Battle lines drawn as Vic election nears

The battle lines were drawn three months before the Victorian state election, with health, transportation and integrity forming the basis of the campaign.

After a fortnight marked by a donor integrity scandal and the abandonment of senior staff, Liberal leader Matthew Guy – nicknamed “Matt” on social media – made his biggest political appeal.

A coalition government suspends Labor’s multibillion-dollar commuter rail project to redirect funds to ailing healthcare system.

“It’s smart policy to reframe the political debate and try to get out of their internal problems,” Monash University political scientist Zareh Ghazarian told AAP.

Dr. Ghazarian sees strategic parallels with the 2014 election, when the then opposition Labor Party promised to get rid of the controversial East West Link and re-launched its leader to the masses as “Dan”.

Asked if his rebranding was a copycat game to win the government on his second attempt as a leader, Mr. Guy said he didn’t care what people called him.

“You can call me Matt or Matthew or whatever, hopefully prime minister,” he told Nine News.

At the behest of the opposition, the Parliamentary Budget Office crunched the numbers for the rail circuit and found that building its first two phases could cost taxpayers $ 125 billion, more than double the previous party’s estimates.

The entire project would have cost up to $ 50 billion when it was first unveiled before the 2018 election, then revised in a pessimistic $ 50.5 billion scenario for the first two sections in part of a published business case. last year.

Only $ 2.3 billion has been earmarked for the first works on the east side. Unlike the canceled East West Link, which cost taxpayers more than $ 1.1 billion, the coalition is committed to honoring these contracts.

Despite the latest costs, the Labor government supports the proposal for a 90km orbital railway line running south-east to west of the city through Melbourne airport, with the opposition’s announcement that it elicited a visceral response.

“You have to do more than one thing at a time,” Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said as ministers lined up to sing the praises of the program Wednesday.

Victoria’s public health system is something the opposition has been trying to rely on ever since it hit COVID-19.

While the pandemic, with its six blocks and hotel quarantine errors, hijacked the government and established Mr. Andrews as a polarizing figure, polls suggest the coalition has struggled to strike a blow.

An Aug. 14 SMS poll by Roy Morgan had the coalition behind Labor from 39.5 to 60.5 on a bipartisan preferential basis, while The Age’s Resolve Political Monitor in April said Labor primary voting went up from 43% of the last elections at 37%.

“Victorian liberals continue to be in the background and will have a hard time forming a government based on these numbers,” said Dr. Ghazarian.

Both sides are running for office with integrity concerns over their heads.

The work was the subject of multiple investigations into branch accumulation and misappropriation of taxpayer money, while Mr. Guy’s chief of staff, Mitch Catlin, was exposed by asking a party donor to pay more than $ 100,000 to his private marketing firm, which led to in his resignation.

Then there are the further obstacles posed by the Independents and the Greens.

More than a third of Victorians did not vote for Labor or the coalition in the federal election in May, and Dr. Ghazarian said this was proof that a move away from the government could be linked to independents or the small disappearance.

A “teal bath,” as seen nationwide in May, by integrity and climate concern independent men threaten to wipe out liberals in the polls of the heart like Caulfield, Brighton and Sandringham.

Labor may also be vulnerable to independent and green candidates in Melbourne’s central polls such as Richmond, as well as liberals in suburban urban electorates such as Monbulk, following the retirement of five senior ministers.

Kos Samaras, director of the RedBridge policy advisory group and former Labor strategist, said integrity issues in major parties could erode their votes in other seats, including Hawthorn, Kew and Caulfield.

“Reaffirm in the minds of voters … the major parties don’t learn from their mistakes and the only way to shake the political system is for voters to start opting for alternative options,” he told ABC. Radio Melbourne earlier this month. .

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