Blind to Opportunity as the Election Looms

Permit me to offer some reflections on recent developments as the nation prepares to go to the polls.

Conservative commentators are salivating at the opportunity presented by Shorten’s pie-in-the-sky electric car initiative for the Coalition to strike back with a devastating critique that will reveal Shorten for the shameless, promise-anything huckster he really is.  On the face of it, you would think that the absurdity of this proposal should be enough to totally destroy Shorten’s credibility, particularly if coupled with pithy reminders of school halls and pink batts.

But I fear such expectations may be overly optimistic. I suspect that most voters will treat this announcement with a degree of cynicism, never really expecting a Labor government to rush out and start building charging stations.  They will see it, and if subject to any degree of scrutiny Shorten will paint it, as an ‘aspirational target’ – something Canberra will assist where possible as the technology and the EV market develops.  Voters might see it as a cynical ploy but it won’t change their votes, particularly if they are smart enough to grasp that it is just an election-mode sop to the Greens and never come to fruition.

Then again, with Labor, I’m prepared to be surprised. Like the misconceived birth of the NBN, you can never be entirely sure if a Cabinet eager to engrave its place in history won’t sign off some grandiose scheme, especially if The Greens need wooing for their Senate votes. Should that happen, a legion of rent-seekers will be lined up around the block, all with hands out to get a piece of the EV action.

I looked in vain for any mention of this issue in the SMH or the ABC’s online behemoth, wondering if  Shorten’s egregious gaffe about recharging an EV in under ten  minutes might rate critical comment. Nothing! No surprise there. Other than masochists paying to be whipped, beaten and humiliated, no relationship matches the Coalition’s funding of a media colossus that never misses a chance to give it a good thrashing.  

What I did hear this morning, as the lead item in the ABC Illawarra news broadcast no less, is that a 4 Corners investigation is poised to reveal that a fund-raiser for Tony Abbott had been held at a particular function centre, one of whose directors has links to the Chinese Communist Party.  The same item made it very prominently onto the SMH website. That tells you all you need to know about why the former Fairfax rags are now a vestigal relic attached, at least for the moment, to a none-too-healthy broadcast network. As for the ABC, is any further confirmation needed of what happens when the Left is given a publicly funded cubbyhouse and megaphone to promote its unfettered pet hates and passions?

Yes, it’s worth the government banging the drum about Labor’s EV policy long and loud, but I doubt it will be any kind of a game-changer. And actually, given how reluctant is the Coalition to land a knockout blow whenever Shorten leads with his chin, I’d be surprised if they do much of anything to exploit the Labor leader’s latest gaffe. You can almost hear the cogs ticking over, slowly, in the Liberal party room: If we make too much of a fuss about electric vehicles and how impractical they are, why we’ll never win over a single Greens voter! Meanwhile, much of the traditional base looks elsewhere for candidates and parties prepared to restore sanity to the energy market and policies.

Perhaps that fear of offending green-tinted voters is why Environment Minister Melissa Price is refusing to sign off on the Adani mine, reportedly at the behest of wet Victorian Liberals. Unless Morrison overrules this mind-boggling reticence and instructs Price to sign the documents before the election is announced, he will have alienated even more of the Liberals’ conservative base.  As many commentators have observed, voters who are against Adani will never vote for the Coalition under any circumstance, not even if the government replaces the parliament’s opening prayer with a daily corroboree in Gaia’s honour.

Meanwhile, on another front, news has emerged that, so far, only one asylum seeker has been transferred to Australia under Labor’s medivac law. Back in December I wrote:

If I were Morrison I would be mobilizing my campaign team right now. In such circumstances it would be hard not to argue and portray border protection as the election’s central theme.  The government would be fighting on ground of its own choosing.

My hypothesis was that Morison should be ready to call an early election if the Labor/Greens opposition re-instituted this idea, which they did. For my money, Morrison should have seized the day and called an immediate election on this issue. As I noted:

Shorten has exposed his weakness on this front but the momentum won’t last.  Even if we see an increased number of transfers, it’s unlikely the ABC will immediately need to reactivate its log of leaky boat arrivals. People smugglers are morally wretched but not stupid. They’ll likely wait until Labor is installed before wishing a hearty ‘bon voyage’ to the first vessels of the reborn armada making for Christmas Island. The pause will permit Shorten to argue that the Medivac bill has not prompted the dire outcome predicted by the government. As a consequence and as an election issue, the Coalition will find border security a much harder issue from which to harvest votes…

… It’s a difficult call but, as a general rule, when your wave comes in you had better ride it. 

As it turns out, border protection, the government’s greatest strength, is now a  minor issue as far as this election is concerned.  Shorten offered the government another huge target, as he did with his piffle about electric vehicles, but Team Morrison let it go through to the keeper.

Andrew Bolt recently opined that the danger of a Shorten government is too great for conservatives to entertain the notion of the Coalition needing to spend some time in the naughty corner, where it can do penance for its Turnbullian sins and contemplate the principles it so giddily shredded. But a future Labor government is a certainty in any case — if not in 2019 then three years down the road.  

If Shorten loses the unloseable election will Labor revert to the pragmatic stance of the Hawke/Keating years, or will it double down on its current embrace of green-left lunacies?

Call me a pessimist if you will, but I’m betting on the latter.

17 comments
  • Guido Negraszus

    It’s a dilemma. Labor doesn’t deserve to win and the Liberals do not deserve to be re-elected. The day the Liberals will finally take on the Green madness, rather than sucking up to it, is the day they will march to victory again. It’s fair to say that at least half of the current Liberal party room would rather have Bill Shorten as their leader and there lies the problem!

  • Ed King

    The Liberals are most definitely blind to opportunities as the election looms.

    Consider the issue of immigration. All the polls shows that a significant majority of the electorate wants a meaningful reduction in Australia’s bizarrely large immigration intake. Tony Abbott wisely argued for a cut but was shut down by his colleagues.

    After trying to tell us that mass immigration was an unalloyed good, ScoMo finally changed tack late last year. He had got the message and would slow down the immigration rate. But it was all a con job. The latest budget reveals that the government expects net overseas migration to remain over 270,000 per annum.

    The Libs could have positioned themselves as the party of sensible immigration, thereby winning back voters from One Nation and making Labor look like open-borders extremists.

    But no, the Libs are too dumb and too beholden to special interests to act. As Guido points out, the Liberals don’t deserve to be re-elected. Unfortunately, the alternative is truly terrifying.

  • Ed King

    The Coalition’s entire economic strategy seems to revolve around just importing more people.

    The Australian Conservatives are right – the Coalition is running a “Population Ponzi Scheme”: https://www.conservatives.org.au/the_population_ponzi_scheme_brazier

  • Peter Smith

    I fear that conservative-minded voters are now too few even if they were all courted by Morrison. The dreaded climate change has eaten into the base, in parallel with lowering average IQs. Mind you, that is not to say he shouldn’t try. Better to go down fighting than wimp away. Depressingly, we appear to have got many of the politicians we deserve; more are on the way. .

  • Doubting Thomas

    At the organisation level, I think the Libs have been thoroughly colonised by leftist careerists who are virtually indistinguishable from their ALP opposite numbers. Just another “team” in the same game, looking after their own interests. Like footballers or cricketers they could change sides in the blink of an ere and never miss a beat.

    Th Lib/Nat coalition’s invariable tactic of adjusting their policies trying to pander to the left is a perfect example of the popular definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Not only will the people they are pandering to never vote for the Coalition, loyal conservatives are sickened by the spinelessness of their representatives and tend to flee screaming into the right.

  • Doubting Thomas

    “Blink of an eye”. Bah.

  • padraic

    I agree with everything you say Peter. The ABC are not even trying to hide their support for Labor/Greens – they are in full election mode promoting one side of the political equation. The Liberals’ timidity in thinking they must not have policies that will offend the Greens and other dills is appalling. These types will never vote for them. Contrast a few years back when Tony Abbott took them on and won handsomely, because the majority of people outside the social media bubble do not think like the minority of leftist ratbags that amplify their clout through aggressive activism.

  • en passant

    Peter,
    It is impolite to speak ill of the dead, viz:
    “You can almost hear the cogs ticking over, slowly, in the Liberal party room” The il-Liberal mouse is long dead and the cogs stopped ticking years ago. It is time to cremate the carcass and put some much-needed CO2 back into the atmosphere.

    My two protests are to give my primary vote to ON & leave Oz for a more sensible country in 38 days that is currently building three new coal-fired power stations, each one of which will produce more CO2 than the Oz economically suicidal cuts will save.
    Three cheers for the poor trash of the Venezuela of the South!

  • ianl

    If anyone is wondering why the centre-left Libs are not out gaining traction on the stupidity of electric cars outside the inner-cities, it’s because Kooyong’s own Frydemeggs thinks electric cars are actually a golly-gee, whizz-bang, beaut of an idea.

  • pgang

    Quadrant seems to be getting caught in the trap of thinking that micro-policies influence elections. People vote either based on partisanship or on a general gut feel. Most are ignorant of political matters. Good campaigns are about the ‘feel’, and that requires picking the right message for the times – something that will be felt instinctively by voters. Not easy.

  • Peter OBrien

    pgang, my point exactly vis a vis electric cars.

  • ianl

    Electric cars outside inner-cities are not a “micro” policy. This forced battery toy notion destroys livelihoods, the ability to move around without military planning, splits families and is set to cause genuine, widespread misery.

    What pgang is apparently missing is that both major parties have abandoned non-metropolitan populations. The ALP stopped caring over a decade ago, the Libs when Waffle was elevated. This *is* “the vibe”.

    The UK is experiencing this as well, not with battery toys but Brexit:

    https://countrysquire.co.uk/2019/03/29/post-brexit-tory-doom/

  • Jody

    I’m preparing for an election loss and complete destruction of our retirement income through loss of imputation credits. Thinking long and hard about this; closing the SMSF and putting succession plans in place for the family. There’s no other way, especially as I see death duties on the not-too-distant horizon.

  • Julian

    @ EdKing – you hit the nail on the head. That is the crux upon which most of the rest of the discontent is based.

    Thus, the economistic types (unfortunately a weakness of the right side of politics, in those who believe that all social ills can be fixed by complete market liberalisation, etc) are wrong when they put their faith in things like tax cuts, etc.

    As Brexit pointed to, people may actually prefer to be economically worse off, and potentially pay more tax, as long as their main issue is addressed, which is the halting of the complete socio, cultural and demographic transformation of their country due to mass immigration. Something which the Libs are too gutless and craven to do; ergo, ALP and Green-Left gov’t by default.

  • Ed King

    Julian, the following report by the Australian Population Research Institute is relevant and timely:

    “The TAPRI national survey of 2029 Australian voters was run in October/November 2018.

    It found that half or more of Australian voters reject the progressive agenda of continual population growth and ever-growing diversity. This is the agenda embraced by Australia’s cultural and political elites and by most graduates.

    The survey shows that 50% of voters want immigration to be reduced, 72% say Australia does not need more people, 63% want Australia’s manufacturing industry protected by tariffs, 60% favour turning back all boats carrying asylum seekers, 56% think Australia is in danger of losing its culture and identity, and 47% support a partial ban on Muslim immigration.

    A much greater share of non-graduates reject the progressive agenda than do graduates. This pattern is also found among Brexit voters in the UK and Trump voters in the US.

    Some theorists argue that this is because non-graduates are more likely to have been ‘left behind’ in an economic sense.

    A few others, such as Eric Kaufmann in White Shift, argue that this is not the main cause. Rather, most dissenters feel threatened by huge recent increases in migrants from non-western cultural backgrounds.

    They also resent the way in which the graduate class denigrates their concerns.

    The TAPRI results affirm the cultural thesis.”

    http://tapri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Tapri-survey-2018-final-report-April.pdf

  • Julian

    @ Ed King

    Thanks amigo – All seems correct, and I’ve read a bit of what Kaufmann has to say and I’ve found a lot of it convincing. Douglas Murray is also good on such things.

    On another broader note, in terms of political history and circumstance, circa 2090-2100, it’s not at all clear that the state of the the countries that embraced immigration-led growth and the attendant diversity, multi-culturalism etc (Western Europe, Australia, Canada, etc), will be healthier than the state of those that didn’t go down such as path (e.g. Hungary, Japan, Visigrad group, Sth Korea, etc)

    If you’re ever in Melbourne man, lemme know…

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