Otway Ranges Environment Network



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Case Study:
Liberals lost Victorian State seats of Bellarine & South Barwon due to support for Otways logging under Regional Forest Agreement.

Despite the shock defeat of the Kennett in 1999, the Liberals held onto the Victorian State seats of Bellarine and South Barwon located in the Geelong area. People who live in these areas were familiar with the Otway forests and depend of water supply from Otway forested catchments.

Electorate of Bellarine

Electorate of South Barwon

bellarine south barwon
Map Source: Victoria Electoral Commission

South Barwon had been regarded a safe Liberal seat in the lead up to the 2002 State election. Labor needed a 4.7% swing to win in 2002 and had never won the seat before.

Bellarine was regarded as margin the Liberals only needed a swing against them of 1.2% to lose.

During the 2002  election campaign, there was a lot of media interest in these Liberal held seats with the Geelong Advertiser conducted several telephone election polls regarding the Otways policy and voting intentions.

These phone surveys demonstrate the policy announcement made in the Otways on the 6th November 2002 by the former Premier Steve Bracks, to tear up the Regional Forest Agreement and end all native forest logging in the Otway by 2008, turbocharged the ALP vote in these seats. This was despite the strong pro-logging campaign by the Liberals and native forest logging industry to support continued logging in the Otways under the rules determined by the Regional Forest Agreement signed on March 2000 by Steve Bracks and John Howard.


Editorial comment
Geelong Advertiser
Saturday 9th November 2002

 “A snap poll of (158)Bellarine electorate voters by this newspaper has revealed overwhelming support of 65.2 per cent  - two in every three people – for Labor’s logging ban.” Read full story.

A Geelong Advertiser poll before the election on the 30 September 2002, showed first preference voter sentiment for ALP and Liberals in Bellarine was neck and neck. However after the ALP Otway announcement, voters first preference support for the ALP in Bellarine surged to 11.2%.  The actual final election result gave the ALP 10.1 %  first preference vote lead and an overall 10% swing for Bellarine.

Labor ahead in vital seat. 
Geelong Advertiser
Wade Pearce
Saturday 9 November 2002. Front Page

LABOR has surged ahead in the marginal seat of Bellarine, according to the latest Addy Poll.
The telephone survey of 313 people this week gives Labor an 11-point lead in the Liberal-held seat.
The poll results show 40 per cent of Bellarine voters would choose Labor if  an election was held tomorrow, compared to 29 per cent who would vote Liberal.

The latest poll reveals a sharp turnaround in fortunes for both major parties since September, when an Addy Poll showed they were tied on 34.6 per cent.

This week’s Addy Poll was carried out after Labor announced its plan to end logging in the Otways within six years.

A snap telephone poll of 158 Bellarine voters immediately after the announcement found overwhelming support for Labor’s policy.


South Barwon

A Geelong Advertiser news paper poll before the election on the 15th October found the sitting Liberal MP for South Barwon (Alister Paterson) had a slight 2% lead over the ALP candidate in first preference votes.( The ALP candidate, Michael Crutchfield, had tried unsuccessfully to win this seat for the ALP in 1999.)

This voter sentiment changed after the ALP Otway announcement according to a Geelong Advertiser poll of 302 people in South Barwon published on the 11 November. Now ALP first preference votes put them in front by 3%.

The poll also found 57% of  people survey in the seat supported the ALP policy to ban logging in the Otways. The actual final election result gave the ALP's Mr Crutchfield a 7.89% first preference vote lead and a 10% two part preferred swing overall in South Barwon.


Crutchfield polls ahead
Geelong Advertiser,
Peter Begg
Monday 11 November 2002, page 2

LABOR candidate Crutchfield has shot to the lead in the former safe Liberal seat of South Barwon, according to the latest Addy Poll.

The poll of 302 South Barwon voters carried out over the weekend gave Cr Crutchfield a three per cent lead over sitting Liberal Mister Paterson.

Support for Cr Crutchfield was 34.8 per of those polled, compared to 31.8 per cent for Mr Paterson.


The voters were also asked if they supported Labor’s plan to ban log­ging in the Otways, with a clear 57 per cent in favour of the ban.

Only 22.2 per cent said they were opposed to the logging ban.

Mr Paterson said that Labor’s plan to phase out logging might be cos­metically appealing.

“But it does not offer any real solutions for the future of our forests, not only in the Otways, but across Victoria,’ he said.

Cr Crutchfield said the figures on the logging ban were not surprising, and reflected the fact South Barwon was an environmentally conscious electorate.

“I think it’s a real point of difference between Alister and myself,” he said.

Geelong advertiser_poll_results
Table extract:
Geelong Advertiser 11/11/2002, page 7.

Greens Party refused to preference Crutchfield

After the election, Geelong Liberal candidates cynically accused the ALP policy to ban logging in the Otways as a means to secure Greens Party preferences. However the Greens Party refused to preference Michael Crutchfield during the 2002 State election despite the huge personally advocacy Crutchfield had contributed to the campaign to stop logging in the Otways.  Crutchfield still won comfortably. After the election the South Barwon Green candidate admitted that their preference strategy had backfired.

Geelong Advertiser. 2nd December 2002.
Bellarine support strongest

He (Iain Lygo) said the Greens vote suffered because of the Otway Ranges Environment Network's overt support for Labor's policy to end logging Otways native forests.

"I think that cost us two per cent," Mr Lygo said.


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