It is Election Day in Victoria today which will decide who will lead the state for the next four years. There are 88 lower house seats and 40 seats in the state’s upper house up for election. The polls suggest that Premier Daniel Andrews is on track to a comfortable victory for a second term in office.
It feels like it has been a long four years under the Daniel Andrews Labor Government with a lot changing in the state during his Premiership. One of his first acts in office once elected in 2014 was cancelling the East-West Link road project at a cost of $1 billion. The LGBT Safe Schools Program has been rolled out to all Victorian government schools. Energy prices have gone up with the closure the Hazelwood coal fired power station in the Latrobe Valley. Congestion is still a major issue in Melbourne despite the removal of 29 level crossings.
Law and order has also become an issue of public concern with Melbourne in the midst of an African youth gang crime wave. The city’s leftist activists are running feral attempting to shut down right wing events with Victoria Police deciding to issue the bill to organizers of these events for their protection. There has also been three deadly vehicle attacks in the Melbourne CBD with the most recent an Islamic terror attack just two weeks ago.
Labor has come under fire for its Red Shirts rort during the 2014 election where it diverted $388,000 of taxpayers’ money from its electorate staff allowance to its election campaign. Then there has been the long running dispute the government has had with the volunteer Country Fire Authority due to its pay deal with the United Firefighters Union.
Yet despite all the scandals and mismanagement the Liberal Opposition led by Matthew Guy has been unable to capitalize being consistently behind in the polls. Some explanation for this is that the Liberals have not been aggressive enough in pursuing the Andrews Government, others have said that Victoria is now a progressive left state with the Labor Party the natural party of government. Andrews has been a proud progressive with the Liberals unsure if they need to be progressive themselves or assert a more conservative identity to provide a real alternative to voters.
Labor has focused its messaging during the campaign on infrastructure spending as well as education spending promises such as free breakfast, lunch, tampons and dental checks in schools. The Liberals have focused on law and order and more speedy and cost efficient infrastructure projects. The Liberals have also pledged to scrap the Safe Schools program.
Labor has been fighting two campaigns, one against the Liberals and the other against the Greens in the inner city. The Greens hold three inner city seats in Melbourne, Northcote and Prahran, they are aiming to add Brunswick and Richmond to their partyroom. But the Greens have been rocked by sexual misconduct allegations in both Victoria and elsewhere with Labor pouncing to attack the Greens as progressive frauds. A Labor minority government with Greens support is still not out of the realm of possibility.
The state’s upper house the Legislative Council has proportional representation with eight 5-member regions which still use group voting tickets allowing minor parties to preference each other before the major parties. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and Reason are the minor parties defending their upper house seats, other parties looking for a seat are the Liberal Democrats, the Democratic Labor Party, the Australian Liberty Alliance, the Australian Country Party and the Victorian Socialists. However election night could see several unknown micro parties win an upper house seat as well.
The most recent polls have been: ReachTEL has Labor in front two party preferred 54-46, Galaxy has Labor on 53-47 and Newspoll has Labor ahead on 53.5-46.5. The only path to victory for the Liberals is if they win the seats on the Frankston train line known as the sandbelt seats of Frankston, Carrum, Mordialloc, Bentleigh and Prahran. There is also the South East growth corridor seats of Cranbourne, Narre Warren North and Narre Warren South. While the Liberals will lose the two party preferred vote they are pinning their hopes on their South East strategy.
The polls are one thing but on election night anything could still happen, any seat could throw up a surprise result. In 1999 Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett suffered a surprise loss, in 2010 Labor Premier John Brumby also suffered a surprise loss. But the expectation is there will be four more years of Daniel Andrews, who has pledged to serve a full term. Regardless of who wins four years is long electoral cycle, and Victoria will change even further during that time.
For all the election night results tune into to The Unshackled’s Victorian Election Night Livestream on Facebook and YouTube Live from 6pm with our all star alt-media panel.