Random thoughts on the Stupid Party’s comeuppance for betraying a successful leader, flinging principle to the wind and mounting the most inept election campaign since the invention of the ballot box. James Allan, Peter O’Brien, Tati Sofaris, Michael Copeman, Daryl McCann, John Izzard and more hold forth
What a strangely beautiful and enchanted day! I knew the election would go badly for the usurper when I took Mum to the polls in the afternoon and found no one handing out HTVs for the Libs. Never, ever seen that before in this electorate. The local DelCons have all gone fishing, think I.
Driving Mum home, she tells me she feels “young and wonderful again” (at 89) because, after months of agonising, she voted other-than-Liberal, the first time since 1972.
“I didn’t think I could do it,” she says, “but after two months of that bastard Turnbull, I had to.” I have never before heard Mum use “bastard”, or any swear word for that matter. This made me think the day was enchanted.
Then the Bulldogs beat the Swans with a last-gasp goal that put them four points ahead with two seconds left on the clock.
There is a God, and vengeance cometh with the night!
After 10 o’clock, when the Turnbull DD debacle is beyond dispute, she’s ringing me when she should be asleep, demonstrating once again that, while her body needs a walking stick, her mind is sharp as ever.
“I should be in bed but I want to stay up to see The Bastard make his speech. You know he’ll try and claim he has achieved a huge victory.”
“Nah, Mum,” I tell her, “he’ll resign. He’ll have to.”
Midnight comes, the Liberals’ most-fabulous-ever leader appears and launches into a thunderous waffling.
Yep, a boy should always listen to his Mum. She’s right again. — roger franklin
Tati Sofaris writes: Finally, when the darling of the press corps emerged to claim his, er, victory, it was obvious that old habits die hard. Here was the man installed in the Lodge almost solely on the strength of efforts by the gallery and commentariat to present a once-ousted party leader as the Coalition’s great white hope.
Grate Blight Hope, more accurately.
But whoever was behind the camera stuck to the narrative, recording history as some have preferred to present it since last September’s coup and before. As the Wallah of Wentworth strode through the cheering throng, his very own Potemkin Village of bogus gusto, he was framed from slightly below, appearing for a few seconds a towering hero, a man of strength and wisdom and formidable presence.
Let us hope the limp minds and fan persons at Fairfax and ABC enjoyed the spectacle — however misleading — of the man their slurs and slanders of Tony Abbott dressed up as the better choice.
By tomorrow, that artfully spun public image will have faded once and for all.
Smartest man in the room? Well seeing him refuse to resign certainly smarts.
Peter O’Brien writes: Tony Abbott was shafted on the basis that he would lead the Coalition to defeat. Despite the self-serving protestations of Liberal turncoats like Arthur Sinodinos, we will never know if that’s true — but he could hardly have done much worse than Turnbull, whose treachery could only be stomached if he had won a resounding victory with a strong mandate to get the one thing done that Abbott had hitherto failed to do, viz, get the economy back under control.
Scraping back will not cut it.
If he can eventually form government, Turnbull will not have much of a mandate for anything other than not privatizing Medicare. The Groundhog Day analogy with the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years is almost complete.
Justice demands that the tableau be played out in full. Turnbull must, at the very least, call a leadership spill. It’s probably too much to hope for but, even given his shortcomings, Tony Abbott seems the logical choice to replace him.
Andrew Bolt at his blog: ….
Malcolm, you assassinated a Liberal Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who’d won an election by a huge margin.
You promised to do even better than him.
You then treated the Liberal base like dirt, smashing it with a huge super tax, refusing to speak to conservative journalists, repeatedly humiliating Abbott.
You referred to the colonial settlement of Australia as an “invasion” and even held an end-of-Ramadan meal with known Muslim bigots.
You called an early double dissolution election on the excuse of needing new laws to tackle rogue unions with a building and construction commission, but with the true aim of getting rid of crossbench oppositionists in the Senate.
You went to the election with basically only one policy to sell — a pathetic 10-year promise to cut company tax …
Bolt is only getting warmed up. And then there is the columnist’s Sky News editorial….
Jim Allan writes: The vast preponderance of the political class, and the media class, all supported ‘Remain’ in the UK. The people begged to differ. That was perhaps the best political voting result of my life. And last night, here in Australia, we saw a roughly analogous scenario play out with our election result. The majority of the Liberal Party, those 54 pusillanimous MPs who brought you ‘the Great Communicator’ (who just happened to be the most left-wing Liberal leader ever), look a lot like ‘Team Remain’ in the UK.
Sucked in by the public broadcaster’s worldview, and what is trending on Twitter, they ditched Abbott and in doing so wholly misread their core supporters. And boy, oh boy, did they pay for it last night.
The spin will come fast and furious but make no mistake: this was a terrible result for the Coalition. More to the point, if I might indulge in a little counter-factual speculation, the Libs did worse than they would have under Abbott. (I know the ABC won’t admit this, as they had such a clear hand in Abbott’s defenestration. And I know the Lib conspirators, who toppled a first term Prime Minister as though what Gillard had done had never happened, won’t admit this either.)
We know that Abbott would have run hard against the unions. Turnbull said barely a word on this score. We know Abbott would not have attacked the superannuation of his core supporters (while leaving the defined benefit schemes of ex-politicos and judges basically untouched). We know Abbott would have run hard on the boats. Again, Turnbull uttered barely a peep. We know Abbott, to some small extent at least, would, have gone after the renewable rent-seeking scam artists. Turnbull is one of them.
I could go on but I think it must be plain to all and sundry that this was a disaster of a campaign by the Libs and that whatever the questions raised by Abbott’s leadership, Turnbull was the answer to none of them.
At the time of posting this the best case scenario for the Libs is 77 seats in the House, and it could be 75, even 74. Whichever of those proves to be the case, Turnbull has to go. Listening to George Brandis, talking about the immediate future on Sky and saying how unwise it would be to assassinate the current leader. I suspect Mr. Turnbull is going to bear an intense aversion to that word within, oh, the next few hours or so.
Until Turnbull, it would have been hard to imagine a senior Liberal minister making me want to scream at the TV, but Brandis achieved that feat. Here was a key conspirator against Abbott and what was he suggesting? Why, that the Libs had better learn not to defenestrate a sitting PM! Forget it, buddy. We can all live with that attitude once Turnbull is gone, and not before. This was Brandis playing for his political life – the same Brandis who sold out on free speech (you might recall he once liked to paint himself as a would-be John Stuart Mill when it came to free speech) and who recently appointed Ed Santow to the Human Rights Commission.
Let’s me put it this way: if the Libs don’t get rid of Turnbull they will never get my vote back. I reckon more than a few readers will agree with that sentiment. If the Liberal party room and caucus won’t pull the trigger then the Nationals should walk in and say ‘Turnbull goes or we go, and any of you who want to join us are welcome to come’.
Playing the role of the ABC’s preferred version of a tame centre-centre-left/right/mostly left-centre party as the foil to Labor is a mug’s game. Turnbull’s popularity emanated from inner-city ABC and Greens types who would never – and who last night did not – vote for him. Meanwhile the Liberal base was furious and acted accordingly.
All in all it was a pretty bad night for the political strategies of Mark Textor and Arthur Sinodinos. Oh, and Niki “Mrs Woolcock” Savva and PVO and the rest. The Turnbull Times pundits at Newscorp did not have a good night either. It appears that they were wrong about their man Turnbull.
Walk on water, they said? No, he sank like a stone.
Michael Copeman on the seven lessons Team Turnbull didn’t learn:
Don’t re-run failed parliamentarians
The Coalition could well have gained a clear majority in the Lower House if it had politely replaced candidates whose ability to be elected (or re-elected) was known to be doubtful. The seats of Indi and Mayo are obvious examples where the right candidate probably would have won. Instead, voters were faced with Liberal candidates with proven track records of being on the nose.
Don’t cosy up to adversaries
The Prime Minister might have thought that his Eid dinner in the marquee at Kirribilli House was a gesture of support and tolerance for Muslims, with Waleed Aly and Susan Carland sitting next to him. But, in Western Sydney, Muslim voters did not repay him with support at the ballot box.
By way of contrast, Pauline Hanson and Fred Nile may now command three Senate seats between them (and perhaps more). Each is an outspoken critic of taking a softly-softly attitude to problems that Islam has imported, so-called “radical Islam” most of all.
Remember, only the marginals matter in the House
The uniform 3% two-party-preferred swing against the Coalition across much of Australia underlines how much candidates, issues and campaigning in marginal seats are key to electoral success.
While the Prime Minister was highly visible in marginal seats, they were also the scene of some his major gaffes — his abruptly cancelled shopping mall walk in the Sydney seat of Lindsay, for example. These misteps were no doubt noted by swinging voters, not the policies designed to attract them.
Don’t give voters an excuse to split their Senate vote
The obvious disunity within the Liberal Party was nowhere clearer than in the list of Senate candidates. In NSW and other states there was the usual internal Party debate (leaked to the media, of course) about who would be above whom. But the more important divisions were factional and obvious. Laughably, our then- and for-the-moment PM denies these factions exist in his party.
The usual Coalition voter who was unhappy with either the Left or the Right faction may well have split their Senate vote to support at least one of the minor parties. Public disunity in the Liberals — brought to the fore by Turnbull’s relentless campaign to white-ant and then depose Abbott to the disadvantage of his own party — was largely to blame.
Don’t make the campaign all about “moi”
The key badge and logo of this election was for “the Turnbull Coalition Team”. It is a safe guess that the implied, quasi-presidential emphasis on a multi-millionaire, ex-merchant banker who lives in a harbourside mansion in Sydney didn’t resonate so well with swinging voters in Western Sydney, regional Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania.
Humility is not a Turnbull strong suit. But he should be reminded that we currently live in a Westminster-style democracy where the PM is merely “first among equals”. And those “equals” are all Australians, right across this huge country, not just those in the plum seat of Wentworth.
Pork-barrelling is passé
Listening to Coalition politicians, you would have thought that Australia had a great shortage of sporting stadia and that Rugby League was a struggling amateur sport unable to raise a dollar.
Looking at returns in the seats where new, expensive, sporting facilities were promised around Australia, these pledges seem to have done little to save marginal seats. In safe ones they were expensively unnecessary.
Every time a pork barrel is announced with great to-do somewhere, the reaction from electors elsewhere is not “Well, good for them!” but “Oh, no, more of our hard-earned tax dollars wasted”. Attempts to indirectly buy votes in this way are counter-productive and possibly even illegal.
If you want to unite your country, first unite your party
After seizing power last September, Turnbull had the opportunity to heal the rifts he had caused in his party, but didn’t. He could have given Tony Abbott a ministry (e.g. Indigenous Affairs or Defence). He could have ensured that — like Abraham Lincoln — he assembled a “team of rivals” to work to retain power this year.
Turnbull could also have stated that he would not push his own left-of-centre views now that he was in charge, not just in that Parliament but after his re-election. The fact that he refused to do so sent a clear signal to very many Liberal voters that he could not be trusted in future.
During a new Parliament, he might introduce another referendum on a Republic, soften border-protection laws, and a re-launched a carbon tax (which seems to have been his preferred option, despite its manifest failure here and overseas).
His very-late-night speech after the Election did not provide any hint that he understands the problem that he represnts, let alone plans to solve it.
If he really wants to unite the party he has done so much to divide the best thing he can do — the only thing, truth be told — is resign.
John Izzard marvels at the absolute ineptitude of Australia’s smartest man: It takes a certain sort of a disdainful Shakespearian-attitude to emerge from the assassination of an elected Australian Prime Minister and spout the immortal words, “It has never been a better time to be an Australian.” It is one thing to try playing Hamlet, but the tights have to fit. From day one, it was obvious that Malcolm Turnbull was just not right for the part. “To be or not to be?” certainly got answered on Saturday evening. Ouch!
And answered, too, during the eight weeks of the election campaign, and even before that. Who on earth was advising him? Which genius counselled Turnbull and Morrison to alter the superannuation laws that would mainly affect Liberal voters — and in an election year to boot! Well done, boys!
And who was the brains trust that decided to remove Australian flags as the backdrop to Turnbull’s TV advertisements and interviews, replacing them with a US-style “presidential” pseudo-seal. Bravo!
And with Bill Shorten carrying on all through the campaign like Jubilation T. Cornpone from Li’l Abner, why was Turnbull so punch-shy, so afraid of mixing it up that he barely mentioned union corruption — the very issue that triggered this disastrous rush to the polls and which made, or should have made, the opposition leader a sitting duck. It was as if nothing from Shorten’s past would be allowed to pass Turnbull’s lips. Good stuff, Malcolm!
And why hold a banquet for Imams and religious zealots at the Prime Minister’s official residence, and succumb to their wishes that they not eat from china and cutlery, if it had been used on previous occasions by Australian “infidels”. Did Turnbull and his advisors think a photo of him sharing Islamic nosh, which had to be prepared in an Islamic kitchen with halal-certified ingredients, because the PM’s kitchen wasn’t good enough, would be considered acceptable to his voting base? Enjoy!
And as a keen supported of gay marriage, why would the PM make such a display of entertaining Islamic leaders, quite a few of whom have publicly urged that homosexuals should be, slaughtered. It’s not that Turnbull is of the left — it’s just that he is seldom right.
Tony Abbott stopped the boats. On Saturday, former Coalition stalwarts stopped the votes!