As our community grows in Victoria, so does the need for its fair representation in all areas of social and government machinery. No wonder then, of late a number of brave Victorians of Indian descent have been putting their hand up be it local bodies or clubs, municipal council, state or federal elections. As Victorians go to polls on Saturday November 24 to elect a new government for the next four years, as many as 51 Victorians of Indian / India sub-continent descent have entered the fray to make a statement of their intent to partake in the governance of their state. Of those 51 candidates, there are 17 contesting on the Transport Matters Party (TMP) ticket, 11 Independents, 10 on Liberals party ticket, 7 on the Australian Labor party ticket and 6 contesting on the Australian Greens party ticket.

BT takes a look at each of them and their chances in 2018.

Liberal Party Candidates:

Gandhi Bevinakoppa – Liberal for Clarinda (Lower House)

Gandhi Bevinakoppa is the Liberal candidate for Clarinda for the 2018 state election. Ghandi migrated to Australia 28 years ago, so he appreciates the needs of Melbourne’s multicultural communities. A small businessman, Gandhi lives in Cheltenham with his wife and three children.

Gandhi contested this seat in 2014 but was not successful. He is re-contesting in 2018.

The seat was created in 2013 after re-distribution of seat of Clayton and renamed Clarinda. The seat is traditionally a Labor seat and perhaps one of the safest for Labor. Looking at the 2010 (Clayton) and 2014 election results – the seat was safely retained by the Labor party. In 2010, the seat was won by Hong Lim with a margin of 65.31% (Labor-Hong Lim) to 34.69% (Liberal-Justin Scott).

In 2014 again Hong Lim won the seat with a margin of 65.85% (Labor-Hong Lim) to 34.15%(Liberal-Gandhi Bevinakoppa).

In 2018, Gandhi has a very difficult fight on his hand. Perhaps it can be said, more votes for Gandhi will help Liberal party’s upper house candidate(s) covering the electorate.

Virosh Perera Liberal for Dandenong (Lower House)

Virosh Perera is an Australian from a multicultural background and the Liberal candidate for Dandenong. As a father, local resident and with decades of experience with our multicultural and business communities, Virosh says he understands the challenges families face in his electorate.

 “Dandenong needs policies which protect and support individuals, families, business and our community organisations”, he says.

Virosh is contesting Dandenong for the first time and has real challenge, a difficult one. The seat is traditionally a Labor stronghold and requires a very big swing to cause any tremors.

Looking at the 2010 and 2014 election results – the seat was safely retained by the Labor party. In 2010, the seat was won by John Pandazopoulos, the famous Multicultural Affairs minister under Steve Bracks, with a margin of 63.87% (Labor- John Pandazopoulos) to 36.13% (Liberal-Dale Key).

In 2014 again Labor’s Gabrielle Williams won the seat with a margin of 62.88% (Labor- Gabrielle Williams) to 37.12%(Liberal-Joanna Palatsides).

Virosh faces an uphill battle in 2018.

Golam Haque – Liberal for Kororoit (Lower House)

A Victorian of Bangladeshi origin, Golam Haque is the Liberal candidate for Kororoit for the 2018 state election. Golam has become a strong advocate for migrant communities.  Golam lives with his wife and two children and is committed to providing a safe, strong and prosperous local community for the people of Kororoit.

Golam is contesting Kororoit for the first time and faces an uphill battle. The seat is held by Labor with a very strong candidate in Marlene Kairouz.

Looking at the 2010 and 2014 election results – the seat was safely retained by the Labor party. In 2010, the seat was won by Marlene Kairouz, with a margin of 68.58% (Labor- Marlene Kairouz) to 31.42% (Liberal-Goran Kesic).

In 2014 again Marlene Kairouz won the seat with a margin of 69.98% (Labor- Marlene Kairouz) to 30.02%(Liberal-Goran Kesic).

Looking at the increased margin in 2014 when Marlene Kairouz was re-elected, Golam faces a real challenge in 2018.

Pallavee Joshi – Liberal for Williamstown (Lower House)

Pallavee Joshi is the Liberal Party’s candidate for Williamstown for the 2018 state election.

Pallavee is a lawyer and small business owner. With a Law degree, a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Information Technology, Pallavee is a prized find for the Liberal party for the seat of Williamstown. It is a very safe Labor seat – held by the Labor party for more than 114 years, (since 1904), and between 1988 and 2007 by the two very popular Labor premiers – Joan Kirner and Steve Bracks.

Looking at those two stalwarts of Victorian politics, Pallavi has been given a very tough task by the Liberals.

Wade Noonan won the seat in 2010 with a margin of 61.82% to the Liberals 38.18%. Again in 2014, Wade Noonan won the seat increasing his margin a little with 66.54% of the vote to the Liberal’s 33.46%.

Craig Ondarchie – Liberal for Northern Metropolitan Region (Upper House)

Of Sri Lankan descent, Craig Ondarchie is a sitting Liberal member for the Northern Metropolitan Region and recontesting.

A Liberal Party member for 20 years, he was re-elected in 2014, and currently serves as Shadow Minister for Trade, Investment and Jobs in Matthew Guy’s Coalition team.

BT understands Craig Ondarchie is the Liberal party endorsed candidate for the electorate of Northern Metropolitan Region with number one position on the ticket.

Neelam Rai Dhingra – Liberal for Northern Metropolitan Region (Upper House)

Daughter of an Army Officer (Retired), Neelam Rai Dhingra is the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the upcoming state election. A motivated and driven local business woman, Neelam is standing to be a strong voice for her community.

Neelam, who lives with her family in Melbourne, is a Brand Ambassador for the AFL Richmond Tigers and No Hunger Australia.

BT understands Neelam Rai Dhingra is the Liberal party endorsed candidate for the electorate of Northern Metropolitan Region with number three position on the ticket.

Dinesh Gourisetty – Liberal for Western Metropolitan Region (Upper House)

Dinesh Gourisetty is a Liberal candidate for the Western Metropolitan Region for the upcoming State election. He emigrated to Melbourne two decades ago from India and is proud to call the west home. He lives locally with his wife Dr Neelima and their young child.

Dinesh unsuccessfully contested the seat of Tarneit (Lower House) in 2014.

BT understands Dinesh Gourisetty is the Liberal party endorsed candidate for the electorate of Western Metropolitan Region with number two position on the ticket.

Shilpa Hegde – for Eastern Metropolitan Region (Upper House)

Shilpa Hegde is the Liberal candidate for the upper house region of Eastern Metropolitan region. She has previously contested the Federal seat of Wills but was unsuccessful. Shilpa is an engineer by profession. She was born in Mangalore, India.In addition to the above, the following Victorian Indians are also in the arena:

Kuldeep Kaur as Liberal on No. 4 for South-Eastern Metro;

Gurdawar Singh as Liberal for Thomastown;

Lakhwinder Singh as Liberal for Mill Park.

The Labor Party:

Manoj Kumar – Labor for Forest Hill (Lower House)

The Labor party has chosen Manoj Kumar to contest the seat of Forest Hill as its candidate.

He is up against Liberal party’s Neil Angus who won the seat back from Labor in 2010 for the Liberal party. In 2014, Neil managed to increase the Liberal vote from 53.2% to 54.8%.

Muhammad Shahbaz – Labor for Rowville (Lower House)

Dr Muhammad Shahbaz Chaudhry is up against the sitting Liberal member Kim Wells who holds the seat by 58.41% to Labor’s 41.59%. In 2010, before the redistribution, the electorate of Scoresby was won by Kim Wells with 59.05% of the votes.

Clearly, Dr Chaudhry has a big fight on his hands.

Other Labor party candidates from our community trying their luck for the upper house (Legislative Council):

Nildhara Gadanifor Eastern Metropolitan Region

Abhimanyu Kumarfor Eastern Metropolitan Region

Sukhraj Singh – for Northern Victoria

Kaushaliya Vaghelafor Western Metropolitan Region

Ashish Verma – for Northern Metropolitan Region

The Greens:

Naresh Bhalla  – the Greens for Forest Hill

Naresh Bhalla has background is in accounting, auditing, risk management, compliance and governance. He says, “Our State is not for sale. I’m standing as the candidate for Forest Hill because I want to see our public assets stay in public hands. Selling off our publicly owned space is not working for anyone except big business.”

Naresh says, his will be a strong, independent voice for Forest Hill, not someone under the control of the Liberal or Labor factions.

Looking at the 2010 and 2014 election results – the seat has changed hands in recent elections. Traditionally a Liberal safe seat  (1976-2002), it was wrested from them by the ALP in 2002 won by Kirsty Marshall and again won by her in 2006.  In 2010, the seat was won by the Liberals with Neil Angus defeating Kirsty Marshall by 53.2% to Labor’s 46.8%.

In 2014 again Neil repeated the Liberal dominance by increasing the margin and winning the seat with a margin of 54.8%  to Labor’s 45.2%.

The Greens vote in the electorate has hovered around 7.6% to 8.9%.

Harkirat Singh – t
he Greens for Melton (Lower House)

Harkirat has been a part of various interfaith and Intercultural projects including Vic health’s LEAD project and Multi faith future leaders program and has actively contributed in promoting understanding in Victoria’s multicultural community. He is the organiser of community events like the annual Sikh New Year celebration and exhibitions.

Melton is a Labor stronghold. The seat is currently held by Don Nardella (61.2% Labor to Liberals’ 38.8%) who is not recontesting and Labor has a new candidate. The Greens vote in 2010 was 8.7% and in 2014 7.3% had a swing against the Greens of -1.5%. Harkirat has a challenge on his hands.

Dinesh Matthew – t
he Greens for Caulfield (Lower House)

Dinesh says “…today, our state of Victoria is at a crossroads. There are significant attacks on human rights, with racism and homophobia used as tools to divide our community…”.

 Trained at NIDA (Music Theatre) and the Actors Centre (London), Dinesh is a versatile actor, willing to take on challenging roles. He is always up for a challenge. And Caulfield is his latest one.

The seat is held by the Liberal party’s David Southwick. In 2010, David won the seat by 61.53% to Labor’s 38.47%. The Greens’ vote in 2010 was 16.11%.

In 2014, The seat is held by the Liberal party’s David Southwick. David won the seat by 54.88% to Labor’s 45.12%. Although the Labor party made some gains, the Greens’ vote in 2014 was steady at 16.28%.

Dinesh Matthew has a real challenge.

Ovi Rajasinghe – t
he Greens for Mulgrave (Lower House)

Having moved from Sri Lanka as a child, Ovi has lived in and around the Mulgrave electorate – so he is a local, currently studying Arts/Law at Monash University.

Ovi has campaigned to stop the Adani coal mine, for the humane treatment of refugees, to stop the federal government’s cuts to higher education, for the removal of child inmates from adult prisons in Victoria – and more.

The seat is a Labor stronghold and is currently held by the premier Daniel Andrews. He won the seat in 2010 with 58.48% of the vote to Liberals’ 41.52%.The Greens polled 7.16% of the votes.

In 2014, premier Daniel Andrews held on to the seat with a slight reduction in the vote – 54.48% to the Liberals’ 45.52%. The Greens vote in 2014 was – 7.04%.

Natasha Sharma is contesting on the Greens ticket for the seat of Rowville (Lower House).

Our other candidates on the Greens ticket for the Upper House are:

Samantha Ratnam for the Greens (Greens leader in the upper house) for Northern Metro.

Transport Matters Party (TMP)

Moti Visa & Afshan Mian – for Northern Metropolitan Region

Both Moti Visa at No. 1  and Afshan Mian at No. 2 are contesting the upcoming election candidates for the newly formed Transport Matter Party (TMP) for the upper house electorate of Northern Metropolitan region.

Moti Visa had been a very loyal member of the Liberal party for more than two decades before making the switch to his new Transport Matters Party.

And for the Upper House seat of South-Eastern Metro, TMP candidates are:

Ali Khan – No. 1

Chetan Sharma – No. 2

Roona Fazal – No. 3

Inderpal Singh – No. 4

Deepakbir Kaur – No. 5

TMP candidates for the lower house seats in the fray are:

Santosh Kumar Yadav for the seat of Carrum;

Afroz Ahmad for Dandenong;

Jyothi Rudra for Frankston;

Usman Muhammad Afzal for Keyborough;

Amit Verma for Mordialloc;

Nadeem Malik for Mulgrave;

Zeeshan Mahmood for Narre Warren North;

Gagandeep Singh for Narre Warren South and

Dr Tarlochan Singh for Cranbourne.

The above districts cover substantial part of the upper house electorate of South-Eastern Metro.

And the 17th candidate for the Upper House seat of Southern Metro is Saeed Muhammad.


Oscar Lobo for Bentleigh (Lower House)

Oscar Lobo is a well known member of the Victorian Indian community and a proud Goan who has spearheaded the World Goa Day for Australians which is a national celebration of Goan culture. Oscar has been a councillor and deputy mayor in Glen Eira Council. He led many a campaigns successfully as a councillor and now believes it is time to go bigger.

The seat of Bentleigh is a marginal one changing hands at the last election. In 2010 Liberal party’s Elizabeth Millar won the seat by a margin of 1.5%. She secured 50.75% votes while Labor’s Rob Hudson got 49.25%. At the last election, Labor party’s Nick Staikos won it back with 50.78% to the Liberals’ 49.22%.

Independent vote in 2010 – John B. Myers was 0.87% and in 2014 – Chandra Ojha was 0.75%.

Oscar has a real fight on his hands.

Munish Bansal for Yean Yean (Lower House)

Munish Bansal is contesting the seat as an Independent. The seat is held by Labor’s Danielle Green since 2002. In 2014, Labor’s Danielle Green polled 53.65% to the Liberals’ 46.35%.

There have been no independent candidates in the electorate in 2010 and 2014. Belinda Clarkson contested the seat as an independent way back in 2006 and polled only 2.99% of the votes.

Another independent in the fray in Yean Yean is Yassin Akram Albarri.

Others who are contesting 2018 election as Independent candidates are:

Tarang Chawla –  for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region (upper house)

Arnav Sati – 
for Tarneit (Lower House)

The seat of Tarneit is currently held by the retiring Labor member Telmo Languiller. It is a safe Labor seat, held by treasurer Tim Pallas in 2010 and then by Telmo Languiller in 2014.

Increasing Labor vote, Telmo secured 64.6% votes for the Labor while Dinesh Gourisetty managed only 35.4% votes for the Liberal party.

Three independents secured 1.32% (Chin LOI), 2.05% (Safwat Ali) & 2.91% (Joh Bauch) of the votes.

Our other independents for Tarneit are Zulfi Syed and Harkamal Singh Batth.

Pratibha Sharma – 
for Werribee (Lower House)

The seat of Werribee is held by the Treasurer Tim Pallas. Tim won the seat in 2014 securing 65.66% of the votes while the Liberal Tarun Singh got only 34.34%. This seat was held by the Liberals only between 1976 and 1979. It is a Labor stronghold.

Our other independents are:

Ravi Raghupathy for Cranbourne;

Ramanjit Singh for Sydenham;

Bobby Singh for South-Eastern Metro (Upper House);

It is an important decision to sacrifice your day to day commitments and jump into the cauldron of politics – not knowing the outcome. And one takes their families with them when jumping.

Although their detractors and ‘nay-Sayers’ would label their attempt somewhat differently, BT would regard such effort as really brave. Winning may not be on the cards, but taking the plunge and making the party know you are driven to take the ‘wheel’ in your own hands, means a lot. Their effort should be seen as perhaps their initiation into the grassroots level of Australian politics and deserves applause.

Of all these ‘óur own’ candidates in the election fray, the way TMP has gone about their effort in this election, Dr Ali Khan, a former unsuccessful Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Calwell and as well as Liberal at number 3 behind Inga Peulich in the last state election, seems to be a potential claimant of 1 of 5 places (allocated to South-Eastern Metro region) this time. Dr Khan has most of his lower house seats base covered with TMP candidates for his upper house berth. Provided his lower house candidates perform well in addition to TMP upper house votes making the requisite quota for at least one berth, we may see a Victorian of Pakistani origin in the Legislative Assembly.

The other possibility promoted by the Liberals is Dinesh Gourisetty at number 2 for the Western Metro behind Bernie Finn. For that Liberal vote for the lower house seats of his base must improve substantially. Liberals’Andrew Elsbury held that position 2 berth in 2010 election but their vote went backward in 2014.

Jude Pereira was the first Victorian of Indian sub-continent to enter the Victorian parliament for the lower house seat of Cranbourne. He is retiring.

– R. VenuGopal with  DM


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