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65 responses to “The state elections and federal implications”

  1. patrickg

    If you’ve got a link for the “unprincipled” tassie labor campaign, I would be much obliged, Mark. I haven’t really been following it – cesspool of corruption Labor down there are – and would love to see some details.

  2. Mark

    I was thinking, patrickg, of the robot calls informing voters that The Greens would legalise heroin, close down private schools, etc. I don’t have a specific link, because it’s stuff I was reading in the papers and on the net earlier in the week. I’m sure googling Tasmania, robot calls, Labor or the like would turn up lots of info!

  3. Chris

    The other factor with the uneven swings in SA is probably that many people did not actually want a change in government but did want to send a strong signal to the government that they were very unhappy. The loss of the Adelaide seat may have just been accidental – people did not expect that their change of vote would result in the liberals gaining the seat – who expects a 15% swing?!!

  4. Mark

    What accounts for the level of unhappiness, Chris? Is it policy, service delivery, Rann himself?

  5. Mark

    I’ve just updated the post with details of the swing. Interesting to observe a much larger swing against Labor in Tassie, with The Greens doing well but not coming anywhere near as close to the ALP vote as the polls may have indicated. By contrast, most of the lost Labor vote seems to have gone straight to the Libs in SA, with only a 1.6% gain in The Greens’ vote.

  6. Don Wigan

    I’ve studiously avoided any interest in the SA result, despite being an ex South Aussie. From the stuff that’s come to me over the years (and some of our posters here would offer much more informed opinion) the Rann Govt appears to be committed to arch-populism.

    To me it reached its depth when one excessively hyperbolic Minister declared Rann the best Premier ever. Competent he may be, and given the polls it is an impressive result, but best Premier ever?

    Aside from anything else I am appalled at his ignorance of SA history. This is the land of Dunstan, still unsurpassed by any Australian state leader in my memory. And going back a little further into SA political history, Playford and Kingston could also claim the mantle of greatness.

    All that said, it is hard to escape my tribal loyalty. Though seemingly not caring, I am pretty relieved at the result. Perhaps it is because I still have, like Paul Burns, a pathological fear and loathing of the Libs. Now… if they could come up with someone like Kingston or Playford today, just mayne I could welcome them.

  7. Pavlov's Cat

    mark, I’d say it’s largely Rann himself and his senior minsters, especially Foley (Treasurer), who is perceived as a bully, and Atkinson (A-G), who is perceived as, erm, very strange.

    I know a very broad cross-section of people (with my father at one end and a brilliant formerly rusted-on Labor barrister mate at the other) who have come to dislike Rann so much that as far as they’re concerned he can’t do anything right, whether it’s policy, service delivery or anything else. In general he and his team were and are perceived as arrogant and out of touch, dismissive of the electorate’s expressed concerns. Example: Health Minister John Hill, whom most people including me had always thought was the best of them, was extraordinarily contemptuous and dismissive of the surgeon leading the Save the RAH [Royal Adelaide Hospital] campaign, and appeared to have no clue how strongly many people felt about it.

    There’s also a widespread perception that the Rann government made a conscious decision that it didn’t care about the frettings and scruples of the group comprising professionals, artists, academics and other intellectuals, and openly went for the brutalist-populist approach regarding Laura Norder, bikies, censorship and so on — I think the disaffection of that group alone might be what lost them the seat of Adelaide, where many of those people are concentrated.

  8. Mark

    That all makes sense, thanks, Dr Cat.

    I do remember spending some time down in Adelaide at a conference in 2000 and chatting to a few nice people from the politics department at Adelaide Uni and being told that civil liberties, social policy, etc, were all much more liberal than in other states regardless of which party was in power. I think Olsen was premier back then. So I was a tad surprised to see all the Laura Norder authoritarianism take off.

    So is Rann likely to step down soon-ish?

  9. Pavlov's Cat

    Mark, Rann says not — but there was a thing you probably saw in Crikey’s Tips and Rumours a few days ago that Rudd had promised him Amanda Vanstone’s Italian diplomatic gig when her term ends in July (Rann’s long-suffering wife is Italian), if he, Rann, could get Labor across the line today. Who knows how true it is, though. He was sounding quite unequivocal about staying on when he addressed the faithful tonight, but he looks very tired, and those rumours about him having had enough have been swirling around for at least 12 months.

    But if they had Jane Lomax-Smith (the member for Adelaide who lost her seat) on ice as a possible succession plan, they’ll have to go back to the drawing board.

  10. Fascinated

    Pavlov’s Cat
    Don Dunstan’s bright luminescent light will now remain hostage to the dollars of the patronising right.

  11. Mark

    @9 – Dr Cat, I’d be a tad surprised, because if Vanstone’s gig is up in July, I don’t think that Rudd would want to be perceived to be doing a favour for his mate in the lead up to the federal election. Not that he hasn’t appointed heaps of Tories to well paid retirement jobs, but I’m sure the usual suspects would see it as a great scandal, etc, etc.

  12. Pavlov's Cat

    I do remember spending some time down in Adelaide at a conference in 2000 and chatting to a few nice people from the politics department at Adelaide Uni and being told that civil liberties, social policy, etc, were all much more liberal than in other states regardless of which party was in power.

    In 2000, it was true. This is new.

  13. Mark

    It raises an interesting question; because the claim was that there was something distinctly different in the South Australian political culture that made such an approach less appealling. That may still be so, of course. It may be that the Laura Norder stuff isn’t worth that many votes, but that they do it anyway.

    Is there some sort of calculation behind pissing off academics/artists/etc? Any sort of populist anti-“elites” rhetoric?

  14. Mark

    Elsewhere: John Quiggin:

    Given the extent to which Abbott’s bogus “authenticity” campaign relies on momentum, this could be a big problem for him. Or maybe not. Despite the Libs pre-election spin, tonights votes had very little to do with Federal politics, and rightly so.

    Trevor Cook:

    People who get excited about the News Ltd / Newspoll excitement about the so-called Abbott rise ought to see this as a reality check.

  15. Lefty E

    Agree w Trevor Cook! Look fwd to following the usual suspects digesting it over the next few days.

  16. joe2

    “It may be that the Laura Norder stuff isn’t worth that many votes, but that they do it anyway”

    In Victoria the attorney general Rob Hulls has steadfastly held back from anti bikie legislation. Ted Baillieu recently said such laws are a great idea…Vic is now bikie HQ, he reckons.

    There must be votes in it if he is prepared to go down that creepy path at the expense of any smallish “l” cred, you would think.

  17. Pavlov's Cat

    It raises an interesting question; because the claim was that there was something distinctly different in the South Australian political culture that made such an approach less appealling. That may still be so, of course. It may be that the Laura Norder stuff isn’t worth that many votes, but that they do it anyway.

    This is all just my opinion, but I think the operative phrase there is ‘in the South Australian political culture’. For those who had some active interest in it, perhaps, but not so much the punter in the street. The Rann government has increasingly appeared to care more about getting and keeping power than about anything else, and they do whatever will get them a safe number of votes. And if that means exploiting the perfectly reasonably fears held by the general populace of being mugged, robbed and/or raped, or their horror at the stranglehold bikies have on the drug trade, or their fear that their children will learn about Brazilians and spiked leather collars from Teh Interwebs — people who otherwise may well not vote for them — then trade on those fears they will, without hesitation.

    Is there some sort of calculation behind pissing off academics/artists/etc? Any sort of populist anti-”elites” rhetoric?

    No no, nothing as obvious as that. Like I said, this is what people have said to me, and it was only after they said it that I noticed that it seemed to be true. Rann himself is Arts Minister (well, he was; I assume he still is) and has a particular affection and affinity for Writers’ Week, and his wife is an actor. Jane Lomax-Smith (aka J-Lo) is frequently seen at theatre and opera events. Atkinson prides himself on his intellect. It’s not so much actively pissing off that stratum as making a conscious decision that they don’t care if they do piss them/us off with the censorship stuff and the Laura Norder stuff.

    Not to mention the belt-tightening of certain kinds of arts funding, like the refusal of adequate funding that recently saw the skilled and hard-working Director of the Art Gallery quietly decide not to renew his contract because he didn’t want to run a second-rate gallery with no decent exhibitions — and then get trashed in The Advertiser for doing a ‘dummy spit’. (See ‘one-paper town’.) The Rann mob would far rather spend Arts money on something big and shiny. And some of them would rather use it to lure Lance Armstrong down here to ride his bike up Willy Hill in 43 degree heat and pull the crowds.

  18. Jacques de Molay

    and SA Labor are way too far in bed with big developers. They’re trying to bulldoze and re-build anything & everything that pops in to their heads because according to Rann it’s what we need to do to compete with the other states proving once and for all that despite all the high priced drones and flunkies Rann still knows fuck all about how South Aussies really feel and think.

    The size of the swing against Labor in the western suburbs was gigantic (the complete waste of money that is the tramline extension and St Clair land swap obviously came into it). 13% swing against Atkinson, at least I played my part.

  19. PinkyOz

    Yeah, well we can talk about Labor’s strategy in SA being somewhat clever, but it doesn’t mask the fact that a party with less than 40% of Primary Votes was easily able to pick up more than half the seats, while a party with over 40% will pick up considerably less (looks like they will end up about 6 short in fact). To say the Liberals have an image problem might be an understatement, based on this result

    Jacques de Molay @ 18 – While seeing Michael Atkinson get a kicking was at least satisfying, he wasn’t even pushed to preferences, just depressing.

    I sort of liked the Tassie result better, just about right based on PV% vs. Seats, even with the Liberal/Labor parties mucking about with quotas and members. Sure it’s going to be a bit of a mess, but at least now we will find out if the coming of the greens really is the end of the world as the majors suggest. Somehow I think not, but hey, stranger things right? :)


  20. Sam

    Looks like the Labor robo calls worked in Tasmania, with the Greens’ vote four to five per cent less than the polls were indicating.

    People get very worked up about negative political advertising and messaging. But as the party hard heads know, it works.

  21. Lefty E

    “…it works.”

    Does it, Sam? The robocalls really pissed off a lot of people in Tas – the “what’s heroin, Mummy?” story hurt them elsewhere, even if it denied Greens a point or two.

    Its quite possible Bartlett would have the higher vote share today, but for that. And it cant be helping his last chance: that the Greens will take the last seat in Denison.

    Its think its quite possible the anti-Greens campaign actually lost the ALP government.

  22. Zorronsky

    Labour governments would do well to keep firmly in mind who put them in and why. The bubbling to the surface of the worst of ‘right wing’ type behavior seems to be the rule, although Don Dunstan probably held out pretty well. His calls to his base while under constant attack by hostile media resonated with the electorate positively.

  23. Saint Furious of Ikea

    Rann hasn’t just pissed of academics/artists – he’s pissed off the disabled, Aboriginal people, women, environmentalists etc. His language is hyperbolic and insensitive. The bluster/bombast rhetorical style when he discussed mining was painful to the Aboriginal people I know. When an Aboriginal woman tried to raise this at an event that the Premier was speaking at, his response was callous and egocentric.

    What’s the pattern?

    See, to me if there is any lesson from Mike Rann’s victory, it’s a lesson for Tony Abbott. Mike Rann clearly doesn’t give a hoot about offending his base.

    So like Paul Burns and others here, [including myself, as I learnt yesterday], there is a proportion of the population that simply can’t bring themselves to vote Liberal. Yesterday, people I know that threatened to “put Labor last”, chickened out, because there was a real fear we might actually get the Libs.

    On my stroll through the city on Friday, I contemplated what it might mean to get the Libs. How incompetent would you have to be to stuff up the running of South Australia?…I mean really, it’s an okay place to live, it’s uncomplicated; the city is beautiful, and built on a wonderfully human scale – the only way you could fuck that up is to make a concerted effort to ruin it. I don’t think Isobel Redmond is incompetent, in fact she seems quite capable [I even have a sneaking suspicion that the Libs may actually be less rigid on some of Atkinson’s pet issues – like censorship] – so I really have no idea why the idea of the Libs getting in bothered me as much as it eventually did.

    I think Mike Rann is clever enough to know who those people who CAN’T vote Liberal are, and what proportion of the electorate they are – so that even if there ultimate protest is to simply not vote, it’s not enough to really swing an election, especially when he is picking up votes from the right – those attracted to the anti-progressive, anti-South Aussie stuff.

    That doesn’t explain why Jane Lomax Smith lost her seat in Adelaide though. The other narrative is that people voted against Ministers – explaining the big swings in safe seats, whilst a couple of marginal Labor seats got minor swings in their favour.

    On radio last night, Atkinson, said Labor knew from polling that they were going to hold Mawson – I live in the neighbouring electorate, but my post office box is in Mawson, and I would describe Bignell’s campaign as fairly unremarkable, but he held a marginal seat and got a 2% swing to him. It’s very strange.

    Anyhow, two female Ministers lost their seats, Maywald and Lomax-Smith, whilst Blokes Inc. remains. This is the one thing about this election result that truly pisses me off.

  24. Saint Furious of Ikea

    Zorronsky, I hope Labor respond by…well..being more like Labor, but I somehow doubt it. If they did actually get some kind of message out of this election, it was definitely not reflected in Mike Rann’s speech last night. I found it quite sickening to listen to.

  25. Paul Burns

    Until I read John Quiggin’s analysis, I would have thought that the results in both SA and Tasmania could be read as a plague on both your houses. But I’m not so sure now. So what are the Federal implications – probably none, though it could reflect a reluctance to vote Liberal, as several commentors have noted. Whether this anti-Liberal feeling is restricted to me and people like me because they’re just perceived as some variant of neo-conservative selfishness and heartlessness I don’t know. It may be wider, with the gut populist feeling in the electorate of “I just don’t like what they’re offering.” Even in Tasmania, which from the little I’ve read about it, was a dog of a campaign, the Liberal minority government is going to be well and truly kept in harness by the Greens. The Libs ain’t going to get that on a federal level. Too many wild cards can be thrown up in the Senate in a federal election. Rudd won’t be dumped. In economic terms, or perhaps luck, he’s no Jim Scullin who lost in the Great Depression. And Keating,whom you all know I’m ambivalent about, got it right there- Abbott’s a nutter and an economic dunce. This is what people will see – and there’s a price for being a nutter, as Labor found out in the Tassie elections when they ran those preposterous heroin ads against the Greens. Politicians would do well to remember that while the electorate most of the time likes their beer and skittles, bread and circuses, footie and fast cars, movies and wild music, etc, when it comes to picking a government, even when pollies are trying to press the hip-pocket nerve, we’re not fools.

  26. Pavlov's Cat

    I think Mike Rann is clever enough to know who those people who CAN’T vote Liberal are, and what proportion of the electorate they are – so that even if there ultimate protest is to simply not vote, it’s not enough to really swing an election

    Exactly. That's what I meant when I said they'd made a conscious decision to abandon those parts of their support base.

    About the implications for federal Labor, I reckon this particular election was 100% about Rann and his droogs and their behaviour on SA-specific matters, not Lab/Lib tribal at all.

  27. Fascinated

    That was a weird sort of an evening (the way elections unfolded that is).
    Tassie as expected but a mid-air near miss in SA.
    St Furious: The two women Ministers gone is not good (a real shame as they both worked damn hard) but at least it exposes the beagle boys.
    Pavlov’s Cat: I think the ALP have pushed the idea that you dont need a support base when you have big backers/the numbers, as far as it will go.
    If Rann is truly from the Centre, he and the Left now have enough ammunition to dramatically change the deck chairs before the next election and reinvigorate the support base. eg Mick Atkinson needs a new focus (there are plenty of other lawyers in the ALP) and Jay is an obvious candidate for Dep Prem. The swing has been enough to cement the message that the SA ALP has gone too far to the right.

  28. Deborah

    Attorney-General Michael Atkinson quits front bench

    TROUBLE-plagued Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has fallen on his sword to make way for fresh blood in a new Labor ministry.

  29. Deborah
  30. Christopher Pearson

    Thanks, Mark, for a gracious mention. Kenyon and Portolesi did very well indeed.Bignell too.

    On the question of federal implications of state elections, I beg to differ. A Tasmanian Lib. governmenr will raise more forcefully Michelle Grattan’s initial Press Club question to Rudd on premiers’ opposition : “Do you have a plan B and, if a referendum fails, a plan C?”

  31. Mark

    @30 – Christopher, yes, but that’s a separate question, in the sense that it refers to the implications for policy and politics of a Tasmanian Liberal government. What I was referring to was the claim that Liberal wins would somehow demonstrate a groundswell of support for Abbott and/or an anti-Rudd sentiment, for which there is clearly no basis (and would not have been had the result in SA been different). But on the point you raise, most of what I’ve been reading tends to suggest that the WA Liberal government is not unsympathetic to Rudd’s health and hospitals plan. States don’t necessarily act in a partisan way when they consider proposals from a federal government of the opposite complexion. If it could be argued that Tasmanian interests would be served by signing up, I’m sure any Tasmanian government would be open to that. It would also be a bad look if a putative Tassie Liberal government were to be seen to be making a decision based on the federal political interests of the opposition so soon after its election.

  32. PinkyOz

    Well, can’t say I’m sad to see Michael Atkinson go from the frontbench, I know very little about SA politics, but I really did hope his views would be duly dismissed. I hope your right about renewal in the front bench of a more than likely SA labor government, but I have my Queensland experience would make me just a little suspicious of that statement.

    There is something that I would like to pick up here. Why does everyone think that the Liberals get up in the morning and say “How am I going to be evil today?” or “How can I screw the little people further into the ground?” or “How can I make big business pay more in party donations?”. No one goes into politics with that attitude, surely? And if such people exist why do we believe that they wouldn’t get into Labor, or the Greens or anyone with a certain amount of electoral success?

    Sure the system is bad, but it’s not because of any one person or party, the overall mechanic forces quite a few uncomfortable decisions I would suspect, and everyone in society has a role to play in those decisions. In the end we as voters have to try to make the best decision we can, try to ignore those partisan voices that tell us that because they don’t think like us that they can’t do a thing right and make choices on reason. Considering that politicians of all stripes tend to use very emotive arguments, that may be harder then we think.


  33. Fran Barlow

    One interesting feature of the SA contest was that Isabel(sp?) Redmond seems the least stupid and obnoxious Liberal I’ve heard for some time. Verging on articulate even.

    That’s a bit of a worry …

  34. Christopher Pearson

    Another way of looking at it, from a premieral perspective, is that having to hand back (no ifs or buts) 30% of GST revenue towards a health budget over which you have no control only presages further gouging from a federal government too big for its boots. Beneath the surface calm, they’re all unhappy and Brumby the unhappiest of the lot, because the Vics run the best State hospitals and they have nothing but contempt for the Qld and NSW systems.

  35. Mark

    @34 – Personally, having had a bit of recent positive experience of it, Christopher, I don’t think the Queensland public hospital system is anywhere near as bad as it’s painted. Similarly, I suspect there’s a bit of conceit in Brumby’s position.

  36. Mark

    @32 – PinkyOz, I don’t imagine most Liberals wake up in the morning asking themselves how they can go about the world doing evil and causing ruination. But I do think that Liberals tend to have an opposite set of political/cultural instincts to mine – much more in favour of both individualism and established hierarchies. So, even in the largely de-ideologised world of state politics, there’s reason, in my view, to vote for those who (however imperfectly) understand that inequality is structural, and by rights, ought to be addressed, and to vote against those who don’t.

  37. Doug

    The Tasmanian result showed the value of Hare Clark as putting some power into the hands of voters to turf out members of their own party as happened in Denison.

    the other longer term implication of the consolidation of the Green presence is worth thinking about. In the last election it looked on election night as though there would only be two Greens in the Parliament. Their seats in Bass and Lyons this time were won without difficulty and showed strong voter recognition that goes with having bee effective members. What that means is that the Green presence is now locked in much more substantially despite the effort to rig the system to get rid of them.

    the prospects for majority rule in future look increasingly difficult, particularly for the Liberal party. If they could not get a majority this time it is hard to imagine circumstances under which they will do a good deal better, short of the ALP completely imploding.

  38. Christopher Pearson

    Mark, Brumby may well be vain, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a legitimate grievance.

    The GST was promised as a virtually untied growth tax. Just imagine being a competent premier and having a compulsive micro- managerial PM with delusions of grandeur setting precedents by unilaterally clawing back big tranches of your revenue.You’d be ANTSY and not too coyly grateful for any bipartisan support to resist such a move.

  39. Fascinated

    28# and 29#
    Goodness – that was quick.

  40. joe2

    Beneath the surface calm, they’re all unhappy and Brumby the unhappiest of the lot, because the Vics run the best State hospitals and they have nothing but contempt for the Qld and NSW systems.

    And Brumby could hardly believe his good luck when media, as a pack, started talking highly of the Victorian health system. Why not then ‘play hard to get’ when your planning minister’s department has just let the cat out of the bag about how important decisions on redevelopment are really made?

    Go forward 5 or 6 days and all the talk about town is of a ninety year old unable to get treatment for a broken leg in four days. And a few months back when
    many hospitals were caught faking up procedure notifications to get extra funding.

    Christopher, the disquiet among premiers over the Rudd health plan is a beat up. Just like the story of the NSW Premier and Rudd, in a frosty moment, organised largely by selective TV News film editing.

  41. Chris

    Mark @ 4 – I agree with PC @ 7 said – arrogance by the Labor leadership and lack of consultation with the community of important issues.

    Deborah @ 28,29 – best news I’ve had all day! Hopefully some of the bad law & order policies will disappear with them.

  42. Chookie

    In Tasmania there was a 12.1% swing against Labor, and 4.6% went to the Greens. That’s 38% of the swing. In SA it was a 7.4% swing and the Greens have picked up 1.6% or about 20% of the swingers (assuming that all the people who swung against FF and the Nats went to the Libs rather than the Greens).

    Now I’m guessing that most of the Green swing in Tassie is over the Tamar pulp mill, but it must be very encouraging to the Greens to have picked up 20% of the swinging voters in SA.

  43. Deborah

    Chookie, I’m guessing that there are quite a few people in SA who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Labor, but did not want to vote for the Libs either (see PC’s comment @ 7). Voting Green is an obvious alternative. So it may not indicate a choice for the Greens as much as a vote for not-Labor.

  44. Christopher Pearson

    Joe2, I’m not here to defend the premiers (come what may) or the failings of their respective health systems. But I don’t buy the argument that their concerns about loss of GST funding is just a beat-up. The fact that they’re not federal politicians cannot be any sort of charge against them as not being serious people. Premiers have real jobs with real, constitutionally defined responsibilities. I think it’s perfectly legitimate for them to worry about federal attacks on their revenue base, especially where there’s good reason to accept that they spend the money more sensibly.

  45. sg

    I didn’t think the premiers had a constitutionally defined revenue base, did they? They get money from the Federal govt at the Federal govts pleasure, don’t they? The structuring of the GST was just a sweetener, really – the Federal govt could have collected it and simply given the states the amount it thought they deserved. They can’t collect revenue themselves, so it was only a matter of time before a Federal govt decided to change the allocation rules. Surely all the premiers know this? Or am I misunderstanding the rules about state revenue collection?

  46. JohnL

    Christopher Pearson at 44: So I presume you mean, for example, the attack on the revenue base of the States implicit in the condition that the States abolish stamp duty in return for a share of the GST. Or, perhaps you think the State Governments had the final say in how GST revenue was allocated to the various States by the Federal Government. NSW and Victoria, for example, have been complaining about the unfairness of the allocation, which does not return to them the amount of GST which is collected from their States. So Christopher, it does help if you know something about the subject on which you are pontificating. Another example: how much say did the States (which have the prime responsibility for running hospitals) have in the Howard Government decision to cut the forward estimates for public hospital funding to the States because it had taken a decision on private health insurance that it saw as increasing the use of private hospitals? We will all be enlightened by your repsonse.

  47. Saint Furious of Ikea

    Wow. I had an inkling Atkinson was going to step down when he was asked on radio last night whether he and Mike Rann were contemplating early retirement, and he simply said that he didn’t think Mike Rann was going anywhere.

    I hope Weatherill’s challenge is successful, good on him.

    Also, thanks to PC for graciously ignoring my appalling abuses of language – I’m sure my posts cause you great pain to read. I only noticed that glaring spelling error when you quoted me. Oops.

  48. PinkyOz

    Mark @ 36 – Yep, that’s fine, and I would seriously doubt anyone with more then a primary school understanding of politics would think that there are politicians that act like villians in saturday morning cartoons.

    What I’m saying is keep an open mind, be ready to look at all options and choose the better option. I doubt what constitutes the right will be like this in a generation’s time, just as the left will be refining it’s thoughts and ideals as well, it is the way we move forward in society. If we aren’t ready to listen to those ideas being refined and improved, then we may miss something that may have helped.

    That said, there aren’t many politicians with either the will or position to start really thinking carefully about what they are offering, although there were some signs of that in Redmond’s campaign, signs we should be encouraging, the Liberals in opposition are rarely known for their innovative capacity, actually for that matter not many oppositions are. So no, don’t change your vote yet, but keep your ears open you never know what’s coming next. (Although, I get the impression that your not exactly locked in either, that if given the right evidence you will listen and contribute, at least I hope so)


  49. Paul Burns

    i wasn’t going to buy into this one, but – the problem with the Liberal Party was that it changed, primarily under Howard’s influence, in the 1980s. Prior to that, from Fraser back to Menzies it was a centre-right party. There was a consensus on most topics between both major parties on issues that are now absolute points of difference with the possible exception of industrial relations. Both parties agreed on immigration issues for example – from White Australia through to multiculturalism, on the need for a decent welfare state, on the importance of equal opportunity for education, on Aboriginal issues, refugee policy and so on. When and only when the Liberal Party under Howard changed to dog-whistling on race, Aboriginal policy, refugees, welfare crackdowns, etc and the use of American style wedge politics, when it began to ape the far right American conservatives, did it change to a party that cared solely for the well off (rather than Menzies’ “forgotten people’, the middle classes, and actively and ruthlessly denigrated Aborigines, the poor, single mother, even the disabled, for Chrissake, did they start to lose their moral compass, and become a party for the most part dedicated to a heartless selfishness which it wanted to replicate as the guiding light of our society rather than ideas of a better society, a fair go, a (with qualifications)tolerant understanding country did it begin to follow policies which, to put it mildly since you don’t like the confronting word evil, were ethically undesirable, whether one understands ethics from either a religious or humanist viewpoint.
    One example and one example only will do- the racist nationalist Cronulla Riots could not have happened under any other government than that of a Liberal Party led by John Howard.

  50. Fascinated

    47# St Furious

    “Is reddo justicia in civitas did non memor ut populus es non caecus”.

  51. Mark

    @38 –

    Mark, Brumby may well be vain, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a legitimate grievance.

    I don’t know whether or not Brumby is vain, Christopher. What I meant was that his claims about the Victorian health system and its wonders may involve a bit of boosterism in an election year.

    As to the GST, I think the argument about it is a bit beside the point, for two reasons:

    (a) The money the states spend on hospitals is already subject to federal conditions by virtue of the agreements regularly renegotiated between the states and the commonwealth. It’s not as if there’s a separate pot, stemming from the GST, which they spend at their discretion. It’s their discretion how much revenue they allocate, but all of the operational funding, whether from state or federal sources, is subject to the same agreed criteria on its allocation within the health systems;

    (b) It’s not a ‘growth tax’ equally for all states, because it’s dependent on the level of economic activity in each state – which is not the same as population (hence the arguments about its allocation).

    Then there are the projections about the increasingly large percentage of state revenues which will have to go into hospital funding, which state Treasurers can read as well as anyone else. Rudd is wielding a stick *and* holding out a carrot. They know they’ll wear the political pain down the line if things deteriorate, and he’s counting on them fearing political pain earlier.

  52. Lefty E
  53. Lefty E

    Its funny, I hadn’t heard about Rann’s “drubbing” till the OZ hit the press.
    I thought he won.

  54. Jack Strocchi

    Mark said:

    I’m going to be very interested to see whether those members of the commentariat who were proclaiming that a Labor loss in one or both states would spell doom for Rudd, further embolden Abbott, and claiming that “state results have federal implications and feed into the psychological battle in Canberra” will now rewrite their scripts for tomorrow’s papers.

    May I be permitted a strangled crow on my own behalf? On this blog on Saturday I predicted “close wins for the ALP” in both SA and TAS. Thats not to far off the truth given that normal GREEN preference flows would have seen TAS ALP victory.

    The ALP primary vote went down 12% from 49% to 37%. The ALP’s lost votes were split almost equally between the Right and Left. The L/NP primary vote went up 7% from 32% to 39%. The balance went to the GREENs, whose primary vote went up from 16% to 21%.

    To make the TAS vote equivalent to the SA vote one would have to notionally direct typical preferences flows from the GREENs to the ALP. Assuming a conservative 2/3 split in favour of the ALP would have given the ALP 51% versus L/NP 49%. A reasonably comfortable victory.

    So I am going to give myself a good one and one-half points out of a possible two for my prediction. A solid B.

    Did anyone actually get a completely correct prediction? So far as I can see Mumbles was pretty close. But he only gave SA ALP a 45% of victory:

    Could go either way. There’s a small chance of a hung parliament but most likely a majority for one side or other. Let’s say 40% chance of a Labor majority, 25% of a hung parliament and 35% of a Liberal majority.

    [11am: oh, and Tasmanians Liberals to win a plurality.]

    So close but no cigar

    BTW Mark, what were your predictions? I give you some credit for not being suckered by the Australian’s line. But you have to make some positive predictions to get in the hunt for psephological credit.

    Mark said:

    In truth, there is very little point pouring over state tea leaves to concoct a federal brew.

    I disagree. This result continues the ALP’s near total domination of the mainland states. Which is now correlating to the ALP’s near total domination at the federal level. We are in an era when the ALP is the Natural Party of Government, and perhaps tending to a One Party State.

    The vote for the ALP is far superior to that which we would expect from normal electoral cycles. There is a pro-ALP, or rather anti-L/NP, bias in the electorate. Probably due to demographic reasons causing an ideological trend towards statism.

    In living memory state electorates tend to be pro-, rather than counter-, valent to federal electorates. We tend to vote for the same team in the Big League and the Reserves.

    Think about it, in the post-WWII era (1945-83) the L/NP enjoyed near total dominance at the federal level with Menzies through to Fraser. This was accompanied by near L/NP total dominance at the state level (Bolte, Court, Playford, Bjelke-Peterson)

    Then in the post-Cold War era (1983+) the ALP have enjoyed a fairly dominant position (Hawke-Keating-Rudd). This has been accompanied by near total ALP dominance at the state level eg Cain, Wran, Beatty, Bracks,

    Its no accident that the ALP’s current electoral hegemony started in 1983, the year that the youngest Baby Boomer first got the vote. The ALP’s political dominance coincides with the Baby Boomer demographic dominance. Indeed the two phenomenon are different sides of the same process.

  55. Geoff Honnor

    “I thought he won.”

    Rudd wasn’t running Lefty E and just as well given that the net effect of him doing so would have been – far from ‘winning’ – an 8% swing against the ALP in SA and 12% against in Tassie.

    I really don’t think you can read either result as a commentary on federal politics.

  56. Mercurius

    I really don’t think you can read either result as a commentary on federal politics.

    So it’s little wonder then that today’s Australian leads with a headline that reads the results as a commentary on federal politics.

  57. PinkyOz

    Paul Burns @ 49 – I’m not going to even try to defend Howard’s social justice record, because it speaks for itself. As you said, it’s all wedge politics aimed at tapping into mutual fears about ‘other’ people. And I still doubt that Howard got up in the morning thinking ‘how can I oppress the darkies today?’.

    Yes, the Liberal party of today is a far-right controlled ball of populism, hatred and fear-mongering, a truly sad predicament for a party that started in a good place. There is little to be learned from it other than how to avoid doing the same thing. That said, no side of politics has a monopoly on good ideas or morally correct answers, and that if we aren’t ready to listen to wider variety of viewpoints, we will miss good opportunities.

    The Liberals have and quite possibly always will change over time, if they don’t they will die off and a new party/ies will form on the right. Keep an ear out, don’t miss an opportunity for positive change just because of a party brand.


  58. Lefty E

    Geoff, read it again!

  59. Paul Burns

    PinkyOz @ 56,
    i thought for a moment when Turnbull became leader that we were going to get back to the liberal tradition espoused by Menzies on. Unfortunately the party has been clearly captured by Howadites, who seek to perpetuate and institutionalise his abject far right philosophy. There’s no hope for them and I don’t want to wait a generation for them to change for the better. The most frightening effect of all this, of course, is the effect its having dragging Labor to the right. To a great extent Labor’s reformidst credentials, epitomised by Whitlam, have been scuttled off to some back room where once in the blue moon they’re brought out to make the left feel better. Howard had changed Australia for the worse, the same way Whitlam changed it for the better. Unfortunately, his influence looks as if it is going to be long lasting as Whitlam. Maybe JWH didn’t get out of bed every morning thinking how can I be a bastard today. Banal functionaries of evil regimes don’t think that way. They’re hardly conscious of the evil they embody. Besides if he tried to be a Mugabe or an Idi Amin, he wouldn’t last 2 seconds here, so he has to have a different modus operandi.
    Now, re the announcement of the Labor loss that wasn’t. I’ve given up long ago expressing shock and horror at right wing media bias. When I was a very young man I can reemember being in demos outside the Tele in Sydney when Frank Packer ran it, protesting at their Labor bias. Things haven’t changed and sadly they never will.

  60. PinkyOz

    Paul Burns @ 58 – I hope your wrong, I really do. Because if your right, there isn’t a lot of hope that we will get anywhere as a society.

    Fortunatley, The libs change leader as oftn as they change underwear, and I’m sure electoral defeat will reinforce that next year. From there we shall see how captured by the Howardite right they are.


  61. Paul Burns

    I hope I’m wrong too, and I’ll be the first to admit that after years of studying history, ranging from Ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Europe,(including the Rennaissance, the Reformation, Japan, China and Korea from the earliest times to about 1975,colonial and 20th century Australia,Australian diplomatic and military history with a special emphasis on the 1930s and World War II, and now 18th century England and America, I’m more likely to have a dark view of the world than an optimistic one. Certainly I’m nowhere near the idealist I was when I began in the discipline. But I do admit there are rare moments when the spirit of human good triumphs. Not many though. One of the things I realised studying Australian history is just how dark our past is, and that’s before one even begins to look at Aboriginal history. I’d tended to have the light on the hill version when I was a young fella. Not anymore.

  62. Mark

    @52 –

    LABOR’S loss in Tasmania and its drubbing in South Australia, suffering large swings in both states, are being seen as the end of the ALP’s decade of national dominance and a warning to Kevin Rudd to concentrate on policy.

    And if you read on, Lefty E, you’ll find that the results are being seen that way by… Tony Abbott and the Federal Director of the Liberal Party.

  63. Lefty E

    Yes! The Gazetters-in-chief of LNP press releases strike again.

    Thanks for that abysmal partisan cut and paste passing as ‘analysis’ Shanahan.

    Here’s a witty rejoinder for you – any thoughts on why LNP state oppositions keep falling short despite supportive factors like tired ALP state incumbency, scandals, Federal ALP incumbency?

    Its a shockingly poor record: Lib failure to convert in QLD, ACT, NT, SA – and barely scraping home in WA & (maybe) Tas?

    Im interested to hear your views on this consistent and scarcely precedented phenomoneon.

  64. Sam

    Looks like there’s a schism at the Shanahan seminary, what with Dennis treating Tone’s word as Gospel while Attila the Nun casts him as the apostate.

  65. Martin B

    especially where there’s good reason to accept that they spend the money more sensibly

    I don’t recall this argument being trotted out too often by the conservative commentariat between 1996 and 2007.