Election Diary

Shooting the Hostages

shortenbullSomewhere, in a warehouse in Adelaide, as some usually sensible and sober-minded people insist, there sit bundles of Labor how-to-vote cards preferencing Nick Xenophon Team candidates for the House of Representatives in South  Australia over the Liberals. In back rooms in Melbourne, the same people will tell you, there are Liberal how-to-votes that preference the Greens ahead of Labor in the embattled David Feeney’s seat of Batman, in Bob Hawke’s old seat of Wills, and in Michael Danby’s electorate of Melbourne Ports.

If one set appears on polling day, the other will be ready to hit the booths within half an hour, or so they say.

The folk telling the yarn have even come up with a suitably melodramatic name for the whole exercise: shooting the hostages.

For all the Prime Minister’s talk of most exciting times, the government’s campaign has failed to engage the electorate’s imagination. Bill Shorten’s attempts to sound like a statesman have come across more like initial sessions with an autocue. He’s got the words out without any eye flicker, but barely managed any modulation in his voice as he has been too engaged in the effort of everything else. What he has said doesn’t bear too close an examination, either. Much of it has either been platitudes or porkies of “the dog eat my homework” standard.

Both parties are bracing for a backlash. A backlash of a most extraordinary kind. The Coalition is terrified Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott will be rehabilitated. That’s two seats down.

Labor is terrified of the Furry Friends. One Green in the lower house is a novelty. Two starts to set a pattern. Three doesn’t bear thinking about.

And then there’s South Australia, where the mood of the electorate is as rational as the economic policies its state governments have pursued for the past half-century.

Some of the opposition leader’s inner circle may have already privately conceded defeat and decided to position themselves early before the recriminations begin. But there is no certainty for the government, despite displays of quiet confidence.

A hung parliament remains a real possibility. Shooting the hostages might be the only comfort the major parties have.

  • Meniscus

    This article makes a strong case for Andrews and Labor’s left having deliberately de-railed Shorten’s election campaign (more than it already was) with the Victorian CFA issue:


  • mags of Queensland

    All Australian elections show is that the average Joe has no interest in issues, integrity of politicians or the state of the nation. All they are interested in is if they will keep their benefits and freebies.Many of the candidates for the Senate are single issue people who can wreak havoc in the Parliament. Others see the Senate as a stepping stone to a lucrative retirement package. You only have to see the damage done to Victoria and Queensland to see the futility of trying to explain to people that the country is in dire straits and politicians promising to spend more and more money, that we have to borrow, to give them more and more freebies.

  • ian.macdougall

    For all the PM’s blather of ‘most exciting times’ etc., the government’s campaign has failed to engage the electorate’s imagination. Bill Shorten sounds like a statesman who has just met an autocue for the first time. And these are our chief contenders. How sad…

    Christian, there is an easy way to cheer yourself up, and at the same time give yourself someone you can be happy voting for. Too late this time around, but at the next federal election (which after all, could be a mere 6 months or so away) stand as a candidate yourself.
    Plenty of others are doing so, particularly in the Senate.
    You could stand as a candidate for the Kerr Party. A disparaging reference or two to Gough Whitlam, and a bit of praise for an ‘Uncle John’ and you have got to be a front runner for the highly influential senior generation.

  • Geoffrey Luck

    Once again, hords of disinterested and uncomprehending citizens are being driven to cast their blotched ballots for people they don’t like who are standing for policies they disagree with – all because of the distorting travesty of compulsory voting. And to top off the confusion, and making opinion polls useless, Australia’s unique system of preferential voting represents the conspiracy of politicians to deprive voters of the clarity needed to sort villains from mischief-makers. Applied to the Senate, the combination of these two misconceived ideas will result in the highest informal vote in history. But the vested interests comfortable with the obfuscation will do nothing to restore simplicity and transparency to the electoral process, ensuring that Australian elections remain a modern version of the Rotten Boroughs.

    • ian.macdougall


      Preferential voting was introduced by the conservative side of politics in the 1920s (?) because their vote was split between separate parties each representing city and country interests. It remains much fairer than the first-past-the-post system that operates elsewhere in the world.

  • Jody

    What is the alternative to our democracy? Come on people, it isn’t always going to function as perfectly as we’d like!! All we know is that a politician will be voted in tomorrow; there seems little difference between the major parties these days. One of these days a real leader will emerge and, voila, a point of difference!!

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