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Vic election bound to be a muddy battle

Scandals and mudslinging abound in modern Victorian politics and neither major party has been immune.

Rorting MPs, secret settlements for questionable planning deals, lobster dinners with alleged mobsters, factional fighting and plenty of insults have been hurled inside and out of parliament.

There is just one sitting week left before the November 24 election, but plenty of parliament’s time has been consumed by Labor and the Liberals pulling procedural stunts against each other.

It’s “risky politics” says Monash University political scientist Zareh Ghazarian.

“To the outside observer, these things look like games politicians play in parliament at the expense of getting on with the job of making laws, debating laws and governing,” Dr Ghazarian told AAP.

“While it may cause some embarrassment to the opposition or the government, the flip side is it may also blow up in the instigator’s face, in that people see this and say ‘what’s going on, why aren’t they just getting on with the job we elected them to do?'”

For his part, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy seems aware of the detrimental effect of political navel gazing.

“Victorians are sick to death of politicians focusing on each other, I think they want to focus on solutions,” he told reporters, last week.

Both Premier Daniel Andrews and Mr Guy were in ultra-marginal Frankston last Monday, a seat won by Labor thanks to preferences and held by a tiny 0.5 per cent margin.

It sits alongside Mordialloc, Carrum and Bentleigh in the southeast corridor known as the sandbelt where their margins are less than 2.1 per cent.

They’re classic swing seats in which bread and butter issues like health, crime, education and transport play well.

Mr Andrews promised a $562 million hospital expansion and Mr Guy pledged protective services officers on train platforms during the day.

The premier has been keen to focus on the many infrastructure projects his government has under way, regularly relying on a refrain about Victorians having a “choice”.

“They’ll be given a clear choice – people who get things done, a Labor government or going back to the days of cuts and closures,” he said on Monday.

But the war is not just being fought in the sandbelt. The inner-city battle between Labor and the Greens could see the smaller party become the kingmakers of the next government.

The Greens have become increasingly popular as gentrification spreads – the safe Labor seat of Northcote fell last year in a by-election that followed the death of MP Fiona Richardson.

Then in the country, former National-turned-independent Russell Northe holds his seat by just 1.8 per cent and will have to fend off competition from the Liberals, Nationals and Labor if he chooses to fight on, while in Ripon, the Liberals hold on by about 600 votes over Labor.

And all the polls indicate it will be a tight race, with 51-49 in favour of Labor on a two-party preferred basis, according to an August poll done for News Corp Australia.

The two major parties have 10 weeks left to show voters what they have to offer and convince them they can provide good government for the next four years.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the mud-and-scandals approach of recent Victorian politics.

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