Victoria votes: Danned if you do, Denned if you don’t

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The Victorian election campaign has been an unedifying spectacle for all concerned, writes contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence.


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WHICHEVER PARTY WINS today's Victorian election, it will be because the other mob lost.

If that sounds bleeding obvious and reminiscent of Sir Billy Mackie Snedden's comment in 1974 that “while we didn't win, we didn't lose either" after he led the Liberals to defeat, losing by only three seats against Whitlam, you're damn right.

We have had a gutful of politicians, their fatted egos and brown paper bags stuffed with lies, broken promises and their desperate pork and dork barrelling.

Parliament has become redundant. An ill-written farce. As Hansard will attest.

It is behind deadlocked doors and alleyways, the Crown Casino precinct, trackside and within the  headlock of the top end of town and their enforcers that indecent and secret deals get done, untendered contracts surreptitiously signatured and new laws and legislation drafted; all designed to increase the coffers of mates in exchange for party donations; cash for comment no less.

And cash for no comment when it comes to investigating allegations of impropriety, corruption, double dipping and fraud.

And what an indecent flurry of signing of contracts there has been this side of a numbingly boring election race, against a body politic in Parliament that has largely wasted its time – and ours – and squandered our money and trust.

The personal and political demise of Ted Baillieu as premier – a position that Denis Napthine inherited by default – lurks like Banquo's ghost over the Coalition's cave.

Baillieu's reign held promise and his election platform was erected on a scaffold of commitments that was dismantled almost as soon as he took office. He must accept responsibility for that, regardless of his phalanx of minders and spinmeisters.

He squandered the trust that Victorians placed in his leadership.


But, in fairness, Baillieu's insistence on a Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations, has at least stapled his name in the history of social justice not only in Victoria, but Australia proper.

And he created the climate where, in Victoria, as elsewhere, it is now sometimes easier to shine a light into that awful dark.

That is a fine enough legacy for any politician, surely. We cannot save the child in the adult, but we may be able to save the adult in the child

The Inquiry saw Cardinal George Pell reduced from a self-anointed deity to the money-grubbing socially inadequate mortal he has shown himself to be — one who displayed little or no empathy or sympathy with the Catholic Church's victims of industrial-strength child sex abuse.

The Inquiry's final report was tabled in the Victorian Parliament last year, on November 13, along with a number of recommendations, enjoying the rarity in Victoria of bi-partisan support, albeit reluctantly from some quarters.



And yet, the Napthine Government has failed to implement a number of the key recommendations made in the two volumes of the Betrayal of Trust Report.


Last month, pretending he really cares, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews promised  that if elected, Labor would implement all the Report's recommendations — including lifting the Statute of Limitations.


The Labor Party's record is as untrustworthy as that of the Liberal National Party Coalition.

So why didn't Danny Boy do something about the Betrayal of Trust Report when Parliament was sitting on its oversized bum?

Where is the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission Report?


In a squalid attempt to appeal to the lowest common dominators, if elected today Daniel Andrews  promises to overturn the ban on cage fighting imposed in 2008 by his Labor brother and then Premier, John Brumby.

This will indeed be a thoughtful addition to our cultural pursuits, testosterone manufacturing and harvesting and will better humanity in a way that reading Kafka never could. That's what happens when you change your first name from three syllables to one.

Cock-fighting is a similar analogous extreme sport that also warrants legalisation, along with putting a bounty on platypus pelts, legalising jumps racing (you mean it is already legalised!) and substituting the Sherrin for a goat's head.


Thank goodness Premier Napthine is a veterinarian. Then again, He is a Dr Do Little type.

He adores jumps. We shoot horses, don't we in Victoria? And he's got a hurdle or two to scale today.

Victoria is no State for girlie men. Or girlie women, for that matter.

While we're on the subject of cages, on Monday's Four Corners program, in another joint electronic and print investigation by the ABC's Karen Michelmore and Peter Cronau and Fairfax's Nick McKenzie and Richard Baker, there were shocking revelations about Victoria's Yooralla, among Australia's larger support centres for people with disabilities with a once proud heritage of noble intent.

Against a background of corruption and cover up, the documentary featured victims and whistleblowers, exposing a culture of sexual assault, harassment, threats and other forms of mental and physical abuse.

Once again, we were presented with the now predictable but no less crushing, cover-up by the authorities and the usual ongoing horrors of known predators being allowed to continue working and abusing their vulnerable prey.

Just hours before the program aired, Yooralla's Chief Executive Officer Sanjib Roy was shamed into resigning from the position he'd held for more than six years.


The aboriginal term for 'Place of Love', Yooralla was founded in 1918 by the well named Evangeline Ireland who discovered a disabled child caged in a chicken coop whilst her parents were at work and was so distressed about this that she went on to found a free kindergarten for children with disabilities.

Both Andrews and Napthine have conducted their campaigns as shonky auctioneers, outbidding one another with the indiscrimatory throwing of promisory monies if elected. Neither Party deserves the honour of representing the State.  They have proved that in the disgraceful charade that has masqueraded as our Parliament since the limp salad days after Baillieu's Premiership.

Their political cowardice extends to being reluctant to debate one another in public, agreeing to go on Channel Nine's Today Show on Monday broadcast from Frankston with Karl Stefanovic, only if interviewed separately.

But in an act of repugnant social engineering and elitism, both contestants agreed to debate one another in the marginal seat of Frankston, on 19 November on Sky News, a service limited to its pay television subscribers – or via the Herald Sun website – both fielding Dorothy Dixers from a small trapped audience that seemed to clap on auto cue.



Sky should have paid its subscribers to endure the ordeal of a dead-to-air Denis Napthine and Daniel Andrews debate!  A non-event if ever there was one.

Introducing a report about the broadcast, ABC Radio's AM host Chris Uhlmann rightly said “some have described it as one of the least engaging political debates in recent history.”

If there is anything as equally boring as an interview with Denis Napthine, it is an interview with Daniel Andrews.

In an ironical twist, the studio audience voted Andrews the winner by a single vote, reflecting the very margin that the Napthine Coalition had in Parliament, until the Geoff Shaw dummy spit.

It's a wonder Dan and Den didn't wear name tags to remind themselves who they are, let alone viewers. Recent polls indicate both men have identity crises. Victorians are vague about both of them.

Frankston, of course, is the precarious home to local member, the Frankstonstein Monster, Geoff Shaw, whose masturbatory motions in the house of the people has, among other things, ensured him a well-earned place in Parliament's Hall of Infamy.

The needy Geoff Shaw has been as a pox on both their houses. It will surprise most, if not Mr Shaw himself, if he is re-elected by his long suffering electorate, although no-one I've spoken to can name any of the other Frankston candidates.


Then again, we can't be blamed entirely. After all there seems to have been a string of candidates withdrawing from the electoral race.

In early August, there was Aaron Lane, the Institute for Public Affairs chappie with a simply Divine Masters Degree, the Liberal Party's Upper House candidate for the Western Victoria Region, who withdrew his candidacy after he was outed in the media for making homophobic comments online and using the 'C' word to describe Simon Crean; despite the fact that Crean's name does indeed start with a C.

Why are words for lady parts used in a derogatory fashion to insult men, I wonder. Not.

A few days later, Jack Lyons, the Liberal Candidate for Bendigo West withdrew from the race after revelations that on Facebook he too had made sexist remarks about women, said that Bendigo needed an enema, made racist comments about people from Africa and China, describing Bendigo's fabulous Golden Dragon Museum as 'Ching Chong Gardens'.

A couple of weeks ago, another Liberal candidate, John Varano, who was eyeing the seat of Sydenham in Melbourne's north-west region, withdrew from the race after revelations that seven years ago in the United States after an argument with his wife, he faced domestic violence charges that were subsequently dismissed.

Verano said that the allegations were false.

A few days ago, the Liberals sacked Nitin Gursahani, the Thomastown candidate, for hiring Sunny Leone, described as a Bollywood actress and adult film star, to attend an election eve party in Toorak.

Earlier this month, The Age revealed that Liberal Party campaigner Scott Harrison, a former vice-president of Deakin University's Liberal Club is also a former neo-Nazi who once claimed that the Port Arthur massacre was part of a Jewish plot.

Harrison who has worked for the Liberal candidate for Lara, Tony McManus and reportedly assisted Bellarine's Liberal candidate, Ron Nelson, has since resigned from the Liberal Party.

In June this year, Helen Constas, Labor's candidate for the marginal seat of Frankston, barely warmed during the tenure of Geoff Shaw, withdrew her bid after the Herald Sun's revelations that when she was Chief Executive of the Peninsula Community Legal Centre in Frankston, she allegedly

‘… presided over a culture of “bullying and harassment”.’

Yesterday, to a fanfare of disinterest, Labor's financial statement was released.  At the time of going to press, I could not find it on Dan's website. Plenty of spinned quotes, though, for we journalists to use.

I understand there has been a record early postal vote. It is likely that the Greens will glean more votes and it is unlikely that the Palmer United Party, whose advertisements have been regularly flashing on our screens, will do as well as they thought – because of the way that Senator Jacqui Lambie has been treated simply for doing what she said she would do – stick up for veterans and Defence Force personnel.

That's a non non in politics these days.

Promises are made to be broken seems to be the credo of politicians.

It would surprise few people if there was not a protest vote manifested in an increase of informal votes.

I don't want to call them donkey votes, because that would insult donkeys.

Nor would it be surprising if people deliberately refrained from voting and later pleaded in Court a defence that the political product on offer was unsuitable for public consumption.

However, there is one prediction I can make without fear of contradiction.  

Despite whoever wins today's state election it is we, the people of Victoria, who remain the losers.

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