Labor loses Cowie

Issue 

The Cowie ward voters in Geelong have shifted their votes from Labor to conservative candidate Eddy Kontelj by a landslide in the by-election declared on March 8.

Kontelj is not a member of either major party but his brother, Stretch Kontelj, also a Geelong councillor, is a former state Liberal candidate. Eddy Kontelj's campaign was backed by the Liberal machine, with help from at least one other prominent Liberal candidate in the Geelong region.

A Labor insider pointed out that Kontelj's success came by winning support from groups that had once backed the previous incumbent, APL stalwart David Saunderson.

In 2009, Saunderson was found guilty of a conflict of interest after the cash-for-councillors' scandal. This made the ward very difficult to win for the ALP's preferred candidate, Matt Podvinsek, who lost with only 23% of the vote after distribution, compared to Kontelj's 55%.

Socialist Alliance candidate, Bronwyn Jennings, who won 5.3%, said she doesn't think the results necessarily mean the area has become more conservative.

"I think it shows that people are sick of being taken for granted and they're sick of corruption. The fact that I did quite well on a shoestring budget, and with 10 candidates in the running, shows that there are plenty of progressive people out there prepared to support a socialist candidate.

"Socialist Alliance consolidated its standing in this election. It will be interesting to see the response in the coming state and federal elections."

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.