FORMER Warrnambool mayor Michael Neoh has been allocated top spot on the ballot paper for the seat of South West Coast election.
Candidates for the state election on Saturday, November 24, across Victoria were kept waiting while there was a delay in giving election officers the green light to conduct the computerised draw at 1pm.
Mr Neoh has top spot, Australia Country Party's Jim Doukas is second followed by The Greens' Tom Campbell, Terry Riggs (Victorian Socialists), Kylie Gaston (Labor), Roma Britnell (Liberal), Michael McCluskey (independent), James Purcell (independent) and Joseph Purtill of the DLP is on the bottom of the nine-candidate field.
Mr Neoh agreed it was an advantage to finish on top of the draw.
"Perhaps one or two per cent," he said.
"It is going to be a very tight election so any advantage is really important.
"Preferencing is also going to be really important, there is lots of argy-bargy in phone calls in terms of who is putting who where.
"Hopefully the vote is very close, marginal or changes and we are going to see some dollars flow into the future.”
The allocation of preferences was a hot topic on Friday with Mr Doukas revealing he was going to put Mr Neoh first with Liberal candidate Mrs Britnell second.
It was expected that the key independent/minor party candidates Mr Doukas, Mr Neoh and Mr Purcell would exchange preferences and put Mrs Britnell last with the aim of marginalising what has been a safe Liberal seat.
Mr Doukas said the Country Party and Liberals were swapping preferences after a deal involving upper house candidates.
Mr Doukas' how to vote card reads: Mr Doukas, followed by Mr Neoh, Mrs Britnell, Mr Purtill, Mr Purcell, Mr McCluskey, Mrs Gaston, Mr Riggs and Mr Campbell.
Mr Purcell claimed that Mr Doukas allocating such preferences would have a massive impact on the election.
Deakin University commentator Dr Geoff Robinson was inclined to agree.
"The problem for the independents is to get ahead of Labor through preferences," he said.
"If Mr Doukas does preference Mrs Britnell I believe she'll hold the seat easily against Labor.
"Those preferences could be important if it comes down to a contest between Mrs Britnell and Mr Purcell and/or Mr Neoh.
"I think it will be difficult even if one of the independents gets in the final count against Mrs Britnell because they will be coming from so far behind."
Dr Robinson said if the key three independents/minor party candidates did not swap preferences with each other it would clearly work against them.
"They need to collate every vote they can at every stage. Whoever is fourth and fifth becomes crucial,” he said.
“I would still be surprised if one of the independents get ahead of Labor.”