Victoria’s premier, Daniel Andrews, has described Labor’s third consecutive election win as a rejection of the politics of division, while vowing to rebuild trust with voters in the outer suburbs who abandoned the party.
Labor is on track to win more than 50 of 88 lower house seats and could yet exceed the 55 it won at the 2018 “Danslide” election, despite its primary vote dropping by about 6% and swings of more than 15% in Melbourne’s northern and western outer suburbs.
On Sunday morning, the premier vowed to govern for all Victorians and said the “clear majority” of the state had rejected an ugly campaign.
“They said, ‘No, we want a positive plan’,” he told reporters. “Our politics might be divided but our community is united. Whether you voted for us or not, we’ll work hard and get things done.”
The campaign was punctuated by violence at election booths, accusations that the Coalition had preferenced “Nazis” above Labor candidates, as well as allegations of vote-rigging and political interference.
News Corp’s Herald Sun actively campaigned against Labor, and also reported on Andrews’ fall down steps at a holiday house last year and a nine-year-old traffic accident involving his wife.
“We’ve seen some pretty nasty stuff, and on behalf of my booth workers and my volunteers and my electorate staff, people who voted for me, friends and family … there’s no place for that,” Andrews said.
“We can disagree, but that violence, just some of the commentary, some of the partisanship, that doesn’t do anyone any credit.”
On the commentary, Andrews said he was more focused on the “the voices of ordinary Victorians”.
“Some things are really big on Spring Street and they don’t mean much on Main Street,” he said.
Andrews said the result confirmed Victoria’s reputation as “the most progressive state” in the country.
“[Former Liberal prime minister] Johnny Howard had a view that we were the Massachusetts of our country,” he said, referring to the traditionally leftwing US state.
“No, Massachusetts is the Victoria of the United States. We are a progressive state, we are a thoughtful state, we are the centre of critical thinking, we are the centre of all the big ideas in our nation.”
On track to become Labor’s longest-serving Victorian premier, Andrews conceded the party had “some work to do” in communities in Melbourne’s outer northern and western suburbs, where sizeable swings against Labor were absorbed by its healthy margins.
This includes Greenvale, where there was a 15.6% swing to the Liberals; Mill Park (14.1%), St Albans (12.3%) and Thomastown (10.7%).
“I will do that very important work,” Andrews said.
He also hinted at possible election reform, after he received feedback from volunteers who were intimidated and fearful at voting booths.
“Twenty-five people handing out for one candidate, essentially harassing people, getting up in their face … that’s perhaps not consistent with our mainstream values,” Andrews said.
The issue will be examined by the parliament’s electoral matters committee, which conducts a review after each poll.
He also confirmed parliament would return before the end of the year.