It has been four days since the stunning re-election of the Daniel Andrews Labor Government, there is no other way to describe it than a landslide victory for Labor. Based on current projections Labor is set to win 55 seats, the Coalition 28, the Greens 2 and Independents 3 in an 88 seat lower house. Labor has won 10 extra seats while the Coalition has lost 9, while the Greens lost one to Labor. Labor has been able to beat parties on both their left and right flank.
Daniel Andrews put his victory down to delivering on his promises on infrastructure and service delivery. In state elections voters like to see things being built and they saw level crossings being removed, new schools and hospitals being opened and that was good enough for them.
Andrews also said that the Victorian voters rejected a campaign of ‘fear and division’ implying that the Liberals law and order campaign, and opposition to the Safe Schools program and the safe injecting room in Richmond had failed. In his victory speech he said he was proud to be a progressive and lead the most progressive state in Australia.
The Liberal Party blame game for the loss is well underway at both the state and federal level. Matthew Guy has resigned as state leader today falling on his sword, there is also a push for state Liberal President Michael Kroger to resign. Moderate Liberal MPs have said voters rejected the Liberals for being too conservative in progressive Victoria.
Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer is reported to have told colleagues that the Liberals are viewed as “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”. Similar observations were made by Senate President Scott Ryan and Federal Victorian MP Tim Wilson claiming the electorate is not as conservative as those in the conservative wing in the party claim.
A Newspoll released on Sunday night showed the Morrison Government trailing 45-55 two party preferred, signalling the Liberals facing a similar wipeout federally that which just occurred in Victoria. The week in Federal parliament began with the new Member for Wentworth crossbencher Kerryn Phelps taking her seat in Parliament.
Then the next day marginal seat Victorian moderate MP Julia Banks who said she was already retiring at the next election quit the Liberal Party saying it had been overtaken by the ‘reactionary right’ since the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop. She may still run as an independent at the next election.
The Coalition now only has 74 seats out of 150 which means while the Government will not fall Labor and the crossbench can now move legislation to establish a National Integrity Commission and also refer Peter Dutton to the High Court over his wife receiving government subsides for childcare centers. The Morrison Government now looks to have lost control of the policy agenda.
But what is the reality of why the Liberals lost in Victoria? The Andrews Government sure had a number of failures and scandals. The red shirts rorts, attempting to gut the volunteer CFA, $1 billion spent not to build a road, the African gang crime wave, Antifa running rampant in the city and multiple deadly car attacks in the Melbourne CBD.
Is Victoria and Australia moving to the left? Maybe, for now. The reality for ordinary voters is that things in Victoria and Australia are not bad enough at the moment for them to take correction action. Government debt is viewed by voters as too abstract for them to worry about, violent crime is only high in a few voting electorates, not enough to sway an election.
Add to this demographic factors. Migrant groups still vote for left despite conservative efforts to court their votes, and integration problems in some migrant groups are present to all voters at this stage for it to be a front and centre issue in an election.
People on the right in Australia are hoping for a Brexit and Trump moment. But economic conditions and problems caused by immigration had to get much worse in those nations for voters to react in the way they did. Democracy is not broken, it just hasn’t gone full circle yet. This is why Federal Labor can promise the world and it is attractive enough to voters who see the Liberal Party factions at war with each other.
To return to Victorian politics the most successful Liberal Premier of the past 30 years Jeff Kennett was only able to win in 1992 on his third attempt because the then Labor Government has sent the state broke. Only then Kennett could implement a radical corrective economic and policy agenda to save Victoria.
If Daniel Andrews has managed to cause as many problems as those listed above in just four years imagine how much worse things will get in the next four years now that he has been embolden by a landslide win? The only stopper on his power will be an expanded crossbench in the state’s upper house making up 10 out of the 40 seats due to micro party preference deals.
You can guarantee in the next four years that educational programs like Safe Schools will get more radical, genderless birth certificates will be on the agenda, the police force will be more politically correct, the judiciary will become more lenient and there will be less free speech to question any of this. Some on the right have pondered leaving Victoria but this is an overreaction.
The new Liberal Opposition needs to be united and on its game to highlight the continued policy failures of the Andrews Labor Government and make sure that in 2022 when things do get worse they are in a position to offer a strong alternative to fix the even greater problems to come.
You can see the Unshackled’s election night analysis by viewing our livestreams below.