By Ewen McRae
By Ewen McRae and Tate Papworth
Labor retained its hold on the west at the weekend’s state election.
The ALP experienced significant swings in its favour across the state and Brimbank was no exception.
Natalie Suleyman stormed to a resounding victory in the seat of St Albans.
With more than 70 per cent of votes counted, Ms Suleyman held 71 per cent of the two-party preferred votes – a 3.8 per cent swing in favour of the ALP.
It promises to be a busy next four years for Ms Suleyman, who last week joined Premier Daniel Andrews in pledging to remove three “dangerous and congested” level crossings in Deer Park and Sunshine West (Ardeer), and to upgrade Deer Park train station, if re-elected.
In the seat of Sydenham, Family Violence Minister Natalie Hutchins enjoyed a smaller one per cent swing towards her party to comfortably return to Parliament for a third term.
Ms Hutchins said the result was a ringing endorsement of Labor’s family-friendly policies for the area.
“It feels great to be re-elected, and there was a really good feeling at the polling booths I visited,” Ms Hutchins said.
“I never take it for granted, but there were a lot of people really impressed with the level crossing removal on the Melton Highway, and we’ve made a commitment for more car parking at Watergardens that I think was really well received.
“There’s a big agenda ahead. Getting people home from work quicker and spending more time with their families is a key to a lot of our policies.
“I don’t think we can underestimate that there are a lot of families out there who are financially struggling and things like free dental care for kids is going to go a long way to support them.
“The opposition campaigned pretty hard in my seat around crime, and I think people recognised that our number one crime issue is actually family violence, and that’s an area our government has made a huge investment and I’m looking forward to continuing to do a lot of work in that area in the future.”
In the seat of Footscray – which includes parts of Sunshine, Sunshine West and Braybrook – Labor’s Katie Hall will take over from retiring MP Marsha Thomson, who has represented the area since 2006.
Ms Hall strengthened the Labor Party’s hold on the seat, with a 14.7 per cent swing her way delivering a commanding victory.
Meanwhile, Ben Carroll has reclaimed the seat of Niddrie with a six per cent swing in his favour.
The Minister for Industry and Employment said he was thrilled the community had returned him to office and he was looking forward to pushing for a number of key projects.
“I’m very pleased and very humbled that four years of hard work has been rewarded by the community and I look forward to rolling up the sleeves and continuing with it,” Mr Carroll said.
“We’ve seen positive results right across the state and it shows what a positive agenda can achieve.”
In the seat of Kororoit, Gambling Minister Marlene Kairouz has increased her lead in the seat following a 6.1 per cent swing her way.
While Ms Kairouz already had a healthy lead in the seat, Labor now enjoys 76.1 per cent of the votes to make it one of the safest seats in the state.