Just ten weeks into Election Day and we have to wonder if the political outlook for Victorian voters could be any more daunting?
For those voters who are actually involved in the state’s democratic process, things are looking bleak.
Neither the government nor the opposition present voters with a credible (let alone convincing) argument for governing a state now drowning in debt. labor debt.
Victoria’s projected debt of over $170 billion is larger than that of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania combined. It is a challenge to identify an Australian state government that is more fiscally wasteful than the incumbent Victorian Labor government. There is no.
Fortunately, most eligible voters are in all likelihood unaware of the upcoming election – on Saturday 26 November – in which they must cast their ballot.
The sad truth is that many first-time voters have no idea that Victoria is home to a state legislature. They are so disinterested in “domestic politics” that most wouldn’t be able to find their Victorian Houses of Parliament.
Worse, many longtime voters appear to be dismissive of the upcoming November poll.
Numerous voters seem unaware that state governments have statutory four-year terms, while the federal government has just three years to persuade voters they should be re-elected.
Labor’s second four-year term has ended and they must “face the people” in November.
Leaving aside the alarming truths about the ramshackle state of Victoria’s political fabric, let’s focus on the horrific choice facing voters.
Those who wish to vote for a government likely to take their fiduciary and democratic responsibilities seriously face a double dilemma.
Neither the incumbent (eight-year-old) Labor government nor the Liberal National opposition instill the slightest confidence, ability or inclination to govern in the interests of the electorate, as opposed to their partisan interests.
A “politically useful” mix of voter ignorance and apathy is more likely to get the Andrews-Labor government over the line for an undeserved third term – albeit with a reduced majority.
For two of the last four years under Daniel Andrews’ iron grip, voters and their families have been subject to Covid-related laws, restrictions and stipulations that are among the toughest in the world. The impact on lives, livelihoods, businesses and particularly the lonely, poor and those in aged care has proved catastrophic. It will take years to correct and manage the consequent decline in our collective mental health.
Ironically, Andrew’s panicked handling of the early stages of Covid by ordering the harshest lockdowns seemed to give many voters a sense of security that the government was acting in their interests.
That sentiment quickly proved to be a mirage, like so much else this government claims to have achieved during its long occupation of the government benches. In Victoria it is obvious that all is not as it seems.
When it comes to ‘government’ in Victoria, never has there been such a comprehensive and invasive operation to mislead and mislead voters as to the true state of affairs facing taxpayers. In addition, chronic ALP rorting and branch stacking have been identified in IBAC hearings over the last year. These have left a taint on Andrews personally, along with others in the ALP hierarchy.
This administration is unrivaled when it comes to deploying what feels like propaganda. A sizeable team of taxpayer-funded staff assist the Premier’s Office in this task.
It’s relentless. Bad news is stifled by childish “good news” stories from Spring Street or by carefully managing the timing of their press releases. Take for example the 000 Report in Emergency Ambulance Services – published in the early hours of a Saturday morning during the AFL football finals.
Andrews is known in Labor circles as the communicator par excellence. However, this assessment does not take into account the fundamentals such as honesty, truth or the public’s right to information. Too often on difficult issues – Andrews dismissively refuses to answer questions or claims he will not comment because investigations are “ongoing” or pending. He’s one of the nation’s most accomplished political crackpots. He also likes to put his political survival well above public interest.
While the same cannot be said for Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, his party has made some small gains, highlighting appalling shortcomings in public health, mental health, elder care and emergency service failures, which have led to more than 30 deaths – particularly in the past year.
Unfortunately, for those voters looking for an alternative to Andrews, choices are sparse. Guy – a second opposition leader – has failed to capture the public’s imagination, and voters are struggling to figure out what positive alternative he and his colorless MPs are offering voters. Getting through the opposition is difficult, especially when the media tends to favor the incumbent and voters just aren’t listening.
Given the horrors of what has transpired during the Covid lockdown and the apparent devastation to the state’s public health system – not a single failure by the Andrews cabinet comes close to the grotesque level of debt attributed to young and yet unborn Victorians.
Weak political leaders make unfulfilled promises to provide infrastructure and services. Strong leaders set and adhere to sound financial parameters for all public spending. The Andrews government has failed miserably to adhere to this doctrine.
The challenge for the opposition is to commit to a forward-looking and fiscally responsible political agenda while reducing the obscene debt Andrews has amassed during his eight-year tenure.
As is so often the case with profligate governments, they unleash a bunch of stealthy taxes, fees, levies, levies – call them what you will – to plug their fiscal holes. Backed by a bloated civil service (over 300,000 people), Andrews is content to tax virtually everything the Victorians do – even bushwalking, rock climbing and just being in state and national parks.
Voters will face a terrible choice: re-elect a Labor government mired in debt and fraud, or opt for an opposition that has blatantly failed to bring a fresh, innovative and positive agenda to the next four Years.
The political landscape here is so desolate that it might be time to join the 50,000 Victorians who left the state last year and wisely moved elsewhere.
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