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November 27, 2022

SUBJECT | Victorian Election | 27 November 2022

KIERAN GILBERT: Let’s go live now to one of the senior Victorian Liberals at the Federal level, the shadow Immigration Minister, Dan Tehan. How do you reflect, Dan Tehan, on a very difficult night for the Liberal Party here in Victoria?

DAN TEHAN: Well, Kieran, it was disappointing, and I think what we need to do is to make sure that we learn the lessons of this defeat. They're happening far too often in Victoria, and it's now time that we act. We've got to make sure that our secretariat, our administrative wing, and our parliamentary party all work in unison. We have to become a professional political organisation again that wins elections. We've got to be able to broaden the electoral map. We've got to win seats right across Victoria, and we've got to make sure that we focus on what we need to do to win elections. And all of us need to reflect on bringing all those three elements together: a unity of purpose and making sure that in four years’ time, we are absolutely ready with a clear message to give to the Victorian people as to why they should elect a Liberal government.

GILBERT: Have you got any examples of where the party might have dropped the ball in the last, not just the last few weeks, but the last four years?

TEHAN: Well, if you look at where we wanted to make inroads, I don't think in the end we were able to. Now we've got to ask ourselves why. And it's going to be a collective effort. We have to be able to broaden the electoral map in Victoria if we are to win government. And that means when it comes to the volunteer wing; we've got to make sure that we're out there in the community, we're out there engaging. When it comes to the secretariat, to the professional wing, we've got to make sure that we have the latest techniques that will deliver us the messaging that we need to deliver government. We've also got to make sure from the voluntary side that we are very clear in the values that have formed the Liberal Party, that have made the Liberal Party so great, that we can continue to articulate those to the Victorian people. And then we've got to make sure that our parliamentary wing is operating in unison, as a collective unit, combining with the voluntary party, combining with the professionals, to ensure that we're sending that very clear message and that work has to start today. We've got to start working on that today. We need a complete reset in what we're doing because if we keep reviewing and keep doing the same thing over and over again, in four years' time, we're going to be in exactly the same situation.

GILBERT: And up against a very effective political operator, one of the most successful in modern times, really, in this state, Daniel Andrews winning a third term. He's going to be the longest-serving Labor Premier as of April next year. Is this? It's been a tough few years for the state. He's got some very fierce critics but is this win vindication for him?

TEHAN: Well, what we've seen is divide and conquer has delivered, but that doesn't bring the unity that Victoria is looking for as it comes out of this pandemic. And I think that's something that we as Liberals need to think long and hard about; what is the message of hope that we will be taking to the Victorian people in four years’ time? What do we need to do to bring Victorians together? Divide and conquer has worked for Dan Andrews and the Labor Party, but we have to be able to put a message together which is about bringing all Victorians together, and we have to understand that we are up against Dan Andrews and the Labor Party here in Victoria, the most professional political operation you will see. Now we have two professionalise; as a result, we have to be able to fight fire with fire. If we can't do that, then they will continue to roll over us. They are a professional political outfit, the likes of which we haven't seen. I don't think we've stepped up to that mark as an organisation here in Victoria.

GILBERT: Do you see federal lessons as well, and what does your friend Josh Frydenberg do in Kooyong? It looks like Jess Wilson has won Kew, and John Pesutto is ahead in Hawthorn, is that encouraging for Josh Frydenberg next time around?

TEHAN: Well, first of all, in terms of the federal implications, there’s only one that I can see, and that's to do with campaign finance. Now, one of the things that Dan Andrews has successfully done - and the Labor Party here in Victoria - through their campaign finance reform is made sure that the incumbent, the Labor Party, has an advantage. Now, the Labor Party federally is looking at campaign finance reform. Now the Liberal Party and the National Party need to look at this legislation very carefully because, in Victoria, it has meant that it has cemented an advantage for those in power. We cannot stand by and let the same thing happen again because otherwise, we will be giving Labor a financial advantage over us when it comes to a national campaign. So, we need to learn that lesson. With regards to Kew and Hawthorn, outstanding to see two people of the calibre of Jess Wilson and John Pesutto hopefully win both those seats. I think Jess is in a very strong position. John has got his nose in front. That is fantastic. What that means in terms of the seat of Kooyong, I haven't had a really close look at it, but I'm sure what it does show is if we campaign locally if we campaign on the issues that matter for communities, we can win seats at the state level. And there's no reason why we couldn't do the same at the federal level.

GILBERT: Dan Tehan, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

Media contact | Sandie Gustus 0408 564 232