Josh Frydenberg outlines the case for re-electing Victoria’s Coalition government:
Victoria’s path to growth
- by: Josh Frydenberg
- From: The Australian
- November 25, 201412:00AM
THE 3.8 million voters in Victoria face a stark choice. If they re-elect Denis Napthine, they get another four years of strong economic management, record spending on health and education, and an effective federal-state partnership on infrastructure.
If they elect Daniel Andrews, they’ll return to the budget blowouts, infrastructure white elephants and union intimidation on work sites, symptomatic of the Bracks-Brumby years.
History shows the last one-term government in Victoria was John Cain Sr’s Labor government in 1955. Just as Napthine took over from Ted Baillieu mid-term, so Rupert Hamer took over from Henry Bolte in 1972 and went on to retain government in 1973, holding office for another eight years.
But history as predictor takes you only so far. Polls indicate a close race and the election is complicated by a major redistribution of electoral boundaries resulting in the abolition of two safe Coalition seats and the creation of two safe Labor ones. Five seats held by Labor MPs have become notionally Liberal. While the Coalition is well placed to win several of these seats, the redistribution has, as election expert Antony Green observed, removed the traditional advantage of incumbency.
Nevertheless, the Coalition has got a very strong case for re-election. Victoria is the only state with a AAA credit rating and budget surpluses in each year over the forward estimates. The cost burden for business has been reduced in WorkCover premiums and payroll tax, helping create more than 100,000 new jobs. A $27 billion infrastructure plan, including new hospitals, schools, road and rail, has been rolled out. The East West Link is the most prominent but the Melbourne Rail Link, Airport Rail Link and removal of 40 level crossings are also important.
More than 1700 additional police officers have been deployed across 18 months, and 950 Protective Services Officers are working across the state’s train network.
Combined with a crackdown on organised crime and drug traffickers, particularly manufacturers of ice, and a new sentencing and forfeiture regime, the Napthine government’s law and order record is second to none.
With employment growth in regional Victoria forecast to increase from 800,000 to 1.1 million, the Napthine government has sought to get ahead of the game.
A $100 million regional cities program will boost infrastructure and jobs, and the government has strengthened its investment presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
With 130,000 Victorians employed in agricultural exports, and Victoria responsible for 85 per cent of Australia’s dairy exports and 45 per cent of lamb and mutton exports, Victoria has much to gain from the commonwealth’s groundbreaking free trade deals.
But the greatest contrast between the Coalition and Labor is in industrial relations.
Napthine has made a concerted effort to stamp out union corruption and thuggery with the implementation of the building and construction code and the establishment, with the federal government, of a special joint police taskforce.
But with 21 out of 23 shadow cabinet ministers members of a union, a shadow planning minister who is a card-carrying member of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, and Andrews an ardent defender of some of Victoria’s most aggressive union leaders, a Labor government is likely to see a return to the bad old days of falling productivity and increased lawlessness on our building sites.
Labor’s decision to rip up the East West Link contracts — even Bill Shorten and his Victorian Labor colleagues supported it when Rod Eddington first called for submissions — is sending shudders through the business community and introducing the dark spectre of sovereign risk. The project will create 3700 jobs in stage one alone and has been well received by the majority of polled Victorians.
In 2010, few predicted Baillieu’s Coalition win. But after 11 years of Labor mismanagement, voters said, “it’s time”. Today it is the same Labor Party with the same personnel that gave Victorians a $5.7 billion desalination plant from which no water has been procured, and sold $4.5bn worth of gaming licences for less than a quarter of what they were worth. It is a record not deserving of a second chance.
Josh Frydenberg is the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister and federal member for Kooyong.