With the Victorian Election fast approaching, voters are soon to decide the state’s future direction. Taking place on November 26, the results from this election are eagerly anticipated as the first major election since Labor came into federal power in May.
With heated debate across the state, what are the key issues that are shaping the policy and campaign battleground?
Healthcare – unsurprisingly following the significant impact COVID-19 had on Victoria, healthcare is one of the most prominent election issues. The need to be proactive in prioritising and developing the state’s healthcare system is one of the few things all sides of politics agree on – however the way this should be addressed is (of course) a source of much contention. Some of the plans that have been announced include:
Labor – a literal focus on ‘building up the system’ has been made – with promises to upgrade several major hospitals (including Dandenong and Royal Melbourne), in addition to developing a new facility in West Gippsland. Significant commitments have also been made around funding to incentivise new nursing students and graduates.
Liberals – have made similar promises regarding upgrades and developments, however in a move to provide a comprehensive solution Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced that a “plan to fix the health system in Victoria isn’t just about hospitals, it’s also about dental”. Liberal has pledged to halve the dental elective-surgery waiting list within four years and provide $500 vouchers to 32,000 Victorians to visit a private dentist.
Left-of-field – other commitments include the Greens’ ‘reproductive health and wellbeing’ leave, which would grant the additional leave to public service employees for reproductive health support.
Cost of living – with concern nationally around skyrocketing living costs, fuel prices, rising interest rates and housing affordability, this issue is front of mind. Voters are demanding their next state government has a plan to address this and are asking candidates to commit to measures during the campaign – so far announcements include:
Liberal – to support first home buyers, a $261 million plan has been announced to cut stamp duty to zero for 12 months for properties purchased worth up to $1 million.
Left-of-field Labor – in one of the most niche strategies pitched at ‘easing cost of living’, $100 discounts on car registration and free boating and fishing licences for veterans have been pledged - an attempt to reel in the veteran vote as the ‘catch of the day’?
Corruption and COVID-19 –the topic most Victorians want to forget, but the one they can’t stop talking about. The pandemic continues to shape the policy debate, with voters highly polarised between those who supported the government’s policies, and those who demanded a different approach. The Opposition is particularly eager for this subject to remain in the spotlight, using the pandemic response (and issues such as lapses in hotel quarantine security) as evidence of corruption in the existing government.
Both major parties (and their leaders) – seem to have a defensive plan for this issue, with controversy being faced on both sides regarding corruption scandals and personal misconduct – government corruption is a hot button issue in which the strategy from all parties seems to be ‘duck, cover and distract with some mudslinging’.
Environment – a prominent issue in Australian’s politics currently, particularly in light of the newly passed federal Climate Change Bill. Extreme weather events, both across the state and nationally, in addition to growing voter awareness for environmental issues, is making this a strong influence in the election campaign.
Labor – is bringing back the State Electricity Commission and generating government-owned renewable energy as a major promise to help reach national targets.
Liberal – has back-tracked from the 2018 election, shifting its stance on climate change and now supporting a net-zero emissions target by 2050.
Infrastructure and transportation – all roads lead to debate and it’s full steam ahead when it comes to transportation and infrastructure in the state. With many plans, including the mammoth Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) trainline, up in the air depending on the election outcome. In a surprising twist (or an example of ‘one-upping the competition’) regional trains and public transport fares have been given plenty of airtime this election. Some plans include:
A left-of-field Liberal solution – One of the more extreme proposals of the election, the opposition has a policy to cap public transport fares in metro Melbourne at just $2 a day. Although making public transport more affordable is a welcome policy, it has been described as having “gone a bit nuclear”…and when examined closer, it was estimated that a $2 cap would cost $900 million more than promised.
Labor – Following Liberal’s ambitious fare reduction plans, Labor also committed to slashing the cost for commuters – and those looking for a regional weekend away via the rails. The SRL, the most expensive project in the state's history, is also a cornerstone of its campaign...however Victorian’s may be waiting a while for this infrastructure project (with estimated completion date in 2084-85).
With the time for Victorian’s to hit the polls fast approaching, there are sure to be more updates over the coming weeks around the key issues. To stay up to date with all the latest news, and how it may impact your organisation, sign up to the Advoc8 mailing list.