A Liberal campaigner and former candidate has blamed Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s mismanagement for the stunning electoral loss.
Labor could pick up as many as 60 seats out of 88, in a commanding majority for Premier Daniel Andrews. Four seats are expected to remain in doubt until later this week.
Megan Purcell, who ran for the Liberal Party in Bendigo in 2014, on Sunday blamed micromanagement by Mr Guy and his team.
“The leader and his team were directly involved in details of things like what specific streets the bus driver should drive on but not focused on big issues like actually winning votes with good policy,” she wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
Ms Purcell said indecisiveness and late decisions led to mistakes, like the Frankston cafe visit where Mr Guy talked energy bills with a cafe owner convicted of drugs crime.
“A ‘senior leadership team’ (of seven men) with egos as big as houses but some of them have not necessarily the brains to match,” she said.
“A focus on being too tricky and just not bloody hard working enough, whilst others were treated dismissively and disrespectfully.”
Ms Purcell said she was “mortified” by the lack of professionalism she saw while working on the campaign, with the “refusal to delegate” and deal with “glaringly obvious problems”.
State party president Michael Kroger has been roundly criticised by his colleagues, with former premier Jeff Kennett calling for his resignation.
Mr Andrews also took a swipe at Mr Kroger on ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
Swanning around suburbs that you’ve never been to in your Burberry trench coat, lecturing people about the cost of living – people pick fakes and they pick nasty fakes from a long way off,” Mr Andrews said.
Mr Kroger has defended his position and said the loss had “nothing to do with head office”.
Federal Liberal MPs have conceded instability within the federal party was a distraction, but insisted the election was fought on state issues and not the toppling of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Labor campaigned hard on delivering infrastructure, health and education and was chosen over Liberal policies on law and order and population growth.
Seats still in doubt
The upper house is also predicted to deliver extra seats to Labor, increasing its numbers from 14 to an estimated 19 out of 40.
The Coalition could fall back from 19 to 15, while the Greens face losing four of its five spots.
Fiona Patten’s Reason Party could lose its Northern Metro spot, according to the ABC election counter on Sunday, with micro parties expected to be the big winners, thanks to backroom preference deals.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party could pick up four seats, and the Transport Party could win two. The Aussie Battler, Liberal Democrats, Sustainable Australia and Animal Justice Party could all receive one spot each.
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) said four lower house seats – Hawthorn, Brunswick, Ripon and Bayswater – would remain in doubt until later this week.
Less than 100 votes separated some of the lead candidates on a two-party preferred basis on Sunday evening, when about 70 per cent of votes had been counted.
Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto was live on television for the ABC election night panel when he realised he could lose his safe seat of Hawthorn.
The count went back in his favour and he was ahead by just 53 votes at the latest figures on the VEC website.
Even if he holds the seat, Labor opponent John Ormond Kennedy will have seriously dented the 8.59 per cent two-party preferred margin Mr Pesutto won at the 2014 election.
The blue-ribbon seat in Melbourne’s inner southeast has been held by the Liberal Party since 1955.
Many thanks Martin, as have you (and your staff). Congratulations to you and your Party on your success tonight. Cheers, JP https://t.co/CP5gJypwjV
— John Pesutto (@JohnPesutto) November 24, 2018
Brunswick in Melbourne’s inner north was down to 72 votes, with Labor’s Cindy O’Connor nudging ahead of Tim Read of the Greens.
Early votes favoured Dr Read over Ms O’Connor – of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) – suggesting voters took notice of allegations that hit the Greens in the lead-up to Saturday.
The swing against incumbent Bayswater member Heidi Victoria was 4.5 per cent, two-party preferred.
Labor candidate Jackson Taylor contested the seat, in Melbourne’s outer east.
Just a 0.8 per cent swing to Labor was enough to push the ultra marginal seat of Ripon in reach of candidate Sarah De Santis.
She was ahead of Liberal incumbent Louise Staley by just 60 votes on Sunday.
The rural electorate takes in Creswick, Ararat, Maryborough, Avoca, Donald, Bridgewater, St Arnaud and Stawell.
Other seats still in doubt include Prahran, which is expected to remain with Greens incumbent Sam Hibbins.
However, Northcote Greens local member Lidia Thorpe appears to have lost to Labor’s Kat Theophanous.
The Brighton electorate had also pulled back to the Liberals, with James Newbury ahead by 1582 votes on Sunday. Labor candidate Declan Martin, 19, had joined the party two just two months before the election and momentarily looked to be the favourite.