If Gods do not intervene at the last minutes, there will be two winners on Sunday morning – Daniel Andrews returning as the premier of Victoria with his wings heavily clipped and Matthew Guy who will have positioned his party to win power in 2026. Labor is set to return, much thinner in size and majority.
Although RedBridge Group polling predicts Labor winning only 43 seats as the most likely scenario on November 26, I believe Labor should be able to manage 45, to be able govern in its own right.
There is no doubt support for Labor has moved away but it may not be going directly to the Liberals. They know how important it is to stop the tide away from Labor going to teal independents.
Speaking exclusively to Bharat Times 100 days out from the election, the Opposition leader Matthew Guy was in no doubt of that challenge.
When I asked him if he feared the independents like the federal election may spoil the anti-incumbency gains, Matthew Guy said:
“We have to spend the next 100 days to convince people if they want to change the way the state is going, they need to vote Liberal, because if they vote for an independent, they’re going to get the government returned, and you’ll have more of the same… you have to vote Liberal to change the government, otherwise nothing will change. Labour will get back with the support of independence.”
You can listen to that excerpt here.
There is much anticipation about three seats in Melbourne’s West – Werribee, Point Cook and Melton. Having known the electorate for some time, I would not worry too much about Point Cook and even Werribee (which should squeeze through) but Melton is likely to fall to an independent, Dr Ian Brichall.
But that will not be a gain for the Liberals.
Some commentators predict Labor losing up to 25 seats. They even include the Footscray district.
Really? Katie Hall won the seat in 2018 with 78.11% to Liberals 21.89%.
For such a collapse of the primary vote, the question would be – what has the government done so toxic?
IBAC investigations are a very small factor I believe and an inconsequential trigger for such a scenario.
If the handling of pandemic by the Premier, for which Victoria and the Daniel Andrews have been labelled by some commentators as ‘world’s longest lockdown state’ and ‘Dictator Dan’, could trigger such a calamity for the Labor, the Liberal strategists would have picked that up and designed their campaign accordingly.
Looking at the campaign advertising, both sides have chosen to paint the Premier faces as ‘villain’. It has had some effect but not significant enough.
‘It is bread and butter issues that matter’, a friend of mine used to say whenever we discussed elections in Australia, state or federal. Thus, it is not surprising cost-of-living pressures are the most important issue in this election.
With the ‘Big Build’ programs in place, Victoria’s unemployment rate is 3.1% well below Australia’s 3.4%. That is a factor which favours the government when selling its future infrastructure plans.
Most Victorians have work but feel the inflation is creeping in, making their earned dollar to fall short, adding to cost of living. They, in the end will be driven to someone offering some realistic, deliverable, and cost-effective solutions to help ease the pain.
Both Labor and Liberals will lose some seats, Labor more than the Liberals, but not as many to lose government, thus will return.
The Greens will make some gains in their upper house votes and not so much in the lower house as being tipped by some Greens-friendly commentators. Their gains will be offset by their preferences to Labor which will be a factor for Labor to return, as Matthew Guy told Bharat Times.
The rise of social media has provided some easy tools for tech savvy ambitious candidates to put their hand up. In some districts, there are several of them. With Victoria having preferential voting system and Group Voting Tickets, the flow of preferences makes it even more complicated to predict the outcome.
Now to those who may be perplexed why I put Matthew Guy as the winner as well. If Liberals pick up 35 plus seats, Matthew Guy should be given his due credit. He will have, in that case, put his party in the winning position come November 2026.
Voters in Australia (including Victoria) tend to move away from the incumbent governments in slow, steady steps. With Liberal and Nationals (27) being 18 seats behind Labor (55), if the voters keep their usual consistency, it will be Election 2026, that the Coalition will be in the box seat to win and voters saying goodbye to Labor’s stranglehold on power.
But, a day in politics is a long time. With two days to go, anything is possible.