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Labor’s radical social reform agenda is actually its soft underbelly

Winning 18 seats at the next state election will be a tall order, but early cracks in Labor’s red walls are giving the Victorian Liberals a chance to dream.

Former Liberal leader Matthew Guy conceding defeat in last year's state election.

Former Liberal leader Matthew Guy conceding defeat in last year’s state election.Credit:David Crossling/AAP

The opposition’s decision to come out early with their Zero to Landfill policy was a shrewd political move. This substantive environmental reform fixes Labor’s mismanagement of Victoria’s landfill shortage, diversifies power generation and cuts power bills. Importantly, it stakes out the ground the Liberals must own in Victoria’s vexed climate change debate – the policy intersection between effective and responsible action.

Australia’s bushfire disaster will undoubtedly place the state Liberals’ handling of climate change policy under pressure again. While sensitive timing will be important, they must oppose any increase in the fire services levy, hold councils to account on their management of native vegetation and press the state government about their seasonal controlled burn targets. These targets are critical risk mitigation measures and are an essential part of Victoria’s integrated bushfire defence.

Solid running has been made on Labor’s bungled management of cladding standards. This debacle could have – and should have – been avoided. Rumours about poor quality control across the industry have been circulating for years and more questions should have been asked. The political danger here is the fact that the crisis will probably never end – and both sides know it. If this scandal doesn’t send the minister out to pasture, it will certainly push him off the Norwood scale.

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