FULL STEAM AHEAD
Team Andrews set to hold key marginals
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