Prepolls are now well underway for the Victorian State Election. The mood during the course of this election campaign has gone from one where it appeared that the status quo would remain to a mood, in the later stages, favouring the Daniel Andrews led Labor Party will comfortably retain government (or even increase its majority).
Although this is a government that could be better when it comes to questions on law and order as well as public ownership of vital assets; the Andrews government, at least on social issues, has been the most progressive government in Victoria for a number of years and is arguably the most progressive state government in the country.
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This is a government that has scrapped religious instruction in schools during class time, it has introduced a raft of measures aimed at improving the rights of renters, it has legislated a permanent ban on fracking; with the aim of enshrining this ban in the state constitution, it has introduced protest buffer zones around abortion clinics and has also introduced safe injecting rooms as well as expanded the Safe Schools program. Priority TAFE courses have also been made free.
It has also embarked on a massive infrastructure binge over the last four years - fixing dilapidated schools, fixing roads and public transport, as well as removing congested level crossings. Broadly, this is a government that has been getting things done, a stark contrast to the previous Baillieu/Napthine government that did very little. It is also in stark contrast to the fear-mongering and racist scapegoating of the Liberal/National Coalition led by Matthew Guy.
Andrews has promised that a re-elected Labor government will ramp things up even further - including making industrial manslaughter and wage theft a crime punishable by jail as well an ambitious long-term public transport plan that will see improved train services from regional centres into Melbourne and around Melbourne itself. In addition, it has pledged free dental care for primary and secondary school students, public funding for IVF services, 'pocket parks' in inner city areas, expanding renewable energy investment (including subsidised rooftop solar), stopping overdevelopment in Melbourne's green wedges; among other things.
This is a government that has the interests of most Victorians at heart and, despite its scandals around misuse of expenses, deserves to be returned for a second term. Victorians can not risk putting a Liberal Party, whose only policy is to undo most if not all of this work and beat the drum of law and order, not to mention their seething hypocrisy, back into power.
In your lower house district, you should vote and preference in a way that will ensure the return of an Andrews government. This means either directly voting '1' for Labor and then numbering the rest of the boxes in sequence, or voting for and preferencing progressive smaller parties, where they have candidates in your electorate, such as Animal Justice, Reason, Greens and Victorian Socialists and ensuring that you preference Labor ahead of the Liberal Party.
In the upper house, to ensure that these promises become good legislation, we need to vote more strategically to ensure the balance of power sits with the progressive parties. Unfortunately, because most of the progressive parties have done preference deals with right-wing parties - it simply isn't enough to vote '1' above the line for your preferred choice as doing so could risk the balance of power going to right-wing parties. The only way to control where your preferences go is by voting below the line for individual candidates.
Thankfully, in Victorian state elections, you only need to number 1 to at least 5 below the line to cast a valid vote. However, you should still number as many boxes in sequence as you can to make your vote more powerful. To ensure a progressive upper house, candidates from the following parties, below the line, should be included in your preferencing order: Animal Justice, Greens, Labor, Reason and Victorian Socialists. The candidates of the smaller parties should be preferenced before the Labor candidates in your region.
Ensuring the return of the Andrews government as well as an upper house where a progressive crossbench holds the balance of power will mean a government that continues to look after the interests of most Victorians; as well as giving it the accountability that it needs in order to deliver on a progressive agenda.
About the author:
Matt Hrkac is a writer and activist based in Geelong who regularly contributes to Green Left Weekly. He has particular interests in politics, elections and the trade union movement and has had extensive involvement in a number of local campaigns. He is a former member of the Greens.