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Victoria: Prime Minister attempts to bolster Liberal Party chances in the coming election.

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Tuesday 26 November 2002


Victoria: Prime Minister attempts to bolster Liberal Party chances in the coming election.


MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister has made a last ditch attempt to resurrect the Liberal Party's Victorian election campaign.


Mr Howard has again spoken out again in support of the Liberal leader, Robert Doyle, warning that a landslide Labor victory would be disastrous for Victoria's economy.


But with only four days to go until Victorians cast their votes, every major opinion poll is forecasting a second term for Bracks Labor.


In Melbourne, Kate Tozer.


KATE TOZER: Liberal Party strategists were no doubt hoping some of the Prime Minister’s popularity would rub off on the Victorian Opposition leader, Robert Doyle, as they stood side by side for a press conference at the party’s Melbourne headquarters this afternoon.


Mr Howard warned voters of the consequence of the racks Government being re-elected to power.


JOHN HOWARD: The concern I would have about Victoria is that a number of danger signs under this Government could well be ignored, that there is a sense of great complacency that nothing can go wrong in Victoria because the national economy’s being run well.


Can I say that’s mistaken, that the industrial relations policies of the Victorian Government are worse than those of other governments around Australia, that it can over time drive further jobs and more investment out of this state.


KATE TOZER: The latest opinion poll published in The Age newspaper gave Labor a two-party preferred vote outside of Melbourne a 57%, compared with the Liberals’ 43%. It was the fifth poll in a week pointing to a Labor victory.


JOHN HOWARD: It’s a tough election. Look, if the polls we’ve seen were to be repeated on Saturday, then the Labor Party will win in a landslide, and that would not be good for Victoria. That would bad for Victoria, certainly for the Victorian economy, because it would use all the senses of complacency of which I’ve spoken. But I’ve been in politics long enough to know that a lot can happen over the last four days.


KATE TOZER: How do you explain though, that Liberals around the state seem to be performing so badly?


JOHN HOWARD: Look, I’m not a political commentator. I’m a Prime Minister and a party leader and I’m a mere participant. I’m an advocate, I’m a journeyman who’s trying to make a contribution.


KATE TOZER: The Liberal Party ahs attacked the Government for being a do-nothing administration, but Steve Bracks has managed to stay out of the headlines. The Liberal Party, on the other hand, has been plagued by bad press.


To try and win back some support, the Opposition is warning voters through television and newspaper advertisements that a win for Labor would result in a union run state, spelling widespread job losses.


AUDIO ADVERTISEMENT EXCERPT: Companies like these are leaving because Labor can’t control its union mates. To keep jobs in Victoria, vote Liberal.


KATE TOZER: But today, th at advertising campaign backfired. At least six major companies, including Nestle, South Pacific Tyres and Seaman’s have demanded their names be removed from the ads, saying they’re misleading and wrong. But Mr Doyle is standing by his assertion that the companies have either left Victoria or shed jobs in the state.


ROBERT DOYLE: The question was asked as to whether it was factual. The answer is yes. And we will stick by those advertisements. There is no doubt in our minds that they are 100% accurate, and we will stand behind them 100%


REPORTER: Is it true, Robert Doyle, that they’re not running them any more tonight?


ROBERT DOYLE: No, that is not correct. We will continue to run those advertisements.


REPORTER: Are companies complaining because they’re intimidated, do you think?


ROBE RT DOYLE: Well, I think that’s something you’d have to ask them. I know that there are some concerns that the Labor Party have rung them up and put the heavy roller over them a couple of times, and they’ve been referred here, there and everywhere within the machinery of the Bracks’ machine. That’s a matter for them to answer, not for me.


KATE TOZER: Whether Mr Howard’s efforts will do anything to bridge the gap will only be known when the votes are tallied on Saturday night. Internet betting agencies have Premier Steve Bracks the overwhelming favourite, with a Labor victory returning $1.03. That compares with the $9 dividend for Robert Doyle being elected to power, extraordinary odds for a two horse race.


MARK COLVIN: Kate Tozer.