Australia

Victoria elections: Coalition blamed after Labor win

File photo: Tony Abbott in Canberra, 19 November 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tony Abbott has dismissed criticism that his government's unpopularity contributed to the Coalition's defeat

The Australian Coalition government must take some blame for the Coalition's loss in the state of Victoria, election analysts say.

The Labor Party won Saturday's state election with a state-wide swing of more than 2%.

The Coalition government was the first in the state since 1955 to lose office after serving only one term.

The state's former premier, Denis Napthine, has announced that he will stand down as Liberal leader.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has shrugged off criticism that his government's unpopularity contributed to the Victorian Coalition losing power.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Abbott said his government had made a positive contribution to Mr Napthine's election chances.

"I am very satisfied that we did what we could for the prosperity of Victoria," he said.

But political analysts said the election result had profound implications for the Liberal Party at upcoming state and federal elections.

'Tax after tax'

Victorian Liberals including former premier Jeff Kennett are pointing the finger at the government for the loss.

Mr Kennett told local media the Abbott government was a "shambles'' and said it was major factor in the defeat of the state government.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Millions took part in the state elections

He said Mr Napthine should have called the prime minister to account.

"Tony was putting tax on him after tax on him. He wouldn't have done it in [the state of] NSW,'' said Mr Kennett.

The criticism comes as the federal government prepares to release its mid-year budget update, which is expected to be much worse than expected because of factors including falling iron ore prices.

A Deloitte Access Economics study compiled by leading economist Chris Richardson predicts an underlying cash balance in 2014-15 of A$34.7bn ($29.6bn, £18.8bn), about A$5bn worse than the government's own official forecast in the May budget.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Napthine said it had been an "honour and a privilege" to serve as Victoria's premier

The government is also having trouble passing key spending austerity measures factored into the budget through a hostile Senate.

It is under increasing pressure to improve a Defence Force pay deal, as parliament enters its final sitting week for the year.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Abbott backed down on planned cuts to allowances for Defence Force staff.

However, he said there would be no increase to a 1.5% pay rise for defence personnel, which has been criticised for being below inflation.

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