Victorian’s considering voting for a Labor government in next state election need to wake up and consider how the last four years have treated them.

In 2017, Melbourne was voted the world’s most liveable city for a record seventh year in a row. After successive years of Victoria’s Labor government, we’ve slipped down the rankings. It’s really no surprise – not when you consider how Melbourne endured the world’s longest Covid lockdown and how we’re plagued with a myriad of issues as a legacy of Daniel Andrews’ eight years as premier. What is surprising is that it appears Victorian voters aren’t going to do anything about it. The Labor government is poised for re-election at next month’s Victorian election.

Have we forgotten how bad lockdown was? Or maybe it was so bad that we’ve simply blocked it from our collective memory. Whatever the case, here’s a brief reminder of the facts…

Melbourne endured a cumulative 262 days in lockdown, the world’s longest. Not only was the duration severe; the measures that were enforced were draconian and disproportionate to the threat of the virus. Aided by an often sensationalist mainstream media, Labor used fear tactics to curtail basic freedoms. Living in Victoria became a truly depressing experience. Frustrations were exacerbated by revelations that many of these measures, like the curfew, were not based on any medical advice. We will not be able to gauge for some time many of the longer-term effects the draconian lockdowns had.

Then there was the hotel quarantine debacle, one of the greatest public policy failures in Victorian government history. The results were catastrophic; Victoria’s ‘second wave’ of cases in 2020 – which resulted in more than18,000 new infections and 800 deaths – can be traced back to the state government employment of private security guards (bypassing proper procurement processes), rather than utilising ADF personnel. Labor then told Victorians that ADF support was never offered by the federal government, despite evidence to the contrary emerging in the inquiry. Andrews still hasn’t been held to account for this dark episode in Victoria’s history.

What’s worse, the whole Covid debacle follows years of mismanagement for Victoria’s health system. Today, we have a full-blown crisis on our hands. Despite an increase in health spending by 50 per cent, the number of emergency patients seen on time has declined by 7 per cent. The extra 4,000 ICU beds promised by Andrews never materialised. A recent report found that over 30 Victorians died unnecessarily during Covid as a result of not having their emergency calls immediately met. Meanwhile, Ambulance Victoria spent $760,000 on diversity officers.

Victoria’s economy is hurting, too. We have a bloated public sector that has expanded significantly under Andrews, a trend that is unsustainable as the public sector is ultimately funded by taxpayers’ money. We now boast the largest debt, biggest government deficit, highest taxes, fastest-growing government spending, and fastest-growing public sector wages. Net debt is on track to be a quarter of the state’s GDP by 2026. Indeed, Victoria is Australia’s debt capital, with a projected $167.5 billion in debt by 2026, more than New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania combined.

Then there are the scandals: We have ‘safe injecting’ rooms in Richmond where in 2019 a staff member was charged with trafficking heroin. There have been investigations into ‘allegations of industrial-scale branch stacking and misuse of electoral staff to perform factional work’ by IBAC, alongside other corruption allegations. Labor conveniently cut funding for the anti-corruption watchdog in the heart of Covid. There has been questionable deployment of taxpayer funds, contributing towards government social media advertisements (totaling $1,032,481 over the past 7 years!). The auditor-general found that the politically motivated decision to scrap the East-West Link Project cost taxpayers $1.1 billion. There was the overstepping of state government remit, jeopardising Australia’s national security by signing up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which was overruled by the federal government; to name but a few.

Yet, after all of this, Labor is still poised for re-election. How can this be? Is it the strength of the Labor-sympathetic union branches in Victoria? Is it the inner-city socially progressive types? The situation is perplexing.

If re-elected in November, by the next election in 2026, Victoria will have been under Labor government 23 out of the past 27 years. At present, Labor has been in power for 19 out of the last 23 years. I often heard the line that it was ‘time for change’ by various people that were fed up with the Morrison government and over eight years of an LNP federal government. These voices are now conspicuously quiet in the lead-up to the Victorian election.

James Allan is correct to point out that the Matthew Guy opposition has been ineffective and does not offer many enticing policy alternatives. Nevertheless, looking at the objective outcomes of Labor’s destructive policies, you’d think more Victorians would be willing to give them a chance.

It may be a while before Melbourne is considered the world’s most liveable city again. We need to start the rebuild as soon as possible.

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