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Victorian Government to be in caretaker mode as election writs issued -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Victoria now, where Premier Denis Napthine today paid a visit to the Governor to ask for writs to be issued, marking the official launch of the state's 2014 election campaign.

The Napthine Government enters the campaign as the underdog with two recent opinion polls suggesting Labor is heading for a comfortable victory.

If Labor wins, it would make Mr Napthine's Coalition government the first one term government in Victoria in 60 years, as Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Victoria's Premier Denis Napthine called a press conference this morning to declare that trust will be a central issue in the state election.

DENIS NAPTHINE: Over the next 24 days, Victorians will be left in no doubt it is only the Coalition that they can trust to keep our finances in order; to have the money to pay for facilities and services that Victorians need and deserve; to deliver safer communities; to attract investment; to create jobs and provide opportunities for Victorians to live satisfying and fulfilling lives.

ALISON CALDWELL: Asked to name a central concern for Victorians, one he will address if he wins a second term in office, Premier Napthine nominated congestion caused by a growing population.

DENIS NAPTHINE: That's why we're building the East West Link, because we've got huge congestion problems and increasing congestion. So we need to deliver improved public transport and improved roads.

ALISON CALDWELL: Standing in front of a backdrop which looked much like the one the Coalition used in the federal election campaign last year, Premier Napthine was asked how his campaign would be different.

DENIS NAPTHINE: I'll be running our campaign as Denis Napthine, and I think the people of Victoria know me. They know that they can trust me. I'm passionate about Victorian people. I relate well to Victorian people. So I'll be running my campaign in my way.

ALISON CALDWELL: One possible problem though could be - assuming he's been running the Government his own way - voters aren't impressed according to the latest opinion polls.

A poll of more than 1,100 voters published in The Australian newspaper today found Labor had a two party preferred lead over the Coalition of 54 to 46.

Last week a poll published in The Age newspaper found Labor had a lead of 56 per cent to the Coalition's 44 per cent.

Dr Nick Economou is the senior lecturer in politics at Monash University.

NICK ECONOMOU: Political science research suggests that sometimes you'll get quite a big movement in opinion polling responses from voters once the campaign begins, because voters then become engaged, they concentrate.

The theory is that you start to get outcomes, you start to get data a little bit closer to the final result on November 29.

That's the good news for the Government. They're hoping that there are lots of disengaged voters out there and these voters will start to pay attention and the Government can try and campaign for their support.

The bad news for the Government is that almost from the moment it lost its former leader Ted Baillieu, it's been behind Labour in the opinion polls, and those polls seem to be firming up for the Opposition.

ALISON CALDWELL: How do you think the electoral boundary redistribution which were announced early this year or late last year, how will they affect the campaign, do you think?

NICK ECONOMOU: Lots of voters are going to find themselves in seats with new names. They're going to think, where am I? I was voting in Mitchum forever and day, and now it no longer exists, it's a new seat.

There are a number of seats that have current sitting Labor members but they are notionally Liberal seats, but on the new boundaries, the Government is defending something like an eight seat majority. Labor needs a swing of about 1 per cent uniformly to pick up enough seats to form a government.

ALISON CALDWELL: But on that Ipsos poll last week, it had Labor at 56, the Coalition on 44, which would deliver Labor, I think they said about nine seats.

NICK ECONOMOU: Indeed, although I think we have to remember that there's a tendency for Victorian opinion polls to seriously understate the level of support for the National Party. The level of support for the Greens tends to be overstated by a couple of per cent.

So if you adjust that all, I think you'll find that the two party vote is probably close to about 51 or 52 for Labor, rather than the 54 or 56 that's being bandied around.

So I think it's a lot closer than the polls are indicating, but having said that, it's still the case that Labor is ahead of the Coalition, and that would represent something like a 2 or 3 per cent swing, which would be enough to get Labor the nine seats or so it needs to form government.

ALISON CALDWELL: The numbers of the floor of Victoria's parliament are tied at 43 seats each for the Coalition and for Labor, after the independent MP for Frankston, Geoff Shaw, moved to the backbenches.

ELEANOR HALL: Alison Caldwell in Melbourne.