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Dictator Dan and the Hillbilly Dictator have a lot in common

By Graham Young - posted Friday, 9 December 2022

Dan Andrews lost some bark in the 2022 election – a swing of 3% or so on a two-party preferred basis – but still ended up with 54.3% 2-party preferred, a result most premiers would kiss a million babies to achieve.

As predicted, there was a protest vote. This was against both major parties with one-third of voters deciding to give their first preference to a minor party, and neither major party breaching 40% primary vote.

It skewed against Labor, who suffered swings up to 19.9% to the Greens, and up to 16% to the Liberals in various seats.


These were seat-specific swings, generally safe Labor ones, where the swing didn’t actually change the member. They were also mostly to minor party candidates or independents.

If Daniel Andrews thinks he can keep ruling Victoria the way he has, then he is not listening to the electors of Victoria, and he, or his successor will pay the price. He runs a government that is seen as authoritarian, spendthrift, incompetent, dishonest, but electors generally can’t see any alternative, viewing the Liberals as just as bad.

This Victorian election reminded me of Queensland elections in the 70s and 80s. There are a lot of parallels between the style of government. On the one hand we have Andrews “Dictator Dan”, and on the other Bjelke-Petersen “The Hillbilly Dictator”.

Queensland police never used rubber bullets, but they were free with their truncheons. Opponents were spied upon and demonised. For Dan Andrews, channelling Joe Biden’s “Dark Brandon” speech, his opponents were all fascists, Nazis, racists and misogynists. Joh would flutter and sputter about Commies and socialists.

Both states had former police commissioners denouncing their systems as corrupt, and government-owned corporations and QANGOs rife with cronyism.

There is even a puritanism and group think, different in style, but similar in substance, that both states, separated in time, share. And no one from any other state could or can understand how voters put-up with either government.


The only major difference between both is that the Bjelke-Petersen government was financially and fiscally prudent, luxuriating in a reputation for low tax, high growth and low debt – it even fully-funded its public service superannuation scheme, an asset which is still on the state’s books.

And then it was 1989 and things changed with the election of the Goss Labor government.

This holds lessons in particular for the Victorian Liberal Party, who were the underperformers of 2022.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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