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Floods of Challenges: The Victorian Election Saga of Australia’s Transition from Neoliberalism and Guided Democracy

By Denis Bright

Victorians rejected the instability of minority government in favour of a third term for Labor’s Premier Daniel Andrews. He joins the ranks of just three Victorian Labor premiers who have achieved three consecutive election victories.

This Labor Government will have a comfortable majority in the Legislative Assembly with a likely 54 seats. Only the seat of Pakenham is still in the doubtful category with the Liberal Party just five votes ahead on preference estimates.

The Greens will have a stronger rhetorical voice in both houses of parliament. There will be a two additional Green Legislative Councillors. Under Victoria’s proportional voting system, the Andrew’s government has always lacked a majority in the upper house and will have to look beyond the Greens (3) to pass legislation perhaps with the support of pragmatic or progressive councillors from the Legalise Cannabis Party (2) or Democratic Labor (1).

The ABC News site has a full analysis of the swings and round-abouts from the Victorian elections including the results in the La Trobe Valley electorate of Morwell.

With a populist conservative campaign, the National Party (9) won three additional seats mainly at the expense of regional Independents. The National Party will take the Labor seat of Morwell in the La Trobe Valley on a primary vote of just 23.5 per cent with the support of preferences from the Liberals, One Nation (6 per cent) and a mix of local independents and far-right minor parties.

 

Photo from the ABC

 

Despite the weakness of the Labor Party’s vote outside the Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo Triangle, one of the strengths of the Labor Party in Victoria is its formal and accountable policy committee structure covering fourteen policy chapters. Membership of these policy committees is decided by State Conference.

This committee structure has the capacity to zoom in on the policy concerns of voters between state elections. It can bring policy debates to branch networks particularly if it is supported by grassroots policy associations. This is a big change from the negative news about branch stacking which affects both sides of Australian politics including the NSW Liberal Party as noted by Anne Davies in The Guardian (23 January 2022).

Underlying the problem of branch stacking is the vacuous nature of political activity at the grass roots level. Victoria Labor’s Committee system could liven up grassroots politics through the formation of policy associations to extend the outreach of formal committee networks.

In contrast, the National Party offers a return to old time populism as emphasized by Nationals for Regional Victoria:

I’m a Traralgon boy, born and bred. I’m a plumber, run my own small business and I have had a lifelong involvement in the Traralgon Football Netball Club.

One thing I’m not, is a career politician. I come to this role as a genuine community candidate and I’m running because we need a strong voice in State Parliament to stand up for the Latrobe Valley.

​I’ve been a plumber for 35 years, running the business that my dad and mum set up myself for the past 20. I come from a strong family that values and rewards hard work and enterprise.

​Running my own small business means I know what it takes to create jobs in our community and the value of young people learning a trade. Life is tough for tradies and all businesses currently, with shortages of workers, endless government red tape and a lack of understanding of our region by decision makers in Spring Street.

Ali Cupper was prepared to co-operate with the Andrews Government to bring the Mildura Hospital back into public ownership after its privatization by the Kennett Liberal Government in 1992. The change back to publicly operated hospital was an quite amicable as the contracts for Ramsay Health’s operations was ready for renewal after twenty years. Ali Cupper just disagreed with Victoria Health’s new master plan for the hospital.

In that macro-theme of Floods of Challenges in Australian politics at all levels, progressive leaders can and should take up issues which appear to be insurmountable. Members of the broad Labor movement would surely welcome opportunities for involvement in policy formation even if their participation is through policy associations rather than formal committee structures.

The street art of Fintan Magee and others should encourage political elites to anticipate the need for greater community involvement in the fine tuning of grand plans.

Surely, the transition from guided democracy and political elitism is a plus for Australia’s slow transition from neoliberalism and demands for blind loyalty within the branch structures of mainstream political networks which raise money for those mindless political jingles at election time.

 

Image: The Pillars Art Gallery

 

Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.

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26 comments

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  1. Indigo

    Why do Australians need those upper houses of parliament?

    Surely a parliamentary committee system could review all legislation.

    Some good points are not so obvious from the initial election feeds.

    Thanks Denis for your research in preparing this article.

  2. Noreen

    The Victorian election produced a watershed in contemporary politics. Victorian Labor was once unelectable. It is now the star player in Australian Labor politics.

  3. Leila

    Those election jingles turn everyone off mainstream politics and contribute to the rise of those fringe groups that can influence outcomes through preferences.

  4. Chris

    The Victorian election result is a real achievement.

  5. Stella

    Thanks for an interesting article Denis.

  6. Sinn Fein

    Progressive public policy will not be advanced by new jingles to impose a new generation of elites: Mainstream politicical parties should become more daring with their communications on our behalf. Grassroots Australians need real change fir the better.

  7. Pat

    Keep up your research on public issues Denis

  8. rubio@central coast

    The Victorian campaign is a great precedent for the NSW Elections on 23 March 2023-Labor has been in Opposition since 2011-time for a rebut here

  9. Indigo

    Let’s hope that voters in NSW are looking for a new direction with Chris Minns and Labor’s team. Labor must move out of that conventional games people play approach to politics by offering a responsible paradigm change as with Gough’s It’s Time Campaign Meanwhile enjoy the lyrics from Inner Circle live from Woodstock in 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT2KiW4et_M

  10. rubio@central coast

    Weather looks good on the Central Coast tomorrow morning, Indigo before it gets breezy later. It might be cloudy but what happened to that black future that was to follow the election of Albo?

  11. wam

    ‘The National Party will take the Labor seat of Morwell in the La Trobe Valley on a primary vote of just 23.5 per cent’
    Disingenuous, Denis?
    Labor 31.5, the loonies 4 and the libs 15.
    So 38.5 vs 35.5
    The plan of the loonies is deliberate and cunning. All it needs is for them to finish ahead of the libs who may mouth anti-greens but mean labor last. So allude or lie about floods(good heading?) to take votes from labor and they win on libs preferences.
    ps
    I am waiting for the perennial more people vote loonies than nats…. furphy.
    PPS
    the electoral commission around aust have colluded to prevent Aust citizens from understanding the results by hiding the distribution process,
    I had no success with the NTEC. Perhaps a vic might do better with the VEC?

  12. rubio@central coast

    I like wam’s comments on the loonies in Morwell.

    The National Party needed the far-right to defeat progressive independents and Labor candidates in regional Victoria. The whole point of this article is to improve Labor’s outreach through the formation of policy associations to extend the progressive elements of Labor’s agendas.

    This new outreach is very relevant to the NSW elections on 23 March 2023 with Labor currently ahead in opinion polls.

    Some regional voters are simply attracted to the exotic names claimed by far right parties which exist largely on the paperwork needed to form a political party with five hundred signatories.

    The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Elections in the federal parliament needs to look at the threats to our democracy from far-right parties which appear on ballot papers and attract a share of public funding from taxpayers for their operations and campaign expenditures.

    Do they really exist in our communities?

    In the federal seat of Robertson on the Central Coast in 2022, Labor finally defeated the LNP against a flow of preferences to the LNP from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP), One Nation, the Anti Vaccers Party as the Informed Medical Options Party and the so-called Federation Party.

    Why should the UAP be able to spend $70 million on an advertising campaign which is rewarded by public funding and tax write-offs to the big corporate donors of the UAP.

    The UAP ceased to exist in the early 1940s with the formation of the Liberal Party. The UAP brand lapsed and was taken up again for opportunistic reasons.

    The UAP has little in common with Joe Lyons as PM in the 1930s or Billy Hughes in the Great War era. Billy Hughes actually formed the Nationalist Party when he defected from Labor over the issue of conscription of Australians for the war in Europe. The UAP brand name came much later.

    Something must be done about far-riight minor parties which are eroding democratic values.

    Hopefully, such concerns will be taken up by the federal and state anti-corruption commissions as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee in Canberra.

  13. Phil Pryor

    Rubio is right to expose right wing rubbish heaps like the Fat Brown Squirt Palmer. (good name for a lane) Menzies cobbled up a Liberal (hah) party out of scraps and droppings, many fascist, halfnazi, tory and reactionary. Conservative greed, stupidity, ignorance, self focus and egofixation have taken over that, with a domed dunce in charge now to follow the Big Bowel Morrison (gag, chuck, heave) Fantasy, dogma, fixations, utterances, assertions, outright lies, have replaced the age old search for truth, meaning, honesty, fact, logic, decency, improvement. Some people rejoice in animalia apparently, like rolling in excrement. B Joyce, the insolent inserter and model for drunken raving and rollicking is such a fun chap…

  14. Indigo

    NSW Labor can do better with management of the LNP’s NSW Generations Fund. In the context of the Victorian result, NSW Labor can expand its traction in preparation for the state election.

    Ironically, in a NSW Liberal Party Government is still too dependent on government revenue allocations to both the Debt Retirement Fund and the Community Services Fund which are both covered in the latest Annual Report of the Generations Fund.

    With cooperation from Albo’s Government in Canberra and strict security protocols in place, both the Future Fund and the various state investment funds can be opened up to corporate investment from within Australia and especially from overseas sources.

    At both state and federal levels, LNP leaders have turned a blind eye to systematic tax avoidance particularly by multinational companies with links to foreign tax havens and/or canny accounting.

    Firms like Cubic Transportation Systems are on the ATO’s no tax list and boast of their ties with the Perrottet Government with media statements from the company’s head office in San Diego
    (https://www.cubic.com/news-events/news/cubic-and-transport-new-south-wales-extend-contactless-payment-sydneys-bus-fleet).

    Until the federal anti-corruption commission gets going, investigative reporting particularly at The Guardian and the ABC can cover such NSW issues in critical detail. Just raising the issue with AIM Network does bring this discussion into the public domain to justify more thorough investigations.

    It is the Labor Party at both state and federal levels which can provide socially just alternatives to debt and deficit.

    Life can be very breezy under Albanese from Grayndler and Chris Minns from Kogarah-both southside champions for responsible change.

  15. rubio@central coast

    I agree Indigo.

    Political parties including Labor must work up inspirational forms of communication to improve their appeal and primary votes percentages.

    Winning government through Green preferences is not a good look. The Greens would relish in the instability of a minority Labor Government.

    This is a real chance for Chris Minn’s team to develop a new style of political communication in NSW.

    Sportsbet was spot on predicting the Victorian election. In NSW, Labor was favourite when the last wagers were published but they are a bit out of date now.

    As a political leader from Kogarah on Sydney’s southside, Chris Minns might well consolidate the gains made by the former Opposition leader, Michael Daley from Maroubra electorate in 2019.

    At stake are a big swathe of seats in Sydney’s south and west, along the Newcastle-Illawarra corridor and those marginal regional seats. Many of these seats are currently held by Labor but there are some gaps like Penrith and East Hills which are easily picked up on the 2019 ABC graphics (https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/nsw/2019/results?filter=all&sort=az).

    Chris Minns has the right credentials and background to generate quite a landslide to Labor in NSW.

    As Indigo tells us, a credible sustainable economic policy is so important. The NSW Generations Fund is an opportunity for pre-election pork-barrelling from political insiders in both conservative parties.

  16. rubio@central coast

    Protected in the safe seat of Epping, our NSW Premier will probably be in parliament even after the swing to Labor. I wonder if his media monitors check in on AIM Network or do they rely on intelligence from Sportsbet?

  17. Indigo

    Don’t worry rubio. Our opinions and that intelligence from Sportsbet about the NSW election odds are in cinque. The NSW Premier cannot control the odds.

  18. rubio@central coast

    So Indigo, it is up to Labor to project its policy intentions with more vigour to convince a swathe of people who have little faith in mainstream politics. Exposing the intentions of minor far right parties is so important as they are not active in most communities but are a great mechanism for keeping the LNP in struggling outer suburban and regional seats across NSW and Victoria as Denis’ article mentions.

    Dominic has his Generations Fund for pork-barrelling. Labor should have its integrity and commitment to real policy solutions while the LNP wiles away the hours in its corporate invory towers as the Games People Play lyrics tell us to come up with the next generation of PR ditties for 23 March 2023: From Inner Circle at Woodstock 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AT2KiW4et_M

  19. Terence Mills

    I see that Labor lost the state seat of Richmond to the Greens in the Victorian election.

    The ALP candidate declared herself as a ‘single mum, a lesbian and a proud Yorta Yorta woman’. None of these characteristics has remotely anything to do with her aspirations for the electorate of Richmond, so she lost what was considered a very safe seat for Labor, since 1904.

    Even the Yorta Yorta people and her own family have said that they have no aboriginal ancestry or connection with this woman : clearly not a good candidate for Labor and hopefully they have learnt a lesson in candidate selection.

    What were they thinking !

  20. Phil Pryor

    Those well paid lying slutty airskulled scribblers in Merde Dog’s menagerie of fleabitten failures are so shameful, they should be punished terminally. Their ravings and polling about the recent election in Victoria are sub-Goebbelsian, lower than a scumbered scrotum on a mangey maggot. This treacherous directed foulness and filth should be BANNED, a foreigner’s intrusion and completely and regularly contrived lies and wilful propaganda.

  21. rubio@central coast

    Indigo, what’s your lecturer in MBA studies saying about the political implications of game thory in the hands of corporate elites with their connections to conservative political parties, large and small?

  22. Roswell

    rubio, FYI you don’t need to enter anything in the website box when posting a comment.

    I’ll get the boss to remove that option.

  23. wam

    Dance of the cuckoos,
    Richmond:
    labor 13000 loonies 13000 libs 7000.
    The VEC hasn’t released the full preference count but it appears that 70% went to the greens.
    It is all but impossible for labor to win a seat where the loonies finish ahead of the libs.
    Ergo:
    If labor doesn’t work their electorates well, starting in january, the loonies will take them on right wing preferences.

  24. rubio@central coast

    thanks Roswell for those details

  25. sinn fein in Victoria

    Better result than initially expected: Congratulations to Victoria Labor with a net gain of one seat on the 2018 landslide with 56 seats this time: what a disaster for prophets of doom from the Murdoch press.

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