Mark Riley: Jacinta Allan has replaced Daniel Andrews but the battle over GST will rage on

Headshot of Mark Riley
Mark Riley
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Just who is Jacinta Allan and what does her elevation mean for us?
Just who is Jacinta Allan and what does her elevation mean for us? Credit: AAP

In much of his time as Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews was the leader among State leaders.

This was no more evident than on social reform.

He led the way on legalising medicinal cannabis oil. He was the first to pass voluntary assisted dying laws, the first to apologise to men imprisoned under anti-homosexuality laws, the first to establish an Indigenous voice to State parliament and much more.

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In the early phases of the pandemic, other leaders took his lead on the imposition of border closures, restrictions and mandates and picked up his case for Federal compensation.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews announces his resignation
Daniel Andrews did the wide-ranging interview after stepping down as premier in September. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

In the latter stages, most leaders looked at his lead and did the opposite.

But there is little doubt that in the largest, most consequential decision Daniel Andrews took as leader — the decision to end his own career — he took the lead of Mark McGowan.

The timing of Andrews’ decision came as a shock. There had been plenty of scuttlebutt about him not seeing out his term. But what Victorian premier would abruptly resign without apparent reason in grand final week?

Daniel Andrews, that’s who.

The lengths some Victorians will go just to drag attention away from the Collingwood footy club!

His decision had obvious similarities to McGowan’s. It came without warning while he was at the top of his political game — at least in terms of electoral dominance — and facing a feeble Liberal opposition.

Andrews’ explanation? When it’s time, it’s time. You just know. He had been contemplating his future for some weeks and had decided it was best to get out while he was on top.

His departure means the Victorian Labor Party has delivered a fresh face as premier in Jacinta Allan before voters get a chance to demand one at the ballot box.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan with deputy Ben Carroll
Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan says she expects students to remain in class during the rally. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

The burning question for States like WA? Just who is Jacinta Allan and what does her elevation mean for us?

Like Andrews, Allan is a member of the Socialist Left faction, though is regarded as more moderate, more of a pragmatic centrist.

And she, like Andrews, is an utterly political animal.

Allan has been in the State Parliament for 25 years, a former Labor staffer from the regional city of Bendigo who gained pre-selection at the age of just 25.

At 28, she was made a junior minister by Steve Bracks. He said this week that he regarded her then as a future premier.

Allan has remained on the front bench since, undertaking a wide range of ministerial responsibilities that has delivered here an impressively broad policy background.

One of her biggest pluses is that she comes into the job as the State’s most recent transport and infrastructure minister, which will allow her to take primary credit for some of the major tunnels, bridges and bypasses coming online before the next state election.

One of her biggest minuses is that she comes into the job as the State’s most recent transport and infrastructure minister who administered the same tunnels, bridges and bypasses that blew out horribly in cost and were major contributors to Victoria’s ballooning debt.

She was also one of the key ministers in the Commonwealth Games fiasco, which will cost the State $380 million to cancel.

And the big question for WA from this leadership change? What happens with the only four-letter word in Australian politics that has only three letters — the GST?

Allan, like Andrews, will push hard for a reassessment of the national carve-up.

WA Labor has expressed its disappointment in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
WA Labor has expressed its disappointment in Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Credit: TheWest

Roger Cook can expect her to take up the cudgels against the Morrison-era agreement that will see WA’s guaranteed minimum allocation of 70 cents in the dollar rise to 75 cents from next year.

But she won’t win.

Anthony Albanese has endorsed the generous deal for WA — the State that delivered him government last year by turning four Liberal seats over to Labor.

Albanese isn’t about to backtrack now on WA’s sweet deal and put all that at risk.

Jacinta Allan should know that he is most certainly not going to follow her lead on that.

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