The Liberal party is set to gain power in Victoria in a shocking and unexpected defeat of the Brumby Government, with leader Ted Baillieu set to become the state’s first Liberal premier since Jeff Kennett lost power in 1999.
A Liberal Government has promised a number of initiatives for small businesses, including a rewrite of the existing WorkCover legislation and the introduction of a “competitiveness report” analysing the state’s economy, which would include recommendations on everything from taxes to education.
While the result has not yet been finalised, a Liberal win is all but certain, with Brumby expected to concede defeat later today. It is now expected the Liberals will win the seat of Bentleigh, while the results of Eltham, Macedon and Ballarat East are still being counted.
Labor has now lost at least 12 seats to the Coalition, in a move that Brumby blames on the “wear and tear” of an 11-year-old Government. The development comes even though according to a Roy Morgan poll taken late last week, Brumby led the voters in the preferred premier vote by over four percentage points.
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The result is also surprising given Labor’s economic performance during the global financial crisis, with Victoria continuing to deliver surpluses as one of the least-affected states.
”When you are defending 11 years… there is always a tendency for people to say ‘why didn’t you do that earlier?’,” he told reporters at a press conference yesterday, adding that the Liberals’ push on cost-of-living issues had a major impact on voters in the last week.
Baillieu, who is a member of one of Victoria’s wealthiest families, with a fortune valued at nearly $400 million, was poised to take Government last night, saying that “the Coalition has won the popular vote and an absolute endorsement from the majority of voters in Victoria”.
The likely win for the Liberals has also been associated with the party’s decision to preference Labor before the Greens, a move which Federal MP Adam Bandt said “took some oxygen” out of the minority party’s campaign.
Brumby has already conceded that a majority is unlikely, last night saying that the best chance is of a hung Parliament, but Liberal wins are now tipped to be the most likely outcome in the seats of Bentleigh and Macedon.
The Federal Government has already addressed the likelihood for a Liberal win, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard telling a business forum that, “Whoever ends up governing in Victoria, and obviously with Premier (Colin) Barnett in Western Australia, we stand ready to work with all states and territories to improve the health and hospital system”.
But the change of Government could mean Gillard runs into some roadblocks when it comes to rolling out national projects including the National Broadband Network.
But with Baillieu set to take power, a new range of Government initiatives are set to be introduced pertaining to businesses. The first and major change will be the introduction of a competitiveness report, which Baillieu says the Government will consider when addressing business policies.
“Our aim will be to ensure Victoria is the state of first choice for business, for investment and for lifestyle,” he said last week. “Private sector investment and jobs are the lifeblood of a stronger Victoria. An economic crisis is precisely the wrong time to demonise the creative spirit of enterprise in our society.”
Unlike the Brumby Government, which promised payroll tax relief among other initiatives for small business, Baillieu says the competitiveness report will deliver a suite of recommendations.
A Liberal Government will also deliver $1 billion for a “regional growth” fund, with shadow minister for regional and rural development Peter Ryan saying the funds will help upgrade local services and infrastructure and create jobs.
Another major initiative will be a complete rewrite of the WorkCover legislation. “The Coalition will rewrite and consolidate existing WorkCover legislation to make it simpler and clearer, so that all parties, employers, workers, agents and the VWA can understand and meet their obligations,” shadow treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said last week.
The Liberal party has said it is concerned that employers will be forced to pay higher premiums under a Labor Government.
Other major Liberal initiatives include:
- Police numbers to grow by 1,600, with two officers posted on every metropolitan train stations after 6pm.
- 310 new paramedics.
- 40 new trains, seven in the first term.
- Establishment of new anti-corruption watchdog.