Dylan Bird in and around Dunkley

Posted on August 21, 2010 by


Dunkley spans approximately 138 square kilometres from Seaford to the Mornington Peninsula, encompassing Langwarrin, Frankston and Skye in Melbourne’s outer southeast. The current MP, Liberal Bruce Billson, has held the seat since 1996, coming to power after boundaries were changed to include the traditionally conservative Mt Eliza in the electorate. The seat is currently listed as ‘marginal Liberal’ by the ABC’s Antony Green, requiring a swing of 4% against Billson to hand power to Labor’s Helen Constas. In the 2007 election, the Greens and Family First respectively attracted 7.8% and 2.6% of the primary vote.

At a Seaford primary school this morning I questioned a number of party volunteers dispersing ‘how to vote’ cards. Although unwilling to speak at first, the Liberal volunteer happily opened up to speak rapturously about Billson’s commitment to the community, particularly in Frankston. For her, it was simply a no-brainer who is most passionately devoted advancing local interests at the federal level.

The Greens’ advocate admitted that this was his first time assisting the party on election day. Rather than local issues, asylum seeker and climate change policy struck him as the most important reasons for voting for the Greens this time around. Based on how he had been received, he hoped that the Greens would achieve more than 15% of the vote, after preferences, in the seat of Dunkley.

The volunteer for Labor was quietly confident that Helen Constas would receive over 50% of the vote and finally oust Bruce Billson from the seat. With forty years experience volunteering for the party, he was feeling ‘very positive’ about the reception he had received from voters so far. In his opinion, the seat would come down largely to federal issues, rather than Constas’ local profile.

Family First’s representative did not have any inflated expectations about the party’s chances this election, with most votes inevitably flooding to Liberal and the ALP. Having volunteered for the party before, she spoke of the importance of having a Christian voice in parliament and, particularly, of supporting the power of prayer.

Standing in line to cast my vote I overheard a conversation between two people: a young woman and a middle-aged man.

‘I still haven’t decided,’ said the younger woman. ‘Greens?’

‘Hmm…I’m thinking Labor,’ the man replied. ‘But I just don’t know.’ Evidently, whatever party’s ‘how to vote’ card happens to be in front of you at the ballot box can bear a considerable influence, even at that last, crucial second when pencil goes to paper.

Words & Image – Dylan Bird