Of the seven, six are men and five of those are men “of mature age”. There are two young candidates, aged 19 and 31. Six of the seven candidates come from the western end of the electorate. There are no Bass Coasters on the list.
Mr Broadbent has held the seat for 17 of the past 23 years and is a favourite to win again. A wily political veteran, he retained the seat of Monash at the 2016 election on a two candidate preferred vote of 55.97 per cent, while Labor candidate Chris Buckingham trailed by 44.03.
Widely regarded as a moderate of the Liberal Party, Mr Broadbent’s stance on marriage equality puzzled many and is likely to cost him votes. Despite McMillan voters showing strong support for marriage equality in the 2017 plebiscite, Mr Broadbent was one of only four MPs in the House of Representatives to vote against the bill legalising same sex marriage.
Aged 68, he had been widely tipped to step down this election. If he retains the seat he will be 71 at the next election.
His main challenger is the ALP’s Jessica O’Donnell, a 31-year-old Baw Baw shire councillor, arts and law student, hairdresser and mother. A confident speaker, she’s campaigned hard for more than nine months and thinks she has a realistic chance of taking the seat.
The minor parties (Greens, Pauline Hanson's One Nation and the United Australia Party) all have candidates. The Greens will preference Labor first while the latter two are expected to preference the Liberal candidate ahead of the ALP.
Matthew Sherry (United Australia Party) is the sole candidate from this side of the ranges, hailing from Port Franklin.
Two independents are vying for the seat. Although unknown on this side of the electorate, both are well known within their own communities: John Verhoeven in the Latrobe Valley, Michael Fozard in Warragul and Traralgon.
Both men are political veterans who have belonged to political parties in the past and stood in previous elections. They have scored the coveted one and two positions on the ballot paper, making them beneficiaries of the so-called “donkey vote” by people who really resent being forced to vote at all.
As well a name change from McMillan to Monash, the electorate has had a major redistribution. Some 20,000 voters on Phillip Island and in the Waterline and Western Port communities come into the electorate from Flinders, while around 32,000 voters in Pakenham move into the La Trobe electorate.
The electorate now includes the whole of the Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires, Council, parts of the Cardinia and Baw Baw shires and part of Latrobe City.
The ABC’s election guru Anthony Green reckons the redistribution of the electorate has increased the Liberal margin from 6 per cent to 7.5 per cent.
The perceived “safety” of the seat means that while both major parties have been spending up big, with a combined $100 billion in total national spending, including tax cuts), Monash hasn’t been on their shopping list.
According to The Age’s “spendometer”, the Coalition has promised $3.5 million in spending for the Monash election (on radiology and chemotherapy services for Bass Coast Health); the ALP has yet to announce any initiatives for our area.
Early voting centres will open at Wonthaggi on May 6 at the Wonthaggi Senior Citizens Centre, 46-50 Murray Street, and at Cowes on May 13 at St Johns Uniting Church, 86 Chapel Street.