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No one was more acutely aware of that legacy than Daniel Andrews, who this month paid his respects to those achievements at Cain's memorial service in St Paul’s Cathedral.
In his tribute to Cain, Andrews recalled a one-on-one discussion with the former premier on election night in 2014.
“With tears in his eyes and a powerful emotion in his voice,” Andrews said, “John told me that we were going to win. I will never forget the advice he gave me that day. He said you are about to do what so few have done: lead our party and our state. Celebrate it, enjoy it. But then get to work.
“He leant in a little closer. He said to me: ‘You cannot, you must not, waste your opportunity’.”
Anyone casting an eye over the state’s vast transport infrastructure agenda would see that Andrews hasn’t ignored Cain’s advice – the inertia of the preceding Coalition government has been cast aside.
Premier Daniel Andrews paying tribute to John Cain at his memorial service earlier this month.CREDIT:AAP
To drive around Melbourne today is to witness an unprecedented wave of infrastructure construction after decades of the state stagnating while commuters boiled with rage. The government advertises its enormous list of 119 transport projects as "the big build".
But in the wake of Andrews’ huge 2018 election victory, is the $70 billion transformation of transport he began promising from the day he hit the ground as premier suddenly coming unstuck?
Paul Strangio, a Monash University politics professor who also attended that memorial service, ticks off Cain’s achievements: WorkSafe, the TAC, freeing up liquor laws and retail trading hours, the sporting precinct, FOI and so much more. “People looked at his record in office and suddenly appreciated ‘Geez, he did a lot’.”
And he says Andrews has put being “an activist, assertive premier” at the centre of his political persona – particularly when it comes to wearing a hardhat on a transport construction site. So what happens as Andrews heads towards the 2022 state election with his impressive list of mega-projects in apparent meltdown?
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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