The candidates vying for Albert Park
While the Labor Party has held the local seat of Albert Park since 1950, its future remains uncertain heading into the November Victorian Election following the retirement of outgoing member Martin Foley, who has served as Southbank’s local MP for 15 years.
Standing in Mr Foley’s place for Labor is Nina Taylor, who will be campaigning against Kim Samiotis for The Greens, Lauren Sherson for the Liberal Party, Cassandra Westwood for Animal Justice Party, and Independent candidate Georgie Dragwidge.
The Albert Park electorate covers the Melbourne’s inner-south suburbs, with Albert Park, Middle Park, Port Melbourne, St Kilda West, Southbank, South Melbourne, South Wharf, and parts of St Kilda among the areas included.
As a Southbank resident herself, Ms Taylor is leaning on her love and in-depth knowledge of the area to help position herself as an ideal candidate for the locals.
“I would like to think that I can bring my own life experience to the role and having been in parliament for the past four years, it’s shown me how hard you need to work and how well you need to listen to people rather than just tell them what they need,” Ms Taylor told Southbank News.
“It really helps to shape policy and outcomes better if you are truly and authentically listening.”
Being in parliament is nothing new to Ms Taylor, having served as an Upper House MP for the Southern Metropolitan area during the past term of government.
Working across areas of health, environment planning, and legal and social issues, she comes with a broad range of experience that she hopes to lean on if elected.
“I am very passionate about looking after the most vulnerable and making sure they are provided the care and support they need, and that includes things such as mental health reforms,” Ms Taylor said.
“It is also certainly a personal commitment of mine to drive every possible opportunity to maximise green space, look at where we can cut emissions and have better energy use in the area, and to focus on the liveability rights of renters.”
As someone who lives in a high-rise building after a long period of renting, Ms Taylor said she understood the importance of not only having accessible, uplifting and inspiring green spaces, but that renters shouldn’t have to wait “until the day they may be able to afford to buy, to have quality of life and liveability.”
Taking over from Mr Foley and his unwavering dedication to the position has only served to inspire Ms Taylor as she contests this November.
“[Mr Foley] has an incredible legacy and to me [it has been] a key marker to say this is what is to be expected and that the community expects people to give it their all, and be completely committed,” Ms Taylor said.
“There are so many issues that he has advocated for and so many things he has delivered in the local community whether it be South Melbourne Primary School, St Kilda Pier, which is being redeveloped, and heritage protections.”
One area Ms Taylor is particularly excited to follow on from is the evolution of the Melbourne Arts Precinct, which came about through a $1.7 billion investment from the state government.
But while Labor has maintained its hold on Albert Park at recent election, the three most recent federal elections in the now marginal seat of Macnamara has highlighted a growing trend towards The Greens, despite Labor still holding onto power.
Macnamara shares a similar geographic area to the Albert Park electorate and has left Kim Samiotis from The Greens hopeful that the area is “ready to turn Victoria Green”.
“We’ve seen the great achievements of our Greens colleagues in only a few months in the federal parliament and we can bring that success and accountability to our state parliament too,” Ms Samiotis told Southbank News.
“I believe in the importance of political representation for our community by our community, not donor-influenced or party-controlled ‘representatives’ who can’t fully represent their community members in parliament because their hands are tied by party-room politics.”
As a St Kilda resident for 20 years with a career history in executive support across a multitude of private and public organisations, Ms Samiotis said she had seen how “great leaders can operate with empathy and accountability”, and would work hard to bring security, safety and more prosperity into the area.
Among the key issues Ms Samiotis hopes to address is the climate crisis, keeping the new government accountable, replacing coal and gas with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, and the current housing crisis.
“We need to address the Labor Government’s poor handling of unadministered special deals and tax breaks for developers, handing out huge profits instead of ensuring everyone can access an unaffordable home,” Ms Samiotis said.
“Rents are now rising three to four times faster than wages and many people are locked out of owning a home of their own, living with uncertainty from pay cheque to pay cheque and fearing another rent rise. The Greens will build more affordable homes, end out-of-control rent rises, and ban political donations from property developers.”
While the affordability of housing is high on the list of both Greens and Labor candidates, Liberal candidate and Albert Park resident Lauren Sherson is turning her attention to the key issues of mental health and supporting small businesses.
“Albert Park needs a visible, accessible, human-to-human approach to supporting mental health, [because] children, emerging adults, parents, professionals, seniors and people of all age groups are not coping, [and] worse, are forced to wait months for help,” Ms Sherson said.
“Minds are breaking, and we must give real support and in real time.”
Ms Sherson also said that Labor and Greens were “trying to shut down the gig economy under the guise of targeting insecure employment”.
“Andrews’ own report found only 0.19 per cent of gig workers do so full time, but rather than helping those people, the remaining 99.81 per cent of self-employed workers across all industries will be forced to close their doors,” she said.
Supporting small businesses is of high importance to Ms Sherson, who started her own business as an eight-year-old selling pressed four-leaf clovers and continued on to start her first company at age 22, before completing a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at age 26.
“[Now] as an entrepreneurship educator I am the candidate who can transform locals’ ideas into reality,” she said.
“I am Albert Park. It is my home, where I married, where I work, and our local community is my family. I am protective of my clan and Albert Park needs a representative who is ‘one of us’.”
While the larger parties are battling it out ahead of the election, Albert Park’s seat remains anyone’s game with independent candidate Georgie Dragwidge, and South Melbourne Market business owner, also quickly gaining attention. •
Caption 1: Kim Samiotis, candidate for The Greens.
Caption 2: Lauren Sherson, candidate for The Liberal Party.
Caption 3: Nina Taylor, candidate for Labor.