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Defeat in Victorian state election could spell trouble for Liberals in federal election

Labor’s resounding victory in Saturday’s Victoria state election will ‘send shockwaves to Canberra’ and is an ominous sign for the Liberal Party, analysts have predicted. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was largely absent from the campaign trail in the build-up to the election, in which his party has won just 19 seats to Labor’s 58.

Mr Morrison made only one appearance during the campaign, to pay his respects to the Bourke Street terror attack victims, and Liberal figures have partly blamed the national leadership for alienating Victorian voters.

Labor’s resounding victory in Saturday’s Victoria state election will ‘send shockwaves to Canberra’ and is an ominous sign for the Liberal Party, analysts have predicted (pictured centre, Premier Daniel Andrews gives victory speech to Labor Party reception on Saturday night)

Prime minister Scott Morrison (pictured) was largely absent from the campaign trail in the build-up to the election – making only one appearance to pay his respects to the victims of the November 9 Bourke Street terror attack alongside Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy

Labor leader Bill Shorten in contrast was not camera shy on polling day as he was pictured filing his vote in the state election and trying his hand at the barbecue grill with other Labor campaigners.

Ahead of next year’s federal election, political commentators have warned Saturday’s results could spell disaster for Mr Morrison’s government.

Speaking on Sky News, political commentator Andrew Bolt said the win would send ‘shockwaves to Canberra’.

Labor leader Bill Shorten (pictured right with wife Chloe) could be spurred to victory in next year's federal election by Saturday's resounding result in Victoria

Labor leader Bill Shorten (pictured right with wife Chloe) could be spurred to victory in next year’s federal election by Saturday’s resounding result in Victoria

The conservative analyst also criticised the tone of Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy’s campaign – saying the party was too heavily relying on the campaign strategy of ‘scaring people’.

Mr Bolt’s warning came as Premier Daniel Andrews claimed in his victory speech that Victorians had turned away from the Liberals ‘low road of fear and division’.

A senior Liberal MP told Fairfax Media, meanwhile, foreign affairs minister Peter Dutton had damaged the party’s support in the state by saying Victorians were ‘scared to go out’ as a result of ‘African gang violence’.

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger said the ‘disorderly’ nature of August’s leadership coup to depose Malcolm Turnbull had worked against the party in the state.

Conservative analyst Andrew Bolt criticised the tone of Mr Guy's (left) campaign - saying the party was relying too heavily on the campaign strategy of 'scaring people'

Conservative analyst Andrew Bolt criticised the tone of Mr Guy’s (left) campaign – saying the party was relying too heavily on the campaign strategy of ‘scaring people’

Opposition leader Matthew Guy (pictured) was gracious in defeat on Saturday night

Opposition leader Matthew Guy (pictured) was gracious in defeat on Saturday night

Premier Daniel Andrews (right) claimed in his victory speech Victorians had turned away from the Liberals 'low road of fear and division'

Premier Daniel Andrews (right) claimed in his victory speech Victorians had turned away from the Liberals ‘low road of fear and division’

But Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was quick to say the result could not be blamed on Canberra. 

‘From a federal perspective, we also note that we won the last two state elections in South Australia and Tasmania,’ Mr Frydenberg told the ABC. 

‘Scott Morrison and I and other federal colleagues didn’t play an active role in this campaign, and it was fought on state (issues).’

Mr Frydenberg admitted, however, that the party ‘have a lot of work to do’ before the federal election due by next May. 

He's back! Daniel Andrews paid tribute to his wife of 20 years Cath and children Noah, Grace and Joseph in his election victory speech

He’s back! Daniel Andrews paid tribute to his wife of 20 years Cath and children Noah, Grace and Joseph in his election victory speech

A defeated Matthew Guy still had a smile for wife Renae despite a devastating night in the polls

A defeated Matthew Guy still had a smile for wife Renae despite a devastating night in the polls

Former premier Jeff Kennett has called for Mr Kroger to stand down.

Mr Kroger declined.

‘No. Jeff is always calling on people to resign…we take those comments with a grain of salt,’ he told Channel Seven.

Re-elected Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was congratulated by his mother Jan during the Labor Party reception

Re-elected Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was congratulated by his mother Jan during the Labor Party reception

Mr Kennett then told Kroger: ‘Time is up, quite clearly. This has been a terrible result for the party. Mate, we’ve been around for a long time. It’s time you went.’

Mr Kroger responded: ‘No one called on you to resign after you lost the 1985 election. The party membership just re-elected me and I’ve got their confidence.’ 

Just after 9pm and three hours after voting closed, Mr Guy addressed the Liberal party faithful in a gracious election defeat speech, where he called for party unity.

Labor supporters celebrated after the party was returned to government on Saturday night

Labor supporters celebrated after the party was returned to government on Saturday night

Celebrations were far more subdued at the Liberal election party (pictured)

Celebrations were far more subdued at the Liberal election party (pictured)

‘I say for the next parliament, as a party, we need to stick together. We need to stay united and we need to stay focused on our opponents and the game ahead, not on ourselves and I hope we’ll continue to do that,’ Mr Guy said.

‘Every day in opposition is a day closer to government and while tonight is not our night, we know that our time in the sun will come again.’ 

Meanwhile at the, a Labor crowd of more than 100 red-shirt-clad Labor supporters were chanting ‘four more years’ as the tally of seats continued to climb at a party function in the seat of Mulgrave.

Liberal party supporters in Victoria have experienced a second consecutive election loss

Liberal party supporters in Victoria have experienced a second consecutive election loss

‘This is looking like a bloodbath,’ Labor Health Minister Jill Hennessy said on ABC TV earlier in the night.

‘Something has gone very, very wrong here with the Liberal brand and reflecting upon what that is, I also think that due credit needs to be given to Daniel Andrews for running a very strong government for four years.’

Former Labor premier John Brumby said Mr Andrews should be lauded for the result.

Celebrations ensued at Daniel Andrews' election party in his seat of Mulgrave 

Celebrations ensued at Daniel Andrews’ election party in his seat of Mulgrave 

Celebrations at The Village Green Hotel in Mulgrave continued well into the night as Labor supporters celebrated the Victorian election win

Celebrations at The Village Green Hotel in Mulgrave continued well into the night as Labor supporters celebrated the Victorian election win

‘He’ll be in the pantheon of Labor leaders up there with Steve Bracks and John Cain,’ he told the ABC.

Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien slammed the re-elected Andrews government on Channel Nine’s election coverage.

‘Victors tend to write history… were they not watching the TV ads were they were attacking Matthew Guy? Did they not see the last four years where they tore up parliamentary privilege, and legal professional privilege to dump documents to attack Matthew Guy?’ he said.

Daniel Andrews and his wife Catherine arrived to a rock star reception on election night in Melbourne

Daniel Andrews and his wife Catherine arrived to a rock star reception on election night in Melbourne

‘This party has broken every rule in the book to attack and demonise the electorate. Sadly some of it appears to have flowed through in the results tonight.’ 

The beers were flowing, the crowd was cheering and a slight feel of disbelief at the size of the potential win had taken over the Labor Party function room on Saturday evening. 

Labor is seeing swings in seats that were marginal four years ago and even in formerly safe Liberal strongholds.

The Liberal Party faithful were drowning their sorrows at the Liberal election party

The Liberal Party faithful were drowning their sorrows at the Liberal election party

‘I am surprised at the degree of the swing out in the eastern suburbs. We’re also hearing some very positive news around some of the swings in both Bass and Ripon,’ Ms Hennessy said.

Celebrations were much more subdued in the Liberal camp as they commiserated a second consecutive election loss.

Held at the Veneto Club in leader Matthew Guy’s electorate of Bulleen, in Melbourne’s northeast, the Italian-themed social club is a favourite of the Guy family.

Former premier Jeff Kennett has called for state Liberal president Michael Kroger to stand down after Labor's resounding victory

Former premier Jeff Kennett has called for state Liberal president Michael Kroger to stand down after Labor’s resounding victory

Attorney General John Pesutto - who is facing a swing to Labor in his traditional Liberal seat of Hawthorn - refused to speculate on Mr Guy's future as party leader. Pictured, Labor Party supporters celebrate victory on Saturday night 

Attorney General John Pesutto – who is facing a swing to Labor in his traditional Liberal seat of Hawthorn – refused to speculate on Mr Guy’s future as party leader. Pictured, Labor Party supporters celebrate victory on Saturday night 

The issues that decided the election for Premier Daniel Andrews

CRIME AND TERROR

Daniel Andrews’ first term as premier was dominated by a spate of carjackings, violent home invasions and the Moomba riot. There have also been three car attacks in the CBD on pedestrians, terror attacks and a national debate on ‘African gangs’. The Liberal-Nationals seized on the trend early and after a fatal terror attack struck in the Melbourne CBD halfway through the election, the coalition ramped up their rhetoric announcing sweeping counter-terror changes. Labor regularly points to drops in crime statistics, funding for scores of new police officers, and how it introduced a counter-terror command within Victoria Police. 

COST OF LIVING

This became a central issue of the campaign and led to promises of cheaper power along with stacks of free and cheap stuff. Half-priced solar panels for all to cut power bills, free dental and tampons in public schools, public IVF treatment, more free TAFE courses and the creation of universal three-year-old kinder are among Labor’s promises. While the Liberal-Nationals are offering discount TVs and fridges to low-income homes to cut energy bills, a new publicly-backed, privately-run power station and free books for public secondary students. Both parties have promised to make boating and fishing cheaper and Labor is also promising half-priced camping fees. 

FIREFIGHTERS

The issue of resolving cultural and industrial problems within the state’s fire services has dogged the Andrews Labor government. It’s an issue the Liberal-Nationals have been keen to capitalise on, especially in rural and regional areas where CFA volunteers are a part of the community identity. Sacked CFA board member, John Schurink, is even taking on Emergency Services Minister James Merlino in his seat of Monbulk, which he holds by five per cent. Labor also hasn’t been helped by the United Firefighters Union, which is still running a publicly damaging campaign against former emergency services minister Jane Garrett, who is attempting to move to the upper house. Premier Daniel Andrews called out the campaign as bullying. 

TRANSPORT

Labor, Liberal-Nationals and the Greens are all vowing to get Victorians moving faster. Rail, particularly regional and airport rail, have been the big ticket items. But both Labor and the coalition are also promising new roads. Crucially, the Liberal-Nationals have promised to build the East West Link, a toll road infamously signed in the dying moments of the previous coalition government then dumped by the Andrews Labor government at a cost of more than $1 billion to taxpayers. They say they would start building within 18 months of being elected. The Liberal-Nationals also want to get rid of 50 road intersections while Labor has expanded its level crossing removals program to 75 and has promised to plan for a suburban rail loop.

CAR PARKS

Yep, car parks. Now that Victorians can drive past rail lines with ease (following the level-crossing policy from 2014), they figure you’ll need somewhere to park the car. Well don’t worry – both sides have you sorted. Each has pledged thousands of spaces across the state as part of rail and infrastructure upgrades. In the penultimate week of the campaign, Labor promised 1000 car parks across Ballarat’s CBD only for the Liberal campaign to roll in a couple of days later and announce 1500.

HEALTH

Labor has been playing to its strengths with health, taking the opportunity for Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy to be seen cuddling babies and small children as often as possible. Labor has promised a royal commission into mental health, stacks of cash for country hospitals, a new hospital for marginal Frankston, free dental care for school kids, upgrades to the royal Children’s Hospital, improved nurse-to-patient ratios and public IVF services. The Liberal-Nationals want to make the contraceptive pill available over the counter, wants to reboot the Life. Be In It campaign, are also backing hospital redevelopments and will run a $1 million campaign to raise awareness of rare diseases.

Source: Australian Associated Press 

 

 

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