My thanks – as always – to Urbanwronski for permission to republish.
It was Getup; it was Labor’s lies about Medicare. It was the super changes. It was the electorate getting it wrong. It was a week of finding someone else to blame.
Liberal Party power broker, Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz, is almost quick enough off the blocks to lead of the Coalition’s nation-wide chorus of denial, its political feature of the week, with his bizarre defence of his party over its election rout.
For Andrew Nikolic, the 10.6% swing which lost him the marginal Bass to Labor’s Ross Hart resulted from a “dishonest, nasty, personal campaign.” That nicely clears up any confusion about the role of his refusal to talk with any but pro-Liberal voters.
Nikolic, former chair of the nation’s joint parliamentary committee on intelligence, accuses unions and Labor of deception “built around the core lie of Medicare privatisation”. He attacks GetUp! for peddling lies and frightening pensioners.
Yet GetUp! National director, Paul Oosting, says volunteers had communicated “clear facts about cuts to health education and renewable energy supported by Nikolic, whilst a funding crisis at Launceston General Hospital was of great concern to locals – as was the GP Medicare freeze which will price some families out seeing a doctor”.
The government’s nothing-to-see-here case was not helped, moreover, when Sussan Ley was put in witness protection for volunteering in May that she would lift the Medicare freeze but she was blocked by departmental red tape.
Rumours abound that Ley will be relieved of her post with some suggesting that world’s best minister, Greg Hunt, who has also been in witness protection during the campaign, will be an ideal Health minister given his outstanding success in environmental protection and his clean bill of health for the Great Barrier Reef.
One in twenty Australians already can’t afford to see a doctor. Yet the government’s extension of the Medicare freeze until 2020 means patients could face a $25 fee per consultation, according to the AMA. No mention of a red tape problem.
Dotty Scott Morrison is also quick to claim that the government was robbed. “Beam me up, Scotty” loves antics and theatrics and corny mock shock horror shows, but he has failed at the main game. He has not got a handle on the Treasury portfolio.
There’s the trust issue for starters. His PM would not even trust him with the date of his own budget. Surely he will be relieved of the post after his shocking campaign in which he sacrificed any shred of credibility remaining to him with his war on business, his childish charts and his own black hole in Labor’s hole and other loopy stunts.
The reason voters were dumb enough to be bluffed by Labor’s lies, he blusters Wednesday, was that the Coalition had run such a positive campaign.
Has he forgotten his own scaremongering: the Labor’s war on business scare; the certainty that Bill Shorten would run Australia like a union scare; the collapse of the housing and even the stock market negative gearing scare; the soft on border security leading to chaos on our borders scare; or Peter Dutton’s refugees taking Aussie jobs while simultaneously sponging up all our Centrelink scare?
Even his PM the day before is wearing what Barrie Cassidy calls his “shit-eating grin” and concedes that there was “fertile ground” for voters’ Medicare fears to grow. What he could say is that voters are intelligent enough to recognise that the Coalition’s moves amount to establishing a two-tier privatised health system.
Part of the “fertile ground” for this campaign is that Australians have heard this promise before. Many recall John Howard’s undermining of Medicare by failing to allow funding to keep up with costs and population growth.
Many others would also remember Tony Abbott’s disastrous 2014 Budget promise of “no cuts to health” and how the Liberals tried to introduce a $7 GP tax and hike the price of prescriptions while ripping billions out of public hospitals.
And surely all would recall how Turnbull took the opportunity of his very first economic statement, the 2015 MYEFO, to cut even further than Abbott, slashing $650m from Medicare rebates for pathology and diagnostic imaging, cuts which Pathology Australia, the Diagnostic Imaging Association and others said would increase the price of vital tests and scans beyond affordable for some Australians.
Yet it is still a stretch to claim that Labor tricked electors into voting for it. Scrutineers and electoral officals reveal Medicare may have cost the Coalition votes, it seems from this stage of the vote count, but did not boost Labor’s vote, as it might if people had been conned into believing they needed to vote to “save Medicare”.
In the meantime, as vote counting continues its glacial pace in marginal lower house seats as well as the senate, Tasmanians’ votes below the line on the ballot ticket for Labor’s popular Lisa Singh appear to be pushing her towards a senate seat.
Not only is Lisa popular, she, like Liberal Richard Colbeck, campaigned for a vote below the line, a trend which is likely to result in Eric Abetz, who easily accessed number one spot, receiving fewer votes than Colbeck, thereby signalling the end of party control over senate voting and some attenuation of Ubergruppenfuhrer Abetz’s authority over the Tasmanian Liberals.
The gobsmacked senator elect is on to something, however, with his suggestion that someone form a right wing Get Up, a theme also embraced by conservative party luminary Senator Cory Bernardi, who is once again said to be starting a group of right-thinking red-blooded Australians who aren’t already voting One Nation.
Cory’s new conservatives will nudge politics a little further to the right in response to the Liberals’ thrashing in the polls and the miraculous resurgence of One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, former guest of Her Majesty and latterly celebrity demagogue on the Today Show, clear signs to Eric Abetz and others that what voters are craving is another dollop of right wing nut-jobbery. A right wing GetUp would help, he reckons.
Yet there are a few hurdles ahead of Bernardi and Abetz, starting with the support the conservative cause already enjoys from the odd powerful press baron, almost all mainstream media including the ABC and all our captains of industry and commerce, their supporters, the well-funded lobbyists, think tanks, foundations and institutes.
Also on the lucky Liberal list now are Chinese language voters who get all their news from WeChat, which hosted a non-scare campaign information service which explained for the non English reader Labor’s plans for boys to use girls’ toilets.
Voters in the Victorian seat of Chisholm in Melbourne’s East were also told by WeChat how Labor was going to open the gate to refugees who would take jobs. Labor was going to increase the refugee quota at the expense of Chinese migrants.
Chisholm records a first-preference swing of 4.2% to the Liberal candidate, Julie Banks, and 5.6% away from Labor which is so low as to use scare tactics.
The volunteer-run WeChat social media campaign was organised by Gladys Liu, the Liberal party communities engagement committee chairwoman for Victoria.
Apart from being superfluous, Eric’s and Cory’s concept of popular activists telephoning voters, for example, and canvassing votes on the basis that big business really needed a tax break or that pensioners needed further hurdles to jump to get their paltry allowances may need a little re-thinking.
Voters are more likely to paint their bodies blue and lie about naked in the street to be photgraphed, an event entirely of our time in the recent “Sea of Hull installation”, another of Spencer Tunick’s, true-blue artworks.
Yet Abetz is no lone wolf. His whingeing echoes his hapless Prime Minister’s petulant victory speech at the Wentworth hotel, such an ugly dummy spit that it even causes seasoned sourpuss Laurie Oakes some grief.
“It is the first time that I have seen a bloke that has won the election give a speech that saying we was robbed,” Oakes says on a Channel Nine chat show that also doubles as an election night special.
The “we was robbed” theme is continued at the end of the week by the dynamic Arthur Sinodinos who appears on ABC Insiders to demonstrate in person that his party has learned nothing, claiming the results as a mandate for tax reform.
Oddly, none of the journos present asks Arthur whether his memory has recovered enough for him to be able to assist ICAC in what he did in the 25 and 45 hours a year he spent working as a director for AWH 2008-11 to justify his $200,000 salary.
We were robbed. Not that the candidates were out of touch or that their policies were duds. All voters were offered the usual hollow slogan of jobs and growth with the promise of a tax cut for the top four per cent – surely an irresistible package. Plus extra stability.
Denial is capably assisted by scapegoating and blaming. Already recriminations are flowing thick and fast while Tony Abbott is getting fan mail on ABC from the likes of Andrew Probyn. Is a bit of factional sand-bagging already taking place?
The consensus on Sunday’s Insiders is that Abbott played a blinder of a campaign even helping out others such as poor George Christensen, one of the Liberals’ Lost Boys, and deserves a Brownlow for best non-sniper on the field and that he cannot possibly be linked to the salvoes of criticism which underminded his nemesis Turnbull from Sky media celebrity Peta Credlin. Nor will he in any way benefit.
Abbott does have a little jab at Malcolm on 2GB in yet another on-air rub down with Cronulla riot demi-urge Alan Jones. The big issues like budget repair, national security, and border security were underplayed in his opinion, aired for everyone’s benefit, along with a lot of rugby playing analogies that leave no doubt that after a spell on the bench, Abbott is waiting to be picked again for the firsts.
Stop the press. Tosser Turnbull has claimed victory, Bill Shorten has conceded defeat.
it’s an odd speech about good government a phrase which recalls “good captain” Abbott who promised the same, not long before he, too, got thrown out.
Tosser waffles about “building on the strength of our economy”, with a bit about how we get him wrong and how he is not an unduly sentimental fellow and how he was holding his grand-daughter when Bill Shorten rang him and sod the present, it’s all about the future and our grandchildren. We are trustees for our future generations.
Has he been on the single malt again?
Perhaps Turnbull’s had a Damascene conversion. Perhaps he’s about to ring Birmingham and Sussan Ley. Tell them he’ll put back the $70 billion that his government ripped out of health and education.
Could someone get Greg Hunt on the phone? It is too late to ring Howard about getting the profits of the minerals boom back? A word with Keating about QANTAS and the Commonwealth bank, the infrastructre he sold off for a song?
There’s a bit about democracy too, just to keep the Mineral Council of Australia happy, not to mention the long list of lobbyists and powerful backers to appease.
Many of us remember what the Minerals Council of Australia did to subvert public discussion on the Mining Super Profits Tax. Or what Clubs Australia did to stymie gambling reform, or what Big Coal did to Emissions Trading Scheme – the “Carbon Tax”.
Now it’s all over bar the shouting. The blood-letting. The blaming. Will Turnbull be able to manage a slim majority and a cross bench of nine? He had the odd spot of bother with the last mob. And they had no Pauline Hanson. No Derryn Hinch.
How will he go with a leaner Liberal Party but a fatter right wing, a “broad church” with a rabble of conservatives pointing the finger at the Sinodinos faction of wets, circling cabinet positions and backbenchers bitching and ranting about their betrayal, now every one of them a king maker?
Whatever the outcome there’ll be someone else to blame.
A party room meeting is scheduled for Monday.