Coalition victory in Victoria

I was living in Melbourne in 1999 when Jeff Kennett got the arse and Steve Bracks tipped out the Liberal led coalition. It was a close run thing then and hung on the independents. I had actually met Jeff Kennett a couple of months before he lost. This year is also a close run thing, but the lefts vote has collapsed and there has been a significant swing to the Coalition.

One of those who enabled Labor to control Victoria for 11 years was Craig Ingram and he has just been tipped out himself as the collapse of the left is being analysed.

HE WAS the abalone diver from Mallacoota who became a kingmaker in 1999 when, as one of the three independents holding the balance of power in Spring Street, Craig Ingram rejected Jeff Kennett and gave the nod to Steve Bracks and the ALP.

After the 2006 poll he was the lone independent remaining at Spring Street. Last night, Mr Ingram, only the sixth member to represent Gippsland East since its establishment in 1889, lost his seat to the Nationals’ Tim Bull.

Expressing disappointment with the result, he said it had been a privilege to represent the electorate for 11 years, and he slammed the campaigning of the Nationals.

”The National Party were dishonest, but that’s fine, politics is a full-contact blood sport. I’m not bitter, I accept that it’s the nature of politics,” he said.

I love that last line. It shows the true nature of a politician, and one who fights hard in Australian politics.

One thing about this campaign in Victoria though that has shown through is that negative campaigning does work. The thing about negative campaigning is that it is the most honest because it has to be true. The coalition attrited Labor by telling the truth about them.

Still, Labor never quite believed that Victorians, in a good economy, would bring themselves to choose Ted Baillieu, a man they derided as a sook and a cry-baby.

In the end, with the government’s sheer longevity weighing it down, Baillieu did not have to convince voters to vote for him, he simply had to encourage them to vote against the government. Labor strategists knew this, and they watched nervously as the Coalition successfully articulated the government’s failures in a relentlessly negative campaign.

Long serving governments always come a gutser eventually as voters weary of them. The incumbents also become arrogant and self centred. Labour, here in New Zealand was the same. After nine years of believing that they had made a difference they were aghast to be shown the door. Some ins labour still can’t believe it and sincerely believe that the voters simply erred. Until they can show some contrition then they aren’t going to be back in power anytime soon. the fact that they remain silent on Philip Field speaks volumes.

Back to Australia though and the Victorian result. What is also stunning is the slaughter of the green vote.

THE GREENS’ bid to make history by winning their first ever seat in State Parliament’s lower house appeared to be in tatters last night, with Labor retaining its stronghold across the inner city on the back of Liberal Party preferences.

While the Greens were last night refusing to concede defeat – pointing out that many pre-poll votes remained uncounted – party leaders admitted it was unlikely they would defeat Labor in the prized seats of Melbourne, Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote.

With only half the votes counted by 10pm last night, Labor’s Education Minister Bronwyn Pike was well ahead of Greens candidate Brian Walters in the seat of Melbourne. Housing Minister Richard Wynne was also on track to retain Richmond ahead of Greens candidate Kathleen Maltzahn, while Labor candidate Jane Garrett, the mayor of Yarra, looked set for her first tilt in State Parliament after pushing ahead of Greens candidate Cyndi Dawes. Further north, in the notionally safe Labor seat of Northcote, Brumby government parliamentary secretary Fiona Richardson was easily ahead of Greens candidate Anne Martinelli. Federal Greens leader Bob Brown blamed the Liberals’ decision to preference the Greens last on their how to vote cards as the reason they were outpolled.

I love the preference system, though it takes forever to count it really can be effective,especially when voters want to keep nutters at bay. In this instance in Victoria Liberals consistently ranked Green candidates last, destroying any hope that they would hold the balance of power and in fact shattering them utterly in Victoria. What makes the result for the greens particularly galling is the fact that many Labor politicians only retained their seats off of the back of Green preferences. Victoria has comprehensively rejected Green politics, a significant factor was probably the blame for the many deaths in the Victorian bushfires because of green policies and tomfoolery that ultimately cost lives.

The counting continues in Victoria but Labor can’t form a government, they don’t have enough seats.

Almost 24 hours after polls closed, the result has yet to be declared, but is likely to hinge on counting of early votes in the suburban seat of Bentleigh, where the coalition is close to claiming the 45th seat it needs for majority government.

A defiant Premier John Brumby was refusing to concede defeat on Sunday and will wait until a record 550,000 early votes have been counted.

But the Liberal-Nationals are growing in confidence that the election is theirs and are poised to end Labor’s 11-year reign.

With three quarters of the vote counted, the coalition has won as many as 44 of the 88 upper house seats. At best Labor has 43.

A downcast Mr Brumby admitted it was ”extremely unlikely” Labor would achieve majority government, but said he won’t concede defeat until all pre-poll votes are counted, which will not happen until Monday at the earliest.

Hopefully the Coalition has helped embattled Victorians cast aside the shackles of 11 years of Labor rule.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.