The Liberal Party tends to assume that big business is naturally on its side, but Ted Baillieu must be having some doubts after a report in yesterday’s Australian.
According to the paper, “senior business figures” contacted them to warn about the danger of the Greens holding the balance of power in Victoria’s upper house.
“There are numerous heads of companies that have recognised that minority groups having the balance of power could affect the way Victoria is governed,” an unnamed “business leader” was quoted saying.
Another said “Any preference deals should take into account parties that could help or hinder the delivery of your economic agenda.”
That might sound very even-handed, but the electoral reality is there are only two possibilities for the Legislative Council after this month’s election: either Labor will retain its majority, or minor parties – chief among them the Greens – will hold the balance of power.
A vote against minor party influence in the upper house can only be a vote for Labor. And because most people won’t distinguish between the two houses, these “business leaders” are effectively calling on them to vote Labor in the Assembly as well.
It’s reminiscent of the March election in Tasmania, where the business community campaigned strongly against “minority government”, which in reality meant campaigning for the return of the ALP.
What business wants is predictable, stable government: none of this old-fashioned nonsense about democracy.
Ted Baillieu has no interest in continued Labor control of both houses, even though he knows that a swing to the Liberals will give the Greens the balance of power. A Liberal-Greens combination would have its tense moments, but it could at least make some moves to hold the government accountable.
That’s why there’s not much doubt that Liberal preferences will go to the Greens ahead of the ALP. And after yesterday’s intervention, Baillieu probably won’t feel that he owes the business lobby any favours.