Parties vie for south-west upper house seat

A PLETHORA of minor parties have their eyes on the south-west’s prized fifth upper house seat, although a former victor is unlikely to contest the spot.

Former Democratic Labour Party MP Peter Kavanagh said he was unlikely to run at this year’s state election, after winning the fifth seat at the 2006 election and representing Western Victoria for four years.

He was defeated at the 2010 state election by National Party MP David O’Brien, who gained the seat on a upswing in Coalition votes as well as a strong flow of minor party preferences. Family First and Country Alliance have indicated they will contest Western Victoria at the November 29 poll. 

Mr Kavanagh said the 2010 result had dissuaded him from standing for public office again but added “never say never”.

He said the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) had historically enjoyed strong support in south-west Victoria and contributed to the election of blacksmith-turned-senator John Madigan in 2011.

“I’m not planning to run again at this point in time,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“I enjoyed representing Western Victoria. The area around Warrnambool is a wonderful part of the state and I enjoyed great support from the voters down there. But as they say — never say never. 

“I saw that press conference Kevin Rudd made in March (2013) where he said there would be no circumstances in which he would return to the Labor leadership and less than four months later he’s prime minister again!

“So I won’t rule it out completely, but it’s unlikely.”

Mr Kavanagh made headlines during his four-year stint in Parliament for his outspoken views on abortion and his call to ban British folk singer Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) from touring Australia. Victoria’s upper house was radically reformed by the Bracks government with new regions contested for the first time at the 2006 election. 

Each seat has five members — the first four seats usually won in Western Victoria by Labor or the Coalition. 

The final spot is the only position that offers a contest, with minor parties able to leverage support through preferences. The race for Western Victoria’s fifth seat was a close call at the 2010 poll, taking nine preference counts to determine a winner. 

Mr Kavanagh was knocked out on the sixth count, Family First candidate Joshua Reimer on the seventh, Labor candidate Richard Morrow on the eighth and Country Alliance candidate Miles Hodge on the ninth. Mr O’Brien was then provisionally elected.

All five incumbent Coalition and Labor MPs have also said they will recontest their seats.

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