Sunday, 29 Jan 2023

Discontent in Melbournes west is seeing Labors rivals getting ready to shake the partys stronghold

Discontent in Melbournes west is seeing Labors rivals getting ready to shake the partys stronghold


Discontent in Melbournes west is seeing Labors rivals getting ready to shake the partys stronghold

It's school pickup hour in Melbourne's Point Cook and cars are bumper to bumper along the state electorate's namesake road.

It's emblematic of infrastructure problems in this fast-growing part of the city. Wherever you turn in the west, roads, transport, schools and hospitals are pressing issues for voters. This is usually safe territory for Labor - but there is rumbling discontent.

Liberal and independent candidates are united in accusing the government of neglecting the region and failing to deliver.

Angela Newhouse, who is contesting the newly created electorate of Point Cook for the Liberals, calls Point Cook Road a major local flashpoint. "For four-and-a-half years I have been battling my way up and down it at a snail's pace along with tens of thousands of other angry commuters," she says.

Within Labor, there are fears that the western fringe could record significant swings against the party. These heartland seats were disproportionately impacted by Covid and at the federal election in May, Labor suffered sizeable swings against it in outer suburban Victorian seats.

The party's candidate for Point Cook, Mat Hilakari - a convener of the socialist left faction - says Labor has a positive story to tell on road upgrades in the west but concedes there is more work to do.

"It's about making sure there's the infrastructure that people need," he says. "One of the important things is being able to get around - to get to work, to get home - quickly."

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