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.
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.
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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