Campaigning 2014-style has reduced policy discussion to a series of daily announceables. No frameworks, no statement of principles, no reform programs to speak of.
This election, family violence is receiving long-overdue attention, while environmental issues are surprisingly absent. Traditional areas like roads, public transport, schools and hospitals remain at the fore, though police (ie promises of lots of extra police) has slipped from its usual place in this pack.
There’s been less focus on energy and climate policy, we’ve avoided a race to the bottom on tougher sentencing, and both sides promise there’ll be no new taxes.
You say tomatoes, I say tomatoes
This election has also been notable for the number of occasions on which one side has ceded the policy – or at least political – merit of the other side’s initiatives.
As a by no means exhaustive example, both sides have either substantially or wholly matched the other on the following fronts:
- Puppy farming
- Trial of medical cannabis
- Monash cardiac services upgrade
- Thomsons Rd Cranbourne upgrade
- Relieving police officers from custody (prisoner cell) duties
- Upgrade to Frankston station
- Mernda rail line extension
- Cancer compensation for firefighters
- $120m capital funding for Catholic and independent schools
- Redevelopment of the Ballarat Railway Station precinct
- Upgrades to McKinnon Secondary College
- Genomic research funding
- Discounted public transport fares for veterans
- Inquiry into Yooralla
- Funding for the Ballarat Basketball Stadium
Final week of promises
The final week saw a lot of money splashed around by both sides, with both leaders making promises in the homelessness and human services space, ambulances, racing, and both agreeing to fund an inquiry into the abuse allegations at Yooralla.
Both parties also agreed to funding genomic research after calls were made for support in the press. Labor received a lot of attention for its promised Parliamentary reforms, including an end to Dorothy Dixer questions at question time and the capacity for the Speaker to declare a Minister has not answered the question. The component that saw the most publicity, however, was the breathalysing of MPs and judges.
Some of the Coalition’s biggest pledges this week were in the law and order portfolio, calling for 2-strike laws to see serious violent and sexual reoffenders return to prison, and minimum 4-year sentences for offenders who breach AVOs and family violence orders. The Coalition also promised 700 additional frontline police officers and a 50-PSO strike force.
The Agenda Group has been tracking promises from daily news articles, if you’d like a complete list of promises, please email Petra at firstname.lastname@example.org
Silence is deafening
The Federal Government’s Reform of the Federation white paper and taxation white paper processes, combined could set a path for major interjurisdictional service delivery and taxation reform, areas of vital importance to a future Victorian Government.
In simple, it will address the issues of which level of government should be responsible for the delivery of which services, and how they pay for it.
It’s one of the big macro-policy debates Australia and its states and territories need to have.
Sadly, neither side has gone anywhere near raising or responding to these issues during the campaign. The closest we’ve come is both leaders batting away suggestions of an increase in the GST, instead retreating to the well-worn cry of Victoria being a victim of vertical fiscal imbalance at the hands of the Federal Government.
We shall have to wait and see what the next Victorian Government has to say on this accord. It will likely be framed as a state vs federal government debate, regardless of who wins.