Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s fight to keep his marginal seat from the Greens has been dealt a blow with the Liberals not fielding a candidate and therefore scattering valuable preferences.
The Liberals on Thursday fielded low-profile candidates for the key inner-city seats of Melbourne, Northcote and Brunswick but not Richmond, in an attack on Labor over its rorts-for-votes scandal.
Inner-Melbourne seats have traditionally gone to Labor but in recent years the party has relied on Liberal preferences to get over the line.
Liberal state president Michael Kroger and leader Matthew Guy wrote to MPs on Thursday saying “the days of us simply handing votes to Labor are over”.
“Richard Wynne was involved in the ‘red shirts’ rort and it would be contrary to our principles to assist in his re-election given our view that he should have already resigned from parliament,” the letter reads.
“The Liberal Party is not a preference machine for the Labor Party.”
Mr Wynne holds Richmond by 1.9 per cent.
The Liberals have not decided on preference deals for Melbourne, Northcote or Brunswick and may leave it open to voters.
The party has nominated former Kevin Andrews staffer Adam Wojtonis for Brunswick, finance consultant Darin Schade in Melbourne and failed City of Darbin councillor candidate John MacIsaac in Northcote.
A Labor spokeswoman said preferences were a matter for the state secretary.
Monash University political expert Zareh Ghazarian described the Liberal move as one of “political retribution”, particularly over the misuse of parliamentary funds at the last election to partially fund campaign staff.
“It will have a significant impact on the contest in Richmond and Labor will have to divert resources to give them the best chance of keeping that seat because the shift seems to be in favour of the Greens,” he told AAP.
The issue of preference deals in the upper house among minor parties is also being considered by Victoria Police.
Reason Party leader Fiona Patten complained to the Victorian Electoral Commission about preference broker Glenn Druery – who has links to Senator Derryn Hinch – with claims he was demanding thousands of dollars for preference deals.
Premier Daniel Andrews spent Thursday promising generous solar panel subsidies to renters and increasing renewable energy targets.
Labor would pour $82 million over 10 years into allowing 50,000 rental properties to take part in the scheme, the government paying half, the landlord a quarter and tenants the remainder spread over four years.
Labor also announced it would increase the state’s renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2030, building on current targets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.
Mr Guy on Thursday moved to win over commuters in Melbourne’s marginal southeast, with promises of a new, $600 million freeway.
A Liberal-Nationals coalition government would get rid of seven intersections along the Dingley bypass and speeds would increase to 100km/h, he said.
He also promised $16 million for the State Schools’ Relief charity to provides eye tests for students up to grade three and provides glasses where needed.
Victory on November 24 would see Mr Guy scrap Labor’s emissions targets in preference to a national approach.