30 November 2014

Does Victoria matter?

Short answer

Yes! Very much. Some of my best friends, etc. I will be Christmassing there. God bless you all.

Yesterday saw one of the few election results where my prediction was the same as what ended up happening, so I'm quite pleased about that.

No, I meant politically. You know, the big picture. Napthine's loss as a harbinger for Abbott

Oh no, of course not. Well, not necessarily.

Menzies said that the Liberal Party was for all Australians, beholden to none. Under Abbott, this is less true than it has ever been. It is getting every bit as rancid as the UAP during World War II (but more on that later). The fact is that the Liberal Party can't handle government across all jurisdictions. Local councils drain cash from and are embarrassingly petty for state governments (territory governments can be counted as 'local government' for the purposes of the preceding statement). State governments set up alternate power bases for the feds.

John Howard hated Liberal state governments. He did nothing to ensure their re-election and actively helped euthanase a few of them. Abbott has learned the lesson but can't execute it.

Correlation is not causation. Napthine's gone and Abbott is stuffed, but as this blog has pointed out for years Abbott would always have been stuffed if Dennis Napthine - or Geoff Shaw - had never been born.

But surely, for committed Liberals like John Howard and Tony Abbott, you can't have too much Liberal government.

You weren't around in the late 1990s, were you?

In January 1995 Howard returned to the federal Liberal leadership. The Coalition had held together a minority government in NSW for four years until March that year, when Bob Carr cobbled together a majority with independents (see my previous blogpost - you'd think the Coalition would be awake to how to do this. Then again, you'd think Labor would, too).

When Howard became Prime Minister, he immediately came over all beleaguered. Carr worked quietly and constructively to shore up funding. This was a sharp contrast to the way his Liberal predecessor, John Fahey, had been wrong-footed by Keating in the COAG doh-si-doh. This made Carr look like a man who could Get Things Done.

By contrast, the Premier of Victoria was Jeff Kennett, a Liberal only in the broadest of broad-church terms. Kennett was not quiet. The extent to which he was constructive can still get you a smack in the mouth in certain Melbourne pubs. He was a man of firm ideas about how Victoria, and the country, should be governed, which pissed Howard off. Victorians with money preferred Kennett over Howard, and donated money to the state Libs rather than the feds, which pissed Howard off even more.

Howard was never a broad-church man, tolerating dissenting views through gritted teeth at the best of times. Once he got a taste of the view from the pulpit it was all over:
  • In South Australia, Nick Minchin nobbled one of the state's most popular Premiers, the Liberals' Dean Brown, and replaced him with a piece of furniture from a second-hand shop in Norwood. This is why the SA Libs will probably never govern their state until Minchin dies.
  • The Western Australian government proved to be self-nobbling; the current Premier was then its deputy and is applying his self-nobbling skills as we speak.
  • Something similar happened in Queensland: Labor seemed to like the health-and-education state government thing, and the Coalition weren't doing much with it, so they handed it over with a shrug that Beattie confused with convulsions of joy.
  • In Tasmania, Tony Rundle ran a moderate government in Coalition with the Greens. Eric Abetz helped ensure Rundle was starved of the funding to Get Things Done and was replaced by Labor.
  • Abetz also mentored the ACT Liberals, edging out winners like Kate Carnell and Gary Humphries and replacing them with knuckleheads who spray themselves daily with voter repellent.
  • The CLP lost the Northern Territory after a generation, replaced by a former ABC journalist who spoke in complete sentences and had probably never even opened a beer bottle with her eye socket.
I worked for the NSW Liberals in the 1999 election campaign and watched Mark Textor smooth the dying pillow over their even-money effort to knock Carr over. Carr won in a landslide. I left the Liberal Party soon after that but remain a Textor sceptic - which puts me at odds with the entire press gallery and other members of the political class, but hey.

With Labor in power at the state level, Howard learned that he could continue to play silly-buggers with the states over its functions and with tax, all care no responsibility because we're Liberals and they're Labor, politicians gotta politic.

High-minded rhetoric about reforming federation was framed as mealy-mouthed nonsense. This continued while Labor held all governments bigger than Brisbane City Council in 2007-08. It continues to this day, because ideas shared by both sides are the epitome of good government and political sophistication, while ideas opposed by both are freaky and flaky and otherwise undesirable. This will continue until the Labor-Coalition duopoly is broken.

But back to Victoria. When Steve Bracks, when Steve Bracks, beat Kennett in '99, beat Kennett in '99, Howard wasn't exactly distraught, wasn't exactly distraught. Bracks was quiet and constructive, quiet and constructive, and repeated his phrases when talking to commercial radio listeners. By contrast, Liberal Opposition Leader Dennis Napthine looked clumsy and shrill when he went after Bracks, and Howard gave him no assistance to speak of. Baillieu only won in 2010 when there was no risk of impeding the feds.

Abbott is in trouble, isn't he.

Yes, for reasons that have nothing to do with Napthine.

Rather than expect Abbott to use some sort of super-powers to save Napthine, then act all surprised when they prove non-existent, journos would be better off asking whether it is reasonable to expect Abbott to do anything. What is the nature of these superpowers that could save Napthine and the Victorian Coalition from itself? Why would Abbott be able to save Napthine's government but not his own? What made you think he'd be any better than Rudd or Gillard?

What is the political benefit for Abbott to save the Napthine government? What does he lose when Napthine loses?

Abbott needs all the help he can get. A re-elected Napthine government would have drained attention and resources away from his outfit.

The best people in the Napthine government (and they weren't all turkeys) are now either unemployed or staring into the foggy gloom of long-term opposition. Those who worked to get Abbott elected took staffer jobs and are looking to get some sweet lobbying roles in before the current government goes terminal. Abbott has the pick of the Napthine government's best brains, which is a nice arrangement for Abbott. And that, as far as he is concerned, is the main thing.

But, but ... Victoria is terribly important!

Oh, please.

From 1949 to 1969, the Victorian representation in the federal government was bigger than that of any state, and provided the leadership. Lightweights like Harold Holt and Peter Howson made it further than they should have through being Collins Street flaneurs, while non-Victorians like Paul Hasluck and Percy Spender were underutilised.

Never mind that during this period, the nation's centre of economic and cultural gravity shifted to Sydney. NSW had a state Labor government and a massive Labor redoubt, and the other states regarded voting Labor with communism.

After the 1969 election the representation from Victoria and NSW were roughly equal. Leadership tension between Gorton and McMahon can be seen in light of that. So too can the tension between Howard and Andrew Peacock.

Malcolm Fraser was Victorian to his bootstraps but he took pains to cultivate the party in NSW, particularly men of substance like Sir John Carrick and Bob Sir Robert Cotton. By the time Howard (mentored by Carrick and Cotton) won in 1996 he had rebuilt the NSW party from the ground up, which has never happened in Victoria.

Today, Victorians aren't the largest delegation to the federal government, nor the second - they are third, slightly ahead of WA. The current federal government, if you hadn't realised already, views things through its own prisms. We had a Prime Minister from Victoria until last year who was underappreciated by the rest of the country. Victorians have never taken to the current Prime Minister (see below). But, cheer up! The alternative Prime Minister is a Victorian - oh, don't be like that.

Look, everyone knows the Liberal Party regards Victoria as the Jewel in the Crown.

It's true that the Coalition held state government in Victoria for a long time, but two things need to be said about that.

First, people like Dick Hamer don't grow on trees (and anyway, with the fate of Leadbeater's possum in the balance, we've seen how Victorians care about trees). The Victorian Liberals of old would have quietly strangled Geoff Shaw rather than have him undermine a Baillieu. And the likes of Peter Reith, I mean I ask you. Costello might have burnished that jewel had he not been such a piker.

Second, the Labor Party in the period 1955-82 deliberately enfeebled itself, much the same as it did federally until last year and as it has in NSW for the past decade or so.

Victoria has 12 Senators. Four of them are Liberals, all numpties. There are local councils with more impressive representations (and more Liberals) than the Victorian Senate team. There is a National Senator too but, for this government, she's the wrong gender (read some of Margaret Fitzherbert's work on formidable Liberal women and wonder what might have been. Wonder what happened to Fitzherbert herself).

There are 37 Members of the House of Representatives from Victoria. Given that the state is such a Liberal jewel, and the Coalition hold federal government, and the party's federal director comes from there, you'd expect more than half - much more than half - would be held by the Coalition.

16 of Victoria's 37 HoR seats (i.e., a minority) are held by members of the Coalition. With the government on the nose, you'd expect the JitC to step up: who will bet me that Victoria's Coalition representation will increase in 2016?

The Liberal Party gives its Victorian branch all the respect and deference due to whiny laggards resting on faded laurels.

You know what the problem is? Tony Abbott needs strong Victorian representation on his front bench.

Andrew Bolt (no I won't link to his article) told his audience of mouth-breathing Victorians that the lack of a strong Victorian in his Cabinet is one of Abbott's major shortcomings.

Four members of Abbott's 20-member Cabinet are Victorians, roughly commensurate with the proportion of Victorians to Australians as a whole. It isn't clear what more Bolt could want.

Even if you accept Bolt's comment (don't worry, dear reader, I won't tell anyone about that time you agreed with Andrew Bolt), the question is: whom? Which Victorian Liberal would you have Abbott slot into his Cabinet to set things right? Napthine? Mary Wooldridge? Bolt himself? What about Sophie Mirabella, a director of the Australian Canoe Corporation? You see the problem here.

Victoria has the country's best infrastructure!

Quite why Kennett, Brumby, and now Napthine had chosen to impale themselves on the altar of the East-West tunnel is unclear.

What do you think of the way the Victorian media covers Victorian politics?

When it is forced to cover actual stuff that state government does, it is quite good. Sophisticated political and policy analysis with a light but not clichéd touch: this is what journalism on how we are governed should be. Only South Australia's InDaily comes close.

When it comes to the coverage of elections, it is as cliché-ridden as any electoral coverage. Before the election, Josh Gordon from The Age insisted that he was "on the fence" about who would win the election, when his coverage was showing clearly that Labor was preparing for office while the Coalition was in a defensive crouch, protecting its vitals.

This phenomenon was identified by US journalist Michael Kinsley in the 1990s. Before the election, journalists insist the race will be tight (against evidence that it often won't be), and that even the lamest campaign cliché is imbued with great significance. After the election, journalists portray the result as the inevitable result of seismic historical factors against which all campaigning was pitifully feeble. Political operatives of similar kidney during the campaign are divided into wise seers and hopeless jokes on the basis of a result the journalist deemed "too close to call". Those considered 'hopeless jokes' can redeem themselves to journalists by dumping on their loser-party colleagues.

This deliberate misinformation is not done to inform the public, but to maintain the journalist's pose of 'balance' above all other considerations. Not one extra newspaper, not one second of airtime, is sold because of this pose. A journalist sitting on a fence is good for nothing but target practice. The position of The Age under a Labor government will be interesting:
  • Apparently The Age hacked into a Labor database. According to the journosphere, this was fair play and part of the perils of using job-killing computers.
  • Apparently the ALP found a recording device belonging to a journalist from The Age; they listened to it, found and disseminated Ted Baillieu bagging his Liberal colleagues. According to the journosphere, this was fair play an outrage against our very democracy.
The Murdoch press seemed strangely ambivalent as to whether the Napthine government lived or died. Napthine should be congratulated for not appearing in Murdoch ads like NSW's Mike Baird did. In the nature of oligopolies, you can't really expect the Murdoch press to step up:

Hunting for clichés at staged events and finding them is political journalism's equivalent of coprophilia, the sort of misjudgment that is killing their profession from the frontline journalist to the most senior executives. Bloggers who think they have to be fair to the Murdoch press cite Karvelas as proof that not everyone in that organisation is a clown. After her coverage of this state election I'm not so sure.

What will Dennis Napthine do now?

Napthine, a country vet, was for some reason often photographed with, and drawn by cartoonists riding, horses. This could well see the end of the 'man on horseback' metaphor of strong leadership.

His affection for horses is probably genuine and the horseracing industry probably represents his best chance to avoid Stockdale Syndrome, the situation where people are bundled out of politics too early in their working lives and struggle to find something constructive to do.

Napthine has been quoted as saying that Labor's proposed royal commission into domestic violence is a waste of money, but nowhere is he quoted directly: if true, this will go down in history like all those arguments a century ago against women's suffrage, and people will defend Napthine against criticism that he excused the inexcusable.

In the regular quiz at your local pub a little while into the future, one of the questions will be: "Who was Premier of Victoria from 2012 to 2014?". You will rack your brains and groan because you'll know the answer but won't be able to articulate it. When the quizmaster reads out the answer you will growl "Oh, that's right!", and nobody will be impressed because anyone can do that and get zero points for it.

What will happen to the Liberal Party in Victoria?

It will be taken over by conservatives, a process that started already (see the preselection for Kew, and the dithering over Shaw). Churchy obsessives mostly, with one or two IPA types; the sorts of people Malcolm Fraser left the party to get away from, the sorts of people trying it on in NSW. They will shriek for their pet projects, but anything else will be nanny-state bloat. Old-guard figures who are not enjoying retirement as much as they thought will pop back up and tell everyone to keep quiet, to stay away from the Facetweet and what have you, to no avail.

They will preselect voter-repellent candidates for the federal election in 2016 and repeat the dose state-wise after that, selecting people who make Geoff Shaw look like Cicero. The media will describe these people as "feisty" and "controversial" and imply that Andrews has a fight on his hands.

Maybe there will be good and sensible people who turn the party around, but this won't happen anytime soon. The long period of reinvention that I thought was necessary before the Coalition came back to government federally is actually starting now.

The Prime Minister of Australia cares deeply about Victoria. He described Melbourne as a second home.

Yeah, he's said a lot of things. Most of them bullshit.

You seem to be implying that Tony Abbott doesn't care whether the Coalition governs Victoria.

I state it without any risk that it can be refuted. Rebutted perhaps, even dismissed; but not refuted. Do not underestimate the sheer extent to which that man gives no damn.

But if the Prime Minister of Australia doesn't care about Victoria, it must mean we're insignificant.

Oh no. See the first paragraph above. As Australian states go, Victoria is right up there. We've just got the wrong Prime Minister. Easy problem to fix, and you can do your part Victoria.

Just leave those fence-sitting journalists where they are and stop buying their output. Fence-sitting can get boring, and the best press gallery operators know there's more to state politics than some sort of longeur between elections (which they suck at covering anyway). What Daniel Andrews said before the election might not be true afterwards, so keep on looking into what the government is up to.

You'll have to do your own journalism because of the addiction to clichés by those contingently employed to do so; they can't get over it.


  1. I'm a Victorian voter and yesterday I voted against the toxic LNP brand. Get it, THE LNP BRAND. Not so much Denis Napthine.

    The LNP brand wasn't fouled that much by Denis Napthine but by Abbott and his venal anti Australian voters / people cabinet. To reiterate, I voted the way I did, primarily because of the federal Abbott coalition policies and outright dishonesty (LIES) over things like no new taxes, no cuts to the ABC, medicare co-payments, FOFA, etc. And partly because Denis Napthine never challenged at least some of the Abbott anti people policies.

    As for those fence-sitting journalists I stopped buying and listening to their product and output long ago. So much information online, no longer a need to access MSM for Murdoch and Faifax bullshit for entertainment.

    1. Did you vote for Baillieu in 2010, Taracumbi? I don't wish to invalidate your experience at all, but I suggest that the shortcomings of the Vic and Fed govts happened independently of one another. Imagine if Gillard had been re-elected, or if Abbott had been much different/better. Would Napthine still have lost? I suggest he would.

    2. @ Taracumbi: As far as "the sandbelt"/"Frankston line" seats were concerned, I'm sure the election was dominated by local issues and local anger at a government that just didn't do what it said ... or do anything at all really beyond having patrol officers at train stations and - whilst Baillieu was in charge - standing up to the Catholic Church re investigating child abuse (Ted gets too little credit for that).

      Tellingly, the Vic Libs campaigned on a theme of "safe" economic "hands", not what they'd actually done.

      Nevertheless, I understand Taracumbi's p.o.v.

      - Joe

    3. Andrew: I was outlining my own reasons.

      What might have been if Abbott had been much different / better ...people like myself (perhaps) would not have so easily voted against that (perceived or otherwise) toxic LNP brand.

      As you suggest, maybe Napthine would still have lost, ...and I agree, What the Federal LNP coalition factor was in this election will be argued for a long time. I doubt that the Federal LNP would ever seriously analyse or admit to any factor that may have contributed to such a robust loss.

      When you read political articles and the comments by readers in your excellent and informative blog; Crikey; the Guardian, etc. you would have to wonder whether I was not the only one in my reason to vote the way I did.

      I notice so far, the usual MSM superlatives describing the Victorian election outcome are also seemingly nowhere to be seen or heard.

    4. Andrew, BTW, I'm a 69yo tax paying, self funded retiree and cannot qualify for any Centrelink Senior Australian supplements, the age pension - or part thereof. And yes I'm in the demographic that traditionally vote LNP. I also live in a blue ribbon Liberal state and federal electorate.

    5. Thanks so much Taracumbi.

  2. "The Murdoch press seemed strangely ambivalent as to whether the Napthine government lived or died."

    Methinks you are too kind. The Herald-Sun published a front page pic of Andrews with the shouting headline, "DON'T TRUST HIM" a few months ago.

    Oddly, that was the moment that I thought the election was in the bag for Labor.

    - Joe

    1. Oh, that was comparatively mild.

    2. It's not like they put him in a Nazi uniform or anything.

    3. Great respect to the Victorian public who treat the hun with such disdain they ignore the message and it's ridiculous journalism. ..they really have no idea how they've all tarnished their credibility and their profession with no idea about what Melbournians really think on issues anymore

  3. Clarke and Dawe with relevant video footage please.

  4. I have a friend who was once very involved with ALP officialdom. He told me that Labor preferred the Liberals to be in power at the state level for precisely the same reasons who have outlined here about the Libs attitude to state governments.

    I think this time is different however. Abbott is seen by many as the reason the Libs lost government. Nearly 50 per cent of voters polled as they left the booth said as much. Liberal and Labor people handing out how-to-vote cards reported the Abbott factor. The Lib trying to hand me a card came close to agreeing with me that Abbott was a problem.

    No this is one of the very rare occasions when I must disagree with you Andrew. I think Abbott would have been hoping that Denis and his team would have won yesterday.

    I think Abbott's party room is unsettled enough.

    But then again, I predicted a narrow Lib win yesterday so what would I know?

  5. On Margaret Fitzherbert: it would appear that she has just been elected to the Victorian Legislative Council.

  6. Andrew,
    I've just checked the senate membership for Vi. and the Libs only have three, but I suppose Fifield could be classed as a double-numpty to make up the numbers.

    1. I stand corrected, conflated Coalition and Lib numbers. Thank you.

  7. Hillbilly Skeleton30/11/14 4:18 pm

    Sorry, but I bait Pats Karvelas on Twitter all the time. She's just another sell-out journo who sold her soul to the devil incarnate Murdoch in exchange for the comfortable life.

    In her favour I guess is the fact she hasn't Blocked me yet, like most of the other thin-skinned journos on Twitter who can't cope with their own fallibility or craven obedience to Murdoch, or the faux alternative at Fairfax, being pointed out to them.

    1. Karvelas is one of those journalists who sometimes grasps the wrong end of the stick and expects you to be impressed with the firmness of her grasp.

    2. She's on the a.b.c sometimes filling in for Raph Epstein in Melbourne. .

      No respect after she called Steve Conroy an idiot on The Drum.

      She lost me after that silly tirade.

    3. Speaking of Raph Epstein on the a.b c that ghastly man Jamie Briggs unleashed his ugliest tirade on his radio show yesterday

      Absolutely appalling behaviour Andrew.

      Very sad indeed why the liberal party are sadly looking towards a one term government with one dimensional bullies like him

      He was upset by being called a Junior Minister

  8. Two things, Andrew:

    1) the way in which the print media piled in AGAINST the winning party is just extraordinary. This result isn't a rebuttal just to the Murdoch press, but to the Australian press in general. The fact that the wash out is being explained away as a problem with 'selling' and 'messaging' really says it all: the print media doesn't really understand how hated it is by vast sections of the electorate. Selling is just about them inserting themselves into the equation as arbiters. Well, who cares what they think about anything? Certainly not voters if this results is anything to go by. The Federal ALP would be wise to pay attention to this, because it really highlights how you can win even if Murdoch hates you. He's lost the plot.

    2) A one term government has fallen. It doesn't matter about the details. It doesn't matter about the special circumstances of the Napthine government. A first term government has been trounced at the polls, even though the political class was so very clearly on its side. Even today on Insiders they were crowing about what wonderful economic managers these Vic Libs were. Hello? Highest unemployment rate in mainland Australia? Who gives a crap about a AAA rating when you can't find work? This has a direct bearing on the Abbott government, because it will show that even with the support of the vast majority of the media, and the other powers that be, voters can, and will, turf you out on your back-side. The seal has been broken. I don't doubt for a second that this is the lesson being taken by sections of the LNP right now. But, you and I both know the message they take home from this will be very silly, like blaming it all on the PMO.

    Because we all know Abbott isn't responsible for anything...even his own office and government.

    I'm loving this.

    1. 1) Yes, I've long argued that the moment would come when the traditional media would argue for one result, and the opposite would occur - that moment seems to have arrived.

      2) This Victorian election reminds me of the 1995 NSW election: a Coalition govt that was generally competent but unfocused and which grizzled about "clear air", a dorky Labor leader, a plethora of minor parties. You're right about learning the wrong lessons - not just the pollies or the backroom operatives, but the journos too.

  9. Today, Andrew Bolt has called for the abolition of the Senate.


    It's breathtaking stuff, but also an insight into the mind of how a far-right thinks, or fails to remember. Or recreates what did happen. And if that doesn't work, call for an Enabling Act.

    I know Andrew's blog prefers to avoid engagement with Andrew the Bolt but there is some serious discordance with reality here that deserves comment.

    - Joe

    1. Hey, if you can deny what's happening to the climate, polling or the structure of government is a walk in the park. There's no "I" in denial.

    2. As of this minute Das Bolter's post has 1 (one) comment.
      Me telling him what a popular idea it was.
      His readership is obviously on the up and up.

    3. If Mr Bolt was so smart why did M.T.R fail so miserably in Melbourne along with being taken to court?

      He's a narcissistic and nasty media bully that very few people watch now in Melbourne

      I seriously pity the man Andrew.

    4. Interestingly his son was a researcher at the I.P.A...that's where they get their kids to do the dirty work for them I guess..

      God I love Melbourne and it's people. ..enjoy the coffee down here and great food Andrew

      Try The European restaurant that's opposite our parliament on Spring Street incidentally. ..

  10. I do not often disagree with thee Andrew but I do now.

    I think dissatisfaction with Abbott played an important role in delivering the win in Vic for the ALP. That showed up in exit polls and in the absence of Abbott from the campaign trail.

    But does it matter if the Abbott factor was large or small scale?

    The fact that people believe it exists is enough to cause Abbott difficulties.

    Tonight I have heard him promise to work with the Andrews govt. Unusual?

    1. Would the result have been different had Abbott been at the height of his popularity? What could Abbott have to save Napthine?

    2. @5.36 pm
      "The fact that people believe it exists is enough to cause Abbott difficulties."

      I'd argue that it probably will, but only because Abbott's team (and the overall right-wing groupthink) will fall into believing there is a "perception" problem in how their "narrative" has affected the "mood of the electorate" and so on. If only we understood the message better, we’d roll over and vote for them. What rubbish. This isn’t “To His Coy Mistress”, it’s a 21st century western democracy.

      Andrew Bolt - whose ironically made a career out of implying that the majority of people are really, really stupid - recently proposed a ‘solution’ by basically calling for the Abbott government to just shout much more loudly. Predictable, but risible.

      The idea that the Abbott government will probably do just that is not only predictable but quite hilarious. - Joe.

    3. Yes Andrew I think it may well have been different.

      There did not appear to be any great animosity to Denis Napthine and few had heard of Daniel Andrews according to the poll.

      What is most interesting are the reports coming out that the ALP was running a grassroots campaign aimed at convincing the individual to change their votes. I would surprised if Abbott's name did not come up.

      Abbott inserted himself into the campaign in recent days when he threatened to withhold infrastructure funding if Andrews won. It looks like there will be a strong arm struggle over East-West link with Abbott saying the freeway WILL be BUILT just hours after saying he will work with Andrews.

    4. Joe - I agree. I find the preoccupation with The Message quite astonishing. The govt and its supporters cannot bring themselves to accept that enough people simply do not want The Product. They went into the pet shop on Election Day to buy a prettily wrapped Labrador pup and unwrapped the box to find a hissing serpent. That is why I think the Abbott factor had a impact on the Vic election. I am not sure how much of an impact, but an impact.

    5. Andrew in answer to your question about what A could have done to save Napthine I would suggest that enough people in the party thought he could do that by staying clear of Victoria.

  11. Regarding this and your previous article you have an uncanny recollection of Australian Political history. As someone whose memory does not go that far back (and without suggesting that yours does), do you have any books you could recommend for someone who wants to get a good (proper) understanding of Australian politics?

  12. I note with some resignation the PM's press conference yesterday morning where he said the word "perception" repeatedly. Followed by a performance from Joe Hockey that belonged more to a professional wrestler (both in volume and facial expressions) than politics. Followed by the MSM prattling on about a "reset button".

    I fear we are about to endure more extremes and more simplistic slogans. This morning, Hockey's trying out the latest in terms of consumer confidence. He's urging Australians: "Don't let Santa down".

    Doesn't he see how, if anything, damaging to consumer confidence that sort of tripe is? - Joe.

  13. Sad news on another front that Waleed Aly has left the rn drive show


    1. Devastated to hear Waleed Aly leave his wonderful show

      An astounding Australian that's a true intellectual and the most forensic analysis of politics on the a.b.c....a little like this blog.

      If he goes into the m.s.m and follows the money it might bring some intelligence to The Project and diversity into our conservative media

      That can't be all that bad especially for an educated moderate Muslim like him .

  14. A well reasoned article as always Andrew.

    It is interesting that two days out from the election both Fairfax & Murdoch were backing Napthine, which pretty much shows that newspapers no longer have the power they once claimed, and kowtowing to them should no longer be a priority. Also, the large number of early votes (around a million I believe) meant that conventional campaigning failed as many voters had already cast their vote before the parties could sway them.

    Fortunately we can all stop debating this now. Chris Berg has stated it's all the fault of 4 year fixed terms for government. Also according to Berg
    "The fixed term nurtured Ted Baillieu's instinctive lethargy. It created an environment in which it was plausible to roll a premier two years into their first term. And it led to the constitutional crisis that prevented Denis Napthine from regaining any sense of movement."

    I presume by "constitutional crisis" he means Geoff Shaw, but with the IPA you can't be sure.

    Link here (if you really feel the need)

    1. The I.P A are the problem not the solution ....how idiotic are these young wankers Andrew?

      James Paterson also wrote a ridiculous article defending his organization's shallow and stupid ideology

      They really need a man like Sinodinos in Victoria who has wisdom and experience for these young guns..

      They're all contributes to an anti-intellectual narrative in one of the most highly educated states in Australia

      They're a bunch of failures who don't understand the real world at all outside of their conservative sheltered existence.

  15. With Tim Wilson as a gay conservative and his clique of g.l.b.t.i.q lobbyists it's going to be very difficult with the gay lobby and the large constituency of pink votes inner city.

    It's absurd how gay liberals put up with crap like that or these social conservatives that despise the gay community

    It's weird hypocrisy or just complete wankers who are playing a dumb political game

  16. Lachlan Ridge4/12/14 5:38 am

    If your not reading Politically Homeless you must be Politically Homefull. Andrew, for a lot of us that have been working, often unpaid, and following politics for the last thirty years you are honey on a hot and dusty tongue.
    I first met Stephen Jolly, Socialist candidate for Richmond. when he was secretary of Parramatta branch of the NSW Young Labor Association. I was fascinated, as someone holding a similar post at the Central Coast Young Labor Association, because Stephen had been a witness of the Tienanmen Square protests. You should read the account here
    This man was an independent candidate in the Victorian state seat of Richmond and received one in ten first preference votes! He is an elected councillor on Yarra City Council, and he came up with the best quote of all from the recent state campaign: "Politics is what happens between elections; this is just a circus."
    I have changed my community by being sued at the 2004 council election, by setting up a cricket club encouraging everyone to play who wasn't wanted in the nice middle class clubs that proliferated in my district cricket competition, by working on the Your Rights at Work campaign in my country town and getting Bob Do Nothing For People With Broken Teeth Debus elected for my troubles (for which Rudd's employment minister, Gillard, delivered very little in terms of credit card repaying job security) ; by taking on the perceived market wisdom of electricity privatisation
    I could go on, but what's the point? As much as Andrew and I would disagree on any number of things about how politics disburses itself, from collectivism to how our children are raised by their village, the ever pressing point is we distrust the left and have no time for the know nothing Liberals.
    But fuck it. I will stand with my Brother Andrew and demand a better politics of this country. Because we were hit by the lucky stick to be born here and, as my grandfather said, you'd have to work hard to fuck up Australia, and they are...

  17. Andrew events are showing you were right about Abbott's competence.
    I never liked his brand of conservatism and the move of the Liberal Party into far right territory, but I didn't believe his government would be this inept. The government's performance is seems similar to the instability of the Rudd-Gillard years but without the ability to manage parliament and achieve some worthwhile changes and this without the pressure of a ex-PM undermining the party and a virulent opposition attack campaign. I find it hard to understand how intelligent and experienced people can be doing such a poor job. You were saying this long before it happened, one of the few who did.

  18. http://prestoninstitute.com/2014/12/06/backinthegossipgame/

    An analysis, in the style of Andrew Elder [not that I'm suggesting ownership of such] of the depth, or otherwise, of the political comment of Laurie Oakes and this particular set of leaks.


  19. Andrew, you're terrible, I was minding my own business reading this and then read,

    'Abetz also mentored the ACT Liberals, edging out winners like Kate Carnell and Gary Humphries and replacing them with knuckleheads who spray themselves daily with voter repellent,' and, 'The CLP lost the Northern Territory after a generation, replaced by a former ABC journalist who spoke in complete sentences and had probably never even opened a beer bottle with her eye socket.'

    With no notice, there I was cleaning up the coffee that I had sprayed over my screen and keyboard. Thanks for that!

    Your point about the ACT was amply illustrated by one of the segments on the final 730 ACT, with Katy Gallagher and Gary Humphries chatting amiably with the host [in the spectacular setting of the Arboretum, but that was incidental]. Not a single frightened horse to be seen anywhere.

    Mike Carey