Mixed signals on the weight of voting blocs

AN often forgotten segment of the City of Perth’s history and culture could play a major role in the lord mayoral election.

The Greek and Italian communities, while not as visible as they once were, are said to hold considerable sway at the ballot box.

Former lord mayoral aspirant Peter Kyle said the Greek and Italian vote was quite a big factor.

“The vote from Northbridge and West Perth when I ran against Peter Nattrass was very strong,” he said.

“I think their numbers are quite significant still. While Northbridge might have been turned into a predominantly Vietnamese community, there are still a lot of Greeks and Italians that own properties there.”

Indeed the Greek vote was largely considered the factor that helped former lord mayor Mick Michael win office.

Some leaders within the Greek community say that incumbent Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass has the Greek and Italian vote sewn up.

One community leader, who did not wish to be named, said that lord mayoral candidate Chas Hopkins had been seeking the Greek vote only to be told that Dr Nattrass had it if he decided to contest the election.

Mr Hopkins said he did not believe the Greek and Italian vote would play much of a part in the election.

“But I think I’ll win the Greek vote,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are disappointed in Dr Nattrass,” he said.

For his part Dr Nattrass said he did not believe the Greek and Italian vote was such a big issue.

“It’s no more important than anyone else’s vote,” he said.

Perth City Councillor Bert Tudori, who himself could be considered a leader within the Italian community, said the Greek and Italian vote no longer was as influential a factor.

“It’s true the Greeks and Italians still own a lot of the properties, particularly in Northbridge,” he said. “But the days of those communities voting as a bloc are gone,” he said.

Besides the battle for the Greek and Italian vote, there is also the battle to reach those businesses that are on the electoral roll.

Unlike residents within the City of Perth, business and property owners have to fill out forms to register to be able to take part in the May 3 poll. That enrolment period closed on March 14.

As can multiple property owners business owners can have up to two votes.

Many Perth City councillors have bemoaned the difficulty facing business and property owners – 92 per cent of the City of Perth’s rates come from businesses.

City of Perth residents automatically go onto the electoral roll when they enrol to vote in State or Federal elections, while business owners have to re-enrol every two elections.

However, WA Electoral Commissioner Lyn Auld said most business owners would only enrol if they felt particularly strongly about an issue.

“For example the Town of Gingin had a huge spike in business enrolments a few years back because there were plans to develop Moore River,” she said.

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