Currently the Labor Party led by John Brumby governs Victoria with a large majority. At the last state election in 2006 Labor benefited from an anti-Liberal mood as the Federal Liberal Government led by John Howard was pushing through a raft of anti-worker laws.
Voters had also not forgiven the Liberals for the policies of their last State Government between 1992 and 1999. During this time the Liberals shut 350 schools and sacked thousands of public sector workers. The situation in 2010 however is quite different.
Labor was only able to hold onto power federally by cobbling together a minority Government. Labor has disappointment many and despite Victoria seemingly missing out on the worst of the economic crisis, the Brumby State government has continued to run down public transport, housing, schools and hospitals.
In a nutshell, privatisation and deregulation has been stepped up under Labor. This has led to a reduction in services and increased costs for consumers. Big business has had one of their best decades on record and this is why many business leaders are supporting the return of a Labor government in 2010.
While the Brumby government seems less corrupt and less incompetent compared to their interstate counterparts, their failure to deliver for ordinary people has meant they have lost a lot of support.
One recent poll showed Labor with a mere 51% to 49% lead over the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis. Several commentators are warning that if these results are replicated on election day there is a real possibility of a hung parliament.
It is unlikely that the Liberals will win enough votes to govern in their own right. The most likely outcome is that Labor will be returned with a reduced majority. But in the event of a close result the Greens have stated that they would be open to forming a coalition government with either of the two major parties.
With a second financial crisis looming it is likely that the next government will be forced to implement austerity measures in order to reduce debt and maintain their credit rating. Already in South Australia the Labor State government is planning to slash almost 4000 jobs and introduce a raft of other cuts. Budgets of this character can be expected in Victoria and nationally in the years to come.
The Greens have already publically stated that they will ensure supply and confidence to a minority Government regardless of the content of the budget. This runs counter to their claims of providing a progressive alternative to voters. You can not claim to be socially progressive on the one hand while refusing to rule out propping up the budget slashers on the other.
Ordinary people deserve better than simply more of the same. We need a party to vote for that refuses to support the sleaze of both Labor and the Liberals. We need a party that not only stands in elections but campaigns on the ground to defend and extend people’s living conditions.
As a step in this direction the Socialist Party is standing Stephen Jolly in the seat of Richmond. While we anticipate a respectable result, our campaign is not about votes alone. We have used the election to help strengthen numerous local campaigns and to show people how socialist ideas and methods work in practice.
As we move into uncertain times State and Federal Governments will be looking to offload their economic problems onto ordinary people. Regardless of which combination of parties comes to power on November 27 we need to be ready to resit attacks on our living standards. Socialist ideas and methods of organising will play a key role in the fight back.