Lining up in the red corner is Tony "Talk to Me" Lupton, the sitting Labor MP. Lupton has earnt the epithet through his frequent appeals through the mail for constituents to, er, talk to him. Fair enough, too. Lupton was elected in 2002 and has done plenty to get on the good side of voters. He's smooth talking, decent to look at, and seems to be well-respected as part of a new generation of Labor MPs wh connect with capital as well as it does with labour. His bio reveals a nice 'by the bootstraps' success story, which saw him commencing a motor mechanics apprenticeship in Albury before leaving school, only to later return to Melbourne, study law and become a barrister.
"Talk to Me" Tony and CNB
The challenger in this intriguing battle is Clem Newton-Brown, a local lawyer with plenty of political experience. Newton-Brown was Deputy Lord Mayor of the city of Melbourne during 2000 and 2001, a period immediately preceeding the dissolving of the council by the state government due to factional infighting. The experience should prepare Newton-Brown well for life in the Victorian Liberals. According to his official bio, CNB lives locally, works as a lawyer and moonlights as a water-taxi operator on the Yarra. A Liberal without the silvertail?
As for the minor parties, there haven't been any announcements yet, but the area is likely to net rich rewards for the Greens, whilst the fledgling People Power should be attracted to the seat demographically, although the large amounts of money being spent by both major parties might crowd them out.
No doubt there will be plenty of skullduggery during the course of the campaign (this blog certainly hopes so, anyhow). It's not inconcievable that the ALP will do its best to dig out some skeletons from CNB's days on Melbourne City Council. It was a dark period for the council, and as number two on council surely some of the blame must go to him.
As for the Lib's campaign against Lupton, perhaps a starting point might be to portray Lupton as one of Bracks' lackeys, endlessly talking to anyone who will listen without actually achieving anything of substance. Describing Lupton this way is a little unfair, given that he is one of the more vigourous backbenchers, but the Libs campaign HQ may well roll out a replica campaign in a number of seats with sitting Labor backbenchers.
For now at least, the campaign has been squeaky clean, focussing with depressing earnestness on the issues. Wonder how long that'll last.