Dan Andrews is on track to win a third term as Victorian Premier with an even bigger majority, despite being responsible for the world’s longest Covid-19 lockdown.
The ALP’s primary vote has increased to 44 per cent up from 42.9 per cent during the 2018 election win while the Coalition’s primary vote also rose to 36 per cent from 35.2, according to The Australian Newspoll.
Mr Andrews’ ALP currently leads the Coalition on a two-party preferred basis at 58 per cent to 42 per cent compared to 2018 election result of 57.3 per cent to 42.7 per cent. The state election is scheduled to be held in November next year.
The new figures come after Melburnians endured six gruelling Covid lockdowns covering 262 days.
The latest Newspoll figures show an increase in support for the ALP despite Victorians enduring 262 days of lockdowns and harsh Covid-19 restrictions
The figures indicate a growth in support for the ALP since the 2018 ‘Danslide’ which saw the coalition shrink to 27 of 88 lower house seats.
The two party preferred results could also see the Coalition lose seven seats, taking the opposition numbers in the Legislative Assembly to 20.
Despite harsh Covid-19 restrictions, support for the Andrews’ government hasn’t faltered with voters surveyed believing it managed the pandemic well.
The poll of 1,029 Victorian voters were surveyed on November 11 and 17 amid a week of protests against the controversial pandemic bill.
Mr Andrews also battled damning allegations made by former Labor Cabinet Minister Adem Somyurek this week at the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.
However, Mr Andrews leads Matthew Guy as preferred premier, 54 per cent to 33, with 13 per cent uncommitted.
Victoria Opposition leader Matthew Guy (pictured) is under mounting pressure amid deep factional divides within his party
The Victorian Premier’s satisfaction rating remained polarised with 56 per cent of voters satisfied, 42 per cent dissatisfied, and 2 per cent uncommitted.
A similar number of voters were dissatisfied with Mr Guy’s performance – 42 per cent – while 34 per cent were satisfied and 24 per cent uncommitted.
Pressure is mounting on Mr Guy following the resignation of Liberal MP Tim Smith from the opposition frontbench after his drunken car crash scandal.
Amid the debacle the opposition leader is also dealing with the news five sitting MPs could face preselection challenges while deep factional rifts continue within the party.
Members of the ‘Vic Freedom Movement’ group protest in Melbourne earlier this month
60 per cent of polled voters agreed Mr Andrews had ‘done well’ in handling the pandemic.
Some 21 per cent said he had done ‘consistently well’ while 39 per cent agreed he had ‘done most things well but there are some things he could have done better’.
Strikingly 39 per cent of voters claimed he had done ‘poorly’ while 20 per cent who said he had ‘done some things well but he’s done many things poorly’.
As the state reopens after hitting the 90 per cent vaccination milestone, Mr Andrews was asked to reflect on the mood of Victorians emerging from endless lockdowns.
Protesters demonstrate at the Victorian State Parliament against the controversial pandemic bill
‘There are some extremists out there that are putting just intolerable views … but this is not a state of division,’ he said.
‘We are united in our belief in science and we are united in our belief in the power of doing something yourself for yourself and everyone else.
‘The acts of kindness, the acts of compassion … supporting each other, getting vaccinated for me and my family, but for families I will never meet, that’s special.’
This comes as Mr Andrews faced death threats from Melbourne protesters over his controversial pandemic bill hitting out at Scott Morrison for failing to step in.
The Prime Minister came under fire from Labor premiers in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria after he called for an end to vaccine mandates on Thursday.
Mr Andrews also accused him of failing to properly condemn protesters who made death threats against the premier over his proposed laws to manage pandemics.
Scott Morrison (pictured on Friday with his ‘good friend’ NSW Premier Dom Perrottet) has hit back after Daniel Andrews accused him of pandering to extremists
But Mr Morrison hit back on Friday, saying: ‘I completely and totally and continue to denunciate any violence, any threat, any intimidation.
‘And any suggestion that I have not done that is completely false. I have been completely clear on that issue.’
He said he had no sympathy with violent protesters and anti-vaxxers but added: ‘I have sympathies for Australians who have had a gutful of governments telling what to do over the last two years.’
In a pitch to voters ahead of next year’s election, he added: ‘Governments have to start letting go of all of the controls on people’s lives.
‘And I know, particularly the Labor Party likes interfering in people’s lives. They like putting up people’s taxes. They like governments controlling with more regulation. I get all that. That’s what they do. That’s not what we like to do.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a visit to Western Sydney Airport in Sydney on Friday
Mr Morrison again called for states to drop widespread vaccine mandates except in healthcare settings.
‘We said in the rest of the economy, that should be up for businesses to decide. It’s their business and they can decide these issues. We don’t think that Governments should be telling them who should come in and out of their business.’
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet agreed, saying ‘by December 15 in this state, almost every single restrictions will be lifted.’
Some protesters held three nooses as they rallied against the proposed bill in possible reference to the three crossbench MPs who decide whether the bill passes
From that date, masks are only required for public transport, planes and airports, and indoor front-of-house hospitality staff and vaccine passports will be scrapped.
On Monday protesters in Melbourne gathered around a wooden gallows with an inflatable doll depicting the premier and chanted ‘Kill Dan Andrews, ‘Hang Dan Andrews’ and ‘freedom’ as they demonstrated against new laws to manage Covid.
Mr Morrison did not condemn them until Thursday when he said ‘threats and intimidation has no place in Australia’ – but in the next breath said people are frustrated because governments have been ‘telling Australians what to do’.
The comments prompted anger from Mr Andrews who accused the Prime Minister of pandering to anti-vaxxers to get their votes.
‘I’m not about chasing, through doublespeak, the votes of extremists or their preferences,’ Mr Andrews told Nine’s Today show.
‘It has taken too long for some to call out this sort of violence. They’re sending all sorts of mixed messages and that’s dangerous. What do we want to see? Somebody getting hurt? That’s not leadership.’
Mr Andrews said his relationship with the PM would be ‘a lot better when he stops double speaking to extremists.’
On Thursday Mr Morrison said vaccine mandates to enter pubs and cafes should not be in place after states reach the 80 per cent vaccination threshold.
While NSW will drop vaccine passports on December 15, Queensland will introduce them to enter hospitality venues on December 17 and Victoria has vowed to keep jab requirements in place well into next year.
Mr Morrison, who is under pressure from pro-choice politicians in his party, said the only mandates he supports are for health workers.
In a dig at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, he said unvaccinated people ‘should be able to go to a get a cup of coffee in Brisbane’.
‘Now it’s time for governments to step back and for Australians to take their life back,’ he said during a visit to the Tooheys brewery in Sydney on Thursday.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles hit back at at the prime minister, accusing him of backing ‘dangerous fringe elements’ such as the anti-government protesters in Melbourne.
Western Australia leader Mark McGowan accused Mr Morrison of pandering to anti-vaxxers.
Daniel Andrews has called Scott Morrison a ‘weak leader’ and accused him of ‘double-speaking to extremists’ in a fiery on-air interview
The Victorian premier claimed the prime minister’s comments were a form of thinly-veiled support for far-right protesters who have rallied against his controversial new pandemic laws this week. A demonstrator is pictured with an anti-Daniel Andrews poster last Saturday
‘There should be no walking on both sides of the fence, you condemn it and you support each of us that is trying to get people vaccinated across Australia,’ he said.
‘We can’t have anyone trying to score points with the anti-vaxxers or dog-whistling to them.’
Mr McGowan was forced to close his electorate office earlier this week after staff were sent rape threats from anti-vaxxers.
Over the past two weeks Mr Morrison – who has started an unofficial election campaign – has been touting freedom and criticising state government lockdowns.
Last week he branded Victoria’s lockdowns ‘extreme’ and on Thursday he said: ‘It’s time for governments to step back and let Australians get on with their lives and get their freedoms back.’
Mr Andrews’ new laws, which have passed Victoria’s lower house but are held up in the upper house, would give the premier the power to declare a pandemic for an unlimited period of time even if there are no cases of a virus.
The move would let the health minister make ‘any order’ he deems reasonably necessary’ which could include lockdowns, vaccine mandates, enforced mask-wearing and much more, with fines of up to $454,350 for rule-breakers.
Critics say the proposed laws are an ‘over-reach’ and ‘extreme’.
What are the main concerns with Daniel Andrews’ pandemic bill?
No definition of a pandemic
Broad powers to the Health Minister to make ‘any order’
Reasons for detaining someone not defined
‘Breathtakingly broad’ powers to public officials to enforce laws
Allows orders such as lockdowns to apply to people based on political views or association
Health advice does not have to be published until 14 days after decision
Rules that breach human rights laws may not be invalidated and overturned
Source: Victorian Bar