What we learned today, Saturday 26 November
And with that we are going to put this blog to bed. Thank you so much for spending the evening with us. It was a big night.
Before we go, let’s recap the main headlines:
Victorian Labor has been re-elected with a majority. The premier, Daniel Andrews, claims victory and declares: “Friends, hope always defeats hate.”
The Liberal leader, Matthew Guy, concedes defeat, but says the Coalition will have more MPs than in the last parliament.
The Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, calls the election a Greenslide after her party claims the seat of Richmond.
Teal independents are likely to win two or three Melbourne seats, but rural independents have fared poorly in the election.
The Liberal candidate and former tennis pro Sam Groth wins Nepean from Labor.
The Labor campaign manager, James Merlino, says the Liberals’ focus on Andrews was a “bad call”.
The Liberal MP Matt Bach calls it “a deeply disappointing result”.
The Victorian result shares parallels with the federal election, analyst Ben Raue says.
Labor and the Coalition both see declines in their primary vote.
There is still so much to go over the weekend – we will be back tomorrow with breaking news on the tight seats and analysis throughout the day. Until then, stay safe.
Daniel Andrews says he will govern for everyone:
We will deliver every part of our positive plan to benefit each and every Victorian no matter how you voted …. That is what our job is. We take our responsibility seriously because Labor does what matters.
Daniel Andrews is on to thanks – first every member of the trade union movement, then the premier’s chief of staff, Lissie Ratcliff, and deputy chief of staff, Jessie McCrone. He thanks the people of his electorate, Mulgrave, the Labor campaign chairman, James Merlino, the deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, and all of his staff.
And thank everyone who worked hard and believed in us and was always out there putting our positive plan to friends and neighbours and family and teammates and workmates – telling your story about why you are voting Labor to help other people discover the reasons why they should too. It matters. Community-based campaigning matters. I am looking at it right now.
And finally his family:
On a very personal level, I want to thank the strongest person that I know. My wife and my best friend, Catherine.
And together we both want to thank the three most important people to us, the future, three people we are very proud of, Noah, Grace and Joseph.
Daniel Andrews says he has a positive plan for Victoria that includes free kindergarten, adding to free Tafe courses, more nurses and more paramedics.
Keep the applause coming, because our positive plan also includes more ambulance drivers as well. Our positive plan, so comprehensively endorsed by the Victorian community, also includes more schools, more hospitals. It includes many different elements, but perhaps most importantly, it includes, and we will now deliver, bringing back the SEC.
Andrews says the State Electricity Commission will cut emissions and means Victoria doesn’t need to rely on “big greedy” companies.
They will be replaced with something better, and, so our political opponents cannot in some point in the future sell the new SEC, like they sold the old one, it will be in the constitution.
Because as a community we were not, as some would say, divided, we were instead united in our faith, in science … and care for each other. That too, that sense of kindness, that sense of connection, that says that we are all in this together, has been confirmed today as well. Friends, hope always defeats hate.
Friends, these last few years have been incredibly challenging. We have had to make some very difficult decisions, some very tough decisions, and Victorian families are businesses right across our state have had a very difficult time. This was a one-in-100-year event.
And because of the tough decisions that we made, and as important, in some respects even more importantly, the fact that Victorians stuck together, the fact that Victorians’ kindness and compassion, through connection and care, looked out for each other, went out and got vaccinated, because vaccines work!
Daniel Andrews says:
Reforming giant and Labor icon Paul Keating once said to me, ‘Son, leadership is not about doing what is popular, leadership is about doing what is right.’
Essentially, he was telling me that leadership is about doing what matters. And that is exactly what the people of this great state have endorsed today, in resoundingly re-electing our strong, stable, majority Labor government.
Daniel Andrews claims victory in Victorian election
The premier, Daniel Andrews, and his family have taken the stage to claim victory.
He is introduced by his wife, Catherine.
The premier, Daniel Andrews, will be up to give his victory speech soon.
In finishing, Matthew Guy thanks the party’s executive team, his wife and sons, in-laws, parents and party faithful:
To all of you as well, to the Liberal family, for the support you have been during this campaign.
Folks, every election concludes itself, but there is another one to fight for as well. We have a lot of work to do. We know that. We also know that our time in the sun will come again. Thank you very much.
Can I also say, ladies and gentlemen, we respect the right of every Victorian to choose the government. We respect the right to vote how they want to vote and respect the outcome of the election. I said to every Victorian that the choice is yours and we respect that.
We intend to hold the government in the next term to account for what they have committed and for the important issues that are raised on behalf of Victorians to them in the parliament.
But I say this. I am immensely proud of all of the Liberal National party candidates around the state.
We do not shy away from the important messages we have raised in this last term around health and the state of our health system. And I want to particularly acknowledge you tonight, the immense work of our shadow health minister, Georgie Crozier.
There have been some truly tremendous swings to our side of politics in Melbourne’s north and west. Swings above 15, approaching 20%, in Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs …
In this term of government I hope that the Labor party, who will form the government, will heed that message, and will have a change in style, a change in attitude, a more approachable, focus more on uniting Victorians, not just dividing them. As has been the case.
Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy concedes defeat
The Liberal leader, Matthew Guy, has taken the stage to give his concession speech. He says he rang the premier, Daniel Andrews, to congratulate him.
On behalf of all Victorians, I think it is important now that after this election that we come together as Victorians knowing that the best of our state should be ahead of us, not behind us.
It is, as Peter said, a disappointing night for all of us, but what we can see is that with a swing of around 4% to us and many pre-poll votes to come, we will finish, despite what many commentators say, we will finish with more seats in the parliament in both the lower house and upper house.
We are expecting Matthew Guy to give his concession speech within minutes.
Legalise Cannabis and Greens do well in early counting for Legislative Council
Before I go, let’s turn our focus briefly to the Legislative Council, where the count is in very early stages.
Group voting tickets will make things very complicated but we are seeing some early trends.
With about 5% counted, the Greens have gained a 2.3% swing, which is enough to put them in the lead for four seats. Labor’s vote has gone back substantially from 39.2% to 32.2%, which is roughly consistent with their lower house swing.
Legalise Cannabis is doing very well, polling 4.4% so far. That puts them ahead of every other minor party apart from the Greens.
The ABC calculators then take those primary votes and apply the group voting tickets to see who wins. These will change as more votes come in, but at the moment Labor has lost four seats, down from 18 to 14, while the Greens are up from one to four and the Coalition is up from 11 to 14.
For the minor parties, Legalise Cannabis is leading in two seats and was earlier leading in a third, while One Nation is leading for one seat.
Animal Justice, Reason, the Shooters, Transport Matters and Derryn Hinch’s Justice party are all leading for one seat but the Democratic Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are not leading for any seats.
Overall it’s not a great result for the parties aligned with the so-called “preference whisperer” Glenn Druery. By my count those parties are currently leading for three seats, and earlier it was just two.
It suggests an upper house with a progressive majority between Labor, the Greens, Legalise Cannabis and Animal Justice, but with Labor only making up two-thirds of that majority in their own right.
Of course these calculators, apart from relying on very incomplete data, also assume that every vote is cast above the line. There has been a concerted push to encourage voters to vote below the line – so far the statistics are slightly encouraging – about 10.5% of votes counted so far are below the line, slightly ahead of the 8.8% at the 2018 election. Those below-the-line votes may well result in some of those seats changing hands. Transport Matters in particular will struggle to win its seat, with just 0.25% of the votes cast so far in the sitting MLC Rod Barton’s region. The slightest breeze would blow apart their path to victory.
James Merlino calls Liberals’ focus on Daniel Andrews a ‘bad call’
The former deputy premier James Merlino has arrived at Daniel Andrews’ election party.
Merlino, who has been the chair of Labor’s campaign, says it’s been an incredibly tough one and the overwhelming feeling is of “relief”:
I think it’s an acknowledgement of the hard work that the Labor government’s put in over eight years under Daniel’s leadership and, you know, we focused on the things that matter – health, education, transport. You look at the areas that the Suburban Rail Loop will deliver for local people and you look at those electoral results today. It’s just outstanding.
He says it was a mistake for the Liberals to turn the election into a referendum on the premier:
I think their focus on Dan, I think they’re getting into bed with extremists. They made a number of bad calls and it’s reflected on them badly. This is a terrible result for the Liberal party.
Liberal deputy leader David Southwick has battle on his hands
The deputy Liberal leader, David Southwick, will have a real battle on his hands to hold the seat of Caulfield.
With 55% of the vote counted, he’s narrowly ahead of Labor’s Lior Harel, but preferences from the Greens and the teal independent Nomi Kaltmann are favouring the Labor candidate. The result in this seat might not be known for several days at least.
Coalition fails to capitalise on modest two-party-preferred swing
Out of Victoria’s 88 lower house seats, there are currently 70 seats reflecting a two-party-preferred contest between ALP and the Coalition.
In 17 of these seats Labor has gained a swing; in 53, the Coalition has gained, when compared to 2018. The average swing in these seats is 3.1% to the Coalition, with a median swing of 2.7%.
This is all consistent with a modest shift against the government, but it won’t be reflected in the seat count – on my current count, the Coalition is leading in 26 seats, compared to 27 they won in 2018.
The biggest swings to the Coalition are mostly in the outer north and west of Melbourne, gaining two-party-preferred swings of over 10% in St Albans, Thomastown, Broadmeadows, Mill Park, Yan Yean, and Greenvale, as well as the Nationals gaining a similar swing in Morwell. Yet all of those outer suburban marginals are safe enough to withstand those large swings.
On the other hand, the 17 swings to Labor include a number of crucial marginals: Ashwood, Box Hill, Glen Waverley, Bayswater and Ringwood come to mind.
Labor has clearly won a majority, if a smaller one than in 2018. While Labor’s majority is modest, the defeat for the Coalition is more resounding, with an enlarged crossbench mostly consisting of Greens along with a handful of urban independents.
The ALP has won 49 seats but is leading in a handful of others. The Coalition is currently leading in fewer seats than they won in 2018.
Coalition event subdued ahead of Matthew Guy’s arrival
The numbers have begun dwindling at the Coalition’s election-night event in eastern Melbourne. There is a noticeably subdued tone at the event.
The opposition leader, Matthew Guy, is expected to attend shortly to give his concession speech.
For those late to the game – who may need to catch up quickly – here’s our full report.
There is still so much more to come – both leaders will address party members soon and the Greens look like they might pick up another seat or two – but the race is very, very tight.
Labor on track to pick up Glen Waverley and Hastings from Liberals, offsetting loss in Nepean
Labor is on track to pick up the seats of Glen Waverley and Hastings from the Liberals, offsetting a probable loss in Nepean where the former tennis professional Sam Groth claimed victory, AAP is reporting.
The deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, said it would be a bitter blow for the Liberals if Labor fended off challenges in seats such as Ringwood and Box Hill.
“There was a lot of Liberal party effort run in those seats and it demonstrates a confidence in the premier,” she said.
Daniel Andrews is poised to become the state’s fifth leader in history to serve 3,000 days in office, making him eligible to be immortalised in bronze outside 1 Treasury Place in Melbourne.
If he remains leader until Easter, he’ll become the longest-serving Labor premier in Victoria’s history, taking the mantle from John Cain Jr.
He is expected to address Labor supporters late on Saturday night. His mother and sister arrived after the result was called.
ABC projects Mornington for teal independent Kate Lardner
It looks like at least one teal independent will be in parliament, with the ABC projecting Mornington to be won by Kate Lardner.
The Labor MP Martin Pakula, who is stepping down at this election, has just posted this on Twitter:
This silly dance on Liberal preferences is a consequence of the voting system
Samantha Ratnam doesn’t want to give credit to Liberal preferencing decisions in helping the Greens win seats.
We will be able to analyse this fully once the vote count is finished, but it looks plausible that the Greens could have won in Richmond without this preference decision. I don’t think they could have won Northcote, and they wouldn’t be in with a shot in four other seats without that decision.
But that goes both ways. There have been other cases where Labor won seats thanks to beneficial preference flows from the Liberal party despite the Greens likely being in a position to win if Liberal preferences split 50-50.
But this silly dance is a consequence of choices made in designing the voting system.
The Liberal party in practice is forced to choose to preference Labor or Greens. In New South Wales, where preferencing is optional, they always choose to preference neither, and there is no public discussion. Everyone is largely happy with that decision – the Liberals spare themselves the headache, and Labor and Greens compete head-on.
Alternatively, you could have a proportional system which would parcel up the seats according to the share of the vote.
Instead the system used in most Australian lower houses means that any close Labor-Greens contest comes down to what numbers the Liberal party puts on its how-to-vote card.
On Twitter, the PM has congratulated Daniel Andrews:
Victorian election result shares parallels with federal election
The Victorian election result reflects a number of parallels with the federal election in May.
In both elections, the Liberal party lost ground in the cities with a growing inner-city crossbench of Greens and independents.
Like in Canberra, the Andrews Labor government may not have a huge majority but will face a decimated Coalition opposition – what may be a relatively modest Labor win is a thumping rejection of the Coalition, particularly the Liberal party.
And the primary vote for both major parties has again fallen.
Samantha Ratnam finishes by arguing against the Labor line that the party has only picked up extra seats because of Liberal preferences.
And just to be clear – just to be clear – despite Labor’s spin – you’re going to hear a lot of that in the next few hours – we’ve seen massive swings to the Greens on primary votes, meaning the Liberal preference difference hasn’t made a difference to the outcome.
Even if they had have preferenced Labor, we would have still won these seats.
This is a Greenslide, Ratnam tells party faithful
Samantha Ratnam says the party is seeing “possibilities in places like Albert Park, Pascoe Vale, Footscray, Preston”:
Where we’re neck-and-neck with Labor, and it’s clear that the Greens are on the rise and we are a force to be reckoned with.
And it’s clear, these are seats that Labor have taken for granted for far too long. No more!
No matter how many seats we end up with tonight, this is a Greenslide and there is no doubt that the people of Victoria have voted for our vision of no new coal and gas, tackling the housing crisis and restoring integrity back into Victorian politics.
Greens claim win in Richmond
The Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, is standing next to the party’s Richmond candidate, Gabrielle Di Vietri. She says:
Melbourne is green, Prahran is green, Brunswick is green and now Richmond is green!
Our statewide vote means we have also won Southern Metro back! And I am pleased to say that it looks very good in Northcote and I’m hoping to be back with an update soon, and there are a number of other seats in play.
Greens on track to colour map of inner Melbourne green, says Ratnam
The Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, is now addressing party faithful in Collingwood:
Tonight, my friends, I’m so proud to be up here to tell you all that the Greenslide continues tonight.
And tonight, we’re on track to colour-in the map of inner-city Melbourne green.
Sky is now projecting the teal independent Lisa Lowe will win the seat of Hawthorn.
Antony Green says he expects a majority Labor government
On the ABC, Antony Green says he is expecting a majority Labor government:
At the moment we are projecting that they will be returned with a majority. Labor is easily holding Cranbourne, ahead in Pakenham, not losing the seats in the western suburbs.
At this stage the numbers are adding up for Labor to stay in power. Everything east and south of the Yarra is good for Labor. There are a couple of losses but doing really well in the east. All of the vote loss is in western Melbourne and just not delivering any seats because they are all too safe for the Labor party.
At this stage the Andrews government is headed for a return – taken a bit of a hit in some seats, but not the sort of hit you would have expected.
Labor and Coalition suffer substantial swings
With more than a quarter of votes now counted, it’s clear that Labor and the Liberals have suffered substantial swings at the hands of minor parties and independents.
In 2018, the two biggest parties claimed 73.3% of the primary vote between them. So far in 2022, that has plunged nearly 10 points to 63.8%.
Those votes have leaked to the Nationals (+2.1%), the Greens (+1.9%) and other minor parties and independents (+5.5%). While Labor’s on track to retain government, it is currently suffering a 7% drop in their primary vote.
Greens look likely to double their seat count to six
Meanwhile in the inner city, the Greens are doing well, picking up primary vote support and benefiting from a change in Liberal preference policy.
The Greens MP Sam Hibbins has gained a large primary vote swing in Prahran, while his colleague Tim Read has gained a small swing in Brunswick. While the Greens vote dropped in Melbourne, it dropped by less than Labor or Liberal.
The Greens have improved their position relative to Labor in Richmond, but not in Northcote, but will win both thanks to preference flows. That’s five Greens seats.
But that’s not the end of the story.
There are four other seats the Greens have a chance of winning.
The Greens are clearly in second place before preferences in Footscray, Preston and Pascoe Vale. They are narrowly ahead in Footscray, and narrowly behind in Pascoe Vale and Preston.
In Albert Park, the Greens are in third place on primary votes – 2.7% behind the Liberals, but with preferences from an independent and Animal Justice among others to be distributed. If the Greens can get into the top two, they are currently leading on the two-candidate-preferred count.
It’s very unlikely the Greens will win all four of these seats, but right now it seems more likely than not that they will at least double their seat count to six.
Liberals’ Suburban Rail Link policy ‘wasn’t sold properly’, Tim Smith says
The outgoing Liberal MP Tim Smith, speaking on Sky News, said the Liberal campaign around the Suburban Rail Link should have been sold as a project the state couldn’t afford.
We tried to neutralise every issue known to man except have a point of difference with the Labor party.
What was the difference between us and the Labor party at this election? It was one issue – that we would not build the Suburban Rail Link [sic] and take that chunk of money and put in the health system. One issue, that’s it. And it wasn’t sold properly.
Teal independents likely to win two or three Melbourne seats, but rural independents do much worse
Teal independents running in Melbourne look likely to win two, possibly three, seats, but rural independents have done much worse.
In Mornington, the independent Kate Lardner is clearly in second place, while in Hawthorn the independent Melissa Lowe is narrowly in second place, but will likely maintain that position. In both seats, the independent is winning the preference count, so if they can stay in the top two they’ll likely win.
The independent in Kew is doing well but not quite well enough. She’s about 1.8% behind Labor on primary votes (a gap that could conceivably close) but is also losing the preference count.
In rural Victoria, the Nationals have done much better. The first-term independent MP Ali Cupper looks set to lose Mildura, and two-term independent MP Suzanna Sheed is losing Shepparton. In Morwell, where the sitting independent MP retired and the seat was redrawn with a notional Labor margin, a swing to the Nationals will see the Nationals gain that seat.
This suggests a growing urban-rural divide, with Labor failing to win back the seat with the biggest coal community in Victoria while the Nationals make gains from the crossbench, while Labor and Liberal both lose ground to the crossbench in Melbourne.
And the independent Jacqui Hawkins has grown her vote in Benambra but looks set to fall short.
The Greens are predicted to pick up Northcote and Richmond.
Albert Park and Footscray are still in play. More to come on this.
Labor looking strong in marginal ALP-Coalition races
There are a few other marginal Labor-Coalition races where Labor is looking strong after the redistribution changed the margins.
In Bayswater, two sitting MPs ran against each other. The sitting Labor MP, Jackson Taylor, appears to have seen off a challenge from the Liberal MP Nick Wakeling, whose seat of Ferntree Gully was abolished in the redistribution. The seat was given a slim Liberal margin, but Taylor has gained a swing.
The seat of Ripon, held by the Liberal MP Louise Staley, was redrawn to have a slim Labor margin. The ABC is projecting a slight swing to the Liberal party, but it doesn’t look like enough for Staley to hold on.
The seat of Glen Waverley was a redrawn seat with a slim Liberal margin. The sitting Liberal MP, Neil Angus, is running behind and the ABC has called it as a Labor gain.
These are the exact seats the Coalition desperately needed if they were to win government and they are having very little luck.
Antony Green expects Greens to win Richmond
Antony Green says he is expecting a Greens win in Richmond, which was hotly contested by the candidate Gabrielle Da Vinci.
Right now it looks like the Greens might also pick up Northcote, Albert Park and Footscray – which would be more seats than they expected.
Speaking on the ABC, the Greens MP Ellen Sandell said:
This is huge. Especially when you look at seats like Footscray that we weren’t even necessarily targeting at this election – nobody has been talking about Footscray – and seeing big swings in Preston and Pascoe Vale.
So having a few more MPs in the lower house is a nice birthday present for me and the Greens.
Mood turns sombre at Coalition election-night event
There’s a sombre mood at the Coalition’s election-night event.
The room was simmering with excitement when the Liberal candidate Sam Groth claimed the seat of Nepean for the Coalition but the mood quickly became more restrained. The ABC’s Antony Green has now called the election for Labor, ruling out a path to victory for the Coalition.
The senior Liberal MP Georgie Crozier, the opposition’s health spokesperson, is expected to arrive at the event shortly.
‘This is a deeply disappointing result,’ says Liberal MP Matt Bach
The Liberal MP for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Matt Bach, just appeared on Channel Seven, saying it is a “deeply disappointing result” for the party.
I came into tonight quite hopeful.
I thought in seats like even Ringwood, in Box Hill, there was a good sense in Box Hill, there was a good sense in Ivanhoe, we weren’t going to win Ivanhoe tonight but, still, I thought across those seats in the region I represent that things were going better than this.
So far it’s early days, but so far, this is a deeply disappointing result for us.
Labor looks like it has retained government, probably with majority
There are still a bunch of seats in play but it seems clear that Labor has retained government, probably with a majority.
I just did a run-through of the seat list, calling seats which seem very clear off an early vote but leaving close races uncalled, and it resulted in Labor winning at least 48 seats despite another 15 being not entirely clear.
I’ll keep tracking those close races, but I can’t see Labor falling short of a majority.
ABC's Antony Green calls Victorian election for Labor
Antony Green has just called the election for the Labor party. Speaking on the ABC, he said:
At this stage I think we can say that the Andrews government is set to be returned. Now we are yet to determine whether that’s a majority or minority government, but what we can’t see is a pathway for the Coalition to win enough seats to get into government and Labor will end up with more seats than the Coalition.
Channel Nine and Sky News call Victorian election for Labor
Channel Nine and Sky News have both just called the election for Daniel Andrews. We are waiting on the ABC.
Labor and the Coalition see declines in primary vote
In 2018, Labor and the Coalition received 77.9% of the primary vote. Based on the 13% of the vote counted so far, that has fallen to 71.3% in 2022.
Labor’s primary vote is down 7.9%. The Liberal primary vote has also fallen by 2% so far, while the Nationals’ tally is up by 2.8%. The Greens have gained a swing of 1.6%, while independents and other minor parties are up 5.1%.
Count in western Melbourne seats looks promising for Labor
Early results from western Melbourne suggest Labor won’t have any trouble in the seats that have been the subject of focus.
In Point Cook, the independent Joe Garra is languishing in a distant third, and Labor should hold on.
We don’t have much in the way of results from Melton and Werribee, but the independent candidates are nowhere in those figures.
While we’re discussing independent challenges in Labor seats, there has been a lot of chatter about Dan Andrews’ seat of Mulgrave. While the independent Ian Cook is currently just ahead of the Liberal candidate, Andrews is still polling a majority of the primary vote so far. He will be fine.
The Labor stalwart Steve Bracks on Channel Seven just before:
It’s probably exceeded the expectations I had. I thought it would be a reduced majority. It looks closer to 50 seats for me. It is even worse for the Liberals because the seats Labor have lost have largely been to the Greens.
Labor does not appear to have lost ground in eastern Melbourne marginals
Labor does not appear to have lost any ground in the marginal seats of eastern Melbourne.
In Ashwood, Box Hill and Ringwood, the results so far suggest small swings to Labor on a two-party-preferred basis. While Labor is suffering negative primary vote swings in some of these seats, the swings against the Liberals are larger.
The ABC’s Antony Green says he doesn’t think Labor will lose its majority
The crowd at the premier’s election party broke out in rapturous applause as the ABC election analyst, Antony Green, said he didn’t think Labor would lose its majority.
Here’s what Green said:
Now if I was somewhere on the internet or on a community radio station during this coverage, I would call it at this point and nobody would notice it. But I’m here on the national broadcaster and I’m cautious. At the moment Labor has a strong pathway to power.
Labor not doing as well as 2018 but Coalition not making many gains
While Labor does not appear to be doing as well as it did in 2018, the Coalition is not making many gains so far. It certainly does not appear to be on track to win enough seats to form government, and a number of its seats are in trouble.
So far there are three seats that have been called as changing party, all in the outer south-east of Melbourne.
In Nepean, the Liberal party looks set to gain the seat with an 8.8% seat. Hastings has a Liberal MP and Bass has a Labor MP – both were redrawn to have a margin of basically 0%, and at the moment Labor is winning both of them.
Also in Pakenham, Labor appears to be on track to maintain its slim margin.
Mixed picture for teal candidates in early counting
Turning my mind to the teal challenges in the inner south-east Melbourne seats, there’s a mixed picture.
We don’t have much of a preference count in Mornington, but the independent Kate Lardner is clearly in second place on primary votes with the Liberal candidate polling well under 40%, so I think Lardner potentially has the best shot at winning for an urban independent running south of the river.
In Kew, the independent Sophie Torney is currently on 19.3% based on four booths, which puts her in third place. She’s also losing on the preference count against the Liberal candidate, but that won’t matter unless she can overtake the Labor candidate.
The independent Melissa Lowe is also in third place in Hawthorn, but is a bit closer to the sitting Labor MP. If she can manage to overtake Labor (either on minor candidate preferences or with shifting trends as counting continues), she’s in a strong position to win. The former Liberal MP John Pesutto is polling just 38.6%, which may not be enough to win if Labor preferences flow to the independent.
Nomi Kaltmann isn’t doing so well in Caulfield, coming fourth, but there is a substantial swing against the sitting Liberal MP David Southwick, which suggests Labor could gain that seat.
Independents in Brighton and Sandringham are not competitive.
Liberal Sam Groth claims victory in Nepean
The Liberal candidate Sam Groth has officially claimed victory for the seat of Nepean.
Speaking to Channel Seven he says:
I certainly wasn’t expecting them to call it this early in the night. I’m very happy. I haven’t had the chance to have a beer yet. I’ve been stuck in the corner on TV.
Liberal Sam Groth wins Nepean from Labor, ABC and Sky say
In bad news for the Labor party, both ABC and Sky news are saying Nepean will fall to the Liberals.
With 15.1% counted, Sam Groth, a former tennis professional, is expected to be elected.
It is a key seat, but it won’t come as a shock – both parties expected Labor would lose it.
Asked by Nine’s panel if this means he will be retiring from his position as a commentator for the network at the Australian Open in January, Groth demurred:
I’m not going to call it just yet. But, yes, there’s a high chance I could be at the Australian Open as a spectator in a couple of months’ time.
Early results in some Labor-Greens contests look good for Greens
We’re getting some early results in some of the Labor-Greens contests and all of the story is favourable to the Greens.
In most of these seats we’ve received results for two or three small booths, but the booth-matching suggests substantial swings to the Greens.
In Albert Park, the first three booths show an 11% swing to the Greens and 3.5% away from Labor. A 12% swing away from the Liberals has allowed the Greens to climb into the top two. On these figures, Liberal preferences make the race about even, so we’ll need to wait for preference flows later tonight, but this seat could very well be in play.
In Northcote and Richmond, the Greens are leading on the primary vote, whereas Labor led on the primary vote in 2018, and they will benefit from a more favourable Liberal preference flow than in 2018, when Labor topped the primary vote.
The first two booths in Prahran suggest a large swing to the sitting Greens MP, Sam Hibbins.
If these trends continue, the Greens would be on track for at least five lower house seats (up from three) with a real shot at a sixth.
Labor on track to hold key seat of Ringwood, ABC says
The ABC has said Labor is on track to win Ringwood.
There is a 2.6% swing against Labor on first preferences but it is still on track to retain the seat based on the first 10% of votes counted.
Labor expects that if it wins this seat along with Ashwood or Box Hill it will keep its majority.
Labor party faithful arrive at election event anticipating a long night
It’s kind of wild to think that at the same time four years ago, the ABC election analyst Antony Green had already called the election for Labor.
Here at Daniel Andrews’ election-night event in his seat of Mulgrave, in Melbourne’s south-east, party faithful are only starting to arrive and they’re anticipating they’ll be in for a long night.
There were reports earlier that some voting centres ran out of ballot papers. On Twitter the Victorian Electoral Commission has confirmed no one was turned away or missed out on casting their vote:
ABC projects five seat wins for Labor and eight for the Coalition
On the ABC, they have projected results for 13 seats. Five for Labor and eight for the Coalition.
They are very early figures but it looks like there might be a small swing against Labor in the state.
A little reminder for those playing along at home – it’s 88 seats in total, with 45 needed to form a majority government.
Liberal and National party faithful gather for election-night event in east Melbourne
Victorian Liberal and National party faithful and volunteers have begun trickling in to the Coalition’s election-night event at a bowls club in east Melbourne.
There’s a sense of quiet optimism at the event as volunteers mingle at the venue in Matthew Guy’s electorate of Bulleen.
The opposition MP Matthew Bach was among the first parliamentarians to arrive at the event and said he was hopeful the Coalition could win the eastern seats of Box Hill, Bayswater and Ringwood that fell to Labor in the 2018 landslide victory, but conceded they would be tight races:
I think we’ll win Box Hill. We’ve got a great candidate, Nicole Werner, and we want and need more fantastic young women in our team.
Bach also said that regardless of tonight’s result, the Liberal party should not give up on inner-city seats like Kew and Hawthorn under siege by teal candidates.
Both seats fall within the federal electorate of Kooyong, where the teal candidate Monique Ryan defeated the former treasurer Josh Frydenberg at May’s federal election:
They’ll probably never be the blue-ribbon seats that they were, but are really important for us along with outer suburban seats, seats down the sandbelt and seats in the region. I think that that can be done, so we can’t give up.
Polls predict a Labor victory, despite a fall in its primary vote late in the campaign. The Coalition would need to win 18 seats tonight to form government after suffering a crushing loss at the 2018 election. But Guy today said he was “confident” the Coalition could claw back and win enough seats to form government, saying public polling had been “all over the place”.
Guy is not expected to arrive at the event until a result is clear.
Seven projects the first two seat wins – for the Nationals
Over on Seven, they have projected wins in the first two seats of the evening – Murray Plains and Lowan. Both are in favour of the sitting National members.
The outgoing Liberal MP Tim Smith has predicted we are in for a long night. You will remember he announced his departure after a car crash and drink-driving conviction.
Speaking on Sky News he says:
Everyone should hold on to their hats. I think we’re going to be here for a very long time tonight.
The former Victorian Liberal party president Michael Kroger says Labor will lose Richmond and Northcote to the Greens, as well as Bass and Nepean to the Liberals.
At 6.56pm, 1% of the overall votes have been counted. It is very early days!
Will the opinion polls get it right?
If the Coalition wins this election, it will be a serious failure on the part of the opinion polls.
While we haven’t had the volume of polling we get at federal elections, the picture has been very clear – Labor has a substantial lead on the two-party-preferred vote, if not as large as in 2018.
The last Resolve poll gave Labor 52.7% of the two-party-preferred vote, with the last Newspoll giving Labor 54.5%. This compares to a Labor two-party-preferred vote of 57.3% in 2018.
It’s worth noting that Labor will likely require more than 50% of the two-party-preferred vote to win a majority. It’s quite plausible that the Greens win five seats, all of which would have given Labor a two-party-preferred majority (against the Liberal party), so those seats wouldn’t help Labor win a majority (although they would likely help Labor if they fell short of a majority).
A majority of Victorians voted early, figures suggest
More and more people have been voting early at every recent Australian election, and this Victorian state election was no different.
Pre-poll voting was steadily increasing before the Covid-19 pandemic, while postal voting was a small but stable share of the vote. Both have since been turbo-boosted.
As of the end of Friday, about 1.9 million people had cast a pre-poll vote. This is about 43.4% of total enrolment and compares to 33.6% at the 2018 election.
Many postal votes will come back to the electoral commission after today, so we don’t know how many have been cast, but applications for postal votes is up by about 43%.
When you combine these two figures, that’s a majority of all enrolled voters having already cast their vote before today.
That will slow down the counting process tonight, since postal votes will mostly be counted after tonight, and pre-poll votes are usually the last to report this evening. Many recent elections have shown a double-peaked trend – a surge of results as election day votes are reported, then a break before the pre-poll votes come in.
It will also have a particular impact on the upper house, where I don’t expect to see any results other than election day votes tonight.
Speaking on the ABC, the Victorian deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, says she wants to “wait and see” the makeup of the parliament before discussing Labor forming a minority government.
The premier will stick to his word, no deals will be made, no deals will be offered.
We would prefer to wait and see the parliament ... and go from there.
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has posted this on Twitter.
My colleague Benita Kolovos will spend the night on the ground at Andrews’ event, bringing us the news from inside the room.
Victorian election TV panels: the politicians on each channel tonight
Election night TV can be brutal – politicians go on live TV to watch as their parties win or lose. Here’s a rundown of who is on each channel tonight:
Deputy premier Jacinta Allan
Liberal shadow treasurer David Davis
Greens leader Samantha Ratnam
Former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett
Former Labor premier Steve Bracks
Victorian Liberal senator Sarah Henderson
Former Labor premier John Brumby
Victorian Liberal senator Jane Hume
Former Labor police minister Lisa Neville
Departing Liberal MP Tim Smith
Former federal Labor minister Stephen Conroy
Former Victorian Liberal party president Michael Kroger
Greens leader confirms party willing to work with Labor in event of hung parliament
Appearing on the ABC, Samantha Ratnam has reconfirmed the Greens are willing to work with Labor if it looks like a hung parliament:
Should Labor [be in a position where it] can’t form government in its own right, we have been very upfront in saying we are willing to work constructively and cooperatively with the future government.
The key Victorian seats to watch
Here are the key seats to watch tonight:
Inner-city contests involving the Greens
The Greens currently hold three seats in the inner city, with Labor their main rival in all three. They may have been in some danger of losing at least one of these seats before the Liberal party changed their previous policy to preference the Greens ahead of Labor. Thanks to that change, those three seats seem solid for the Greens, but they have a strong chance of gaining Northcote and Richmond, and there has even been some talk about Albert Park or Pascoe Vale.
Independent contests in the regions
Independent MPs are defending their seats in Shepparton and Mildura. There is another prominent challenge to the Liberal party in Benambra in northern Victoria, and in Morwell the sitting independent MP is retiring, and a number of independents are contesting the seat (although the seat is more likely to go to Labor or the Nationals)
This used to be a Liberal heartland, but Labor did well here in 2018, gaining Hawthorn and coming close in Brighton and Sandringham. This year the Liberal party is under threat from Labor as well as a number of independents. Seats to watch include Hawthorn, Kew and Caulfield. The Liberal party is also under threat from an independent in Mornington, a bit further south-east from these other seats.
Labor holds Nepean, Hastings and Pakenham, and the Labor-held seat of Bass has been redrawn to have a slim Liberal margin. All four seats are under serious threat from the Liberals.
Labor holds Ashwood, Ringwood and Box Hill, all by slim margins, and they are likely to be crucial to whether Labor holds on to their majority.
These seats have traditionally been safe for Labor but their hold on these areas was weakened at the recent federal election, and the seat of Melton voted less strongly for Labor than the rest of the state for the first time in 2018.
It is expected that the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been less popular in these suburbs and they could experience large swings. The question is whether these swings could be large enough to overwhelm sizeable Labor margins in most seats. It’s worth watching independent challenges in Melton, Point Cook and Werribee.
Polls close and counting is under way in Victorian election
And here we go – the polls have now closed in Victoria’s state election. It’ll be a slow start to the evening as the counting gets under way.
At the last election in 2018, Labor won 55 out of 88 seats in the lower house, leaving the Coalition with just 27 seats.
You’ll remember it was heralded as a “Dan slide’ and Labor is no doubt hoping for a similar result this evening – the polls show they may lose some seats.
Let’s look at the state of play:
There are 88 seats up for grabs and to form majority government a party needs to win 45 of them. Polls have predicted Labor to win a third term, but it is under threat in key areas. There has been quite a lot of chatter about a potential minority government.
A Newspoll published on Friday night showed Labor on track to return despite a swing against it of almost 3%.
Labor starts on 55 lower house seats. Newspoll, which is published by The Australian, has it on track to keep 45 to 50 seats.
The Coalition has 27 seats and must pick up an extra 18 to govern outright.
However, the latest Resolve poll indicated Labor could lose between eight and 12 seats, putting it in danger of slipping into minority government, when it would have to rely on the Greens or independents to get a working majority.
Independent consultancy RedBridge Group forecasts Labor will end up with between 41 to 48 seats and the Coalition will finish in the range of 27 to 33 seats.
Some election results can come down to less than a handful of votes. Here are the seats where it’s expected to get down to the wire:
Labor is at risk of losing Melton, Werribee, Point Cook, Hawthorn and Box Hill, while the Greens are hoping to pick up the Labor seats of Northcote, Richmond and Albert Park.
The teals are expected to be a problem for the Liberal party tonight, threatening the seats of Kew, which is being vacated by Tim Smith, Hawthorn and Brighton.
It’s going to be a big night. Let’s get into it!
Recap of the Guardian’s Victorian election coverage
It’s been a long and eventful (and dirty) Victorian election campaign. Ahead of polls closing, let’s revisit some of the stories that punctuated our coverage.
Before the campaign proper began, Margaret Simons detailed Daniel Andrews’ political methodology as Labor premier: hard-boiled, pared down, practical and sometimes ruthless exercise of power.
Andrews himself described this election as the ugliest he’s fought as Labor’s leader, while putting women at the centre of his party’s campaign.
After weeks of controversies that plagued both parties, Matthew Guy sought a reset on Monday, targeting voters disenchanted with Andrews with a new pitch for the Coalition: “We are safe.”
The driving forces behind the Greens leader Samantha Ratnam – including the lessons she’s learned since claiming in 2018 that the party and Labor would form the “most progressive government this state has seen” – were outlined ahead of what could be a strong result for the party.
We’ve detailed promises made by Labor, the Coalition and the Greens – as well as the five issues that were notably absent during the campaign.
Of course, there is also a handy video summary (replete with electoral map shirts) of the seats to watch.
What we've learned so far today, Saturday 26 November
And with that, this South Australian is going to hand over to the guys that stole our Grand Prix. Cait Kelly will helm the blog as the polls close and results start to roll in for the 2022 Victorian election.
We’ve got the whole crack state team on the job. Get started with this piece on all the things you need to know.
Here’s the wrap of the non-election news from today:
These never-ending floods are causing more turbulence – here are the Australian suburbs where more than half the properties will be uninsurable by the end of the decade.
Katharine Murphy takes the measure of the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, in the latest Quarterly Essay – don’t miss this extract.
Josh Taylor has talked to the Australians crushed by the crypto collapse.
The burden of student loans – how Hecs and Help debts are weighing on graduates.
There’s a tiny, trilling emu wren at risk from rocket launches (no, Elon Musk was not at fault here).
The Socceroos are kicking off against Tunisia tonight – here’s how to catch the big World Cup game.
And today was the day Bondi beach was blanketed by bums.
And now, on with the (Victorian) show!
Is it even an election if an animal’s predictive powers haven’t been deployed? Matilda Boseley put her cat Astro on the job:
The countdown is on – shortly we’ll switch to covering the Victorian election results. But first, a different sort of countdown! Rocket launches threaten the vulnerable (and adorable) southern emu wren:
Purple, teal, red and blue. Benita Kolovos looks at what’s coming for you (in Victoria, that is):
Looking for an alternative to the Victorian election coverage? Mostafa Rachwani has you covered – here’s how to catch the Socceroos when they take on Tunisia tonight:
On the ABC Adelaide’s gardening show this morning, a listener phoned in quite concerned that she too may be cultivating opium poppies. Here’s the story from Khaled Al Khawaldeh:
Last food-and-election-based post (well, no promises). Apparently the democracy sausage purists have it all wrong. Anna Spargo-Ryan says it should be a cakewalk:
There was some chatter earlier on social media about a polling booth in Richmond selling oysters and bubbles … so I went in search of more information. Wow. (Also, what is a Vietnamese sausage roll?)
Coalition says extradition of alleged Islamic State fighter to Australia would be ‘appropriate’
More on the return of the alleged Australian Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash to Australia.
The Liberal frontbencher Paul Fletcher has said the Coalition believed the extradition of Prakash to Australia was “appropriate”. He said:
He should face the judicial process here, of course he should, and he needs to be tried for the crimes that he’s alleged to have committed, which of course are very serious crimes.
The home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, declined to comment on the reports, as did the Australian federal police.
There is no clear timeframe on his return.
Return of alleged Australian Islamic State fighter’s citizenship would be a ‘game-changer’, expert says
The constitutional lawyer George Williams says he is unsurprised by reports the alleged Australian Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash will be returned home to face court, describing the decision to return Prakash’s citizenship as a “game-changer”.
Prakash, a former rapper from Melbourne, is alleged to have actively recruited Australians to Islamic State and to have encouraged acts of militancy.
He is set to be extradited from Turkey to face a range of charges that could result in him being jailed for life, a report in the Australian revealed on Saturday.
The now 31-year-old was caught trying to sneak across the border from Syria into Turkey under false papers in 2016, and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.
While in prison, he was stripped of his Australian citizenship under new laws that allowed dual nationals to lose their Australian status – he was believed to also be a Fijian citizen, but Fiji insisted this was not the case. International laws forbid rendering a person stateless.
The Australian home affairs minister at the time, Peter Dutton, said “dual citizens who choose to be involved in terrorism forfeit the privileges of Australian citizenship”.
Prakash was then reportedly released into immigration detention in February this year, several years early.
The Australian government’s power to remove citizenship was struck down by the high court in June this year, thereby restoring citizenship to those who had lost it. (The Albanese government is planning to introduce new, similar laws).
Prof Williams, from the University of New South Wales, said he was unsurprised Prakash was coming back now that he was once again a citizen. He said:
The fact he is a citizen is a game changer, it means he’s our problem. Our rules apply.
You can imagine if every country around the world stripped citizenship from people thought to be terrorists, we’d all be abdicating [our responsibility].
Williams said Australia had plenty of powers to deal with Prakash if he is found guilty:
The government has a formidable range of offences and powers at is disposal to ensure the justice system works in this instance and the community is kept safe. It might be he’s charged with entering a declared area, which comes with a lengthy jail term. It could be being a member of a terrorist organisation … there’s a list.
And even if that wasn’t an issue, there are control orders and other mechanisms to monitor a person who’s not incarcerated.
Williams said that, had Prakash remained a non-citizen, he might never have been forced to return to Australia.
If Caitlin Cassidy’s story earlier left you wanting more, here are … more beach bums from Bondi (what’s the collective noun for bums? A cheek? A glute?):
Here’s the Victorian premier, Dan Andrews, taking the fun out of democracy sausages:
Thanks Mostafa Rachwani. I’ll be guiding the blog until the Victorian election shenanigans really get started.
And with that, I shall leave you in the brilliant hands of Tory Shepherd for the rest of the afternoon, thanks for reading.
And if you haven’t yet, then you must take a read of Katharine Murphy’s latest, an exert from her Quarterly Essay, in which she looks at the prime minister’s formative years:
Locals work day and night to protect NSW town cut off by flood
AAP is reporting that locals are working day and night alongside emergency crews to protect the tiny NSW town of Moulamein after rising flood waters cut all access roads to the area.
The State Emergency Service told residents to shelter in place on Tuesday as the Edward River rose, surrounding the town.
The river reached a swollen 6.2 metres and was continuing to rise on Saturday.
The small town in the state’s south-west, which has a population of about 500, is expected to remain cut off until December.
“People are working day and night to put levees around their houses and along the banks of the river so their houses don’t get flooded,” Tamara Lee from the Moulamein Bowling Club told AAP.
Everybody’s tired, some people have had a few arguments, but most of all, everyone’s helping everyone.
Despite the flooding, the bowls club has remained open with plenty of beer on hand, Lee said.
I’ve got a few farmers that have been working all night. For them we’re pretty much just staying open.
Police have been sent to the town to protect empty homes from looters and Rural Fire Service teams are also on the ground assisting the SES.
Moulamein is still being serviced by a local IGA, but the SES has assured locals food drops will be provided where needed.
Six Lifeline crisis counsellors will be sent to towns in the NSW central west to provide mental health care to people affected by the ongoing flooding crisis, the premier, Dominic Perrottet, said on Friday.
“It has been gruelling. There are many people who are tired, exhausted, emotional. It is a long journey ahead,” he said.
NSW has entered its 73rd day of severe weather as multiple regional towns, including Forbes, Eugowra and Condobolin, recover from severe flooding.
Eight emergency warnings were in place on Saturday afternoon, while 54 areas were the subject of watch-and-act alerts.
As we count down the hours until we start to see some results out of the Victorian state election, I thought it was pertinent to share some analysis from Peter Hannam, who found the state’s finances were at their weakest point since the 90s.
Victoria, which generates just under a quarter of Australia’s annual GDP, suffered the sharpest economic slowdown in the nation because of its lengthy lockdowns, leaving it with a bigger fiscal repair job, according to rating agency S&P.
You can read more about the economy in the lead-up to the result tonight at the link below:
Former health minister Martin Foley says he’s relieved to retire
Former Victorian health minister Martin Foley is in his old seat to support his replacement candidate, Nina Taylor, and told the Age he feels “strange relief” on retirement.
I was unemployed as of midnight last night. I felt a strange relief.
It always a tight race around here ... [But] it’s been a pretty positive response.
I’m focused on supporting Nina.
Tasmania lifts Covid alert level after cases rise 30%
AAP is reporting that Tasmania is re-recommending masks in indoor settings as Covid-19 hospitalisations rise and new cases exceed the national average.
Weekly cases rose 30% to 2,712 cases, leading the premier, Jeremy Rockliff, to advise Tasmanians to take extra precautions. He said:
While masks are not mandatory, they are recommended in indoor settings, on public transport, or when visiting people at higher risk … I understand that some in the community may be concerned around Covid, but this is not unexpected – we’ve always said there will be waves, but this is a normal part of living with Covid-19, and we are prepared, and acting accordingly.
People in hospital with Covid-19 rose from 41 to 67 in the past week, while the figure of those in hospital specifically due to Covid-19 has almost doubled.
At 75% and 50% respectively, Tasmania’s third-dose and fourth-dose vaccination rates are slightly above the national averages. But new cases reported in the past two weeks are only second to South Australia, on a per capita basis.
SA has had a particularly high number of cases in regional and remote areas, according to the federal health department’s common operating picture. More than 88,000 cases were reported nationwide on Friday – a rise of 10% on the prior week.
Meanwhile, outbreaks in aged care facilities are on the rise nationwide, with 41 reported in the past week.
Across 560 facilities with current outbreaks, 387 new cases were reported in residents while 58 staff were newly infected. Most outbreaks are in New South Wales (159), Victoria (147), Queensland (98) and SA (84).
Research by Pfizer released this week suggested almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind them, despite the new wave of infections and different variants of the virus emerging.
One in three people is less likely to get tested when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.
University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Prof Robert Booy said the apparent decline in testing was a major concern and urged Australians to keep up to date with their vaccinations.
Independent Sophie Torney says voters ‘tired of the two parties’
Kew independent Sophie Torney says it’s a “strange” feeling waiting for the results of the Victorian election, as she cast her vote.
Torney is contesting the seat of Kew, formerly held by Liberal Tim Smith, in a tight three-way fight with Liberal candidate Jess Wilson and Labor’s Lucy Skelton.
Torney told the Age that voters had told her they were sick of the major parties:
People are tired of the two parties and they’re sick of the lack of integrity in politics. [They] have said this to me so often in this campaign.
It’s a very strange feeling because there’s sort of almost nothing more I can do and I’m still thinking, ‘Should I go and door-knock a few more doors?’
I’ll be moving from polling booth to polling booth today, just to meet people and see if I can convince them that having an independent in parliament is great.
Generally, people come up and they’re quite happy to have a conversation. Some people come with an agenda. They really want to tell you how they feel about whatever is on their mind, but mostly it’s pretty good.
My dad always said the only thing we can trust are the ones who say they’re not voting for me.
Two dead after Melbourne house fire
AAP is reporting that two people have been found dead after a fire in a two-storey townhouse in Melbourne.
Emergency services arrived at the home in Werribee about 7.30am on Saturday.
Two people were found dead at the scene, police said.
A third person was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Penny Wong vows to keep advocating for Yang Hengjun and Cheng Lei
The foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, has vowed to keep advocating for the detained Australians Yang Hengjun and Cheng Lei in talks with China.
In an interview with Katharine Murphy on today’s Australian Politics podcast, Wong speaks at length about the government’s efforts to stabilise the relationship with China, which included a meeting between Anthony Albanese and China’s president, Xi Jinping, in Bali. Wong has spoken with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, several times.
In the podcast interview, Wong says she has “consistently raised” the cases of Yang, the writer, and Cheng, the journalist. Wong says Australia is maintaining its position on issues like Aukus and human rights – and she makes the following observation about how the government’s push for dialogue with Beijing should not be seen as a “reset”.
I don’t use the word ‘reset’, because I think it implies that we are changing position on certain key fundamental [issues] … I use the word ‘stabilise’ deliberately, because a reset to me suggests that Australia’s sort of shifting from some of the positions we’ve [had], and we’re not, we’re not shifting on national security settings, our national interest, those issues, but we are much more willing to engage and have a dialogue.
And I think both parties went into these discussions looking to try and stabilise the relationship, recognising that there are things we both will want to say to each other. And one of the things we want to say to each other from Australia’s perspective is to advocate on behalf of Dr Yang and Ms Cheng Lei.
Asked whether she is hopeful the advocacy could yield a breakthrough, Wong says:
I don’t think someone in my position can speculate about that. But what I can say is I will keep advocating, I will keep saying what I am saying publicly and privately.
You can hear the full podcast interview here:
– Guardian staff
Matthew Guy says election polling has been ‘all over the place’
Sticking with Matthew Guy for a moment, he elaborated on his position in Templestowe after casting his vote, saying that polling has been “all over the place.”
Polling published this morning has show Labor is on track to hold onto power, although Guy wasn’t buying it:
The polling has been all over the place ... particularly the published polling, and I think we’ve seen that at a number of other elections – in South Australia as well as the federal election.
We prefer to look at the targeted [polling] and our own material and own research, rather than just running off broad samples across the whole state.
It’s going to be a longer count – you’ll get booth results in earlier which may be very different to the final result, because what happens on the day is maybe not reflected in what’s come during waves of pre-poll [votes].
Matthew Guy says he is ‘confident’ of upset victory
Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy has spoken to reporters ahead of voting in Bulleen, saying is confident of a boilover victory.
Guy said that while polls showed he would lose, there had been upset victories in the past:
These things have been done before in recent times and I’m confident we will do that tonight.
I know it’s very different (to 2018), I can tell it’s very different. Victorians are looking for that fresh start.
I know Victorians are looking for that answer and hopefully we get a majority tonight.
The Victorian Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, has declared she is “hopeful” of a positive result tonight, with Richmond, Northcote and Albert Park in Melbourne’s inner suburbs the party’s biggest chances of adding to its lower house seats.
Ratnam told the Age that voters were sick and tired of the major parties:
We’ve been talking to thousands of voters over this campaign who want politics done differently, and who are sick and tired of the major parties taking them for granted.
Voters are saying that they feeling like the major parties are ignoring some of the biggest issues bearing down upon them. [They want] stronger action on climate change ... and housing affordability.
We’re really hopeful of picking up seats like Richmond and Northcote.
Australia makes its first Davis Cup final in 19 years
In some great news this morning, Australia has made it into the Davis Cup final for the first time in 19 years, after a nerve-racking win in Malaga.
After more heroics from Alex de Minaur had pulled Lleyton Hewitt’s team back from the brink with his consummate tie-levelling singles win over Marin Cilic, Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell beat the Olympic doubles champions to seal the exhilarating 2-1 semi-final win.
It was a spirited performance, in keeping with the many classic performances in the famous gold and green.
You can read more on the triumph at the link below:
Victorian Greens say people ‘voting with their values’
The Victorian Greens candidate for Richmond, Gabrielle de Vietri, says people are “voting with their values like never before,” before declaring she believed she could prise the seat out of Labor hands.
Labor has held the seat for over a century, but de Vietri is confident people are “ready for a change” she told Sky News:
I’m feeling very optimistic. We can feel that people are voting with their values like never before.
We’ve run a huge people power campaign with hundreds of volunteers. We’ve knocked on 16,000 doors, that’s almost every single knockable door in the electorate.
We are hearing that people are ready for change. They want to see meaningful action on climate – they want us to get out of gas and coal as quickly as possible. They want us to tackle housing affordability. They’re sick of politicians that don’t represent them, they want integrity in politics.
They’re really excited about the possibility of a strong, progressive crossbench.
If the vibe is anything to go by, we feel like we’ve made some real headway here.
Matthew Guy says he would redivert $2bn allocated to the Suburban Rail Loop
Returning to Victoria again, opposition leader Matthew Guy has appeared on Weekend Sunrise to say he hopes he’s convinced voters of his “positive and focused” plan.
Guy added that the first thing he’d do if he won would be to ask the prime minister to “reprioritise” the $2bn allocated to the Suburban Rail Loop, instead investing in into the state’s health service.
Everywhere I have been on pre-polling booths ... this week, people are pretty clear they want the fresh start.
We want a reboot in this state, we want to come out of Covid-19 and put aside all the dark memories of the past, like the government that put us there.
Alleged Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash reportedly to be returned to Australia
AAP is reporting that alleged Australian Islamic State fighter Neil Prakash will reportedly be returned home to face court on charges that could see him jailed for life.
The Melbourne-born man, aged in his early 30s, was jailed in Turkey after being caught fighting for Isis in Syria.
He has since moved to immigration detention and a decision has been made by the government to return him, News Corp reported on Saturday.
His return date is unknown.
Home affairs minister Clare O’Neil’s predecessor, Peter Dutton, revoked Prakash’s citizenship in 2018 over his Isis participation and on the grounds he was Fijian.
But Fijian immigration officials were adamant Prakash - who was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father – has never held or sought citizenship of their country.
Thousands converge on Bondi for nude installation
Before we continue with more from Daniel Andrews, I thought a nice sidestep would be fitting.
For the first time in history, Bondi Beach has been declared a nude beach, as reported by Caitlin Cassidy.
Earlier this morning, thousands of bodies huddled together on the beach as part of artist Spencer Tunick’s latest installation.
You can read more in Caitlin’s story, linked below:
Daniel Andrews says health system ‘knocked around’ by Covid pandemic
I wanted to just go back to the Andrews interview earlier this morning on ABC News, where he was asked why he hadn’t done more to support or address Victoria’s struggling health system:
Every health system across our country, whether it be in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, it has been knocked around by a one in 100-year pandemic event.
The answer is not cuts, the answer is more nurses, more ambulances and funding health properly ... here is real pressure there, that is why we simply can’t afford Liberal cutbacks.
Record number of early voters in Victorian election
A record number of voters have cast their ballots early during this Victorian election, with about 1.9 million people casting their votes early.
With more than 270,000 postal votes received up to Friday, almost half of all Victorians who registered to vote (4.39 million) got it done early:
Victorian premier says campaign about ‘moving forward’ after Covid
Andrews was also asked in that interview why Covid had not been a prominent part of his campaigning, despite his marathon press conferences for 120 days straight, imprinting his mannerisms on the country.
Andrews said it was about moving forward, before saying he didn’t feel like he had reduced his media appearances during the campaign:
I have been out every day speaking with my friends in the media, talking about our positive plan, many events every day. I’m pleased to be talking to you today about a positive and optimistic plan for free [kindergarten], the government-owned renewable energy, to make sure that Victorians don’t have a Liberal government that cuts the services we need and cancels the projects that we simply have to build.
I have spoken on many occasions of the amazing unity, that absence of care and connection, of kindness, that Victorians show to each other in a one in 100-year event. We smashed through 70%, 80%, 90% vaccinated, and we worked so hard, every single Victorian family, to keep each other say. Tens of thousands of people are alive today because of the amazing sacrifices Victorians made. Now is the time, and leadership is about moving forward.
Daniel Andrews urges Victorians to avoid minority government
Good morning, Mostafa Rachwani with you on an important day in Victoria, with the state election underway and a result expected later this evening.
We begin with premier Daniel Andrews appearing on ABC News this morning, where he was asked if he would work with the Greens or independents to form a minority government, to which Andrews balked:
I am urging Victorians to vote for a strong, stable, majority Labor government so we can keep building the schools, hospitals, the roads, the rail, to recruit those nurses and ambos I spoke of, make kindergarten free, and bring back the SEC, government-owned renewable energy for people, not profit. The election results will be no later this evening.
I am not going to try to predict those. We will be working very hard throughout the day to make sure Victorians know and understand our positive plan, and the cuts and closures and cancellations that are the Liberal Party alternative.
My position has been clear on these matters are more than a decade. No deal will be offered and no deal will be done.
Labor will win Victoria election by five points, says Newspoll
A Newspoll in the Australian this morning says that Labor and Daniel Andrews are five points ahead going into today’s Victoria state election.
It predicts a two-party-preferred result of 54.5-45.5% in what would be a 2.8% swing to the Liberals compared with the result in 2018. Three weeks ago, the paper reports, the split was 54-46.
It adds that such a vote would give Andrews between 45 to 50 of its 55 seats in the 88-seat parliament, and would mean that Andrews would overtake John Cain Jr as Victoria’s longest-serving Labor premier.
Australians complacent about Covid
We report this morning that Australia’s fourth Covid wave is likely to peak before Christmas as the rate of hospitalisations and infections begin to slow.
Cases have continued to increase nationwide for the sixth consecutive week, however at a slower rate. This suggests a plateau in cases would arrive by the first week of December, in line with pandemic modelling, if it has not already.
It comes as research from Pfizer suggests that almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind them despite the recent rise in infections and different variants of the virus emerging.
Australian Associated Press reports that one in three people is less likely to get tested when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.
The findings have prompted stark warnings from health professionals, AAP says.
University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Prof Robert Booy said the apparent decline in testing was a major concern and urged Australians to keep up to date with their vaccinations.
“Recent federal government data has shown Covid-19 still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness,” Booy said.
“Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible.”
Almost two-thirds of Australians are also less concerned about how Covid-19 is affecting their community, while about half aren’t as worried about their own risk of serious illness.
One in five people who are at higher risk, such as those over 70 or with health conditions including heart disease, are less likely to get tested or see a doctor if they experience symptoms.
The research findings are based on a November survey of 1,000 Australian adults by Pfizer Australia.
Good morning and welcome to our live blog. Mostafa Rachwani will be with you soon but in the meantime here are the main stories making the news today.
The Victorian election will be the main event. Voting has already started – in-person voting, that is, because pre-voting has been under way for a while – and the Labor premier, Daniel Andrews, is expected to win a third term despite the controversy over the state’s long Covid lockdowns and assorted scandals. We have heaps of content to ensure that you are right up to date with what’s happening, including this analysis piece by Benita Kolovos who says that both parties, win or lose, have made this the “Daniel Andrews election”. You can also check out what to expect as the results come in with our explainer here.
If politics is your thing, look no further than Katharine Murphy’s essay about the making of Anthony Albanese – “From lone wolf to leader”. It appears in the Quarterly Essay but we have an excerpt today of how the man who became something of an outsider under Bill Shorten’s leadership ended up as the resident of The Lodge.
There’s good news for commuters in Sydney and the rest of NSW this morning after the state government announced a deal with the rail unions to end the long series of rail strikes. The parties had been at odds over whether or not to make safety modifications to a multibillion-dollar Korean-built fleet of intercity trains, which have been in storage since 2019. The state premier, Dominic Perrottet, said last night that the government reached the deal with the union, after months of stymied talks and accusations of bad faith from both parties. Catch the full story here.