Victoria's election: Confirms little appetite for lurch to the right

Victoria confirms little appetite for lurch to the right

What are the takeaway lessons from Victoria’s election? Where to begin?

Labor, under Premier Daniel Andrews, demolished the Liberals at the polling booths securing at least 55 of the 88 available seats. The Liberals will hold close to 20 – significantly fewer than the 37 it held going in.

It’s been variously described as a bloodbath, a catastrophe, a wipeout, a landslide.

A victory more thumping than even the most optimistic Labor supporters imagined.

Labor campaigned on services: providing schools and hospitals with the funding they need and continued investment in infrastructure. This appears to have resonated with voters.

The Liberals campaigned on law and order, keeping citizens safe, easing congestion and lowering the cost of living. This, it would seem, resonated with fewer voters.

Daniel Andrews said the opposition leader Matthew Guy and the Liberals had underestimated Labor.

In conceding defeat on Saturday night Matthew Guy himself urged his party to “stick together and stay united”.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said – conspicuously – nothing.

It’s a state election, not federal, therefore the extent to which the deposition of Malcolm Turnbull conspired against the opposition is unclear but it does loom large. The fact a number of Peter Dutton’s backers in the leadership challenge that ultimately unseated the PM were based in Victoria is relevant.

And certainly the Victorian result appears to have replicated the dramatic swing against the Liberals in the Wentworth by-election.

It seems the lurch to the right that some in the Liberal party are dogged to pursue does not translate into votes. Perhaps the appetite for extremism – in any direction – is sluggish and, perhaps, as has long been accepted, voters still congregate most heavily in the middle ground.

How, and whether, conservative MPs – at the state and federal level – respond to this is likely to play a role in the next general election. Dismissing it is unlikely to play out well with voters.

By contrast it seems there are votes in being consistent, productive and, yes, even compassionate. It has delivered Daniel Andrews at least another four years in office.

The Victorian Liberal party campaigned heavily, quite controversially, on the need to keep citizens safe – on law and order and policing and the targeting of certain ‘gangs’.  Yet it did not appear to reference or even consider family violence which is curious given the number of lives it has claimed in Victoria and nationally this year.

Earlier on Monday morning the Premier, Daniel Andrews, told Jon Faine that domestic violence is the number one law and order issue in the country.

He’s right. And it is heartening to consider that not only is there a leader in the country willing to say that, but it’s a leader who has just been given a thumping mandate.

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox