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Issues Monitor December 2014: Victoria

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Top issues facing Victoria

As Daniel Andrews settles himself into the top job there won’t be much time to get comfortable. For the first time ever, Victorians selected ‘Unemployment’ as the top issue facing our state in December 2014. The new premier was elected (partly, at least) on the promise he would introduce legislation to push against that rising tide.

Four years ago when Mr Baillieu started his brief reign as Premier, Victorians were more worried about the environment than unemployment. Oh how things change. Job concerns were barely on the radar in 2010. And sensibly so, given actual unemployment was a shade above five percent and workforce participation was on a slow continuous incline. It was all looking pretty good.

Over the next four years, the unemployment rate closed in on seven percent and workplace participation contracted to levels not seen since the early 1990s. Understandably, Victorians’ concerns grew, peaking in concert with November’s poll.

While Victorians are reasonable enough to recognise that politicians are but one stream flowing into the river that determines our economic prosperity, Daniel Andrews was particularly bullish during the campaign on the issue of job creation, youth unemployment, and making the long-term unemployed active workforce participants. Moments after being elected, Mr Andrews stated that his Back to Work Act was one of the top priorities for his government.

Ipsos research shows that Australians view the ALP (34%) as more capable than the Coalition (25%) to manage unemployment issues and this goes some way to explain Mr Andrew’s election success. The proposed Back to Work Act sets an expectation in an arena where the premier has some influence, but not ultimate control.

Just one month in and Mr Andrews’ long-promised announcement to not deliver the job-creating East-West Link could have some Victorians questioning just how worker-friendly he really is.

Back to Work might just deliver Mr Andrews back to back victories. But, as we know, four years is a long time in politics.

Last updated February 2015