Getting back in control, or delivering for the state? That’s what Victorian voters have to choose between on November 24.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy both launched their election campaigns on Sunday, 27 days out from the state poll.
Labor’s pitch is for delivering on health, infrastructure and education, while the Liberals argue Mr Andrews has lost control of the state’s ballooning population.
Mr Guy was in Ivanhoe to rally his supporters, who were carrying signs that promised to “end traffic chaos”, “cutting your bills”, “jail the gangs” and “cutting taxes”.
It’s part of his pitch to “get back in control”. He’s angling in on population growth, crime, and stable government.
Mr Guy on Sunday announced he would cut the payroll tax for regional businesses if elected next month.
He plans to cut it to 1 per cent to help “decentralise” the state. It would save about 4000 businesses an average of $11,633 a year, costing the state about $46.5 million in revenue.
The Labor government halved the rate to 2.425 per cent in this year’s state budget.
Mr Guy also announced a Liberal government would give red p-platers a discount of around $295 on car registration. The cost of living measure would cost taxpayers between $31.8 million and $63.7 million.
The Liberal Nationals government will help get people back in control of their lives,” Mr Guy told supporters.
He’s also promised a royal commission in the Country Fire Authority (CFA) deal, and an independent judicial inquiry into Labor’s ‘red shirts’ rort.
“I won’t let Labor get away with theft, I won’t let their corruption go uninvestigated,” Mr Guy told the launch.
The scandal has caused ongoing pain for Labor this election year. Victoria Police is investigating.
Mr Guy has faced accusations too. He attended a dinner meeting in April 2017 at the restaurant Lobster Cave with alleged mafia boss Tony Madafferi. Mr Guy said he didn’t know he would be attending.
His detractors dressed up as lobsters on Sunday and turned up to the Liberal campaign launch, despite the party keeping the location under wraps.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was among those at the campaign launch on Sunday, along with past Liberal premiers Jeff Kennett, Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine.
Mr Guy’s three-word slogan to “take back control” became a punchline for Labor.
“I wondered if they were trying to send a message to their mates in Canberra,” federal Labor’s Bill Shorten joked as he launched the campaign with Mr Andrews on Sunday.
Mr Guy will be hoping voters don’t punish him for mess in his federal party. The state election comes just months after the Liberals toppled former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Andrews is hoping his track record over the last four years is enough to prove another four years of Labor will “deliver for all Victorians”.
Signs at the launch at Monash University said he was “delivering for nurses” and “delivering for paramedics”.
That was mirrored in his policy announcements on Sunday, with the promise of another 1100 nurses at public hospitals valued at $460 million.
Mr Andrews also promised 90 more paramedics, at a cost of $109 million, and 10 new and expanded community hospitals at a cost of $675 million.
“No longer will [patients] have to make the trek to the city.”
He also put $132.6 million to fund 500,000 specialist appointments for regional patients.
Addressing about 400 supporters at the launch, Mr Shorten said it was “remarkable” what Mr Andrews has achieved in four years.
He commended the premier for “leading the way” on family violence, planned treaties with Aboriginal Victorians, and public transport.
“Dare I say it, the new suburban rail loop is the Holy Grail of public transport in Melbourne,” Mr Shorten said.
He also congratulated Mr Andrews for announcing Australia’s first royal commission into mental health last week.
“That’s really the pattern in Victoria, under Dan Andrews’ leadership: first in the nation, leading the way,” Mr Shorten said.
“And – of course – leading the way in education.”
Mr Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino on Sunday announced a $22.6 million plan to make every VCE subject available to rural and regional students.
Technology like video conferencing would allow teachers to deliver a class in multiple schools at the same time.
Labor will launch the project at the start of next year if election, with all subjects progressively rolled out by the end of 2021.
Labor has held its lead over the opposition at 53 to 46 two-party-preferred in the latest YouGov Galaxy poll, commissioned by the Bus Association of Victoria and printed in The Herald Sun on Friday.
The Greens launched its campaign on Saturday, with plans to hold to the balance of power in both houses of state parliament.
Speaking at the launch at a Prahran café, federal leader Richard Di Natale said it was possible to hold onto Melbourne, Prahran and Northcote and win Brunswick and Richmond.
“The numbers are really tight, they are really tight,” Mr Di Natale said.
“We can make history, so let’s make it.”
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam criticised Labor positions on logging, political donations, renewable energy, transport and public housing.
A small group of protesters were there to criticise Richmond candidate Kathleen Maltzahn’s stance on sex work. She previously campaigned for the ‘Nordic model’, but has since promised to vote with the Greens to decriminalise sex work if it comes up.