Cracked Lobster Guy and the Liberals’ Crusade against Dan Andrews

The conservative side of politics may have Australia’s mainstream media on its side, but the Andrews government’s secret weapon is the Victorian Liberal Party opposition.

That is not to detract from the performance of Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, who – in the face of a pandemic, an undermining federal government and an ongoing antagonistic media campaign, not since… well, since the hate crusade against the Gillard government – has seen a calm, measured one and proactive approach to governance. Indeed, the Victorian PM has achieved much during a tenure that has also been marred by a prolonged absence through injury.

But while the public reaction to the Andrews government has been consistently strong – as evidenced by its sizeable and unbroken lead in the polls – we cannot underestimate the extent to which the bumbling, astute and mostly ridiculous Liberal opposition has lost support for the Victorian Labor Party has further cemented government.

And for the doubters, that fact drove home this week as opposition leader Matt Guy chosen the Parliament Chamber to illustrate his ignorance.

Guy stood and spoke in an appropriately sad voice about the death of Queen Elizabeth, adding a fabled storybook character to his homage to the royal past (THETO emphasis):

“In all these times, in all these monarchs of well-known figures, King ArthurHenry the Eighth and so on, the longest reigning of all was Queen Elizabeth.”

It would have been hilarious if it was intended as a parody. Unfortunately for Guy, it was just chilling and reminded everyone that since he’s leading an opposition mired in history – and an unconnected, fictional past at that – he simply isn’t leadership material.

Curiously, as we shall see, his relationship with reality in the run-up to November’s Victorian state election is probably the least of Guy’s problems.

Victorian Liberal Opposition Leader Matt Guy, for those who may not know, is the person formerly known as Matthew “The Lobster Mobster” Guy. He first rose to prominence following revelations about his alleged ties to colorful mob characters.

As Dave Donovan wrote in 2017:

“Indeed, the Liberal Party’s close ties to Tony Madafferi and his Calabrian friends are simply part of their genuine, longstanding commitment to multiculturalism. In fact, the Liberal Party and the Calabrian business community are natural friends and allies. You have so much in common!

Matthew Guy and the

While his questionable connections cast a shadow over the Victorian Liberal Party, they did not see him ousted as leader – Guy resigned after his humiliating defeat in the last Victorian general election. His spectacular defeat by Dan Andrews in 2018 reduced the Liberal National Coalition’s total by 11 seats to just 27 versus Labour’s 55.

But at least Guy had a profile, while unfortunately most Victorians still had trouble remembering the name of his temporary replacement, Michael O’Brien. And with the talent pool dominated by figures like the ever-undermining Tim Smith, who spent the entire pandemic slinging venomous abuse at the Victorian PM, it wasn’t long before the better-connected Matt Guy was reinstated.

Earlier career highlights for Guy included record-breaking high-rise development permits and staunch opposition to wind farms as planning minister in the Napthine government. Guy has also been a vocal opponent of abortion law reform.

Perhaps the most famous planning decision was Guy’s unpopular reversal of Bass Council’s decision to oppose the rezoning of a Phillip Island farmland. The proposal to open up the area to subdivision was vehemently opposed by the community, as reflected in 100 submissions against the proposal and only one – from the developer – in favor. Undeterred by the “kitchen table” promise he made to the developer, the always responsive Guy overturned the council’s decision anyway.

It wasn’t until American performer Miley Cyrus drew attention to the ill-considered move by alerting her 2.5 million fans on Twitter that Guy capitulated. However, while the land was saved from inappropriate development, the developer sued the Napthine government and a $2.5 million (plus attorney’s fees) settlement was reached with the developers within 11 hours over Guy’s botched dealings.

Today, the whiff of shady deals still seems to be felt wherever Guy goes and he was referred to IBAC just last month on fresh corruption allegations.

But Guy’s anti-environmental and misogynist stance, questionable alliances and dismal showing in the last state election didn’t seem to deter his party colleagues as he is once again the opposition leader. How little they have learned from the public outpouring of discontent calling for action on climate, gender equality and integrity across the country.

However, these trends have not escaped the attention of the New South Wales Liberal Party leader. Dominic Perrottet, who may face questions about his own conduct at the NSW ICAC, has distanced himself from the Liberal opposition leader. Perrottet has chosen to project a small liberal image by working cooperatively and openly with Dan Andrews, rather than joining his Victorian counterpart’s anti-Dan club.

Meanwhile, the National Liberal Party, which was decimated after the last election and also elected a far-right draconian leader in Peter Dutton, has at least recognized that Guy could use all the help he can get. This week a report outlining the extent of the damage the party suffered in the last general election will be sealed by the party until after the Victorian state election in November. The magnitude of this destruction is of course already evident in the fact that Dutton and Sussan Ley can be considered their most worthy leaders, as well as anyone who can count the number of seats lost.

It will not help the Victorian Liberal leader in the next election that the Victorian economy, under Andrews, has recovered from the pandemic and now has the lowest unemployment rate, the best performing economy in Australia and a higher ratio of women to men job candidates stand for the next election.

The only thing that can help Guy, despite his own public statements of idiocy, may be the ever-ready, mostly right-wing media chorus that has attacked Andrews at every turn throughout the pandemic, his back injury and everything in between. While we cannot underestimate the power of Australia’s mainstream media stranglehold, at least the Victorians seem to be over it.

Wren's Week: Victorian Liberals make allegations to discredit Dan Andrews

This editorial was originally published as part of Independent Australia’s weekly newsletter. These editorials are generally only available to subscribers and can be read online in the IA Members Area.

Follow IA Editor-in-Chief Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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