Confused about who to vote for in the Victorian election? A guide to the promises made across key issues

<span>Composite: AAP</span>
Composite: AAP

Victorians will head to the ballot box on Saturday, after Labor, the Coalition and the Greens put cost-of-living and healthcare at the forefront of the agenda throughout the state election campaign.

Guardian Australia has compiled the promises made by those parties, covering six key state-wide issues, to help you understand where they stand.

Health

Labor promises to:

  • Build or upgrade at least seven hospitals, including a $1.05bn new Maroondah hospital, $855m in upgrades to the Northern hospital and $675m for a new West Gippsland hospital.

  • Offer a $5,000 sign-on bonus for nursing graduates over the next two years.

  • Provide $200m to deliver a mental health and wellbeing leader in every primary school.

  • Deliver free tampons and pads at 700 public sites across the state.

  • Provide free nursing and midwifery degrees over the next two years.

  • Offer $32m in incentives for doctors who enrol in the GP training program.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Build or upgrade more than 25 hospitals, including $900m for a new Werribee Royal Children’s hospital, $750m for a new Mildura hospital and $550m to rebuild Caulfield hospital.

  • Halve the state’s elective surgery waitlist in a single term of government.

  • Investigate a repurposing of 250 beds at the Mickleham quarantine facility so they can be used for hospital patients.

  • Inject $125m for Victoria’s triple-zero call-taking and dispatch centre.

  • Create a recruitment drive to boost the state’s mental health workforce.

  • Deliver $200m worth of dental vouchers.

  • Offset the cost of paramedics professional registration fees.

  • Recruit and upskill 40,000 extra nurses as part of a $325m workforce plan.

The Greens promise to:

  • Invest $1.3bn to freeing up hospital beds by providing more aged care, disability and rehab beds in other facilities.

  • Provide $120m for public dental services.

  • Spend $40m a year to reduce the public dental treatment waitlist.

  • Invest $500m to employ more free GPs and nurses in postcodes with the most need.

  • Offer free contraception, including contraceptive pills, condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants.

  • Fund 500 more psychologists and psychiatrists for schools and public clinics.

Expert opinion:

Victoria’s health system is in crisis and while the hospital funding is sorely needed, preventive healthcare is being ignored, according to Dr Kathryn Backholer, an associate professor of health at Deakin University.

Related: Victorian state election 2022: what you need to know ahead of voting on 26 November

“There isn’t enough focus on prevention,” Backholer says.

“You need extra funding for all aspects of the system, but when we are only committing to funding for acute health care, you’re not getting to the root of the problem.”

Cost of living

Labor promises to:

  • Revitalise state-ownership of the State Electricity Commission, to create downward pressure on household bills.

  • Reduce regional V/Line fares – making them equal to metropolitan train prices.

  • Deliver a second round of the $250 power saving bonus from next March.

  • Make vehicle registrations free for eligible apprentices.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Cap metropolitan public transport fares at $2 a day ($1 a day for concession card holders).

  • Provide free public transport for healthcare and aged-care workers.

  • Offer free healthy school lunches for all public school students, under a two-year pilot program.

  • Freeze water service charges for five years, estimated to save the average household $100 a year.

  • Pause the electric vehicle tax until 2027.

  • Remove electricity supply charges for the first six months of 2023.

The Greens promise to:

  • Cap rent increases to improve housing affordability.

  • Create no out-of-pocket expenses for public school students and their families.

Expert opinion:

Emma King, chief executive of the Victorian Council of Social Services, praises the major parties for making cost of living central pillars in their election platforms, but says many policies did not distinguish between “helping those in acute financial need and helping those who are merely stressed and inconvenienced.”

“People on higher incomes might want a few dollars off their power bill, but it won’t make a material difference to their lives,” she says.

“We need to make sure help is going to those Victorians most in need.”

Infrastructure

Labor promises to:

  • Deliver the Suburban Rail Loop and Airport Rail Link.

  • Remove an additional 25 level crossings by 2030.

  • Invest $650m in improved train services to the western suburbs.

  • Build new train stations at Keilor East, Tarneit West and Truganina.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Shelve the Suburban Rail Loop and funnel available funds into the state’s healthcare system.

  • Plan for a second Metro Tunnel.

  • Fund $10bn in road upgrades.

  • Instigate an independent audit of all major infrastructure projects to reduce cost blow outs.

The Greens promise to:

  • Install more than 1000 electric vehicle chargers.

  • Create a $2.5bn fund to build separated bike lands across metropolitan Melbourne and in regional centres.

Related: Daniel Andrews on the defensive as 80% of local Victorian election promises benefit Labor electorates

Expert opinion:

Marion Terrill, the transport and cities program director at the Grattan Institute, says voters are still in the dark about the total cost of the Suburban Rail Loop project.

“I think in that situation, forging ahead doesn’t make sense,” Terrill says.

“Whoever should win government on Saturday, should pause and review the business case.”

Victorian deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, (left) and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews visit the Arden Street metro station site last month
Victorian deputy premier, Jacinta Allan, (left) and Victorian premier Daniel Andrews visit the Arden Street metro station site last month Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Public transport

Labor promises to:

  • Reduce regional V/Line fares – making them equal to the metropolitan train price.

  • Invest in more VLocity trains and add almost 200 additional weekend services to the regional train network.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Cap metropolitan public transport fares at $2 a day ($1 a day for concession card holders).

  • Halve the price of V/Line fares.

  • Make V/Line train replacement bus services free.

  • Expand the state’s bus routes.

The Greens promise to:

  • Increase train and tram frequency to run every 5 minutes between 7am-7pm across the entire network.

  • Double the number of accessible tram stops in Melbourne.

  • Advocate for more low-floor trams.

Expert opinion:

Despite the fare pledges, the Public Transport Users’ Association’s spokesperson, Daniel Bowen, said costs aren’t what is deterring people from using public transport.

“It’d be good actually to see more of a focus on making sure that people have usable public transport because that’s really a big problem in a lot of parts of Melbourne,” he says.

“They might only have a bus once an hour.”

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Education

Labor promises to:

  • Spend $1.6bn to build and upgrade schools and kindergartens.

  • Provide free kindergarten from 2023.

  • Expand free TAFE courses.

  • Extend after-hours care for all specialists schools.

  • Spend $584m to establish 50 new government-owned and operated early education centres.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Spend more than $1bn to build and upgrade schools.

  • Provide $700m over four years to the non-government school sector.

  • Simplify and streamline the state’s curriculum under a $200m pledge.

  • Provide $220m to roll out phonics across early schooling.

  • Offer free healthy school lunches for all public school students, under a two-year pilot program.

The Greens promise to:

  • Invest $1.46bn more into public schools over five years.

  • Push for the federal government to increase funding to meet 100% of the Gonski standards by 2023.

  • Make public education genuinely free by removing out-of-pocket school expenses for families.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam with Greens MP for Brunswick Tim Read on the campaign trail this week.
Victorian Greens leader, Samantha Ratnam, with Greens MP for Brunswick Tim Read on the campaign trail this week. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

Expert opinion:

The Grattan Institute’s education program director, Jordana Hunter, says while Victoria’s education system does well in comparison to the rest of Australia, there is growing disadvantage among students.

Related: From bail reform to Covid: the five issues missing from the Victoria state election campaign

“By the time they reach year nine, those students whose parents didn’t finish school are 4.5 years behind those who went to university for literacy and 3.5 years for numeracy,” she says.

Hunter says boosting education outcomes for all students was not about building more schools, but making sure the curriculum works for students and can be taught effectively.

“The teachers matter much more than the quality of a building or even the class size.”

Victorian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, and his deputy, David Southwick, with their plan for a metro tunnel earlier this month.
Victorian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, and his deputy, David Southwick, with their plan for a metro tunnel earlier this month. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Environment and energy

Labor promises to:

  • Increase renewable energy targets – from 50% to 65% by 2030, and to 95% by 2035.

  • Achieve 2.6 gigawatts in renewable energy storage capacity by 2030.

  • Legislate renewable energy storage targets for 2030 and 2035.

  • Reach net zero emissions by 2045.

  • Spend $1b on renewable energy projects, to be overseen and run by SEC.

  • Enshrine ownership of the SEC into the state’s constitution via a special majority, making it harder for future parliaments to repeal.

  • End native forest logging by 2030.

  • Invest $42m for 100 community batteries.

  • Ban embedded networks in new residential apartment buildings.

The Coalition promises to:

  • Legislate an emissions reduction target of 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.

  • Immediately reverse the Andrews government’s 2030 native timber ban.

  • Offer rebates to 1m homes to install household batteries, doubling the rate for rentals.

  • Boost Melbourne’s tree canopy coverage to 35% by 2050.

  • Quarantine all new gas discovered in Victoria for state-only use, and have a $1b clean hydrogen strategy.

The Greens promise to:

  • Reduce emissions 80% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035 or sooner.

  • Ban any new coal, oil and gas.

  • End native forest logging in 2023 and provide a support package for workers.

  • Plan to get 1m homes off gas and banning connections to new homes.

Expert opinion:

Environment Victoria’s chief executive, Jonathan La Nauze, says the start of the campaign had been “a race to the top” for the environment, with Labor and Liberals competing to see who can put more solar panels and batteries on Victorian homes.

“Looking across what’s on offer from the two major parties, Labor’s plan to replace Victoria’s remaining coal-burning power stations with renewable energy by 2035 is a clear standout,” he says.

He says Environment Victoria is impressed with the Liberal plan to offer rebates to one million homes, but it was undermined by the plan to boost onshore gas production.

“The Victorian Greens have consistently championed climate ambition in our state, and they’re the only party with a timeline to close coal by 2030,” he says.

– Australian Associated Press contributed to this report