VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION: Labor defeated, Greens blunted
by Patrick J. Byrne
News Weekly, December 11, 2010
Victoria's state election on November 27 saw the defeat of a radical, secular, left-wing Labor government, the defeat of many politicians who supported abortion decriminalisation, and the blunting of support for the Greens.
Following a higher than 6 per cent swing against the Brumby Labor government, the Liberal-Nationals Coalition won 45 seats and Labor 40, with three undecided, in the 88-seat Victorian lower house, at the time of writing. The Greens failed to win their expected first lower house seat.
In the upper house, the Coalition could win an absolute majority. The Greens may lose one seat. The final result will depend on preference counts over the next week.
The huge swing defied the predictions of political pundits and occurred despite lacklustre leadership from Opposition leader, Ted Baillieu, and the backwards slide in the Victorian vote for the Coalition at the August federal election, when the Liberals lost two seats in the state.
Many factors swung the electorate. Clearly, voters are disturbed by the federal Labor-Greens government, where, in the absence of any clear Labor agenda, the Greens are pushing ahead with a radical social agenda.
This is at a time when families, businesses and farmers are being hit hard by the soaring cost of electricity, gas and water due to the Brumby Labor Government's failure to build new infrastructure (including public transport) and the opposition to new power stations and dams by the green lobby and the Greens party.
The Liberals' belated decision to preference the Greens last in the state election certainly drew strong electoral support.
The Victorian branch of the Australian Family Association (AFA) sponsored a campaign outlining the radical anti-family, anti-life agenda of the Greens, and identifying those MPs who voted for the 2008 decriminalisation of abortion bill.
A leaflet exposing the Greens' policies was distributed in 14 mortgage belt and middle-income electorates, where the Greens had benefited previously from a family protest vote against the Brumby Government.
Across the state, the Greens received only 10-11 per cent of the vote, not the 14 per cent they were expecting. However, in the 14 seats targeted by the AFA, instead of the statewide 0.3 per cent swing to the Greens, there was a 0.9 per cent swing against them.
Many AFA supporters photocopied thousands of the leaflets themselves and distributed them across their local suburbs.
In the course of the campaign, it became obvious that most Greens voters knew little of their party's policies, in particular the Greens' support for reintroducing death duties, cutting funds to non-government schools, forcing up of energy and water prices by shutting down coal-fired power stations, and opposing any new water infrastructure.
For the first time, the Greens were put under public scrutiny, particularly by mainstream media commentators such as Andrew Bolt of Melbourne's Herald Sun.
The AFA and the Victorian Life Coalition also sponsored a Life Vote campaign to support pro-life candidates and to oppose MPs who voted to support the decriminalisation of abortion.
In October 2008, a radical abortion bill was passed without amendment, which legalised abortion to nine months in Victoria. Attempts to amend the bill - to give counselling and information to women, to ban late-term abortions and to respect the right of doctors not to refer for abortions - were all rejected by the parliament.
Life Vote targeted 23 seats and the campaign appears to have added momentum to the swing against the Labor government, whose members voted overwhelmingly for decriminalisation.
Ten of those supporting the bill lost their seats, and another seven seats have become marginal, some requiring swings of less than 2.8 per cent.
Of particular note was the defeat of Maxine Morand, the Labor MP who moved the abortion bill (and who was poised to introduce a bill legalising euthanasia). She lost her seat in a hefty 8.2 per cent swing.
Labor Planning Minister, Justin Madden, who came down from the upper house to stand in the relatively safe seat of Essendon, suffered a 10.8 per cent swing, to now hold the seat by a narrow 1 per cent.
The Life Vote campaign mobilised about 1,000 volunteers for working on polling booths to support the party and candidate of their choice.
In the course of this campaign it became clear that the vast majority of Victorians did not know about the extreme nature of the state's abortion laws. When told, most were in disbelief or a state of shock.
The media either ignored or rationalised the issue when the legislation was being debated in parliament in 2008.
The Life Vote campaign followed two years of grassroots organisation by many people angered, not just by the new abortion laws, but by a wide-ranging radical secular agenda that included legalisation of surrogacy, adoption of a same-sex relationships register and serious attacks on religious freedom through the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act.
However, it was the passing in 2008 of the abortion decriminalisation bill that galvanised people with pro-life, pro-family and religious values.
Patrick J. Byrne is national vice-president of the National Civic Council.