By KATE TAN
Labor MP Steve Dimopoulos currently holds Oakleigh with the relatively comfortable margin of 8 per cent over the Liberal Party.
Located 12km southeast of the Melbourne CBD, the Oakleigh electorate has been a key transportation construction ground during the past two years.
The level-crossing removal program has totally changed the view of the streets. The skyrail flies over residents’ heads and the stations in Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale and Clayton have been refurbished.
Although the finishing touches of the upgraded train stations are still going on, the federal and the state governments are ready to implement new transportation plans for the Oakleigh electorate.
OAKLEIGH Held by: Steve Dimopoulos (ALP). Since: 2014 Swing at 2014 election: +3.1 per cent. Key comments: One of Labor’s big-ticket items in the 2014 election was to remove the most congested level crossings on busy train lines, such as the one running through half the length of the Oakleigh electorate. The solution was skyrail – elevating the train line. This has been somewhat controversial as neighbours of the new sky rail have raised privacy concerns. The question is if the major infrastructure project will gain or lose votes for Labor.
Further developments in the area form a long list: two stations on the $50bn Suburban Railway Loop; the Monash Freeway, which in part runs through Oakleigh, will be expended to 10 lanes by 2022; and a new rail line will run between Caulfield and Rowville.
The City of Monash, part of which falls within the electorate of Oakleigh, joined seven other local councils to form the South East Melbourne lobby group (SEM) to call on politicians to focus on further infrastructure development.
The SEM has developed an election platform which has 10 key requests for the candidates in this election. Among them, the project Monash Council wants most is to lengthen Westall Rd.
In the SEM proposal, the extended Westall Rd will link the Princess Highway and the Monash Freeway, aiming to reduce congestion and serve the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster.
The Monash cluster – on which Monash University, Monash Medical Centre, Monash Children’s Hospital, the Australian Synchrotron and many corporate headquarters are located – has Melbourne’s largest concentration of jobs outside the CBD.
Anticipating an increase in the population of the cluster, the SEM hopes to provide better transportation facilities.
Statistics might explain why the politicians are obsessed with planning new routes in the area. In Oakleigh, more residents drive private cars than take public transport to work. According to the 2016 census, 59.7 per cent of employed people in Oakleigh use cars to get to work.
While Labor is busy shaping new infrastructure, the Opposition is focusing on crime and policing. Coalition Leader Matthew Guy promises a greater police presence in Oakleigh.
If elected, the Coalition will establish police shop fronts in the Chadstone Shopping Centre, which is located in the Oakleigh electorate. Chadstone is among 10 major shopping centres that will receive more funding to increase police presence according to the Coalition election platform.
The Oakleigh seat is currently held by the Labor MP Steve Dimopoulos. According to numbers from the last election, the Oakleigh electorate is a reasonably safe seat.
Since 1961, the seat of Oakleigh has generally been held by the government. Labor’s victories in 1979 and 2010 were the only two occasions when Oakleigh broke this trend.
Oakleigh is home to 71,764 people and it covers 27 sq km.
The community is young and highly educated. According to the 2016 census, the Median age in the area is 32, five years younger than the average age in the rest of the state. In Oakleigh 44.5 per cent of the residents have a university degree, compared to the state average of 17.8 per cent.
Although Oakleigh is historically known as a Greek enclave, the last census showed that currently the most common ancestries among residents are English and Chinese.
This article was co-published with The Junction and UniPollWatch. For more on the Victorian Election 2018, please go here.