When Daniel Andrews quit politics, there was not much resistance in the Socialist left faction of the party to the candidacy Eden Foster to replace their retiring star leader.
According to reports, Eden, who was the Lord Mayor of the City of Dandenong at the time was being encouraged to put her hand up for the seat of Mulgrave.
Soon she was finalized as the Labor candidate for Mulgrave.
Others in the arena included the famous Independent candidate, businessman Ian Cook, who was being touted as potential for strong polling against the Labor party.
Then came the announcement that the Liberals would also field Courtney Mann as their candidate for Mulgrave byelection for November 18.
Eden, who is of (Anglo) Indian descent, was expected to manage to resist any challenge with ease and so she did. On November 18, she put the Victorian Indian community on the map of the lower house of state parliament when she was elected as the member for Mulgrave.
There was a substantial (10.9 per cent) swing against Labor in the traditionally safe Labor seat, but the seat was never in danger for the party. Their preselected candidate was always going to win, so she did.
Managing to get 40.1 per cent of first preferences, Eden won with 56.2 per cent of the vote after preferences, defeating the Independent candidate Ian Cook.
For the huge (10.9) swing against the Labor party, the Opposition leader John Pesutto said the voters of Mulgrave had sent a “strong message” to Premier Jacinta Allan.
“They are tired of her taxes, waste and mismanagement. Victoria deserves better,” he said.
Just for the reference, the tally of 1st Preference votes showed, against Eden Foster’s of 14474 (40.1%), the Liberal party candidate Courtney Mann got 7817 (21.69%) and the Independent candidate Ian Cook got 6780 (18.81%) votes.
After preferences counting Eden Foster secured 20309 or 56.27% against her nearest rival Ian Cook with 15782 or 43.73% of the votes, leaving the Liberal Courtney Mann miles behind.
That shows significance of the right kind of preference deals to have.
Accepting the swing against the party was substantial, Premier Jacinta Allan, joining Eden Foster to celebrate the result, conceded “we knew it was going to a big fight” to retain the seat Mulgrave.
Eden grew up locally, still lives in Noble Park and is a psychologist by profession. She was raised by her working-class single mother. Her journey from Noble Park to Spring Street represents the fruits of her resolve and hard work to achieve and realize her dream, typical Indian values all Indian parents try to inculcate in their children.
There is no dearth of politically ambitious people in the Victorian Indian community and all political parties and their head honchos know it very well. Yet, for some strange and ‘studied’ reason, no Indian heritage candidate has managed to get pre-selected in a winnable seat from other major parties. Most other parties use their Indian candidates as ‘stumps’, to ramp up their vote count, particularly for their upper house quota.
It is not just Eden, it is the entire, proud Victorian Indian community that she has taken to Spring Street.
With Eden, the Victorian Labor party can now legitimately boast of looking after their diversity responsibilities. They have – Cassandra Fernando, Michelle Ananda-Rajah (both Sri Lankan descent) in the federal members, they gave us Kaushaliya Vaghela as member of the upper house and now Eden Foster in the lower house, which can be a real platform for the community to aspire to see one of their own, all the way at the top.
Hopefully not too distant in the future. Time will tell.