THE Baillieu Government is failing to sell itself, writes KATE DOWLER
Halfway through its term, the Baillieu Government is plodding along.
The hard work it is doing to manage the state's budget is either not being well communicated or is not sufficiently valued by the voters.
In the bush, the Victorian Farmers Federation gives the Government seven out of 10 for performance and delivery of its promises so far.
But even VFF president Peter Tuohey said that while the Government was managing tight fiscal times well, it had "failed to sell themselves" and communicate well.
The introduction of the fire services property levy legislation is one example of the positive, but slow, progress.
The state's lobbying on the Murray Darling Basin Plan and Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh's relationship with the farm sector has also generally been positive.
But most of these achievements have been reactionary.
Drive and energy to grow and build Victoria in a bold and confident manner, above and beyond this, seems to be wanting. At the very least, Victoria's voters have tuned out.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan told The Weekly Times the Government's focus needed to be getting Victoria's economy right, and then it would be better prepared to improve services.
Pragmatic, practical stuff; what many country voters want, and expect.
But fiscal responsibility is not the sexiest sell in today's increasingly hungry news cycles, especially as the Government needs to win more votes in marginal seats to get re-elected and bolster its wafer-thin majority.
Speaking about challenges to rural economic drivers, such as how the farm sector could attract more agricultural graduates, Mr Ryan said "success will tell its own story".
But that doesn't always happen, whether the success in question is a growing industry or a government managing its budget carefully.
Looking at agriculture, it is clear its problem is not the great opportunities it presents young people. The Government's recent parliamentary committee found the problem was a poor public perception of farming.
Just as farm leaders need to address their industry's image, the Government needs focus on the leadership it displays and on selling a vision for the state's future that resonates with voters.
Baillieu's team needs to grasp the need for less reactionary governing and more front-foot leadership if it is to be more than a one-hit wonder.