The Victorian opposition’s electoral promise of cheap public transport might be good policy, but is it good policy?


For all the billions of dollars pledged and promised to Victoria’s beleaguered health system this election campaign, the cost of living will be the biggest issue for voters when they start voting in 34 days.

Interest rate hikes are already hitting household budgets and another rate hike is likely three weeks before Election Day.

Voters will therefore look to both sides of the policy to see who can give them some relief.

Labor has already handed out $250 for people to visit an energy price comparison service and Matthew Guy’s opposition entered this discussion over the weekend with an easy-to-understand election speech for voters of cheap local public transport, followed by a commitment on Tuesday to cut V/Line Rates in half.

It marks a departure from the near-daily focus on the health care system, in which both sides of politics have pledged billions of dollars.

The opposition’s promise of $2 daily local transit fares is likely to provide the Coalition’s biggest campaign breakthrough yet.

Your policy is simple, memorable, and would be delivered almost immediately (next financial year).

“It’s simple, it’s easy. It helps with the cost pressures families are experiencing,” Guy said on Monday during his first day selling the policy in Melbourne’s CBD.

Matthew Guy’s election campaign has been largely based on health spending.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Even some of his opponents privately admit that it is a good political piece, especially for disinterested voters.

Dig a little deeper, however, and there are some big questions about how cheaper tickets will affect Victoria, and whether or not it’s good public policy.

Public transportation is not widely used in the outer suburbs.

Strategists believe politics is unlikely to change the vote in the outer suburbs, where public transit use is lower and where key battleground constituencies are located.

“The people who benefit from the reduction in rates are those whose services are already of good quality. That tends to be the wealthiest households in the inner and middle suburbs,” says RMIT professor Jago Dodson.


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