On the eve of Victoria’s election, Daniel Andrews kneels down to chat to kindergarteners at their eye level, before delivering his final campaign sweetener.
As he met the children in Melbourne’s inner-north, students from the neighbouring school are excited to spot the state’s Labor premier. One student bellows across the fence: “my parents voted for you.”
While it’s a rockstar welcome in the marginal seat of Northcote, it marks Andrews’s third visit to the Labor-held electorate during the campaign, a sign the party is worried it is at serious risk of falling to the Greens.
Andrews, joined by his wife, Catherine, delivers his final rallying call to voters from the edge of a sand pit, warning the Coalition would slash his government’s signature Big Build infrastructure project if elected.
“They will cut it all, they’re auditing everything,” he says.
Andrews says a re-elected government would deliver $5,000 to every kindergarten in the state to help them buy new toys and equipment as part of a $24m package.
Labor also committed to injecting $116m to create six technology schools to train students for jobs to be created by its pledge to revive government ownership of the State Electricity Commission.
But the Victorian Greens are confident of winning Northcote, along with Richmond and Albert Park – a result that would double the party’s representation in the lower house. Campaigning in Northcote has become heated between the two parties in recent weeks.
The incumbent Labor MP, Kat Theophanous, this week won a supreme court bid to stop the Darebin council removing her campaign material in the seat.
Andrews says it will be made harder for Labor to form majority government if Northcote falls to the Greens.
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“In a seat like this, taking seats off Labor only makes it harder for us to make kinder free, for us to upgrade schools,” he says.
Recent polling points to a tightening race in the final week of the campaign, with a minority Labor government looking increasingly likely. But Andrews says he is not interested in making a deal with any minor parties or independents while he seeks a Labor majority.
“No deal offered, no deal done,” he says.
Meanwhile, the opposition leader, Matthew Guy, begins his last full day of the campaign at Sovereign Hill, an open-air museum in Ballarat, about 115km north-west of Melbourne.
He smiles and poses with costumed staff, pans for gold in a creek and announces a $6m fund to help regional councils become more caravan-friendly.
Needing to pick up 18 seats to form government outright, Guy is upbeat about causing a boilover and proving the naysayers wrong.
“It’s easy, with respect, for those not in politics to think that can’t be done. But I can tell you it can,” he says.
He warns voters to avoid waking up with a “Daniel Andrews hangover” on Sunday, urging them to vote for the Coalition.
“Don’t miss the chance on Saturday to vote him and this government out. The chance is Saturday, it is real, it is possible, and it can be done,” he says.
– With AAP