Despite an overall swing against Victoria’s incumbent ALP, Daniel Andrews was comfortably returned to government, while the Liberals were routed.
Before the election, the ALP held 55 seats (a majority of 14) and the Coalition 27, Greens three, and two were held by independents.
Although the upper house remains undecided at the time of writing, the ALP and Coalition lower-house numbers are unlikely to change very much. The primary vote of both parties declined, but the Liberals are now below 30 per cent. Matthew Guy has resigned as leader.
The Nationals bolstered their numbers from six to nine seats, winning back two regional seats previously held by independents (Shepparton and Mildura) and winning Morwell, where the state government’s plan to shut down the state’s big coal-fired power plants will devastate jobs in the region.
Following their federal election successes, the teals challenged Liberals in several electorates, but are unlikely to win any state seats. Nor did any other independents win seats.
The Greens increased their vote in their inner-city-held seats, while taking Richmond from the ALP, giving them four lower-house seats… some on Liberal preferences. Also, they scored big swings in two other inner-city ALP-held city seats — Footscray 13 per cent and Pascoe Vale 20 per cent.
It is too early to predict the makeup of Victoria’s upper house.
There was the cover-up of ALP branch-stacking, which took place under the Premier’s watch. There were radical social-engineering policies — virtually removing from the Equal Opportunity Act the freedom for faith-based schools to employ staff and enrol students of their choice and passing draconian anti-conversion therapy legislation with its attacks on parents, counsellors, health practitioners and ministers of religion.
Former senior state public servants accused Daniel Andrews of bypassing his own ministers and undermining the Westminster system of an independent public service, with the Premier’s Private Office and the Department of Premier and Cabinet between them employing a whopping 1,147 staff. A number of ministers resigned at this election.
There was Andrews’ large media unit that has brutally shut down critics of the Government.
There were repeated cover-ups by the Government around issues like the Premier’s personal role in hotel quarantine system failures.
Of major concern was the Government’s responsibility for rising gas and electricity prices – a consequence of its extreme green agenda and back-flips on policies like gas exploration.
In the face of these damning criticisms of the Government, the Liberals failed to offer any serious alternatives.
Matthew Guy did not address the surging cost-of-living pressures as a result of the Labor Government’s anti-coal and anti-gas agenda. To the contrary, Guy’s energy policy was in lockstep with that of the ALP.
His promise to vastly increase spending on public hospitals, when he had supported cuts to hospital funding when earlier in government, didn’t wash with the electorate.
In the absence of the Liberals having an economic development policy for the state, Andrews’ big-spending, questionable infrastructure resonated with voters, even though these policies will send the state deep into debt.
Further, the Liberals have largely supported the radical social agenda pushed by the Andrews Government, which has alienated many people of faith, schools and families. The Liberals’ deputy parliamentary leader, David Southwick, boasted how “the Victorian Liberals supported the Andrews Government in passing laws to outlaw Gay Conversion Therapy”.
The Liberals’ energy/climate and radical social engineering policies have deeply divided the party, already weakened with an ageing membership.
Is it little wonder that the Liberals barely dented the Andrews Government’s parliamentary majority?
If the new Liberal leadership compromises further on the radical secularist and renewable-energy agendas, the party will face an even lower first-preference vote in the future.
Other long-term factors are also playing out. First, ALP governments have continued the Kennett-era big spending on high-rise, high-density living in inner Melbourne, instead of regional Victoria. A survey of Melbourne’s population density by electorate shows that, as the population density of these electorates has soared, the vote has changed from ALP to the Greens.
Second, over recent decades, several government departments have enlarged their operations in major regional centres like Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. Increasingly these have become public-service cities, where Labor has consolidated a base.
Third, the environmental curriculum in schools is greatly influencing new voters, especially among the students and young professionals now concentrated in inner Melbourne.
Victoria is set for more big spending by the Andrews Government, more debt on future generations, an energy crisis and more radical social-engineering policies, particularly if the Greens and like-minded parties win the balance of power in the upper house.