Election wrapup

Many people have written about the state election result. I thought I’d add my two-cents worth… noting that as of Wednesday night, some seats are still in doubt.

The Coalition crime fear campaign didn’t resonate. The stats don’t match the rhetoric, and while the accounts from actual victims could be harrowing, Melbourne is not a crime-infested cesspit. That’s no comfort to those who have been victims of of course, and more can be done to combat crime, but this is not an unsafe city.

Anecdata is only convincing (eg reflective of reality) if enough people are directly affected. How many people do you know who have been the victim of a violent crime? I thought the rhetoric, especially when the Coalition got to the point of declaring that anybody who committed any offence while on bail would be locked up, over-the-top.

(Amazingly, the Federal Libs are still pursuing this rhetoric in some parts of Melbourne this week.)

The anti-Skyrail campaign didn’t resonate. People living underneath it might dislike it (though not all do) – but ultimately the broader community didn’t hate it. All the seats with skyrail in them now (Caulfield, Oakleigh, Mulgrave, Keysborough) and getting skyrail (Bass, Carrum) swung towards the government, not away from it.

Perhaps that was helped by the fact that skyrail exists now. It’s real. Perhaps it’s not pretty, but it’s not covered in graffiti or filled with drug dealers as some claimed it would be.

Skyrail at Carnegie, November 2018

From where I was sitting, the Coalition had few prominent, positive policies. They took a back seat to the negative campaigning.

Their best (in my book) policy was announced and then quietly dropped: trains every 10 minutes. What a shame.

Their decentralisation policies seemed a good idea at a high level, though the fast rail pledges looked undercooked, and some of the detail around the rest of it either wasn’t thought out in detail, or wasn’t communicated well.

The ridiculous intersection grade separation plan didn’t resonate. Plenty of people drive absolutely everywhere, but I don’t think many of them thought this was a good idea.

Former Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu said it well:

The campaign didn’t work. The policies didn’t work. The organisation, the administration didn’t work, the leadership didn’t work. We didn’t have any cut through. Across the board it didn’t work.

Big swings to Labor, putting normally safe Liberal seats like Hawthorn and Brighton at risk showed that even though people live in wealthy suburbs, it doesn’t mean they’re dinosaurs, and they were clearly not keen on the crime narrative, nor the Liberal party being dragged to the right by the likes of Dutton and Abbott.

Meanwhile, Labor’s narrative of “a positive and optimistic agenda” (this literally became their catchcry) was perhaps clichéd, but also justified by some big achievements in just four years. Who’d have believed they’d get 29 level crossings removed? It meant many people overlooked their failings such as the redshirts affair.

Daniel Andrews claims victory, State election 24/11/2018

So now we have four more years of Labor. More level crossing removals – which is good. And thanks to the benefits of incumbency, plans for rail upgrades that are arguably more logical than the Coalition’s ambitious (perhaps impossible) pledges for high speed rail.

Labor will borrow more money to pay for infrastructure. I remember being at a transport breakfast thing years ago with some bigwigs who were saying it was ridiculous that governments have such a fear of borrowing. You borrow to buy your house, and it costs money, but it’s good. Why not borrow to invest in infrastructure that grows the economy?

I don’t have a major problem with this, though the question is: are the specific big projects they’re borrowing for actually worth the money? North East Link, for example – Infrastructure Victoria gave it the thumbs up in 2016 based on a cost of $5-10 billion, but a Business Case released early in 2018 appeared to inflate the benefits.

Speaking of business cases and infrastructure, the Suburban Rail Loop doesn’t yet have a business case. If the project happens, it may be decades away. But it caught the imagination of the populace, and I’m told the ALP reckon they saw bigger swings in the electorates nearby.

In the meantime, what about Metro 2, which by any logic is a higher priority to ensure Fishermans Bend is a success and the Werribee and Mernda rail lines cope with growth.

And right here and now, there has to be a commitment to upping all-day service levels on the existing infrastructure.

Melbourne is growing fast, and we can’t wait for the Metro tunnel to open in 2025 to see more trains running.

Let’s hope the newly re-elected government realises that it’s not just infrastructure that’s important — how you use it is vital.

Update Thursday lunchtime: The Premier has announced a reshuffle. The new Public Transport Minister is Melissa Horne. Jacinta Allan picks up Transport Infrastructure. Roads Minister is Jaala Pulford.

State election 2018

It’s state election day this Saturday, though many people have already voted:

Anyway, here are some ramblings from me.

How to vote

I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but I will tell you how to vote.

1. Think about the issues that matter to you, and look at what the candidates/parties are pledging.

2. Decide for yourself where your preferences will go.

Lower house: Fill every box according to your wishes, not the How To Vote cards. Remember, you can safely vote [1] for a minor party, and not waste your vote, because your preferences will end up with one of the majors. This cartoon explains it nicely.

Upper house: Never, ever vote above the line. You don’t want your preferences going to mystery places, and being harvested to elect some extremist micro-party. Always vote below the line. You only have to fill the first five preferences if you don’t want to do more.

Who’s who in the zoo

Some of the minor parties you might not have heard of, or might not know where they’re from, or what their key issue is. Many are centred around specific issues. Here’s my brief summary.

There’s another frank and fearless assessment of the micro-parties in this Twitter thread from André Brett, or in more detail on his blog.

This blog also has some good information. And another quicker take from former Fairfax journo Jill Stark.

Or for something with a bit more meat, here’s ABC’s summary.

Transport

The PTUA has a scorecard (summary: Greens better than Labor, Labor better than Coalition).

Bicycle Network also ranked the parties this way, and they have a detailed scorecard.

Energy and climate change

Environment Victoria has a scorecard. They’ve gone ballistic in distributing this in marginal seats. We’ve seen their volunteers at the railway station and in the shopping strip multiple times, and they’re pushing it out on their social media and other channels too.

My view is that neither major party is doing enough – and it’s mostly a Federal problem, not a State one.

At a State level, both sides are playing politics, as one would expect, but at least Labor’s policy of subsidised panels will clearly achieve more use of solar.

The Coalition emphasises affordable power, but given the level of subsidies to fossil fuels, and the emergence of effective large-scale battery systems that seem to be contributing to stabilisation of the grid, I’m not convinced that clean means unaffordable and unreliable.

This interview on Sky News last night is amusing:

…By the way, people that know about this stuff tell me that “baseload” is a crock. What’s important is despatchable power — that can be put into the grid when it’s actually needed.

New battery technology seems to have revolutionised this. You can now combine renewables, whose energy generation varies with the weather, with large battery installations, which together enable power to be fed into the grid to keep it stable as demand and supply elsewhere rises and falls.

This is far better than coal which is near-constant, day and night, except for when they fail. In other words, baseload is not flexible.

More reading: Baffled by baseload? Dumbfounded by dispatchables? Here’s a glossary of the energy debate

Watching the state election count, 2014

Local issues in Bentleigh

In 2010 we knew the seat was marginal when then-premier John Brumby showed up at a nearby polling booth.

In 2014 we knew the seat was still marginal when I was greeted at the polls by the Labor candidate with “Hello Daniel! Meet Bill Shorten!”

Since then, three level crossings are gone (Bentleigh/McKinnon/Ormond). Labor deserves credit for making this happen, even if it was piggybacking off Coalition planning and funding for the Ormond crossing that had already occurred.

Labor is pledging yet more crossings to remove. The Libs aren’t – they want to do road intersections instead, which is a terrible idea. But they have pledged some level crossing removals. Both sides have pledged Glen Huntly, which more than any other on the Frankston line, delays every train.

Labor’s also pledging a new bus route, from Moorabbin along Tucker Road and East Boundary Road (the connection between them seems a little unclear) to Murrumbeena and Chadstone.

Other pledges, from either side, to fix buses and trams (anywhere in Melbourne) are pretty scant.

If I had to fault Labor for anything, it’s the redshirts affair. What a stupid thing to (allegedly) do, risk everything, and jeopardise trust, for such a lousy return (which they’ve now paid back anyway).

Both sides are pledging upgrades for local parks, schools and kindergartens.

The Coalition is pledging to convert the Dingley Bypass into a freeway, and grade separate road intersections at Warrigal/South Roads and Nepean Highway/South Roads, which risks making them unusable for pedestrians and cyclists, and will inevitably make South Road traffic far worse than it already is.

I personally find the claims about out-of-control crime to be unconvincing. ABC Fact Check looked into the statistics, and that’s well worth a read.

Pledges from both sides (Labor, Liberal) to replace the scoreboard at Bentleigh Reserve. This makes no sense to me, because it’s only 8 years old. A new fully electronic scoreboard will probably have more capabilities, but the current one appears to do an okay job at showing football and cricket scores. Hopefully the old one can be handed down to another oval somewhere.

If only more seats were marginal.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Check the parties, policies, pledges, candidates. Know who and what you’re voting for.

If you haven’t already, vote carefully, and enjoy your democracy sausage!

What’s the number one priority for politicians, more than anything else? Getting elected.

Just a quickie…

A senior politician (I won’t say who, or which side) once told me something which, at the time was somewhat surprising to hear, but in retrospect it’s obvious – and puts a lot of things into perspective:

For politicians, the number one priority is to get elected / to get re-elected / to get their side into power.

And this person specifically said that sometimes, the motivation to get elected trumps good policy.

I don’t suppose that it always goes for all politicians, but often, particularly when in opposition, you can see that on show.

You’d hope that more often than not, good policy would actually get them elected, but it’s not always the case.

Of course you can argue that for someone wanting to Do Good, there’s a limit to what they can do without being elected… so of course it could be seen as important.

And no doubt there are some idealist politicians out there who would genuinely risk their popularity or their position in the pursuit of good policy.

But remember, as you watch their actions, and hear their comments and sometimes incredibly overblown rhetoric, that for most politicians, getting elected and staying elected is their number one priority.

I’m voting yes.

Here’s what I think about the Same Sex Marriage postal survey: I’m voting yes.

The reality is that not everyone is attracted to the opposite sex. Who are we to deny them getting married if they want to? Despite how some others paint it, it doesn’t harm anybody else, and certainly doesn’t harm heterosexual marriages.

It’s not like marriage is ever purely for having children. My mother and stepfather got married well after their all kids had grown up.

And it’s not like it would overturn a centuries old law. It was John Howard in 2004 who changed the Marriage Act to specify a man and a woman.

I can understand why some people on the Yes side object to, and might boycott, a postal survey.

It should be a free vote in Parliament. But it’s not. And it’s not a people’s vote, it’s not a referendum, it’s not a plebiscite, it’s a $122 million survey. Ridiculous.

A win for Yes may not be binding on the Parliament, but whichever side wins, it will send an important message.

Some propose a boycott. That would only work if it was widespread, which doesn’t seem likely.

The last thing supporters of the cause need is the survey to come back saying No. Judging from recent polls that wouldn’t represent public opinion, but it would also discourage politicians on the fence from getting it done.

As for this:

“And I say to you if you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote no. If you’re worried about religious freedom and freedom of speech, vote no, and if you don’t like political correctness, vote no because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks.” — Tony Abbott last week

This is a furphy. It’s pretty clear that both major parties want a level of religious freedom, that is, if a religious celebrant objects to same sex marriage, they won’t be forced to perform them.

And Abbott, like many arch-conservatives, seems to have confused “political correctness” for just having some basic respect for other people and their wishes.

Abbott campaigned hard on de-regulation. It seems he likes stricter laws when it forces people to conform to his own values.

So anyway, I’m saying Yes. If consenting adults want to get married, let them.

Update 15/11/2017:

Whinging with credibility

Following a little jaunt out to Caroline Springs on Tuesday (more on this in the next post), with some tweets along the way, I had an interesting Twitter conversation with a disgruntled Geelong line user.

One of my tweets noted that a huge crowd waiting at the platform for a Geelong train had in fact fitted into the train when it eventually arrived. (The exchange is reproduced below.) My correspondent took umbrage at this, thinking it implied the Geelong line is all fine.

My view is that showing a photo of one train that a platform that looks okay doesn’t imply that every train is fine. It doesn’t even imply that the train in question didn’t become overcrowded down the line when it picked up more passengers.

Here’s the thing:

I have been told repeatedly by those in power — ministers (from both sides), senior bureaucrats, operator staff (from the CEO down), that they appreciate (and pay attention to) my observations because I call out both the positive and the negative. Good, bad or ugly.

It’s also gained the PTUA credibility with the media, who know they will get an honest assessment of a situation.

Remember the boy who cried wolf?

If I was 100% critical all the time, it wouldn’t be credible.

If I claimed the entire public transport system is 100% stuffed, it wouldn’t be credible. (If it was 100% stuffed, so many people wouldn’t use it and rely on it every day.)

I do tweet plenty of pictures of packed services. But I also try to put it into context, and to understand why it is so.

  • Running late? Why?
  • Previous service cancelled? Why?
  • Short train/uncommonly small bus/tram? Fleet shortage or some other factor?
  • Unexpected or poorly planned special event?
  • Or is the regular service simply inadequate for the usual demand?

The nature and cause of the problem will determine the solution, and who’s responsible for fixing it.

It’s not in my nature to be relentlessly cynical and negative all the time. Not even on Twitter.

Fortunately it appears that this helps progress the debate to solutions, rather than just get bogged down in endless criticism and whinging.

So I’ll keep calling it as I see it.

Thoughts? As always, leave a comment.

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The tweets in question: