Politics

Labor wins Victorian election: Will the garden state lead the way for Aussie SMEs?

Kirsten Robb /

Victoria has a new Labor government after voters at the weekend chose to oust the Denis Napthine-led Coalition following just one term in power.

Vote counting will resume this morning, but at time of publication, Labor was on track to win at least 47 seats, compared to the Coalition’s 37, giving a Daniel Andrews-led Labor Party a majority in the 88 seat Parliament.

A number of high-profile commentators, including former Victorian Liberal premier Jeff Kennett, say the swing away from the Coalition in Victoria was partly due to the dip in popularity of the federal Coalition government, particular as a result of May’s ‘tough’ federal budget.

“There is no doubt their performance on a number of issues, particularly the handling of their budget has caused great concern throughout the electorate,” said Kennett, according to the ABC.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was noticeably absent during the Coalition’s Victorian election campaign, unlike Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who campaigned strongly beside Andrews. Shorten said Abbott was a “significant” factor in the turn away from the Coalition.

“Victorians clearly didn’t like the way Tony Abbott is taking the nation and they wanted a strong leader in Victoria to stand up,” said Shorten, according to Fairfax.

While the Coalition has traditionally been the heartland of the small business vote, the change of government looks promising for Victorian SMEs.

Andrews placed several more election promises to SMEs on the table compared to the Coalition, including a commitment to:

  • Review Victorian government procurement to address any barrier confronting SMEs
  • Establish a Victorian small business commission, to look more closely at regulator impact on SMEs
  • Maintain the 25% red tape reduction target and make all government agencies report on progress
  • Strengthen anti-predatory legislation from other jurisdictions
  • Review government payment processes on contracts with SMEs
  • Ensure the WorkCover surplus is paid back into the WorkCover system, rather than used as government revenue
  • Support innovation through various programs

The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) said in a statement it looks forward to working constructively with the Andrews-led government and “supporting business to capitalise on opportunities for growth in 2015 and beyond”.

VECCI executive manager Steven Wojtkiw told SmartCompany this morning that although some of the measures may take time to come to fruition, there was “no reason why the pre-election promises can’t be implemented”.

“They are sensible and practical,” says Wojtkiw. “They are certainly achievable in the context of the current financial framework.”

Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany he believes the federal government’s current poor standing in polls did not have a significant impact on the outcome of the weekend’s election.

“I tend to think state issues are state issues,” says Strong. “It doesn’t have a lot to do with federal issues, which are typically just political.”

Strong says it will be interesting to see if the new Victorian Labor government makes good on their promises.

“We are used to rhetoric, but when push comes to shove it’s often not delivered,” says Strong. “Barring Bruce Billson, we have a history of just hearing rhetoric.”

“Please honour what you’ve said, don’t sell out to unions or big business.”

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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