At 11:30am my wife and I ambled over to our son’s old Primary School, Holy Name, in Preston District to vote in the state elections. The line-up to the polling booths was a great sample of my area’s new cultural, gender, class, and age diversity.
The traditional working class Irish Catholic district, then Greek, North Macedonian, and Italian neighbourhood has changed.
There are newer immigrant communities from Southeast Asia, China, South Asia, working in specialist trades and professions not factories as Greek and Italian post-war immigrants did. And there are the aspirational middle-aged children of those older post war workers from Southern European communities who are now subdividing their elders’ 750-meter blocks to plant spiffy townhouses or opening new bars and restaurants.
Then there is the new gentry in the district, which has made Preston a creative hub. The new artists, teachers, architects, designers, and university students living here.
This demographic shift is confounding the major parties. Issues like urban development, health, good education, environment are undermining old allegiances.
Preston should stay Labor. However, across Victoria minor parties and independents garner votes due to people’s thinning loyalty to Labor, and the Liberals.
A sharper focus on the environment, education, aspiration, culture, and lifestyle will be needed as old party faith, and old classes change.