He said Victoria was “out in front leading our nation” on mental health, domestic violence, early childhood education and on renewable energy and climate change action.
“To think now, that my good friend, my very, very, good friend Albo is a partner to do that work … we look forward to doing lots of big and important reform with a federal Labor government, ’cause that’s how you get things done,” Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
Labor will win more than 52 seats and secured a clear majority above the 45 seats required, and not far off the 55 it held before the election.
“Congratulations Daniel Andrews, what a great win,” Mr Albanese tweeted.
Mr Andrews acknowledged the pain in western suburbs, but he said the “progressive” plan to bring back the SEC, build the suburban rail loop and to offer free kinder and TAFE had been “convincingly endorsed”, as he declared he would lead the nation on policy.
“We are a progressive state, we are a thoughtful state, we are the centre of critical thinking, we are the centre of all the big ideas in our nation,” the premier said.
Close to half of Victorian voters did not believe Mr Andrews would serve a full term if he won the election, including four in 10 Labor supporters. But Labor insiders said the premier would be emboldened to go on after asserting his authority over both Labor and the state.
“It is the greatest honour of my life,” Mr Andrews said when he was asked if he would serve a full, four-year term. “I’m here to get things done. I’m thrilled to do it for another four years.
“I was brought up to know at a really elemental level that if you’ve had opportunity, then you are obliged,” he told reporters, alongside deputy premier and his anointed successor Jacinta Allan.
Much of the close to 6 per cent against Labor was in the west, where the party sits on large leads. It held all its seats there, including that of Treasurer Tim Pallas.
The Greens made strong inroads but despite being in the race in six new seats, it appeared on Sunday they might only win Richmond, in addition to their existing three seats.
The Liberals failed to make any serious inroads in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs or key suburban seats. One senior Liberal MP blamed their “genius” leader Mr Guy, who had “driven the party off a cliff”. the MP described the campaign as the “Titanic”. He urged Mr Guy and shadow treasurer David Davis to leave the parliament.
The result looked a little better for the Liberals on Sunday, with new Liberal candidate Jess Wilson holding Kew, and the former federal MP Chris Crewther, who appears likely to hold the seat of Mornington, both against teals.
Changes at the top
Liberal MP James Newbury in Brighton and David Southwick in Caulfield managed to hold their seats, while former tennis star Sam Groth won Nepean from Labor.
The Liberals’ Mr Pesutto was ahead by about 500 votes in Hawthorn with less than 9000 votes left to count and remained optimistic about claiming the seat. He signalled on Sunday that he would run for Liberal leader if he won.
“As a party of government, the Liberal Party cannot afford to be anything less than a movement which draws its support from right across Victoria,” Mr Pesutto told The Australian Financial Review.
Former Liberal leader Michael O’Brien has told colleagues he will not run for the leadership, paving the way for Mr Pesutto to take the reins, if he should win.
Mr Pesutto said new MPs Jess Wilson in Kew and Sam Groth in Nepean would be “key” in a new leadership team. Ms Wilson has previously flagged she wants to play a key role in the party’s renewal and generational change.
The Nationals also performed well and will win up to three extra seats, putting the Coalition on track to claim more than 25 seats, above the 23 they held before the election.
But they also lost some seats, including Glen Waverley, with Labor candidate and Strictly Ballroom actor Paul Mercurio just ahead in Hastings, but there were still seven seats still too close to call.
Pollster and former Liberal state secretary Tony Barry described it as a “disaster” for the Liberals.
“Just a killing field for us, just a disastrous result,” he said. “I think there needs to be a lot of soul-searching within the party.”
But Mr Guy, who on Sunday stood down as leader, talked up the result on Saturday night and Sunday.
“The respectable statewide two-party preferred swing to the Coalition of 3-4 per cent was most profound in the exceptional swings to the Liberal Party in Melbourne’s north and west,” he said in a statement. “This represents a huge future electoral opportunity for the Liberal Party.”
On Saturday night, he said the swings against Labor delivered a message to Mr Andrews.
“I hope that the Labor Party, who will form the government, will heed that message, and will have a change in style, a change in attitude, more approachable, focus more on uniting Victorians, not just dividing them.”
Mr Guy’s decision has triggered the firing pistol for the future of the Victorian Liberals.
Other names being touted for the Liberal Party leadership include Brad Battin, who has previously run for leader, and Ryan Smith, while opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier has reportedly ruled herself out.
Mr Crewther is also expected to be a powerful new player and said he would seek a shadow ministry position if successful.
“We need to ensure there’s unity in the team and no more internal leaking that has damaged the party from within,” he told the Financial Review.
Despite the dire result, Liberal headquarters maintain that their polling was not too far wrong, simply that the high number of undecided voters broke against them on the day.
They also claim that their polling showed a dire 45-55 result on a two-party preferred basis in September when Mr Guy’s chief of staff resigned and that without a decent campaign the Liberals would have been wiped out like they were in Western Australia.
But polling by Freshwater Strategy for The Australian Financial Review at the start of November appeared closer to the mark after it projected Labor would lose three to five seats but narrowly hold power as support for Mr Guy stalled.
“Despite being seen as a highly divisive figure, Andrews was always the preferred leader to run Victoria,” Dr Mike Turner said. “At this election Victorians chose the devil they knew, rather than the alternative. Andrews probably has Matthew Guy to thank as much as his own campaign.”