All sorts of records have tumbled in Victoria with an incredible landslide victory for the Labor Party which sees them take firm control of both houses of Parliament for the first time in history.
And when you look around the nation, it is absolutely consistent with what has been happening over the past six years ever since John Howard settled into the nations top job. Just take a look at these recent swings:
NSW: Bob Carr 7% in 1999
VIC: Steve Bracks 4% in 1999
QLD: Peter Beattie 11% in 2001
WA: Geoff Gallup 8% in 2001
NT: Clair Martin 9% in 2002
TAS: Jim Bacon 7.5% 2002
SA: Mike Rann 1.5% in 2002 (10% previously)
Jeff Kennett had the biggest landslide in Victorian history with 56.3% of the 2PP in 1992. Labors best ever was 53% with John Cain junior in 1982. Cain had a 17 seat majority and Kennett had 34 so Labor looks set to break all the records with this latest landslide.
Other comparable landslides across the country include Dean Brown’s South Australian victory in 1993 with 61 per cent of the two party preferred vote. Peter Beattie polled a similar figure in 2001 and then you have to go all the way back to the Wranslides of 1978 and 1981 to find a victory more comprehensive than that achieved by Steve Bracks.
The Greens have made a huge profit with the new system of political welfare that sees candidates who score more than 4 per cent receive $1.20 per vote from the taxpayer. With Bob Brown gloating about 333,333 Victorians voting Green in the lower house, you can expect a similar result in the Upper House which will translate to taxpayer funding of about $800,000 for the Greens, but only if they can come up with the receipts to prove they spent this much.
Whilst the Greens will be a shoe-in for a Senate seat at the next Federal election, they must be bitterly disappointed at missing out on the seat of Melbourne. Unfortunately, the swing was so strong that Labor’s primary vote in Richmond and Melbourne was too strong to allow a preference-driven victory for the Greens which needed the Liberals to do a lot better.
However, the Greens have been absolutely instrumental in delivering control of the Upper House to Labor as they ran in every seat and preferenced Labor in every Upper House seat whereas there were 23 of the 88 Lower House seats where they ran a split ticket.
The Nats would have to be pleased with their effort in the circumstances as they appear to have gained one Lower House seat with Benalla. Can anyone ever think of a seat that the Nats have lost to Labor and then won back?
They spent most of the campaign making the most absurd promises and trying to pick a fight with the Liberals. When VicNats leader Peter Ryan was asked what arts lovers would think about slashing arts funding, he replied “who cares?”
Sacked Fremantle coach and former Geelong player Damian Drum looks like he’ll probably be in the Upper House for the Nats and former Fitzroy player Bill Sykes will probably be the Nats member for Benalla.
This is the big story. Labor needed a 6 per cent swing for control and apart from a poor performance in Gippsland where logging issues hit the ALP, they have swept through the Upper House seats in and around Melbourne and look like having 23 of the 44 seats, up from 14 previously.
Victoria has traditionally been the home of the most militant lefties in the ALP so now we face the big test given that they have the freedom to do what they like.
HOWARD LOSSES IN THE STATES AND TERRITORIES
John Howard’s former chief of staff Grahame Morris said the Liberals are doing terribly in the states and territories because they have preselected “the most boring batch of boofheads” you’ve ever seen who are “lazy” and “lacking in passion”.
When John Howard took over as Federal Liberal leader in January 1995 the Liberals had 332 MPS in the states and territories running 6 governments. Now you have no Liberal governments and about 200 Liberal MPs after the wipe-out in Victoria where at least another 20 bit the dust.
Bill Baxter is the only Minister from the first Kennett cabinet left in Parliament with the retirements of Rob Maclellan, Mark Birrell and Roger Hallam on Saturday. And there will only be four of Kennett’s second cabinet surviving with Louise Asher, Robin Cooper, Denis Napthine and Phil Honeywood re-elected on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the defeated team of Liberal MPs are arguably just as good as those that remain. It is a real shame that hacks like Robin Cooper, Nick Kotsiras and Cameron Boardman have been returned whilst more talented operators such as Leonie Burke, Ian Cover, Wendy Smith and Ron Wilson have bitten the dust.
However, there was inevitably going to be a lot of renewal because only 2 of Labor’s 58 MPs were retiring at this election whereas the Libs were losing 8 MPs and the Nats 5.
WHY DID THE LIBS STRUGGLE
Labor accepted the greatest inheritance in the history of Australian governments with a booming economy and a huge $1.8 billion surplus. The Libs failed to attack the huge spending increases of Labor and this is where the Robert Dean enrolment fiasco was so important because they had to focus their scare campaign solely on IR and landslides when budget management is where it should have been all along.
It was the best resourced and slickest Labor campaign Victoria has ever seen and it was also mistake-free and lead by a popular Steve Bracks who was very reliable and conservative.
THE KENNETT FACTOR
Jeff Kennett slashed and burnt services for a reason – the state was bankrupt. But the Liberals allowed the cuts to overshadow the reasons for the cuts. Labor was able to successfully demonise Kennett and his high profile during the campaign did not help.
The major attack that Kennett launched against Doyle in August was very damaging and Labor were smart to use that briefly in their television advertising. Kennett also added unnecessary fuel to the Robert Dean and then resigned from 3AK in another blaze of headlines just six days before the poll.
Crikey’s 5000 subscribers will be getting detailed updates on the election fallout this week and we’d love to get some feedback on what you think it all means. For instance, can anyone shed any light on the colourful backgrounds of all these new Labor MPs in the Parliament?