Biggest State Election Since The Last One


For those of us who live in Victoria, it came as quite a surprise to discover recently that we’re about to have an election. Well, sort of. Not an actual election: a state election, which is a process democracies go through once in a while as a sort of practice for real elections.

State politics is a strange, sad, almost cute realm, where those ambitious, energetic people gather who are, on the one hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed in federal politics, and on the other hand, far too inept and devoid of personal magnetism to succeed at anything else either. Oh the dilemma of the state politician: caught so exquisitely between the pincers of their dual incompetencies. But then, that is the life they chose when they decided to make no useful contribution to the world for their entire lives.

Anyway, Victorian Election 2010 (or as it is known down this way, "Oh God Not Again") is shaping up as a fascinating contest that could well shape the very future of this great state and determine just who property developers should be addressing their cash-stuffed envelopes to for the next four years. It is, in short, the most important Victorian election since the last one, which was won by Labor Premier Steve Bracks after the Coalition accidentally went on an interstate holiday for the duration of the campaign.

But things are going to be different this time — this time things will be genuinely tight, and to a certain type of unique pervert, exciting. And so it is important that everyone fully understands the issues, which is why — bearing in mind how many of you aren’t in Victoria, and how many more of you are inherently ignorant about the world — I have descended upon you all to answer the questions burning within your bosoms regarding the facts of the Victorian election. Questions like:

What, exactly, is "Victoria"?
Victoria is a small state in the south-east of Australia, known variously as "The Garden State"; "The Place To Be"; "New South Scotland"; "Greater Adelaide"; and "Gateway To The Good Bits". However, it is best known to the rest of the country as Australia’s Capital Of Being Capital Of Things. At last count, Victoria was the nation’s capital of over 70 different concepts, including sport, the arts, musical theatre, black leggings, and not pronouncing vowel sounds properly. The only thing Victoria is not Australia’s capital of, in fact, is being the actual capital — this is why it is so important we choose the correct government in order to remedy this situation with a series of lightning guerrilla strikes on Canberra.

Who is competing in the election?
This is not an easy question to answer, since the identities of the opposing sides are rarely revealed in mainstream media except for some newspaper articles that nobody is interested in reading, but current theory holds that the leaders of the major parties in Victoria are Premier John "Stampedin’" Brumby, in the Labor corner; and Ted "Iron-Hair" Baillieu, for the Liberals.

The combatants provide a fascinating study in contrasts. For example. John Brumby graduated from the elite Melbourne Grammar in 1970, whereas Ballieu graduated in 1970 from Melbourne Grammar, which is quite elite. So the sharp ideological differences began early on.

Other differences include height: John Brumby is of average height, whereas Baillieu is over eight feet tall and requires a complex system of ropes and pulleys to keep him upright, as his feet collapsed into themselves many years ago.

And then of course there is the difference in their choice of parties. Whereas Brumby chose Labor because of its strong commitment to social justice, Baillieu chose the Liberals, because he believes in a just society.

Also on the government side is a crack team of ministers who over the last 11 years have honed to a fine art their ability to adopt a quizzical expression when things go wrong. There are certain muted whisperings in the halls of parliament that the Opposition has some shadow ministers too, though this remains just a theory at time of writing.

Who will win?
How should I know? I’m not psychic.

Could you offer some sort of tentative opinion anyway?
Fine. It’s hard to say who will win. At the last two elections Labor wiped the floor with the Opposition, though this was caused by a confluence of factors. In 2006, the electorate was unfamiliar with Baillieu’s style, and not ready to put its faith in the new guy, whereas in 2002 the Liberal Party had, inexplicably, elected a potato as its leader, and was accordingly punished for its outré experimentation at the ballot box.

This time is quite different though. Ballieu, through a combination of powerful charisma and the ability to avoid excessive media scrutiny by leaping off a pier at the first sign of danger, has won over many hearts and minds in the Victorian public, who are, when all is said and done, simple folk who require little more than a winning smile, a nicely tailored suit, and a promise that voting for you will permanently end crime and result in bullet trains leaving every minute from right outside their front door.

In this respect, the Victorian public is very different from, for example, the NSW public, who according to latest polls consider the most desirable quality in a political candidate to be "a willingness to commit ritual suicide in public"; or the Queensland public, who want to vote for a candidate who will stop putting poison in their water and teach them how to tie their shoelaces.

And that is why Baillieu has caught the imagination with his tough stance on law and order, summarised as "I will be tough on law and order". It doesn’t stop there, of course: Baillieu also has a plan for public transport — he will "fix it" — and a plan for addressing citizens’ concerns with regard to stamp duty – he has promised that if elected, he will by the end of his first term make people feel a bit better about the issue being completely ignored.

Of course, Brumby has a plan too. "Let’s keep the jobs coming," cries his slogan, in a manner that manages to be simultaneously extremely dull and slightly menacing. Just how many jobs can we take, after all? Do we really want John Brumby to keep cramming jobs down our throats? I can’t help thinking we’re being threatened here. Brumby also, of course, promises a state-of-the-art desalination plant, the government’s elegant solution to years of violent protest from a community that was fed up with water being so cheap.

And yet, despite Brumby’s solid, common-sense plans to pluck jobs out of thin air and turn water into a luxury item, there remain grave doubts about his ability to lead the government to another victory. This may be due to his political history, in which he has shown that his particular abilities lie mostly in the field of being beaten, and though nobody is suggesting he shouldn’t take pride in his talent for defeat, some see it as a handicap in an election campaign. Will his time-tested technique of crumpling in the face of any opposition, and then hoping the winner will be nice to him, work here? Can he really stand up against the intoxicating alchemy of Ted Baillieu, whose force of personality grants him a statesmanlike quality, and whose family background grants him a deeply held and probably accurate conviction that he is better than everyone else?

Time will tell, but this week’s leaders’ forum in Forest Hill — Australia’s Convenient Parking Capital — showed just how far these two determined, headstrong, ferocious electoral warriors are willing to go. Baillieu showed he was indeed "playing for keeps" by removing his jacket, to which Brumby drew gasps of admiration and terror with his response, removing both jacket AND tie, whereupon Baillieu stripped to his underpants and wrestled a dingo. Truly it was a titanic clash, rarely seen in this country outside the most poorly supervised RSPCA shelters. It is now clear to all that this election is not for the faint-hearted, or those prone to grand mal seizures.

Enough about personalities what are the issues?
We don’t really have them in Victoria anymore — they were interfering with heritage overlays.

What part will the Greens play in this election?
The Greens will play the same part they play in every election — that of Grima Wormtongue, twister of words and manipulator of noble minds. Demonstrating unmitigated cheek and reckless disregard for democratic principles, the Greens have in this election decided to run candidates in seats, even when there is CLEARLY a Government MP already there, and have compounded the insult to decency by asking people to actually vote for them. What happened to the loveable, cuddly Greens of yesteryear I shall never know.

What is important to focus on is the potential consequences of voting Green, which have been spelled out for us by trained investigative journalists from the major newspapers, who "went the extra mile" to unearth and expose secret Greens policies by cunningly visiting their website and then sniffing a bunch of glue. Basically, the Greens’ policy platform consists of three major planks:

1. Forcing everyone to be gay
2. Murdering old people
3. Criminalising electricity

So we’re not saying don’t vote Green, we’re just saying, think long and hard about just how stupid you are.

Also, one of the Greens is a lawyer who took a case about a mine or something.

So what will happen? Nobody knows, but what we DO know is that we are in for an intense couple of weeks that will make the intense couple of weeks from the last election look like the non-intense couple of weeks from a couple of elections before that. On November 27, when the Victorian people stagger, weary and defeated, into the polling booths to cast their vote, we will truly see a momentous shift in the course of history in this, the state of Victoria, the only state in Australia to have an Official State Haughty Sniffing Noise. We will see history made, and our lives will change forever.

Unless it rains. I think if it rains, they call it off.

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Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.