While it is possible that two seats could change, Labor appears to have won 56 of the 88 seats in the Victorian lower house, up nine seats since the 2014 election, the Coalition won 26 seats (down 12), the Greens three seats (up one) and independents three seats (up two).
These results reflect changes since the 2014 election, and do not account for Labor’s loss of Northcote to the Greens at a byelection, which Labor regained at the general. Party defections are also ignored.
Labor’s unexpectedly crushing victory was capped by triumphs in Hawthorn (50.4-49.6) and Nepean (50.9-49.1). Labor had not won Hawthorn since 1952, and Nepean (formerly known as Dromana) since 1982. It also came close to winning Caulfield (a 50.3-49.7 loss), which has never been Labor-held since its creation in 1927.
The 8-10 point swings to Labor in Hawthorn, Nepean and other affluent Liberal heartland seats such as Brighton and Malvern appear to demonstrate well-educated voters’ anger with the Liberals’ law and order campaign, and the federal Liberals’ ousting of Malcolm Turnbull.
Labor has landslide win in Victoria
Labor was assisted in Victoria by a strong state economy, and an unpopular federal Coalition government. The national economy is currently good, and this could assist the federal government if they could stop fighting among themselves.
While Labor had massive wins in Melbourne and its outskirts, and increased its margins in regional cities, it did not perform well by comparison in country areas. Labor only gained one country seat, Ripon, and that was by just 31 votes on a swing under 1%; there could be a recount in Ripon.
The Greens held Melbourne and Prahran, and gained Brunswick from Labor. In Prahran, Green Sam Hibbins was third on primaries, trailing Labor by 0.8%. On preferences of left-wing micros, he overtook Labor by 0.7%, and easily defeated the Liberals on Labor preferences. This is the second consecutive election in which Hibbins has come from third on primary votes to win Prahran.
Russell Northe, who defected from the Nationals in the last parliament, retained Morwell as an independent. Ali Cupper, who had contested Mildura in 2010 as a Labor candidate, gained it as an independent from the Nationals. Independent Suzanna Sheed retained Shepparton, a seat she gained from the Nationals in 2014.
Near-final statewide primary votes were 42.8% Labor (up 4.7% since the 2014 election), 35.2% Coalition (down 6.7%) and 10.7% Greens (down 0.8%). It is unlikely we will have an official Labor vs Coalition statewide two party count until next week, but The Poll Bludger estimates Labor won this count by 57.4-42.6, a 5.5% swing to Labor.
Final pre-election polls greatly overstated the Coalition and understated Labor, as shown by the table below. The only poll that came close to the result was a ReachTEL poll for a left-wing organisation, taken 11 days before the election, that gave Labor a 56-44 lead.
Bold numbers in the table indicate a poll estimate that was within 1% of the results. All polls had the Greens right, but missed on Labor and the Coalition.
The ABC calculator currently gives Labor 18 of the 40 upper house seats, the Coalition 11, the Greens just one, and ten for all others. Others include four Derryn Hinch Justice, two Transport Matters, one Animal Justice, one Liberal Democrat, one Aussie Battler and one Sustainable Australia.
The upper house has eight regions that each elect five members. The three country regions are very close to completion of their counts, while the city regions lag. In Northern Victoria, Labor will win two seats, the Coalition one, Hinch Justice one and Liberal Democrats one. In Western Victoria, Labor will win two, the Coalition one, Animal Justice one and Hinch Justice one.
In Eastern Victoria, the calculator has Labor and the Coalition each winning two seats with one for Aussie Battler. However, Kevin Bonham says that Aussie Battler is ahead of Hinch Justice at a critical point by just 0.11%, and this lead will be overturned with below-the-line votes. The Shooters will win the final Eastern Victoria seat.
In Eastern Metro, with the count at 87.2%, there will be two Labor, two Liberals and Transport Matters wins the final seat from just 0.6% (0.04 quotas). In Southern Metro, two Labor and two Liberals win. The Greens, with 0.79 of a quota, are easily beaten to the last seat by Sustainable Australia, with just 1.3% or 0.08 quotas.
While the figure used by the ABC is the rechecked percentage counted, the electoral commission has been providing actual primary counts in Word files, which are ahead of the rechecked count in Metro regions.
In South-Eastern Metro, Labor will win three seats and the Liberals one. Bonham says Transport Matters could be excluded at a critical point, and fail to take the final seat, in which case it goes to the Liberal Democrats, who had an even lower vote than Transport Matters in that region (1.2% vs 0.8%).
In Western Metro, Labor will win three seats and the Liberals one. The last seat is likely to go to Hinch Justice, which won 6.9% in that region. However, the Shooters, with just 1.9%, could win the final seat.
In Northern Metro, two Labor and one Green are certain winners. In Bonham’s more up-to-date figures, the Liberals win one seat, and the final seat is probably a contest between Hinch Justice and Fiona Patten.
Labor and the Coalition are likely to win the 18 and 11 seats respectively that the calculator currently gives them. The ten micros could be a little different from the ABC’s current projection.
The group voting tickets are excessively complex, and it would be far easier to call these seats with a more sensible system.
The New South Wales election will be held on March 23, 2019. A YouGov Galaxy poll for The Daily Telegraph, conducted November 29-30 from a sample of 903, gave Labor a 52-48 lead; this is the first NSW Galaxy poll since the 2015 election. A ReachTEL poll for The Sydney Morning Herald, conducted November 29 from a sample of 1,560, gave Labor a 51-49 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since a September ReachTEL poll.
Primary votes in the Galaxy poll were 39% Labor, 37% Coalition, 9% Greens and 8% One Nation. In ReachTEL, primary votes, after excluding 3.1% undecided, were 37.7% Coalition, 35.2% Labor, 9.9% Greens and 7.7% One Nation. Labor’s primary vote is four points lower in ReachTEL than Galaxy.
After replacing Luke Foley as Labor leader, Michael Daley appears to be benefiting from a honeymoon. He trails incumbent Gladys Berejiklian 33-31 in Galaxy, and leads her 54.2-45.8 in ReachTEL as better Premier. ReachTEL’s forced choice better PM/Premier questions usually benefit opposition leaders.
State parties tend to do better when the opposite party is in power federally, and the current federal government is unpopular. It appears that the federal election will be held in May 2019, and this is bad news for the NSW Coalition, which has to face voters first. In ReachTEL, voters said by 50-36 that federal politics would play a role in their state election decision.
By 58-36, voters in ReachTEL opposed the NSW government’s stadium policy, which includes knocking down and rebuilding stadiums.
Last week’s federal Newspoll, conducted November 22-25 – the same weekend as the Victorian election – from a sample of 1,720, gave Labor a 55-45 lead, unchanged since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 40% Labor (steady), 34% Coalition (down one), 9% Greens (steady) and 8% One Nation (up two).
43% were satisfied with Scott Morrison’s performance (up four), and 42% were dissatisfied (down five), for a net approval of +1, up nine points. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up two points to -13. Morrison led Shorten by 46-34 as better PM (42-36 three weeks ago).
By 40-34, voters opposed moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. After being told that Indonesia and Malaysia had raised concerns about the embassy move, voters thought by 46-34 that Morrison should announce the move will not take place, rather than ignore those countries’ concerns.
Newspoll was three points better for Labor than two polls last fortnight, which both had Labor leading by just 52-48. The PM’s ratings are usually a good guide to voting intentions, so the hope for the Coalition is that Morrison’s lift could soon lift the Coalition. This poll was taken before last week’s parliamentary session.
The UK House of Commons will decide whether to reject or approve PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the European Union on December 11.
Indications are that the deal will be rejected by a large margin, with about 100 Conservative MPs set to vote against the deal. You can read my article on the probable consequences of a “no-deal” Brexit on my personal website.
Labor has maintained a 55-45% two-party lead in the latest Newspoll,
in a weekend of woe for the Morrison government, which is trying to
play down the federal contribution to the Victorian Liberal wipeout.
The Coalition’s primary vote fell for the third consecutive
time, to 34%, in a poll that if replicated at an election would see a loss of 21 seats. Labor’s primary vote remained at 40%. One Nation rose 2
points to 8%; the Greens were steady on 9%.
Scott Morrison boosted his lead over Bill Shorten as better PM to 12
points, leading 46-34% compared with 42-36% a fortnight ago. Morrison
has a net positive satisfaction rating of plus one, improving from
minus 8 in the last poll.
The poll will reinforce Coalition gloom after Saturday’s Victorian
election which saw a swing to the Labor government estimated by ABC
election expert Antony Green at around 4% in two-party terms. While an
ALP win was expected, the stunning size of it came as a surprise.
Labor has landslide win in Victoria
Even assuming the Victoria election was mainly won (or lost) on state
issues, there are clearly federal factors and lessons in this smashing
of the Liberals, which if translated federally would potentially put at risk half a dozen Victorian seats.
As Premier Daniel Andrews said, Victoria is a “progressive” state. It
stands to reason that Liberal infighting and the dumping of Malcolm
Turnbull, the trashing of the National Energy Guarantee and the
talking down of renewables, and the broad rightward lean of the
federal Coalition alienated many middle-of-the-road Liberal voters.
The anecdotal evidence backs the conclusion that Victorians were
sending strong messages to the Liberal party generally, including the
But are the federal Liberals willing to hear those message? And anyway,
does Morrison have the capacity to respond to them effectively?
Morrison has so far demonstrated no personal vision for the country,
and his play-for-the-moment tactics are being increasingly seen as
Morrison took the unusual course of not saying anything about Victoria
on Saturday night or Sunday. He will meet the Victorian federal
Liberals on Monday to discuss the outcome.
Ahead of that meeting Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – who is from Victoria and is deputy Liberal leader – played down the federal implications. While conceding “the noise from Canberra certainly didn’t help”, he claimed in an ABC Sunday night interview that the lessons to be learned federally were about grassroots campaigning and the need to rebut “Labor lies”. He would not concede a recalibration of policy was needed.
Some in the right will try to write Victoria off as unrepresentative
of the nation, just as they did Wentworth. This flies in the face of
reality – there were big swings in the eastern suburbs and the sandbelt,
the sort of areas the Liberals would expect to be their middle class strongholds.
The government needs to pitch much more to the centre in policy terms
but it will be hard to do so.
Given its current positioning, how could it sound moderate on energy
and climate policy? It can’t go back to the NEG. It is stuck with its
obsessions about coal and its distrust of, or at least equivocation
about, renewables, as well as its business-bashing threat of
On issues such as coal and climate change, the party’s eyes have been
turned obsessively to Queensland, where there is a raft of marginal
seats, without sufficient regard to those in Victoria and NSW. Even in
relation to Queensland, there has been a failure to adequately
recognise that that state is not monolithic when it comes to issues
The right is unlikely to stop its determined effort to take over the
party, whatever the cost. Indeed some on the right will argue that the Morrison strategy should be to sharpen the policy differences further, rather than looking to the centre.
The right’s mood will be darkened by the Saturday dumping of rightwing senator Jim Molan to an unwinnable position on the NSW Liberal ticket. Molan has pulled out from Monday’s Q&A program; the ABC tweeted that he’d said he could “no longer defend the Liberals”.
As if the Victorian result was not sobering enough, the government
this week begins the final fortnight of parliament for the year in minority
government, with independent Kerryn Phelps sworn in on Monday as
Turnbull’s replacement in Wentworth.
The government wants the focus on national security legislation but
other issues will be political irritants for it.
Labor and crossbenchers are pushing the case for a federal
anti-corruption body – the sort of initiative that would appeal to
voters highly distrustful of politicians.
Crossbenchers Cathy McGowan and Rebekha Sharkie will introduce a
private member’s bill. 34 former judges have signed an open letter
advertisement calling for a national integrity commission.
They said: “Existing federal integrity agencies lack the necessary
jurisdiction, powers and know-how to investigate properly the
impartiality and bona fides of decisions made by, and
conduct of, the federal government and public sector.”
The government is resisting a new body but will need some convincing
The government will also be under pressure over Morrison’s pledge to
legislate to remove the opportunity for religious schools to
discriminate against gay students. Negotiations with the opposition
have been at an impasse, although the government says it still wants
legislation through this fortnight.
In the middle of the fortnight Morrison attends the G20, where he is
expected to have a meeting with Donald Trump. One would assume they
will canvass the Australian government’s consideration of moving our
embassy to Jerusalem, with Trump urging Morrison to go ahead with
the controversial move.
Senate president Scott Ryan has called out the right within the
Liberal party and among commentators, declaring that Liberal voters
“don’t want views rammed down their throats”.
In a trenchant critique of federal influences in the rout of the
Victorian Liberals, Ryan, a former vice-president of the state
division, pointed to the swings in seats “that are the cradle of the
They were areas that were in federal seats like Goldstein, Higgins,
Menzies and Kooyong, he told the ABC.
These voters were the “real base of the Liberal party. They sent us a
message,” he said. “They don’t want litmus tests for what it means to be a real Liberal”.
Many Liberal voters were fairly conservative in their own lives,
raising kids, working hard, running small businesses, supporting
strong local communities. “But they’re pretty liberal in their
political outlook. They don’t want views rammed down their throat, and
they don’t want to ram their views down other people’s throat.
“And that has historically been the Liberal way. We’re often
conservative in our disposition – I am – but I’m very liberal in my
He said part of the problem was “tone” – while Victoria was a state
election some of the noise that came out of Canberra “did strongly
influence the scale of the loss, where it happened”.
Ryan said after the loss of Wentworth some had “tried to dismiss those
voters as not part of real Australia … labelling people, dismissing
them – that’s not the Liberal way.
“I want to cast the net wide in the Menzies and Howard tradition [so]
as to give people a reason to be Liberals, not come up with litmus
tests and say if you don’t hold this view on a social issue, or if you
don’t hold this particular view on climate change or renewable energy,
then somehow you’re not a real Liberal.
“This is not the path to electoral success. And I’m sick of being
lectured to by people who aren’t members of the party, by people who
have never stood on polling booths, about what it means to be a real
Ryan declined to name names, but his reference to the media was
directed at commentators on Sky in the evening and the Sydney shock
Liberal voters wanted the government to focus on their issues and “I
think the federal government is doing that,” he said.
Ryan said that the days before Wentworth “were distracted … talking
about what some people call religious freedom”. In Victoria people
weren’t raising anti-discrimination law with him on polling booths.
“What we need to do is say the Liberal party has people with various
views, and all of those views can be accommodated, and internally the
idea of compromise is actually a good thing”.
Too often compromise was seen as a sell out, he said. But John Howard
and Peter Costello had compromised to achieve historic tax reform;
Peter Reith had compromised with the Australian Democrats to get
industrial relations change.
“This idea – and I think this is another thing that a lot of our
voters are tired of – that somehow to compromise to address a problem,
and move on to one of the other plethora of problems governments need
to address – that is not selling out – that is getting the jobs done”.
Tim Wilson, the member for Goldstein, criticised those who were being
ideological about energy policy.
“If anybody thinks that there’s this great public sentiment out there
that people really deep down hate renewables and they’re hugging
something like coal, I say again — get real,” Wilson told Sky.
He said he had sat on polling booths where “every second person either gave you deadly silence, which is a very cold, deadly silence, or there were people mentioning energy, climate, or the deposing of the prime minister”.
Victorian senator Jane Hume wrote in the Australian Financial Review:
“Our quest should always be to raise the standard of living – whether
through economic policies, energy, health or education. If we allow
good policy to be infiltrated by even the perception of an ideological
crusade, Labor will win the messaging war”.
After the Prime Minister met Victorian Liberal federal MPs on Monday
morning Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who is deputy Liberal leader, said
“We had a good, honest discussion about lessons to be learned from the
state campaign. As a group we will continue to be focused on
delivering for our local communities.”
On election night, the ABC had Labor winning 58 of the 88 seats, to 20 for the Coalition. After late counting of pre-poll and postal votes, the ABC now shows Labor has won 52 of the 88 lower house seats, the Coalition 24, two Independents and ten seats are undecided, with 71% of enrolled voters counted.
Labor has landslide win in Victoria
Statewide primary votes are currently 42.9% Labor (up 4.8% since the 2014 election), 35.8% Coalition (down 6.3%) and 9.8% Greens (down 1.6%). As much of the Coalition-favouring pre-polls and postals have been counted, I expect the Greens to gain in late counting as left-leaning polling-day absent votes are counted.
In two party Labor vs Coalition terms, The Poll Bludger has Labor winning by 56.0-44.0 in seats that currently have such a count – that is, excluding Labor vs Greens counts in inner city seats, and Coalition vs independents in the regions. In seats with a two party count, the swing to Labor is 5.3%, which would be a 57.3-42.7 thrashing if projected to the whole state.
The Liberals have lost eastern suburbs heartland seats such as Mount Waverley, Burwood, Ringwood and Box Hill to Labor, but they have retained Caulfield and likely Sandringham, which looked likely to be losses earlier in the night. In Hawthorn, the Liberals lead by 53 votes, with many absent votes to come.
While the ABC currently lists Melbourne as in doubt, Greens-favouring absent votes will easily win it for the Greens. Labor leads the Greens by 72 votes in Brunswick, and will probably lose on absent votes. Labor has clearly retained Richmond against the Greens, and will regain Northcote, which they lost at a byelection. In Prahran, whichever of Labor or Greens finishes second will defeat the Liberals on the other’s preferences.
An independent has gained Mildura from the Nationals, and an independent has retained Shepparton. According to analyst Kevin Bonham, independents are some chance in Geelong, Benambra, South-West Coast, Morwell, Melton and Pascoe Vale; in some of these seats, independents are currently third, but could move ahead of a major party, then receive that major party’s preferences. These seats do not yet have a two candidate count against the independent; the ABC is guessing the two candidate result.
The ABC’s upper house calculator currently has Labor winning 19 of the 40 upper house seats, the Coalition ten, the Greens one, and ten from other parties. These others include four Derryn Hinch Justice, two Transport Matters, one Aussie Battler, one Animal Justice, one Liberal Democrat and one Sustainable Australia.
Overall upper house vote shares were 40.8% Labor, 28.2% Coalition, 9.2% Greens, 3.4% Hinch Justice and 0.6% Transport Matters. It is ludicrous that a party with 0.6% of the vote could win one more seat than a party with 9.2%, or that a party with 3.4% could win three more seats than the Greens.
The upper house count is only at 42.5%, while the lower house is at 71.1%. The pre-poll and postal votes that have assisted the Coalition in the lower house have not yet been tallied for the upper house. When they are counted, Labor will drop back and the Coalition will gain.
The below-the-line vote rate increased to about 10% at this election, from 6% in 2014. As the ABC calculator assumes that all upper house house votes are above-the-line ticket votes, errors can occur if the calculator margin at a critical point is close. Bonham thinks the Coalition will do a bit better at the expense of micro parties, but he still thinks there will be at least six micro party members.
If Labor wins 19 upper house seats, they will be in a strong position in the upper house. Since the election was a Labor landslide, they performed well in the upper house. Had Labor done worse, there would have been some incentive for them to attempt to reform group voting tickets, but this is now unlikely to happen.
The commanding return to office of the Andrews government emphatically reaffirms that Labor is the natural ruling party in Victoria. By the time the state’s next election is due in November 2022, Labor will have presided over Spring Street for three-quarters of the previous four decades.
That ascendancy is replicated in federal election results: the ALP has won the two-party preferred vote in Victoria on 12 of the past 14 occasions. The flipside is that Victoria has become foreign ground for the Liberal Party. It seems almost unimaginable that this was once the state dubbed the “jewel in the Liberal crown”.
If Labor’s re-election consolidates an established trend in Victorian politics, the scale of the victory (it has invited comparisons with the ALP’s Steve “Bracks-slide” of 2002) and the terms on which it has been won are remarkable.
From the moment he won office in 2014, Daniel Andrews styled himself as an assertive and activist premier. This has been exemplified by an ambitious infrastructure agenda, but also a willingness to barge his way through controversies unapologetically.
Andrews’ buttoned-up Clark Kent like exterior has also belied an adventurism on social reform highlighted by Victoria becoming the first Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying and other initiatives such as embarking on negotiating a treaty with the local Indigenous community.
Lacking the every-man touch of Bracks, Andrews has never seemed especially fussed about courting popularity and has mostly eschewed media contrivances to leaven his image. Neither has he sought to disguise that he is unambiguously a creature of the Labor Party, nor camouflaged his government’s closeness to the trade union movement.
Only last month, Andrews boldly marched at the head of an ACTU-organised rally in support of strengthened industrial rights and improved conditions for workers. On Saturday night, he made a conspicuous point of thanking the labour movement in his victory speech. All of this has inflamed his detractors (not least News Limited’s Herald Sun), yet Andrews has remained defiantly unmoved.
Arguably, there is a risk in this audacity that might grow greater with Andrews emboldened by winning a second term. And there remains a danger that, despite Labor’s expansive infrastructure program, his government will be overwhelmed by Melbourne’s exponential growth and the enormous strains this is placing on services.
For now, though, one cannot deny Andrews’ achievement. Pledged to serve another four years, he is on track to become the state’s second longest-serving Labor premier and he has bequeathed his party a victory so sweeping it should guarantee two further terms.
For the Liberal Party, this is an abject result. It rubs salt into the wounds of the Coalition’s first-term defeat in 2014. Twice in Labor’s era of dominance of the past four decades, the Liberals have squandered office.
A combination of policy inertia and ill-discipline sowed the seeds of the premature fall of the Ted Baillieu-Denis Napthine government in 2014, while in 1999 Jeff Kennett’s tenure was cut short by hubris and insensitivity to rural and regional Victoria that paved the way for an 11-year Labor reign under Bracks and John Brumby.
For the second state election in succession, the Victorian Liberals have also been handicapped by the actions of their federal counterparts. When Victorians voted in 2014, the politically poisonous first budget of Tony Abbott’s government was still exercising their minds, while on this occasion there was the backdrop of the upheaval surrounding Malcolm Turnbull’s deposal as prime minister.
But this result shows the Liberals’ difficulties in Victoria run far deeper to matters of identity and philosophy (and organisation). Though Matthew Guy gestured towards broadening his election pitch through decentralisation policies, everything in the Liberal campaign was ultimately dwarfed by a muscular, conservative law and order agenda.
It was both narrow and discordant in a community of progressive sensibility, and one that is defined by complexity and diversity. It is a community where, for example, there are electorates in which greater than 50% of people were born in non-English speaking countries, electorates where more than 30% of the population are of Muslim faith, and electorates where nearly 50% have no religion. The contemporary Liberal Party appears bereft of a vocabulary to speak to this pluralism.
This problem of being out of step with the nation’s second largest and fastest growing state besets the Liberal Party federally as well. Yet Scott Morrison and many of his colleagues have shown scant evidence of recognising, let alone addressing, this dilemma.
Instead, they seem intent on appealing to a Queensland-focused “base”. The cost of this hewing to the right and what it potentially augurs for next year’s federal election in Victoria is now plain to see.
In a more immediate sense, there is a serious chance the Morrison government will be further destabilised by the recriminations flowing from this result. It is likely to deepen the divide in Liberal ranks between those who appear hell-bent on remaking the party in their own conservative self-image regardless of electoral consequences and those who understand that this is folly.
Lastly, what of the Greens? Since 2002, the Greens have stalked Labor in its once traditional heartland in Melbourne’s inner city. Buoyed by a heady triumph in the Northcote by-election 12 months ago, the Greens looked forward to this contest convinced they were on an irresistible forward march.
That optimism was dented by defeat in the federal byelection in Batman in March. Now, after an unhappy campaign during which the party became mired in controversy over its culture towards women and struggled for traction against a progressive-credentialed government, the Greens have lost ground. Some experienced observers are speculating that we have witnessed “peak Green”.
That is probably premature. Yet, for Labor, the sullying of their tormentor’s image and disruption of their momentum is icing on its glorious election victory cake.
With 42% of enrolled voters counted in the Victorian election, the ALP has had an emphatic win. So far, the ABC has called 58 of the 88 seats for Labor, just 20 for the Coalition, one Green, two Independents and seven seats are undecided. Projected primary votes are currently 43.7% Labor (up 5.7% since the 2014 election), 34.9% Coalition (down 7.0%) and 10.5% Greens (down 1.0%). These projections are of what the final vote will be.
There was a large amount of pre-poll voting at this election, and perhaps the pre-poll swing to Labor is lower than the election-day swing. Pre-poll votes will be counted later in the night. However, Labor has clearly won a thumping victory.
I believe the Liberals law and order campaign was too right-wing for Victoria. The Liberals suffered large swings in their eastern suburb heartland seats such as Hawthorn, Sandringham and Box Hill. In these seats, voters with high levels of educational attainment would have been angered by the Liberals’ campaign, which could have been perceived as racist.
In the final pre-election Newspoll, Labor led the Liberals by 43-42 on handling the economy, a decline from a 45-37 lead in late October. However, the economy is traditionally a Liberal strength. The Victorian economy is good, and this undoubtedly helped Labor in its rout.
Labor had the advantage of being a first-term government with an unpopular federal Coalition government. The ousting of Malcolm Turnbull would not have gone down well among voters with high levels of educational attainment, and contributed to the swings against the Liberals.
The final four Victorian state polls had Labor’s two party vote between 53% and 54%, which would represent merely a 1 to 2% swing to Labor from the 2014 election. While we will not know the final two party result for at least two weeks, Labor has clearly performed far better than expected. Polls sometimes miss in the direction that surprises commentators.
For example, Trump’s US victory in 2016, the UK’s Brexit referendum in 2016, UK Labour’s forcing the Conservatives into a hung Parliament in 2017, and Emmanuel Macron’s blowout victory over Marine Le Pen in 2017 were all occasions where the polls missed in a way contrary to how conventional wisdom thought.
I will have more details tomorrow on the Victorian election including what happened in the upper house.
With health care spending accounting for 30% of the Victorian budget, or A$20 billion, health is a major policy area for the Victorian election on Saturday.
While the Commonwealth pays for general practice, private specialists, pharmaceutical benefits and aged care, the states are responsible for running hospitals, community health services and ambulance services. They also want to keep Victorians healthy and out of hospital.
This election campaign, Labor has committed $4.3 billion to health; the Coalition has promised $1.3 billion, and the Greens have pledged $1.35 billion. Much of the difference comes down to infrastructure spending.
Labor’s health policy emphasises its commitment to a public health system. A re-elected Labor government would build a new hospital in the western Melbourne suburb of Footscray ($1.5 billion) and spend $1.2 billion on capital improvements to other hospitals in outer suburban Melbourne and regional areas.
Labor’s hospital package also includes $675 million for ten new or upgraded community hospitals. These health services would provide day surgeries, diagnostic imaging and specialist outpatients, in addition to admitted and urgent care.
The remainder of nearly A$1 billion goes to a range of other promises, including:
The boost in hospital funding is likely to enhance care in the hospital catchment areas and ease the pressure on surrounding hospitals. Improved nurse-to-patient ratios will likely improve the safety and quality of care in the state’s emergency departments and hospital wards.
Is it necessary to commit $3.3 billion to hospitals, presumably on top of current levels of funding?
Much of this goes to capital improvements. Without such investments now, the existing hospital capacity in and around Melbourne will not be able to keep up. But it’s unclear where the money will come from to run these extra hospitals and hospital expansions. It’s hoped that operating costs will not then be taken from existing hospitals.
The Coalition’s funding commitments are spread across the key sectors of health including:
There is evidence for much of the Coalition’s commitments. In particular, palliative care has been shown in trials to not only improve quality of life, but also, in some cancers, survival.
Improving access to community care for disadvantaged groups and in rural and regional areas has the potential to improve the management of chronic disease, such as asthma and diabetes, leading to better health in the long term.
The Greens’ platform is anchored in a social determinants of health and a population health approach that conceives of health more explicitly as an outcome of broader social and economic conditions.
The Victorian Greens party’s main priorities are:
The Greens’ funding for free ambulance services would ensure nobody misses out on timely care for traumatic injuries and heart attacks because they don’t have ambulance cover. A similar program operates in Queensland.
The Greens have a well-developed policy, conceiving of health and well-being broadly. The package includes substantial commitments to mental health, community health care and dental health.
But there is no extra funding for hospitals beyond the current budget.
The biggest difference in the health funding commitments between the three parties is Labor’s focus on hospital infrastructure funding (which accounts for 78% of its health promises). It’s not clear whether the Coalition and the Greens oppose the bulk of Labor’s hospital commitments or are simply silent.
Although this level of funding to hospitals may seem like an inordinate amount, it’s important to consider the role of modern hospitals. They have become the providers of not only admitted care, but emergency care (including GP-type visits), specialist care in outpatient clinics, chronic disease management and palliative care.
When this hospital infrastructure funding is taken out of consideration, the three parties are hard to distinguish. Labor is promising $960 million, Coalition is pledging $816 million and the Greens have committed $1.3 billion to a range of community, mental health, ambulance, chronic disease and prevention services.
The most evident gaps are Labor’s lack of funding for prevention and innovation, and the Greens’ lack of extra hospital capital funding.
A change to the Coalition would likely mean less hospital funding, particularly for a new Footscray hospital, but significant funding for community palliative care services and hospital in the home.
A more comprehensive list of the three parties’ election health promises is available on the Victorian Healthcare Association’s Election Alert.
Vijaya Sundararajan, Professor and Head of Department, Public Health, La Trobe University; Alan Shiell, Professor of Health Economics, La Trobe University; Hassan Vally, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, La Trobe University, and Steven Lewis, Adjunct Professor at Simon Fraser University and Clinical Professor, University of Saskatchewan
This week’s Fairfax Ipsos poll, conducted November 14-17 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor just a 52-48 lead, a three-point gain for the Coalition since October. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up two), 34% Labor (down one), 13% Greens (down two) and 5% One Nation (steady). As usual, the Greens are too high in Ipsos and Labor too low.
This poll is the Coalition’s best result from any pollster since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted. Last week, Newspoll gave Labor a 55-45 lead, and it is unlikely Labor lost three points in a week. Ipsos is the most volatile Australian pollster. However, Essential (see below) confirms Ipsos by also shifting to a 52-48 lead for Labor.
Respondent allocated preferences in Ipsos were 53-47 to Labor, one point better for Labor than the previous election method. Under Turnbull, Labor usually performed worse on respondent preferences, but the three Ipsos polls under Scott Morrison have Labor tied or ahead of the previous election method using respondent preferences. A stronger flow to Labor from the Greens and non-One Nation Others could be compensating for weaker flows from One Nation.
48% approved of Morrison (down two), and 36% disapproved (up three), for a net approval of +12. Last week’s Newspoll gave Morrison a -8 net approval; although Ipsos gives incumbent PMs much better ratings than Newspoll, the difference is very large this time. Bill Shorten’s net approval was up one point to -7. Morrison led Shorten by 47-35 as better PM (48-35 in October).
46% thought Muslim immigration should be reduced, 35% remain the same and 14% increased. In October, a question about all immigration found 45% wanted it reduced, 29% wanted it to stay the same, and 23% increased.
47% thought the government’s main priority on energy policy should be reducing household bills, 39% reducing carbon emissions and 13% reducing the risk of power blackouts. Labor will attempt to convince people that clean energy can be consistent with cheap energy.
I think the shift to the Coalition is more likely due to last week’s economic data than the Bourke Street attack. On November 14, the ABS reported September quarter wage growth data; according to The Guardian’s Greg Jericho, wages are growing more than inflation for the first time since 2013. On November 15, the ABS reported that 33,000 jobs were added in October, with the unemployment rate stable at 5.0%.
On November 14, Westpac reported that consumer sentiment increased 2.8% from October to 104.3 in November. If people feel good about their personal economic situation, it is more likely they will feel good about the government.
This week’s Essential poll, conducted November 15-18 from a sample of 1,027, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since last fortnight. Primary votes were 37% Coalition (up one), 35% Labor (down four), 11% Greens (up one) and 7% One Nation (up one).
44% said their vote was very firm and unlikely to change, including 50% of Labor voters and 46% of Coalition voters.
By 35-28, voters thought the Liberal government and its ministers were poor, but they also thought the Labor opposition and its shadow ministers poor by 33-28. By 36-35, voters thought the Labor team would do a better job of governing than the Liberal team.
On a range of issues, more people thought the government was not doing enough than doing enough, particularly on the ageing population (67-17), transitioning to renewable energy (64-14) and affordable housing (64-16).
In additional questions from last week’s Newspoll, voters thought Shorten and Labor had the best approach to improve housing affordability by 45-35 over Morrison and the Coalition. By 47-33, voters were in favour of reducing negative gearing tax concessions (54-28 in April 2017).
The Victorian election will be held on November 24. There have been no statewide media-commissioned polls since a late October Newspoll (54-46 to Labor). A ReachTEL poll for a left-wing organisation, conducted November 13 from a sample of 1,530, gave Labor a 56-44 lead, which would be a four-point gain for Labor since an early October ReachTEL poll for The Age.
I would like to see a media poll before concluding that the Victorian election will be a blowout win for Labor, but Labor is likely to win.
The Victorian upper house has eight five-member electorates. A quota is one-sixth of the vote, or 16.7%. During the last term, Labor never proposed any reforms to the upper house group voting system. As a result, there are many micro parties who are swapping preferences with each other so that one of them has a good chance of election.
According to analyst Kevin Bonham’s simulations of upper house results, seven micro party representatives could be elected. While the particular micro party that wins could change, the overall numbers probably won’t unless the major parties and Greens do much better than expected, or there is a much higher rate of below-the-line voting.
The Greens in particular appear likely to lose seats that they would win with a sensible system. Labor may well have shot themselves in the foot by sticking with group ticket voting; with a sensible system, Labor and the Greens would probably win an overall upper house majority. Conservative micro party members are likely to stall progressive legislation.
It is easy to vote below-the-line in Victoria, as only five numbers are required for a formal vote, though voters can continue numbering beyond “5”. I recommend that voters number at least five boxes below-the-line, rather than voting above-the-line, where parties control their voters’ preferences. If enough people vote below-the-line, the micro parties’ preference harvesting could be thwarted.
Last week, UK PM Theresa May did a deal with the European Union regarding Brexit, but Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and other ministers resigned in protest. It is likely that the UK House of Commons will reject the deal, owing to opposition from both the hard right and the left. A “no deal” Brexit is likely to greatly damage the UK economy, and could lead to a Labour landslide.
In March 2018, the German Social Democrats re-entered a grand coalition with the conservative Union parties – the same right/left coalition that governed Germany in three of the last four terms. Both the Union parties and Social Democrats have lost support, but it has gone much more to the Greens than the far-right AfD.
You can read more about Brexit and the German Greens’ surge on my personal website.