1999 Victorian State Election
Jeff Kennett's seven year old Liberal Government looked to be in no trouble going into the 1999 Victorian State election.
At the beginning of the campaign opinion polls had the Liberals ahead by 51 to 35%. It also held 58 of the 88 seats in the Victorian Parliament.
Labor had been decimated at the elections in 1992 and despite some massive Budget cuts over several years, Kennett looked set for a comfortable third term as Premier.
Labor's defeat in 1992 and 1996 had been so devastating that not one Shadow Minister at the 1999 election had prior ministerial experience.
Labor Leader, Steve Bracks, had recently replaced his friend John Brumby as leader in an orderly transfer of "power" in the Shadow Cabinet.
Labor's strategy was to focus on the disparity in services and infrastructure between Melbourne and regional Victoria. This made sense for at least two reasons - Kennett's rationalist style of government had advantaged Melbourne over the regions in a similar way to Thatcher's focus on the home counties.
Furthermore, Labor needed to win seats in the regions and if it could do that it could, conceiveably, win office.
As the accompanying ads show, Labor's campaign director, John Lenders, focussed on regional neglect and Kennett's divisive and abrasive manner to highlight Labor's balanced approach and its mild mannered but determined leader, Steve Bracks.
The upshot was an extremely narrow (45-42 seats with the support of three independents) win for Labor, which Bracks subsequently parlayed into two further wins before retiring in 2007, unbeaten as Labor Leader of Victoria.