The battle lines drawn as the Vic election approaches

The front is drawn three months after the Victorian state elections, with the health, transport and integrity that form the foundation of the campaign.

After two weeks marred by a donor integrity scandal and the departure of a senior official, Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy (renamed “Matt” on social media) has made his biggest policy decision yet. I was.

The coalition will shelve Labor’s signature multi-billion dollar suburban rail loop project and redirect funds to a struggling health system.

“It’s smart politics to try to reframe the political debate and move on from internal problems,” Zareh Ghazarian, a political scientist at Monash University, told AAP.

Dr Ghazarian sees some strategy parallels to the 2014 election when the then-opposition Labor Party promised to ditch the controversial East-West link and relaunch its leader to the masses as ‘Dan’. I see you doing

Asked if it was an imitation game to seize power as a second leader, Guy said he doesn’t care what people call him.

“You can call me Matt, Matthew, or whatever — preferably Premier,” he told Nine News.

At the request of opposition parties, the Congressional Budget Office calculated figures for the rail loop and found that building the first two stages could return $125 billion to taxpayers. This is more than double his previous Labor Party estimate.

The entire project was said to cost up to $50 billion when first announced ahead of the 2018 election, but as part of the business case announced last year, the first two sections corrected to the worst-case scenario of $50.5 billion.

Only $2.3 billion was allocated for initial construction on the eastern leg. Unlike the canceled East-West Link, which cost taxpayers more than $1.1 billion, the coalition has pledged to honor these contracts.

Despite the latest cost burdens, the opposition’s announcement has drawn a visceral response as the Labor government backs a proposed railroad line 90km west of the city’s southeast via Melbourne Airport. .

“We have to do more than one thing at once,” Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said as ministers lined up to sing praises of the project on Wednesday.

The state of Victoria’s public health system is something the opposition has been trying to gain momentum since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Six lockdowns and a pandemic in hotel quarantines sidetracked the government and established Mr. Andrews as a polarizing figure, while polls suggest the coalition is struggling to deliver a blow is doing.

An August 14 Roy Morgan SMS survey found that the ruling coalition trailed Labor 39.5 to 60.5 on a two-party base, and April’s The Age’s Resolve Political Monitor found that Labor’s primary vote was 43% lower than the previous election’s. % to 37 percent.

Dr Ghazarian said, “Victorian liberals continue to retreat, and it will be difficult to form a government based on these figures.

Both parties enter the election with integrity issues above their heads.

The Labor Party has been under multiple investigations for branch pile-ups and misappropriation of taxpayer money, and Guy’s chief of staff, Mitch Catlin, has asked party donors to pay $100,000 to his personal marketing business. It was discovered that he was asking for more than a dollar, prompting his resignation.

Then there are the additional hurdles imposed by independents and the Greens.

With more than a third of Victorians not voting for Labor or a coalition in May’s federal elections, Dr Ghazarian said there was evidence that government support could lead to independents or minority parties. .

As seen across the country in May, a “teal bus” of honesty- and climate-focused independents threatens to wash out the Liberals in central seats like Caulfield, Brighton and Sandringham.

Labor could also be vulnerable to independents and Green Party candidates in seats within Melbourne such as Richmond and liberal voters in suburban areas such as Monbulk after five senior cabinet members retire.

Kos Samaras, director of political consultancy group RedBridge and former Labor Party strategist, said integrity issues with major parties could undermine votes in other seats, including Hawthorne, Kew and Caulfield.

“It reaffirms in the minds of voters…the major parties have not learned from their mistakes and the only way the political system can be shaken is if voters start choosing different options.” He told ABC Radio Melbourne earlier this month…

The battle lines drawn as the Vic election approaches

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