Sunday, November 26, 2006

Labor retains power in Victoria

The State Labor Government was yesterday returned to office in Victoria. The Liberal Nationals will hold about 32 seats in the new parliament while Labor will hold about 55. There are a few seats in doubts but the Liberal-Nationals seem likely to pick up between 3-7 seats with a two-party preferred swing to them of about 2%. The Liberal primary vote fell by half a point. Swings of 7-10% that the Liberals needed in the eastern metropolitan areas of Melbourne did not eventuate – the swings there were only 2-3%.

There is no gloss one can put on it from the viewpoint of the Liberals – it is a comprehensive defeat which, as numerous commentators pointed out, leaves them out of comfortable striking distance at Labor at the next election in 2010.

I thought Ted Baillieu put up a reasonable campaign given limited campaign funding – Labor had more to spend. But going into the campaign few Victorians knew of him. There isn’t that much community interest in state politics and new opposition leaders – Baillieu had only been opposition leader for 6 months - find it difficult to be visible.

Some of the Liberal campaign promises - the new dam, the desalination plant and the extension to the rail network - looked like policy-making on the run. There are good policy analysts on the Liberal team - Shadow Treasurer Robert Clark is one – but the Liberal campaign seemed mainly like a one-man show based on Ted. The Age showed its biases throughout the campaign – on the final Friday it showed front page a photo of Bracks eating with his family and Baillieu sitting alone in a cheap looking motel room (I cannot locate these pics). The postings in Age-sponsored blogs about Baillieu’s wealth reflected foolish preoccupation in the media generally – most of the rest of the media can spell better than Jonathon Green!

The Greens didn't make the expected big slash. They didn't either, in Victoria, at the previous Federal election. The Nationals on the other hand did well - gaining Mildura.

Barring a momentous scandal Labor should enjoy at least another 2 terms in office. The ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Liberal Party is a solidly Labor-voting state.


chrisl said...

State politics is largely about services. So long as services seem to be delivered effectively and they don't break the bank,labour will hold on to power for as long as it wants.

chrisl said...

Harry, What is your take on the role of a local member. There was a lot of talk last night about candidates being very good local members because of their ability to doorknock/upgrade facilities in their area.When they get elected they have to deal with statewide issues such as health/resources which they must have trouble dealing with. Thus we have good local members without any idea on statewide issues.

hc said...

Chrisl, If you consider the outcome for people like Russell Savage on the basis of the Nowingi toxic waste dump issue things become clear. Locals don't want the dump but the state clearly needs one somewhere. Savage seems to have been a good local member for Mildura but was rejected because he was seen as too soft on the waste issue.

The incentives are to think locally and to locally pork-barrel. You can see that outcomes might be suboptimal if the balance of power is close enough. Of course Steve Bracks still has a huge margin so maybe they will stick with the waste dump disposal decision.

chrisl said...

And whatever the opposite of pork-barrel is ,occurs in safe seats,especially the most disadvantaged.Absentee local members,no money , no promises. I wonder if the moonee ponds drain would be turned back into a creek if it were in a marginal seat.

Mike said...

What I found interesting about the election result was the trend in aggregate primary votes.

The last data that I saw on election night had very little change in primary votes for Greens, Nats and Others.

Labor primaries dropped by around 4%, and Liberal dropped by around 1%.

Family First picked up most of the gain - around 5%.

I haven't had a chance to look up figures since the night, but if those figures didn't change much, then it makes you wonder what would have happened if it were not for FF.

Would there have been little or no change in primaries across the board? Or would the 5% boost to Family First have channeled directly to Liberal?

hc said...

Mike, I think most FF preferences went to Liberals so I doubt it accounted for much of the outcome.

Mike said...


I'd be inclined to agree, although I do wonder how many Labor votes would be captured by a religion/family based party.

Chances are the numbers are just showing a swing from Labor to Liberal, and also the fact that there are some who vote FF and then just preference Liberal.

But I'd still be keen to see how many Labor folk saw FF as an appealing first choice. Maybe I'll do some scratching around for numbers in different electorates...