Like I wrote yesterday, the media is in two camps. If you read the reporting on the leaders’ debate, depending which side you are on, journos reporting can be seen to have been at pains to pick pieces to support what they wanted to write.
The Herald Sun, unsurprisingly gives the feeling Matthew Guy scored a tactical win although only 34% members of the audience thought he had won. The Age on the other side picked up excerpts which support Daniel Andrews who managed to win 38% of the votes.
One can only hope the 28% undecided and all those who have not yet voted do not read either of them.
It is becoming more and more difficult to find uncontaminated reporting of the news and real issues these days. I interviewed Matthew Guy back on August 29 where we both agreed that the single biggest issue facing Victorians was (and would for election) the cost-of-living pressures.
The question: If you win government in November, what steps will you take in the first 100 days to help the families?
“Cost of living is hard for a state government, who don’t really control the levers over taxation. But we will have a number of policies that will come out in the next 100 days before the election that will directly address state government charges on families” Matthew Guy told Bharat Times.
“The second thing I’d say when state governments manage money badly and it puts pressure on interest rates because we’re borrowing more money. More state government seeking more borrowings in the market, ups interest rates, so we need to manage money well, so that we don’t put upward pressure on interest rates, because that’s having a huge problem in Victoria blowing up cost by 28 billion. But we will have some very significant announcements in relation to government charges on families to reduce the cost of living directly from state government on families”, Mr Guy added.
You can listen to the excerpt here.
Clearly, when Matthew Guy honestly conceded there isn’t much the state governments could do on cost-of-living pressures, one could see a complete absence of spin which is pretty unusual.
There have been a lot of announcements including offering a little relief in the area of cost-of-living pressures including $2 public transport, free lunches in schools (by Coalition), a lot of spending on hospitals both new and upgrades (by both sides) and bringing back the SEC and more spending on languages other than English be it in the form of storytime or the teaching of Punjabi and Hindi in schools, Sick Pay Guarantee, $250 Energy Saving Bonus and its extension by the government.
Premier Andrews has committed to reviving the State Electricity Commission and which it claims will create 59,000 clean-energy jobs which will be by the government. That seems to be a clever policy which not only promises more permanent, public-sector jobs but also suggest cheaper electricity rates in the long run, on an ongoing basis.
It should deliver votes from the older generation who lament losing the public sector grid.
There is also a plethora of announcements made in almost all areas by both sides, particularly in the areas of public transport and infrastructure and health.
I am not sure many measures are or can be (as Matthew Guy candidly admitted) directed at alleviating the immediate, day-to-day cost-of-living pressures.
That leaves the voters to measure the policies announced by both sides – in a longer span and thus – measure not only what is being promised but also what has been delivered.
That to the discerning voter will tilt it in the government’s favour albeit only slightly.
The reason is – if one were to look at the Coalition’s term in office – the wretched East West Link which cost the state more than $1.2 billion will not the only bad memory in voter’s minds. There are many controversial multimillion dollar planning decisions of that time allegedly favouring Coalition donors the Labor sympathisers throw in the face to counter the IBAC investigations against the government’s decisions on paltry grants worth a pittance compared to those.
Remember federal Coalition’s sports (rorts) grants program worth almost $100 million dollars, where the recipients were allegedly ‘cherrypicked’?
For reasons known to them, the Coalition minders have not honed in the pandemic’s handling by the government and the hotel quarantine debacle. They seem to be focused on making a villain out of Daniel Andrews instead. It may be cutting through, but only just. Those tactics may be part of the explanation why some women voters may be moving away from the Premier.
But Daniel Andrews is no walk over. With his wife Catherine Andrews always by his side, it would be foolhardy to think that women from the migrant communities will desert the Premier in droves.
Both sides knew their fight to be ‘close’ in this election.
Daniel Andrews, who many thought will be easily returned on November 26 told me this on September 19 when I put that to him.
“We don’t take anything for granted…A handful of votes in a handful of seats determines who wins. And there’s a lot at stake. We’ve achieved so much everything from rebuilding our hospital system with more work that has to be done rebuilding our schools, again, with more work that has to be done removing level crossings upgrading road and rail. Fixing TAFE, which was completely decimated by the previous government, making it free setting it up for the future that free Kinder I spoke about before. It’s a long, long list, there’s so much more and where we are. We’re well placed coming out of COVID. But we need a positive optimistic investment agenda, doing things building things. We don’t need cutbacks, we don’t need closures. We don’t need this kind of small government attitude. When we need big bold plans for the future. That’s how we’ll turn our challengers into really important opportunities. So we don’t take anything for granted. Everything’s on the ballot. It’ll be close, no matter what the polls say. And no matter what the pundits say. It will be close”.
You can listen to the exchange here.
No doubt the election will be closer than ‘a one-horse race’ as predicted by some extremely complacent Labor sympathiser in the early stages of the campaign.
Until Sunday morning, when we will know who will govern us for the next four years, it will be interesting to see what else political strategists on both sides pull from under their hats.
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