MELBOURNE, Australia—Victoria’s left-leaning Labor premier Daniel Andrews has won an “historic” third term despite a swing against Victorian Labor in the state’s election on Nov. 26.
This comes amid a controversial term that saw the Labor premier implement the world’s longest lockdown, enforce draconian pandemic measures, and front anti-corruption inquiries.
With just under 60 percent of the votes counted by midnight Nov. 26, the results saw Labor win 49 seats in the Victorian legislative assembly, the Coalition 21 seats, and the Greens 4 seats. Forty-five seats was needed to win the election.
In victory speech on the evening of Nov. 26, Andrews said his government had to make some “incredibly challenging” decisions over the past few years.
“We have had to make some very difficult decisions, some very tough decisions, and Victorian families and businesses right across our state have had a very difficult time.”
“This was a one in 100 year event,” he said, adding that Victorians worked together and got vaccinated.
Andrews briefly outlined his “positive plan” for the state’s future, which includes government-funded kindergarten, additional government-funded TAFE courses, and more nurses, paramedics, hospitals, and schools.
He also said that his government was bringing back the State Electricity Commission (SEC), which he says push forward the approach of cutting carbon emissions to tackle climate change and remove reliance on “big greedy” companies to lead a transition. The SEC will be a publicly owned power company, with the premier promising to spend $1 billion to create 4.5 gigawatts of renewable energy—about 30 percent of the state’s electricity.
“They will be replaced with something better, and so if political opponents cannot in some point in the future sell the new SEC like they sold the old one,” he said.
“We will deliver every part of a positive plan to benefit each and every Victorian committee matter how you voted.”
The Revived State Electricity Commission
Ex-premier Jeff Kennett has criticised the premier’s move to reintroduced the SEC saying that Victoria will go “broke” under the plan and it “must be stopped.”
“Now he wants to raid your superannuation funds to invest in a new energy company which the government owns,” Kennett said, reported The Age.
Under the revived SEC, the state will have a share of 51 percent, which included the commission’s wind and solar projects. The remaining “preferred” shareholder will be the superannuation industry, Andrews said.
Kennett told the Australian Financial Review that “this is the clearest indication we have seen yet that this Labor socialist premier is so totally irresponsible that he would put forward a political gimmick ahead of the needs of the community.”
No Deal with The Greens
Andrews has previously said that he will not be making any deals with the Greens despite Victorian Greens Leader Samantha Ratnam issuing a statement in Nov. 16 that a partnership between the two parties would “ensure progressive reform.”
“This has been my position for 12 years … No deal will be offered and no deal will be done,” Andrews told ABC News Breakfast on Nov. 14.
The Greens have retained the seats of inner-city Melbourne, which includes Prahran and Brunswick.
The Greens look set to win two inner-city seats in Melbourne, stealing Northcote and Richmond off Labor, increasing their numbers in the lower house.
“No matter how many seats we end up with tonight, this is a Greenslide and there is no doubt that the people of Victoria have voted for our vision of no new coal and gas, tackling the housing crisis and restoring integrity back into Victorian politics,” Ratnam said on Nov. 26.
Primary Votes Fallen, Again
Despite the win, as of midnight Nov. 27 the primary votes for both major parties has again fallen, with Labor down 5.7 percent from the 2018 election to 37.2 percent, and the Coalition are down 0.6 percent to 34.5 percent. Meanwhile, the Greens are up 0.6 percent to 11.4 percent, and others up 5.7 percent to 16.9 percent.
In a concession speech, Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy said there were “tremendous swings” towards the Coalition in Melbourne’s north and west, despite the commentary.
“Swings above 15, approaching 20 percent in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs,” he said.
The Liberals picked up Nepean on the Mornington Peninsula but lost nearby Hastings, while others remained too close to call.
“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, a more approachable, focus more on uniting Victorians, not just dividing them. As has been the case.”
The Liberal Party leader added that his party will still hold the premier to account.
“We do not shy away from the important messages we have raised in this last term around health and the state of our health system,” Guy said.
“I am immensely proud of all of the Liberal National Party candidates around the state. Our time in the sun will come again.”
Federal Liberal Senator Jane Hume said while the Liberals had enjoyed some good swings, they were just in the wrong seats.
“There’s going to be some soul-searching … I think that there was a much better policy platform this election than there was at the last election,” Hume said on Sky News.
Guy said that it is important for Victorians, post election, to know that “the best of our state should be ahead of us, not behind us.”
Polls closed at 6 p.m. on Nov. 26 after weeks of early voting in which nearly two million Victorians casted their ballots at early voting centres or by post.
On Nov. 24, the premier broke with tradition to cast his ballot outside his electorate of Mulgrave with his wife Catherine and two of his children.
Andrews will be the longest serving Labor premier in Victoria if he remains leader until Easter.