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Australia – Labor’s unwinnable election

Written By: - Date published: 7:25 pm, September 7th, 2013 - 73 comments
Categories: australian politics - Tags: , ,

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Australia heads to the polling booths today.  The polls suggest that a change in Government is not only inevitable but that many Labor MPs may lose their seats.  There is even the suggestion that Kevin Rudd may not make it back into Parliament.

Late polls suggests that after distribution of preferences the Liberal Coalition will have 54% of votes and Labor 46% of votes.  This could result in the ALP having as few as 50 seats in the 150 seat House of Representatives.  Labor is polling as low at 33% of the primary vote but with the Greens at a respectable 10% and most of their preferences expected to head Labor’s way Labour’s preferential vote should be in the mid to high 40s.  But given the nature of Australia’s election system this could result in a landslide victory to the Liberal National Coalition.

Labor stalwarts will be hoping that Kevin Rudd can repeat the success of Paul Keating in 1993 when he won the unwinnable election. Despite Labor being written off at the time Keating somehow overcame what appeared to be hopeless odds to win.  A six percent deficit two weeks out was turned into a narrow majority for Labor after all the votes were counted.

Keating’s election night speech is one for the ages.  He put the win down to Labor’s appeal to the decency in Australians, their refusal for Australia to be divided and to the hard work of the party and described the win as “the sweetest victory of all”.

Keating’s success was helped by the good will extended by progressives to a leader who was brave and willing to speak his mind.  In his Redfern Speech the year before he said this about the plight of Australia’s Aboriginal people:

… [T]he starting point might be to recognise that the problem starts with us non-Aboriginal Australians.  It begins, I think, with that act of recognition.  Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing.  We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol.  We committed the murders.  We took the children from their mothers.  We practised discrimination and exclusion.  It was our ignorance and our prejudice.  And our failure to imagine these things being done to us.  With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

Unlike Kevin Rudd, Keating has also been scathing about the way that the refugee issue has been handled.  He is reported as saying last year that there were “racial undertones” to the debate.

I often used to say as prime minister, when they were handing out continents, not many people got one, but we did and there’s only 20 million of us.  And yet we’re complaining about 6000 people coming by boat and we want to push all of them away.

Mr Keating also said Australians demonstrated no “generosity of spirit” when it came to asylum-seekers.

His attitude should be contrasted to that of Kevin Rudd’s who recently advocated a policy about refugees that was so bad that Tony Abbott thought it was promising.  Keating’s bravery, at least concerning issues of race is in stark contrast to Rudd’s focus group inspired cowardice.  Because there is nothing to enthuse progressives in Australia I doubt that Rudd will be able to emulate Keating’s accomplishment.

If Rudd is bad however then Tony Abbott will be absolutely appalling.  He is already up to his Crosby Textor designed tricks.  Yesterday, the day before the election, the Coalition released its budget costings and promised what in real terms are wafer thing cuts.  This reminded me of a description of National’s campaign in Aotearoa in 2008 where their campaign was described as “not answering questions and not debating policy except when it suits them; and now, mid-election campaign, releasing “policy” that is little more than publicity stunts and too late for proper scrutiny”.  I wonder if National and the Coalition have the same advisors?

For all of Rudd’s faults he is not in the same league of terror inducing as Tony Abbott.  The coalition will cause a great deal of damage.  For instance their climate change policies are a joke.  As described by George Monbiot:

His views have changed, but don’t expect Tony Abbott to acknowledge this, let alone apologise to Australians for misleading them. In 2009 he maintained that manmade climate change is “absolute crap”. Now he says “I think that climate change is real, humanity makes a contribution.” But he has merely switched from denying global warming to denying the need to act on it.

Abbott is following a familiar script – the 4 Ds of climate change inaction promoted by fossil fuel lovers the world over. Deny, then defer, then delay, then despair.

His Direct Action program for reducing emissions is incapable of delivering the cuts it promises, absurdly underfunded and surrounded by a swarm of unanswered questions. Were it to become big enough to meet its promises, it would be far more expensive than a comparable carbon trading scheme, which Abbott has falsely claimed would incur “almost unimaginable” costs. But it won’t be big enough, because he refuses to set aside the money it requires. Direct Action is a program designed to create a semblance of policy, in the certain knowledge that it will fail to achieve its objectives.

I seem to recall that John Key also denied the existence of climate change but then accepted that it was occurring but effectively gutted the ETS so that nothing significant is happening about New Zealand’s output of greenhouse gasses.  As Monbiot says there does seem to be a similar script used by conservatives throughout the world.

After the election and presuming things go the way they appear to be going then the Labor Party will need to have good think about things and work out what went wrong.  And it will need to work out how to respect its proud history while remaining relevant to voters and at the same time adhering to its core values and refusing to travel along the dead ends that focus group politics entails. [Edit did a quick tidy up of this]

73 comments on “Australia – Labor’s unwinnable election”

  1. Forget the polls and the votes, what are the trends saying?

  2. Ad 2

    A grand set of lines from Keating there.

    Australia is marching quickly into the quarry-enclave economy New Zealand had from the 1870s to the 1920s. Except this time made worse with its dominance by just a handful of listed multinational mining conglomerates. Has New Zealand chosen a comparatively more sustainable path?

  3. BM 3

    Expect big changes in the lucky country once Abbot gets in.
    The place is being choked to death by union interference so expect Abbot to cut a few union throats within a very short period.

    It’s desperately needed if OZ is going to get back on track.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Australia will be in a deepening economic and unemployment crisis 12 months from now, as the Tory poison prescription takes hold.

      • srylands 3.1.1

        Yes that evil John Howard prescribed that poison and it made Australia the richest country in the world. It only went off the rails when he lowered the quality of spending like a maniac, a trend continued by Rudd and Julia. Lucky there is no party in NZ that would take us down that destructive track again. Oh bugger, wait..

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Australia shipped real physical resources offshore for electronically generated credits, as well as creating masses of money by acquiring huge amounts of private debt.

          It’s sorta stupid strategy, and is coming to an end now.

          edit – do you really think Abbott is another John Howard? You’re fucking dreaming.

          • Poem 3.1.1.1.1

            Would say, puppet Abbott is the Australian version of Mitt Romney.

          • KJT 3.1.1.1.2

            We had the same commodities boom as Australia. In dairying not mining.

            In fact ours earned more per capita than Australia’s.

            Due to the fact they still have union power in Australia, however, the income from their commodities boom was spread throughout the economy.

            Most of ours went offshore for Hawaii holidays and offshore corporate profits, particularly to the Australian(US) banks.

            Note: Sweden has gone downhill by all indicators since they swallowed the poison pill recently.

      • Poem 3.1.2

        “Australia will be in a deepening economic and unemployment crisis 12 months from now, as the Tory poison prescription takes hold.”

        +1 Colonial Viper

      • Green machine UpandComer 3.1.3

        Viper, at least you’re consistent in your off the scale parallel universe-isms. Australia will be in a deepening economic and unemployment crisis 12 months from now, if OZLabour’s present poison prescription isn’t remedied by Mr Abbot.

    • tricledrown 3.2

      what unions the unions have been decimated in Australia just like NZ

  4. amirite 4

    I was listening to one Aussie voter yesterday who said he’ll vote for the Pirate Party because both Labour and Libs are as bad as each other and both have failed to address the fact that the whole Aussie economy relies on mining and the housing market.
    Hear, hear.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Clue for the NZLP: Labor and Rudd fucked up by trying to position themselves as Liberal Lite. The PNG boat people policy, crowing about ditching steps to reduce climate change, etc.

    People vote RED when the Red Team shows true bright red values, not when it tries to hide them.

    Oh yeah, the endless division in caucus and with the leadership was the finishing touch.

    • srylands 5.1

      Oh that must explain why the Hawke/Keating governments won 5 terms opening up Australia with long lasting economic reforms that you would obviously hate.

      I suggest Colonial Viper that you take a break from your obsession with posting to the Standard and come back when you know something about economics and Australian economic history.

      There is ZERO chance of Australia EVER electing a left wing government. The last one left office in 1975.

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Don’t get nervous mate, just watch the Oz economy crash and burn over the next 12 months under the Coalition.

        • infused 5.1.1.1

          It would crash and burn anyway because of the stupid policies introduced over the last 5 years.

          It’s the same shit here when you say Labour left the govt in best fiscal shape ever… What a load of shit.

          • muzza 5.1.1.1.1

            So you’re good with how the current government are working things?

            Do you feel like we’re all heading in the best direction, or is it a case of you don’t really care for anything other than petty point scoring, trying to make yourself feel like a winner!

          • tricledrown 5.1.1.1.2

            con fused the stupid policies that the labor govt introduced like the A$200 million stimulus package kept Australia out of recession the only OECD country to do so!
            Australia has the lowest govt debt of any country!
            The mining tax +carbon tax allows Australia to keep valuable minerals in the ground !
            under Abbott those will be dug up quickly leaving within 50 years no mining income!
            Labour reduced the child subsidy that Howard introduced!

      • KJT 5.1.2

        Talk about re-writing history.

        Comparing the Hawk/Keating reforms with Douglas’s Richardsons is like comparing a few drone strikes to carpet bombing. In very many ways they have done the diametric opposite to New Zealand.

        I can only assume that Srylands was too young to remember.

        Just a few differences of the top of my head.

        Douglas de-regulated the financial sector leading to a crash only two years later, 1987.
        Keating strengthened regulation. A large part of the reason why Australia’s, and our banking systems did not join the GFC.

        Ricahardson cut benefits to below subsistence level. Australia never has.

        Douglas unilaterally removed almost all tariffs, leaving us nothing to bargain with for free trade agreements and decimating local industry and employment. Like the embarrassing spectacle of the prime minister trading on our dead soldiers to get trade concessions from Korea. Douglas left us nothing to bargain with.

        Australia kept steeply progressive taxes and liveable minimum wages.

        We have been borrowing for tax cuts we could not afford since 1986.

        Australian unions rejected their equivalent of the ECA. Meaning Australians actually have enough money to invest in buying their own assets back, and there wasn’t the same hemorrhage of money to offshore banking and profit taking, and massive transfer of wealth to the parasitic sectors..

        Australia has been more successful than us very obviously because they did not buy into the neo-liberal poison to the same extent.

        To say otherwise shows a profound cognitive dissonance.

      • tricledrown 5.1.3

        Schrillglands Hawk Keating Govt took measured steps of change and didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water!
        Your understanding of Australian economic history is far removed from reality!

  6. Sosoo 6

    This result makes me glad we have MMP. It means we don’t have the stupidity of pretending that there is a massive change in public opinion (a landslide) when the vote changes by only a few percentage points.

    I’m also proud to say that someone like Tony Abbott could never be elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. John Banks is perhaps the worst we’ve got, and he voted to legalise gay marriage. We’re not a particularly sophisticated or liberal people here in NZ, but compared to the small minded, bigoted Neanderthals who live across the Tasman we look just great.

    There will be lots of mealy mouthed press about this election, but the truth should be told: the average Australian is an ignorant, hate-filled, racist bigot.

    • Richard Christie 6.1

      the truth should be told: the average Australian is an ignorant, hate-filled, racist bigot.

      I’m glad I’m not you.

    • Jimmie 6.2

      Pots and Kettles are a darker shade of gray lol

    • Murray Olsen 6.3

      I’m not sure the average Australian is an ignorant, hate-filled, racist bigot, but enough of them are that Rudd thought it was worth rolling out his travesty of a policy on refugees.

      My prediction is that they’re in for a shocking recession, with total mismanagement by Abbott and Hockey, but as in all recessions, a small number of the very rich will do well. And SSLands will cheer on the policies as he goes to the wall, believing all the time that they just needed to be applied a bit more fervently for him to become one of the super rich.

    • karol 6.4

      And the number of Kiwi guys in the NZ media cheerleading Shane Jones, shows misogyny can be a winner for some Kiwi guys.

      Add Matt MCCarten to that list of people, showing NZ does not have a lot to gloat about.

      • LynWiper 6.4.1

        My thoughts exactly karol. I really thought that Matt would have a different take on the SJ debacle. I am extremely disappointed in SJ’s apparent popularity. While I can understand the entertainment value, hearing that NZ’rs (most likely kiwi guys) are seriously considering voting him for Labour Leader is very disheartening.

      • Murray Olsen 6.4.2

        I’ve always considered McCarten one of the blokish Waitakere man types on the left. That he admires Jones doesn’t surprise me at all. I’m appalled that Jones is even in the Labour Party. Even if we don’t consider his neanderthal-like misogyny, his attitudes on the environment and industrial relations could come straight from Tony Abbott and Gina Stoneheart.

    • tricledrown 6.5

      Sosoo anger is not going to help hate filled rants either !
      Australia has an upper house called the senate its proportionally elected it will moderate the rampant right!
      They also have state govts which usually vote opposite to the federal elctorate !
      NZ is where we have to focus on getting the 800,000 that didn’t vote out at the next election!
      Frustration can be good motivation we need a change here and in recent times we have voted the opposite of Australia thats a good Omen!

      • Murray Olsen 6.5.1

        All the things Sosoo mentions do exist in Australia, but happily they are not all the things that exist in Australia. There are some signs of hope.

  7. Richard Christie 7

    “I seem to recall that John Key also denied the existence of climate change but then accepted that it was occurring …”

    Funny, I recall Key saying that he considered man made climate change an issue of global importance – but this was a year or two before he became PM. I’ve long since added the remarks to the list of BS he delivered as part of his sheep’s clothing.

  8. Richard Christie 8

    Oh, and my condolences to Australian readers on the election of a full blown science-denier to their highest political office.
    Your future regret will prove to be painful.

    • Steve Wrathall 8.1

      Yes, the lack of an Australian carbon tax will make the world 0.000005 degrees warmer in 100 years than it would have been…painful!

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        What is painful is your condemnation of billions of people, just so you can keep business as usual burning for another 10-20 years.

        What a fucking dick.

      • tricledrown 8.1.2

        SW Doing nothing laissez faire why not we all increase our carbon footprint and stuff the planet quickly is what your saying!
        Good leadership is leading by example, we lead the the world on nuclear free legislation and now even the right wing claim that policy .

  9. big bruv 9

    What a great result for the people of Aussie. This is a comprehensive thrashing of the Labour/Green party.

    Now Aussie can start to repair the damage done by the socialists in six long years.

  10. big bruv 10

    “the average Australian is an ignorant, hate-filled, racist bigot.”

    A lot like Hone Harawira really.

    • Sosoo 10.1

      See, in New Zealand the hate parties (like Christian Heritage) characteristically garner about 1-2% of the vote.

      In Australia hate is mainstream.

      • tricledrown 10.1.1

        SoSo In Australia hate is not mainstream.
        Its the the Murdocracy that dictates the debate!
        their was only a 3.5% percent swing against labor with a lot of marginal seats lost have given the coalition a land slide.
        NSW has had a state government mired in corruption,Labor mired in leadership wrangles have handed Abbott a clear majority but like Howard before Abbott will have to run inclusive policies because if he pushes unpopular policies he will only last 1 term!
        I have lived and worked in Australia nearly half of my extended family are Australian !
        Australians are well educated and love a good debate.
        No more hateful than Kiwis!

    • JonL 10.2

      Unlike you, of course……..

  11. tc 11

    It’s all academic, the senate passes laws so depends who controls that, only half the senate is elected tonight. Unlike here gov’t can’t run riot unless it controls the senate.

    An awful campaign. Rudd overrode his campaign advice and made many bad calls, Abbott is driven by CT with neither addressing any serious issues.

    Hawke/keating did the hard yards 25years ago and now the reality of a fading minerals boom, 7 governments and many other non productive entities, a high dollar etc will catch Oz.

    As keating noted there’s an uneasy racial tone and a mean spirit about the place now just wait till Tony, Joe, Malcolm and co get busy.

    • mickysavage 11.1

      Thanks TC. I am just watching Rudd’s concession speech and I am wondering WTF? He is happy? He is trying to make it sound like he almost won?

      Some politics is far too choreographed and the injection of a bit of honest emotion would be a good thing.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        He’s probably planning to stay on as Labor Leader. Seriously.

      • Murray Olsen 11.1.2

        Rudd was in a room full of people who adore him. That’s enough to make him happy. Sadly, I’m serious.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.2.1

          He probably did salvage up to 10-15 seats that would have been lost under Gillard. Kept most of QLD intact when just 24 hours ago predictions were that Labor would be wiped out.

          So a loss, some of it seriously self inflicted, but with a few bright spots. However for Australia over the next (4?) years. It’s going to be frakkin horrible.

  12. tc 12

    Yes the mining boom fades, a high dollar and neither party addressed the elephant in the room…..tax reform. States arent getting enough from federal and Gillard screwed the big revenue fixer, mining tax. Universities and the massive public service will be hit like the retail sector has been and will continue to be.

    What goes up….it will not be pretty.
    I’m unsure Gillard would’ve done any worse, those that backed Kevin will hold the line she was leading them to slaughter but she had abbotts number and you tolerate kev or you don’t not really a warm character.

  13. muzza 13

    That’s Australia done and dusted then, as if it wasn’t already.

    The experiment continues, oz and nz destined to become the vassels of neoliberal exploitation.

    Our largest trading partner is going to have major impacts on nz, unlikely to be positive!

    Australians all let us rejoice…

  14. Wensleydale 14

    So, hands up who thinks Gina Rinehart’s going to be soiling her over-sized panties in glee?

    • tc 14.1

      Yes allowing gina to have her way is going to fix all oz’s issues…..and packer, murdoch, palmer, stokes, qantas, telstra etc etc

      • KJT 14.1.1

        Yeah. How well are the countries with no welfare, low or no taxation and little Government regulation doing, again?

        Rienharts and Murdochs unfettered capitalism do exist, in Somalia and similar examples of “success”.

  15. Sanctuary 15

    It gets worse, it loks like Pauline Hanson may win a seat in the senate.

  16. Sanctuary 16

    And how about old Murdoch’s tweet, eh?

    Rupert Murdoch@rupertmurdoch

    Aust election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy.Others nations to follow in time

    • muzza 16.1

      Murdoch is a tool of the system, it created him, which is why he is untouchable.

      They workship at the alter, his task being the head of swaths of the global psy op known as the entertainment industry, of which the so called msm news media is part of!

      Another who sold his soul, and who is responsible for the deaths of many innocent souls, which is always the intent, physically or psychologically!

      Yes Rupert, its the workers and beneficiaries who have wrecked the planet, and who have a destroyed nations such as Australia, its financial stability etc, nothing at all to do with neoliberalism!

    • Wensleydale 16.2

      If this nation “follows in time”, I shall spend my retirement years living in a shack in the bush.

      • tricledrown 16.2.1

        Wensleydale there are 1 to 2 million people in the US living rough now under tarps and in tents its a complete disgrace that the richest country in the world can’t look after their own.

  17. millsya 17

    No point in saving the furniture when the house has burned to the ground.

    This is an absolute thrashing. Lowest primary vote since 190-whatever, votes lost in every state, Coalition inroads into safe ALP seats, saying “it could have been worse” and “at least we still have our cabinet ministers” is not good enough. There are no such things as “moral victories” or whatever the cuss they are, the winner on the day is the one that has the bigger number on the scoreboard than the rest that is a fact. It doesnt matter if a side wins by 30 seats or 3.

    Australia moved (further) to the right last night. That is a fact. Even the Greens took a hit, though their core vote still held, and the seat of Melbourne looks like it will be a green fortress.

    Labor have only themselves to blame really, I need not go into the details of the past 3 years.

    I cannot see them getting back into power this side of 2020.

    So, plenty of time to drill, mine, sell and slash.

  18. KJT 18

    This must be extremely frightening for National.

    The days of hiding their unemployment figures in Australia may be over.

    And the effect of Australian Labor’s stimulus policies, on hiding National’s recession, will became shockingly apparent.

    • s y d 18.1

      It’s frightening for the hundreds of thousands on New Zealanders who currently live and work in Australia, but who have absolutely no access into their social security system – they must be fearful for the future. I foresee an application of ‘targetted austerity’ by Mr Abott. And when and if the jobs for New Zealanders (the wife be damned) go, I’m guesing the only viable option will be a return to NZ. What are WE going to do when the 50,000 a year from the last 10 years all come back at once? Treat them like boat people? Set up refugee camps? Our very own Pacific solution?
      How could we cope? can we? It’s nice to have the family back for christmas, but I suspect the love runs a bit thin by June.

      This could be a defining issue for our near future.

    • JonL 18.2

      “This is an absolute thrashing. Lowest primary vote since 190-whatever, votes lost in every state” – 1996 was worse.
      Labour self destructed – as usual, it was voting a party out, not a party in, for most people., but the example of the Nat-Lib state gov. in Queensland may have swayed many voters back to Labour, there.
      For all the tories rhetoric, I don’t see how they could have done any better than Labour – and the next 3 yrs are going to be frightening, to all except the rich, those who would aspire to be, and the terminally stupid – which covers a large chunk of the Australian landscape unfortunately. Then they’ll turn around and blame labour’s “mismanagement”!
      There are some truly creepy people in the higher echelons of the nat-Libs!

  19. Macro 19

    As Einstein once said:

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”.

    And as Joseph de Maistre said:

    “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.” Not that Rudd is any better than Abbott.

    Australians only had to look across the ditch at the disaster that is the NZ “economy” to realise that 4 years of austerity, union bashing, and laissez faire government is the road to ruination.

    But then we live in the Age of Stupid – and I fear the “lucky country” is just about to get very unlucky..

  20. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 20

    It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t seen it up close and personal over years and years, but Rudd is insane. I disagree with almost everything Tony Abbott holds dear, but I would rather have him as PM than Kevin Rudd.

  21. Core_Labour_Voter 21

    Sad day in Australian history.

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