There is a cautious optimism among Greens volunteers in Higgins today that candidate Jason Ball could make history in one of the Liberal Party‘s most prized seats.
The Greens could take the seat off the Liberals for the first time in its history or, more likely, according to volunteers, force the Liberals to go to preferences for the first time since the seat was created. Kelly O’Dwyer currently holds the electorate but if the polls are accurate the result in Higgins could be very close.
Tensions have been rising as the margins in the electorate have tightened. Last night a Greens supporter was allegedly bitten by a Liberal volunteer after the two camps fought over the best places to display party material at polling booths.
Voters queued for over 200 metres this morning at a primary school in South Yarra, sustained by the obligatory sausage sizzle. Greens' how-to-vote cards were not in short supply.
This is Peter Barry’s third election volunteering for the Greens and he said that support for the party was only growing. “People have always tried to write the Greens off but the vote is getting stronger,” he said.
South Yarra, in Melbourne’s inner south east, is largely populated by young professionals and families, as well as by the many students that frequent Chapel St. Barry explained that the Green vote is growing due to the party beginning to attract people who are frustrated with Labor and the Liberals. Gaining voters who usually fall outside the Greens' key demographic is crucial to success today outside of South Yarra, where much of the population is older- and wealthier.
At the opposite end of the electorate is Ashburton, where the median house price has risen to S1.49 million, representoing an annual growth of 11.50%. At the Ashburton Primary School the Liberals outnumbered the Greens' volunteers. As Ms O’Dwyer greeted voters. Two volunteers, one Labor and one Green, discussed how they felt that change was in the air in Higgins and the conservative grip was beginning to loosen.
While there is certainly a chance for the Greens to make history today, they may have to play the long game. Barry said “It could go to preferences today but we might have to wait for next time. In three or four elections the Greens could be a third major party”.