Pre-selection for federal seat tests Labor’s local democracy credentials
With polls showing that Malcolm Turnbull has given the Coalition the biggest lead over Labor in two years, the ALP have controversially begun sounding out television celebrities as potential pre-selection candidates for the federal seat of Wills in Melbourne’s north west – and two of the highest-profile names are from the Greek Australian community.
Former Seven Network journalist Helen Kapalos, now Victoria’s multicultural commissioner, has reportedly been approached and has declined the offer, while ex-SBS presenter Mary Kostakidis has also been touted as a candidate but is believed to have said she’s not interested.
While the Wills seat appears safe for Labor on paper – sitting candidate Kelvin Thomson won in 2013 with a two-party-preferred vote of 65 per cent – the ALP is fearful the Greens could overturn the seat that Thomson has held for 20 years, with the Liberal Party considering placing the Greens ahead of the ALP in its preferences.
The Wills electorate covers Brunswick, Coburg, Pascoe Vale, Glenroy and Fawkner.
Controlled by Labor’s right, the local party has become increasingly divided and a number of competing sub-factions are likely to put forward their own pre-selection candidates.
This week Moreland councillor Lambros Tapinos threw his hat into the ring.
Speaking exclusively to Neos Kosmos Cr Tapinos that he would be putting put his name forward subject to discussions with local party members.
“I’m certainly interested but there’s a process to go through,” he said. “But the national executive has absolute power.”
Cr Tapinos, who has served on the Moreland City Council (which covers much of the Wills electorate) for seven years, said he hoped the national executive would agree to a local ballot to decide the candidacy.
“Bill Shorten has spoken about the need for decisions to be made locally, and we don’t want someone flown in,” he said.
“We need local people, people who are engaged in the area.” Cr Tapinos has twice been Mayor of Moreland.
Among other possible preselection candidates are fellow Moreland councillor Meghan Hopper, former senator Mehmet Tillem, ex-Yarra councillor Joshua Funder, and Peter Khalil, a former SBS director of corporate affairs.
Other names in the mix include ALP staffers Ben Maxfield, Anthony Cianflone, Anna-Maria Arabia and Mamamia editor Jamila Rizvi.