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 โ€” 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. To be consistent on this issue the DLP should preference also against every Liberal who voted against their wishes, but they probably won’t, citing their own research showing the Labor candidates in those electorates to be far worse.

    Groups like the DLP are played for suckers on this issue by right wing political parties here, in the USA, and in the UK. The conservative parties never actually deliver anything of substance for them, and why would they? When they know they can rely on their support even if they don’t deliver?

    In the USA it’s reached almost farcical proportions, where the first thing a “change of side” President does is to reverse the decision on funding of US government-funded overseas programs. Neither side ever change anything in their own country – it is essentially symbolic.

  2. Pegasus

    Well I obviously misread that Bob Brown stuff this afternoon because I was expecting him to have rocketed up the charts by 2010 after reading the 2005 list!

    But it’s a bit like “most trusted profession” – it depends who you put on the questionnaire. In Australia it was always pharmacists or nurses (I can’t remember which one, but only one of them was on the list) – since they put the other one on the list they have always come out on top I think.

  3. [Rod and Pegasus,

    You guys are like the old hecklers in the muppets. Predictable whingers blurting out the usual smears.]

    All I can say, GG, is that you clearly didn’t watch it yourself. It was, simply, the worst performance by two senior politicians that I have ever seen, regardless of party, allegiance, etc etc.

  4. Who is the Greens economic spokesperson? I assume, based on his ever so humble performance the other day, that it is Greg “I am the Greens think-tank for policy costings” Barber

  5. No idea, madcyril. You may well be right about Barber. They could simply grab a passing 3 year old donkey and he or she would have been more convincing than Lenders and “what’s his name from the Libs” tonight!

  6. Rod,

    You know the Greens have no economic credibility, so you go the personal smear road to divert attention.

    How predictable for a Greens zombie.

  7. GG,

    No smear. I was absolutely amazed by their behaviour and I have low expectations of many major party politicians. Both were completely unprofessional. If they were hoping to persuade swinging voters to their side, they had better reflect on their performance.

  8. Sorry GG. I’m no more a “Greens zombie” than you are. THis truly was an execrable performance. No doubt it will appear on iView before too long. Watch it and you will see what I mean.

  9. Pegasus,

    You and the Greens cheer squad have no credibility.

    It’s very predictable of Greens supporters who were not invited to the ball, to become bitter and twisted and go the low road of personal smears.

    You like to tell us you’re better than this. But, your behaviour says otherwise.

  10. Tom,

    Another arrogant twat comes a cropper.

    Loosing? Did you mean losing?

    “The donkey vote is lower where there is more education”. Is English your second language?

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