Baysiders still undecided on who to vote for one month out from the state election can quiz candidates at a public forum next week in Hampton.
The sitting Liberal MPs, however, won’t be there. Sandringham Murray Thompson has a prior engagement and Brighton’s Louise Asher had not responded to the convenors’ invitation when TWR went to print.
All lower-house candidates in the two blue-ribbon electorates, including the local members, have been invited to speak at the Bayside Decides forum, which Bayside mayor Laurie Evans will moderate.
The audience will get their chance to grill candidates during a Q&A session and, more informally, over tea and biscuits afterwards.
“It’s time to take politics back to the people, time to look past the spin and get some real answers,” said key convenor Margaret Beavis, who is the Greens’ candidate in Brighton.
Dr Beavis said the forum was being promoted by Greens, Labor and independent candidates.
“It is a shame the Liberals won’t be coming, but we’ll go ahead with it anyway. The mayor is a well-respected independent so no one can say it is a one-party set-up.”
Candidates so far include independent Clarke Martin, Labor’s Christina Zigouras and the Greens’ Adam McBeth in Sandringham, and independent Jane Touzeau, Labor’s Louise Crawford and Dr Beavis in Brighton.
Established in 1856, Brighton is one of Victoria’s oldest and wealthiest electorates. It has always voted conservative and Ms Asher, who has held it since 1999, sits on a virtually unassailable 14.3 per cent margin. This has fallen from 17.6 per cent in 2010.
The electorate now includes all of Elwood, following electoral boundary changes last year. Elwood has a strong Greens-voter base.
Sandringham, too, is a safe Liberal seat, only changing to Labor once (in 1982, for one term). Created in 1955, it is also one of the wealthiest electorates in the state.
Murray Thompson, son of former Liberal premier Lindsay Thompson, has held the seat since 1992. His margin fell slightly from 15.9 per cent in 2010 to 15.6 per cent following redistribution, which brought parts of Highett and Cheltenham east of the Nepean Highway from Mordialloc into his electorate.
The Bayside Decides forum starts at 7pm on November 7 at the Hampton Community Centre hall, 14 Willis Street.