Victorian Labor has been politically ruthless in its approach to federal-state relations, taking every opportunity to push its case that the state will be better off ditching the Morrison government.
But on Sunday, Mr Andrews adopted a conciliatory tone, saying he had texted Mr Morrison his congratulations on Saturday night, and would work with the Coalition government to deliver projects for Victoria.
Mr Andrews insisted the state budget would be in surplus, despite the shortfall in projected funding for Victoria.
“We would have liked to see more money for hospitals and schools and some additional funding for some of the big infrastructure projects that we’re building like the suburban rail loop for instance,” he said. “Obviously that won’t come but our budget will be a surplus budget and it will deliver on every single commitment that we made last year.”
Mr Andrews said the Victorian economy remained strong.
“There’s a spark in Victoria. Things are getting done, things are being built,” he said.
As the shock wore off on Sunday, senior Victorian figures were questioning whether the federal campaign had leaned too heavily on the success of Labor’s state election landslide in November.
The Andrews Government had campaigned hard on behalf of the opposition, but one senior strategist said Labor’s «bitsy» federal campaign had been run too much like a state campaign.
The party had relied too much on targeted announcements, he said, rather than building on a narrative for the whole country.
Victoria spent $1 million of taxpayers’ money in an advertising blitz urging voters to support a Shorten-led Labor government, paying for pop-up ads at the MCG, and sending material to hundreds of thousands of households in key Victorian seats.
Labor’s funding promises for the battleground state of Victoria included $10 billion over 15 years for the suburban rail loop, $5 billion for the Melbourne airport rail line, $2 billion for the Melbourne Metro tunnel project and $2 billion for the North-East link.
By contrast, the Coalition made a series of infrastructure promises that clashed with the Andrews government’s agenda: $4 billion towards East West Link — an inadequate sum towards a politically impossible project for Labor — and $2 billion towards fast rail to Geelong, well beyond the forward estimates.
Both parties promised $1.75 billion for the North-East Link to connect the M80 ring road with an upgraded Eastern Freeway, and the Coalition did promise $1.4b in arterial road upgrades for the outer suburbs — notably in the seat of La Trobe, where Liberal MP Jason Wood was returned.
In an act of sandbagging Higgins, it even promised to remove the Glenferrie Road level crossing in Kooyong, in a back-handed compliment to Andrews that nevertheless sets the two at odds with each other.
That crossing does not feature on Labor’s list of 75 crossings it plans to remove, although Mr Andrews said on Sunday that he would talk with the Coalition about its promise, including that it should be removed by putting rail under road, not a sky rail.
Mr Andrews texted his congratulations to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday night, and said the next three years would be about delivering projects for Victoria “and I’m proud to be a part of that”.
Bianca Hall is a senior reporter for The Age. She has previously worked in the Canberra bureau as immigration correspondent, Sunday political correspondent and deputy editor.
State Political Correspondent for The Age