Victorian election 2014 – Democracy or bust!

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By Daniel Wilson

 

All is fair in love and war, and politics is both. Some poor sod is about to get dumped and be discarded into the annals of history that few will care to read up on.

Victorian voters will rush to the polls on November 29 in a State Election that will likely see a change in government. Victorians are so eager that almost a million are expected to vote early.

If predictions come true, it would mean Denis Napthine is currently leading a one-term government, something that hasn’t happened in Victoria since the 1950s.

A Morgan Poll published last month saw Labor in front, attracting 54% of voters on a two party preferred basis, up 5.6% since the 2010 Victorian Election, the Liberal-National Coalition has just 46%, down 5.6%.

Despite Labor leading in the polls, Denis Napthine is the preferred Premier with 51% versus Labor leader Daniel Andrews with 49%.

Why this contradiction? Many voters don’t know who Daniel Andrews is. According to a straw poll conducted by Swinburne University journalism students, barely one-third were able to name the would-be Premier. The Greens leader in Victoria Greg Barber is virtually unknown with less than one in five Greens’ voters able
to identify him.

While the Greens are polling well with 18% of the primary vote, up 6.8%, Roy Morgan Research’s Executive Chairman Gary Morgan warned “The Greens vote in Victoria is very high and unlikely to be maintained at the Victorian Election – the recent New Zealand Election once again showed Greens support at the Election coming in lower than every pollster had predicted”.

As the election draws closer, voters will no doubt become more familiar with the names and faces of those they hope to blame for all their problems.

Local candidates:

The beach end of St Kilda lands in the electorate of Albert Park. This will be a tight race between Labor MP Martin Foley, Liberal candidate Sharon Eeles, and Greens candidate David Collis.

This affluent part of Melbourne is no working-class stronghold and Martin Foley’s story of a student-activist-cum-Labor-member may not appeal to Liberal voters who recently moved into their plush million dollar apartments.

Thankfully the Greens can still count on the inner-city-hipster vote in the Albert Park electorate, making this an exciting race to watch. Pundits predict it will come down to preferences.

At the other end, St Kilda straddles two electorates: Prahran and Caulfield. Caulfield is a safe Liberal seat where Liberal MP David Southwick is predicted to win. Labor candidate Josh Burns is the former Chief of Staff for Federal Labor MP for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby. Greens candidate Tim Baxter will try and give both a run for their money.

Prahran on the other hand is another exciting race to watch. Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown currently holds the seat. Penny Wong last month endorsed the Labor candidate Niel Pharaoh, who would be the first openly gay member of the Victorian Parliament if he wins.

The LGBTI vote in this electorate is so important that the Greens are advertising on Grindr. However their candidate Sam Hibbins will have some ground to make up on the other two candidates if he wants to take the seat.

Cartoon by DGA

Cartoon by DGA

Micro-parties

If last years Federal Election is a predictor, a surge of micro parties is set to have an impact in the Victorian election, particularly on the upper house. A lack of trust and affection for the major parties is driving voters into the arms of both progressive and conservative micro parties.

And there are many arms ready to greet disaffected voters: Country Alliance, Palmer United, the Sex Party, the Democratic Labor Party, the Shooters and Fishers, Motoring Enthusiasts, Animal Justice, Voluntary Euthanasia, Rise Up, the Cyclists Party, No East West Link and the Basics Rock ‘N’ Roll Party – just to name the first dozen.

These parties cover a very broad spectrum of political views, from Rise Up, who would like to ban abortions, to the Sex Party, who would like to legalise marijuana Colorado style. Anyone of these could very well hold the balance of power after the election.

Election issue – unemployment:

Shhh, be quiet, there is a giant elephant in the room. The big concern that no one wants to talk about is that Victorians are out of a job.

As manufacturing jobs have moved to anywhere-but-here, Victoria has become the State with the highest unemployment rate, second only to long-reigning champion Tasmania.

According to Roy Morgan Research, Victorian real unemployment is 9.1% and under-employment is 10.3%. This means the total Victorian unemployment & under-employment is 19.4%.

Solutions are simply absent. As Melbourne struggles to find its place in the global economy, and Geelong is tipped to go the way of Detroit, the answers seem beyond the imagination of those we will ultimately blame for the State’s economic failure.

Election issue – public transport:

When the Liberals took power in 2010 they scrapped the Labor plan ‘Melbourne Metro’ and replaced it with ‘Rail Link’. Each party proclaims that only their plan will fix Melbourne’s public transport problems, while the other is an affront to reason.

There are differences between the two. Labor’s plan will see new subway stations in the hospital, health and university precincts of Melbourne’s inner north. The Liberals plan will see subway stations at St Kilda Road and the new high-rise precinct Montegue located south of Docklands.

While Labor is promising to abolish Zone 1 + 2 fares as well as offering 24 hour public transport on the weekend, the Liberals are enticing voters with a dedicated rail link to the airport.

 

Election issue – traffic congestion:

According to the Liberals, the solution has been found, the contracts are signed, and work is about to commence on the “congestion busting” East West Link.

Labor is against it, arguing the government hasn’t made the case for this project. “Labor cannot support any project where vital information has been kept out of the public domain and hidden from scrutiny.” The careful wording of this opposition seems to conveniently leave the door open to discovering the case for this project once in government.

Both parties want to address congestion by removing level crossings. While the Liberals are pledging 40 level crossings removed, Labor is offering 50.

Election issue – health:

Traditionally Labor holds favour when it comes to health, and this election is no different. Victorians have seen the pay dispute with paramedics drag on for what feels like forever.

By law emergency workers are not allowed to strike, and so the course of action has been to graffiti their ambulances with their grievances.

Labor is calling on Napthine to end his war on paramedics, and get the ambulance system working again. As is stands, Labor will probably end up doing it for him.

PS: Grand Final public holiday

One last thing may tip you into voting for or against Labor. Daniel Andrews is committed to making Grand Final Day Eve a public holiday.

 

 

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