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Muller and Brenton Holmes
Politics and Public
- On 29 November 2014, Victorian electors went to the polls for the
Victorian 2014 state election and elected Labor, bringing the Coalition Government’s
reign to an end after a single term in power.
- While Labor won a majority, with 47 seats in the 88 seat
Legislative Assembly, it only won 14 of the 40 seats in the Legislative
Council. In the Legislative Assembly the Coalition won 38 seats (30 Liberal and
8 Nationals), the Greens won two and an independent won one. In the Legislative
Council, the Coalition won 16 seats, the Greens won five, two seats were won by
the Shooters and Fishers, and the Sex Party, Democratic Labour Party
(DLP) and Vote 1 Local Jobs all won one each.
- This election ended an eventful term of the Victorian parliament,
which saw Premier Ted Baillieu stand down and be replaced by Denis
Napthine, and the Speaker, Liberal MP Ken Smith resign.
- At the previous Victorian election the Coalition had won a very
narrow victory, with 45 seats in the Legislative Assembly compared to Labor’s
43. Geoff Shaw, Liberal MP for Frankston, became embroiled in a scandal over
alleged misuse of his taxpayer-funded car, and eventually quit the Liberal Party
during the term to sit as an independent MP. The Parliament voted to suspend
Shaw from sitting in Parliament, fined him $6,838, and ordered him to
apologise. Shaw’s apology was decried as being insincere by Premier Napthine,
who then tabled a motion to expel him. But while Shaw narrowly survived the
motion and remained in the Parliament, he was soundly defeated at the election.
- The most salient local issue of the campaign was the East West
Link road project. The Victorian Coalition Government, with the support of the
federal Coalition Government, was determined to press ahead with a proposed
$8–10 billion section of the road. The ALP stated that they would scrap the
project and redirect the money to other infrastructure projects, including
public transport, despite the potential for later having to pay compensation to
- Federal politics also featured heavily in the Victorian election.
Various measures in the federal Government’s 2014 Budget, in particular,
the timing of the petrol excise increase which commenced 19 days before the
election, were felt to affect the Victorian Government’s prospects of
re-election. However, the Victorian Coalition Government had been polling
poorly all term, so even the appearance of Prime Minister Abbott on the
campaign trail may not have ultimately affected the outcome.
- The trend towards increased early voting was again evident, with
almost a million early votes cast. This was in addition to almost 300,000
postal votes, nearly double the number cast in the 2010 state election. However,
despite fears these early votes would delay the election results, Napthine
conceded defeat on behalf of his government just before 10 pm on election
night, and announced he would step down as leader.
The Victorian electoral landscape
The electoral system
Revised electoral boundaries in
Victoria’s troubled Parliament
Geoff Shaw MP suspended
Early issues to emerge
The East West Link
Parliament resumes after winter
Tensions in the Coalition
One hundred days to go
Three months to go
East West Link issues continue to run
Statistics on service delivery a
perennial election issue
Fifty days to go
Political recognition factors
The official campaign
The federal factor
Opinion polls spell defeat for the
Labor and Crown Casino
The CFMEU and TURC
Scandals on all sides of politics
Skeletons in the social media
Palmer United Party’s candidate
Liberal corruption allegations
Record number of registered parties
Preference deals and minority
The Election results
The Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Council
The Liberal leadership
On 29 November 2014, over 3.5 million
eligible Victorians voted to elect the 58th Victorian Parliament.
Electors voted for representatives in 88 Legislative Assembly districts and
eight Legislative Council regions. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews led the Australian
Labor Party (ALP) to victory, winning 47 seats with 52 per cent of the two-party-preferred
vote, ending Premier Denis Napthine’s Coalition rule after a single term.
Four years earlier, Liberal Ted Baillieu—then Leader of
the Opposition—had been elected Premier of Victoria with a two-seat majority.
He resigned as Premier on 7 March 2013 following a factional crisis during
which controversial Frankston MP Geoff Shaw quit the Liberal Party, citing a
‘general loss of confidence’ Victorians felt in the Government's leadership.
He was replaced mid-term by Denis Napthine.
Denis Napthine was first elected to parliament in 1988 and
was Minister for Ports, Regional Cities, Racing and Major Projects in the
Baillieu Cabinet. He was also a minister in the Kennett Government between 1996
and 1999; this included a 13-day term as Treasurer.
Earlier, Napthine had been the leader of the Liberal Party in opposition
following the Kennett Government’s loss in 1999; but the Liberal Party replaced
him with Robert Doyle in 2002.
Napthine’s loss of government made him the first one-term premier of Victoria
in nearly 60 years.
The MP who precipitated Baillieu’s fall, Geoff Shaw,
became an increasingly controversial figure throughout the 57th Parliament;
quitting the Liberals, sitting as an independent MP, and becoming embroiled in
a scandal over alleged misuse of his taxpayer-funded car.
Shaw stayed in the Parliament and recontested his seat, but was not re-elected.
Victorian electoral landscape
The Legislative Assembly has a fixed four-year term with
elections for both the Assembly and the Legislative Council held on the
last Saturday in November every four years.
Victoria uses a preferential ballot in single-member seats
for the Legislative Assembly, similar to federal House of Representatives
voting, and the single transferable vote in multi-member seats for the
proportionally represented Legislative Council.
Victorian Legislative Assembly ballot papers resemble Senate ballot papers—
voters can either vote above the line, using their preferred party’s group
voting ticket, or below the line. Below the line voting uses optional
preferential voting, and voters who vote below the line must number at least
The Victorian Parliament's Electoral Matters Committee
recommended, in a report tabled on 27 March 2014, that the state adopt
optional preferential voting (OPV) for Victorian elections. The report argued
for optional preferential voting because it would ‘lower the rate of
unintentional informal voting’:
Optional preferential voting makes it easier for the
candidate leading on first preferences to reach 50% of a shrinking pool of
votes in the count, and harder for a second placed candidate to come from
behind and win.
The Government’s response to that recommendation was that
such a change would require further consideration, and no further action was
taken towards implementing OPV.
electoral boundaries in Victoria
On 17 October 2013, the Electoral Boundaries Commission of
Victoria released the final electoral boundaries for Victoria that would apply
at the State election, scheduled for 29 November 2014.
The redistribution of electoral boundaries, applying to both Houses of
Parliament, would ensure as far as possible that each vote had an equal value,
and that each elector was represented equally in the Victorian Parliament.
Fifteen of the 88 electoral districts were technically replaced
in the redistribution—but ten were effectively only name changes, leaving five
seats that were abolished and replaced with new seats. One Liberal seat, Doncaster,
was abolished in Melbourne's east and two National seats in country Victoria (Rodney
and Swan Hill) were abolished and replaced with one new notionally Nationals
seat of Murray Plains. Two notionally Labor-held seats, Sunbury and Werribee, were
created in Melbourne's western suburbs. Major boundary changes also resulted in
five previously Labor-held seats (Bellarine, Monbulk, Ripon, Yan Yean, and
Wendouree, which was renamed from Ballarat West) becoming notionally
2013 Victorian Redistribution—Summary of party standing
|| Seats held by party
| State of Parties
|Old boundaries - 2010 election
|New boundaries - based on 2010 results
|Including Geoff Shaw resignation
Source: A Green, ‘2013 Victorian Redistribution’, ABC News,
website, accessed 17 June 2014
In terms of swing, under the old
boundaries Labor needed a uniform swing of 1.2 per cent to gain a majority, whereas
after the redistribution, Labor only needed a uniform swing of 0.9 per cent.
This is despite the fact that Labor lost a net five seats in the
redistribution, as the redistribution increased the number of marginal Liberal
seats. A detailed analysis of the redistribution was produced by
ABC election analyst Antony Green.
A list of key seats in the election was also produced by the
ABC in its ‘Victoria Votes’ election guide.
The fraught electoral situation in Victoria was a legacy
of the narrow Coalition win in the November 2010 election. Crikey election
analyst William Bowe stated of the Coalition:
[It] emerged with 45 seats to 43 for Labor and, for the first
time in any Australian federal or state parliament since 1993, no seats for
minor parties or independents. That changed in March  when Shaw resigned
from the parliamentary Liberal Party to sit as an independent, which
precipitated Ted Baillieu’s resignation as Premier the following day.
By 2013, the controversy involving Liberal-turned-independent
MP for Frankston Geoff Shaw had become a major issue within the Parliament,
leading to the resignation of Ted Baillieu as party leader and Premier, and his
replacement by Denis Napthine. This led, in due course, to the resignation in February
2014 of the Speaker, Liberal MP Ken Smith, with whom Shaw was at loggerheads
due to Smith’s referral of Shaw to the Victorian Ombudsman for alleged abuse of
Later, Smith declared that he would vote with Labor on any
motion to find Shaw in contempt of the Parliament. In response, Shaw declared
he would vote with Labor on any no-confidence motion in the Napthine government.
Shaw’s resignation from the Liberal Party to sit as an
independent in March 2014 left the Coalition and the ALP with 43 members
each on the floor of the Parliament.
This deadlock led to the potential for Shaw to join Labor in a no-confidence
vote against the government which would have forced an early election. 
On 11 June 2014, the Victorian Parliament voted to suspend,
not expel, Shaw from sitting in Parliament until September. This was due to misuse
of entitlements—Shaw had been using his parliamentary car to pursue business
Labor wanted to go further, calling for the formal expulsion of Shaw from the
Parliament, although Shaw’s critical vote and the proximity of the state
election later in the year meant that neither side of politics was eager for an
Shaw’s suspension left the Government and
the Opposition locked at 43 members each. But within two days of
Parliament’s decision to suspend Shaw, a Herald-Sun poll of 200 voters in
Shaw’s electorate of Frankston showed that just 15 per cent of
respondents said they would vote for the independent MP, an early indication he
would be unlikely to hold his seat in the next election.
Shaw was fined $6,838; ordered to apologise; and was told
he would be expelled from parliament if he failed to meet these conditions by 2
Having failed to initially meet these conditions, Shaw was suspended from Parliament
for 11 sitting days, before he made a formal apology to the House on 2
September, telling the chamber that he was ‘humbly and sincerely sorry’.
However, Premier Denis Napthine still tabled a motion to expel him because his
apology was insincere, and a requirement of the apology was that it be sincere
Expulsion from the House is an extreme measure, and a former Speaker, Ken
Coghill, argued that Napthine ‘could be seen to have over-reacted and been ...
Coghill agreed that the evidence against Shaw was ‘strong and doubtless
deserved a tough penalty’, but there were other important considerations:
[E]xpelling an MP because of words spoken about his own
apology would be a step too far. If a much more serious breach was found in
future, what higher penalty would be left for parliament to impose? While
expulsion has been used elsewhere to expel MPs, it has generally been for an
offence far more serious than these original allegations, much less for merely
making an apology claimed to be not ‘appropriate’. Some parliaments have
powerful anti-corruption bodies to deal with such cases (such as NSW’s
Independent Commission against Corruption). Napthine’s government gave Victoria
IBAC, which is incapable of acting in this case.... Napthine has a profound
responsibility to demonstrate that he respects the parliament, and to pause and
reflect on the punishment for comments about the apology before leaping to
another highly questionable expulsion. 
When the motion to expel Shaw was put to the house there
were 42 noes, and 42 ayes:
Then the speaker said: ‘The member for Frankston’. ‘No’,
came the firm voice of Geoff Shaw.
As the vote was tied, Shaw remained an MP.
A fortnight later, Shaw again courted controversy when
reports emerged that he was expected to join UK climate sceptic Lord
Christopher Monckton at a campaign meeting for the hard-right Christian party
Rise Up Australia.
While the loss of Shaw’s seat of Frankston, which he had
won for the Liberal Party, was seen as inevitable, the ongoing controversy surrounding
Shaw contributed to the public sense the government lacked control of the
Shaw, who had won the seat from Labor at
the 2010 election, declared that it was his intention to recontest the
seat of Frankston, but also noted he ‘would consider pulling out if polls
suggested that he was headed for defeat’.
Frankston had performed as something of a bellwether electorate since 2002,
closely following the state-wide vote. Even putting aside the controversy
surrounding Shaw, the margin for the southern Melbourne seat was reduced to 0.4
per cent after the boundary redistribution, putting it on an electoral
A local firefighter, Paul Edbrooke, emerged as Labor’s front-running
candidate in Frankston, replacing Helen Constas who resigned her nomination
following allegations of workplace bullying.
In the election, the seat was reclaimed for Labor by Edbrooke by 336 votes;
Shaw only received 12.9 per cent of the first preference votes, well behind the
Labor and Liberal candidates.
Law and order issues were an early pre-campaign topic,
with the Government announcing tougher sentences for attacks on police and
Both major parties were also keen to present themselves as champions of school
education, especially in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
Meanwhile, mining magnate and federal MP Clive Palmer revealed
a plan to turn the Latrobe Valley into ‘a minerals processing hub, allowing
Australia to cash in on its resources for even higher prices [than unprocessed
minerals receive] and address soaring unemployment’.
The controversial Voluntary Euthanasia Party, led by Dr
Phillip Nitschke, planned to contest all upper house seats and some Assembly
At the election the party ran candidates in five of the eight regions in the
As June 2014 drew to a close, The
Age/Nielsen poll showed Labor with a commanding 59 per cent to 41 per cent lead
over the Coalition in two-party preferred terms ‘based on voters' intended
The Coalition’s plight was also compounded by its federal counterpart’s
position. As political editor for The Age, Michael Gordon, put it:
A more accurate, but still grim, picture
emerges when you average out the state-by-state results in the past three polls
and compare them with the average of the last three polls before last
September’s [federal] election. Here, the Coalition’s Victorian vote is nine
points down on the 43 per cent primary at the election, compared with a drop of
five points in New South Wales and six in Queensland.
Abbott’s personal approval ratings are
similarly worse in Victoria than elsewhere, with an average disapproval rating
of 61 per cent for the past three months, compared with 54 per cent in NSW. .... Based
on preferences at the last election, the poll had Labor in front on two-party
terms, 56-44. Based on how those polled said they would allocate preferences,
it was even more dire for the Liberals: 59-41 to Labor. Most disturbing for
Napthine, however, was that one in three said their voting intention was
influenced by Abbott’s budget.
Writing in The Age, Gordon highlighted
Victoria’s strong multicultural affinities—noting its large Indian and
Chinese-born populations—and opined that many voters were ‘unnerved by
Abbott’s determination to wind back protections against racial discrimination
by repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act’.
He pointed out there was also ‘growing anger within these communities at one of
the federal budget’s lesser-known nasties: changes to family reunion laws that
mean the only option for those wishing to bring their parents to Australia is
to pay more than $100,000 for the necessary visas’.
The president of the Federation of Chinese Associations, Vincent Chow, said
that both issues had ‘damaged the Abbott government’s standing and—by
association—hurt Napthine’s prospects’.
In the end, the federal Government decided not to proceed with changes to section
18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. In what he described as a
‘leadership call’, the Prime Minister said that the issue had become ‘a complication
that we just don’t need’ and that he wanted ‘the communities of our country to
be our friend not our critic’.
Andrews said if the federal race laws were scrapped his party would simply
replicate the wording of the current federal provisions in Victoria’s state
The East West Link was a proposed 18 kilometre cross-city tollway
connection extending across Melbourne from the Eastern Freeway to the Western
Ring Road. It proved to be a divisive and unpopular project, but the Minister for Planning approved the Eastern Section of the East West
Link and announced the $8–10 billion Western Section to link the Eastern
Freeway through to the Western Ring Road. The Greens federal MP
for Melbourne Adam Bandt condemned the decision:
Public transport will be the first casualty of Minister Guy's
go-ahead for East-West, as the tollway will be a disastrous drain on the public
purse... If the Napthine Government cared what people think, it would defer
signing contracts until after an assessment of the revised design's full impact.
...Labor must now commit to tearing up any contracts if they win majority
government in November. 
The Victorian Government said it intended to sign all the relevant
contracts before the election.
On 9 September 2014, an adviser to groups opposed to the project,
Andrew Herington, claimed that key promises had been broken, namely:
- any project worth more than $100m would be subject
to a cost-benefit analysis before it was funded and
- construction would be underway within 12 months.
[The] main debate over the East West Link has
been the secrecy over the business case and whether it is based on highly
inflated estimates of the benefits. By refusing to have Infrastructure
Australia undertake independent assessments of business cases the government is
admitting the highly politicised way in which public funds are being allocated.
The issue was pursued in a later debate where
Labor attacked the payment of funds without any proof of value for money. It appears that $1.5bn was secretly paid to
Victoria for the East West Link before 30 June this year and both governments
have refused to comment. Previously the Abbott government had undertaken to the
Senate estimates committee that no funds would be paid for either stage of the
East West Link until full business cases were provided. ...
The business case for stage 2 of East West
Link, now called the Western Section, has not even been written. Stage 2
remains at the ‘conceptual stage’ despite both state and federal governments
committing to it and claiming construction will commence before the end of
2015. None of the preliminary steps required to start the planning approvals
have commenced for the Western Section, making any construction next year an impossibility.
The only action taken to date has been the appointment of Ernst and Young in
late August as business advisers.
The federal Coalition Government had
committed $3 billion to the project, although Infrastructure Australia acknowledged
that it did not have a full business case for the project. The Prime Minister
declared that the election would be a referendum on the East West Link, and
that the federal Government would take back its contribution if it was not
to go ahead, rather than being re‑allocated to other infrastructure
projects, such as public transport.
resumes after winter recess
The Victorian Parliament resumed on 5 August 2014, and it
appeared that Victoria’s major regional cities might be shaping up as significant
players in determining the electoral fortunes of the major parties.
Meanwhile, a new political party, People Power
Victoria — No Smart Meters was registered as a political
party and planned to contest every Upper House seat and some Lower House seats.
The northern Victorian country seat of Euroa was created
after the redistribution of electoral boundaries in 2013. On 7 August the
Liberal Party endorsed Tony Schneider as their candidate for the newly-formed
country seat, despite claims from the Nationals that doing so would be in
breach of a long-standing Coalition agreement between the parties. Media
reports stated that while the Nationals considered the seat to be ‘Nationals territory’,
Liberal Party branch members wanted the opportunity to vote for a Liberal
However, at odds with members of his party who wanted the
seat to go to a Liberal, former Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu caused controversy
by backing a National Party candidate—Baillieu’s former staffer Stephanie Ryan—for
the new seat.
A Liberal Party member and fundraiser, Alistair Ewart, said he wanted to be
considered for pre-selection for Euroa, but said that ‘he and people acting on
his behalf were told by Liberal Party headquarters they would not be fielding a
Ryan contested the seat and won it comfortably for the Nationals.
days to go
A poll published by the Herald Sun in mid-August
2014 showed the ALP holding a 52–48 per cent lead over the Napthine Government.
Those results, if replicated at the election, would give Labor a 12-seat
majority in the Legislative Assembly.
The poll also indicated that the Greens vote remained steady at 12 per cent,
and the Palmer United Party appeared to be garnering a vote of about three per
But Napthine remained the preferred premier, and there was a ‘big turnaround’
in the number of Victorians who felt that their state was heading in the right
Voters were evenly divided over who would be best at protecting jobs.
Just 28 per cent of those polled in mid‑August backed the building of the
East West Link—a major Coalition initiative.
Most thought Labor's key policy of removing the state's 50 worst level
crossings ‘should be given the highest priority’.
Meanwhile, three strongly conservative parties—the Democratic
Labour Party, the Australian Christians, and Rise Up Australia Party—sought
to make abortion an issue.
Rise Up Australia Party also wanted corporal punishment returned to Victorian
schools, and claimed they had done preference deals with the Democratic Labour
Party and the Australian Christians.
News also emerged that an LGBTI professional networking
organisation, GLOBE, had arranged a forum on LGBTI issues that would see
Labor’s Martin Foley debate Liberal MP Clem Newton-Brown, and Greens upper
house MP Greg Barber.
The speakers at the forum pledged a homophobia-free campaign.
But the unwelcome surprise for many Liberals was the
decision by the highly-regarded former Premier Ted Baillieu to quit
politics. The Herald Sun reported that:
Dr Napthine led a chorus of former colleagues praising Mr
Baillieu. But privately the decision to walk away three months before the poll
was met with widespread anger across the Liberal Party. Former premier Jeff Kennett
spoke for many who labelled it a selfish act. “He could have done this months
ago,” Mr Kennett said. “And now with 98 days to go he’s put his own interests
ahead of the party’s.” Mr Kennett said that had Mr Baillieu made his decision earlier,
the Liberal Party could have avoided the bloody pre-selection fight for the
seat of Kew in which Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge was humiliated
at the hands of former Stonnington mayor Tim Smith.
Contenders for Baillieu’s prized seat of Hawthorn included
Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam, Premier Napthine's
legal adviser John Pesutto, Health Minister David Davis, and Minister for
Community Services Mary Wooldridge—who was set to lose her lower house seat at
the election due to an electoral redistribution.
Pesutto eventually won pre-selection, and won the seat for the Liberals at the
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews’ pledge to
decriminalise cannabis for treatment of life threatening illnesses started to
gain traction, with the president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation
saying ‘it would be better if Labor and the Liberals agreed to legalise
The effects of the drug methamphetamine, better known as ‘ice’—widely reported as
having reached epidemic proportions—was another election issue given it was
fuelling concerns about increased rates of crime. Opposition Leader Daniel
Andrews announced an ‘ice action taskforce’ and a range of new criminal
offences as part of Labor’s policy package to target drugs and crime.
There were also calls to make domestic violence an election
issue, with Domestic Violence Victoria chief executive Fiona McCormack stating
that every year domestic violence costs the state economy an estimated $3.4 billion.
The domestic violence issue emerged again in controversial circumstances some
weeks later when Greens supporters began a ‘provocative campaign’, accusing Labor
of supporting ‘male gun violence’ for not taking a stand against duck shooting.
The campaign by the Coalition Against Duck Shooting ‘outraged Labor MPs’, who
said it was ‘deliberately designed to confuse the party’s message on family
Labor had promised a royal commission on family violence if elected (and
subsequently appointed a commissioner on 22 February 2015).
Newspoll results reported by The
Australian on 25 August 2014 revealed that the Victorian Liberals’
primary vote was just 32 per cent and the combined Coalition figure was ‘languishing
at 35 per cent—nearly 10 points below the 2010 general poll’. The 55 to 45 per
cent two-party preferred polling would, if replicated at the election, see
Labor winning with a comfortable majority and relegate Napthine’s government to
the opposition as the first one-term administration in Victoria since the
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett weighed into the
debate with an opinion piece in the Herald Sun
in late August, arguing that ‘It is simply not in our interests to elect a
government that does not have a clear majority. Without governments with clear
mandates, the opportunity to put communities in the best position to meet
challenges [is] much reduced’.
He cited five ‘key strengths that must be preserved’: a harmonious society,
strong economy, healthy state finances, cultural diversity and robust essential
months to go
With the opinion polls pointing to a Labor victory, the
Coalition seemed set to lose as many as 15 seats.
The Herald Sun reported that former
Victorian premier, Steve Bracks—who led Labor to a narrow victory over Jeff Kennett
in 1999—had also ‘put up his hand to mentor Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews
ahead of the November election’ to help boost his leadership skills and public
Link issues continue to run
Mid-way through September it emerged that an inner-city
councillor, Cam Nation—who was also a former Liberal Party candidate and who,
as a councillor, had not been a critic of the East West Link—helped register a
new micro-party, the No East West Link Party, to oppose the Link. This seemed
an odd move given the Liberals’ support for the Link; however, ‘opponents of
the freeway plan have questioned whether the new political party has been set
up to funnel votes back to Coalition candidates’.
But the major news on transport was the decision by Labor, mid-way through
September, that it would not honour any contract for the Link that might be
signed before the election:
Labor tacitly opposed the East West road project since its
inception, but was conflicted. More freeways don’t play well in the inner city.
... But what would people in the marginal eastern seats think? Since the 2010
election loss, Labor was nervous about misreading their mood. ... A frequent
target of derision were billboards proclaiming support for various social
issues on roads exiting the city. The messages would hardly have resonated with
people reading them while stuck in traffic on their way home to the suburbs.
Labor hardheads were also concerned the party would be
vulnerable to the old narrative that Labor can’t be trusted with the commercial
affairs of state. They feared accusations about sovereign risk, business
confidence and a flight of investors. So Labor had a contradictory policy,
opposing the road in theory but supporting it in practice.
Nevertheless, Premier Napthine said he would sign the
contract for stage one before the caretaker period started.
To counter the Government’s action, two councils—Moreland
and Yarra—sought a declaration in the Supreme Court that
the decision of the Minister for Planning to approve the Eastern Section of the
East West Link was invalid. Labor sought advice from Queen’s Counsel lawyers and
a contract law expert, who advised that:
In the event that the Supreme Court holds
that the approval decision made by the Minister for Planning on 30 June 2014 is
invalid, there is no power to enter into contracts for the Project and any
contract entered into will be beyond power and unenforceable.
The councils’ action is due to be heard
after the election, on 12 December. Mr Andrews says an incoming Labor
government would not defend the challenge; the presumption is that would
increase the likelihood the councils would win, with the knock on effect that
any signed contract would consequently be invalid (although the government might
still be liable to compensate the winning contractor if it cancelled the
After the election and change of government the councils
indefinitely delayed their legal action.
Transport consultant Alan Davies set out a number of
reasons why Napthine should not sign the contract before the
election. These included the proximity of the start of the caretaker period
(one and a half months), the size of the contract, doubts about the economic
viability of the motorway, and issues with securing finance for the project
whilst it was subject to ongoing legal challenges. An editorial in the Herald Sun newspaper opined that,
if the Link did not go ahead, the consortium that was likely to sign contracts
well before the election ‘would have no hesitation in trying to recoup its
losses, which could potentially run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
Thousands of jobs would be lost and Victorians would be left with the bill’. But even before
construction had begun the Napthine government had spent $400 million on the
on service delivery a perennial election issue
Statistics on matters such as crime, ambulance and fire
response times, and child protection issues are standard fare in state election
campaigns, and things were no different during the Victorian campaign. Analysis
by The Age’s Josh Gordon in late
September 2014 noted:
- Police Commissioner Ken Lay would delay the November crime
statistics ‘because they are due just three days before the November 29
- Ambulance Victoria was refusing to publish paramedic response
times to cardiac arrests claiming there was ‘clear potential for confusion,
misunderstanding or unnecessary debate’
- the Country Fire Authority was refusing to release response time
data for 14 volunteer brigades because it could lead to ‘misrepresentations’
- Commissioner for Children and Young People Bernie Geary would not
release his investigation into the sexual exploitation of children in
residential care ‘because he did not want it to be politicised’ or ‘part of the
machinations of the election campaign’.
As the Victorian Parliament entered its last
sitting week prior to the election, numerous bills languished on the notice
paper ‘including recommendations from the child abuse inquiry, laws to protect
consumers from dodgy builders, and legislation to allow electronic monitoring
bracelets for disabled offenders on leave from a treatment facility’.
The Government found itself forced to
prioritise legislative changes to the state's anti-corruption body, laws to
expunge historic gay sex convictions, and extensions to family violence
Dr Napthine said it was ‘common for pieces of legislation to sit on the notice
paper at the end of a parliament’ and announced the government would
re-introduce the remaining bills if re-elected.
In an opinion piece in The Age, Dr Colleen Lewis—an adjunct professor
with the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University—said that
with only 45 days to go before the election, Victorians had ‘little knowledge
about the political donations policies of various parties’.
An examination of the four major parties’ websites shows only
the Greens outline in detail their internal position on the issue. However, all
note that contributions greater than $11,200 are subject to disclosure under
the Commonwealth Electoral Act. What Victorians need to know, from any party
fielding candidates, is exactly who is donating to them, how much they have given,
over what period of time, and what, if any, are the donors’ business
This information is not available because Victoria does not
have a donations disclosure policy (although all parties must lodge with the
Victorian Election Commission a copy of their federal annual return, which
refers to the $50,000 cap on any donations received from casinos and gambling
Lewis argued that, with current technology
it would be ‘easy and inexpensive’ for information about who donated to what party
or candidate—and how much—to be posted on a public website in real time ‘or
within 24 to 48 hours after money changes hands’.
The election campaign resulted in some confusion about how
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews—a relatively unknown politician—was presented
to the electorate. Andrews had taken over the Labor leadership after the
election defeat of the Brumby Labor government in 2010, in which he had been
With a month to go before the election, a
straw poll of 206 enrolled voters in the CBD found ‘barely a third were able to
name [Labor leader Daniel Andrews] when shown his photograph’:
It was reported that:
Mr Andrews has been dogged by claims voters do not know who
he is. He recently tried to soften his image with a name change from Daniel to
Dan in some campaign material, but it seems to have had little impact.
... Referring to Mr Andrews’ low recognition rate, former Liberal adviser Grahame
Morris said: ‘Jeff Kennett’s dog would have a higher profile than that’.
Similarly, less than two-thirds of those polled recognised
the Premier, Denis Napthine.
In the lead up to and during the campaign Andrews lost
weight, started wearing more casual clothing such as jeans, and also featured
his family, including his three young children, heavily in his campaign in a
move political commentators stated was designed to convey authenticity.
While state branches of federal parties experiencing controversy
are often heard to argue that the state election is being fought purely on
local issues, in the case of the Victorian election it was difficult for the Victorian
Coalition to escape the gravitational pull of the Federal Government’s
policies. The reverberations from the federal budget, for example, featured
heavily in the election campaign. Federal budget issues included the Medicare
co-payment (the ‘GP tax’) and the push for the states to lobby for an increase
in the GST.
The announcement of an increase in the petrol excise when
the campaign was underway in late October, due to commence 19 days before
election day, was not only damaging to the state government’s campaign, but was
interpreted in the media as evidence that the federal government was
uninterested in aiding the re-election of its state colleagues. A Federal
Liberal source was quoted as saying that the federal Government ‘didn’t have
time any more to pander to the states’. There was also a feeling that the state
Liberals were polling so poorly that it did not really matter what the federal Government
Commentator Peter van Onselen commented that ‘I doubt malice
was behind the [petrol excise] announcement. More likely it was rank
incompetence. After all, if the Liberals in Victoria do lose that’s bad news
for Abbott too’.
The tension between the Victorian leader and his federal
counterpart was highlighted when Dr Napthine and Prime Minister Abbott held a
joint event of the sort that Dr Napthine appeared to have been trying to avoid.
This event announced a crack-down on union corruption four weeks out from the
election. During the event Abbott physically embraced Dr Napthine, saying he
would stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the Premier, but Dr Napthine was
described as looking like ‘a turtle trying to recoil into its shell’.
Abbott also said that he intended to attend the election launch, though the
Victorian Liberals appeared less enthusiastic about the Prime Minister’s
involvement in the campaign.
Some days later, reflecting on the evident tensions between himself and the
Prime Minister, Dr Napthine described his relationship stating that, ‘We get on
very professionally... but he’s never been in my mateship book’.
The Labor Party took advantage of the unpopularity of the
Prime Minister by linking the Premier and the Prime Minister, including running
advertising with the Prime Minister and Premier wearing the same ties.
The Victorian Liberals blamed both the federal Government, and Labor’s strategy
of depicting Denis Napthine as being close to Tony Abbott, as damaging the
slight swing back to the Coalition that had been observed in the preceding
weeks in some key marginal seats. 
Liberals argued that one source of the problems was the tendency for the
federal Liberals to view everything through the perspective of Sydney, not
understanding the unique characteristics of the Victorian electorate.
The Coalition’s concern about the federal factors appeared
to be justified, with an exit poll finding that 46 per cent of voters cited the
federal Budget as a significant issue in their voting decision.
Election post-mortems of the eventual Coalition loss quickly blamed the $7 Medicare
co-payment as a key reason for the defeat.
polls spell defeat for the Government
The day before Labor launched its election campaign, five
weeks out from the election; Newspoll had Labor on a primary vote of 37 per
cent with the Coalition on 35, with Labor’s two party preferred vote of 55 per
cent—ten percentage points ahead of the Coalition’s 45 per cent. This followed
Labor’s lead over the Coalition in private and public polling throughout 2014,
and through most of the term, with commentators suggesting that a hung
parliament was not out of the question.
At the issue of the writs for the election, betting agency
Sportsbet was offering odds for Labor of $1.28 and odds for the Coalition of
$3.50. This equates to an implied probability of a 78.13 per cent chance of a
While Labor continued to hold a comfortable lead, with the Liberal Premier well
ahead of the Opposition Leader in preferred premier ratings, there was an
expectation in the media that the polls would narrow going into the election.
Polling commissioned by the Australian Greens found that the
Greens would win two inner-city seats from the ALP. Both of these seats,
Melbourne and Richmond, overlap areas that federal Greens member Adam Bandt won
in 2010 and retained at the 2013 federal election.
The seat of Brunswick was also noted as a seat the Greens were targeting.
Analysts also believed that the Greens would secure the balance of power in the
The final Ipsos poll before the election showed the
Coalition closing on Labor, with a 50/50 two-party preferred vote and the
Coalition vote up four points since the beginning of November. Denis Napthine
led Daniel Andrews as preferred premier by 44 to 42. The final Newspoll had
Labor leading 54 per cent to 46.
Despite the occasional rays of polling sunshine, reports suggested that some
weeks before this federal Liberal MPs had essentially written off the chances
of a win in Victoria due to the Coalition polling poorly in both state and
federal issues and a weak campaign.
At the beginning of November, Opposition Leader Daniel
Andrews attended an event with Crown Casino founder Lloyd Williams. Williams,
unaware he was being recorded by a television camera operator, stated that
businessman ‘James [Packer] is going to be kicking every goal he can for you’.
Andrews quickly distanced himself from any association with
Packer, whom he described as a friend, and denied that the support was in
response to Labor’s support for extending Crown’s casino license.
The next day Packer himself stated that Williams’ offer did not reflect his
Williams’ offer was said to have caused ‘growing anger’ in the Liberal Party,
and was linked to the Coalition Government’s surprise increased taxation of the
Daniel Andrews came from the Socialist Left faction of the
ALP, according to a report ‘has not wavered, for a second, in his allegiance
to the Left, remaining steadfast in his support for the Construction Forestry
Mining and Energy Union state division under its secretary John Setka’.
At the start of November 2014 the Royal Commission into Trade Union
Governance and Corruption (TURC) heard that Setka should be charged with
There was some debate, however, as to the extent to which this association
might damage the Opposition Leader due to ‘a sense that Victorians have lived
with criminal unions for so long that they have become accustomed to the
This did not stop the Liberals pouring significant resources into a ‘blitz’ of
advertising linking Andrews with the CFMEU.
all sides of politics
The Victorian election seemed to be particularly plagued
by scandals affecting all sides of politics. For example, a Labor candidate, Natalie
Suleyman, found herself under pressure by the Liberals to resign as the candidate
for the west suburban seat of St Albans over her alleged ‘history of false and
misleading evidence to an Ombudsman’s inquiry, questions over her mobile phone
use and accusations of bullying and harassment’.
in the social media cupboard
Social media continued to be a stumbling block for parties
who had endorsed candidates engaging in certain social media activities that
could damage their parties and chances of being elected:
A Liberal candidate at November’s state election quit in
disgrace last night after party officials were told of hundreds of offensive
sexist and racist posts on his Facebook page. Jack Lyons, who was standing for
the marginal seat of Bendigo West, quit two hours after the Herald Sun alerted
party officials he had described the regional city as ‘needing an enema’ and
called its historical Golden Dragon Museum ‘ching chong gardens’.
Lyons’ replacement, Michael Langdon, was unanimously
endorsed by the Liberal Party’s administrative committee as the new Bendigo
The party said that ‘party officials had called all candidates on Monday night
to emphasise that any private social media accounts needed to be disclosed’.
Another Liberal candidate, Aaron Lane—former Young Liberal
president and fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs—also resigned after
making crude comments on social media.
He also lost his work as a casual sessional law tutor at Deakin University.
Within days the Liberals were again on the defensive when a member, Tim Dark,
was forced to resign from his post at Swinburne University Liberal Club after
posting homophobic and sexist comments on Facebook.
The Labor opposition faced a potential scandal over what
became known as ‘tapegate’. It was alleged that a Labor official had obtained
the dictaphone of a Fairfax journalist that contained a recording of an
off-the-record interview with the previous Liberal leader and premier Ted Baillieu
which was emailed to sitting Victorian MPs by an apparent Liberal Party member,
who appeared not to exist.
The incident was referred to Victoria Police; however, the outcome is unknown.
Party’s candidate trouble
PUP leader Clive Palmer entered the Victorian election race
on 7 November with a press conference, even though at that point he was
‘without any candidates or major policy spruik to Victorians’. His aim was to
seize the balance of power in the upper house.
However, shortly before the election it was revealed that
one of the PUP candidates, Jack Kennedy, listed as the party’s third candidate for
the upper house in the South-Eastern Metropolitan district, was found guilty of
reckless injury in 1989. The party sought an injunction to halt the printing of
the ballot papers, as the candidate would have been ineligible to enter Parliament.
The application was refused in the Supreme Court as the Electoral Act 2002
(Vic) did not allow for the removal of a candidate once the candidate had been
Kennedy remained on the ballot as a PUP candidate and received just under 0.1
per cent of the first preference vote in the district.
As the campaign progressed it emerged that two Liberal
candidates were also being investigated by the Victorian Ombudsman for
allegedly corrupt conduct in relation to donations and council planning
decisions. The candidates, for marginal Labor-held seats, denied any
wrong-doing or involvement in sparking the investigations, although the Liberal
Party campaign director blamed ‘political dirty tricks’ for the leak of the
Both candidates were cleared by the Ombudsman’s inquiry,
although neither were subsequently elected. The Ombudsman found that although
property developers had made donations to the councillors, there was no
evidence that the donations had been made for any improper purpose. However, the
Ombudsman also called for a ban on donations from property developers and
increased transparency in donation laws.
Meanwhile, Planning Minister Matthew Guy found himself
caught up in a scandal involving his senior adviser, Marc Boxer.
Boxer’s subsequent resignation was the first scandal with a sexual element to hit
the Napthine Government. According to The Australian’s Victorian
Political Editor John Ferguson:
The resignation will spark questions about what Mr Guy
knew—and when—given Mr Boxer was struck off as a teacher a decade ago over his
predatory behaviour and evidence of the sex scandal was freely available on the
public record. Mr Guy is considered the man most likely to replace Premier
Denis Napthine if the Coalition loses office in November or if Dr Napthine
stands down mid-term after winning.
Guy admitted he knew that an adviser in his
office had been struck off the register as a school teacher several years ago,
but at the time ‘did not see a need to remove him from his ministerial office’.
Boxer, following his resignation from Guy’s office, was reported to have found
employment in the Department of Planning, albeit with a pay cut.
number of registered parties
With a little over a month to go to the election, 14
parties had registered, including the Palmer United Party (PUP), Animal Justice
and Voluntary Euthanasia. Another nine were awaiting final registration, which included
Rise Up Australia, the Cyclists Party, No East West Link Party and the Basics Rock
'N' Roll Party.
By the time of the election the number of registered parties contesting the
election had climbed to 21, up from a previous record of 13 parties in 1999.
Over half of the parties (11) had registered in the six months before the
With micro-parties already a notable presence in the
federal political sphere, some commentators opined that minor parties—including
Clive Palmer's PUP—would hold the balance of power in Victoria after the state
However, as Crikey’s Charles Richardson pointed out, much of the story was
‘based on the ruminations of preference whisperer Glenn Druery’.
Research by ABC election analyst Antony Green showed ‘only five regions in
which a micro-party might have a chance of election, and in most of those the
chance is pretty slim. The idea that they might all succeed simultaneously is
Green also stated:
The sort of labyrinthine preferences deals that marred the
2013 Senate election look set to be repeated in the Victorian Legislative
Council election, though the odds are we won’t see a victory as improbable as
that of Senator Ricky Muir from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.
The issue with micro-parties and preference deals that
plagued that 2013 Senate election also hung over the Victorian Legislative
Council election due to its use of a voting system similar to the 2013 Australian
Senate electoral system. The quota needed to win a seat in the Victorian
Legislative Council is about 16.7 per cent. According to Monash University
academic Zareh Ghazarian:
Since shifting to a multi-member system using proportional
representation in 2006, the Legislative Council has had a couple of minor
parties win representation. The DLP won a seat in 2006, while the Greens hope
to increase their numbers in the chamber this time around. ... [Minor] parties
can reach a quota by cobbling together a suite of deals on the flow of
deals and minority government
Due to the perception that Labor was unlikely to win a
majority, preference deals and the possibility of a minority Labor government
received considerable discussion. Early on, Opposition Leader Andrews rejected
the possibility of preference deals with the Greens or the possibility of
minority government supported by the Greens.
Reports stated that ‘Andrews loathes the Greens’.
However, maintaining distance from the Greens was a
bi-partisan approach. The Liberals also announced that they would place the
Greens last on all preferences and how-to-vote cards, even if it meant giving
the ‘anti-Islam, anti-immigration’ far right Rise Up Australia Party higher
preferences. Although Rise Up Australia claimed that it had been
negotiating a preference deal with the Liberals, the Liberal Party denied any
Glenn Druery, who had received substantial press coverage
for his apparent role in co-ordinating minor party preferences in the 2013
federal election, stated that he had been assisting parties in this election
with their preference distribution deals.
Amongst the preference deals reported, the Greens appeared
to have had an arrangement with PUP, preferencing PUP over Labor in four upper
house districts and PUP over the Liberals in seven others. The Greens refused
to confirm or deny whether this arrangement was the result of a deal.
While fears of a minority government in the lower house
proved to be unfounded, with Labor winning a comfortable majority,
micro-parties did have a degree of success in the upper house. Neither the
Coalition nor Labor and the Greens combined could achieve a majority in the
upper house without the support of one or more of the minor parties. This
included the Shooters and Fishers (who won two upper house seats), Sex Party,
DLP and Vote 1 Local Jobs (who won one each).
Victorians were able to cast their vote from 17 November
onwards at any one of about 100 pre-poll centres. Early trends led to estimates
that the number of such votes might reach 850,000
or even 1 million—meaning more than one in four voters voting early.
As a comparison, at the 2010 Victorian election there were 543,763 early votes
(the equivalent of pre-poll). This comprised 16.3 per cent of all votes cast. At
the 2006 election, there were 273,952 early votes (8.8 per cent of the total).
This high degree of pre-poll voting led to concerns that the
result of the election could be delayed as counting the early votes would not
commence until the Monday after the election.
The Victorian Electoral Commission confirmed it would count only ‘ordinary
votes’ on election night, plus a maximum of 2,000 postal votes for each lower
The 2014 election saw early voting double from 2010, with
a total of just under a million early votes (912,967, 25.79 per cent of total
votes) and a further 294,166 (8.31 per cent of total votes) postal votes.
The concerns about delayed results proved to be unfounded,
and Premier Denis Napthine conceded defeat just before 10pm on election night,
indicating that he would also step down as party leader.
The Labor Party, led by Daniel
Andrews, won the election, winning 47 of the 88 seats.
A comprehensive examination of the results is available from
the Victorian Parliamentary Library and Information Service’s report The
2014 Victorian State Election.
Victorian 2014 election results—Legislative Assembly
Source: Lesman et al, The 2014 Victorian State Election
The Labor Party won four more seats
in the Legislative Assembly compared to the 2010 election; however, it lost the
district of Melbourne to the Greens.
The Coalition lost seven seats in
the Legislative Assembly compared to the 2010 election, including Prahran to the
Greens and Shepparton to an Independent. The Nationals lost the status
of ‘third party’ in the Parliament, winning a total of ten seats, one short of
the 11 required for third party status. The Greens won two seats in the
Legislative Assembly (Melbourne and Prahran) giving them representation in the
lower house for the first time.
An Independent, Suzanna
Sheed won the seat of Shepparton, in the Legislative Assembly, but Independent
(former Liberal), Geoff Shaw, lost his seat of Frankston to Labor.
Victorian 2014 election result—Legislative Council
Source: Lesman et al, The 2014 Victorian State Election
As predicted before the election, the ALP failed to gain a
majority in the Legislative Council, Victoria’s upper house. The ALP won 14 of
the 40 Legislative Council seats, the
Coalition won 16 seats (14 to the Liberal Party and two to the Nationals), with
the Greens winning another five. The ALP lost two seats compared to its results
at the previous election, both of which went to the Greens, and the Coalition lost a total of five seats in the
Legislative Council to the micro-parties.
In the Legislative Council the Shooters and Fishers Party of
Victoria won two seats, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) won one seat, the
Australian Sex Party won one seat, and Vote 1 Local Jobs won one seat.
Much like the 2013 federal election, many of the smaller parties that won seats
in the Legislative Council did so with small proportions of the vote. The Sex
Party, DLP and Shooters and Fishers won their seats on less than 3 per cent of
the primary vote. The Vote 1 Local Jobs candidate won on 1.3 per cent of the
As with the federal Senate following the 2013 election, these wins were mostly
due to preferences directed through group voting tickets.
The Greens’ win in the inner-city seat of Melbourne was
known the day after the election, with Ellen Sandell the first Greens MP to sit
in the Victorian lower house, winning the seat from Labor.
This was the first time Labor had lost the seat of Melbourne in 106 years.
While the Greens’ primary vote state-wide was very similar
to its 2010 vote, it focused its campaigning resources on a small number of
Apart from Melbourne, there were signs early in the counting that the Greens
were competitive against Labor in Richmond and Brunswick, and against the
Liberals in Prahran.
In addition to winning Melbourne, the Greens were eventually successful in
winning Prahran from the Liberal Party.
Preferences were important in both of the seats the Greens
won. While Greens beat the ALP in first preference votes in Melbourne, Liberal
preferences flowed one third to the Greens and two thirds to the ALP, which was
enough to give the Greens a two party preferred vote of 52.4 per cent.
In Prahran, by comparison, the Greens finished third on first preference votes.
However, preferences from the Animal Justice Party were sufficient to put the
Greens into second place, ahead of Labor, meaning Labor’s preferences were then
The Greens candidate, Sam Hibbins, won on a two party preferred vote of 50.37
per cent, or 277 votes.
The defeat of the one-term Coalition Government led to
considerable blame-shifting, with both the performance of that Government and
the federal Government said to be at fault. Former Victorian premier Jeff
Kennett asserted that the federal Government was a major factor in the
Victorian Coalition’s defeat. The outgoing Liberal treasurer specifically cited
Joe Hockey’s federal budget as a contributor to the loss.
Political commentator Michelle Grattan also stated:
Federal Liberals were trying to minimise or deny the extent
to which Victorian voters had cast a reflection on the Abbott government. They
say the state polls didn't shift much in three years — which was going back
well before Abbott became PM.
The truth lies in-between. Voters were unimpressed with the
state government’s performance and disgusted with its chaotic parliament. But
the federal budget, with its array of nasties (many of which haven’t even been
passed because of the Senate) and the general style of the federal government
played right into Labor’s hands.
Then there were the federal grenades that lobbed in the
immediate run up to the election — including the decision to implement fuel
excise indexation by regulation and last week’s shemozzle over the Medicare
Victorian political scientist Nicholas Economou agreed,
stating ‘the pathetic performance by the Liberal party since its unexpected win
in 2010’, along with the contributions of the federal Government, led to the
Comments from the federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in relation to the
bailout of a Shepparton tinned fruit producer were also blamed for the
Nationals’ poor performance by the outgoing Victorian Nationals leader, Peter Ryan.
A Liberal Party post-mortem of the defeat blamed the focus on the East West
Link and Premier Ted Baillieu’s ‘slow start to government’.
Following the election defeat, Dr Napthine stood down as
Liberal leader, stating ‘it’s time for renewal. It is time for change’.
Two contenders initially emerged for the leadership: outgoing Planning Minister
Matthew Guy and outgoing Treasurer Michael O’Brien. Matthew Guy quickly became
the favourite, receiving the endorsement of former premier Jeff Kennett, and
went on to lead the party.
While it was reported that Dr Napthine would serve out his
four year term and mentor the new leader, a little less than a year after the
defeat, he resigned his safe seat and forced a by-election in September 2015.
The Coalition’s loss of government in Victoria—the first
after one term in more than 50 years—was widely forecasted by the polls, but
was still regarded as unexpected and significant.
The result was likely due to multiple factors operating at
both the local and the federal level. The most significant of these were the
perceived lacklustre performance of the Victorian Coalition Government,
accompanied by a mid-term change of leader and Premier, and unpopular policies
introduced by the federal Coalition Government. The one-term defeat was
followed by a similar loss after one term for the Liberal‑National Party
Government in Queensland on 31 January 2015.
Whether these two results are the beginning of a new trend or a coincidence
remains to be seen.
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