FULL STEAM AHEAD

Team An­drews set to hold key marginals

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - MATT JOHN­STON

PREMIER Daniel An­drews and the La­bor Party were last night on track for a strong elec­tion vic­tory and a se­cond term in gov­ern­ment.

With about 25 per cent of the vote counted by 8pm, the ALP was polling strongly in key seats it needed to hold, and in the east of Mel­bourne.

The Coali­tion was strug­gling to make up ground in outer sub­urbs and re­gional cities it had tar­geted.

Early count­ing of al­most 4 mil­lion votes cast across Vic­to­ria showed a swing to­wards the ALP, with for­mer premier Steve Bracks say­ing that in some ar­eas it was “stronger than any­one an­tic­i­pated”.

Mr An­drews and Op­po­si­tion Leader Matthew Guy made their fi­nal pitches to vot­ers on a soggy spring day yes­ter­day, bring­ing to an end a hard­fought cam­paign punc­tured by the Bourke St ter­ror at­tack, dur­ing which both par­ties promised bil­lions for new roads and rail across Vic­to­ria.

With La­bor set to hold power, it will forge ahead on mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture plans, over­see­ing the na­tion’s best­per­form­ing econ­omy.

Mr An­drews yes­ter­day de­clared the state needed “a strong, sta­ble ma­jor­ity La­bor gov­ern­ment” so his team could “keep on in­vest­ing in the road, rail, and school in­fra­struc­ture we need”.

It is go­ing to be a tough road. We know that. But noth­ing worth­while is easy LIB­ERAL LEADER MATTHEW GUY We’ve done a lot of (grass­roots cam­paign­ing). More than we’ve ever done be­fore. More than our op­po­nents LIB­ERAL LEADER MATTHEW GUY

DANIEL An­drews and the La­bor Party were head­ing to­wards an elec­tion vic­tory last night and a se­cond term in of­fice.

With about a quar­ter of the vote counted by 8pm, the ALP was ex­pected to hold most of its key mar­ginal seats, with a swing to­wards it in Mel­bourne’s east and in some re­gional seats.

The Coali­tion was strug­gling to make up ground in the south­east where it was hop­ing to win enough seats to snatch vic­tory.

Polls closed at 6pm af­ter a tough month-long cam­paign dom­i­nated by crime, cost of liv­ing is­sues, ex­pen­sive trans­port prom­ises and the Bourke St ter­ror at­tack.

In the in­ner city, where the Greens have brawled with the ALP over its for­mer heart­land, sev­eral seats were on a knife-edge but the La­bor Party’s pri­mary vote was hold­ing up.

Lib­er­als were start­ing to point the fin­ger at fed­eral col­leagues who they say dam­aged the party brand when they dumped prime min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull in Au­gust.

Last night, for­mer La­bor premier Steve Bracks said the east of Mel­bourne had turned to­wards his party and “the swings to La­bor are stronger than any­one an­tic­i­pated”.

The Premier and Op­po­si­tion Leader cam­paigned close to home in Mel­bourne yes­ter­day, brav­ing a soggy spring Sat­ur­day to try to woo some of the 2.5 mil­lion vot­ers lin­ing up at polling booths.

More than 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple voted early, the high­est num­ber ever.

Last night Mr An­drews and Mr Guy were sur­rounded by fam­ily and sup­port­ers at venues in their own seats of Mul­grave and Bulleen.

The likely vic­tory for La­bor means the streak of state gov­ern­ments in Vic­to­ria be­ing turfed out — which be­gan in 2010 — has ended.

With fi­nal count­ing still go­ing late last night, the of­fi­cial makeup of the state par­lia­ment may not be known for days.

Yes­ter­day, Mr An­drews said Vic­to­ria needed “a strong, sta­ble ma­jor­ity La­bor gov­ern­ment” so that it could “keep on in­vest­ing in the road, rail, and school in­fra­struc­ture we need”.

Bil­lions of dol­lars of prom­ises have been show­ered on vot­ers over the past month, con­tin­u­ing the trend of La­bor be­ing a big-spend­ing gov­ern­ment.

Mr An­drews de­flected ques­tions on the scan­dals that have dogged his first term as Premier, in­clud­ing the “red shirts” rort that saw al­most $388,000 of tax­payer money di­verted to La­bor’s cam­paign ma­chine in 2014.

That mat­ter is still be­ing probed by Vic­to­ria Po­lice.

The Premier said vot­ers cared more about what the gov­ern­ment was do­ing for them and their fam­i­lies.

Mr Guy said dur­ing last-minute cam­paign­ing in Eltham: “I hope to win. I want to win. I think I can win”.

The Op­po­si­tion Leader said the Coali­tion had done an enor­mous amount of on-the-ground cam­paign­ing, in­clud­ing door­knock­ing and speak­ing to vot­ers.

“We’ve done a lot of that, more than we have ever done be­fore. Much more than our op­po­nents,” he said.

He said he wasn’t ex­pect­ing fed­eral Lib­eral woes — in­clud­ing the dump­ing of Mal­colm Turn­bull as prime min­is­ter — to have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the state elec­tion.

But Lib­eral Party pres­i­dent Michael Kroger said yes­ter­day the fed­eral ruc­tions were “a fac­tor”.

We need a strong, sta­ble ma­jor­ity abor gov­ern­ment in this state and would urge for all Vic­to­ri­ans to ote for their lo­cal La­bor can­di­date LA­BOR LEADER DANIEL AN­DREWS We are a strong econ­omy, we are a grow­ing com­mu­nity and we’ve got to keep build­ing for the fu­ture LA­BOR LEADER DANIEL AN­DREWS matthew.john­[email protected] We have run the big­gest cam­paign we have ever run be­fore. We are hope­ful and op­ti­mistic GREENS LEADER SAMAN­THA RAT­NAM

Matthew Guy at his for­mer pri­mary school, Sher­bourne Pri­mary in Briar Hill, and (above) Mr Guy with his fa­ther, Chris, and mother Vera at the vot­ing booth. Pic­tures: DAVID CAIRD Premier Daniel An­drews and wife Cather­ine cast their votes at Al­bany Rise Pri­mary School in Mul­grave. Pic­ture: ALEX COPPEL

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