📷: Stephanie Anderson
Of the four inner-city Labor-Greens contests, Richmond was considered Labor’s best chance of defeating the minor party.
Mr Wynne has been the member for Richmond since 1999 has a high profile in the seat.
Some in Labor said the party had been preparing for some time for the Liberal Party to vacate the Richmond contest, and a senior party source today played down the development, saying the seat had long been “challenging” to hold.
“Nothing changes for us,” the source said.
Mr Wynne issued a statement accusing the Liberal Party of turning their backs on their supporters in Richmond.
“I’m focused on doing what I’ve done for the past 19 years — and that’s knocking on as many doors as I can and talking to as many Richmond locals as I can about what matters to them, and sticking up for them when it matters most,” he said.”
“In Richmond, the choice couldn’t be clearer — it’s between a Labor Government that has always put the community first, the most progressive government in the country, or the Greens political party, who talk a lot but have delivered nothing.”
The Greens candidate for Richmond, Kathleen Maltzahn, tweeted that the Liberal Party decision was “a blow to Labor” and that Mr Wynne “depends entirely on Liberal preferences for power”.
“It doesn’t matter to us if we’re running against just Labor or Labor and the Liberals — on planning, on coal, on crime, on forests, there’s no daylight between them. The Greens are the real opposition,” she tweeted.
Safe injecting room advocate Judy Ryan is also running in Richmond for the Reason Party, led by Fiona Patten.
The ABC understands that Reason, which could soak up some moderate Liberal voters in the seat, is likely to preference Mr Wynne ahead of Ms Maltzahn, whose views on sex workers have caused tensions within the Greens.
Ms Maltzahn had been a longtime advocate of the Nordic model of criminalising sex work, under which the illegal act is the purchase of sex rather than the selling of sexual services.
But in May, after the Liberal Party adopted the Nordic model as its policy, Ms Maltzahn promised that if she was elected she would vote against the Nordic model in Parliament, describing the Coalition’s agenda as “anti-women”.
Earlier today Mr Guy said he trusted Liberals voters would understand the party’s decisions about fielding candidates.
“I hope that all Liberal voters would understand that we are doing what is right for the Liberal Party to get a government for all of Victoria that can govern for the longer term interests of Victoria,” he said.