Australia Institute’s director, Ben Oquist, said he suspected this result “may be slightly optimistic” for the independent.
The poll also found that voters were evenly divided over whether Daniel should support Labor or the Coalition in the event of a hung parliament.
On the ABC this morning Daniel agreed that anyone who watches politics and polling knows that it’s “very difficult to reliably poll individual seats”. Nonetheless, she said it was “encouraging” and showed many Goldstein voters “want to shake things up”.
Wilson said: “Just add it to the list of outsiders trying to change our community from GetUp’s stunts, Extinction Rebellions graffiti, Climate 200’s chequebook and now the Australia Institute’s polling from a union outfit just to get a so-called ‘independent’ elected to sneak Labor into government”.
The uComms poll of 855 voters was conducted on Wednesday night last week. Among the remaining candidates – nine have nominated – the poll had the ALP’s Martyn Abbott on a 14 per cent primary vote and the Greens candidate Alana Galli-McRostie on 8 percent. There were 6.3 percent of voters undecided.
The Goldstein poll follows another uComms poll this month that found treasurer Josh Frydenberg faced losing his seat of Kooyong to independent, Monique Ryan. The uComms poll, commissionned by Ryan, had her on a 59 to 41 per cent two-party preferred lead over Mr Frydenberg
Make of all that what you will.
When we started producing this story we were approached by a number of Liberal voters wanting to tell us how the contest between Zoe Daniel and Tim Wilson had enlivened the contest for Goldstein, and how they wanted to vote. So we invited people, specifically traditional Liberal voters, to contact us and tell us what they were thinking. We’ve produced a full story separately here, but here are a couple of teasers for our regular readers.
Jenni Colwill, 74, has been connected in some way to the Goldstein electorate for most of her life. She now lives in Beaumaris, and has also voted Liberal at almost every election, including for John Howard and Malcolm Turnbull.
Jenni Colwill a longtime Liberal voter now switching to independent Zoe Daniel.Credit:Scott McNaughton
But she worries for her country: “I just believe that Australia is losing its dignity in so many ways.
“The Liberals lost me before the last election as a result of their racist marketing, and divisive policies,” a reference in part to the so-called African crime “crisis” exploited by senior state Liberals ahead of the 2018 Victorian election.
Colwill accuses the Morrison government of “corruption” and of weakening accountability mechanisms. Colwill will vote for Zoe Daniel.
Stephen Kerdel describes himself as a working class man who believes in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, and says the Liberals share his values. A Beaumaris resident who runs a Moorabin carpet business Kerdel, 66, is sticking with incumbent Wilson.
Stephen Kerdel Goldstein voter and Liberal supporter.Credit:The Age
He sees Daniel as “part of the elite left”. “I think that her being an ABC reporter, she is maybe good with words and marketing.”
Is she winning over Liberal voters? “She’s certainly winning over Labor and Greens supporters,” says Kerdel. “There may be some disillusioned Liberals.”
He defends the Coalition’s record on climate change and its support of small business, noting that Daniel is backed by Simon Holmes a Court-founded Climate 200.
“I’m a small business person. She is backed by a multi-millionaire which doesn’t do much for me.”
For the full story go here.
April 28: The full Goldstein forum debate
For two hours last Thursday night, four key Goldstein candidates, Martyn Abbott from Labor, Independent Zoe Daniel, Green candidate Alana Galli-McRostie and Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson appeared at the Brighton Town Hall to debate climate change (and a few other matters) and answer questions from the 400 people in attendance.
Our breaking reporter, Cassandra Morgan, live blogged it. We thought it might be useful to reproduce all her blog posts in chronological order. And for the real enthusiasts, here’s the Youtube link to the live stream.
Who’s who in the Goldstein community forum
The Goldstein community climate change forum has kicked off with introductory speeches from the vice president of the Bayside Climate Crisis Action Group, and a local school student calling on people in power to take action on climate change.
Ahead of the candidates speaking, here’s the line-up from left to right on the panel if you’re watching the stream: moderator Craig Francis, Labor’s Martyn Abbott, independent Zoe Daniel, Alana Galli-McRostie from the Greens, and Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson.
The candidates on stage.Credit:Darrian Traynor
As we reported earlier, the United Australia Party’s Catherine Reynolds and Liberal Democrats’ David Segal, declined to take part.
We’ll be blogging the event live, so stay tuned.
‘No trusting Morrison’: ALP candidate makes pitch
Labor candidate Martyn Abbott is first up at the Goldstein community forum. Each of the candidates has seven minutes to make a speech before the question and answer portion of the forum begins.
As one of the youngest candidates in the campaign, he said he is “acutely aware that the decisions of each generation create the world in which future generations have to face.”
“For my entire adult life, I have been campaigning for climate action in the face of denialism and delay by the coalition government,” he said.
“It’s one of the reasons I joined the Labor Party and I’m standing here in Goldstein today … After nine years of the coalition failing to take action we cannot afford another three years and neither can the planet.
“[We] require a change of government to one committed to climate action to avoid the devastating effects of what is still the great moral challenge of our time.”
Abbott pointed to a range of measures Labor plans to deploy to combat climate change; among them, creating 10,000 new energy apprenticeships, and introducing an electric car discount exempting them from import tariffs and fringe benefit tax.
He said an Albanese government would achieve emission reductions of 43 per cent and reach 82 per cent renewables by 2030, “placing us on track for further climate action and achieving net-zero by 2050″.
“When it comes to climate action, there is no trusting Morrison – he simply doesn’t hold a hose,” he said.
‘It’s time to be brave’: Zoe Daniel vows innovation
Independent Zoe Daniel is next up in the Goldstein community forum, and she’s launched into her pitch by saying she was pushed into politics because neither of the major parties represented what she thought.
She said she thought former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull would “bring an end to the weaponisation of climate policy that has stalled our progress, but he was repeatedly stymied by the likes of Barnaby Joyce and Matt Canavan, culminating in his toppling by Scott Morrison”.
“And that was the end of any real climate ambition by the Coalition,” she said. “So when I was approached, I thought well, it was finally time to get off the couch and stop shouting at the TV and do something. It’s time to be brave. It’s time to be innovative. It’s time to be optimistic.”
Independent candidate Zoe Daniel speaks on Thursday evening.Credit:Darrian Traynor
Daniel said she is calling for a 60 per cent cut in carbon emissions and binding targets to 2050. She said net zero is apparently dead for some members of the Coalition, and Morrison can only retain the “majority on the floor of the House of Representatives if he retains the support of the climate deniers in the National Party”.
“This government and this prime minister has neither the heart nor the courage for real action on climate,” she said. “The Labor Party is not brave either. It’s time for the community to speak up.”
‘We need to aim higher’: Greens
The Greens’ pick for Goldstein, Alana Galli-McRostie, has now taken the stage at the climate change community forum at Brighton Town Hall. She said everyone could agree that the climate emergency “is the most significant global threat that we face”, and time was of the essence.
Galli-McRostie said the Greens were aiming to reduce emissions by 75 per cent by 2030; the Liberal target of 35 per cent, Labor’s 43 per cent, and Daniel’s 60 per cent “just won’t cut it”.
“[We need to] stop the extraction of burning of coal, oil and gas urgently,” she said.“Yet this is the one thing that neither Labor nor the Liberals will do.
“We need to aim higher – our lives depend on it.”
Galli-McRostie said the Greens would implement a range of measures to combat climate change, including investing in large-scale scale, publicly owned renewable energy and storage to replace every coal-fired power plant by 2030. She said the Greens would invest in thousands of new jobs in renewables instead of “dirty coal”.
“We will also prepare our towns and cities for what’s ahead; legislating to make fossil fuel companies pay to clean up their mess and reinvesting those funds in our infrastructure.”
Liberals the only choice for climate future: Wilson
Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson is next to deliver his pitch for Goldstein at the community forum, and focuses on how Australia is faring in the global context and how decarbonisation can be pursued at the same time as economic development.
He pointed to the UK as having backslid on their commitment to net zero and said, “while the US has been talking big, they’ve been doing the same”.
“And we face global challenges to decarbonise the world while countries talk big,” he said.
Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson addresses the Goldstein community forum on Thursday evening.Credit:Darrian Traynor
“There is only one candidate and one team that has clear targets; a substantial and comprehensive economy-wide plan with a track record to meet them, to beat them and build Australia’s industrial future.”
‘I’m not wearing teal tonight’: Daniel
The spotlight has been put on independent Goldstein candidate Zoe Daniel, with an audience member asking three of the panel – excluding Liberal Tim Wilson – for their thoughts on independents passionate about the environment.
Daniel explained that she is backed by a community movement that nominated her for the role, and that they have funding of about $700,000 raised from the community, in addition to funding from the Climate 200 movement.
Members of the public line up to ask a question.Credit:Darren Traynor
“And I think we have great momentum in this community because many people want to see politics done differently: with empathy, with honesty, sincerity and with genuineness – with direct engagement to take the views of this community forward,” Daniel said.
“So you’re describing me as a teal independent. I’m not wearing teal tonight. We’re not part of any formal group. There are a number of other independents running around the country who have similar priorities. And I think that’s because they’re the priorities of the Australian community today.”
The Greens’ Alana Galli-McRostie said while she thought it was great to see an independent supporting reducing carbon emissions, “we have no time to waste” and “with the Greens, you know what you’re going to get”.
Labor’s Martyn Abbott said he was happy to see climate change on the table as a major issue, but he wished Daniel would consider the Liberals impact on climate change.
Wilson, who did ultimately get to answer the question, said he was referring to Zali Steggall in previous comments about independents.
“[She] proposed a bill that would allow authoritarian commissioners to be able to veto elected representatives,” he said.
Some candidates ‘dishonest’
A questioner puts it to Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson that his governance and ambitions are “so far behind the other candidates on the panel here tonight” when it comes to climate change.
Wilson harked back to his earlier statements, saying the government has to take the entire Australian community with them on the path to decarbonisation.
He said he had to point out that some candidates pitch of the roles they could “allegedly play in Parliament” was dishonest.
“The reality is you need 75 people to pass anything through the House of Representatives,” he said.
Supporters and volunteers for the candidates outside the Brighton Town Hall.Credit:Darrian Traynor
Wilson said the government taking the whole country with it was “exactly what we’re doing, and we’re immensely proud to be the first government in Australia’s history to commit to a net zero target by 2015”.
Independent Zoe Daniel said Australia ranks last for climate action among United Nations members, and that was “because we have a hung parliament and Barnaby Joyce is running the country”.
Earlier, on the question of donations, Wilson said: “The truth is, I focus on representing you in the community, the federal parliament – we don’t pay any attention to [that] stuff.”
Young people in Goldstein
The Goldstein candidates have commented on how they plan to include young people in their vision for the future and act as a voice for them.
Labor’s Martyn Abbott said he believed young people across all range of policies – not just climate change – were in touch “with what they require and what they hold close to them”.
“And the fact is that taking action on climate change is the critical thing for all of us, but especially for the younger people who will have to live with the effects of inaction more and more.”
MP Tim Wilson arrives at the forum with his supporters.Credit:Darrian Traynor
Greens candidate Alana Galli-McRostie said it was unfortunate for young people they had come into a world “that’s full of fossil fuels and dirty air and they don’t really have a very foreseeable future”.
“If we close all the coal and gas mines and put all that money into running renewable energies, then maybe the future might actually have some clean air and a future to see,” she said.
Independent Zoe Daniel said it was fantastic to see young people engaged in politics, and pointed to her Gen Z group that has formed as part of her campaign team as evidence of her engagement with young people.
“What I’m doing is trying to build reference groups of people that I can speak to as a member of Parliament, if that happens, to help me to formulate policies on their behalf,” she said.
Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson said his party was focused on building Australia’s clean industrial future, and “that is the basis in which you’re going to have a job and economic opportunity”.
Coalition will establish anti-corruption body: Wilson
Straying slightly away from the issue of climate change for a moment, and Goldstein Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson has rejected one questioner’s suggestion the proposal for a federal anti-corruption body has been dumped.
“I’m sorry, it hasn’t been dumped. We want an integrity commission that has bipartisan support and confidence and also follows due process,” he said.
“These should not be radical propositions, but it seems to constantly be a radical proposition to the Australian Labor Party and other people in the parliament who want to turn our legal system and [use] them as vehicles for political witch hunts. And I simply won’t support it.”
The debate is starting to wind up, with the MC announcing the last question from the audience.
‘Deceitful and dishonest’ websites
Goldstein Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson has suggested one young questioner has been led astray by foreign websites after she said he has consistently voted against a fast transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
“We have these websites that are aggregators now, which deliberately seek to misrepresent members of parliament’s voting records, which is … it’s a very American thing,” he said.
“It’s a very deliberately American thing that’s being imported into our country.
Zoe Daniel supporters in the crowd on Thursday evening.Credit:Darrian Traynor
“Most votes in parliament are actually about process and procedure. They’re not actually to do with pieces of legislation.
“The only accurate record is aph.gov.au, but what we’re seeing is deliberate websites designed to populate and Americanise, our political system to deceive people and to misrepresent what’s going on because they think it will help certain other candidates in elections.”
Wilson labelled the websites “deceitful and dishonest”, and recommended the questioner look at his official record of what he’s voted on in parliament.
Labor candidate Martyn Abbott said: “I just want to say again, the Liberals are running away from scrutiny.”
“And the fact is, that if you vote for Tim, you’re going to get Barnaby Joyce.”
There was no clear winner in a sometimes fiery but civilised public debate about the environment and climate change at the Brighton Town Hall in the electorate of Goldstein on Thursday night.
Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson and prominent independent candidate Zoe Daniel received warm welcomes from a packed town hall meeting organised by the local Bayside Climate Crisis Action Group.
Independent candidate Zoe Daniel and Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson at the Goldstein community forum on Thursday evening.Credit:Darrian Traynor
The four main candidates in the Goldstein contest including Labor’s Martyn Abbott and the Greens’ Alana Galli-McRostie detailed their plans for tackling climate change, then responded to questions from an engaged and vocal audience.
A sometimes testy Wilson defended the Morrison government’s technology-focused approach to emissions reduction, noting that countries with more ambitious 2030 targets, including the US and UK, were now “backsliding” from their emissions reductions commitments.
Read the full account of the debate by Royce Millar here, or the blow-by-blow by Cassandra Morgan on our blog, here.
Big surprise in preference flows
The winner of the election in Goldstein will almost certainly be relying on preferences from other parties, so how-to-vote cards take on a greater importance than they have in the formerly ultra-safe Liberal seat.
In a surprise move, incumbent Tim Wilson has decided to preference Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate, Lisa Stark, ahead of the Greens and his main opponent Zoe Daniel, who he will put last, or ninth, on his ticket.
But in an unfortunate twist on Thursday for Wilson, One Nation made a last-minute change to its how-to-vote card for select seats across the country, including Goldstein, and they will preference Labor ahead of the Liberals.
Tim Wilson’s how-to-vote card. This is a recommendation to his voters.
Liberal preferences are unlikely to be distributed at all because Wilson will be one of the last two candidates standing.
Nonetheless, the placement of One Nation ahead of Daniel is tactically surprising given the low level of One Nation support in Goldstein and the fact that Daniel’s climate, integrity and gender platform is likely to resonate more strongly with Wilson’s traditional voters than One Nation’s.
Wilson has also put Labor candidate Martyn Abbott ahead of Daniel in what appears to be an approach the Liberals are also adopting outside Goldstein to relegate “teal” candidates well down the ticket.
Asked about his preferences, Wilson says: “The stated aim of the independents is to weaken Australia though a hung parliament, and I can’t support that.”
Daniel says: “If we ever needed proof that I have a chance of winning, the Liberal Party has given it to us by preferencing me at number nine.”
Labor has recommended its voters mark Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party in number two spot, as part of an apparent multi-seat deal. Daniel will be number three on Labor’s ticket. This is against the recommendation of ALP candidate Martyn Abbott who wanted Greens two, Daniel three.
The Greens will preference Daniel number two with a spokesman noting the party wants to “kick Tim Wilson and Scott Morrison out and get action on climate and integrity”.
Nine candidates have nominated for the seat, including from minor parties Sustainable Australia, the Liberal Democrats and the United Australia Party.
Just a reminder to readers that tonight (Thursday) is probably the only opportunity Goldstein voters will have to see and hear the main candidates go through their paces together in a public forum.
It’s the Bayside Climate Crisis Action Group forum to be held at Brighton Town Hall at 7.30. Moderated by Southern FM’s Craig Francis the forum will hear from incumbent Tim Wilson (Liberal), Independent Zoe Daniel, Martyn Abbott (ALP) and Alana Galli-McRostie (Greens).
Seated spots are already booked out, but there may be standing room. The forum will be live-blogged by The Age at our national blog, and this article updated at the end. You can watch a live stream of the event here.
The controversy in Goldstein surrounding the defacing of political signs continued into a second day after the incumbent, Liberal MP Tim Wilson, complained on Twitter that his home had been “targeted by vandals again”, prompting a security upgrade.
Wilson told The Age the incident referred to in his tweet was the vandalism of a political sign at the front of his home.
“The damage was mostly to the sign out of the front of our house, but we have recently had damage done to our fence where it has been smashed,” the MP said. He said it was the third time his property had been vandalised. He declined to provide photographs of the vandalism, stating he did not want to reveal the location of his home.
“We already have extensive security on our homes, including three cameras, and we are going to have to upgrade it again,” Wilson said. “The AFP is being called to protect the office at least once a week, and we are having to regularly update them of our movements.”
He appeared to blame “outsiders”, which has previously referred to as “outsiders from Extinction Rebellion, GetUp! … Climate 200 fake independents”.
Daniel, who herself has had posters defaced with swastikas, has previously called out the vandalism of her opponent’s signs – saying it was “not on”.
The former ABC journalist’s supporters have criticised Wilson for what they say is a refusal to say the same thing. But Wilson told this masthead he had consistently stated he is against all forms of vandalism.
“It’s simple. I am against vandalism. Not just her signs. All vandalism,” he said.
While climate and integrity are the big picture matters of concern in Goldstein, signs could yet prove to be the defining issue. First there was the shemozzle about Bayside council’s curious decision to ban political cor flutes – a decision that led to a Supreme Court battle and a ruling that the council had it all wrong.
Now the leading figures in the Goldstein poll are at loggerheads over the vandalism of each others’ election advertising.
Incumbent Tim Wilson was the first to claim foul play after some dead-of-the-night scribblers defaced some signs and turned others into pro-Zoe Daniel propaganda.
Things have deteriorated since, with Daniel posters getting the Swastika treatment, and being subject to some vile scribbling. One Daniel supporter even says she got a “poo” in her mailbox. Highlighting one especially nasty defacing of a poster, Daniel has called on Wilson and the Liberals to “condemn this threatening, sexist behaviour”.
She says she does not tolerate any vandalism of “my opponent’s signs” (Daniel and Wilson never mention each other by name). “We should all be campaigning on the issues and priorities of the electorate and not resorting to personal attacks.”
Wilson has not quite called on his supporters to desist from vandalism, but he has declared “zero tolerance” to vandalism and graffiti.
Vandalised Zoe Daniel posterCredit:#GoldsteinVoices/Twitter
Continuing his oft-repeated line about “outsiders” like GetUp and Extinction Rebellion getting involved in Goldstein, Wilson says that there was not the same level of vandalism at the last election. Mind you, this election there is actually a contest in Goldstein after 121 years as a safe conservative seat. There wasn’t much signage in 2019 to daub with graffiti.
Call out to Goldstein voters
There’s talk of disaffection among moderate Liberal voters in seats like Goldstein. Is it true or exaggerated?
The answer will decide the outcome of the election in Goldstein and a string of other seats were prominent independents are running.
If you’re a traditional Liberal voter let me know how you plan to vote and why. Contact me: [email protected]
With the ballot now finalised for the May 21 poll, it’s time for Goldstein voters to see, hear and question candidates as they debate the global and local issues of interest.
Public forums are the traditional way of doing that, so what’s coming up?
Unfortunately, there’s just one event planned where all the key candidates are turning out. It’s the Bayside Climate Crisis Action Group forum to be held at Brighton Town Hall this Thursday night at 7.30pm.
Moderated by Southern FM’s Craig Francis, the gathering will hear from the four major candidates: incumbent Tim Wilson (Liberal), Independent Zoe Daniel, Martyn Abbott (ALP) and Alana Galli-McRostie (Greens).
Seated spots are already booked out, but there is a waiting list and may be standing room. The forum is also being live-streamed.
After Thursday’s forum, opportunities to see candidates together are, well, non-existent so far. Both The Age and Sky News have proposed forums that Daniel agreed to but Wilson declined.
He says he will not appear at any forum that does not allow all candidates to participate, and that all media debates proposed to date have wanted limited participation.
Nine candidates have nominated for Goldstein including from minor parties Sustainable Australia, One Nation, the Liberal Democrats, the United Australia Party and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party.
The Age wanted to limit the debate to key candidates so that they could address and be quizzed in more detail on often complex issues.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is also holding a forum.
All candidates are being invited. Of them, Abbott, Daniel and Alana Galli-McCrostie have agreed to turn out. Wilson says none of the three days proposed for the forum by ASRC worked for him.
In the past, the Bayside council has organised federal and state election forums, including in 2018 and 2019. So far, the council has not announced a public debate for this election.
It comes as no surprise to Liberal incumbent Tim Wilson that high-profile advocacy group GetUp is targeting Goldstein as its top election priority in Victoria.
GetUp national director Paul Oosting has told The Age that Goldstein is the group’s main election interest in Victoria as part of a $2.5 million national election campaign, followed by Kooyong, held by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
He explains that its Goldstein climate campaign includes signage, stalls at shopping centres and “community-based calling parties” – volunteers running call centres contacting Goldstein constituents by phone.
For Wilson, the announcement is a matter of I told you so. Independent candidate Zoe Daniel says GetUp didn’t consult her camp but that the group is free to do what it chooses in the election. See the full story here.
It’s the luck of the draw, goes the old saying, but for incumbent MP Tim Wilson and Labor candidate Martyn Abbott, both vying for the seat of Goldstein, the draw has not been lucky at all.
At midday on Friday the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) formally declared nominations for the May 21 poll. The process involves an official announcement of the final line up of candidates followed by a bingo-like draw to determine the order on the ballot.
The Goldstein ballot as drawn on Friday
Nine candidates have nominated, with previously undeclared hopefuls from the Liberal Democrats, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the Sustainable Australia Party, making late entries into the race.
While the Greens are not running hard in Goldstein – “teal” independent Zoe Daniel has stolen their thunder – their candidate Alana Galli-McRostie was delighted to draw number one because that will give her the best spot to pick up donkey votes. “Every vote counts,” she says.
Independent psephologist Dr Kevin Bonham says the advantage of donkey votes – where people number the ballot in consecutive order from top to bottom – was less than 1 per cent in most seats.
Of the main candidates, Daniel did best. She was drawn at number 5 on the ballot ahead of main rival incumbent Tim Wilson who is down in 8th spot. Wilson says he is relaxed about his poor poll position. “Getting excited about ballot order is pseudo mysticism,” he says. Voters will find his name and party on the ballot “no matter the location”.
Labor candidate Martyn Abbott came in last but pointed to the upside – some voters do a reverse donkey vote.
Now we have the final lineup of candidates, negotiations over preferences are in full swing.
Abbott confirmed he had recommended to party bosses that he preference the Greens and then Daniel. His reasoning is that Daniel has not ruled out doing a deal with the Coalition in the case of hung parliament where the Greens have. Labor is planning to print how to vote cards this weekend.
The Greens are likely to preference Daniel, although they won’t say so just yet formally.
Daniel is leaving preference decisions to individual voters.
We will keep readers posted on preferences.
Martyn Abbott ALP candidate for Goldstein. Photo Scott McNaughtonCredit:The Age
Local sporting clubs and community groups attract plenty of attention at election time, especially in marginal seats – as Goldstein arguably now is as a teal independent has entered the fray.
Take Beaumaris footy and RSL clubs, which this Saturday celebrates the 59th anniversary of the “Beauy Sharks” at the annual pre-game ANZAC lunch and ceremony before the clash with old rivals, De La Salle Old Collegians.
There’s a special historic tie between the RSL and footy players because it was returned service men and women who founded the Sharks in the early 60s.
It’s hard to say no to your local MP, especially when federal governments are so generous with one-off sports grants. But with an election looming, the clubs were hoping to avoid politics, and politicians. None were invited, initially. The first email that went out to members about the lunch made no mention of candidates attending. But this year there’s a special buzz about the guest speaker, Afghanistan veteran, Sergeant Braedan Heverin.
By pure coincidence, Heverin is the grandson of one of the Sharks’ original members and WWII prisoner of war Stanley James (Jim) Kirkby. Lots of locals are talking about the event.
But things got a bit tricky when Tim Wilson’s office contacted the club to ask about attendance. It’s hard to say no to your local MP of course, especially when federal governments are so generous with one-off sports grants and the like. So a second email went out to members noting that dignitaries, including Wilson, would be present.
Through a spokesman Wilson says he couldn’t make the Sharks’ season launch because of parliamentary duties so was especially keen to attend the ANZAC lunch.
But could the club just invite Wilson and not the other candidates? It was soon agreed that prominent independent Zoe Daniel would also be welcome. Daniel confirmed she would be attending with her father, former Essendon player Peter Daniel, who is visiting from Tasmania.
ANZAC lunch at Beaumaris football club
So a third email was sent, which included the aspiring cross-bencher.
To be fair, then, the clubs thought they should also invite Labor candidate, Martyn Abbott. Abbott says he received a call this week and was told he was welcome “in the interest of fairness and impartiality”.
Not surprisingly, the clubs are now worrying about seating arrangements.
And as for speeches from candidates? One of the emails specifically notes that there would be, “No political speeches”.
Last time we checked there was talk of allowing Wilson to speak for one minute, but only if he stays away from election politics. It’s like the old Fawlty Towers line backwards: whatever you do, don’t mention the war.
A little over four weeks out from election day, the Liberal incumbent in the seat of Goldstein, Tim Wilson, has stepped up his marketing campaign and turned up the heat on his key challenger, independent Zoe Daniel.
Among a flurry of Liberal flyers to Goldstein letterboxed in recent days one in particular has got voters exercised. It’s of a noticeably salmony pink hue, almost red, subtly suggesting it comes from Labor. There is not a hint of Liberal anywhere until you check the fine print on the back and read the mandatory authorisation from “A. Hirst, Liberal Party”.
It’s entitled “If you vote independent what happens next?”
Liberal flyer in Goldstein
On the back, the Liberal Party answers its own questions. Independents, they claim, will deliver ideas without details, economic uncertainty, a hung parliament. They are inexperienced, will put the economic recovery at risk, and their promises are uncosted.
“Untested independents could hamper strong decision making,” it asserts.
Liberal flyer Goldstein
The mailout also includes a web address, www.notindependent.com that claims to “expose” independents as left wing fakes with puppet strings leading to Labor. “Partisan. Extreme. Dishonest,” the site shouts, also implying links to GetUp, Extinction Rebellion, and so on.
Long-time Hampton resident, Richard Bowen, 51, who sent the flyer to The Age, says it is a “scare tactic” to discourage support for Daniel. But he’s not buying the message.
“It didn’t change my view [on Zoe], it reaffirmed that this seat is in play. Tim and the Liberals are worried about the Zoe Daniel campaign.”
Wilson defends what he calls his “salmon flyer” to The Age, insisting it simply points out what would happen if the independents got their wish of a hung parliament – “chaos, uncertainty and a weaker Australia.”
Daniel refutes the claims, telling The Age: “The answer to the pamphlet ‘If you vote independent what happens next?’ is ‘Better government’.”
Twitter wits have also had fun answering the question posed by Wilson. What happens next? Energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor goes to jail, they wishfully assert. We stop the rorts; gain a federal ICAC and a local MP who listens to the community.
Could this possibly backfire for the Liberals?
The twitter wits feel inspired by a Liberal brochure.
Labor candidate Martyn Abbott says he has no beef with Liberals’ questioning of independents but he does not appreciate their use of Labor red.
“The lack of obvious (Liberal) branding is not something I would do as a candidate. I’m proud of the Labor brand and would include it visibly in all my material”, he says.
For Abbott, the point is rather moot. Labor HQ is not paying anything for his campaign, so there’s not a lot of cash to splash on brochures.
He says he’s sent out three flyers compared to Daniel’s and Wilson’s five or more. It’s a number that’s expected to grow as the campaign intensifies.
Candidates, policies and good intentions are all very well, but a successful election campaign needs resources. Money.
Over the past week Zoe Daniel’s fundraising clicked over $1 million, her campaign coffers now contain $1.11 million and are on track to reach a target of $1.3 million. It’s a huge sum for an independent.
That got us thinking about where the money is coming from for both the key candidates in this costly contest for Goldstein.
Incumbent Tim Wilson will not discuss his campaign budget or donors at all.
Daniel is much more open. We know who the bulk of her donors are because she discloses them on her website. But still she is only requiring public disclosure of donations of more than $14,500, consistent with Australia’s famously lax electoral laws. Donors contributing $14,500 or less can remain anonymous. For more on this story see our detailed article here on how the campaign cash is flowing in Goldstein.
In recent days, Goldstein residents have received an influx of campaign brochures from candidates. Among them was a Liberal Party flyer about postal voting from incumbent MP, Tim Wilson.
On the back of the flyer is an official postal voting application form to be lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). The AEC then sends citizens a ballot that allows them to vote without turning out in person on polling day.
Party flyers in the seat of Goldstein. With the Liberal brochure is a prepaid envelope addressed to PO Box Somerton. the Liberal Party.
Given ongoing COVID-19 risks, the AEC expects a larger than usual postal vote.
But with the Liberal brochure is a prepaid envelope addressed to PO Box Somerton. Unbeknown to citizens of Goldstein, their postal vote applications are taking a detour to the Liberal Party.
What happens then is a little unclear. What we do know is that the major political parties both use such tactics to harvest personal details to target voters with information favouring their candidate and with how-to-vote cards. The parties then send the postal vote applications to the AEC.
It doesn’t seem quite right, but it’s not illegal. In Goldstein, to date, only Wilson’s campaign has done this.
Caryn Spriggs, a 63-year-old pensioner from Bentleigh who has voted via post for about 10 years because of a mobility issue, was less than impressed .
“I put it (the Liberal brochure with postal vote application) straight in the bin”, Spriggs told The Age.
For Spriggs, the use of politically branded postal vote applications seemed suspicious because she doesn’t know where her personal information could end up.
“I’ve never had an issue with the AEC delivering my postal vote. I’ll be sticking with them”, she says.
As for Zoe Daniel, the Independent has opted for a branded flyer with advice to voters about applying online with the AEC for a postal vote or collecting an application from her office. She said her campaign has avoided sending postal vote applications to respect the privacy of voters.
ALP candidate Martyn Abbott says he won’t be distributing leaflets with postal vote applications because he does not have the resources to do so.
Liberal state director Sam McQuestin says that “under the federal electoral laws, parties can assist voters with postal vote applications.”
“In addition to hard copy forms, the Liberal Party has provided an online service to assist voters.”
He assured voters that all postal vote applications are passed on to the AEC.
AEC spokesperson Evan Ekin-Smyth, says the practice is not illegal but advised postal voters to apply directly to them.
“Come directly to us. It’s quicker and easier. We operate under the privacy act, we are obligated to treat voter’s personal data for certain purposes, political parties are not”, he says.
Ekin-Smyth encourages voters to exercise caution, “You don’t know what they’re going to do with your data.”
Zoe Daniel, the independent candidate for the seat of Goldstein, has apologised for a series of comments made by her and members of her team that Jewish community leaders deemed offensive.
Goldstein, a blue-ribbon Liberal seat held by Morrison government assistant minister Tim Wilson, has a substantial Jewish population, with 6.8 percent describing their religion as Judaism at the 2016 census.
In the past week, stories in News Corp publications have highlighted actions and statements by the Daniel team, including a 2017 ABC article in which Daniel wrote that then US president Donald Trump had declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in part, as way of “satisfying his wealthy Jewish donors”. Also highlighted were social media comments by Daniel’s campaign manager, including a 2020 post that “Hitler altered reality with drugs & [PM Scott] Morrison uses religion”.
Goldstein Independent Zoe Daniel.Credit:Paul Rovere
This week Daniel met with Anti-Defamation Commission chair Dr Dvir Abramovich, who told The Age the independent had apologised, including for the 2017 article.
Daniel, a former ABC foreign correspondent, confirmed this. “Yes absolutely. I did apologise. I am deeply sorry to have caused any further pain or concern among our Jewish community, and to see the weaponisations of Jewish trauma for political gain.”
In a written statement, Daniel also said: “Mischaracterisation of Jewish people, including myths such as their enjoying outsize wealth or power, must be identified immediately as the starting point for much worse.”
Daniel said political jibes referring to the Holocaust were unacceptable.
“When the Holocaust is misused and weaponised to score points in an argument, we devalue this horrific event and cause great pain to Holocaust survivors and their descendants.”
She also stressed her support for the current protections in section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act against hate speech, which her opponent, Liberal MP Tim Wilson, has supported softening.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison attends a Passover Service at a synagogue in Hawthorn East with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Friday.Credit:James Brickwood
However, despite some criticism, Daniel has not withdrawn her signature from an open letter published during the Israeli-Hamas conflict last year calling for, among other things, publishers and editors to “respect the rights of journalists and media workers to publicly and openly express personal solidarity with the Palestinian cause”.
“My signing of the letter was narrowly framed to express my profound and abiding concern for the safety and welfare of journalists, regardless of the conflict.”
In response to the apology, Wilson said: “Integrity is not something you say, it is something you live.
“Climate 200’s fake independents have a reputation of saying one thing before their name is on the ballot, and doing another when a bright light is shone into their dark past, whether it’s keeping their former memberships of the Labor Party secret, or their open hostility to Israel’s security.
“Goldstein’s Jewish community will see this repositioning as the cynical electoral ploy it is, particularly when Climate 200’s fake independent’s signature still sits on an avowedly anti-Israel letter”.
Daniel said she knew several foreign journalists reporting in the affected area who were at direct risk. “My concern, as a journalist, was for them and others and their safety at work.”
She told The Australian Jewish News this week that she could remove her name from the letter, “but that seems to me to be insincere, or a cheat’s way out, given that I did sign it”.
“Far better, I think, to learn from that moment and to better understand the issues from the perspective of the Jewish people,” she said.
Abramovich said he was glad Daniel had addressed concerns he raised with her. “This was an important first step in putting this issue to rest, and her apology and regrets were sincere and heartfelt.”
The seat of Goldstein often gets attention for its wealthier bayside suburbs and the so-called Golden Mile of Brighton. But the electorate is more than beachfront mansions and leafy streets. The suburb of Bentleigh, for instance, is in the east of the electorate, inland from the beach.
This is middle-suburban Melbourne where detached family homes are standard but where new apartment blocks are rising along main roads. About 62 per cent of residents in Bentleigh were born in Australia, but there is also a substantial Chinese population.
In Bentleigh, property prices are a little lower than in bayside suburbs – although still higher than the Melbourne average – and the Liberal vote more subdued. Domain data from December 2021 shows the average Bentleigh house costs $1.7 million compared to $2.97 million in Brighton.
A general view of the shopping strip on Centre Road in Bentleigh. Credit:Wayne Taylor
On election day 2019, Labor outpolled the Liberal Party at the Bentleigh central booth, but the Liberals just pipped Labor at the nearby Bentleigh booth. Such booths have not traditionally been of much interest to political pundits because they’re part of an electorate that’s been safe conservative since Federation.
Age reporter Najma Sambal visited Bentleigh on Thursday and was surprised by the level of engagement with the local political contest, and people’s awareness of former ABC reporter Zoe Daniel’s campaign.
John Warren, 54, runs a small photographic studio just off busy Centre Road and has lived in Bentleigh for 20 years. He says there’s an energy around Daniel’s campaign.
“I see Zoe Daniel T-shirts just walking down the street. No one’s wearing a Tim Wilson T-shirt” he says.
Warren, a swinging voter who voted for incumbent Tim Wilson in 2016, wants more urgent action on climate change and is excited by having the choice of a serious independent. “The two major parties are not delivering what the majority wants.”
Bentleigh photographer John Warren says he will back Zoe Daniel after voting for incumbent Tim Wilson in 2016.Credit:The Age
Doreen Cheong, 46, a stay-at-home mum from Singapore, will be voting for the first time at this election. We meet on a busy corner of Centre Road, where she’s running errands for her family.
Cheong is frustrated at the lack of female representation in politics. She says she’ll vote for Daniel because she is a woman who “cares about women”.
“I’ll vote for her to have more diversity and different voices.”
Outside the Coles supermarket I meet Michelle Baron, 55, a nurse and a traditional Labor voter. She’s concerned about aged care and climate change, two issues she says the Coalition has performed poorly on.
“I’m embarrassed that there are people in nursing homes that aren’t being fed properly or looked after”, she says. “I have teenagers and children in their 20s, they’re all concerned about their future because of the environment. I want to see something tangible. I don’t want to hear the talk anymore.”
Although Baron has never voted Liberal, she believes the incumbent has done right by his electorate. “Tim Wilson, personally, has done a good job, but his Liberal Party is letting him down.”
At his family home in a suburban Bentleigh, Bryn Power, a 29-year-old administrative worker and Green voter, isn’t buying the Daniel hype and says the independent’s climate policies don’t excite him.
“Greens are committed to raising the unemployment benefit, I was heartened to see that Zoe Daniel had committed too, but it’s not enough to get my vote”, he says.
Power says that Daniels campaign is targeting “Liberals and more centrist Labor people”, an older and wealthier demographic, but that she is less attractive to many younger voters. But he will preference Daniel ahead of Tim Wilson.
At Bentleigh Coles, another Greens voter, 30-year-old Alex Grey, feels he’s not Daniel’s or Wilson’s target audience.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of young people who would vote for either of them,” he says.
Garry Washfold, 70, Ormond, retired executive manager.Credit:Najma Sambul
A few streets away in neighbouring Ormond, I meet with Garry Washfold, a 70-year-old retired executive manager and life-long Labor voter, who is voting for Daniel. He sees the financial support for Daniel’s campaign – she’s on track to raise $1.2 million – as a “vote of confidence” and assurance she has wide community support.
How important is a federal integrity commission to the people of Goldstein? Independent Zoe Daniel has it as one of her key pledges, and the government first promised one before the 2019 election.
But on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged he would only legislate such a body if his existing model was backed by Labor. That model has been criticised as the “weakest watchdog in the country” because it would only be able to look at a narrow range of criminal offences, it could not begin investigations without pre-existing evidence of corruption, launch its own investigations and act on anonymous tips.
“I put forward a detailed plan, a detailed proposal which the Labor Party rejects. I have honoured my proposal. The Labor Party don’t support it. That is where the issue rests,” Morrison said on Thursday, as he campaigned in Tasmania.
Daniel’s proposed model is similar to Labor’s and both differ to the Coalition’s in that they want an integrity commission with the powers of a royal commission, which can initiate investigations and hold public hearings.
Daniel told The Age that Morrison had made a “solemn promise” at the last election that there would be a national integrity commission. “Now, he’s hiding behind a smokescreen of obfuscation and a proposal for a flawed commission that may well foster corruption rather than prevent it.”
“This is the behaviour that disenchants voters, undermines our democracy and threatens our future prosperity.”
Tim Wilson pressing the flesh with commuters on Wednesday.Credit:Facebook
Incumbent Goldstein MP Tim Wilson did not respond directly when we asked his view of Morrison’s comments and would only talk about his main opponent Daniel and fund-raising group Climate 200, which is backing her.
“Integrity begins with Climate 200’s fake independents across Australia declaring who they’ll support in a hung parliament,” said Wilson “otherwise their word on how they’ll vote in parliament lacks integrity.”
Goldstein Labor candidate Martyn Abbott told The Age said he was surprised that the Coalition’s policies were being decided by the ALP.
“That’s not how elections work,” he said. “You go into an election promising what you would do if you were in government.”
A Federal ICAC only if Labor agrees to the Coalition’s model: MorrisonCredit:James Brickwood
“Labor has a commitment for an integrity commission with teeth. If Liberals support or not that or not is a value judgement for them.” So, do Australians want an integrity commission? It would seem so according to this Age poll.
A great deal of modern election campaigning takes place over the airwaves and on social media, but in the “ground battle” that experts keep telling us will be crucial, vote-winning techniques have not moved much since the 19th century.
Most weekdays Tim Wilson, the incumbent in Goldstein, can be found at a train station handing out Liberal flyers and chatting to as many constituents as will stop and listen. On Wednesday morning he was at Patterson station in Bentleigh, where people wanted to talk about the cost of living, the conflict in Ukraine and the importance of home ownership.
His main opponent, independent Zoe Daniel, was at Hampton station. She told The Age: “You can’t beat getting out and meeting people.” Wherever she goes, she says, “people want to stop and talk and get to know me, and have conversations about what’s important to them”.
Wilson reported on Facebook, though, that the overwhelming sentiment in his conversations was people “looking forward to the Easter long weekend”. Well-to-do Goldstein tends to empty during Easter, says one seasoned campaign staffer, as the citizenry head off to their holiday houses in places such as Sorrento and Portsea.
For the candidates, it’s been a pretty gruelling first few days of the official campaign. They’re probably looking forward to a breather too.
The Age on the street in Bentleigh
As part of our rolling, on-the-ground coverage of the Goldstein campaign, new reporter Najma Sambul will be testing the political temperature in Bentleigh, one the seat’s more eastern suburbs. If you live there and have insights, tips or thoughts about the key local issues, please let her know.
It’s a chilly morning at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club and not just because of the breeze across Port Phillip Bay.
There’s an unusual disquiet among the Icebergers, the stoic ladies and gents who gather for early morning, cold water swims, all year round.
They’re a close-knit bunch, but some have recently broken with the group’s unwritten “no politics” rule by donning T-shirts supporting the federal candidacy of former ABC TV reporter Zoe Daniel in the seat of Goldstein.
Keith Badger (centre) and some Brighton Icebergers supporting Goldstein Independent candidate Zoe Daniel. Credit:Photo: Paul Jeffers
Daniel, 49, is one of a mainly female wave of independent candidates contesting Coalition seats at this election, some are part of the “Voices” movement inspired by Cathy McGowan, the former independent member for Indi in northern Victoria, and some supported by Climate 200, the fundraising body founded by clean energy advocate Simon Holmes a Court.
Daniel, backed by a local Voices group and part-funded by Climate 200, describes herself as a “disruptor” of the two-party, male-dominated political order that, she says, is so broken it’s unable to address the biggest challenges of our times like climate change.
She even has the Icebergers warming up about politics.
“It’s fair to say that the open support for Zoe has sparked some tension about the election – some good-natured debate among friends,” says Keith Badger, a keen Iceberger and a one-time British Conservative party member who voted for Tim Wilson in 2016 and who is now Daniel’s campaign director.
No one denies Daniel’s visibility, including incumbent Liberal MP Tim Wilson, 42, who rails against the cashed-up “cavalcade” of outsider environmental activists encroaching on the “pleasant streets” of his electorate.
Some campaigns just have a zeitgeist, an energy and momentum that make things happen – the “it’s time” factor. But is it really time for Goldstein, named after Vida Goldstein, an early suffragist who unsuccessfully contested five elections as an independent early last century?
It’s a big ask.
Goldstein– formerly known as Balaclava – is among the bluest of blue ribbon Liberal seats, held since federation 121 years ago by conservative MPs, all male.
In the 1940s, an independent, Arthur Coles, did hold Henty, which took in a small part of the seat, but since Coles the whole of Melbourne has had just one independent federal MP – left-wing footy hero Phil Cleary in Wills in the 1990s.
Melbourne has had only one female independent federal MP, Doris Amelia Blackburn, who held the seat of Bourke from 1946 to 1949.
The Golden Mile
The Royal Brighton yacht club is at the southern end of the Golden Mile, a strip of leafy streets and mansions with easy beach access, one of Melbourne’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. Goldstein is among the country’s wealthier electorates with a median weekly household income of $2018 according to the 2016 census, well above the Australian average of $1438.
More than 43 per cent of Brighton residents have bachelor degrees or higher, twice the national average. There are more non-religious residents here than the Australian average, but 6.8 per cent describe their religion as Judaism, well above the national average of 0.4 per cent.
Results from polling booths through Goldstein show voting patterns, like property prices, reflect proximity to Port Phillip Bay.
The Liberal vote is strongest in the well-to-do bayside neighbourhoods – Brighton, Hampton, Sandringham, Black Rock and Beaumaris – but softer in the more modest inland suburbs of Bentleigh, McKinnon and Highett.
Tim Wilson first won the seat in 2016 by a record margin and retained it in 2019 with 52 per cent of the primary vote despite a swing against him.
He cut his political teeth at Monash University’s student union and as a policy director with the free market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), and is now often described as a “moderate” or “modern” Liberal, but says he prefers just “liberal”.
He was prominent on issues such as same-sex marriage and proposed to his partner, Ryan, on the floor of the House of Representatives. But his stance on issues such as softening section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and for tinkering with superannuation, have led critics to query his moderate credentials.
Duelling campaign signs in Sandringham. Credit:Photo: Joe Armao
Daniel says the Goldstein “incumbent” is not a “moderate Liberal”. “He votes every time with Barnaby Joyce. This is not representing the people of Goldstein.”
If he is to prevail again Wilson needs to hold on to bayside Liberals, a group often characterised as well-educated, small-l Liberals interested in issues such as the environment and refugees in the tradition of the original Goldstein MP and Fraser-era frontbencher, Ian Macphee.
Daniel is banking on these same voters being sufficiently disillusioned by the long, rightward shift of the party nationally to back a respectable, centrist independent. She is a mother of two and lives in Hampton.
Such disillusionment appeared to be reflected in the 2018 state election result when the Liberals lost the seat of Hawthorn and, almost, the seat of Brighton to 19-year-old Labor candidate Declan Martin.
ABC election analyst Antony Green says that to win, Daniel needs to force Wilson’s primary vote below 45 per cent, get to 30 per cent or more herself and attract 70 to 80 per cent of preferences. Green thinks Daniel is a chance. Wilson “is in trouble”, he has told The Age.
Early polling by Climate 200 has buoyed the Daniel camp. But no one takes such numbers too seriously. What is clear is that a prominent independent has made Goldstein a real contest, maybe for the first time.
The Black Rock Yacht Club
Against the backdrop of a sunlit Half Moon Bay, Zoe Daniel looks relaxed in front of an audience of about 400 at a packed meet-the-candidate event at the Black Rock Yacht Club.
Zoe Daniel and supporters at Black Rock Yacht Club.
It’s a mainly older, well-to-do mob many in their 60s and more, their eyes fixed on the candidate. Supporters seem to just like saying “Zoe”. For these rusted-on ABC viewers, the former foreign correspondent has star quality.
The push for Goldstein is more sophisticated than the standard, often heartfelt but under-resourced independents’ campaigns. There’s a $1 million-plus budget, a registered campaign company, an executive that directs four local committees, a small paid team including a demographer and media minder and there’s financial, strategic and publicity support from Climate 200.
Daniel will need all of this and more to win. Incumbents from the major parties have big advantages including publicly funded salaries, offices, paid staff, cars, multi-millions in taxpayer funded pork-barrelling and party expertise and resources.
Tim Wilson won’t use the name of his independent opponent. He’s in his electoral office on Nepean Highway East Brighton a slightly barren location removed from election theatrics in Goldstein’s major commercial centres.
Wilson’s surroundings suit his narrative. He’s painting himself almost as an underdog, battling big outside money and an alien green-left influence, standing on his reputation as a hard-working local MP who knows his constituents and their concerns: cost of living, petrol prices, school fees, national security and China, housing affordability, superannuation and climate change.
Any regrets about the Coalition’s tortured handling of climate over the past 15 years?
Goldstein MP Tim Wilson.Credit:Photo: Simon Schluter
Wilson, the assistant minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction, says the government has “landed in a very good place” with its technology-focused plan to get to carbon neutrality by 2050 while also growing the economy. “We’ve built a sustainable solution that takes the whole country forward with us,” he says.
Should the Coalition have endorsed a more ambitious emission reduction target for 2030 than the Abbott-era 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels?
The focus on targets is “yesterday’s conversation”, says Wilson. “It’s now all about the enabling mechanisms … scaling up technology.”
He is running hard on national security, even claiming that given circumstances including war in Europe and Chinese expansionism, Australia is in “its most dangerous decade”.
And he continues to call for Australians to be allowed to access their superannuation for a deposit on a home, an idea slammed by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull as “the craziest” he’d ever heard because of the likely hike in house prices.
Wilson insists Goldstein voters are also concerned about whether “some candidates” standing for election are “truly independent”.
He says activist groups such as GetUp and Extinction Rebellion have been unusually active on the streets of Goldstein, coinciding with anti-Tim Wilson graffiti and big money being tipped into the campaign by Climate 200.
“It all seems to be miraculously around supporting exactly the same issues that some candidates (Daniel) are supporting.”
Tim Wilson’s election campaign launch. Wilson says his community relationships are built on active engagement.Credit:Photo: Eddie Jim
Wilson, who lives in Sandringham, says he will spend nothing like “they” (Daniel) do, and won’t need to because his relationships with the community “are personal and built on hard work and active engagement”.
He refuses to disclose his campaign budget. Daniel says she needs to raise $1.2 million and has already raised close to $1 million, including more than $400,000 from Climate 200.
So, who does Wilson believe is his real opponent? Labor or Daniel?
Both, says Wilson, who then revealingly talks up the ALP’s Martyn Abbott as a candidate with integrity who at least owns his Labor allegiance. In truth, Wilson wants Labor voters to stick with the ALP rather than switch to Daniel, for his own sake. If Labor outpolls Daniel, her tilt for election is finished.
Labor campaign launch
On another sunny Sunday afternoon, Labor is launching its Goldstein campaign at the Highett Bowls Club, without sea views. There’s about 60 mainly older, diehard Laborites; some have been around since the Whitlam days.
Martyn Abbott, 25, an innocent-looking electorate officer for a state Labor MP, is paying his political dues in time-honoured tradition.
ALP candidate Martyn Abbott at his campaign launch Credit:Photo: Scott McNaughton
“Is Labor serious about Goldstein?” The Age asks.
“Well I’m serious,” says Abbott: “People want action on climate change, and they want an end to what has been almost a decade of rorts.”
He has just $10,000 raised locally for his campaign so far and is hoping for another $10,000.
No one at the Labor launch really thinks they will win. Labor’s primary vote in 2019 was 28.3 per cent. Yet over cups of tea and ribbon sandwiches there is a bit of a buzz among the party faithful – about Daniel.
Jim Magee (Labor) is the mayor of Glen Eira in the north-east of the electorate. “Goldstein is getting the biggest shake up the seat’s ever had,” he says. “Zoe Daniel has something that the people of Goldstein want.”
And the Greens? Daniel is expected to absorb a lot of the party’s 14 per cent primary vote from 2019. In a close race the remaining Greens preferences could be important. Greens’ candidate Alana Galli-McRostie refused to be interviewed for this story.
Back in Hampton, The Age is in an op shop asking for thoughts about the looming Goldstein election. “It’s between Tim Wilson and Zoe Daniel,” says sales assistant and Bentleigh resident, Amy Derksen.
Daniel agrees. She’s in a spacious cafe not far from her Hampton home. “In reality it’s me against the incumbent.” Like Wilson, Daniel never uses her opponent’s name.
She decided to run for Goldstein after her children urged her to do something about climate change. “There comes a point where you can only shout at the TV or rant on Facebook for so long,” she says.
Zoe Daniel runs in the electorate.Credit:Photo: Simon Schluter
She backs a 60 per cent emissions cut by 2030, compared to the Coalition’s 26 to 28 per cent, Labor’s 43 per cent and the Greens’ 75 per cent.
Among her proposals for achieving the cut are redirecting all taxpayer subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, a ban on new coal and gas developments, fixing the power grid to support more solar energy and an independent climate body to hold governments accountable on emissions.
Like other independents, she has also prioritised government integrity and transparency, calling for an anti-corruption commission with teeth, a code of conduct for MPs, the capping of political spending and disclosure of all donations over $1000.
Daniel is pragmatic when it comes to her campaign. She only requires disclosure of donations of more than $14,500, consistent with Australia’s famously lax electoral laws.
She says she despairs at the “insincerity” of the Coalition’s response to the issues around workplace safety for women in Canberra and is calling for full implementation of recommendations of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s [email protected] report, and of the recommendations of the Set The Standard report on behaviour in parliament.
Daniel dismisses allegations of being a Labor stooge as a Coalition “construct”, stressing she has never been a member of a political party and has always been a swinging voter, which includes voting for Wilson in 2016. “I am the person who goes into the polling booth and thinks ‘neither of these parties represents me’.”
She says has “no preconceived notion” of supporting either Labor or the Coalition in the case of a hung parliament.
Daniel says her policy priorities – developed with her constituents – would be clear. She would talk to the Coalition and Labor and assess which party is best able, and sufficiently trustworthy, to help deliver them. She will not be drawn on how far she would go supporting either side – if, for example, she would guarantee budget supply on the floor of parliament.
She does, however, rule out accepting a portfolio by either side if offered.
The polling booth
It’s a Monday evening at the Sandringham Football Club and upwards of 300 have turned out for Tim Wilson’s formal launch. Special guest Health Minister Greg Hunt says it’s the biggest Liberal launch he’s ever seen for a single seat.
Wilson fires up the crowd railing against the independent-Climate 200’s “insidious plan to buy our community’s voice” which, he says, has awoken “a giant” – Goldstein Liberals.
Brighton Liberal member and sustainable marketing specialist Nadya Krienke-Becker is staying loyal to Wilson. “I just know that there is definitely strong support for Tim among Liberals in Goldstein.”
Nadya Krienke-Becker is a Tim Wilson supporter in Goldstein. Credit: Photo: Simon Schluter
“Hand on heart,” she says, “I believe the Liberal party is moving our economy ahead as we also move toward zero carbon.”
In attendance also is former Bayside mayor, Felicity Frederico, OAM, a self-described “disgruntled moderate” who has unsuccessfully contested preselection three times for the state seat of Brighton.
Frederico says Daniel’s candidacy has locals exercised about politics “because there’s now a choice”.
Former Bayside mayor Felicity Frederico says Zoe Daniel is “gaining traction” among traditional Liberal and Labor voters in the area.Credit:Photo: Simon Schluter
As for her own voting intentions? “I think there’s an appetite for political leadership based on a platform of trust, respect and humility – leadership that reflects the demographics of the wider community, because we do need more women in parliament.”
Not quite an endorsement of Daniel, but pretty close.
Frederico says the challenger is “gaining traction” among traditional Liberal and Labor voters but stresses that many remain undecided.
It’s those many people of Goldstein yet to make up their minds who Wilson and Daniel need to convince.
Jacqueline Maley cuts through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Melbourne had never had an independent, female, federal MP.
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