Victoria Votes 2018 – Issue 1
31 October 2018
GRACosway will be distributing a regular election newsletter during the four-week State Election campaign, featuring analysis of campaign activities, policy announcements, polling and other political developments.
The Victorian Government entered caretaker mode on Tuesday 30 October, ahead of the looming 24 November State Election. With both major parties formally launching their campaigns over the past weekend, the campaign has begun in earnest in the State with the nation’s best performing economy.
In reality, campaigning has been underway for some weeks now with a forensic focus on key marginal seats and a mixture of localised and state-wide announcements. This followed the final sitting day of the parliamentary term on 20 September.
The Andrews Government chose Monash University – situated in Melbourne’s south-east and adjoining the marginal electorates of Mordialloc, Bentleigh, Oakleigh and the Premier’s own seat of Mulgrave – to launch their campaign late Sunday morning. The Premier declared his centrepiece announcement to be “one of the biggest shake-ups in healthcare in Victorian history”, with a promise of $1.3 billion in funding for Victoria’s healthcare system. This includes $675 million to construct 10 new community hospitals and funding for additional ambulance branches and paramedics, with $109 million for new vehicles, equipment and stations.
Meanwhile, the Opposition launched their campaign at the Ivanhoe Town Hall in Melbourne’s north-east, located near the community where Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy grew up and still resides. The Opposition is hoping to steal the seat of Ivanhoe from Labor, building its campaign on public concern over population growth and housing affordability, along with traffic congestion and crime. In his pitch, Guy announced a $295 discount for red P-plater car registration and cuts to regional payroll tax, while vowing to establish an independent judicial inquiry into the “cover up” of Labor’s “red shirts” scandal, should the Liberal Party win government.
The Electoral Landscape
It is not commonly understood that the Labor Party holds government by the thinnest of margins – a one seat majority – with 45 Labor Members of the Legislative Assembly in the 88 seat Chamber, including the Speaker. This slim majority was caused by the resignation of former Deputy Speaker Don Nardella, who left the Labor Party to join the crossbench as an Independent in March 2017. A by-election last November – triggered by the death of popular Labor Minister Fiona Richardson – saw Labor lose Northcote to the Greens, further reducing the Government’s majority.
The Coalition will need to gain a further eight seats in order to secure a majority in the Legislative Assembly and form government. It is expected that one of these eight could be the seat of Morwell, previously held by former Coalition Minister Russell Northe, who left the Nationals to sit as an Independent in August 2017.
Target seats to watch include:
- Frankston – Paul Edbrooke (ALP) – 0.5% margin
- Carrum – Sonya Kilkenny (ALP) – 0.7% margin
- Ripon – Louise Staley (Liberal) – 0.8% margin
- Bentleigh – Nick Staikos (ALP) – 0.8% margin
- Morwell – Russell Northe (Independent) – 1.8% margin
- Richmond – Richard Wynne (ALP) – 1.9% margin
- Mordialloc – Tim Richardson (ALP) – 2.1% margin
- Brunswick – Vacated – 2014 margin of 2.2% to ALP
- South Barwon – Andrew Katos (Liberal) – 2.9% margin
- Albert Park – Martin Foley (ALP) – 3.0% margin
- Bass – Brian Paynter (Liberal) – 4.5% margin
- Bellarine – Lisa Neville (ALP) – 4.8% margin
- Monbulk – James Merlino (ALP) – 5.0% margin
Recent Polling ahead of 24 November
The latest Newspoll published on Monday 29 October reveals Labor leads the Coalition on a two-party preferred (2PP) basis, 54 to 46 per cent, placing the Government in a comfortable position as it enters the final weeks of the campaign. This latest polling demonstrates a widening gap from the April 2018 Newspoll, where Labor led 51 to 49 per cent on a 2PP basis. Of further concern for the Coalition in Monday’s poll is that the Labor Party are perceived to be better at handling the economy, while the Coalition leads the Government by only one point (39 to 38 per cent) on best managing law and order.
On the question of who would be the better premier, Daniel Andrews leads over Opposition Leader Matthew Guy on a margin of 45 per cent to 29 per cent. Labor’s primary vote is the highest it has been since May 2015, at 41 per cent, compared to the Coalition’s 39 per cent.
A ReachTEL poll conducted in early October confirmed similar results for the Andrews Government with a 2PP lead of 52 to 48 per cent.
While polls traditionally tighten during an election campaign, the gap suggests that the Coalition will need to gain significant ground in a short period of time, with the first pre-polls opening in just 14 days.