Canberra calling: Tim Watts weathers as Labor loses unlosable election

Labor MP Tim Watts on Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Labor’s local federal member of parliament Tim Watts has retained the seat of Gellibrand, but any hopes of making ministry have once again been benched, with his Bill Shorten-led Labor Party looking at a humiliating defeat against Scott Morrison and the Coalition.

What was predicted to be a win for Labor turned to tears for the party faithful, with Scott Morrison leading the Coalition to an unlikely victory and Bill Shorten announcing that whilst he will remain safely seated in Maribyrnong, he will stand down as Labor leader.

On face value, votes currently counted for Gellibrand tell an expectedly safe story about Labor’s loyal following in Melbourne’s west when it comes to the two-party-preferred vote – the result after preferences have been distributed to the highest two candidates.

In the latest results released with 80.8 percent of votes counted, Tim Watts (Labor Party) is holding onto 56,200 votes (64.9%), setting a safe distance between himself and first timer Anthony Mitchell (Liberal Party) who has so far collected 30,404 votes (35.1%).

Reflecting on the election, Tim Watts thanked those who gave the Labor MP another opportunity to represent his community and fight for health, education, jobs and the environment, noting the opportunity as being a privilege he ‘will never take for granted’.

“We fought for a more inclusive and equal society so that every child has the same opportunities to build a prosperous future. We fought for a future that we can be proud to leave to our children. I look forward to… a kinder and fairer Australia,” Mr Watts said.

When it comes to first preference votes, it is not good news for the Greens, and that is a consistent story nationally. Bernadette Thomas (Greens) notched 13,731 votes (15.9%), nearly 3 percent less than when Jonathon Marsden ran for the Greens in 2006.

Speaking to the results, Australian Greens candidate for Gellibrand Bernadette Thomas thanked everyone who had been involved in a campaign that was focussed on ‘building thriving, supportive communities’ in which its people care for the environment.

“A massive thank you to everyone involved in the Gellibrand campaign. It’s such a privilege to be a candidate; to have the trust of so many good people, who share a world view that is inclusive and compassionate,” Ms Thomas said.

“It’s clear our work on protecting the planet, reversing global warming, and building thriving, supportive communities is more important than ever. Let’s continue to work together, make our voices heard, and build a future for all.”

Lisa Bentley (United Australia Party) pulled 4,791 votes (5.5%) which is a remarkable result given Clive’s campaign challenges. Lisa’s first preference share of votes is higher than David Tran (4.9%) who ran as an independent candidate in 2006.

Further figure work can show some surprising statistics for those who are that way inclined. The first preference combined share for Labor/Greens in Gellibrand fell to 65.1% compared with 68.3% from the previous federal election in 2016.

Liberal/UAP increased to 34.9% compared with 31.6% (Liberal/IND) in 2016. Labor’s loss in combined share is due to disappointing digits from the Greens, but the red shirts would want to make sure the green thumbs are pointed in the upright position next time.

Reflecting on the federal election, Hobsons Bay Councillor Tony Briffa is hoping ‘the results in Eurovision will be better’ which could be consistent with community sentiment around either the local or national results from the federal election.

“The election result isn’t what many people wanted or expected, but there are a number of things I take heart in: Janet Rice and Louise Pratt are both going to be re-elected. Tony Abbott and Fraser Annning are out of the Parliament,” Briffa said.

“Despite having an influence in the result of the election United Australia Party and One Nation failed to get seats. Lyle Shelton also won’t get a seat. The votes in Melbourne’s West remained overwhelmingly in support of Labor.”

“I especially take heart in the fact that we can have peaceful and democratic elections in Australia and that a rich white fella with $50 million still can’t buy a seat for himself in the people’s House.”

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