VIC Election 2022: Campaign Insights & Analysis Issue 1
Issue 1, 2 November 2022
The Victorian State Election will be held on Saturday, 26 November 2022. The incumbent Labor Government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, will be standing for a third term, after first coming to Government in 2014. The Liberal-National Coalition, led by Matthew Guy, is aiming to be elected to Government for the first time since 2010.
While the main contest will be between Labor and the Coalition across the regions and outer suburbs, the Greens and Independents are challenging the major parties in Melbourne’s inner-suburbs, seeking to replicate the gains secured at the May Federal Election.
The Governor of Victoria issued the proclamation calling for the General Election on Tuesday, 1 November (25 days before polling day). This marks the start of caretaker government and the formal commencement of the campaign. GRACosway will be distributing election newsletters during the four-week campaign, featuring analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling and other political developments.
In November 2018, Premier Daniel Andrews’ Labor Party was returned to Government for a second term in a landslide victory, winning 55 out of 88 Lower House seats. The Liberal-National Coalition Opposition secured 27 seats – comprising 21 Liberals and 6 Nationals – while six members of the crossbench were elected – three Greens and three Independents.
By November, Labor will have been in power in Victoria for 19 of the past 23 years. The Andrews Government will be on the defensive to protect its 11-seat majority, with plans to focus its resources on key outer suburban and regional seats. This approach reflects that in the May 2022 Federal Election, Labor’s primary vote fell across traditional heartland seats in Melbourne’s north and west, where people experienced the worst health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
The Government enters the Election with a significantly different frontbench from the one that contested the 2018 Election, with multiple reshuffles triggered by integrity scandals and ministerial retirements. 11 Ministers have exited the cabinet since the 2018 Election; representing a large loss of ministerial experience and public recognition. This is expected to increase the focus of the campaign on Daniel Andrews, with the rest of the frontbench taking a more supporting role.
Meanwhile, the Opposition will seek to capitalise on dissatisfaction in some sectors of the community with Labor’s management of the pandemic, the ongoing health crisis, rising cost-of-living pressures, and recent integrity scandals revealed by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). Another policy battleground is Infrastructure, with Matthew Guy pledging that if elected, he would scrap work on the $34.5 billion Suburban Rail Loop and invest the funds into the Victorian Health system.
The Coalition’s losses at the 2018 Election meant it would always face an uphill battle to form Government in November, however its electoral prospects were further dampened by the major redistribution of State electoral boundaries in October 2021. Analysts have suggested (paywall) this redistribution is notionally unfavourable to the Coalition, with the abolition of two seats in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs that were considered safe Liberal territory.
At the Federal Election, several “Teal” independent candidates in Victoria and New South Wales contested seats against notable “moderate” Liberal MPs. In Victoria, the Liberals lost the Federal seats of Kooyong and Goldstein to high-profile independents as well as Higgins to Labor. In the Victorian Election, independent candidates will mount similar challenges in the blue-ribbon electorates of Brighton, Caulfield, Sandringham, Kew, Mornington, and Hawthorn. The three current independents in the lower house – Suzanna Sheed (Shepparton) and Ali Cupper (Mildura) will be defending their regional seats against the major parties, while Russell Northe (Morwell) will be retiring.
With two of the Labor Government’s longest-serving front benchers, former Planning Minister Richard Wynne and former Health Minister Martin Foley, retiring at the upcoming Election, there is speculation that the Greens may secure victory in the inner-city seats of Richmond and Albert Park – a move the Party may also replicate in Northcote. The Greens Party currently holds the seats of Melbourne, Brunswick, and Prahran.
In terms of polling, the Age reported (paywall) that its latest Resolve Political Monitor survey found that Labor was ahead 59-41 in two party preferred terms, albeit with a depressed primary vote.
PRIMARY VOTE (%)
- 38% Labor
- 31% Liberal/National
- 12% Greens
- 12% Independent
- 6% Other
Seats to watch
The following analysis reflects the different contests that will be at this Election between both major parties as well as minor parties and independents. All figures are from ABC psephologist Antony Green’s calculations.
- Ripon (-2.7 per cent Liberal) is a regional seat in Western Victoria, held by Louise Staley, however due to the aforementioned redistribution, her seat has shifted into a notional Labor seat. The Labor candidate is Martha Haylett, a former adviser to Daniel Andrews.
- Hawthorn (0.6 per cent Labor) is a seat in the inner eastern suburbs of Melbourne and is shaping up to be a three-way contest between the incumbent John Kennedy, Liberal candidate (and former Member) John Pesutto and “Teal” independent Melissa Lowe.
- Ringwood (3.2 per cent Labor) is based in Melbourne’s outer east, with incumbent MP Dustin Halse retiring. Labor’s candidate is Burwood MP Will Fowles, who is attempting to transfer to this seat following the abolition of his previous electorate. The Liberal candidate is Cynthia Watson, a councillor for the City of Boroondara.
- Kew (4.7 per cent Liberal) in Melbourne’s inner-east also has its incumbent MP Tim Smith retiring at this Election. The Liberal candidate is Jess Wilson, who was an adviser to Josh Frydenberg and has worked for the Business Council of Australia. She is being challenged primarily by teal independent Sophie Torney.
- Melton (5.0 per cent Labor) is on Melbourne’s western fringe and is held by Cabinet Secretary Steve McGhie and is likely to be a three-way contest between Mr McGhie, Liberal candidate Graham Watt and Independent Ian Birchall.
- Richmond (5.8 per cent Labor vs Greens), in Melbourne’s inner-suburbs, has incumbent MP and former Minister Richard Wynne retiring, making this seat a top priority for the Greens. Labor’s candidate is Lauren O’Dwyer, with the Greens nominating local councillor Gabrielle de Vietri.
- Health is an extremely prominent issue this Election, with the health system dealing with the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ongoing worker shortage issues. Both parties have pledged huge amounts of money towards upgrading health facilities in the State, with Labor promising nearly $10 billion and the Coalition promising over $12 billion in spending. Other Election commitments include free public transport for Health workers from the Coalition and from Labor, a pledge to pay the the HECS debts of 10,000 nursing and midwifery graduates.
- Several flagship infrastructure projects are expected to be front and centre of the Government’s re-election campaign. This includes the Suburban Rail Loop Project (SRL), an orbital rail line designed to connect most of Melbourne’s train lines. The Coalition announced it would halt SRL contracts if it wins the Election and redirect funding to the health system. Another flagship program is the Level-Crossing Removal Project, which has now removed 65 level crossings from Victoria’s rail network, exceeding the Government’s target of 50. This program was a key plank of Labor’s 2018 election campaign, with the Government now committing to remove 110 by 2025.
- The legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic may also become an Election issue. Despite some targeted criticism from some sectors of the mainstream media, the Government has been given qualified support for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included six lockdowns and myriad other COVID restrictions. These measures were heavily criticized by the Coalition, and they are seeking to capitalise on voter resentment towards pandemic management in the outer suburbs and regions, as well as the Premier’s reputation as leader of the Government.
- Under the macroeconomic backdrop of rising inflation and interest rates, Cost of Living is a factor for many voters this Election. The Coalition has promised to cap metropolitan public transport fares at $2 a day and halve regional fares on V/Line, with Labor countering with a promise to reduce V/Line fares to metropolitan levels (currently $9.20 per day). Labor has also promised to bring power prices down by investing in state-owned renewable energy.
- The Victorian Economy is another issue this Election, with the Government touting its strong macroeconomic credentials, with multiple media releases from the Government publicising job creation and investment attraction. Meanwhile, the Coalition is pursuing votes from disenfranchised voters, particularly in outer suburban areas which are strongly populated by tradespeople with their own businesses, and small business owners situated in inner-metropolitan areas, by guaranteeing no new taxes and promising support to businesses to help them recover and employ more Victorians (including in the events sector).
This is the first of our Victorian Election 2022 newsletter series, featuring analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling and other political developments. For more information about the election, or to enquire about our services in Victoria, please contact:
Richard King, Managing Partner – Public Affairs
M: +61 407 766 633
E: [email protected]