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|The ALP has preferenced Reason, Animal Justice or Legalise Cannabis first, and then there’s a bit of a shuffle going on, with those three parties, the Greens, Transport Matters, Victorian Socialists, Shooters Fishers and Farmers, and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party all in the mix, and no consistency between regions, so check your HTV card carefully before voting above the line. You’ll know you’ve reached the end of these musical chairs when you hit the Liberal Democrats. The parties after that are listed in the same order every time, with Sack Dan Andrews, the UAP and One Nation bringing up the rear.
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Policies & Commentary
For reasons probably having to do with the popularity of their leader, the ALP’s policies for this election are to be found not on the sites of either the Victorian or Federal parties, but on another site, https://www.danandrews.com.au/. In a nod to our diverse cultural makeup, it’s also available in Italian, Greek, Punjabi, Hindi and Chinese, which is a level of accessibility I don’t think I’ve seen on any other candidate or party’s site. This site is where all the information I’m drawing on here comes from, and it’s divided into six headings.
First off, the key issue in this election, Health. They lead off with what is badged as Australia’s biggest ever health infrastructure project, which is a brand-new Royal Melbourne and Royal Women’s Hospitals next to the new Arden Station1And look at how subtly they’ve reminded us of one of their biggest transport projects at the same time, playing to one of their strengths in this election – presumably to be open at about the same time. Other hospitals get a look in, with Stage Two of the Wonthaggi Hospital redevelopment, a brand-new West Gippsland Hospital, and a massive upgrade to the Monash Medical Centre. In addition, training for nursing and midwifery will be free, there will be an expansion of the free IVF service and they’ll open 20 new women’s health clinics at public hospitals – ensuring women’s health issues are afforded the seriousness they deserve, the latter of which in particular is long overdue.
On Education, in addition to free kinder, there’s also free TAFE, plus a promise to build 50 new government-owned and operated childcare centres in the suburbs that need them most, build 100 new schools and upgrade many more. There’s also an expansion of support for students at specialist schools – expanding out-of-hours care, hiring new NDIS Navigators and training more therapy animals. Conspicuously lacking: anything about addressing existing staff shortages. 100 new schools sounds great, but where are the teachers for them coming from?
Transport, which based on dollars spent and hours of media coverage must be Dan’s favourite policy area, rattles along like a south-bound freight train. There’s few new announcements here, just reminders of the level crossing removals (now pledged to be 110 gone by 2030), the Suburban Rail Loop, the Metro Line, the North East Link and the Airport rail connection. The new announcements are all Vline related, as if someone in the Department of Transport suddenly noticed the rest of Victoria, outside Melbourne. There’s expanded services to Melton, which are part of a long term plan to electrify that line (something that should probably have been done twenty years or more ago), cuts to Vline fares to make them cheaper, and 23 new Vline trains, which will be built in Victoria. Presumably, once they run out of things to do in Melbourne in another three or four electoral cycles, there will be more attention for rural Victoria.
The Jobs section largely repurposes things they’ve already mentioned elsewhere, like pointing out how many jobs all this construction will create and the free TAFE, but there are some new bits: free registration for eligible apprentices who need their cars for work, and a reminder of how many jobs (60,000 apparently) the newly re-nationalised SEC will create.
Which brings us to Energy, which is basically about the new SEC, although don’t take my brevity for a lack of support – privatisation has been a disaster in nearly every sector in which it’s been tried. Which is probably why we’re assured that any profits will go into keeping power bills down. In addition, the goal is to reach 95% renewable electricity by 2035 and reach net zero emissions by 2045, as part of which, they will also install 100 neighbourhood batteries across Victoria – creating localised energy storage.
Finally, there is Fairness, which is mostly about easing household budgets, such as the afore-mentioned free kinder, as well as free L and P plate testing, a promise to make free tampons and pads available in over 700 more public locations across the state, and the return of the $250 Power Saving Bonus. As the party currently in government, they do not see the need for any reforms against corruption or the like (to be fair, this is common to the ALP and the Coalition – the Coalition had no policies about this going into the last federal election, for example), probably because doing so could be construed as an admission of guilt. (It certainly would be by certain media outlets.)
All in all, these policies are sound, but mostly unexceptional. They’re basically what we’ve come to expect of the Andrews government: mildly progressive moves to blunt some of capitalism’s sharper edges, and an obsession with railways. The exceptional policy, of course, is the de-privatisation of electricity. If the Andrews government is re-elected, and the reformation of the SEC goes well (or well-enough, since there will inevitably be teething issues), it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them looking for other areas to apply the same logic to. For instance, Metro Trains’ current contract ends in 2024…
I won’t be giving the ALP my first preference, but I won’t be disappointed if they are returned on Saturday, either.