Messy outcomes loom after this hysterical campaign

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

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State election
A plague on all their houses (“Guy closing gap on Andrews”, The Age, 22/11). We’ve had scandal after scandal, a whiff of corruption here and the stench of it there. There’s been dissension, undermining and backbiting within party ranks. We hear of wheeling and dealing in undemocratic but ludicrously legal voting arrangements. Dangerously unsuitable candidates have been elevated to favourable positions on party how to vote cards. Aided and abetted by sections of the media there have been more ugly personal attacks than sensible analysis of policy. Death threats even.

Fantastical promises – a school here, a hospital there – are made daily with no sense of accountability or even reality. Where is the money for these new schools, roads and hospitals to come from, whichever party wins? And where will the requisite workforce be found, thousands of them? With a state debt heading to a level greater than those of NSW, Queensland and Tasmania combined we are handicapping our children with a crippling burden.

A strong crossbench of independents may mean a messy parliament but it could also begin a reset of public confidence in state politics.
Elaine Hill, Warrnambool

Want to send a message? Write a letter
The Age reports voters are abandoning mainstream parties for independents and “others”, resulting in a possible unmanageable upper house and maybe even lower house, which would be problematic given the subsequent election is fixed for November 28, 2026.

For stability, pragmatism must prevail over exasperation with single issues or methodology. For the next four years, who do we entrust to lead us as our premier, which ministerial team is best able to administer government, who will more likely protect the interests of children. As for sending a message to major parties, best to do it by email or text, noting the law of unintended consequences.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington

Policy clarity lacking for most candidates
The democratic process in Victoria is bizarre. The two major parties’ campaign consists of advertisements slanging their opponents and hurling buckets of money at the voters, without pointing out that is the voters’ money they are hurling, while the minor parties appear to have no policies.

The ballot sheet is even more bizarre. In my seat, only two of the six candidates have bothered to give any indication of what their program would be. As for the Legislative Council (upper house) – I am expected to make an informed choice from 54 candidates, none of whom have made themselves known to the electorate.

They represent 22 parties, many with weird names, and the whole shambles is decided not by who we vote for, but by the allocation of preferences. Surely candidates should be obliged to provide a simple flyer explaining their background and their policies, when taxpayers are giving the winner a salary of at least $200,000, as well as allowances.
Peter Valder, Toorak

Go back to basics
The major parties are making promises to do “good stuff” for the electorate using taxpayers’ hard-earned money like confetti. At the same time they are acting like school bullies trying to get the most marbles.

Time to go back to the basics of democracy and the primary obligation of those voted to uphold it. It’s not about ego-driven lust for power and money. It’s about good government for all. Will we ever see that concept resurrected?
Cheri Lee, Brunswick East

Promises, promises
In our year 5 class elections, one boy wanted to promise free TVs for all. Our teacher disallowed the promise on the basis candidates could only promise what was affordable.
It is a pity our Victorian state politicians do not need to play by the same sensible rule.
David Cowie, Middle Park

THE FORUM

Capable replacement
Dan Andrews made a big mistake in not handing over the reins to James Merlino (“Playing the Dan may just pay off”, 22/11). Merlino was so respected by the community when he was acting as premier for all those months. He took a moderate and reasoned approach to everything including COVID. He bought people along with him, a great skill, and was forthright in his handling of everything that occurred during his time as premier.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Integrity credibility
Rather than being surprised by the fact that Labor voters (4 per cent) were less than half as concerned about integrity in politics as Coalition voters (11 per cent), it is easily explained (“Victorians feel the pinch as data shows cost of living most important election issue”, 22/11). One only has to look to the now numerous IBAC investigations. Labor simply does not “walk its talk”.
Douglas Shirrefs, Yea

Lawsuit amnesia
In all the negativity being flung around in this campaign, one actually pertinent fact not mentioned when it comes to “trust” is Matthew Guy’s planning decisions on Phillip Island that went wrong. It was settled to keep it out of court in 2013, ultimately costing taxpayers millions. Anyone would think it never happened.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Holding him to account
This election is our first opportunity to hold Daniel Andrews to account for COVID deaths caused by his government’s incompetence.

On November 28, 2020, The Age reported that since the beginning of that year, and its introduction of COVID-19 to Australia, Australia had reported 27,873 COVID cases, of whom 907 had died. Of these, Victoria had contributed disproportionately with 20,345 (73 per cent) and 819 (90 per cent) of the national totals.

Virtually all of Victoria’s 2020 COVID spike was traced back to the failure of the Andrews government to ensure that its quarantine hotels operated as intended, i.e. with security guards ensuring that incoming travellers were denied any opportunity to pass the virus on.
I’d like to think that Premier Andrews had learnt that lesson, albeit at the cost of so many lives. However, reports of overruns in cost and time on projects such as the WestGate tunnel and the new CBD underground rail suggest otherwise, while the absence of even a business feasibility case for either the Tullamarine or the latest circumferential railways suggests there is worse to come.
George McGregor, Malvern

Things are getting ugly
The mood and behaviour of sections of the Victorian public during the pandemic, and now in this electoral countdown, has been ugly. There’s something very Trumpian about the abusive rhetoric. Like Fox News in the US attacking Hilary Clinton, the Murdoch media in Victoria relentlessly attacked Daniel Andrews during the lockdowns and gave tacit support to demonstrations against those lockdowns (which invariably turned aggressive) and which brought out the delusional anti-vaxxers. A noose was seen.

On Saturday a sitting independent MP megaphoned for Daniel Andrews to be euphemistically turned into “red mist”.

Reports from early polling booths have described aggressive abuse towards candidates and supporters handing out cards. I have worked at elections and my experience had previously been one of civility, sausage sizzles for charities and a communal goodwill.
Malcolm Just, St Kilda East

Lost era of civility
Shaun Carney rightly targets the lack of civility evidenced in what has been, in his words, “a disturbingly nasty state election campaign” (Comment, 22/11).

In a quainter pre-internet age, the Liberal leader Robert Menzies could be heard at a rowdy Malvern Town Hall debate responding to an ALP member’s cry of “What are you going to do about ’ousing?“, by saying that he would put an “H” in it, to a chorus of laughter from supporters of both major parties.

Robust debates then still allowed for satirical jibes from both sides. Tomatoes and eggs might be thrown occasionally, but the Trump-style vitriol of the modern era was largely absent. A democratic temper prevailed.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Limits to Menzies’ respect
Your correspondent stated that Liberal prime minister Robert Menzies did not denigrate (“Surely Menzies would have been appalled”, 21/11). At a Geelong election meeting Menzies told our dear friend and ANZAC World War I veteran of Greek descent that he would answer his question once he spoke the “Queen’s English”.

But your correspondent’s main points about past Liberal integrity are correct. Thanks for pointing these out.
Paul Kellett, Belmont

A light on coal
Let’s hope Andrew Wilkie’s call for an inquiry into the alleged coal scam (“MPs back inquiry into alleged scam”, 22/11) is heeded by all politicians, and produces results.

Ex-prime minister Scott Morrison appeared to fall for the “scam” big time when he notoriously held a curated piece of coal in parliament, saying “Don’t be afraid”. The myth of “clean coal” is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s promotion of their product as being good for your health, even after they knew that cigarettes could kill.

While the profit motive remains the guiding force for fossil fuel conglomerates, we depend on whistleblowers and those like Wilkie to bring destructive behaviours to light.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

True representative
Every election I look around to find the person who best represents the issues that I am most concerned with, socially, environmentally and ethically. And each election I lament that I am not in Andrew Wilkie’s electorate.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe

Principle failings
Megan Herbert’s cartoon (Letters, 22/11) captures COP27 and its failures to provide support for the developing world perfectly. It reminds me of a Yes, Minister episode where all ministers agreed to a proposal “in principle” but all had reasons why their department could not support it. The selfishness of the developed world knows no bounds.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood

Evolving city
I feel for traders in Melbourne (“More play, less work as CBD evolves”). I see the empty shops. Yet I also know myself and my friends.

I only took a hybrid job opportunity in the city after years of preferring to work in the suburbs because I had to complete the dreaded two-hour commute just twice a week. Every day I hear colleagues say “I am so glad to work from home today.” Or “I don’t mind coming into the city, just two or three times a week”.

Hybrid working is not going to change. To city traders, I say, do what European city traders do: make your new weekend Monday and Tuesday, and open up Wednesday to Sunday.
Name withheld on request

Housing shortfall
The Andrews government has made a lot of noise about its construction program. Unfortunately, the evidence is that public housing is not a priority (“Affordable homes crisis worsens”, 22/11). A parliamentary inquiry recently found that in the next four years the state government’s building program would not increase Victoria’s public housing stock to match the national average.

The shortfall in Victorian public housing construction is also clear in reporting by the Productivity Commission. For a party that prides itself on “leaving nobody behind”, that is inexcusable.
Alun Breward, Malvern East

Social shift
Our state government likes to announce its achievements: $5.3 million spent on the Big Housing Build to provide 12,000 more “social housing” units. What they are not mentioning is that none of this will be public housing. They are demolishing public housing all over the city, but most of the new housing will be private housing, with a smaller “social housing” component owned and managed by community housing organisations, which are big real estate developers.

This government is making a huge change under the umbrella term “social housing”, with the knowledge that few people will understand the difference, or the consequences.
Margaret Kelly, Port Melbourne

Driving failures
The number of deaths on Victorian roads is 12 per cent higher than at the same time last year, and having done a lot of driving recently this is unsurprising. Driver behaviour is the worst I have ever encountered. If one drives at the speed limit on any major road other vehicles speed past, driver use of mobile phones is common, and road work speed limits are ignored. Enforcement seems to be non-existent. Meanwhile, everyone slows to the speed limit in the tunnels, no doubt because they know about the cameras.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

Off the rank
In recent weeks I have had training for a new job, which meant a commute. I’d like to thank the numerous wonderful Uber drivers and cabbies I’ve had the pleasure to meet, but must express my disappointment to those drivers who refused to take me up the hill because 1.5 kilometres isn’t worth their trouble. “Oh, but I will if you give me $25!” I’m frequently embarrassed at not being able to walk that far but I have a disability. But to be told “I don’t care. Have a nice day!” was soul-destroying. It’s gotten to the stage that I am scared to approach a cab now.

Uber drivers have a reputation for cancelling short fares. But I have only had this happen once. But for the cabbies? What is better? Sitting at the rank for 15 minutes or getting $15 for a short fare?
K Vivian, Belmont

And another thing

Weather
I just hope that summer this year happens on a weekend.
Geoff Selby, Moorooduc

State election
Autocratic, centralised government and elections with no soul. Kennett, Brumby, Morrison … Andrews?
Geoff King, Eaglemont

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

With Labor and the Coalition at 36per cent each and Andrews (48per cent) as the preferred premier v 34 per cent for Guy (The Age, 22/11), we may be able to enjoy a hung parliament and have another “best” government in Victoria like that with Bracks.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley

Anyone who is swayed by all the political ads surely is a candidate for buying the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Noel Howard, Heathmont

The sad Americanisation of Victorian politics will continue unabated if the Liberals continue to fail to vet their candidates.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Furthermore
“Airlines in push for lone pilot flights” (The Age, 22/11). Next thing we’ll see is pilots working from home.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Under the Morrison government big business was all for a lift in wages for workers, because they knew it wasn’t going to happen. Now we have a government that wants to actually do it, it seems the sky will fall in.
Geoff Wasley, Berwick

Move over “military intelligence”, we now celebrate oxymorons such as aged care, social housing and clean coal.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Come 2050, will there be two categories of countries claiming to have achieved net zero emissions – those that actually did, and those that used Australia’s “cleaner coal”?
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

As the merciless election campaign gets uglier, your coverage of the vibrant positivity of the Good Food Guide Awards (22/11) was a much-needed balm.
Mary Cole, Richmond

Captaincy for David Warner? It’s just not cricket.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton

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