Coalition likely to lose in Victoria

ABC Lateline: Coalition likely to lose in Victoria. Reporter: Hamish Fitzsimmons. 19 November 2014

Opinion polls are suggesting that the Napthine coalition government in Victoria will lose next week’s election and become the first one-term administration in the state since 1955.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: With Victoria facing an election 10 days from now, opinion polls are suggesting the Napthine Coalition Government could be the first one-term administration in the state since 1955. A major toll road aimed at fixing Melbourne’s traffic woes has become one of the key issues dividing the parties, but it’s lagging behind health and education in its importance to voters. Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: The man who would be Premier knows he has to get these people on side.

A member of his party’s socialist left faction, Labor leader Daniel Andrews also knows he has to persuade Victoria’s business community he’ll be a responsible economic manager and not captive to the unions.

DANIEL ANDREWS, VICTORIAN LABOR LEADER: This is a modern Labor Party that’s about outcomes, not about ideology, not about the fights of 30 years ago, but outcomes today.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: As the opinion polls slide Labor’s way, business appears to be accommodating the prospect of a change of government after one term.

JEFF DOYLE, COMPANY DIRECTOR: He’s got a jobs and growth plan that has been in place now for really two years. And it came across to me that there are 67 – 67 policies within that that have been in play for the last two years, which I think is very, very positive.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: You’ve heard Daniel Andrews speak. Has it been enough to sway you?

LEIGH PENBERTHY, CEO, LEASEPLUS: Look, I think at this point in time, I’m probably sitting on the fence with his approach, but certainly I felt his commentary, his commitment and his emotion was quite strong today.

ANDY SPINK, BOMBARDIER TRANSPORTATION: If they want to engage with business, so, that’s all we ask as the industry, to be able to have open dialogue with both sides of government.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: While business may be reading the political winds, Labor still hasn’t released its costings for up to $33 billion of election promises.

DENIS NAPTHINE, VICTORIAN PREMIER: If you can’t trust Daniel Andrews to keep his word, to tell Victorian where the money’s coming from before they vote, how can you trust him to run the state?

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: One of the key points of difference between the parties is Labor’s promise to scrap the East West Link, a $6 billion toll road, which the Coalition government says will ease the congestion choking inner-city roads. Polls say most people support its construction, but Labor remains firmly against it.

DANIEL ANDREWS: Congestion, we won’t drive our way out of it. A better public transport system is what’s required.

DENIS NAPTHINE: This project will be a game-changing project for Melbourne and Victoria. It will decongest Melbourne.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The peak business lobby says a major project like the East West Link with its construction life of at least six years and projections of thousands of jobs is what the state needs for economic stability.

TIM PIPER, AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY GROUP: Business needs certainty and maintaining that East West Link would allow that to happen. But business needs to make sure there’s efficiencies too. One of the problems that the Victorian economy has is that we’re a high-cost economy, just like the rest of Australia. We need to create some efficiencies and the East West Link would help us to create those efficiencies.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Labor needs to win two seats to govern in its own right. In 2010, the Coalition tossed them out of office after 11 years. The new Premier, Ted Baillieu, was seen as affable enough, but his party thought he wasn’t able to cut through. His one-seat majority was lost when the Member for Frankston, Geoff Shaw, resigned from the Liberals in March, 2013, saying he’d lost confidence in the Premier. That precipitated Ted Baillieu’s downfall …

TED BAILLIEU, THEN VICTORIAN PREMIER (March, 2013): I will shortly visit the Governor to tender my resignation as Premier.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: … and Denis Napthine’s surprise election as Liberal leader.

DENIS NAPTHINE (March, 2013): Let’s just say this wasn’t what I expected when I had my Special K for breakfast this morning.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Geoff Shaw saga plagued the Parliament right up until its final sitting a few weeks ago, the rogue MP giving and withdrawing support to the Government seemingly on a whim

DANIEL ANDREWS (September): Let’s be clear: I put forward a motion to expel Geoff Shaw so that we would not be having a return to this circus. Denis Napthine voted against it. All the Coalition members voted against it. This is of Denis Napthine’s making.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Shaw’s seat of Frankston is one of the few crucial seats that will dictate the election outcome. This evening, the two leaders squared off there for their only face-to-face debate of the campaign.

DENIS NAPTHINE: Under our government, we deliver on our promises. If there are broken promises, then we are prepared to take action against the people responsible.

DANIEL ANDREWS: We’ve put forward our plans. They’re positive. I’m optimistic about our state and I want the opportunity and the honour to then work really hard to deliver those promises.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Many first-time voters we spoke to seem unsure of who they’ll vote for. Federal issues are playing on the minds of some.

VOX POP: As someone who’s just graduated from uni, I’m pretty interested in making sure that that doesn’t get made more expensive.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: What issues are important to you in this election?

VOX POP II: At the moment, the university fees. I’m a uni student.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: What do you think of both the candidates, Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews?

VOX POP III: To be honest, I haven’t really put much thought into it.

VOX POP IV: So far it’s just been about attacking the other player, so it’s not really telling you what they’re going to do. It’s about how others have failed.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Voters will decide on Saturday week.

Hamish Fitzsimmons, Lateline.

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