BY STUART TEATHER
WHEN Michael Gidley walks past the Mt Waverley shops, people stop him to say hello.
That, more than anything, is a sign his state election campaign is tracking nicely.
For a candidate running against a cabinet minister, gaining a public profile is no easy task.
Mr Gidley is running as the Liberal candidate for Mt Waverley against Women’s Affairs and Children’s Minister Maxine Morand.
In 2006 he came within a whisker of claiming the seat, eventually going down by 200 votes. It is fair to say he is in familiar territory.
He said the campaign trail feels different this time compared to four years ago.
“I look at 2006 and I see the 2006 election as a snapshot of the electorate’s feelings at the time,” he said.
“Not dissimilar to a footy team, the team is different, the issues are different and the composition of the electorate is slightly different.
“It’s a different team from the Brumby team to the Bracks team. We’ve got a state minister whereas Morand was a backbencher at the time, and the issues that have dominated the campaign are slightly different to 2006.”
Mr Gidley is campaigning hard on local issues, citing police numbers and public transport as two of his platforms.
As part of listening to the community, he is usually at one of the railway stations by 6am, talking to commuters.
He spends his time variously between forums, doorknocking and standing on street corners at a ‘listening post’.
“You stand on the corner with an A-frame and you wait for people to come up to you. You hope to get their thoughts and their feedback – it’s not for the faint-hearted,” he said with a laugh.
The signs are in his favour. With polls suggesting a swing to the Coalition, Mr Gidley seems poised to claim what is Labor’s most marginal seat.
However he still describes his plight as a “David and Goliath” battle, taking on the might of a senior minister’s campaign team with an army of volunteers.
“Every day I get up and meet the volunteers. We normally start at 6am and finish at 11pm. We do everything we possibly can to introduce ourselves and introduce the Liberal brand to Waverley.”