Renee Heath increased Liberal votes

In the 2022 election, the results of which have now been finalized by the Victorian Electoral Commission, it seems, the Greens have come out to be the biggest winners with now 8 MPs (in total) along with the National who increased their numbers by 3 just in the lower house. Among the Liberals, Michael O’Brien and unfairly labelled ‘controversial candidate’ Renee Heath have managed to increase their/electorate’s votes, despite it being a dismal day for the party.

With 8 members, the greens and their leader Samantha Ratnam would hope to influence if not set the states’ policy agenda. With Legalize Cannabis members also entering the arena, the upper house business will require a lot of dexterity from Labor to have their legislation pass through.

One could not underestimate the presence of Adem Somyurek, the former Labor minister, then a rebel cross-bencher and now Democratic Labour party MLC who managed to oust Fiona Patten who had worked closely with Premier Daniel Andres.

As far the Liberal, their problems are much more complex. Although John Pesutto, the new leader reversed the decision to not allow Renee Heath in the parliamentary party room due to her links with the conservative City Builders Church and where her father Brian Heath was the Pastor, the party and Renee Heath need to be careful going forward.

Also Read: Is Renee Heath case a wake up call for migrant political aspirants?

Renee Heath has managed to increase the Liberal party’s first preference votes by more than 10,000 in her electorate of Eastern Victoria Region. Her predecessor, Edward O’Donohue took the party backwards in 2018 reducing the party’s 1st preference vote from 180,013 or 41.21% (in 2014) to 157,232 or 33.62%. Renee Heath managed to increase the vote to 167,133 or 35.31%.

Axiomatically, the party has its base in the area and must not do or say anything to unsettle or lose them.

The increase in vote should also be seen because all the bigwigs of the party including the leader Matthew Guy, Brad Battin, David Southwick also recorded swings against them all. Only Michael O’Brien increased his vote by 2435. See table below:
1st Pref Votes – Renee Heath – Eastern Victoria Region
2022   HEATH, Renee              Liberal           1,67,133       35.31%

2018 O’DONOHUE, Edward         LIBERAL         1,57,232         33.62%
2014   O’DONOHUE, Edward       LIBERAL         1,80,013         41.21%

1st Pref Votes – Matthew Guy – Bulleen
2022   GUY, Matthew          Liberal           20,645            48.06%
2018   GUY, Matthew          LIBERAL         19,441           52.18%
2014   GUY, Matthew          LIBERAL         21,983           56.20%

1st Pref Votes – John Pesutto – Hawthorn
2022   PESUTTO, John        Liberal           18728             42.27%
2018   PESUTTO, John        LIBERAL         17231            43.89%
2014   PESUTTO, John        LIBERAL         20551            54.50%

1st Pref Votes – MIchael O’Brien – Malvern
2022 – O’BRIEN, Michael    Liberal           21438    52.54%

2018 – O’BRIEN, Michael    LIBERAL         19003            51.25%
2014 – O’BRIEN, Michael    LIBERAL         22642            62.63%
2010 – O’BRIEN, Michael    Liberal           22160            65.29%
2006 – O’BRIEN, Michael    Liberal           17927            56.88%

1st Pref votes – Brad Battin – Berwick
2022 – BATTIN, Brad           Liberal           20031             45.23% – Berwick
2018 – BATTIN, Brad           LIBERAL         21202            48.26% – Gembrook
2014 – BATTIN, Brad           LIBERAL         20646            54.68% – Gembrook
2010 – BATTIN, Brad           Liberal           18427            47.93% – Gembrook

1st Pref votes – David Southwick – Caulfield
2022 – SOUTHWICK, David           Liberal           18088            44.46%
2018 – SOUTHWICK, David           LIBERAL         17861            46.85%
2014 – SOUTHWICK, David           LIBERAL         18860            51.70%
2010 – SOUTHWICK, David           Liberal           19018            57.75%

Given the 2022 result, if Daniel Andrews runs his full term in office and takes the party to election in 2026, it would herculean task for John Pesutto to record a victory for the party and take office. 2030 looks more likely a time when the Liberals and Nationals can really hope to be in government.

Although there were a number of Indian heritage candidates in the arena, none of them made it. A really hopeful was the number two ticket holder for the Liberal party – Manju Hanumatharayyapa, but he and the party could not muster enough votes in that electorate to get him over the line and in the parliament.

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