OPINION: Victorians head to the polls today - but the result may not be quite what you’d expect.

No sooner have the democracy sausages cooled from May's Federal election, as Victorians return to the polling booths today - this time, to decide upon the 60th state parliament and the fundamental question:

Dan or Matt as premier. 

Only one year ago, as Melburnians clamoured out from the longest lockdowns in the world, many pundits saw the writing on the wall for sitting Labor premier, Dan Andrews. 'It should be a Liberal walkover,' was the sentiment held by many, commentators and voters alike. 

Add to that, the riots over harsh restrictions of said lockdowns, Victoria having experienced the highest COVID death toll anywhere in the country, the infamous red shirts scandal, a joint IBAC inquiry, and a health system in tatters; it seemed this campaign might just be a slam dunk for the Libs.

Yet, with more political lives than a cat, Andrews is now tipped to seize power once more for a third term, which would see him supersede John Cain Jr as Victorian's longest-serving premier. 


A voting public with a short memory? Stockholm Syndrome?, some commentators have suggested to the right. 

While there are those who sit poised to send 'Dictator Dan' into damnation, Andrews has simultaneously garnered favour with others; his steamroll approach praised as 'strong' and 'resolute' by many Victorians. 

It has stood in contrast to his contender for the leadership - Matt Guy - who has struggled to present with such robust fortitude as a desirable alternative government. 

Further, the moderate stance of Guy has often been overshadowed by infighting and the ultra-conservative religious elements within his party.


He has been forced into damage control, putting out fires that have resulted from the affiliations, words, and actions of the far-right loose cannons of the party  - around abortion, LGBTQI+ rights and recognition of our First Nations people.

Not only are these deeply problematic views out of step with the mainstream and the progressive collective psyche historically etched into the state's political identity; they tarnish their centrist counterparts by association, putting the Liberal attack for a power grab into grave danger. 

It also played into the hands of his opponents, who at times, danced in the hyperbole and fear-mongered.

Indeed, in the court of public perception, Andrews reigns a deflecting, micro-managing king, where accountability and transparency are... where?

In her biography of Andrews, The Age journalist Sumeyya Ilanbey paints a damning portrait of his governance style:

"Freedom-of-information requests are routinely blocked; hundreds of departmental documents are routinely dumped on one day in the Victorian parliament, making it all but impossible for the public, journalists and non-government MPs to trawl through them effectively. Extensive cabinet meeting minutes are not taken, in order to limit the political damage in the event of a decision being leaked... Often, the first that backbenchers and even junior ministers hear of a policy is when it’s announced at a press conference."


And yet, in the few days ahead of the election, a Newspoll survey shows Labor firmly leading with a two-party preferred result of 54.5-45.5 per cent, indicating that Andrews is set to retain a diminished majority with a 2.8 per cent swing against Labor since the 2018 election. Meanwhile, the Greens and independents nabbed 12 and 15 per cent, respectively. 

But while casting his vote this morning, Guy dismissed the polling as being "all over the place... particularly the published polling".

"And I think we’ve seen that at a number of other elections – in South Australia, as well as the federal election," he said, reported The Guardian.

Earlier today, Andrews ruled out the idea of a minority government, insisting "no deal will be done" with the Greens or independents.

"My position has been clear on these matters for more than a decade. No deal will be offered and no deal will be done," he told ABC.

While Andrews is optimistic to form majority government, an anonymous senior Liberal Party source today told The Age the Coalition was on track for a "better result than anyone has publicly predicted", with the party confident to pick up the seats of Ashwood, Box Hill, Yan Yean, Ringwood and Melton. 

They are also hopeful to capitalise on the strong swings away from Labor in the traditionally safe seats of Eureka, and the north and west suburbs, Sunbury, Sydenham and Point Cook.

Who knows? Only time will tell. 

But what I do know, is the last couple years have been god-awful for my beloved state. For our mental health, our children, for small business, our hospitality sector, and our health system, just to name a few.


In fact, just a few weeks ago, a 98-year-old close family friend was turned away from the emergency room of a leading Melbourne hospital after waiting for four hours, despite presenting with very serious symptoms. 

"Go home and call an ambulance. You might have better luck with that," she was told.

Many people have fallen through the cracks - in the city, and regionally too.

And that's not the Victoria that I know.

Yes, we are ever-resilient as we rebuild, but beneath our smiles, we are still grappling with the PTSD of what has been; the fires, floods, severe windstorms, pandemic, lockdowns, and - yes, even a bloody earthquake. 

So, all we can do is have hope for what will be. 

And hopefully that is a future where debate is grounded in thoughtful policy as opposed to populism; where more women and diverse voices are found in all parties of our parliament; where inclusivity, integrity and trust are paramount.

And where greater confidence is instilled by our government and leader, whoever that may be.

But first, I'm gonna have that democracy sausage. 

Keen to read more from Rebecca Davis? You can find her articles here, or follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: AAP/Getty/Mamamia.

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