As Victoria heads into the election campaign’s final stretch, leaders’ debate shows it’s still Labor’s to lose

Home Politics As Victoria heads into the election campaign’s final stretch, leaders’ debate shows it’s still Labor’s to lose
As Victoria heads into the election campaign’s final stretch, leaders’ debate shows it’s still Labor’s to lose

The Liberals have got what they wanted. This election is well and truly a referendum on Premier Daniel Andrews.

But is it enough for Matthew Guy to scale “Everest” and win the 18 extra seats he needs to become premier?

On Tuesday night, the two men went head-to-head in the only debate of the campaign – disappointingly the parties only agreed to it on pay TV.

It was a different Matthew Guy from four years ago, where he became angry. This election, the opposition leader worked to not get agitated, and remained calm.

The premier was the same leader Victorians have seen for eight years, and he looked more of a leader than his opponent (that usually comes with incumbency).

Both sides got what they wanted out of the debate: Andrews pitched himself as the statesman looking to the future and the big picture, while the opposition was comfortable with the premier looking, in its words, arrogant.

Andrews tried his best to be positive, and he criticised the Coalition for having a narrow focus on health and not a bigger picture.

“You have to do both,” Andrews said when challenged about a choice between health and public transport.

Matthew Guy and Daniel Andrews stand in front of a crowd.
A crowd of undecided voters asked the leaders about debt, integrity, CBD recovery and regional investment.(Sky News)

The re-branded Matt Guy spelt out that being in government meant making “hard choices”.

“You can’t have everything and be wary of politicians who tell you you can,” he said.

Throughout the debate, the opposition wanted to remind voters of the past. Guy played a straight bat, and he rarely offered a shot.

Much like the campaign, the opposition strategy was to highlight the premier’s performance – it got what it wanted when Andrews talked over and argued with Guy about fracking.

“I’m not here to have a fight, I’m here to answer questions,” Guy said as Andrews talked over him.

Undecided voters pick Andrews as debate winner

As much as the Coalition wants to look back, lockdown and COVID were only offered up by one of the 100 undecided voters in the context of CBD recovery.

The focus of voters was varied including climate change, the calibre of candidates, preference deals, state debt, the budget, integrity and plans for the regions.

Despite the questions, the answers, like much of this campaign, lacked detail.

A survey of the undecided voters at the forum awarded the win to Andrews, with 38 per cent backing him after the debate compared to 34 per cent choosing the opposition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.