The Victorian Elections

So after more than a decade the Labor government has lost and a Liberal/National coalition will run the state.

I was sort of expecting it.  I don’t know why it was a shock.  There have been plenty of rumblings here in Victoria and all governments tend to get tired after ten years or so, and Baillieu did offer a viable alternative so many voters I think decided to give him a go.

I still have nightmares about the Kennett government.  Arrogant, and ruthless.  I had more emotionally at stake when it got into power.  I was a member of the ALP, but also I was a public servant.  And Kennett seemed to hate us and in fact I was one of the many that got retrenched by his government.  So when he lost in 1999 against all expectations I was ecstatic.

I think this government should be different from the Kennett one.  Kennett that was seen as an idiot in opposition was able to win and implement his radical agenda because the ALP government was in complete disarray (not dissimilar to what the NSW ALP Government is now).  The state lost its AAA credit rating and worse of all it was seen as a ‘basket case’ in the rest of Australia.  And if there is no biggest sin in Victoria, that as the ‘second state’ has a permanent sense of inferiority is to be laughed at by others, especially Sydney.

Things are different now.  The Victorian Labor government has its problems but it did run the state in a fairly competent manner.  As Robert Merkel wrote in Larvatus Prodeo:

Ted Baillieu convinced enough outer-suburbanites that he and the Coalition were a plausible alternative – mainly by promising to be Labor but with with extra infrastructure to be funded by “cutting government waste”. And ten years of accumulated grizzles about service delivery caught up with Labor.

Other observations about the result:

The result will be good for Julia Gillard. The talk of  ‘damage to the ALP brand’ is nonsense’

Listening to Radio National there was the inevitable comment of ‘damage to the ALP brand’ that will hurt Julia Gillard.   Interesting that no one seemed to talk about damage to the Coalition brand when all states turned to Labor during his prime ministership.  I for one  agrees with Peter Brent that the victory of a Labor Government may be actually good for Julia Gillard:

But overall this is actually a good result for Julia Gillard and a bad one for Tony Abbott. At the next federal election the two biggest states will have no unpopular ALP governments.

The real Reasons are mainly 11 years in power and an acceptable opposition. And those generic ones anticipated back in September here. Some things are meant to be and are beyond trying to explain. Electoral gravity.

Baillieu victory may stem tide of the Liberals to the right.

This factor was discussed by Leslie Cannold in an article titled: Vote 1 Baillieu to save small-l liberalism where she put forward the opinion that a rejection of the last of the Liberal progressives would mean that the conservatives will take over in the Party.

Victorians voters must now confront their own tactical conundrum. In particular, the quandary facing those who take a progressive line on issues such as abortion, physician-assisted dying, stem cell research, artistic censorship and multiculturalism.Such voters face a hard choice. They can vote for Ted Baillieu, who is progressive on all these issues, or, by not doing so, risk confining him and his small-l brand of liberalism to history’s dustbin…….

Who cares?  To quote a tweet from feminist cartoonist Judy Horacek, many of the progressive voters who share Baillieu’s stance on matters of individual freedom, equality, diversity and the secular state would “no more vote Liberal than fly”. Why should they care who leads the party, now or in the future, or whether liberal or conservative brands of Liberals are elected to Parliament?

Well, they should care for the simple reason that the stance of the Liberals determines the tone, tenor and parameters of debate on progressive issues. Where numbers are tight or a conscience vote will determine the outcome, the number of small-l Liberal votes in the chamber will determine whether progressive policy falters or thrives.

And I guess this is why non-Victorian commentators may think that this result may mean that an Abbott victory is around the corner.  If Victoria, one of the few states that actually had the Labor party increase its vote at the last Federal elections now has voted in a Liberal government it means that the tide has turned in the state?  But Baillieu is a moderate Liberal, very Victorian (the Baillieu Family is one of the most famous in Melbourne) .  That’s probably why Victorians voted for him and turned away from USA-Republican style federal libs headed by a right wing Abbott.

The Greens

I think the Greens thought that they could replicate their success that they got at a federal level.  But there are two factors here.  One was that the Liberals didn’t preference them.  I heard Brandt this morning on the radio saying that there are now Labor members in inner seats that are there because of Liberal preferences, but hang on?  Didn’t he win the seat of Melbourne because of Liberal preferences himself? The other factor that I think that the Greens didn’t take into account is that a number of voters (myself included) were very disappointed with Federal Labor because of issues such as refugees, something that is not an issue when it comes to state governments.

The outcome is that I think Baillieu will be premier for at least eight years.   For the first four years they will be able to blame ‘the Labor legacy’ for things going wrong and will probably increase their majority next election.  I guess it will be good for the Liberals to be blamed for a change.

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1 Comment

Filed under Politics and Current Affairs

One response to “The Victorian Elections

  1. Savvas Tzionis

    The Greens are also a big issue party. State politics is more about local issues.

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