Politics

#VicVotes Wrap-up

4 March 2019

Saturday 24 November of last year saw Victorians head to the polls to vote in the state election. What was initially forecast to be a close Labor victory resulted in a rare political landslide, with Daniel Andrews regaining the premiership with apparent ease.

The Labor Party gained eight lower house seats, taking their majority to 55 out of a total 88 seats; the Liberal-National Coalition lost 11 seats to shrink to 27. The Greens picked up a single seat, taking their total to three. The final three seats were won by independent candidates.

Labor’s victory came on the back of a strong push towards infrastructure, launching proposals for an airport rail link and outer suburbs rail link, along with the ongoing construction of the Metro Tunnel in the CBD.

“[The Labor Party] were not only dealing with an opposition that seemed determined to focus on niche culture-wars-type issues (e.g. Safe Schools), but voters could see the results of what the government had been doing in terms of upgrading infrastructure that would benefit a huge number of people,” said Conor Clements, a member of the Australian Labor Party.

While the Victorian Labor Party is widely considered one of the most left-leaning branches in the country, more socially progressive students may be disappointed by the poor returns of the Greens. Some pundits saw the Greens winning as many as five seats, though this did not eventuate: the party lost the seat of Northcote to Labor, won in Brunswick, and fell just short in Prahran. If the party had attained the five seats they were targeting, they may well have had a better chance of chasing their key policies, including the declaration of the Great Forest National Park.

“It is disappointing that [the Greens] missed out on the opportunity to form minority government with Labor and force more progressive policy positions, but we made gains in most seats we heavily contest and we will certainly be back in greater numbers in the future,” said Callum Simpson, a member of the Moreland branch of the Greens.

Despite these results, it is important to look at the impact that this election is likely to have on students. Labor returning to power will see the improvement of key public transport infrastructure that will likely benefit many at the University of Melbourne. The continuing construction of the
CBD subway will allow students to head straight to Grattan Street from Melbourne Central or Flinders Street stations. In addition, the airport rail link will give students living north of Melbourne better access to the campus, with Sunshine set to receive a new transport hub.

For the Liberal Party, meanwhile, this election was nothing short of a disaster. The seeming inability of voters to distinguish the state branch from the failings of the federal government saw
a loss that will be hard to overcome in just one election. Even formerly safe seats such as Hawthorn were lost.

“The disappointing performance of the Liberal Party at the state election can be attributed primarily to their inability to coherently and effectively translate their message,” said Melbourne University Liberal Club representative, Henry Kerr.

It is also worth noting that some controversy occurred in the Upper House, where preference allocations directed by Glenn Druery, working for Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, saw some seats won by candidates by miniscule primary vote percentages. This was due to Victoria’s preferencing legislation, which has been outlawed in most other states in Australia.

It will be a little while before students start to feel the impact of last year’s state election. The effect of policy on students is only set to increase, however, with the federal election all but confirmed for May.


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