Transport, top election issue in Richmond

Melbourne Leader: Transport, top election issue in Richmond. Nic Price. 17 November 2014

Transport is firming as the key election issue in the Richmond electorate, with candidates backing a range of public transport initiatives.

Having held the seat since 1999, Labor’s Richard Wynne is aiming to fend off a challenge from the Greens’ Kathleen Maltzahn, who needs a 6.25 swing to topple him.

Mr Wynne spruiked his record of advocating and delivering for the seat, with projects including the Abbotsford Convent, Fitzroy High School and Circus Oz.

But Ms Maltzahn said the Greens more accurately reflected the values of Richmond residents on issues like climate change, livability and a fair society.

There is also a lively field of candidates to the left of centre — including socialist Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, independent candidate Tom Keel from the Fitzroy Residents Association and the Sex Party’s Nevena Spirovska.

The Leader spoke to six of the eight candidates last week and asked what their top priority was for infrastructure.

Mr Wynne said the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel under the CBD would improve public transport in Richmond and across greater Melbourne and Mr Keel also backed the project.

Ms Maltzahn said the Doncaster rail line would be her priority, while Ms Spirovska said investing to allow 24-hour public transport on weekends was critical.

Liberal candidate Weiran Lu said the East West Link would create jobs and reduce congestion, but said a rail line to the airport was his priority.

Mr Jolly went against the transport trend and said his infrastructure wish was a “mass expansion of low-cost housing incorporating an indoor sports centre”.

There was broad opposition to the East West Link, apart from Mr Lu.

The Greens’ chances of snaring the seat were damaged when the Liberal party announced it would put the party last on its how-to-vote cards, as it did in 2010.

Meanwhile, Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien is the invisible man among political hopefuls — even Liberal candidates.

Mr Lu could not answer the question, “Who is the Victorian Treasurer?”, and he was not alone.

Of the six Richmond candidates who talked to the Leader, only sitting member Mr Wynne could readily name Mr O’Brien as the state’s treasurer, with Ms Spirovska answering correctly after a long pause and the other candidates getting it wrong.

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