As we have chronicled here and at VEXNEWSâ€™ predecessor publication the OC, many of those in competing Liberal factions in Victoria regard him as quite the factional thug and bully. His backers say these claims were also exaggerated by foes for political reasons and that he is really and truly a gentle, old-money giant.
However, todayâ€™s Fin Review reports that the Victorian Government has â€œplans to cut back on welfareâ€ to business groups, peak bodies and unions.
On Ted Baillieuâ€™s orders, Kim Wells has demanded from all government departments detailed information on the extent of government grants, donations, subsidies, business dealings, subscriptions and everything else that might have had the effect of benefiting business lobby groups.
This is code â€“ apparently â€“ for some very deep cuts.
Why on Earth would a Liberal government be taking the axe to key business and employer groups?
Itâ€™s a payback, most will be left thinking, for those groups being on friendly terms with the pro-business Brumby Labor government that preceded it.
Treasurer Kim Wells says as much:
â€œIn opposition, having spoken to all industry groups across the state, there were murmurs of concerns and we want to make sure that taxpayers are getting value for money.â€
The axe looms, which could cause considerable financial hardship and job losses at several business peak bodies, apparently.
Dunckley reports on Lib angst about the perceived â€œbetrayalâ€ of them by business groups:
â€œSenior members of Ted Baillieuâ€™s team have privately expressed the opinion that these groups were too close to the former Brumby Labor governmentâ€¦â€
â€œSome inside the government are known to have been far from impressed with the lack of support they received in opposition from industry groups and some blamed the financial relationship with the previous government.â€
One government source said it was â€˜immoralâ€™ to use public money to curry favour with stakeholders.
We doubt their opposition to currying favour will last longer than 2011 but itâ€™s still going to cause tremendous disruption among some of the Liberal partyâ€™s biggest traditional supporters in Melbourne.