Politics and activism transport

Vic election 2022 wrap-up

Some random thoughts on the State Election result.

Labor is back in government for a 3rd term, winning at least 52 seats, perhaps only down slightly from the last “Danslide” election.

It underscores for me that despite widespread predictions of a COVID-19 backlash against the government, and Dan Andrews specifically, most people – even if they hate lockdowns – can recognise that they were a harsh but necessary part of the pandemic response, particularly in 2020 when no vaccinations existed.

But not everybody was happy, and it may have led to some swings against Labor in the northern and western suburbs.

We’ll see what happens in the upper house, but there seems to be a good chance that extremists like Bernie Finn and Catherine Cumming, previously elected as part of a party but now independent or in micro parties, won’t be re-elected – though Legalise Cannabis has apparently done well, and it looks like Fiona Patten is back.

Of course the vaccine extremists aren’t happy with Labor winning government again. Along with some social media keyboard warriors and Sky After Dark presenters, they seem to be incapable of understanding that different people have different opinions.

Transport issues

With Labor retaining government, the Suburban Rail Loop is a goer, and may have contributed to the Coalition’s reduced polling in some eastern suburbs seats such as Box Hill and Glen Waverley.

The challenge for Labor is to keep SRL costs under control, and preferably to make alterations so more benefits materialise.

The cost of it will be huge no matter what, but it’s spread over a lot of years, so hopefully will be manageable.

Apart from wanting to scrap SRL, build East West Link, and having a fares policy that would have thrown away most revenue, the Coalition had a good set of transport policies, including short sensible tram extensions and a range of bus upgrades.

The Coalition completely dropped the ball on their bus policies, and one journo I spoke to reckoned they’d been pretty disorganised in general – a more prominent example being David Davis’s failure to present total pledge costings when the media asked.

For the buses they had specifics, but the information was incredibly difficult to find, and even their local candidates mostly didn’t use it, with only a few exceptions.

Notably on the $2 daily fare cap policy, many seemed to see the danger of such a drastic cut. And Emma King of VCOSS (who knows a thing or two about good policy to support low income earners) noted on Channel 9 that it’s better to focus this type of heavy discounting on the people who really need it.

Labor pledged V/Line fare cuts to $9.20/day. This (like the Coalition’s proposal for V/Line fare cuts) is welcome, because those fares can be pretty expensive. But they’ll need to watch the effects on crowding – they have plans for increased services, but it sounds like the fare cuts may come first. Maybe they should do them both at the same time.

On the bright side: apart from the Coalition and their fixation with East West Link, no new motorway projects were proposed by the major parties. (We’ve already got more than many cities our size, and Labor’s got their hands full building West Gate Tunnel and North East Link.)

Let’s hope – as happened with WGT – they don’t pull any more out of their hat (or Transurban’s) between elections.

In terms of public transport specifically, Labor has accomplished much in the way of infrastructure. During the campaign they were pretty quiet on service upgrades (other than V/Line), but as patronage recovers post-COVID and the gaps in the service offering become more apparent, they’re going to have to act to relieve off-peak crowding, and provide better suburban bus services to help people access opportunity.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Vic election 2022 wrap-up”

No mention of the LNP bringing MM2 back into the conversation? I was thrilled when they mentioned that plus the City Loop reconfiguration that IV has recommended. Can’t work out for the life of me why the ALP is so terrified of considering either of these

@Simon – this ABC website provides a breakdown of all the preference distributions in the Upper House and will tell you whether or not Bernie Finn gets re-elected.

Keep checking each day though because as more votes are counted the provisionally elected members can change.

At this stage the race for the last spot is between Bernie Finn of the DLP and the second Liberal candidate, with the liberal candidate currently ahead.

@Adam, I thought it was very interesting that MM2 (and the City Loop configuration) weren’t mentioned until well after early voting started, just a few days before polling day. In both cases it was only planning money, but the Libs making that pledge was welcome as it’s the first time either of the two main parties have backed those projects. (Both date back to the 2013 PTV plan by the way.)

But outside transport circles I’m not sure many people noticed the pledge. They barely got any coverage compared to the promises of fare cuts and even the Libs’ bus promises (amazing, as usually nobody notices bus announcements!)

I’m hoping that we reach a point of bipartisanship on the SURL because, unlike most government projects, its construction is going to span multiple governments of both parties. The costs involved in stopping, reconfiguring, and restarting projects to meet the demands of incoming governments has been demonstrated as being quite harmful, as per the NBN rollout.

I would say “surely, they’ve won two elections on it, the Liberals just have to accept it,” but this is the party that just lost its third election pushing East-West link with no indication they’ll do any different in 2026.

I’ve always been mystified by the way politicians become obsessed with megaprojects, and completely ignore the wide range of equally valuable incremental improvements to the network that they could be making for tiny fractions of megaproject money.
I refer to the contrast between the suburban rail loop and the short list of small tram extensions to improve connectivity that the PTUA has been urging for years, to deafening silence from the bureaucracy.
The most obvious of these is to extend tram 3 to East Malvern and Chadstone. A back of the envelope calculation suggests to me that this could pay for itself on a purely commercial basis if it led to a dozen extra boardings on every number 3 tram.

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