VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION
Anyone who thought that The Great Debate held during the recent Federal Election Campaign was a bit disappointing and light-on for content, hopefully missed the Victorian State Election equivalent.
For Labor's John Brumby and the Liberals Ted Baillieu conspired to conjure up something quite remarkable when they faced up to each other last week: an hour long political debate without any political content. Well, perhaps saying the debate was entirely devoid of political discourse is unfair. Baillieu has got one issue on his mind and that's:
And that's certainly the way he sought to present it: In fifty foot high letters with a googleplex of exclamation points after it. Really, either the opposition leader is a very nervous man or the focus groups are telling him that Victorians feel less safe than they used to.
As for Brumby, Labor's focus groups are clearly sending the message that the punters find him a bit dour and inhuman, a bit all work and no play, as the Premier spent the hour long debate trying to remember how to smile. You could almost see his clockwork like mind turning over in his head:
'Think about something nice like... ummm... smashing Ballieu in his fat, silver spoon fed face. No! Something else... Something wholesome... like... the kids! Brilliant! And puppies! Now I've got it! How about my kids playing with puppies! Boy, I'm going to be sore tomorrow.'
And that was it really.
Baillieu tried to yell 'LAW AND ORDER!' as often as possible, even interrupting the Premier to do so, and Brumby tried to ignore Baillieu while walking a fine line between looking angry and looking like a statue. Anyone hoping for a serious discussion about any of the issues facing Victoria would have been much better turning their attention to the forums on crikey.com.
And the reason for this policy free election campaign have become clear, even after less than a week. In the areas where the State Government is vulnerable and facing a voter backlash:
* Public Transport.
* Water Infrastructure.
* Hospital waiting lists.
* Development planning.
the Liberal Party either doesn't want to change the way things are done (planning) or has no ideas about how to change them (transport, water and hospitals).
Which leaves law and order, and you can expect to hear plenty more about how violent crime rates are 47 000% higher than they were four days ago and that anyone who's game enough to come out from hiding under their beds in this state is taking their lives into their hands. In fact, you can almost guarantee that this will be the only thing the two leaders do actually debate during this campaign; which one of them will be tougher on crime.
And this brings us to consider another possible parallel between the Federal Election of August and this current state campaign. The Federal election was also a policy free zone conducted by two leaders who were determined to talk about anything except serious political issues, and the voters responded to this by endorsing neither of them and leaving the country with a hung parliament. Is it any surprise then, that todays 'Age' has polling showing that Victoria is headed for a hung parliament as well?
You've got three weeks fellas, to show us something.