Victorian election: Countdown begins with Premier Denis Napthine promising vision for future

ABC News: Victorian election: Countdown begins with Premier Denis Napthine promising vision for future. By state political reporter Alison Savage. 20 Aug 2014, 7:36pm

The countdown has begun to the Victorian state election, with 100 days until polling day.

A string of recent opinion polls have Labor in an election-winning position and Premier Denis Napthine concedes it will be a close-fought battle.

In an interview with ABC News presenter Ian Henderson, Dr Napthine said the Coalition would be campaigning both on its record in Government, as well as presenting a vision for Victoria’s future.

“We have a strong economy, a triple A rated economy and we also have real visions and plans for the future of the state,” he said.

“Building better health services, educational opportunities, safer communities and also about delivering better public transport, better roads.

“And of course making sure all Victorians have every opportunity in life.”

Dr Napthine said his Government has laid out a strong infrastructure agenda for the state.

“We’re building the infrastructure we need, whether it be the Melbourne Rail Link, the airport rail link which Melburnians have so wanted for over 40 years, upgrading the Pakenham-Cranbourne railway line or building the East-West Link,” he said.

Some Coalition MPs, including the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, have conceded the tough federal budget has hurt the State Government in the polls.

But Dr Napthine would not be drawn on whether Prime Minister Tony Abbott would be a regular feature in the state campaign.

“I think the people of Victoria are smart, intelligent people. They know this is a Victorian election,” he said.

“Tony Abbott is the Prime Minister of Australia. Tony Abbott will be coming to Victoria on a regular basis.”

Dr Napthine, who stepped into the role after Ted Baillieu quit as Premier last year, said he was hopeful Victorians would back him at the November poll.

“It’s important for Victoria for me to win the election because the Coalition has the best plan for the future growth of Victoria,” he said.

“I get up each and every day trying to do my level best to make Victoria a better place.”

Labor to ‘put people first’ in campaign

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said Labor would be focusing on putting forward a strong alternative.

“We’re very committed to making sure that Victorians have a clear choice,” he said.

PHOTO: Mr Andrews said he will work hard to convince Victorians that he is ready to lead. (Julian Smith: AAP)

Labor is expected to run a back-to-basics campaign, focusing in health, education and jobs.

Mr Andrews said Victorians had been badly let down by the Coalition over the past four years.

“Unemployment’s up, hospital waiting lists are up, we’ve got a crisis in our ambulance system, TAFEs on its knees,” he said.

“Fundamentally this is a great state, but there are some things that need improving and there are some things that we shouldn’t settle for.”

Mr Andrews, who consistently lags behind Dr Napthine in the preferred premier stakes in published polls, said he would work hard to convince Victorians he is ready to lead.

“My job is to give Victorians a choice. I’m determined to do that and then it’ll be up to the people of this great state,” he said.

“Whether they want a new government with new ideas that puts people first, or four more years like the last four.

“A Labor government will put people first and will get onto the basics, the things that define our quality of life.”

Both the Coalition and Labor will focus much of their energies on marginal seats in Melbourne’s south-east, as well as Ballarat and Geelong.

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