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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Election Day « Previous | |Next »
August 21, 2010

To the ballot boxes we go today after a boring and inane campaign. I've gone for green rather than red or blue. My priority is a Green Senate to ensure a check on executive power, then Labor in the House of Representatives because the national broadband network represents the future. I voted Liberal over Labor in the Senate to block the mandatory internet filter, as this is the religious right's form of censorship.

Though negativity ruled the campaign, the polls say that The Greens are riding a wave to the Senate, whilst the Liberals will struggle to gain the 17 seats they need to bring back the Howard years, and return us to the glory days of peace, security and prosperity through savage budget cuts.


In the National Times Lenore Taylor says that this election campaign:

has been a showdown between major parties, neither of which had many broad policy offerings, neither of which had a cohesive vision and a full suite of policies, and both of which have been running an essentially negative message. It has been a fascinating, rollicking, roller-coaster ride of photo opportunities, without most of the substantive bits that are supposed to come in between.

A fascinating, rollicking, roller-coaster ride of photo opportunities? Spare me the media spin. Maybe the analysis of the electoral strategy and branding would be fascinating, but we need to go deeper than photo opportunities to the marketing strategy itself.

What was fascinating during the campaign was the political humour: not the political satire of the Chaser's Yes We Canberra, but the edgy humour of Gruen Nation that critically examined the branding strategies of four political parties.

Of course, this focus on branding and marketing says nothing about what is happening amongst citizens: how they feel about Australian democracy; the capacity of the political parties to deliver reform and good government; and whether they are happy with politics -as-usual.

I'm watching the ABC's coverage of the election results at home whilst keeping an eye on Twitter for inside information. There's little coming.

As the results roll in, the shift away from the ALP is evident in Queensland and NSW, and it increasingly looks as if the ALP was unable to contain or sandbag its marginal seats. The Rann strategy, which was successful in SA, has not worked. There is evidence of a geographical split: Tasmania, SA and Victoria are now solid red states whilst Queensland and WA are the blue states.

It is also increasingly evident that neither the ALP or the Coalition will gain a majority tonight, that the Greens have finally arrived as a third force, and Senator Fielding is now in the dustbin of history.

The result, with an emergence of the Independents and a Green Senate, suggests a deep disenchantment with both the major political parties. I doubt that they will see it this way. The ALP will talk about its mistakes whilst the ALP diehards will snark about The Greens. The Coalition will celebrate a historic victory.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:20 AM | | Comments (23)


more attacks on The Greens from the Canberra Press Gallery --this time from Glenn Milne, a Liberal Party hack. Writing at The ABC's The Drum, he refers to:

the split between Brown and the Trotskyist executive of the Greens. Brown continues to represent the "Blue Greens" - the "doctors wives" who vote for the Greens in Toorak and Eastern Sydney. The executive represents the "Red Greens" - the inner city Grunge Greens who are now threatening Labor in Lindsay Tanner's former seat of Melbourne.

The Grunge Greens are Stalinists apparently.

re "the Liberals will struggle to gain the 17 seats they need "

The Liberals will come very close--they will just fall short by a couple of seats. That's my prediction.

By the way Dennis Shanahan had the Liberals winning by 25 seats on Lateline, due to huge swings against Labor in Queensland + NSW. This guy has little credibility in interpreting swings.

Speaking of the sky-is-falling Shanahan's did you see Angela's piece in todays Oz on Clive Hamilton and the Greens.

yep. I scanned Angela Shanahan's Worship not at the ethics altar of Greens extremists in The Australian whilst having coffee before shopping at the Central Market in Adelaide.

She does go on doesn't she? She says:

the prudent, respected leaders of the established mainstream churches...quite rightly see the danger of a Greens balance of power...the Gaia-worshipping, Christian fringe dwellers who spend more time worrying about putative refugees than the destruction of 100,000 unborn Australian children... the Greens have set themselves up as an alternative religion is, as with all totalitarian ideologies, both part of their tactics and a consequence of their fundamental philosophy.

This op-ed is more strident and personal in her animus to Clive Hamilton, than her earlier piece--Christians must boost immunity to Greens virus.

The Right sure does go on about The Greens holding the government to ransom. They are going to be very angry by July 2011 when the new Senate takes shape. They are going to get a shock tonight with the emergence of a Green Senate.

Yes I think Gruen Nation nailed it this campaign. I watched the first Yes we Canberra but thought yawn and didnt watch it again.I soften on Chasers after they went a little too far last year.

Good on you for making a prediction P.S.S. Most here would be too scared of being wrong to actually put their name to a number. Even for fun.

So according to the blood and iron warriors in The Austrian Newspaper, the Green inner city elite is both Stalinist and Trotskyist? I'd like to know how they organise their bloc then; it would be very useful political intelligence

Been one of the most curious things with the election, this peculiar revival of McCarthyism, this time round.
To think we are almost into the second decade of the twenty-first century.

When the dust settles on the Greens having the balance of power in the Senate and the people realise that they are only representive of the views of less than 20% of the population there will be chaos. The Media will tear the Greens apart and make them look like dills in gumboots.

Apart from that.....haha

"...and the people realise that they are only representive of the views of less than 20% of the population..."

Oh yes indeed. It's not a good look for a democracy. Having the fate of the nation decided by only a handful of marginal electorates can't be healthy.

It WAS the self-absorbed swing vote you were talking about... wasn't it, Les?

maybe the government of the day will have to learn to talk and negotiate with those of different political persuasions rather than abuse and demonise.


Who would you rather have making the final decisions, the Greens or Steve Fielding? At least the Greens didn't get there by accident.

From what the independents have said so far the NBN is important in all of their electorates. Fingers crossed that it goes ahead, regardless of who ends up making pathetic mandate claims.

Yes theres that damned Democracy again. Unfortunately thats all we have until I am made King. Be assured that you will have a role in my Royal Cabinet. You will be the Ambassador to Mars.

Yes, thats what should happen.

that is why we need proportional representation --as they have in Tasmania and the ACT---for the House of Representatives. The limitations of winner takes all is becoming evident.

None of the Independents in the House of Representative is talking about reform and proportional representation. Only The Greens are. The ALP and Coalition laugh at them. Over our dead bodies they say.

Over the years we have had all manner of people and peoples control the Senate and we are all still here breathing. My comment relates more to how the Media and how they are at this time and will relate to The Greens.

We are a long way off the Indies talking about reform.
Stability is their brand now.

Re the comment: "Senator Fielding is now in the dustbin of history."

The DLP has emerged from the dustbin of history like a ghost from the past. Victoria is a strange place.

yeah the conservatives are a bit confused about what the Greens represent. They haven't got the totalitarian talking points right yet.

No doubt these will come from the rightwing noise machine as the Big Miners are not going to be happy with a Green Senate. It's going to get ugly, very ugly. No doubt, as Les points out, the (Murdoch) media will launch assault after assault on the "undemocratic" Green Senate holding the country to ransom. Etc etc

re your comment :"Over the years we have had all manner of people and peoples control the Senate and we are all still here breathing"

Control? Only John Howard had control, and only for the three years from 2004--2007. The Greens, like the Democrats before them, only have the balance of power, which only comes into play if the two major parties disagree and cannot compromise.

One probable scenario is that the ALP and Coalition agree most of the time on most issue, even though the Australian electorate has moved to the left, if you think in terms of coalitions of the Right (Liberals and Nationals) and the left (Labor and The Greens).

re "We are a long way off the Indies talking about reform. Stability is their brand now."

Stability requires that the government of the day is capable of negotiating with a Green Senate. That will require more independent research into contentious issues and more openness and accountability about that research.

That means less partisan inquiries and processes--ie., small steps to reform of Parliament. How about an independent Speaker for the House of Representatives? Another small step.

No doubt the recriminations in the ALP will surface big time. But this result is consequence of the relentless hollowing-out of the ALP's core political values and skills, and the emergence of a generation of ever younger “leaders” with no life experience outside branch-stacking, corporate fundraising and narrow machine-politics.

Mark Aarons argues in The Australian, the NSW rightwing machine men--eg.,Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib who destroyed Rudd---have hollowed out the government’s policy-making processes with their pursuit of power politics based on focus-group polling. A tool meant to guide political strategy was substituted for political judgment.

Aarons says that the technique of Arbib + Bitar

involves targeting the least politically committed voters in key marginal seats. The Arbib-Bitar theory is that these people determine who wins government, and that their views should therefore predominate in policy-setting. In a bizarre reversal of conventional political wisdom, leadership is redefined as following such people by pandering to them.

The problem is that focus of swinging voters in marginal seats can lead you up a blind alley because they do not reflect the concerns of mainstream voters.

Yes we will see.

First we will have to see who the players are. Then see how they play the situation. Negotiating with the Greens in the Senate is a long way off yet.
Yes it will come in some form but don't think the media is going to make the Greens the good guy all the time.

In Politics abhors a vacuum at The Drum, Malcolm Farnsworth says that the Bitar, Arbib and Shorten bloc are out and about justifying their actions in killing off Rudd.

Bitar, Arbib and Shorten have been speaking out over the last 12 hours about how they saved the government from an even bigger loss of seats if Rudd had remained leader. They claim they rescued the party from a devastating loss during the campaign.They claim the "vicious" leaking - and they mean by Rudd - derailed the ALP's campaign in the second week. They claim it was only due to their strategy and Gillard's campaigning skill that they clawed back the vote.

He adds that these claims are tripe:
It's tripe. It's self-serving. The fact is, despite her political grit and skill, Gillard was awful. She disappointed and let down hordes of voters who hoped for some policy heft and Labor soul from her. Instead she offered them a small-target strategy and nothing on the big issues that mattered. She nurtured the army of the disillusioned.

The claims of the Bitar, Arbib and Shorten bloc doesn't square with the big shift of voters away from Labor to the Greens (only a minority shifted from Labor to Liberal) because of the hollowness of Gillard's policies.

The NSW Right just don't get how their actions are destroying Labor.

"...we need proportional representation ..."

So, you're saying we need something akin to democracy? Radical thought that.

Certainly would have made thing more interesting. Especially since the coalition actually picked up LESS THAN one-third of the popular vote that Labor lost.

A bunch of people couldn't bring themselves to vote for Gillard... but about 70% of those refused to consider Abbott as an alternative.

It's 72 seats each so far according to Anthony Green with Hasluk and Denison to be determined. The core seat is Hasluk because, if Labor wins it, then the Coalition cannot get to 76 seats with the 3 conservative Independents.

It all depends on postal votes in Hasluck.