Premier Daniel Andrews fired up and accused Opposition Leader Matthew Guy of shifting blame as the leaders clashed twice during the Englishheadline/Herald Sun People’s Forum over issues of gas reserves and integrity.
The one-hour long forum saw the two leaders go head-to-head taking questions from 100 undecided Victorians just four days out from the election.
The debate was mostly level headed, however, Mr Andrews took aim at Mr Guy when asked by host Kieran Gilbert about Victoria’s gas reserves and an alleged “misinformation” ad campaign by Labor claiming that Liberals want to frack for gas.
Mr Guy has pledged to drive down energy prices by reserving 100 per cent of any new gas found onshore for local households and businesses without fracking – shattering rock to extract gas – which was banned in Victoria in 2017.
However, Mr Andrews said this was not possible without fracking and was adamant there was no misinformation in the ads.
“It’s not misinformation at all,” Mr Andrews said.
“The chief scientist has made it really clear, not in one report but two. There are no reserves of gas, known or probable, that can be extracted onshore using conventional methods.
“The only way you could deliver a ‘gas lead future’ is to frack. That’s just a fact.”
Mr Andrews continued his answer despite repeated attempts by Mr Guy to interject and he spoke over the Liberal leader to continue his argument.
“It’s not an argument, it’s a debate. And it’s a pretty important point,” he continued.
“If you have a gas plan then you need to get it out of the ground. And this is the method. The only way to get it out of the ground is to frack it out of the ground.”
Mr Guy grew slightly red as he tried to interrupt the Premier and deny fracking was part of the Liberals plan.
“I am not here for petty name calling. We’re not going to frack, we don’t need to frack. The government keeps saying we will, even though we’ve said we don’t need to and we won’t be,” Mr Guy said in response.
Mr Guy was visibly agitated as Mr Andrews spoke over multiple attempts to answer, before firmly reiterating his party’s view.
“I’ve said it 50 times and I can say it again to everyone. There will be no fracking.”
Andrews calls out Guy’s hypocrisy over IBAC funding
The other fiery moment came only a few minutes later as Mr Guy was asked about his commitment to the government’s anti-corruption commission (IBAC) and extending it’s jurisdiction.
Mr Guy pledged $20 million further funding, committed to expanding its powers and said he was part of establishing the body as a means of highlight his party’s track record on integrity.
Mr Andrews accused the Opposition Leader of trying to have it “both ways” by bragging about setting up the IBAC model then criticising the Andrews government.
“You can’t have it both ways – I’m a big spender but your spending $30 billion and I’m spending $11 billion, you wrote the Act but somehow it’s my fault,” he said.
“I think there has to be some consistency surely.”
Neither leader responded to their own personal anti-corruption investigations or personal involvement.
At the conclusion of the event, 38 voters were convinced by Mr Andrews’ performance compared with Mr Guy’s 34 and 28 remained undecided ahead of November 26 poll.