Victorian election 2022
Elections are funny things. To those of us who are or have been participants, they are the ultimate reality check and the very public exposition of what we strive to achieve – political power, public endorsement and the opportunity to represent the community we are part of.
To the journalists and commentators who seek to explain what is happening and to predict and analyse the results, it is the event that will test their judgment and expertise at understanding public affairs. And to the strongly partisan supporters of the contesting parties, they are their grand finals, the opportunity to cheer on your heroes, boo your opponents and feel a part of determining the future.
Daniel Andrews makes his victory speech.Credit:Getty
To almost everybody else, it’s a distraction from their normal life, the struggles of working and raising a family in an ever-changing world. A duty performed and then largely forgotten, other than cursory conversation in the days following. And let’s be clear, that is the overwhelming majority.
Despite the speculation and partisan prognostications made in the lead-up to this election, we can now be certain of some things. Daniel Andrews and Labor have won a convincing majority, similar to the Danslide of 2018 in terms of seats won, although with a not insignificant slide in primary vote support and on a two-party preferred basis.
And let’s be clear, this was an election about Andrews – the Liberal Party tried to make it a referendum on his performance and Labor matched that with a campaign centred on the leadership choice: both Andrews’ positives and Matthew Guy’s negatives. For a third term to be won in such an emphatic fashion is a considerable achievement for Andrews and a monumental failure of the Victorian Liberal Party.
The pandemic produced anger and fear in the general community, and that permeated this election campaign. The Liberal Party got caught up in that, and it got that wrong. I’m glad the people of this state rejected that hysteria as it was presented by those in the anti-vax movement and the way it was effectively endorsed by an opposition that just hasn’t done the hard yards to present an alternative over the past four years.
But the government will now also face challenges, as all governments do. Budget repair in an environment of increasing interest rates and inflation; the need to build on this result to also repair the fabric of our community, which has been sorely tested by the strident and negative atmosphere of the campaign and the lead-up to it.
The upper house will likely have a very different crossbench than the past four years – the mainly conservative-leaning motley crew elected by Glenn Druery’s skilled manipulation of the voting system looks to have been decimated.
The Greens and minor left-leaning parties could have as many as eight or nine seats, while right-wing fringe-dwellers are reduced to two or three. That will make it easier for the government to negotiate on legislation and it will have multiple pathways to pursue a majority.
A great victory and a very personal triumph is something the premier has every right to enjoy. However, as George C. Scott said in his monologue at the end of the film Patton, “all glory is fleeting”. The challenge will be to move forward and display the constructive approach needed to meet the post-pandemic problems that are now presenting themselves.
We can speculate on when Andrews may retire and no one really knows for sure, but we can say with certainty that he has a responsibility and a duty to start preparing the government for the post-Andrews era.
That’s about identifying the challenges and putting in place the team to meet them. It’s about building on the expertise and experience within the government to make that transition as seamlessly as possible.
A victory that is very personal and was seen as against the odds does risk increasing your own already considerable self-belief. Andrews quoted Paul Keating in his victory speech on Saturday night. Some commentators sought to draw a comparison with 1993 and Keating’s triumph over John Hewson and Fightback. This was a victory for “the true believers”.
I was first elected to the Labor caucus in that election. I shared the euphoria of my colleagues and will always hold Keating in tremendous regard as a giant of our movement. However, as monumental as his achievement was, I think we can all agree that to paraphrase Kerry Packer’s comment on Alan Bond, “you only get one John Hewson in your life!” As great as that victory was, John Howard led the Coalition to a massive victory just three years later.
The Opinion newsletter is a weekly wrap of views that will challenge, champion and inform your own. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in Politics
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article