New boundaries set to be released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Friday are expected to deliver two new seats to the Labor party at the next federal election – and trigger a fresh round of factional jostling in Melbourne. The AEC is expected on Friday morning to publish redistributions creating a new inner-city seat in Canberra and a new electorate in the western or north-western suburbs of Melbourne. Given that Canberra and Melbourne’s west are considered Labor strongholds, major-party operatives think both seats will be a plus in the Labor column at the time of the next federal election – although the Greens will also have their eye on the new Canberra seat. But the picture could be more mixed for Labor depending on the flow-on consequences of the Victorian redistribution – with boundary changes potentially altering the balance in surrounding electorates, including McEwen, Casey and Gorton – and in the city’s east.
The Victorian ALP was consumed by infighting late last year and early this year, sparked in part by the anticipated creation of the new federal seat in western Melbourne and a dispute about who would be preselected to represent it.
Party insiders predict the jostling will recommence once the boundaries of the new seat are known on Friday.
At the moment there are effectively two stability agreements in Victoria – power-sharing deals between factional blocs on the left and right – because a breakaway group has attempted to overturn a longstanding pact brokered by the former Labor right faction powerbroker Stephen Conroy and the party veteran Kim Carr’s socialist left faction.