Matthew Guy is desperate to regain votes, once safely blue, from far-right parties upsetting the political metronome.
One Nation’s Victorian counterpart, the Rise Up Australia Party (RUAP), have yet to win a single seat in an election, with an electoral campaign based on religious fundamentalist evangelism leaving them a fringe party.
This year, however, Matthew Guy and the Liberals are desperate to retake the Garden State, as Dan Andrews has begun to successfully prosecute his infrastructure spending agenda for Victoria. A Liberal win is also desperately needed to validate Matthew Guy’s career after his embarrassing liaison with Italian Mafia leaders was exposed by the media, as well as his ironic choice of a “Law and Order” mandate.
2018 will also decide how effective his choice of racialism as a campaign strategy is in Australia, despite it being made popular by Trump’s own election. The Victorian Liberals strategy of criticising the judiciary and judges, hyping up a non-existent “African crime wave”, and mimicking far-right ultra-nationalist rhetoric concerning Australia and Anzac Days, may prove to be a Make-or-Break campaign for the party.
For a traditionally conservative party, these radical steps pose a huge risk for their brand. However it is not to curry favour with far-right parties, but to win back votes in crucial swing seats.
The Victorian Opposition chose also to politicise their attacks on the Frontier Wars. After it was revealed that the Office of the Premier had surveyed whether to include remembrance of Aboriginal warriors on Anzac Day, the Liberals and IPA turned their outrage dial to 11, and waged a holy battle to defend their civic religion.
Liberal Victorian Member for Kew, Tim Smith, accused Dan Andrews of trying to destroy Australian values by this simple yet important change, making a bizarre case for his own selective memory of Australian history
“It is the most sacred of all Australian national days where we commemorate 100,000 Australians who have perished in the defence of this nation over foreign conflict for almost 100 years,” Mr Smith said.
This, however, is completely ignoring the 30,000 Aboriginal warriors who were killed on Australian soil, defending their own nations. Australian soldiers were almost entirely killed overseas in foreign wars.
It wasn’t enough, however, to insult the memory of the Australian Frontier Wars, but Tim Smith chose further to endorse an authoritarian mandate, declare it an “utter disgrace” to even dare “ask a question about that day”.
The most daring attack so far has been on African Victorians, of course, after the Liberal politicians used highly publicised events to create an “African crime wave”.
This included Matthew “Mafia” Guy accusing Labor of appointing “libertarian” judges to deliver softer sentences to criminals of African descent, Peter Dutton declaring Victorians were too scared to go out at night and lived in fear of gang violence, and Jason Wood’s own calls for a special police task force to specifically deal with one ethnic group.
MP for La Trobe Jason Wood also headed a federal parliament committee, which issued the No one teaches you to become an Australian report, that was found by the Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) to have exaggerated the number of crimes committed by Sudanese Australians by as much as 40%.
Despite the CSA revealing that Sudanese Australians have only committed 1% of Victoria’s crime rate, with New Zealanders committing twice as many crimes, the Liberal Party has pressed on with attacking Africans and Labor with the fictitious “African crime wave”.
2018 will be a new testing ground for Australian politics. Even Queensland in 2017, Pauline Hanson’s home turf, saw nowhere near as much targeted racism, rather a casual xenophobic attitude to Muslims and Asians in general, with One Nation only winning one seat. Victoria has become far more volatile, with far-right radicals like the True Blue Crew and neo-Nazi Antipodean Resistance drumming up support for a race war. If Matthew Guy can pull an election victory in such an environment, with such an anarchic and hateful campaign, it will set a dangerous precedent for the rest of Australia for decades to come.