CURRENT STATE OF PLAY
|SEATS IN DOUBT||7|
Total: 88 seats; 45 seats to win majority Government
Source: ABC News
Despite predictions from pundits and much of the media that it would be a tight electoral race, potentially resulting in minority government, Labor has weathered the Victorian election storm and will stay in office.
Indeed, Daniel Andrews has secured a third consecutive election win as the leader of the Victorian Labor Party in what has been an election for the history books. This is the first time that any political party in Victoria has secured three terms under the four-year electoral cycle, guaranteeing Mr Andrew’s a statue in Treasury Place alongside other Victorian premiers that once dominated politically by serving over 3,000 days in their respective eras.
This state election saw a record number of candidates, tallying at 739, an unprecedented number of early votes with 2.2 million of the 4.4 million votes submitted before election day, and Gen Z and Millennials making up more than 36 per cent of Victorian voters. Significantly, the pre-poll count has risen by 45 per cent since the 2018 election, representing a continuing trend in the way Victorians prefer to vote, which is to vote early during pre-poll.
The rise of Millennials as a dominant voting bloc is also a topic on political strategists' minds. The 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that Millennials are the most trusting generation, while Gen Z are the least trusting, and it remains to be seen if that holds true in this election.
With home ownership out of reach for many Millennials and who have experienced the global financial crisis, it’s clear that conservative fiscal policies fail to resonate with this generation, posing a significant challenge for both the Liberals and Nationals. Parties like the Greens, who have focussed on rent relief as a key cost of living policy, seem to have picked up votes from this generation.
Indeed, this state election confirms what we saw in the federal election – the political landscape is continuing to change.
The Greens were also winners in this election, retaining their seats of Brunswick, Melbourne, and Prahran, and turning Richmond green. While it appears that Labor has retained the seats of Footscray, Pascoe Vale, and Northcote, the Greens managed to secure a swing towards them in the inner-city seats. Ellen Sandell MP, the State MP for Melbourne and Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens on the ABC broadcast declared “the old two-party system is dying”, pointing to the rise of crossbench MPs in the State and Federal parliaments in 2022.
Prior to the election, the Liberals were optimistic that they could pick up the necessary 18 seats required to form a majority government in Victoria. The results that unfolded on Saturday paint a much grimmer picture for the party. While the party managed to pick up the seat of Nepean with a high profile candidate, they lost the seats of Bayswater and Glen Waverley, with predictions showing that the party’s primary vote may plummet below 30 per cent – a result that hasn’t been seen since the 1950s.
This is a devastating blow for Matt Guy who also led the party to an election loss in 2018. Mr. Guy stepped down as leader over the weekend, giving the Liberal party room to consider a new leadership team. However, the Liberals coalition partner, the Nationals, gained seats with the party securing wins in Shepparton, Morwell, and Mildura. These results confirmed that the Coalition has a Liberal Party problem in being able to win and hold seats, particularly in Melbourne.
Undoubtably, the results have sounded the alarm bells for the Coalition in New South Wales, as they prepare for their State election in March 2023.
Interestingly, the Climate 100-backed Teal Independents failed to replicate their Federal Election success on Saturday, with no new independent wins secured at this time.
Now, Premier Andrew and his team are getting back to business- delivering their policy priorities, while managing the ballooning state debt levels, as well as the aftermath of the Victorian floods.
KEY LABOR POLICIES
- Suburban Rail Loop
The Suburban Rail Loop is the biggest project in Victoria’s history. The project will loop every major train service from the Frankston line to the Werribee Line via Melbourne airport through a 90km rail line.
- Metro Tunnel
The Metro Tunnel is intended to reduce travel times and increase access to trains by running the Cranbourne. Pakenham and Sunbury lines through a new tunnel – meaning more trains can run often. The tunnelling has been completed, with construction underway on 5 new stations. The Metro Tunnel will open in 2025
- State Electricity Commission
By reviving the SEC, Labor plans to bring back government ownership of energy, linking it to cheaper power bills and lower emissions. Under the policy, the government will hold controlling interest in each of the new renewable energy projects. The government will make an initial investment of $1 billion toward delivering 4.5 gigawatts of power.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
With no change in government, there will be continued certainty of policy in Victoria for the next four years. Further, Andrews’ victory further strengthens his power within the Australian Labor Party and secures a clear mandate for him to pursue further policy reforms, with law and order being floated as a potential policy area of focus. As it stands in Australia, Labor is in Government in all state and federal jurisdictions, except for Tasmania and New South Wales, with New South Wales gearing up for an election in March 2023.
While the Labor Government remains in power in Victoria, with the departure of five ministers from Premier Andrews’ cabinet, we can expect a new cohort of policy makers in Victoria, with some rising from the backbenches. As such, it’s more important than ever to build relationships with new advisers and Ministers, as well as local MPs.
You can expect a list of new cabinet ministers within the next week. In the Liberal’s camp, readers can expect a party room meeting to be called to decide on the new leadership team, following Matt Guy announcing he will be stepping down from the top spot. With this, will come a new Shadow Cabinet.
The new cohort of Labor policymakers, combined with an increasing trend of Australians voting early means that early engagement is imperative. To quote the often-used political maxim, “you can’t fatten the pig on market day” - meaning government engagement early in the term is vital.
Finally, in his victory speech, Premier Daniel Andrews said “community-based campaigning works”. In brief, demonstrating the impact of key issues and policies on the electorate, and advocating at both a ministerial and electorate office level is key to meaningful engagement with policy makers.