Three days out from the Victorian election, Crikey is launching the Set in Stone project, to hold our politicians to account. It was Victorian Premier Denis Napthine who called the election “about trust”. He’s at the helm of a party that made promises in opposition, but over four years in office has fulfilled only a few. Now the roles are being reversed; the resurgent Labor Party appears set to take office after a single term in opposition at the November 29 election and has a stack of election promises worth more than $30 billion. But can we trust Labor to fulfil its promises either? Napthine says trust would be misplaced in his opponents, but could we really place trust in him?
Newspoll has the only hard numbers on what Victorian voters think of their leaders’ trustworthiness. In their November 3 poll published in The Australian, 67% of voters concluded Napthine was trustworthy, and 62% gave Labor leader Daniel Andrews the honour — less daylight between them than Napthine might have wanted.
Perhaps a third of voters don’t trust Napthine due to his turbulent stint in office, with rebel MP Geoff Shaw haunting him with visions of his predecessor Ted Baillieu’s demise. And maybe more than a third of voters don’t trust Andrews because he has promised not to honour a contract to build the 6.6km first stage of the East West Link, despite majority support for the road and tunnel project.
Trust, or don’t trust. Crikey has made it easier for either party to remember to keep its word. We have engraved eight key promises from each major party onto 16 stone tablets so that, no matter who wins, they can always check in with us if they forget.
Like Moses delivering the 10 Commandments, Crikey founder Stephen Mayne will bring the pronouncements of our political lords to the people, but in a twist on the classic tale, these stone tablets are intended to keep those above honest. You can follow the project on our website and at the hashtag #setinstone.
$1 billion for suburban roads
According to Labor, outer-suburban roads are in need of repair, so the party has promised to “lock in a regular and predictable minimum spend on roads”. Over the 2014-15 budget period, the state government has earmarked less than a quarter of that amount to roads.
$510 million for government schools
Seizing on reports that some Victorian state schools were in such a state of disrepair that “bags disappeared through holes in the floor” and at others students used blankets during class because heaters weren’t working, ALP leader Daniel Andrews has promised $510 million for capital works at schools.
$320 million TAFE rescue fund
In 2012 the Liberal state government under Ted Baillieu announced $300 million in cuts to the TAFE sector. The unpopular news was met with protests and angry opinion columns; Andrews immediately announced he was opposed to the cuts and has campaigned to reverse the decision if elected.
24-hour public transport
The Sex Party has campaigned on running weekend public transport all night, and now the ALP is too. Weekends will have trains running on all lines all night, buses to regional capitals at 2am, trams to selected destinations and a continuation of the NightRider night buses.
Public holidays: Easter Sunday and AFL grand final Friday
No one would argue that we need more public holidays in Victoria, but this policy is really about satisfying unions by ensuring holiday penalty rates on significant days of the year, like, er, grand final Friday. Since the state government made Easter Sunday a trading day in 2011, Labor has had this adjustment on its to-do list.
New hospital in Sunshine
The booming western suburbs are suffering a services gap, which Labor wants to bridge with a $200 million funding commitment to a women’s and children’s hospital in Sunshine.
Medical cannabis legalised
This policy sounds well-meaning, but it only commits to commissioning a report from the Victorian Law Reform Commission on how the medical use of cannabis products would work, to be considered in Parliament. The Sex Party advocated the legalisation and taxation of marijuana, and in the final days of Parliament the Liberal government almost passed a bill to allow clinical trials using cannabis products. So the wheels are in motion to liberalise marijuana in many ways.
$22.2 million for local rock music industry
This seems pretty straightforward, after a pretty awful patch of venue closures and threats related to the property development sector’s rush to infill once unloved inner-urban regions, finally a bit of recognition for the industry. Donning their suits and never trying to fit in, the pollies came bearing gifts of grants and a new Victorian Music Development Office.
A new train every month for 10 years
Napthine announced this plan at the launch of the Liberal Party’s campaign in Ballarat, where the showpiece $3.9 billion investment was well received (despite no mention of the orders ever going to a tender). The plan means ordering 75 metropolitan trains, 24 magic-imbued X’Trapolis trains, which we think get mentioned more often because they sound better than Siemens, and 25 V/Line rail cars.
Build an airport rail link
A lot of modern cities have a train to the airport, but Melbourne doesn’t. This is more a source of angst for those who care about having the same things as other places, which in Melbourne is just about everyone. It’s not the first time this project has been suggested, and it does have a bit of the east coast, high-speed rail flavour of an evergreen-promise-that-will-never-be-delivered to it, despite protestation that it is already funded. Definitely worth engraving in stone.
$250 million on City Link and Tulla widening
Liberals love roads, as they are philosophically aligned to the choice-oriented mode of transport that roads facilitate. Of course, eventually these roads get clogged with traffic and have to be widened. This project announced October 6 will add lanes and traffic management systems to 19km of the CityLink toll road and Tullamarine Freeway.
Unemployment has risen to 6.8% under the past term of government, and the Liberals need policies to address that rise, they are also battling the opposition for leadership on jobs, so headline numbers that look good are always popular.
Skills training for 850,000 Victorians
Another reaction to headline unemployment figures is $5.2 billion for skills training, which amounts to about $6100 per head.
$100 million regional cities fund
The Liberals are trying to win regional seats in contests with Labor — and some in contests with the Nationals — so a broad-based enticement was in order. Under this policy, 10 regional city governing bodies can draw on the $100 million fund for infrastructure investments.
Australia’s first dedicated cardiac hospital
Melbourne’s east will have a new cardiac hospital built, and while it’s been criticised as not being where it needs to be to accommodate new population growth, Labor has also committed to a similar project nearby.
$150 million to prevent family violence
Family violence is being tackled as part of a program that includes making perpetrators wear tracking device, and changing regulations to allow police to issue family violence safety notices at all hours.