Victorian election: week two, part one

John Brumby and Ted Baillieu went head-to-head on Friday for a low-rating and soon-to-be-forgotten leaders debate. Milanda Rout of The Australia wrote approvingly that Ted Baillieu “took a risk and showed he had some political backbone”, by “throwing insults and delivering the best and funniest lines of the debate”. John Ferguson of the Herald Sun thought Baillieu’s dithering over preferences meant he “won the theatre, but lost the politics”. Shaun Carney of The Age believed Brumby suffered from lack of experience – this was his first leaders debate, as there wasn’t one when he ran against Jeff Kennett in 1996 – while James Campbell of the Sunday Herald Sun faulted Brumby for “staring statesmanlike into the distance and talking about the future”. If you’d prefer to make up your own mind, you can watch it on iView.


Tim Colebatch of The Age makes the unarguable assertion that Ted Baillieu’s efforts to get his message out have been “drowned out by factional opponents beating their drum to insist that the Liberals should not direct preferences to the Greens”. He also casts an eye over the Liberals’ recent record in Tasmania, the only case study where the Liberals have pursued the strategy of privileging Labor over the Greens advocated by John Howard and Helen Kroger:

Tasmania went to the polls in March. The Liberals topped the vote, but both sides ended up with 10 seats and the Greens with five. Liberal leader Will Hodgman had first rights but, under pressure from right-wing powerbroker Senator Eric Abetz, refused to negotiate with the Greens. Labor leader David Bartlett went ahead and did so. So Labor and the Greens now have a coalition government, and it’s working well. The federal election saw the Liberal vote in Tasmania slump to 39 per cent after preferences — the party’s lowest vote in any state since World War II. Opinion polls show a collapse in Liberal support at state level. And The Mercury reports that Hodgman has now taken on Abetz for control of the party, declaring: “We cannot give away the middle ground. I will fight to make sure that doesn’t happen, even if it costs me my job.”

• Former federal Wills independent Phil Cleary has confirmed he will run in the seat of Brunswick. This further complicates the contest between Labor candidate Jane Garrett and Cyndi Dawes of the Greens, with Cleary making no secret of his intention to direct preferences to the latter. The seat is being vacated by the retirement of Labor member Carlo Carli.

David Rood of The Age tells of “secret party research” from the ALP telling a familiar tale of ongoing inner-city drift to the Greens. The report found the most potent campaign remedy would be pamphlets trumpeting the fact that the Greens had voted with the Liberals 69 per cent of the time in parliament, as distinct from an existing strategy of “promoting the party’s stance on climate change and other progressive issues like social housing”.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

408 comments on “Victorian election: week two, part one”

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  1. Rebecca

    I am sure that if Labor lose Government and it was due to “pissed off” Greens preferencing the Liberals, or the Greens Party supporting a Liberal minority government, this would help Labor’s cause in the long term, and harm the Greens.

    I believe that Labor will be a minority government, probably informally supported by the “pissed off” Greens.

    Actually according to your logic, how can the Greens have it both ways? They attack Labor with all their might to win these inner city seats, and then they will turn around and want to be part of a Labor minority government?

  2. All I want is a non-Coalition government. All the tactics I have alluded to are to try and achieve this end. I believe it will be by a Labor minority govt (supported by Greens), and in fact this will probably be more likely to prevent a Coalition govt in 2014 than a Labor majority would.

    I realise there are many Greens supporters who see the “bigger picture” and dream of one day overtaking Labor and eventually forming government. These people see the main game as winning seats off Labor, and doing deals with the Liberals or anyone else to do so – even if it means a Coalition government this time, they feel that the “short term pain” will be worth it for the “long term gain”. They would then happily campaign against the “evil” Coalition government, and continue the mantra that Labor has failed everything and everyone, and that the Greens are the true path to salvation.

    To me, Labor has very little to lose by “pissing off the Greens” (Rebecca’s term) – Greens who want a Coalition govt are free to vote that way. In the outer east suburban electorates where I work I think Labor’s strategy will help what I view as the main game – preventing a Coalition government.

  3. Rocket, the huge danger for Labor is that if it attacks the Greens very vigorously with negative advertising it will actually see the vast number of Greens preference votes that it now depends on in other seats, like the ones in the the east and north, start drifting away from it. Labor actually needs these preference votes to remain in government more than it needs inner Melbourne seats these days.

  4. Peter Costello in this morning’s age. Quite interesting on generational rise of Greens!

    [The case of Bandt illustrates Labor’s generational demise. Bandt was a Marxist student leader who was elected to the national student union. He worked for the labour lawyers Slater and Gordon, but ended up joining the Greens. His CV is almost identical to that of Julia Gillard, but she joined the Socialist Left of the ALP. Gillard is 10 years older. Her generation of left-wing student activists joined Labor. The next will join the Greens. The base of Labor’s Socialist Left is defecting.

    The rise of the Greens now threatens Labor in the state seat of Melbourne. The Labor member is Bronwyn Pike, a minister in the Brumby government. She came to prominence as a Uniting Church spokeswoman who relentlessly attacked the Kennett government, which won her Labor preselection. Now she is being challenged by the Greens candidate, Brian Walters, a civil libertarian lawyer.]

  5. marg

    Sometimes I think the Greens win a little by not being seen as part of the old system. Voters who are tired of the two main parties feel they still have an alternative.

  6. I watched the debate and thought Baillieu did pretty well. I thought he won most of the arguments and his interjections worked well, such as on Brumby’s “extraordinary arrogance” in asserting before anyone has voted that certain seats would see Labor first and the Greens second.

  7. [
    The Age has obtained the results of a study of so-called ”soft” Labor voters, conducted last week, that found they perceive the Greens to be ”harmless, quirky environmentalists” with the aura of a ”trusted uncle”.

    ”Soft Labor voters also clearly believe that they can safely protest against Labor while at the same time not risking the election of a Coalition government,” the research stated

    The aura of a trusted uncle? More like the drunk uncle at a Christmas party

  8. [
    The members decide what’s going on, not the backroom boys

    Did the members even know there had been a challenge to Christine Milne from Sarah Hanson-Young for the Deputy Leadership of the Federal party? Apparently the Greens are afraid of real scrutiny when it comes to who leads their party

    GREENS senator Sarah Hanson-Young has declared her support for the party’s leadership after it emerged she unsuccessfully challenged for the deputy’s position.

    It was revealed today the 29-year-old challenged Senator Christine Milne for the deputy leadership on September 8, after the August election, but lost by a “clear majority”.

    Greens leader Bob Brown today confirmed there had been a challenge.

    But he said when he had reaffirmed the party leadership’s after the meeting, no-one at the press conference had asked him if there had been a challenge.

    That’s better, in the right thread this time 😆

  9. From the intro above concerning how the ALP may counter the drift to the Greens in Vic..

    “The report found the most potent campaign remedy would be pamphlets trumpeting the fact that the Greens had voted with the Liberals 69 per cent of the time in parliament …”

    From the link below [its a bit old but is relevant]

    “Upper House voting data shows that Greens have voted with Labor 32 times out of 37 divisions (86%)

    Labor has voted with the Liberals 27 times out of 37 divisions (73%)

    All three parties have voted in unison 27 times out of 37 divisions (73%)”

    Note the middle statistic ….”Labor has voted with the Liberals 27 times out of 37 divisions (73%)”

    I think the ALP tried this tactic of attempting to portray the Greens and the Libs as allies before and the link is the response.

  10. Rod Hagen 4
    [if it attacks the Greens very vigorously]
    I have Greens supporters in my extended family and they all seem to blithely believe that the Greens likewise attacking Labor has no effect on Labor throughout the rest of Victoria. My argument is that Labor is already going to lose those inner city seats courtesy of the Liberal Party, and that this won’t affect the overall aim of a non-Coalition government, so Labor has little to lose attacking the Greens. I am sitting in the outer east right now (madcyril territory) – bagging the Greens out here will help Labor beat the Liberals.

    marg 8
    [overtaking Labor and eventually forming government
    Rocket you have very high expectations.]
    They are not my expectations, but those of some Greens supporters – in fact I don’t believe the Greens will overtake Labor’s vote in a single seat.

  11. [overtaking Labor and eventually forming government
    Rocket you have very high expectations.

    They are not my expectations, but those of some Greens supporters – in fact I don’t believe the Greens will overtake Labor’s vote in a single seat.]

    I know a few Green supporters and non have that expectation.

    Your understanding might explain why the slimy, violent attack by the LIB/LAB Murdoch Party against The Greens is taking place.

  12. [
    Your understanding might explain why the slimy, violent attack by the LIB/LAB Murdoch Party against The Greens is taking place

    The poor Greens. A few questions are asked about their candidates and policies and suddenly they are under “violent attack” by the mean major parties.

  13. [Unlike other dictatorial partys The Greens don’t do leader worship.]

    That really does require a question mark, marg. For years Bob Brown has been the guiding spirit of the Greens.

  14. [
    Unlike other dictatorial partys The Greens don’t do leader worship.

    Ah more comedy gold. I give you Bob Brown. He’s hero worshipped by his party’s supporters like few other leaders. In fact, he’s never even been challenged for the leadership of the Greens.

    Senator Brown said he had never been challenged in the party room for the leadership position, but “I encourage it”, adding that all his colleagues were future potential leaders of the party.

  15. [Unlike other dictatorial partys The Greens don’t do leader worship.]

    Delusional partisan rubbish.

    Anyway, I am going to finish my thoughts on the US midterms today, then I will jump into this election topic. So, I will have a few more thoughts on the election soon enough. *Been slack in the last week*

  16. madcyril – Brown was only formally elected as leader in 2005. Uncontested for a whole five years, in which time their vote has….what, doubled? WHY would anyone contest the leadership?

  17. It is also disingenuous to not provide reasons for why The Greens Party voted with the Coalition in opposition to Labor.
    [The most notable items where the Greens have voted with the other non-government parties, with the government opposing, have been on measures to improve scrutiny of the executive government by the parliament, by way of perfectly sensible amendments to the Legislative Council sessional orders and the establishment of upper house select committees. There was nothing to stop the government supporting these measures in the interests of good government.]

    As I have previously posted at: an analysis of the Greens Party 2010 voting pattern shows that in most cases these votes where the Greens Party voted with the Coalition against Labor were about matters relating to government disclosure and transparency, such as the production or tabling of documents, as well as political donations and the need for an anti-corruption commission.

    I asked then:

    Why would the Greens support Labor in its efforts to ensure lack of government disclosure, transparency and accountability? After all, the upper house exists as a house of review and to provide checks and balances so that the interests of the community at large are served.

    No response was made.

  18. It looks like I touched a sensative nerve,
    we all know that the only input members/supporters of the LIB/LAB Party might have is here at PB.

    If all you experts on what The Greens, should, would, could and can do, were members of The Greens then you would be able to have a say and decide on policy, strategy, candidates, preferences, spokes people, etc.. we call it “grass roots” democracy.

    Democracy its a foreign concept to the LIB/LAB Party, but alive and well in The Greens.

  19. [It looks like I touched a sensative nerve,]

    Seriously, get over yourself. Your rhetoric is boring and counterproductive. You complain of Lab/Lib looking like a cult, whereas, I only see one supporter acting like a cult member here.

    You’re not clever for throwing rancorous partisan firebombs. The Greens are not perfect or infallible. You are no better than people like Karl Bitar if you think they are.

    Once again. Get the hell over yourself.

  20. marg

    You are obviously an enthusiatic supporter of the Greens, but please try not to close down discussion. Not everyone on this site is a hardline Labor supporter. We even have Liberal voters 🙂 There are also many of us who, while not members, have been known to vote for the Greens and even send money to them to support some campaigns.

  21. So is everyone else excited (maybe excited is a bit strong :-)) about tonight’s leaders forum at the Burvale. It will be interesting to see how it plays out compared to the Federal election versions

  22. [Seriously, get over yourself. Your rhetoric is boring and counterproductive. You complain of Lab/Lib looking like a cult, whereas, I only see one supporter acting like a cult member here.]

    I’d give labor two, GG and Frank.

    At the moment the Greens pretty much know where they are in the political spectrum, that in itself is a strength. Labor is trying to eject the left ( which the greens are picking up) and the Liberals have been trying to eject the liberals which don’t know where to go.

    The comment by Hodgman was very interesting, someone in the Liberal party has worked out the hard right is going to lead them into the wilderness.

  23. [I’d give labor two, GG and Frank.]

    They’re not here. And I have gotten on their wrong sides too.

    All parties have their “Our side can do no wrong!” people. However, the ones who insist that their side don’t are the worst of all.

  24. I reckon Stamp Duty will definitely be a hot issue at tonight’s forum

    JOHN Brumby is under pressure to cut stamp duty on home purchases after state Treasury revealed the government’s tax take is well up on the budget forecast of just six months ago.

    Treasury’s pre-election budget update, released yesterday, shows the government expects nearly $300 million more in tax revenue this year, and about half that is from higher-than-expected stamp duty receipts.

    The property industry pounced on the figures, demanding that Labor and the opposition make stamp-duty cuts part of their election platforms.

    The Master Builders Association called for a $5000 cut for homes valued under the Melbourne median of $468,000.


  25. [triton, you can watch on Sky News or the Herald Sun website]

    Excellent. So this is national on Sky? That’s surprising to me. State elections I understand, but not campaign forums.

  26. lizzie:

    IIRC I dont think the ABC carried the Rooty Hill forum live. I remember there being a bit of fuss at the time with people here not able to watch it.

  27. To Speak of Pebbles
    Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    ‘I’d give labor two, GG and Frank.’

    “They’re not here. And I have gotten on their wrong sides too.”

    Accepting th opinion of a long term Greens anti Labor sniper PBer like Fredn is not wise

    Frank (WA) is not here on a Vic Thread, suggest you make your coments to him diectly

    “I have gotten on their wrong sides too.”
    You mean on one occasion only , where i xposed your pro gay marriage shot at me saying ‘slippery slopes’ by replying to you about Jack Thompson and his 2 current ‘wifes’ that he’d may wish to concurerently marry (or of oz Muslums wishing 9 ‘wifes’ concurrently)

    (BTW you clearly dont read my posts to make your general point in past , but you could read my latest #1039)

  28. Ron. It’s sad you won’t let go of what was said a few nights ago. What is even sadder is the fact that you don’t realise that the argument of “If we allow X, then Y will happen” (Y not being directly related to X) is the very definition of a slippery slope argument.

  29. I saw Bob Brown speak earlier this year and he seemed like an interesting guy, but I couldn’t help wondering what will happen when he retires. the problem with the cuklt of personality is that when the figurehed goes, those left behind tend to argue a bit (like Alexander the Great’s generals).

  30. And I endorse TSOP’s comments. I can see politics from all sides – it is the best way to understand your opponents. You have to be able to acknowledge problems and mistakes. This was the problem with Howard and the “apology” – sorry seemed to be the hardest word.

    The Labor Party was once a vehement supporter of the White Australia Policy – I accept that was wrong, but I don’t deny it happened.

  31. I live in the Forest Hill electorate where Kirstie Marshall is on an 0.8% margin. As the Greens Party say “Your vote is powerful”.

    Perhaps me and my OH ought to go down to the Burvale and stand outside the venue with a placard “This time vote Greens”.

  32. fjms

    I’m afraid I’m not very knowledgeable about preference deals. I’m just an ordinary, gently swinging, voter.
    My point was only that people who take a “hard stance” in discussions and don’t treat other opinions gently are not encouraging a free exchange of opinion and information.

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