Former Liberal MP Katie Allen has won preselection rights to contest for the Division of Higgins in Victoria, which she previously represented under the Morrison government for three years.
The Victorian Liberals confirmed Ms Allen would run for the electorate in the next federal election and take on Labor’s Michelle Ananda-Rajah, after having been MP for Higgins from 2019 to 2022.
Historically a Liberal stronghold, Labor’s 2022 win marked the party’s first-ever election to the seat of Higgins on a swing of 4.7 per cent.
Ms Allen believes, however, modern-day voting patterns indicate there is “no such thing as a safe seat anymore” given segmentation amongst Australians on different issues and prominence of tactical voting behaviours.
“Every election is a different contest, and we should make sure we’re not fighting the last election at the next election. The conditions are different,” she told Sky News Australia’s Chris Kenny on Monday.
“Going forward, I believe that people are open minded at every election, that less and less people are voting the same way, which means more and more is up for grabs.
“That means that hardworking local members who understand their community deeply, we have deep community connections. That’s the sort of thing that the Liberal Party’s very good at offering.”
Despite a conservative candidate winning the inner-southeast Melbourne seat in 2019, the election marked a broader shift in public attitudes towards left-leaning politics in metropolitan regions across the country, with preference for Labor, the Greens, and Teal Independents seeing a notable increase.
The Liberals won Higgins by just 3.9 per cent – the closest result in its history – with Ms Allen becoming the first party candidate to not gain an outright majority on the first count and the seat becoming a marginal one for the first time.
Inner-city electoral divisions around Melbourne are majorly held by Labor, with Josh Burns in Macnamara, Tim Watts in Gellibrand, Bill Shorten in Maribyrnong, Peter Khalil in Wills, Daniel Mulino in Fraser, and Ged Kearney in Cooper.
Meanwhile, the Greens’ Adam Bandt represents the seat of Melbourne and Teal MP Monique Ryan holds Kooyong.
However, Ms Allen shared confidence in Liberal voter resurgence in the state by 2025, stressing the party’s commitments to recuperate from the strained economic climate brought on under the Albanese government.
“Australians deserve better and Higgins deserves better. In Higgins, the local member is missing in action. People want strong leadership. They want to know that they are being supported and they are concerned, so there’s so much to be done,” she said.
“But more than that, at the Australian level, Labor promised it would be easier under them. It’s just got tougher.
“Costs are going up, they just don’t seem to have their hands on the wheel of the economy and we just need to make sure that we offer the best alternative to take this country forward and I believe we can.
“We’re good at offering people with real life experience who really care deeply about the community… and that’s what I’ll be proffering when I when I step forward as the alternate candidate at the next federal election.”
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