Victoria Votes 2018 – Issue 2
The locations of targeted announcements this week have been closely planned by the major parties. Schedules will remain flexible, however, to take advantage of feedback and voter sentiment delivered to the campaign unit via daily ‘tracking’ polling.
What has the Government been up to?
Premier Andrews has spent the last week touring key electorates, with an early focus on rail infrastructure upgrades, building on the Government’s legacy of level crossing removals over the past four years. Targeting the marginal electorate of Bass, Mr Andrews announced that all four level crossings in Pakenham will be replaced by elevated ‘sky rail’, should Labor win government. Hoping to hold the seat of Cranbourne, Mr Andrews announced the removal of a further four level crossings, saying “If our busiest train line operates better, that benefits all of us.”
The Labor Government has been buoyed by positive economic news released by the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance in the pre-election Budget Update. The update confirmed the creation of 390,000 jobs in Victoria since Labor’s election in 2014; a 2018/19 projected budget surplus of $2.3 billion, growing over the forward estimates; and improved economic growth of 3.0 per cent.
In the marginal ‘sand belt’ seat of Mordialloc, the Premier announced that Labor will abolish boat ramp parking fees. Later that day, Mr Andrews visited Maryborough Hospital in central Victoria to pledge a $100 million redevelopment of the site. The hospital sits in the marginal electorate of Ripon, currently held by the Liberals on a 0.8 per cent margin. Demonstrating the close contest, Liberal Member Louise Staley matched the funding commitment on behalf of the Opposition in a news conference held only moments after.
And what about the Opposition?
In the regional town of Warrnambool, once held by former Liberal Leader Denis Napthine, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has announced a $1 billion ‘Road Fix Blitz’ to restore and maintain country roads and bridges over 10 years.
Maintaining his own focus on the handful of target seats, the Opposition Leader also visited the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg in the Labor-held seat of Ivanhoe, to announce a $10 million subsidy to bring down the cost of hospital parking across Victoria.
Guy’s campaign bus also travelled to Baxter, where Mr Guy pledged to add 900 free car parks between Baxter Railway station and the existing Frankston station. This builds on the previously-announced Coalition plan to electrify and extend the Frankston train line to Baxter.
Elsewhere, Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien stepped up the Coalition’s criticism of Labor’s economic credentials in response to the pre-election Budget Update, saying that under Daniel Andrews, the party had created “massive taxes and massive debt” and “that is a very dangerous combination for Victorian households”. Shadow Minister for Police Edward O’Donohue has also remained prominent over the last week, announcing that the Coalition will inject $15 million into building a new 24-hour police station in Leopold, and a further $1 million to upgrade police stations in the City of Greater Geelong region. This followed an earlier campaign pledge of $5.1 million to compel parolees to wear GPS tracking bracelets.
Later in the week, Matthew Guy joined Local Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood to announce $2 million in funding for Stage 2 of the Moe Activity Centre/Moe Rail Precinct Revitalisation Project.