The Inside Word

2024 June State Politics Update

If the four-year election cycle were a horse race, we are now entering the final straight.

David Crisafulli and his horse hold a commanding lead. It’s Steven Miles’ first time in the saddle and he’s behind but he’s riding a horse with a track record of winning state elections.

The recent budget had every spending sweetener imaginable other than the Treasurer walking down Queen Street, ripping wallets out of people’s pockets and stuffing hundred-dollar notes inside.

The politics are obvious, the Government trails in the polls and they’re seeking to demonstrate to voters that they’re listening and acting on cost-of-living pressures.

But will it work? Time will tell. 

The recent RedBridge poll did not bode well for the Government. Conducted by former Victorian Labor operative, Kos Samaras, it showed the LNP with a 57-43 lead. If this were replicated on polling day it would be a wipeout. But the LNP would be wise to not crack open the champagne bottles. Candidates in marginal seats can’t take their foot of the pedal, a mountain of fundraising still needs to be done, and when you’ve been out of power for 30 of 35 years there’s no excuse for complacency. 

The next round of polls will be instructive as to what strategy the Government takes moving forward. If there is a tightening in the numbers then the Premier is likely to stay focused on the Budget measures. If there’s no real change over the next month, expect a shift in strategy from the Government.

What is clear is that the Opposition isn’t looking to give the Government an inch in this space. Crisafulli committed to supporting Labor’s budget before the Treasurer had even handed it down. 

A source of frustration for Labor is that this really is the Opposition’s to lose. It’s a long-term government, behind in the polls and with not much room to work with in running a scare campaign on the Opposition. 

In 2007, despite having won four consecutive elections, the electorate was clearly over John Howard. His government threw money at the electorate like confetti. None of the spending measures were unpopular, but people had clearly switched off Howard and a disciplined campaign from Kevin Rudd saw Labor cruise to victory.

The next four months will see Crisafulli braced with a steely determination not to give the Government anything to work with. The Premier, on the other hand, will be looking to pounce on even the most minor of hiccups to sow doubt in the electorate about the LNP.

The final straight is the most exciting part of a horse race. Crisafulli knows a stumble could cost him, while the Premier knows he can’t afford to lose any further distance and must start cracking the whip. At the end of the day, the punters will decide who wears the crown.

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