Contributed by Joe Montero
Who should Victorians vote for this Saturday? How important is this state election? Is it going to make much difference? To answer these questions, one must consider the circumstances and what is at stake.
The real battle is between the push to revive the direction pursued by the late Morrison government. It is over the future direction of Australia under the multiple economic, environmental, and political crisis that that nation is facing. None of these crises have reached a point where they ae about to explode. But they have gone far enough to be decisive to the choices Australia faces.
The immediate choice is whether to travel down the road towards a more barbaric service of the big end of town, or the break is at least put on this tide.
That the pollical landscape is undergoing a change is a fact. We saw this at this year’s federal election, and it will play out in some form in Victoria. The growing gap between the few at the top and everyone else, brought about by a declining economy, the destruction of real jobs and devaluing of wages, the escalating cost of living, and the impact of climate warming are having an impact on the lives of Australians. The consequences are a growing restlessness and aspirations for something better than government have been delivering.
Victoria’s election does matter.
Make no mistake, Matthew Guy, and the team around him, are very much in the Morrison family and share the Morrison view of the world. Government in their hands will mean a more brutal grip in the hands of the big end of town, a more thorough casualisation of work and low wages, the further downgrading of Centrelink entitlements, and adding fuel to denial of the need to act on climate change.
Photo from The Australian: Matthew Guy with election slogan Real Solutions and offering only negative campaigning
Don’t be fooled by promises. The Liberals are talking big on spending on health. Just look at how their cousins in NSW have trashed the health system there, making it the most underfunded, overworked, and underperforming one in Australia. This is one major reason why NSW was the most ineffective in coping with the Covid pandemic.
Although we have heard little of crisis on the election campaign trail, it does not mean that crisis is the backdrop against which it has taken place. This crisis lies behind the dirtier than usual campaigning. The focus has been on throwing mud at personalities and away from presenting real policies. Nurses have walked off the job for the fourth time this year over the absence of an adequate nurse/patient ration, over work, and its impact on wellbeing and families.
The opposition has concentrated on innuendo and outright lies. Labor is resting on its history and offering little that is new. Each is fearful of publicly admitting the reality and relies on winning by promoting fear of the other side.
Labor election campaign image: Resting on past performance and offering nothing new
One can be critical of Labor specific policies and limitations, and still see that the re-election of a Labor government will at least hold the line for a time. The critical point is that the Coalition should fail to inject its poison. There is no other option in today’s reality. A Labor government is preferable to a Liberal Party led one.
A Guy government will pass on the health system to private providers and their spending on health will mainly be to subsidise their businesses.
The other line of attack is to target the Andrews government’s spending on infrastructure, especially the building and modernising of rail capacity. Besides easing a serious congestion problem and providing a more efficient, and ultimately, a cheaper travel option, upgrading the transport system is a boon for Victoria’s economy.
The liberal’s only stated alternative is to builds more roads, in a city where the capacity to do so is limited and environmentally unsound.
Their campaigning has been wrapped around encouraging community division by building resentment over past Covid lockdowns.
Melton and other Melbourne fringe satellites, where there is resentment against the lack of public services, including transport, and few job opportunities, may see a backlash against Labor. Climate change is also a big issue. Independent\ candidate, one of the so-called Teals, will probably do well in Melton. These independents may do well in some of the Liberal’s traditional strongholds in Melbourne. The Greens could experience the biggest swing towards them, giving them a change to pick up a few new seats.
It may be that the result is something like that of this year’s federal election. Once again, the need for building a broad unity between Labor, the Greens, and independents will be highlighted. Achieving this may not be the whole answer. It would still mean significant progress against the threat of a more barbaric alternative, and a good start towards Australia uniting to build a better alternative.