Victoria woke up to a new Premier today — confused about just how it happened? Crikey maps the last two-and-a-bit years of Ted Baillieu’s government for clues on where it all went wrong …

December 2010: Baillieu sworn in as Premier, ending 11 years of Labor control in Victoria by narrowly defeating John Brumby. Just days before the election, Newspoll had the Coalition just ahead at 51.1-48.9, while Bailleu’s own personal rating was 44% approval and 44% disapproval.

January 2011: Government announces trial of 400 grazing cattle in Victoria’s Alpine National Park, despite being removed back in 2005 after a Labor government taskforce found they significantly impacted the environment.

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July 2011: Negotiations begin with the Australian Nursing Federation (Victoria branch) over the public sector enterprise bargaining agreement. Nurses seek a 18.5% wage increase; the government offers 2.5% for all public sector workers.

August 2011: Wind farms become near impossible to build in the state, after new laws are implemented that give veto power to any households located within two kilometres of a proposed turbine. Wind farms are also banned from whole regions: the Great Ocean Road, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and the Macedon Ranges.

The first Newspoll since the 2010 election shows Baillieu enjoying a decent honeymoon period. The Coalition sits at 57-43 and Baillieu’s approval rating is 52%, with 57% picking him as preferred premier over new opposition leader Daniel Andrews.

November 2011: Nurses vote to take protected industrial action as part of their EBA fight. A leaked cabinet document in the Herald Sun outlined Baillieu’s plan to cut nurse numbers, including news of reduced nurse/patient ratios and the use of lesser-trained assistants to perform some nursing duties.

December 2011: The government announces 3500 public services jobs are to be cut in a cost-saving drive.

January 2012: Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke refuses the Victorian application to allow cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park.

The first poll that reveals a statistically significant drop in support of the Baillieu government lands: Newspoll has the two-party preferred at just 51-49 and Baillieu’s personal approval ratings dropped three points to 49%.

March 2012: Over 1000 nurses take part in rolling work stoppages at 15 public hospitals across Victoria, with rallies held continuously outside hospitals. The Baillieu government threatens legal action against nurses using the ANF Facebook page to organise or discuss protests, after the Federal Court ruled ANF stop its industrial action.

Baillieu’s cousin, former federal Liberal MP Marshall Baillieu, flips the bird to nurses protesting outside a Baillieu family book launch.

The wage dispute is finally settled, with nurses winning a pay increase of 14-21% and nurse-to-patient ratios remaining so that no nurse treats more than four patients at once.

April 2012: The pre-budget polling shows the number of people satisfied with the Premier’s performance has dropped 16 points in six months, according to Newspoll.

May 2012: May budget announces a massive $300 million in cuts to the TAFE sector, sparking protests and outrage from students and teachers. Several hundred courses are to be cut, up to 2000 teaching positions expected to be made redundant and several campuses are to be closed.

June 2012: Up to 30,000 public school teachers strike as part of their bargaining negotiations, with the Australian Education Union fighting Baillieu’s proposal of a 2.5% rise plus a performance bonus for teachers. One of the union’s key arguments is Baillieu promised prior to the 2010 election that Victorian teachers will be “not the worst paid [but] the best paid teachers in Australia”.

A proposal to sack the 5% worst performing teachers forms part of the government’s controversial education paper.

August 2012: The Coalition loses its small lead over Labor, with a 50-50 two-party preferred result in Newspoll.

September 2012: Over 1500 protesters rallied outside Baillieu’s office over TAFE cuts, as teachers and education workers staged a 24-hour stop-work protest.

October 2012: Teachers begin a series of state-wide strikes and refuse to write comments on student report cards in protest of their conditions. The Australian Education Union demands a pay rise for teachers of 30% over three years and to scrap Baillieu’s plan of performance-based pay for teachers.

Labor steams ahead in Newspoll with a strong lead of 55-45 in the two-party preferred. Baillieu’s own disapproval ratings sit at 53%, a rise of 24% in a year. He leads as preferred premier over little-known Andrews 39-30, however Baillieu dropped 17 points in a year, while Andrews gained 10.

December 2012: Essential Research’s November and December polling shows the Coalition and Labor at 50-50, with the Coalition’s primary vote at 43%.

January 2013: The Federal Court dismisses the Victorian government’s appeal over alpine grazing.

Newspoll shows Labor remains ahead at 55-45, with only 33% satisfied with Baillieu’s performance in the top job.

February 2013: Once again 30,0000 teaching staff strike, with 13,000 marching to state parliament in protest on February 15.

The all-night arts extravaganza White Night, one of Baillieu’s election promises, is held with 300,000 people spilling in to Melbourne’s CBD for all-night cultural performances and exhibitions.

March 2013: The Herald Sun breaks the news that secret police tapes revealed a payout and job offer was made that resulted in Baillieu having to refer his chief of staff and the Liberals’ state director to the new Victorian corruption commission.

Baillieu resigns.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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