• Hannah Phillips

Victorian Election: Labor Whitewash or Is It?

When counting in the Victorian election wrapped up on Sunday night Labor had won 52 of the 88 seats in the Legislative Assembly and the Coalition 24 with two seats going to independents.

Ten seats were too close to call.

By way of example, in Ripon the state’s most marginal electorate, Labor was ahead by 60 votes.

The chances of the Coalition picking up many of the undecided seats are not good because most of their pre-poll and absentee votes have already been counted, but the Greens may pick up a seat or two.

The two party preferred vote currently sits at 56% for Labor to 44% for the Coalition but this may settle back to 55% to 45%.

While the ABC currently lists the seat of Melbourne as in doubt, Greens-favouring absentee votes will probably win it for the Greens.

Labor leads the Greens by 72 votes in Brunswick, but will probably lose on absentee votes.

Labor has clearly retained Richmond against the Greens, and will regain Northcote which they lost at a by-election.

In Prahran, whichever of Labor or Greens finishes second will defeat the Liberals on the other’s preferences.

The ABC’s upper house calculator currently has Labor winning 19 of the 40 Legislative Council seats, the Coalition ten, the Greens one, and ten from other parties.

These others include four Derryn Hinch Justice Party candidates, two Transport Matters, one Aussie Battler, one Animal Justice, one Liberal Democrat and one Sustainable Australia.

This is a triumph for the preference wheeler dealer Glenn Druery, who is a political adviser to Derryn Hinch.

Why did the Coalition do so badly? The first answer is that Victoria tends to be a Labor state.

At the end of this term in office Labor will have been in power for three quarters of the last four decades.

The same profile is reflected in federal elections where the ALP has won the two party preferred vote in 12 of the past 14 elections.

The second factor is that Daniel Andrews has responded to Victorians desire for big government.

He has not been afraid to spend generously on infrastructure and essential services.

The fact that this carries with it attendant risks of financial instability and higher taxes doesn’t seem to worry the voters.

Thirdly the Andrews government has been progressive on social issues such as safe schools, an indigenous treaty, domestic violence, euthanasia, renewable energy and climate change.

Added to this is the fact that the Premier has a simple communications strategy: he doesn’t aim to win a popularity contest with the public he simply gives them his views, unvarnished.

Victorians seem to appreciate this and have endorsed his approach.

The Liberals and the Nationals have been unable to work out what their message is.

As a consequence their young leader, Mathew Guy looked old and stale during the campaign.

The Coalition’s best chance for a win at the next state election will be that, by that time, the electorate will be over Daniel Andrews and Labor’s message and will be looking for something else.

The Coalition has four years to work out what this alternative is.

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