Greens by-election candidate Cathy Oke says Labor voters in the ‘progressive’ seat of Melbourne may be upset to learn their preferences will go to religious conservative parties ahead of the Greens.

Last week it emerged Labor had shunned Oke and Independent candidate Stephen Mayne, both marriage equality supporters, on how-to-vote materials for the July 21 state by-election.

Labor prefered the Family First candidate in seventh place, well ahead of Mayne at 12 and Oke at 15th out of 16. Family First is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage and same-sex couples adopting children.

Sex Party candidate Fiona Patten was preferred in third place.

“I think Labor voters would be upset to learn that their preferences are going to Family First,” Oke told the Star Observer.

“All I need to say is that’s how [former Family First Senator] Stephen Fielding was elected.”

Oke said Melbourne voters had an opportunity to put a progressive new voice in the Victorian parliament.

“The lower house only has Labor and Coalition members at the moment, and neither of these old parties are showing the vision necessary to plan for the future, let alone showing any leadership on basic issues of social justice and human rights,” she said.

“Just like the election of Adam Bandt transformed the federal Parliament as a sole Greens member from Melbourne, a similar election in the state seat of Melbourne would transform the Victorian Parliament – so it’s a very important election.”

Oke has called for greater spending on public transport including increasing cross-city bus routes and reducing inner-city tram congestion.

She also wants better wages for teachers, $1 bet limits on pokie machines and a Public Housing Commissioner.

Recent polling put Oke comfortably ahead of Labor candidate and fellow Melbourne councillor Jennifer Kanis at 54-46 on a two-party preferred basis.

Melbourne is home to the second biggest number of same-sex couples in Australia behind Sydney, according to 2011 census data.

About 4 percent of all couples were same-sex in the Melbourne City Council area.

Oke said she strongly supports marriage equality in Australia.

Asked about the Victorian Greens’ Marriage Equality Bill currently before state parliament, Oke said marriage equality was ideally a federal issue.

“The great thing about state marriage equality bills is that they keep an enormous amount of pressure on the federal government, and keep the debates prominent and public,” she said.

Oke will run for the seat following the resignation of Labor MP Bronwyn Pike in May.

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