Altona by-election campaign begins
Pier Street punters were nonplussed as campaigning for the Altona by-election began on Saturday.
The western Melbourne seat is up for grabs on February 13 after former transport minister Lynne Kosky quit politics for family health reasons this week.
The by-election will be a litmus test of how the parties are tracking in the lead-up to the state poll in November.
The coalition is hoping to make some inroads into the Labor stronghold, which Ms Kosky retained by a 20 per cent margin in 2006.
Liberal candidate Mark Rose, a traffic cop and local councillor, hit the hustings on a blustery Saturday morning, greeting locals as they brunched.
He met Australian Defence Force worker Andrew Eyles, 54, of Point Cook, who told him infrastructure in the area had not keep pace with booming urban growth.
Mr Eyles, who has lived in the electorate since 2000, said Ms Kosky inherited a poorly funded public transport system and could not be personally blamed for its failings.
"You can't necessarily make a silk purse out of a sow's ear overnight," he told AAP.
"Trams would be a luxury (but) it's never going to happen out this way. You've got to look at the schools, the parks, the football ovals for the kids."
Mr Eyles was undecided which way he would vote.
"They (politicians) need to have more of a dream for the future and start ... putting the planning in now.
"But unfortunately ... they are short sighted."
Lex Aitken, 66, of Altona West, said he had lived in the area since 1951 and he was happy with services.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said the coalition was contesting the election to give the people of Altona a chance to hit back at a government that had ignored the electorate.
"This has been traditional Labor heartland and it has been neglected," he told reporters.
"This area has been taken for granted for too long and this is a chance to send (Premier) John Brumby and his government a very powerful message."
Mr Rose said people living in the eastern suburbs had been favoured at the expense of the west.
"Everyone that lives out east gets a nice ride in on this upgraded Monash (Freeway). (In the) western suburbs, you can sit in a traffic jam for an hour and a half and be late for work," he said.
Mr Rose, who has four young children, lives in Werribee and has been a police officer for almost 17 years.
Labor is expected to announce its candidate on Wednesday and the Australian Greens candidate will be known on Sunday.
Possible ALP candidates include Lori Faraone, Jill Hennessy, Bronwyn Halfpenny, Catherine van Vliet and Ingrid Stitt.
A government spokesman said Altona electors will never forget double-digit unemployment and cuts to police and schools when Mr Baillieu was Liberal party president and Jeff Kennett was premier.
Greens MP Colleen Hartland, who represents the Western Metropolitan Region in the upper house, said there was a lack of connectivity between the bus and the rail system in the electorate.
"The government ... is tired, it's showing a lack of imagination, it's bullying, it just rams through legislation without consultation with local communities on really major issues," she told AAP.
"So I think there is a good chance there will be a swing against them."
Source : http://news.smh.com.au