Where Have All the Labor Voters Gone?


There are certain traditions, in the absence of ritualised faith, which our family observes, and has observed, ever since we moved into this area when the kids were still toddlers. One of them was to go to the Easter Sale at our local Community Hall. The other was to go to the Baptist Parish Fete, at about this time every year.

We always made our best efforts to be first in line too! So we could race to get to the best of the bargains. Or so we deluded ourselves as we dashed in and headed somewhere, anywhere, hoping that, when we got there the holy grail was waiting there for us for the grand sum of $1!

Sometimes the thrill of the chase is half the fun though, isn’t it? To the point that, when you get the stuff home you get this sinking feeling that goes along with the realisation that you now have to find a space for it all in your finite space at home, or else chuck something else to the wayside, which may no longer hold the place in your affections it once did, when it was your latest sparkly new bauble filled with potential to bring you joy. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way to make it work. Space is found.

And then you start the process all over again, building up your expectations about what gems you might find next year. Or, at least I do.

So much so that it has become one of those family rituals, as I said, and we would feel the loss for missing out on doing it.

Though it wasn’t a ritual born of a need for an entertaining diversion. It was instead, initially, born of necessity. As a young family, who had just lost our family home & business in ‘The Recession We Had To Have’, conjoined with, ‘The Business Sharks Who Preyed On the Naive and Gullible That We Didn’t Need To Make the Acquaintance Of Really’, and so had given up on our dream of ‘Having It All’, then having a family, we came back to NSW from WA with nothing much more than the clothes on our backs. It being too expensive to bring back our worldly possessions with us. So we had a Monster Garage Sale in WA & used the proceeds, after we flew back, to buy a car and set up in rented accommodation in NSW. Back to square 1 we went. Still it could have been worse.

Well, it sort of was, as neither I, nor my husband were able to work. He because he had broken his back in a car accident with a drunk driver, and me, because I was looking after him and two young children, one of whom was in and out of hospital 18 times in his first 24 months. So, goodbye Pharmacy. I was not able to reliably commit to it.

However, we still had our smarts and we could smell at that time, about 1996, how big the computer phenomenon was going to be & knew how important it would be for our children to be a part of the digital future. Hence our identification of the fetes, Easter Sales & garage sales, as a way of picking our way into that future via the cheapest means possible. Luckily we live in an affluent area where people update their tech regularly, so we could afford to be just a step or two behind the pace. Which was enough when we combined that with judicious purchases of new components and a do-it-yourself attitude.

Now, by this time, I bet you’re wondering what all that has to do with the subject of the post?

Well, it’s all because of that word, ‘Context’. Bear with me.

You see, it’s my eldest son’s birthday in a couple of weeks, and without enough money to buy him something magnificent, I always try and find him something the equivalent thereof at the Baptist fete, and it never fails to deliver! So it turned out again this year when, in the headlong rush when the doors opened I ran madly into the hall and came face to face with an as-new telescope, which would normally have cost a few hundred dollars. I looked at the price and it was hard to read but I believe it said $60. I knew I couldn’t afford this so I tried my standard trick & asked one of the Baptists who were manning the tables & taking the $, could they please tell me how much it was? And this was where the term ‘Christian Charity’ came into it’s own, not the faux sort that ‘Believers’ like the Prosperity Gospel Greed Is Good’ Evangelicals like Scott Morrison practice, but the genuine kind, came into play as the man whom I asked took one look at me and knew somehow, in an instant, that I was asking because I hoped he would say a price I could afford. Which he did. He said $15, and so it was that I came away with a very special present for my son.

However, what this random act of kindness did, was get me to thinking about that community of people, with their unostentatious faith, whom I had been observing since early morning happily setting up their fete for the local community. For the community. To enrich the community. Not to enrich themselves particularly, though, of course the money raised helps to sustain them and their congregation for another year.

Now, being political and not particularly religious, though a small ‘c’ Christian by deed and not overt Faith tied to one religion or another, I looked at these people and I thought to myself, “These people are the antithesis of Liberal Party values & the so-called ‘Christians’ who seem, increasingly, to be taking over that party. These people, setting up and running the fete, with their conspicuous happiness and generosity towards each other and to complete strangers like me, are exactly the sort of people Labor is trying to appeal to with it’s policies and by it’s actions. Actions similar, in a macro sense, to that microscopically small action that one person did for another today. To me. Plus, may I obviously add, actions very similar to those that Jesus himself would have done or approved of.

Yet I had to admit that these people were also very conservative, as devout practicing Christians tend to be. Nice and conservative. Happy in their community, but conservative. Therefore, more likely than not, to vote for a conservative party.

Even though they behave more like people with Labor values. Of care and concern for the least of us and a willingness to share what they have amongst everyone.

Now, as it appears that our society is seeing an upsurge in the growth of discrete communities, of Faith, like this one and others, as well as fracturing into sporting communities, or communities of interest based around hobbies, but not so much around politics as their religion (hence the decline in numbers of members of political parties), except as a community of interest in politics exists here on this blog, and in other forums online. I wondered, therefore, what the Labor Party could do to win these good people back to supporting a party with values very similar to their own essentially?

For as I see it roughly, the Conservative vote is made up of the philosophical ideologues of the Right, plus those good-hearted, but small ‘c’ conservative people who identify with conservative values generally, but not the extreme philosophies of the Reactionary Conservatives that we see writ large every day in our Conservative Party, going by the misnomer of the Liberal Party.

We know Labor is the home of the Progressive(and, dare I say it, the Pragmatic) Left, however, I contend that it also needs to become the home of the small ‘c’ conservative Left, like those I saw today. Not that they should be the focus of Labor’s attentions but that they should be accommodated in our tent.

I do think we have some of them, such as the Catholics unlike Tony Abbott, and the Uniting Church, plus the Anglican laity, not the hierarchy, to a large extent. Good people, who practice what is preached to them.

I’d just like these others, who still believe their home is in the Coalition, come election time and time to vote, to see that it isn’t really. Really, it’s with Labor.

Now, how to get them to see that?

1,783 thoughts on “Where Have All the Labor Voters Gone?

  1. Victoria..I also believe Tingle is just another OM. journo…as is Mega and the rest….I can’t recall her coming out with a serious piece condemming the concocted evidence in the AWU. affair, The Slipper or the Thomson affair…against the confected outrage, yes, but to actually support the PM. , Slipper or Thomson OR to even herself investigate those items…no.
    They are all “yesterady’s people”….I have no time for ANY of them!

  2. One swallow doth not a summer make…

    Not two swallows, either.

    I remain leery of the outbreak of the criticism of Liberal policy moves by the conservative media until I see more of it.

    Most of the commentary has not been on actual policy. IT’s been on internal moves within the Liberal caucus to get rid of outdated stuff from the last election, in particular the PPL and Real Action issues.

    We are still no more informed on these policies, despite all the noise about them, which has mostly been about “The Politics”, not the policies.

    Mark Kenny gave away his hand yesterday by saying (stitched together over two articles):

    Gillard: good on policy, bad on politics.
    Abbott: bad on policy, good on politics.

    The “good/bad on politics” is most important to those with “The Savvy”, political insiders (or fancied insiders) who commentate on how politicians frame ideas to appeal to commentators, and then further commentate on the success or otherwise of those tactics.

    If a politician can’t impress a commentator, then the commentator will write off that politician as not fit for office.

    If all the public reads is commentary like this – proposing that political “face” and “production values” are more important than actual policy – eventually the public comes to accept the definition of a Bad Politician as one who finds it difficult to impress commentators.

    It’s a neat trick because no discussion of policy is required, only a discussion of process. Any policy area at all can be cut off at the knees this way.

    Of course, with the meme being that “Gillard is gone”, no commentator need ever get past a discussion of process. Even if a policy is good, indeed universally acclaimed, the commentator always has the redoubt to fall back on, one of saying “Why should I care, she’ll be gone soon anyway.”

    What he (or she) means is “Why should YOU (the reader) care?” too.

    Thus we had the brilliantly successful Gillard tactic last week of:

    (a) Getting an NDIS levy off the election table,
    (b) forcing Abbott to perform an 180-degree about face,
    (c) securing funding for the NDIS,
    (d) getting Queensland and Victoria on-board,
    (e) shutting down discussion of other Budget areas

    written off as an Abbott “win” simply because the commentators said it was. It’s neat, it’s perfectly circular, and it seems to work.

  3. bb

    I concur. At this point in time, I am inclined to believe they are assisting Abbott to drop these policies.

    What I am even more unsure about, is the Windsor/Palmer alliance.

  4. I find that Ettridge decision yesterday a tad dissapointing in that while it seems even the most flimsy evidence (see : Thomson, Slipper, AWU. affair) will get a conviction or a condemnation in prosecution….any defence of self is blocked, obfuscated or plain ignored…is THIS a fair and balanced judicial and police system?
    The one thing I sincerely believe the Chinese Communists (you’ll note I said “Chinese”) did well and should be emulated over is that they “broke” the chain / cabal of old, traditional, conservative money-trails and institutions.
    Sure, they are beginning to re-establish themselves again, but THAT is part of the Human condition…

  5. victoria…Richo’s cloacal ablutions with dunny-paper are of no interest to mio!

  6. #BREAKING ANZ Bank has cut rates by 0.27%, which is 0.02% higher than the RBA cut #ABCNews24

  7. Sally McManus · 55 followers
    19 hours ago near Sydney, New South Wales ·

    Tony Abbott has just released the policy he will implement if he wins the 14 September election and gets control of the Senate as John Howard did when he introduced WorkChoices. Here is my quick summary of his policy and how it will affect you:

    1. Mandate individual contracts in all collective agreements. Workers cannot bargain to restrict the employer from undermining collective agreements. These are another form of AWAs.

    2. Take annual leave from workers on workers compensation

    3. Take away annual leave loading if your employment is terminated

    4. Consider take away the excellent long service leave provisions that all NSW workers have and reducing them to the lower provisions that exist in other states (eg. Long service leave is after 15 years in Victoria)

    5. Weaken the Award safety-net (loosen then “better off overall test” so agreements can go below even the Award minimum).

    6. Make it easier for employers to introduce individual contracts outside of the Award or EBA

    7. Make it harder for workers to cancel or get out of individual agreements

    8. If your employer transfers their business to another employer, your existing rights at work will only be protected if you transfer voluntarily

    9. Massively weaken protections for workers and delegates who are discriminated against for trying to enforcing a right they have under law (eg. this is a law Labor introduced to stop employers for discriminating or acting against delegates for standing up for others, or individuals standing up for themselves, when their employer does the wrong thing).

    10. Establish an appeal mechanism for the Fair Work Commission. This could allow decisions like the Equal Pay decision for ASU SACS members to be overturned.

    11. Conduct a review of the whole Fair Work Act by the Productivity Commission, which views everything from the perspective of what is good for the economy first and foremost, not from the perspective of the rights for workers. We do not know what they would recommend, but can imagine what big business will ask for. This gives Abbott lots of room to makes lots of changes after the election.

    12. Return right of entry provisions to the Workchoices laws making it much harder for your Union Organiser to visit you in your workplace.

    13. Make taking legal strike action even harder. There are already so many hoops to jump through. The Fair Work Commission will be given the power to prevent action if they determine workers claims are not “reasonable” (we have made – and won – many claims that maybe seen as “unreasonable” such as “no forced redundancies” at Railcorp and a 40% pay increase for SACS workers) AND if workers are not seriously considering the employers claims for productivity improvements (in my experience, “productivity improvements” are nearly always about reducing rights of workers).

    14. Restrict your Union officials in the operation of their job by introducing laws regarding union officials “bullying” employers!

    15. A paid parental scheme for, in Tony Abbotts words, “women of calibre” (ie earning $150K) paid for by a tax on large companies. Companies such as Qantas are already raising in EBA negotiations that they will have to cut back on our claims because of this.

    16. Bring back a special police force (ABCC) for building workers which give them less democratic rights than any class of people in Australia, including the right to silence. Set up a special anti-union code for building projects and refuse to fund any projects that do not comply.

    17. Set up a special “Commission” that oversees the internal operations of all unions and tie members resources up in red tape. Apply huge fines and jail terms for breaches of the new law.

    18. Allow employers to force through “greenfield agreements” (ie an agreement where the employer sets up a new company with no workers) by giving Unions 3 months to agree to the terms of an Agreement and if they don’t have the court decide.

    19. If you are underpaid, Abbott will generously allow you to keep any interest on money taken from you (but it will be harder to make a successful underpayment case – see above re: right of entry for union officials)

    20. Abolish minimum hourly rates for truck drivers to stop them being pushed to drive dangerously and take drugs to meet the deadlines imposed on them.

    Abbott reckons he will be a benign dictator with only your best interests in his ideological faith-driven heart.

    Yeah, right.

  8. I left it to this morning to form a judgement on Leigh Sales’ interview of Rio Tinto CEO, Sam Walsh last night. Watching it live I was left with the impression that it was more ‘magic mirror’ stuff. See what you want to see, hear what you are predisposed to hear. If we thought that politicians are adept at giving non-committal answers, some of them could take lessons from Mr Walsh. For example:

    LEIGH SALES: Is it

    [Coalion IR policy]

    going at this stage – you say it recognises that need – is it actually delivering things at this stage that you see will actually help with your productivity?

    SAM WALSH: Look, every business is different and it’s how we can apply whatever legislation from whatever government is in power.


    Watching it live, my predispositions allowed me to be encouraged by Mr Walsh’s references to a need for stability but his tone of voice and delivery undermined my optimism. Looking at the transcript in the cold light of day has reinforced the impression that some of Mr Walsh’s comments were a shot across the Coalition’s bows.
    I seem to recall that the big miners have reconciled themselves to the reality of some form of profits tax and have long been positioning themselves for a carbon pricing scheme which they see as being inevitable over the coming decades. With that in mind, Mr Abbott won’t take much comfort from these comments (edited):

    LEIGH SALES: When you look at the current policy settings in Australia, what do you see as the biggest barriers to Rio’s agenda, if indeed there are?

    SAM WALSH: Look, an important issue is stability. When you make very large investment decisions that we do that cover a long timeframe, certainty is very, very important and anything that rocks the boat or creates uncertainty gets people thinking, “Well, what might happen next?” That’s not helpful at all. And I think we’ve gone through a period of uncertainty. …… discussions about changes to – or possible changes to an MRRT or changes to a carbon tax or whatever ….. creates uncertainty. That’s not what you need to stabilise the situation for a long-term project.

    LEIGH SALES: So would you rather see things like the MRRT and the carbon tax not change if there were a change of government just to ensure that stability and certainty?

    SAM WALSH: We will do whatever the Government in power wants. We are a good corporate citizen. We’re focused exactly on that. We negotiated the MRRT in good faith. We would like to see the stability there.

    LEIGH SALES: And what about the carbon tax?

    SAM WALSH: Well, again, we’ve positioned our business accordingly. Of course, if there’s a choice between a tax or no tax – let me think; what am I going to want? But, importantly, let me just come back to the fact that we’re looking for stability.


    It will be interesting to see if Mr Abbott is given more warnings to stop rocking the boat. I complained long and loud when business was vociferously calling for stability around the carbon pricing issue but refused to defend any attempts by Labor to install a long-term, well-recognised system. Now that it exists, will big business defend it in the interests of stability? There is some small measure of encouragement in Mr Walsh’s remarks.

  9. Tony Windsor has started messing with Barbar’s mind. Not that hard. Was always going to happen.

  10. Some right-wing nutter has started yet another political party. Jamie MacIntyre, who says he is a ‘motivational speaker and entrepreneur’ has formed the 21st CenturyAustalia Party and he, himeself will run against Tony Windosor and Bananaby in New England. He’s going to run a candiate in Lyne too.

    The more of these conservative parties the better, they will just split the Coailtion vote. Oh what a dilemma conservative voters in New England will face – to vote for Bananaby, Clive’s candidate or Mr MacIntyre. I’m hoping a lot of them will decide it’s much easier to just stay home and pay the fine,

  11. Victoria,

    One thing I know is that Tony Windsor’s head is packed with those little grey cells whereas Bananaby’s is filled with mucky fluid.

  12. “@AlboMP: About to do Media Conference at Parliament House on a 2nd Airport for Sydney”

  13. janice

    Barnaby is still trying to figure out what Windsor and Palmer are up to!

  14. Is this true? Abbott has backed away, done a backflip with triple pike and lied about his bipartisan support for the Local Government referendum? All within the space of the last 24 hours?

  15. Jaeger…..A company directors course?…promise to repay?..!!’Yessir, of course sir!, three bags full sir!!…” ……………………………Buuuull-shIT!
    Jeeeesus!..what a cabal of complicity!…do all these investigative and judicial bodies drink at the same pub!!?…..or do they just root each-other?

  16. C@tmomma,

    What do you expect? Abott is a weak leader. The party rumbles and he changes position.

    I well remember the Chaos that marked Howard’s first term – and he was the undoubted Numero Uno of the LNP. Abbott is far more like an ALP leader in the fact that he is tied to a faction for his support – a faction that will brook no faffing about if he wins the election.

    For a party where the leader is paramount, this will be new territory – the only thing that gives me any pleasure about thinking Abbott winning is the thought that it may well rent the LNP apart, as Abbott continues to try and please everyone.

  17. [IN the Macquarie Dictionary the word shambles is defined as: “1. a slaughterhouse; 2. any place of carnage;. 3. any place or thing in confusion or disorder”. There can’t be a better word than shambles to describe the state into which this government has descended.

    The unravelling of budget predictions and projections continues apace. There won’t be much news next week because it’s all being leaked to prepare us for the ugly truth: government finances are in a mess on every front.]

    No doubt it is obvious who has written this crap

  18. Big Bob,

    For a party where the leader is paramount, this will be new territory – the only thing that gives me any pleasure about thinking Abbott winning is the thought that it may well rent the LNP apart, as Abbott continues to try and please everyone.

    Point very well made. I hadn’t thought about how Abbott the political Contortionist would be able to operate when he couldn’t just change his position with the wind. He’ll have to learn that actions have consequences and words mean something if you are in government.

    Hopefully, we are never going to be in the position in this nation to have to suffer that fate. Hopefully people will see sense.

  19. victoria,

    Anyone know what Albo said re the second airport?

    1. A 2nd Sydney Airport is necessary because Sydney is losing productivity growth without one.
    2. Once the 2nd Sydney Airport is built, Windsor RAAF Base will be allowed to take Civilian aircraft flights in and out. They will only be the smaller planes. Also, Defence needs will always take precedence.
    3. Badgerys Creek and Wilton are both suitable as sites.
    4. There will be no decision made until there is bipartisan agreement with the NSW State government about where they would agree to put it.

  20. These tweets from Windsor yesterday, got me thinking

    If evidence emerges that a major party is conspiring to block @CliveFPalmer from election, I will look for way to get the UAP to start line

    While @CliveFPalmer and I don’t agree on everything, I believe diverse voices improve debate. He shld be able to stand so voters can choose

    @DanielMCarr 2 months ago an unknown party with very similar name registered with AEC. Would block @CliveFPalmer’s UAP from registering

    could it be that unknown party registered name on behalf of the fibs, when they got wind of Clive and his intentions?

  21. C@tmomma,

    I swing between cautious optimism and complete despair.

    At least with Howard, I felt there was a consistent ethos guiding him – one I disagreed with and generally despised, but still there.

    Abbott jumps all over the place – I don’t think there actually is any grand plan – at least not one that is logically coherent. Just wait until he faces his first truly unpopular decision – he will fall to pieces trying to work out how he can keep the polls up – I am sure that he mistakes the LNP position in the polls for his own popularity, he craves popularity.

  22. It gave me a small measure of satisfaction to note the falling circulation figures of the newspapers. Pretty much vindicating what Bushfire has been stating for a couple of years.
    According to Kim Williams, circulation is dropping because the discounts have been stopped and thousands upon thousands and still more thousands are signing up for digital subscription. That these nitwits can accuse the Government of spin is an irony so overwhelming that, should it be measured, it would make Ginas pile of ore in the Pilbarra seem an inconsequential stone on the Gunbarrel Highway. It really does beggar belief.

    One of the reasons the journalists so desperately try to disparage JGPM at every opportunity is, simply, that she has called thier bluff. I really believe it is that simple. IIRC, after the Rudd removal they gave the PM a reasonable hearing…until Ms Gillard refused to apologise and act with the contrition demanded. A demand that was motivated more by bruised journalistic egos, perplexed pundits and the echos of best laid plans crashing asunder.

    The plan was pretty simple. Villify the PM and her Govt for any and everything. The more vapid and vacuous the better. The emptier the rhetoric the more reason for Ms Gillard to apologise, show the contrition, play the game, wait out the time until the planned, confected outrages finally took their toll and an election would be called. The right to wear pin stripe suits, the badge of honour of the truly witless, was to be bestowed on all and sundry. All to no avail.

    Something unforseen happened.

    Julia Gillard fought back….Hard.

    and the harder she fights the more panicked they become.

    The polls, such as they are, have been stable. There’s a lot of voters stil undecided.

    Circulations are dropping. A lot of consumers have made their decision.

    After all the crap, all the confected outrage, all the lofty, yet empty punditory the only movement has been in downward circulation figures. I am coming to the realisation that, as BB says, the only influence the media is having is on itself. Though,unlike masturbation, the shame will stain them for all time.

    One of the concerns most raised is the gullibity of the electorate and their propensity to fall for the Murdoch spin. I look at it in this light;

    For the most part I have always been a blue collar worker. Factories, farms, trucks, kitchens. Organisations of all sizes have ” benefited ” from my presence. One thing never changes. All of the workers say they hate the boss. The boss can be an idiot, clueless, not worth two knobs of goatshit, wouldn’t have a prayer in a real company, does nothing but shine the seat of his daks while the arse is hanging out of mine and that’s just morning smoko. On the floor, where it counts, they take notice of the new customers, of improved safety, of more cold water stations around the place. They, especially, take notice of the compassion shown in bereavements, of the systems in place for employee welfare and all speak with quiet pride about the place they work and the job they do.

    They just don’t speak of it at morning smoko.

    Any reason to believe voting intensions and the actual casting of the ballot would be any different?

    The media and its pundits are supplying the entertainment for morning smoko.

    Julia Gillard and her Government have served lunch and are prepping dinner.

    and that will be enough.

  23. A definitive article on Windsor’s involvement, if any, in Palmer’s attempts to register the United Australia Party.

    Windsor ready to help Palmer register party
    by Judith Ireland The Border Mail

    Independent MP Tony Windsor may consider trying to register Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party himself, if it turns out there is a conspiracy afoot to prevent Mr Palmer from using the name.


    While Mr Windsor is not considering joining forces with Mr Palmer at the ballot box, he says he wants to protect the rights of all Australians to run for office.


    If he did register the party, it is understood he would then resign his membership. While Mr Windsor has been approached about joining the United Australian Party, he has declined and says he will remain an independent.


  24. C@tmomma and Fiona

    I have to take my wife to the docs for an urgent matter, hopefully I’ll be back to do the raffle but better have alternate plans just in case. back soon I hope

  25. Bill Shorten:

    And how can any of this – I mean, what is the whole case for any of their changes? Unemployment fell today. We’ve seen 960,000 new jobs created. Industrial disputation for the life of the Labor government is lower than it was for the life of the Liberal government, and that even goes into construction. So there’s no outbreak of industrial relation unrest equivalent to the lost time that was occurring in the Howard years. Employment is going up in the teeth of the Global Financial Crisis and the aftershocks. This country is doing – and productivity has increased seven times in a row, seven quarters in a row labour productivity’s gone up, not down. So what is the case for the Liberal Party to tinker with the system and to start trying to create uncertainty and division?

    I thought that B Shorten’s last words on LL were excellent. Why indeed “tinker” with FWA?

  26. CK Watt,

    Fingers crossed for both of you. We will cope.

    C@tmomma, you okay with the drinks? I will have the Friday thread up by 5pm.

  27. I think Mr Windsor knows the value of a party that will split the National vote. He knows that waverers in New England may well opt to vote #1 UAP, #2 Tony Windsor rather than #1 Bananaby #2 Tony Windsor. A couple of little birdies have told me that a lot of voters over there don’t like having Bananaby foisted on them and are looking for an alternative. Clive’s candidate may be that alternative. It all means more preferences for Tony Windsor and that could be crucial.

  28. L2. I think that Tony Windsor , between his Blackberry and Barnaby, is enjoying himself

  29. Timid Tony has “shied away from giving a coalition commitment to approve major new mining projects while visiting regional NSW, where there is community opposition against coal seam gas exploration.”

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