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July 01st 2016 print

Christian Kerr

No Winners Whatever the Result

Wryness is the best I can offer in this, the last of my campaign columns. Look at the frontbenches of both government and opposition and you'll see nothing but a professional political class. The huge number of early votes may well suggest a disenchanted electorate has noticed this too

cabinetIt is election eve and the auguries are not propitious. The Australian Electoral Commission says that, by Wednesday evening, some 2.15 million voters\had cast their ballots early, either by visiting a pre-poll centre or via a postal vote — an increase of over 40% on the 1.5 million recorded for the same period in 2013. Perhaps they simply wanted some sort of personal conclusion to the endless campaign. After all, it was at the start of March we first discovered it was likely we would be voting on July 2.

Perhaps – but a large and early turnout, in the eyes of the old-timers, is usually a sign the electorate wants change. The polls remain in the same stubborn state as they have been for the past eight weeks. They show the election is too close to call.

This morning’s Galaxy poll gives the government the narrowest of leads, 51% of the two-party-preferred vote, compared to Labor’s 49%. It also shows an increase of one percentage point in the Coalition’s primary vote to 43%, better than its 2010 showing but still an awkwardly low base to build a victory on. The IPSOS poll has the parties tied. When voters are asked how they will allocate preference, this changes to a Labor lead of 51% to 49%. It has the Coalition’s primary vote at just 40%, yet finds fewer than one in five of the electorate believe Labor will win tomorrow.

This last part is nonsense, particularly given than 14% of the IPSOS respondents say they will vote for someone other Labor, the Coalition and the Greens. It perhaps represents wishful thinking or an inarticulate attempt by many in the electorate to say that while they don’t like the current government and want to punish them, they prefer them to the alternative.

All of which is why it is reasonable to forecast the election will result in a hung parliament.

This column has attempted to cover the campaign with at least some levity. Wryness is the best I can offer today. Look along the frontbenches of both the government and opposition. They are dominated by members of a professional political class. Their triumph has proved their undoing. Peter Oborne documented this breed in a Spectator column nearly 10 years ago, back in September 2007.

“The Spectator political commentator Henry Fairlie, in his column of 23 September, 1955, famously identified the Establishment as the mechanism through which power was exercised in this country,” he wrote. “His analysis, though at once recognised as authentic, was written as the British Establishment was about to collapse …

“Though the eclipse of the Establishment is well-documented, the Political Class which replaced it is so far poorly understood. This is regrettable because the Political Class has come to occupy the same public space that the Establishment was supposed to … This new class now stands at the pinnacle of the British social and economic structure … Unlike the old Establishment, the Political Class depends directly or indirectly on the state for its special privileges, career structure and increasingly for its financial support. This visceral connection distinguishes it from all previous British governing elites.”

That “visceral connection” now represents a visceral disconnection from the electorate. Last week we say what it meant in Britain. Tomorrow we will see what it means here.

Comments [7]

  1. Jody says:

    Your penultimate paragraph is shockingly pessimistic but, sadly, true. Cue the music from “Hair” and substitute these words:

    “This is the dawning of the age of (Aquarius) Entitlement”.

  2. Peter OBrien says:

    A very perspicacious comment. And the entrenchment of new establishment has been aided by the MSM, with few exceptions focussed almost entirely on politics rather than policy, to form a cosy symbiotic relationship. I noticed the editorial in today’s SMH giving a guarded nod to the government. What struck me was their suggestion that what Turnbull is offering is some sort of departure from ‘the failed Abbott experiment’, despite the fact that Turnbull is going to the electorate based almost entirely on the Abbott achievements. It is hard to take the SMH seriously when they continue to parrot the Labor line, s they did in today’s editorial, that Abbott ripped $80 billion out of health – $80 billion that was never there to start with.

    • Alice Thermopolis says:

      A propos the missing $80 billion, Sherlock Holmes solved it here:

      https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2015/08/baker-street-highly-irregulars/

      “Not since the Affair of the Politician, the Water Closet and the Trained Cormorant had the great detective faced such a mystery: what became of the notional $80 billion stolen from schoolchildren of tender years to advance the evil ends of Prime Minister Tony Moriarty?”

    • Jody says:

      I suspect Fairfax is just trying to salvage which little credibility it has left (if you’ll pardon the pun)!! They don’t want to be seen going down with the ship of Shorten and are hedging their bets. Typically craven behaviour from a news ‘outlet’ which has hit rock bottom since the glory days of earlier decades. Well, that’s what happens when you employ 30-something graduates from the Wendy Bacon School of Marxist Journalism!!

  3. nfw says:

    No, there will be winners, those the politico-legal elite ruling class and the welfare class. Just not the majority of Australians.

  4. Rob Ellison says:

    Government tax and spending is about 37% of GDP. Some 3% just from Kevin Rudd. It got this way because governments spend every cent and more every time there was a growth windfall. Every time someones pay increased they took progressively more tax. This can’t go on.

    But if what you want higher wages and less tax – vote Liberal. Both sides talk about lower taxes – but what they do is keep spending and borrowing and dig a bigger hole. Liberals are marginally better. We have been here before and it can’t go on.

    The Australian people must be convinced that it can’t go on. There is lots of rhetoric on unfairness but most people are much better off then ever. There is talk about inequality of income. Inequality declined over the last century with a tiny blip in the last 20 years. Hence the manufactured indignation. The blip was the change between the top 10% and the bottom 10%. Easy enough to fix with a slight adjustment in transfers. Less for the comfortable and more for those who could use it more. Increase the cutoff for low income health cards for instance. Increase the dole. Average income earners have keep pace.

    There are several interconnected ways to spread the wealth around – and they all boil down to increasing the size of the economy faster. Trade, innovation and lower taxes and spending. In each these of areas liberals have a clear lead over Labor.

    I’m voting Liberal in my marginal seat.

  5. en passant says:

    Malcolm of Hades will be reelected despite being Malcolm. Nobody (except Malcolm and the 53 treacherous scum) wants him. The alternative is almost worse, but in the eyes of many it really did not matter which of the bad or the badder bumbled along wrecking our country as the Chines will soon have bought everything of value and the 2% godly will have frightened us into peaceful compliance of their theocracy.

    Then, when the polls showed 50:50 along came Victoria’s ‘Dangerous Dan’ to ensure that we did know that Labor is worse than any bad Liberal could ever be. Well done that man! The Party thanks you (but which party?)

    The only way to ensure less government is to Balkanise the Parliament – and that is the way I voted.