LAZARUS: Robert Doyle is born again as Melbourne's Lord Mayor

doylevredted The election of Liberal Robert Doyle is being toasted by anti-Greens party forces in Melbourne’s inner-city as a highly amusing development.

The latte sippers of Melbourne will now live in a municipality governed by a Liberal well to the right of Ted Baillieu (most are of course). Baillieu’s spiritual leader Jeff Kennett thinks Doyle is too pushy and once verbally thumped him for his presumption and membership in a rival faction:

“He is very ambitious, he’s always put his ambition ahead of his commitment to the party in my opinion,” he said.”In fact, it was one of the reasons why I didn’t elevate him to the ministry in 1996.”

Kennett went on to infer that Doyle was not a “man of honour.” Jeff is nothing if not unsubtle.

Narrowly beating highly regarded Labor moderate Peter McMullin, Doyle’s victory is considered a slap in the face for the extreme Greens Party’s agenda in Melbourne.

Some former Doyle supporters on Spring Street tell us they believe it could also spell trouble for both Premier John Brumby and Liberal leader Ted Baillieu, if Doyle is able to become as popular a Lord Mayor as his predecessor John So, it could very well provide Doyle with an opportunity to re-enter state politics, if Baillieu loses in 2010.

His feisty plans to re-open Swanston Street to traffic like the good old days when my mum used to drive up there in her purple V8 Holden Premier and his outspoken support of a tunnel to take road traffic out of the inner-city and put it underground will be seen as mainstream for a 3AW audience but are considered by even conservative inner-city residents as being rather radical.

VEXNEWS –as always – is anticipating the carnage with some glee if Doyle attempts to implement his policies in a council predominantly – but not exclusively – dominated by free-spending, left-wing and unaccountable bureaucrats who will recoil with horror at some of Doyle’s plans and attempt to bend him to their will. They’ll probably succeed at the end of the day. They always seem to do so, leading one to wonder whether it might be best for the council officers to be elected too. The jobs pay more, so there’d be plenty of interest.

Greens party activists and their comrades from the Socialist Left of Labor are furious about Doyle’s election and according to some reports were questioning their strategy of personally attacking Peter McMullin.

“Adam Bandt was reacting emotionally to being criticised by McMullin’s attack machine and has now brought onto Melbourne’s inner-city someone whose support base is in the right of the Liberal Party.”

“The Greens party polled very strongly and we’re pleased with how our brand is going in the inner-city but Bandt has probably not done himself any favours internally with the way he’s run the campaign. He hasn’t impressed,” a Greens party insider told VEXNEWS on Sunday on strict condition of anonymity.

It’s well worth noting too the impressive candidacy Peter McMullin, who emerged from a bruising campaign as clearly the strongest candidate in terms of his understanding of the issues. By contrast, Doyle in a Herald Sun online blog, expressed his concern when asked about the closure of the “council’s Southbank childcare centre.” Someone – quite possibly from VEXNEWS – might have been pulling his leg to test his knowledge of detail. There isn’t a council Southbank childcare centre. In fact there’s not much evidence of the council in Southbank at all except when it comes time to pay rates.

McMullin – a former Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne – would have been a fine Lord Mayor and was probably uniquely able to balance the needs of residents and business and to work co-operatively with the state government while not getting steam-rollered. Originally slated to run as John So’s Deputy when So was planning to run again, he quickly pulled together an excellent campaign and managed to dominate the agenda throughout.


Melbourne will be forever in McMullin’s debt for preventing Catherine Ng’s election. The random and quite possibly psychotic TAFE worker and former Planning Committee Chair who managed to raise $200,000 from unidentified sources for her lacklustre campaign would have been the greatest disaster ever faced in the Town Hall.

Alcohol fuelled, stream of consciousness emails, staff bullying, inconsistent planning decisions that made many suspicious and a cunning streak a mile wide all served to make her Melbourne’s most hated councillor.

Without McMullin taking a stick to her with brilliantly effective mailings highlighting her dismal attendance record at council (we suspect an enduring legacy will be very high attendance records from now on), most observers believe she could well have won, even with Doyle’s strong showing. Her preferences could not have been more favourable and she had the best kind of dummy candidate one can have, one who isn’t fully conscious of the presence of the ventriloquist, in the form of human headline Gary Singer.


In the end though, Doyle won a branding/popularity contest because he is a very well known figure who had millions of dollars of statewide branding from the Liberal Party a few short years ago.

The election was a Seinfeld election, in many ways, because it was about nothing. Journalists like Ian Royall at the Hun, Kate Leahy at the Aged were, by all reports, only interested in stories about conflict between the candidates, not about policy proposals. VEXNEWS loves a fight so we were no doubt part of the problem.

In that climate it stands to reason that the most prominent bloke won. The fact he did so running what seemed like a disengaged, half interested campaign on the surface is a credit to Doyle in many ways. His reputation among the Big End of Town, the city’s business owners, property owners and investors is clearly strong. Many thought he deserved a go too after doing some very hard yards for four years as Liberal leader.


Now though Doyle faces an incredible challenge. He has to answer for a bureaucracy that probably is the complete reverse of his own political outlook. When it writes up bizarre reports talking up turning St Kilda Road into a hippy commune and vegetable patch for mung bean eating locavores, he’ll have to explain it. When a nameless arts bureaucrats funds obscene or anti-semitic artwork, he’ll be sent out to spin. When the council bureaucracy simultaneously complains about the lack of low-cost housing while knocking back planning applications that could keep costs down by adding to stock, he’ll have to do his best to represent the council’s occasionally incoherent muddle-headed thinking.

It’s a job that he might imagine he can do part-time, with his senior government appointments and other roles. He’s clearly a very able man but he’s going to learn the hard way that to ride the Melbourne City Council tiger without ending up inside he’ll be needing to concentrate 24-7.

If he doesn’t, he’ll end up as road-kill on Swanston Street.

After all, he replaces one of the shrewdest and best politicians we’ve ever seen. A Ronald Reagan without the political baggage, John So.

If he can keep out of trouble as So mostly did and manage to avoid blame for the bureaucracy’s inevitable and frequent mistakes and minimise the wrath coming from noisy inner-city residents groups, he’ll be doing very well indeed.

Doyle will be rightly thrilled with winning after a bad result as Liberal leader in 2002 that demoralised his party and was mostly due to the lost of momentum from the Robert Dean enrolment scandal. But probably even sweeter will be the prospect that suddenly he’s back in town politically, with Ted Baillieu anxiously looking over his shoulder at the state’s most senior Liberal office-holder.

As some car rear-vision mirrors suggest “Objects in your mirror can be larger than they appear.” We can only he finds a way to run Red Ted, the worst state Liberal leader since chair-sniffing Troy Buswell, off the road.



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22 responses to “LAZARUS: Robert Doyle is born again as Melbourne's Lord Mayor

  1. Two Piece Feed

    A lot of effort from your friends into McMullin’s campaign Andrew and, not withstanding your pitch-perfect Iraqi Information Minister impersonation, a shocker all round.

    I’d expect there’ll be a few knives thrown around on King St this fine morn.

  2. value meal

    A lot of effort from your friends into Fowles’s campaign and, not withstanding your pitch-perfect Iraqi Information Minister impersonation, a shocker all round.

    I’d expect there’ll be a few knives thrown around on King St this fine morn.

    Will Leong stay long?

  3. Two Piece Feed

    Just long enough to take photos of your friends trying to justify why the most expensive lord mayoral campaign in history only succeeded in electing a Lib.

  4. value meal

    Peter Shepherd spent a lot more actually with radio ads, billboards and a lavish expense account for his “strategist” who sampled the delights of Melbourne’s strip clubs at Shep’s expense for the campaign.

  5. Leong

    I am the Christ. Why is my name taken in vain?

  6. Comrade Newnham

    get back to work Leong

  7. Leong

    Hang on, it’s twenty to eight, I’m never at work before ten.

  8. Andrew Giles

    Me neither.

  9. Comrade Newnham

    Me neither.

  10. George Droutsas

    People are meant to work before 10am? And after 12pm?

  11. Comrade Newnham

    Yes Anthony they are.

  12. Rt Hon Fatty Doyle

    Why aren’t you talking about me, your beloved Lord Mayor-designate ?

  13. Catherine Ng Hanke

    I cannot understand why I was targeted. At TAFE, I only show up to work 65.5% of the time and I don’t get any hassles.

    No fair. You all racist.

  14. Leong

    I like going to work. The biscuits are good. I will eat biscuits 82% of the time.

  15. Two Piece Meal

    I order Pepsi 80% of the time.

  16. conspiracy theory

    Brumby has got tame-cat Lord Mayor. Proof? McMullan gave him Doyle preferences, ratting on a deal.

    Very suss.

    Doyle will still keep his big fat Melbourne Health salary too which Brumby gives him.

    He’s more in the government’s pocket than even McMullan would have been.

    I have a feeling Doyle will be lynched by the end of this with his pro roads agenda.

  17. Muttley

    Fantastic if he re opens Swanston street it will great. So nice to see the Greens squirm too. Next, he needs to make the councillors turn up to council meetings that will be a shock for a lot of them.

  18. whitehorse down in flames

    where’s the round up on labor’s stunning success in whitehorse andy?

  19. anon

    The ALP has been kinder to this useless fat slug than his own party has ever been.
    First put him in as Chair of Melbourne Health, now rolled lard guts into the position of Lord Mayor of Melbourne.
    JB will live to regret this.

  20. Pingback: Doyle’s back. « Alblog

  21. Analysis of the votes shows that Doyle received 1034 Donkey Votes (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11)

    He received 3545 Second Preference votes

    Doyles 2nd Preference











  22. Melbourne City Council Portfolios allocated: Peter Clarke is Chair of Planning, Brian Shanahan Chair of Finance, rest to be decided next year

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