Monday, 27 May 2019

Natural Born Losers - The Australian Election

A while back I watched one of Micheal Moore's movie about the election of Donald Trump and one of the things that resonated with me was that the Democrats, well, they just basically don't seem to want to win elections. Well, a part of me feels that this may be the case with the Labor Party here in Australia, though in a way I feel that it is probably a little more complicated than that.

The thing is that the Australian Labor Party has, well, been somewhat unfortunate. For instance, when they defeated Stanley Bruce back in 1929 they suddenly found themselves in the wrong side of a global financial crises, and were immediately kicked out of government at the next election. Look, it wasn't their fault that the entire economy collapsed, but just try convincing the punters of that. In fact, it is quite interesting how history repeated itself because Stanley Bruce not only lost the election, but lost his seat, and it all had to do with changing the employment laws - well in 2007 John Howard did the same thing, and not only did he lose the election, but he also lost his seat, and the very next year there was a global financial crises, probably the worst since the Great Depression. However, Labor did manage to win the next election, but only barely.

Now, come 2019 and surprise surprise, history has once again repeated itself, and in fact there were a lot of hints about history repeating itself. Look, I certainly don't like the Liberal Party, and haven't liked them since John Howard took us to war in Iraq (though a part of me feels that that was going to happen regardless of who was in power at the time). However, if we wind the clock back to 1993 we had a situation where Australia went through a recession, a sitting Prime Minister had been knifed, and the polls all pointed to a Labor defeat. Come election day and the unthinkable happened - Labor won, and the main reason they won - the GST. Yep, the Liberal campaigned on introducing a GST, and Paul Keating took it, and ran with it. In fact, he even stood up in Parliament as pretty much told the Australian people that if the Libs won the election, then they would not block the legislation.

In fact, here is that moment on video:


As someone mentioned in the comments, this was the moment Paul Keating won the election. However, despite that, the Libs were still popping open the champagne bottles on the night of the election only to be basically blown away when they discovered that not only had Labor won, but they increased their majority by two seats. Oh, and here is one of the adds that played over the election campaign:

So, the moral of this story is, if you want to lose an election against a deeply unpopular party lead by a deeply unpopular leader, then campaign on tax reform.

Mind you, back in the day, I hated Keating, and I even voted for the Libs, despite the fact that I was a student on student allowance, and would probably have been affected a lot by Hewson's GST, but back in the day I was also pretty ignorant politically. However, as I look back, I have to admit that I do quite like Keating, though I still am somewhat bitter at the fact that he did knife Hawkie in the back.


Yeah, with Labor leading in the polls for most of this election cycle, and the Libs basically knifing a somewhat popular prime minister, the odds were always in favour of Labor winning this election, though unlike the situation in 1993, Bill Shorten was never really all that popular, no doubt because of his hand in the infighting and leadership spills that defined Labor's last time in office. However, the bookies, and the polls, were all pointing to a Labor victory, Well, as you can probably guess, they lost, which resulted in this meme doing the rounds:

Look, there are a lot of people asking questions as to why they lost, and also lots of people blaming voters for voting against their interests, but in all honesty, I believe they lost for two reasons - tax reform, and the fact that they ran a pretty shocking campaign. In fact, they not only run a campaign where they pretty much played their entire hand, opening them up to attacks from all sides, and further more they seemed to be playing games of me-too - whenever the Coalition raised a policy, they would jump on board, but that certainly wasn't happening the other way. In fact, the whole policy of giving money to young people to buy houses should have been shot down in flames of the pathetic policy that it happens to be, but then again when have any governments been good managers of money?

Yet, in my mind it was the tax reforms, even though they are certainly needed, and it just opened them up to the typical accusations of being the high taxing, big spending party, despite the fact that the Coalition tend to spend just as much, or even more, money than Labor has ever done - hell, they blew a once in a generation mining boom on tax cuts and middle class welfare. Still, it just doesn't seem to stick because, well, people in the end only ever think of their hip pocket.

The Feral Left

One of the interesting things that I have discovered is how the left reacted to the news that the Liberal party won the election. Look, I do sympathise with them in that it certainly appears that we are fighting an uphill battle, but the thing is that in reacting the way that we are we are certainly not winning any friends over to our side. In fact Bob Brown, a former Tasmanian senator for the Greens, led a convoy up to Queensland to protest against a mega mine that is being built there. To say that the reception was rather cold is somewhat of an understatement.

In a way this is the problem that isn't so much faced by the left, but by both sides of politics. The problem is that the extreme right seems to be in positions where their message can be more clearly heard, with shock jocks on the radio, and whole newspapers trumpeting their cause. This isn't all that surprising considering that the conservatives also seem to champion the free market economy, namely because they benefit from increased profits where government regulation isn't in the way.

However, as I mentioned, the left certainly isn't winning any friends my their actions. In fact, by blaming the voters for voting against their interest and suggesting that an entire state be kicked out of Australia is just asking to be alienated even further. Mind you, the fact that the right does seem to be in ascendancy means that we don't get to see their response when the left happens to win, though I have noticed that they do tend to attempt to undermine them more subtly, such as the reports of the non-existent African gangs that happen to be terrorising Western Melbourne.

Yet I still remember when the Libs won the New South Wales election - that didn't go down well at all. The problem was that it turned out that Labor's leader was damaged goods, and despite there being delays and issues with a number of the infrastructure projects, from where I was standing they still seemed to be the better proposition than Labor. I guess that is the thing, namely that instead of blaming the voters, and claiming that the odds are stacked against Labor, one needs to push Labor to actually become electable.

Coal Country

Now, Queensland got a bit of flack from the left leaning city lot, except it goes to show how people don't actually understand what is going on. I went for a walk through parts of outer Brisbane, and you can see that parts of the area that used to be rusted on Labor supporters have become increasingly disillusioned with the party that used to represent them. The thing is that for years Labor was the party of the working person, supported by the unions, but as many of these workers have begun to retire, and as many of the manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, Labor no longer seems to be the answer.

Some have raised the question as to why the poor voted for the Libs as opposed to Labor, and the answer is simple - they don't want a handout, they want a job. You see, if you go and visit some of these parts of Queensland you will discover that these places aren't inhabited by innercity left wing types - they are inhabited by people who do a decent days work, and believe that the best form of welfare is a job. In fact, that is something that I agree with.

Look, there has been a lot of debate about raising the dole and not harassing people who are drawing on welfare, yet there are a lot of people out there that simply use welfare as a form of income that they receive without having to do work. In fact, many people will sit on the dole until the perfect job comes along, not any job, the perfect job. Yeah, that is the problem - the dole isn't there to provide you with an income, it is there to tie you over between jobs, and in reality you really should be out there looking for work, and taking whatever work becomes available.

Now, many of the people in Queensland, and in Western Australia, made a lot of money during the mining boom, and now that period is over. So, we have these options for work, but the party in Canberra is talking about canning this project because it is upsetting a bunch of inner city greenies. Look, I have serious doubts about the economic viability of the Adani mine, and personally, from what I have read, I suspect that the work isn't actually going to materialise, especially since there is talk that it is going to be automated

Palmers $60 Million

Yeah, lets talk about this guy. Look, while I do suspect that he always had the intention of directing votes to the Libs, and running a third party in a system that works on preferential voting, does allow one to register a protest vote, but the thing is that I'm not entirely sure how many people actually follow the how to vote cards, For instance, let us consider the Longman byelection that was held in 2018 - the Libs gained 29% of the vote, Labor 40% of the vote, and One Nation garnerd 15% of the votes, the Green 5%, and pretty much everybody else, well, they comprised of the rest. Now, since we use preferential voting, we go to the two-party preferred which was 55% for Labor and 45% for the Libs. The thing is, even though Clive didn't run a candidate in this election, One Nation did, and they actually received a decent proportion of the vote. However, I'm not quite convinced that the One Nation supporters actually all voted for the Libs (though it is quite possible that they did).

Now, yeah, we have Clive running around trumpeting how he helped the Libs get over the line, especially in Queensland, but honestly, I think he is only making those sounds because of the fact that he spend $60 million dollars in election advertising and did not win a single seat. Look, if this guy actually thinks that people blindly follow the how to vote cards, then this guy really has no idea what he is talking about, or he thinks people are much more stupid than they actually are.

Yeah, people are complaining about how Clive bought the election, but he wants people to be upset - he is that type of guy. Look, we are talking about a guy who ran a mining company into the ground, and left without paying any of the workers a cent. Sure, he may have been a shareholder, and that may excuse him from liability, but the thing is that this guy has more than enough money to pay his workers, but he hasn't. Then there is that coal mine - honestly, if Palmer can't run a Nickle refinery, how on Earth is he going to make money from a coal mine when, well, nobody actually wants to buy coal any more. In fact, the banks don't want to lend to Adani because of the risk that coal is facing, so what makes Clive thing he can succeed where Adani is facing problems.

Oh, and this is also a guy who spend $60 million dollars on election advertising and failed to win a single seat. Look, don't get angry at him, that's what he wants, instead treat him as a joke, and laugh at the fact that he just flushed $60 million dollars down the toilet for no appreciable gain. Why? because the Libs were always going to win that election.

Though, as one friend put it, getting advertising space in those last couple of weeks was pretty hard because Clive had pretty much bought it all up. In a way, as a friend put it, it is like the free beer party at Uni. Basically they have no politics, and simply go around promising everybody free beer if they are elected. The problem is what they are doing is sucking all of the oxygen out of the atmosphere, and preventing anybody else from getting a word in edgewise.

Still, I'm not convinced he had that much of an effect. So, yeah, sure Clive, you didn't buy this election, Bill Shorten lost it because, well, he basically ran a shit campaign. 

The Murdocracy

Honestly, it is starting to get annoying that people are looking at blaming anybody any everybody for Labor's loss with the exception of the one group that is probably responsible for the loss. One of those people that are regularly blamed is Rupert Murdoch, namely because his newspapers account for 65% of all newspapers circulating in Australia. However, the question comes down to whether this control accounts to political control. Honestly, I don't think so.

Now, this concern has arisen since the 2013 election where Labor was basically thrown out of office, and the complaints involved Murdoch publishing newspaper covers as such:

Ever since this front page appeared the left have complained about Murdoch's influence on Australian politics, particularly since two companies control 86% of Australia's newspaper circulation. However, I'm not entirely convinced that Murdoch has as much influence as he believes he has, despite the fact that the Herald Sun is on prominent display in Coles supermarkets, and are also scattered throughout Melbourne's various cafes.

The reason I say this is because in South Australia and Queensland, where there is only one newspaper in circulation, a Murdoch rag, they also happened to have long standing Labor governments. In South Australia, Labor was in power for 16 years, while in Queensland the Liberal government not only managed to get kicked out after one term in office, but they went from literally dominating parliament, to losing by a whisker. So, considering that, and considering how Murdoch seems to trumpet for the Libs, I'm not convinced that his influence is that great.

I could go further and consider the Victorian election where they literally created an African gang crisis that the police claimed did not exist, namely to set up a law and order platform for the liberal opposition. Well, as it turned out, the Libs not only lost, but Labor was returned with a huge majority.

Oh, and when Teresa May called an election in 2017 with the hope of securing a majority in the commons, the result was, well, not they great (she lost 17 seats while Labor gained 34). This was despite the Sun, another Murdoch rag, bearing this headline on the day of the election:

Yeah, I'm not convinced that he has as much influence as people claim he has

How Can Labor Win

I guess that is the big question, and I even wonder if it is possible for them to come back from this, particularly since they seem to have so many other factors stacked up against them. Yet, if we consider the other elections, things are more than possible, and as they say, a week is a very long time in politics.

Here are a few things they should consider, though I do note that Bill Shorten is no longer in the equation, which was one of the reasons I suspect was problematic namely because he really wasn't all that popular.

Retake the Centre
Unfortunately, it seems that the Libs have gone too far to the right, though not so far that they are willing to entertain the likes of Fraser Anning (a senator that was so far to the right that he was kicked out of One Nation). The thing is that with the Libs to the right, and Labor attempting to gain back votes that have drifted to the Greens, I am finding that they are attempting to court a minority while putting off the mainstream voters, who are all going over to the libs.

Well, not quite, because they did get 33% of the vote, but come to think of it, that is pretty shocking. However, he are the counts as they are currently:

Even if all of the UAP and One Nation votes wen to the coalition, that would put them on 48%, while if all the Greens went to Labor, that would by them on 43%. My theory is that they should leave the inner city safe seats and focus on the outer suburb working class seats.

The other thing is that there were all these memes going around the internet, no doubt from the Christians, claiming that Labor was going to introduce all these radical ideas, such as gender neutral driver's licenses, free sex-changes, and free abortions. In my mind, I think that also stuck with certain groups in the centre. In fact, I know of a number of Christian Labor voters who could not bring themselves to vote Labor because of the their intention toward Christian schools.

Leave Kooyong Alone
Honestly, funnelling resources in to the blue ribbon seat on Kooyong really took attention away from where it was needed. Just because there was a huge swing to Labor in Melbourne's leafy suburbs during the state election doesn't mean that it is going to happen in the Federal election. Honestly, leave these seats for the Greens and focus on the heartland of the outer suburbs.

Don't Campaign on Tax 
Yeah, I know, it wasn't at tax, but the thing is that the Libs made sure that people went into the voting booth believing that it was. In fact there are stories of pensioners who believed that they were going to be taxed, when it was only aimed at Franking Credits being paid out to people for no reason other than to buy John Howard votes. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to work, and if there is one thing that I believe cost Labor the election, it was this.

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Natural Born Losers - The Australian Election by David Alfred Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images or videos that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license. Use of these images are for illustrative purposes only are are not intended to assert ownership. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

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