We had hoped that when the DLP first elected Peter Kavanagh to the upper house in 2006 that he would start getting around in a hat and a pipe to revive the old images of the party but heâ€™s taken a very modern and serious approach to his duties.
And the revived party is a feisty little operation, even rather cheekily marketing themselves as â€œLabor for Northern Victoriaâ€ in an attempt to exploit the â€œmistaken identityâ€ phenomenon that some Labor people argue comprise a proportion of the DLPâ€™s vote these days.
Their Peter Kavanagh has been the quiet achiever of the Victorian upper house, not opting for the cheap grandstanding of the extreme-left Greens party but has instead earned himself a reputation as a sincere, thorough, intelligent and decent chap across the parliament.
A former teacher and barrister, he is a rather more polite and modest version of Kevin Rudd, speaking Mandarin fluently and being able to speak more than enough Japanese and Bahasa to order sushi and nasi goreng inthe appropriate dialect.
The business of getting elected to the upper house as a minor party isnâ€™t easy and itâ€™s almost a lottery for the candidates who can manage to get more than 2% of the vote for the last place. Usually theyâ€™ll get a better run than the majors on preferences so hope thatâ€™s enough to top them up until theyâ€™re elected. Certainly thatâ€™s how Peter Kavanagh got up the first time.
His success has inspired a successful Senate run for the party and now a record number in this â€œmodern eraâ€ of the DLP, a grand total of sixty-seven.
And itâ€™s a delightfully eclectic mix, with Geraldine Gonsalvez who hails from India and is running in the South Eastern Metropolitan region. She heads the only all-women upper house ticket in Victoria, unlike the elderly male dominated Greens party which is run by old rich white guys like Brian Walters and Bob Brown. Itâ€™s an ethnically diverse bunch too, with all five candidates on her ticket coming from different parts of the world.
The other upper house candidates include Peterâ€™s brother, John Kavanagh who will definitely be in the mix for the last spot in northern metropolitan. Weâ€™ll forgive him for voting with members of the Socialist Left on the Moreland council on the basis that local government does bring out the worst in everyone. But he certainly has no trouble getting re-elected on the council so clearly has a following and has reasonable preference flow coming to him. While upper house MLC Bernie Finn is a brother in arms to all Richmond supporters, it would certainly be unusual to have two brothers in the Red Morgue at the same time.
The â€œBanana Kingâ€ Pat Lamanna â€“ a businessman and philanthropist – who has been advertising his candidacy in the nationâ€™s most popular newspaper, the Herald Sun, has generously pledged his parliamentary salary to charity if elected to represent Eastern Metro and is favoured by the best draw on the ballot. So weâ€™ll watch out for him too.
And while Greens candidates accept bucket-loads of cash from the coal industry they denounce and even trouser huge payments from Nazi war criminal multi-millionaire property developers, while others attack the Myki ticketing system without explaining they used to take money from Myki to tell senior citizensâ€™ groups how good it was, the DLP means what it says and says what it means if Frankston candidate Denise DeGraaf is any guide. Sheâ€™s the proud mother of ten.
With the election of a DLP Senator from Victoria, former blacksmith John Madigan being elected in August in addition to Peter Kavanagh and a record number of candidates in 2010, they really are breeding like rabbits.