Victorians head to the polls today, and having elected two rather unlikely governments in the last 15 years, in Bracks and Napthine it now seems time to consider what Victorians are voting for. Is it jobs and growth or is it environment and health… and can the two sides sit together at the table? We ask Victorians… what are the issues you are taking most seriously?
There is no question that Victoria’s economy is changing, rapidly. According to The Conversation, the Victorian economy employs around 2.9 million people. In line with growth in both the population and the economy, this is set to increase by around 300,000 people by 2020. Yet in recent years there has been significant structural change to the industries that are so crucially visible in the state. The car industry, that has operated on the back of massive government subsidies for decades has finally admitted defeat, and now traditional manufacturing towns like Geelong which anchored the industry are feeling the pain.
But that doesn’t mean manufacturing is disappearing, nor that a change of Government is the panacea that will cause greater growth in jobs. In fact, much of he projections show that Victoria could well be rewarded from a change in the global economy that lowers the Australian dollar and drives growth in manufacturing and exports as many economists predict is coming.
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Can a Government impact the economy? Sure it can, but can it do so without the connection with the Federal Government – that is up for debate.
Health is another big issue for the Victorians. Both sides of Government have gone to the polls with big offerings for the health system. The Libs plan to develop new hospitals in Monash, redevleop Shepparton and Expans Northern Hospital in Epping to boost capacity. The Labor party plan to expand different hospitals, in Casey, and to add a womens and childrens hospital in the suburbs of Melbourne. They promised many more beds than the Libs… again… is it enough?
And finally, thinking about the environment in Victoria seems to leave everyone cold. Whomever is elected needs to make their priority to protect the mountain ash forests of the state’s Central Highlands as we are told that this precious ecosystem is at very high risk of collapse within half a century, driven by the effects of clearfell logging and bushfires.
Research presented in The Conversation suggests that under business-as-usual management, there is a 97% chance that large, hollow-bearing trees will decline to less than one per hectare by 2067, leaving marsupials such as the globally endangered Leadbeater’s possum with almost nowhere to live. But will Governments take this seriously enough?
If the latest polls are to be believed, Labor will win this weekend with a small but workable majority. There would be no massive endorsement of a new administration if these figures are right.