With elections in the state of Victoria just a week away, politicians are in a feverish mood as they try to rustle up support to win their seats.
The rush to push their barrows has been sped up no end after early voting started on 14 November and reports emerged of big numbers voting ahead of the election. More than 2.2 million of the state’s registered 4.4 million voters are expected to cast their votes before election day. The first four days of early voting saw 556,193 people exercise their franchise.
Thus one can understand why badly crafted election propaganda like a Sky News documentary titled The Cult of Dan Andrews are making an appearance. The opposition is desperate to make inroads into the Labor vote, but with a leader like Matthew Guy, who went backwards in the last election, the task ahead is like rolling a huge boulder up a mountain.
The documentary is fronted by Peta Credlin, a political operative and the wife of Brian Loughnane, a former federal director of the Liberal Party. Credlin was chief of staff to Tony Abbott, prime minister from 2013 to 2015 when he was defeated by Malcolm Turnbull in a leadership contest.
Abbott’s fall is largely blamed on Credlin; in a book written by prominent Australian journalist Niki Savva, titled The Road to Ruin, Savva lays out in painstaking detail why the Abbott-Credlin team crashed. Savva has very good sources on both sides of the aisle and the portrait she paints of Credlin is anything but flattering.
The documentary is a hash job to try and convince voters not to support Andrews at the election. But there is little within it to convince anyone. Credlin draws on an accident that occurred nine years ago; Andrews’ wife was driving and a cyclist smashed into the car.
Resurrecting this event after such a long hiatus and hinting that Andrews’ wife was at fault — when the police made no such finding — is something only a desperate person would attempt to do.
Then there is the accident which Andrews had in 2021, when he slipped down the steps of a holiday home and injured his back, putting him out of commission for a few months. The Herald Sun, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, recently resurrected that incident, trying to hint that Andrews had lied about the cause of the accident.
But again there is no evidence of this and the story that the Sun is trying to spin is laughable. Credlin has latched on to this yarn as well, and does as good a job as the Sun. It is risible.
Credlin has also dragged out some critics of Andrews, one being a police commissioner who served between 1987 and 1992. Exactly how relevant his opinions are 30 years later is open to debate. The appearance of a mysterious female minister — unnamed — also does not offer much to convince people of Andrews’ unsuitability for office.
Neil Mitchell, a broadcaster with the 3AW radio station, and a well-known Liberal supporter, pops up quite frequently during the documentary. But again, he is a known opponent of Andrews.
Andrews has been in power for two terms, a total of eight years. When any politician is in power for so long, he/she is bound to develop a touch of arrogance. And when you win a second term with an increased majority — as Andrews did in 2018 — then more than a hint of arrogance may creep in.
[A similar thing happened to former Liberal prime minister John Howard; he won a third term with majorities in both the lower and upper houses. Thereafter, he lost his sense of proportion, brought in an industrial relations bill to benefit employers, and promptly crashed out at the next election.]
The real problem that the opposition faces in Victoria is that Guy is a very poor leader. He lost badly last time and should have just gone away. His leadership was not helped in any way when his shadow attorney-general, Tim Smith, crashed his car into a house when he was drunk, had to resign.
Credlin’s documentary is a waste of time. It only proves one thing: that supporters of the opposition will stick at nothing to try and unseat Andrews. And few people in Victoria are likely to be convinced by that.