Victorian Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy announces his defeat to the supporters. Picture: David Caird
Victorian Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy announces his defeat to the supporters. Picture: David Caird

Victoria a warning sign for ScoMo

ANALYSIS

It's not going to be a happy birthday.

The Liberal Party next year will mark the 70th anniversary of its founding, with festivities timed for roughly the first anniversary of the drubbing Labor has just given the party in its founding state.

It could become a festival of rancour rather than rejoicing should the Victorian disease spread to federal prospects.

The Victorian loss this weekend does not bode well for the federal party. Labor's victory was based on state issues, but those issues tended to overlap with federal matters and priorities.

At the very least we will now have three or four months of Liberals talking about each other again, as the policies and personalities of the state campaign are shredded and blame allocated.

Just what Prime Minister Scott Morrison doesn't want. Mr Morrison wants to talk up the economy and have Liberals saying nasty things about Labor, not each other.

Further, the Victorian campaign has underlined the shortcomings in federal players and policies.

Remember, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton spent considerable time warning of a law and order breakdown in Melbourne, blaming in large part the Labor government of Daniel Andrews, who has just been returned as premier with greater authority.

Victorians appear to have told Mr Dutton to stay in Brisbane.

Home Affairs Peter Dutton with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP
Home Affairs Peter Dutton with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

In a related matter, federal Liberals have blamed immigration levels for strained infrastructure in big cities. Victorian voters have decided the best option was to fix the infrastructure, not the immigration rate.

"And we get things done," Premier Andrews said last night, something Scott Morrison wishes he could say with similar confidence.

Then there was criticism of the Andrews' government's emphasis on renewable energy while the Liberals wanted new coal-fired power stations. That didn't work either, and federal Liberals would find it as hard to justify the coal fetish as their Victorian colleagues.

It was as if the Liberals were fighting the election in Queensland, not Victoria. Scoffing at voters in Wentworth is one thing, trying that on with another state is another.

And the state backlash will involve two of Mr Morrison's most important colleagues - Health Minister Greg Hunt and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, also Deputy Liberal Leader - who are prominent Victorian Liberals. In addition there will be uncomfortable vote extrapolations for such federal Liberal stalwarts as Sarah Henderson in Corangamite.

And in the Didn't Help Much Department, the federal leadership turmoil and ongoing recriminations could have been damaging background static for the Liberals.

Federal Victorians including Alan Tudge and Michael Sukkar were involved in that right up to their right-wing hocks.

Scott Morrison is likely to be able to celebrate a Liberal victory in in his home state of NSW next March, on the eve of when he is expected to call a federal poll.

Mr Morrison also have the private satisfaction of NSW becoming the ranking Liberal state ahead of Victoria. Considering the rapid rotation of NSW-based primeministerships, that shows what a mess Victoria has become.

But to preside at those 70th anniversary occasions he will have to get re-elected and Victoria has made that tougher.


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