Joan Kirner

Kirner went into 1992 knowing she faced a statutory general election, which opinion polls gave her virtually no chance of winning. She waited as long as she could, finally calling an election for October. It was obvious as soon as the writs were dropped that Labor would not win a fourth term. Although she remained personally more popular than the Liberal Opposition Leader, Jeff Kennett, it was not nearly enough to overcome Victorians’ growing anger at Labor. The Coalition’s ‘Guilty Party’ campaign did much to stoke this anger, targeting many Ministers in the Kirner Government and providing examples of concerns in their portfolios.

The campaign attracted controversy with ALP ads stating that if the Liberals won the election it would institute the same policies that were implemented in New Zealand by the then Fourth National Government. New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger responded in reference to the campaign, ‘You know, they say that the show’s never over until the fat lady sings. Well, I think it was her we heard warming up in the wings this week’.

The ‘fat lady’ was in reference to Kirner being overweight. Bolger refused to apologized for this remark citing that he himself was overweight and did not want to make ‘an international incident’ out of it.

The Coalition won the election in a landslide, scoring a 19-seat swing—the second-worst defeat that a sitting government has ever suffered in Victoria.

Life after Parliament

Kirner remained active in community affairs and politics, [with] a leading role in the Landcare movement [and] subsequently the Australian affiliate of EMILY’s List Australia, an organisation which promotes ‘pro-choice’ women’s careers in politics. Kirner was one of the leaders of the movement in the Labor Party to adopt a policy of setting targets for the number of women candidates in winnable electorates. She repeatedly publicly supported candidates identified with her Socialist Left faction

Source: Wikipedia

Pictures: The Age, Michael Smith News, Nicholson – The Age

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