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Nov 29, 2010

Vic Labor’s surprise
shellacking

Crikey Media Wrap: It came as no surprise that Victoria's aging Labor government suffered a significant swing against it at the state poll over the weekend, but few pundits predicted anything near the scale of the voter backlash that will almost certainly claim the scalp of Premier John Brumby.

It came as no surprise that Victoria’s aging Labor government suffered a significant swing against it at the state poll over the weekend, but few pundits predicted anything near the scale of the voter backlash that will almost certainly claim the scalp of Premier John Brumby.

Earlier in the month Crikey’s Richard Farmer wrote that Brumby “is a proven loser” and, last week, a Morgan Poll conducted exclusively for Crikey predicted the Coalition would form government. But a swing of around 7 percent to the Coalition in two-party terms has shocked political wonks. And in an unusual twist, Crikey founder Stephen Mayne emerged as the front runner to control the balance of power in the Upper House.

Behind closed doors, frazzled Labor strategists are no doubt asking themselves what went wrong as their hopes of forming a minority government slowly evaporate.

The media have been more than happy to throw their two bob in, of course, and responses are varied. Some interpreted the election results as further evidence of the “ten year cycle” theory – that any government that reaches double digits will struggle to get re-elected. Others discussed the personalities of the two candidates and Labor’s ineffective strategic focus.

Here’s a snapshot of what they had to say:

Crikey

William Bowe: After the blast

I am particularly keen on the idea that the late swing to the Coalition was not so much a reaction to campaign events as something that was always going to happen when minds became focused.

Andrew Crook: Mayne could hold balance of power in Victoria

Crikey founder Stephen Mayne could hold the balance of power in the Victorian Upper House, with an unexpected Steve Fielding-style preference run close to delivering him the fifth and final seat in Northern Metropolitan.

The Punch

Mal Farr: The Libs will be looking to spread some Victorian magic

The Labor rout in Victoria is an undoubted victory for the Liberals, even though there was a possibility they would yet again come in second. It was at very least a huge morale boost.

The Age

Time Colebatch: The landslide that no one saw coming

…while Labor was defending on one wall, the Liberals were climbing over the other. Of Labor’s 18 seats south of the Yarra, no fewer than 10 were taken by Ted Baillieu’s men.

It was a mirror image of the 1999 poll that brought Labor to power. That day, Jeff Kennett was focussed on retaining his marginal seats south of the Yarra, and did so – but was felled by Labor and the independents storming regional and rural ramparts.

Michael Gordon: Ted’s just miming the words for now

To those who said he lacked the hunger, or the killer instinct, or the leadership qualities to lead the Liberals back to power – and, especially, to those Liberals who asserted things without attribution – Baillieu is measured.

Shaun Carney: Voters show they’ll punish failure before they’ll reward success

The last time a new Liberal premier took office, in 1992, he claimed power via a landslide majority. His policies and political style were so unique and far-reaching that his time in government was given a name: the Kennett Revolution.

The most likely outcome of the 2010 Victorian election would usher in something less ambitious. Call it the Velvet Handover.

Tony Wright: Caretaker grasps at political straws in the wind

John Brumby clearly had weightier matters on his mind than the time of day as he faced the media yesterday.

He shot his cuff, looked meaningfully at his watch and declared to the gathered media: ”Morning all”. It was 1.25 in the afternoon.

The Herald Sun

Stephen McMahon: Premier John Brumby clings to faintest of election chances

Despite the huge anti-government vote and the seat of Bentleigh going to the Coalition late last night, Mr Brumby maintains Labor has a mandate to remain in power.

Nick Leys: Blueblood Ted Baillieu an action man, say Liberal Party supporters

Ted Baillieu has a vision for the state, voters have been told repeatedly for the past four weeks.

But despite storming Labor’s 11-year-old barricades, those same Victorian voters can be forgiven for wondering what exactly that vision is and indeed, who is Ted Baillieu.

The Australian

Ewin Hannan: Brumby blames voter rage

John Brumby has blamed voter anger over cost-of-living increases for the backlash that has decimated Victorian Labor’s majority.

Before counting late yesterday saw the Liberals on the cusp of securing government, Mr Brumby said the most likely election result was a hung parliament, followed by a Coalition victory.

Peter van Onselen: A blow to Labor’s heartland

If there is a hung parliament, that will mean voters will probably go to the polls again early in the new year. The conventional wisdom is that a damaged government forced back to the polls is likely to be put out of its misery rather than win a reprieve.

The Drum

Ryan Sheales: Shock Victorian election biggest test of Brumby’s leadership

As Hillary Clinton refused to admit defeat in the 2008 Democratic Party primary battle against now-president Barack Obama, US talkshow host Conan O’Brien summarised the situation with devastating humour.

“Obama is favoured in the states of Oregon, Montana and South Dakota,” he said. “And Hilary is favoured in the state of denial.”

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7 comments

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7 thoughts on “Vic Labor’s surprise
shellacking

  1. freecountry

    I have yet another theory to throw into the mix: a lot of voters cannot tell the difference between state and federal government (I hardly blame them; the parties and the federal parliament can’t tell the difference either) so they have tried to do what they did in August, a little bit better this time.

    Ideally the Coalition should stand for something, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. As P.J. O’Rourke once wrote: “The mystery of Government is not how it works, but how to make it stop.”

  2. Quizzical

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the Fed election show a positive for Labor in Victoria versus the nation? Also a strong Green vote that put in Adam Bandt.
    This election has shown a massive swing away from Labor – but not to the Greens.

    My own belief is that even diehard Labor supporters realised that Brumby was promising to do now what he had yet been unable to achieve – hardly a credible proposition. Issues that readily spring to mind – police numbers, speed cameras, Myki, education including gagging principals, judges who pat everyone on the head except those who drink and drive or speed, the bushfire enquiry and its revelations, and on it goes. Perhaps add an underlying fear of many that increasing the liaison with the Greens would further damage the future of life in Victoria in the next term.

    This was the man who as treasurer admitted the State was not getting its fair share of the GST so kept the stamp duty etc in place thus doubly taxing the locals (and getting a better dollar return than would have occurred with equitable GST distribution). Stamp duty has been a killer to home purchasers.

    Despite the Labor claims that it was the length of time that triggered the swing, the reality is no-one throws out a tool that is working well. Complacency, arrogance, and wrong priorities are not signs of a tool working well. Who knows if Ted will do any better.

  3. adr0ck

    “..the reality is no-one throws out a tool that is working well.”

    I guess the definition of “well” is a bit tricky. In this instance, I’m pretty sure we’ll find that if we had two alternate universes for the next government term: one with labour in, one with liberals, the labour one would do better.

    To me, this election was more about punishing labour (perhaps even getting bored with them) and giving ‘the other guy’ a chance than replacing a “tool not working”.

    Their policy lines are almost identical so let’s all look forward to more of the same…

    I do agree that during most of Brumby’s time as premier labour had an air of untouchable arrogance.

    Shame about the Greens though. I wonder where they’ll be come next election – should be interesting.

  4. Bobalot The Great

    @ freecountry

    Labor got more than 55% of the two party preferred vote in Victoria with a swing of 1.04%. Since subsequent polls have indicated the Federal 2PP has stayed around the 50/50 mark that it was at the election, it is highly unlikely the two are related.

  5. freecountry

    Fair enough. The null hypothesis is upheld; Victorian voters can tell the difference between state and federal. In that case, I wish some Victorians would explain the difference to the folks in Canberra.

  6. Bobalot The Great

    @ freecountry

    Or NSW or Queensland for that matter. I live in NSW and the common ignorance I see about the division between Federal and State responsibilities is depressing.

  7. freecountry

    Yes, I’ve probably been projecting NSW ignorance onto the more sophisticated Victorians. No offence intended. Perhaps it’s because NSW is a failed state, which has been trained like Pavlov’s dog to operate more like a lobbying office for commonwealth grants than a government.