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This is Part 3 of my “Uninformed Speculation” series on the 2019 Federal Election. The other two parts being Why Rob Oakshott Will Be Speaker In The 46th Parliament Of Australia” and Why Tanya Plibersek Will Be Dumped For Nikki Savvas As Deputy Labor Leader”.

As I write on Federal Election Eve, all the polls consistently say that Labor will win with 51.5% of the 2PP vote. My prediction is that the ALP will gain a little less than that vote share but still win enough seats to form a minority government holding 74 of the 151 seats and govern with the support of two Greens plus Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie.

Here’s how the election issues have panned out:

Bill Shorten’s Personality  

Will not influence votes. Morrison relentlessly harped on about the horror of Shorten’s  unlikeability but in the end Shorten has come out well.

Noting his significant lead in the “Preferred Prime Minister” ratings, Morrison tried to make the election into a beauty content between Shorten and himself. To this end, Morrison insisted on having three one-on-one debates with Morrison, aiming to force Shorten into the spotlight and exposing Shorten’s supposed personality deficiencies as starkly as possible to the voting public. Morrison also hoped to KO Shorten in these debates using his own superior communication skills, mental agility and innate aggression.

To the surprise of most, Shorten carried himself well through the debates with the live audiences rating Shorten the winner of the first debate and scoring the other two as draws. Shorten proved effective at being able to engage audiences on his agenda and, in contrast to his reputation for being a wooden communicator, was often able to connect at a personal and empathetic level with the listeners. Conversely, Morrison, while definitely a far more assured communicator and having excellent recall of debating points and figures that he wished to quote, often came across as scripted and abstract, more of a political machine rather than a real human being. Oftentimes Morrison seems to operate in an endless jabber-mode kind of a non-stop hyper-charged babble much like Kevin Rudd with a short-circuit and the volume amped to 11. 

Here, for fun, is Annabel Crabb’s original description of The Ruddbot:

 Ruddbot, our “first android prime minister” with a Muppet-inspired smile…

There are essential triggers hard-wired into the Ruddbot cortex. Ask the android machine about the number of union officials on its front bench and it will also promptly divert into a charming reverie about a rock star, an academic and a Mandarin-speaking diplomat. Include a reference to Mark Latham in a question, and it will reply “I am not aware of those reports.” Ask it any difficult question and it has been programmed to reply by asking itself several of its own. It will then answer them all with mechanical precision.

In the end, the final Leader’s Debate was quite boring as it was apparent before it started that Shorten was Morrison’s equal in the debates and that no conclusive victory would be gained by either man. Morrison appears to lack his usual energy, seemingly resigned to being unable to KO Shorten. For his part Shorten seemed to have the glow of a man who, to his own amazement, survived a test he felt sure would overcome him.

In the debates, Morrison was hamstrung by being unable to unleash the full force of his aggression as the Christchurch Shooting tragedy which occurred just prior to the start of the election campaign made snarling aggression, a common feature of Morrison’s communication, distasteful in the public mind, forcing Morrison to curtail this instinct of his and robbing him of a natural advantage.

Towards the end of the campaign, Newscorp made an ill-considered attack on Bill Shorsten vis-a-vis his mother. Public revulsion at this tactic provoked sympathy for Shorten and a considerable improvement in his personal approval ratings, much to the chagrin of Newscorp and whichever executive gave approval to this distasteful over-reach.

Galilee Basin Coal Mines (Adani)

Important in Queensland. Labor’s luke-warm toleration of Adani imperils jobs in central Queensland and means that the Coalition will retain all their Queensland rural marginals and gain the seat of Herbert. But the city/country divide means that Brisbane Metro seats will lack the same affect and align with the general national swing of 1.5% toward the ALP.

Big Tax Scare Campaign

Has not cut through. The polls show only a minimal narrowing of the polls toward the incumbent LNP Coalition government since the campaign began. Indeed, the lack of movement in the polls indicates that no issue has particularly cut through from either side. Voters made up their minds before the campaign began and have not changed their views since.

Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years convinced the electorate that a change is required.

Caveat: Even now, 24 hrs before voting there are a great many undecideds out there. On Saturday Morning the phrase “Big Scary Tax” in the newspapers or at the polling booth could easily push that needful 1.5% Morrison’s way.

Franking Credits

Will not affect votes. This issue created a lot of heated talk but in the end this issue does not affect many people. Only self-supported retirees who do not receive a pension are affected by this measure and only a small sub-set of those.

The Franking Credits issue in the end merely energised rusted-on Liberal voters who would never swing to Labor anyway.

Other pensioners did fall for Morrison’s scare campaign initially but if this has changed voting intention then it is not reflected in the polls.

Negative Gearing

Will not affect votes. Like all the tax issues, endlessly hammered by Morrison, but did not cut through if the polls are correct.

Shorten’s appeal to fairness appears to have neutralised Morrison’s “price crash, rent spike” rhetoric. Shorten has been arguing the case for Negative Gearing for at least three years now. I think the issue is now familiar to the voters and has lost its heat.

For those interested, here is the research showing that the concept that Keating’s abolition of  Negative Gearing in 1985 caused a rental spike is a myth.

Climate Change

Will not change seats. I thought Morrison did very well at arguing his case that the Liberals have done enough on Climate Change. But Shorten did produce a great cut-through line on this in the second Leader’s debate. Whilst Morrison was eulogising the LNP achievement of meeting Kyoto and Paris Agreement Carbon targets, Shorten intejected to note that Australian Carbon emissions are higher than they ever were  and said  “Typical Surgeon’s response – the operation was a complete success but the patient died”

The Climate Change issue has shifted voters in some safe Liberal voting seats but not many in marginal seats. Some,  but not many.

I think Shorten made the tactically correct call not to give a total cost to his Carbon Abatement policy. I think Shorten has correctly judged that general community sentiment is present for Climate Abatement and so there is not pressing insistence that this policy be comprehensively costed. Giving a definitive cost to Carbon Abatement would merely have handed Morrison with another Big Scary Number in addition to the Big Scary Tax Number that he has been endlessly shouting at the electorate.

Liberal Party Too Right Wing

Meaningful in Victoria. The wrecking tactics of the right-wing of the Federal LNP has outraged moderate Liberal voters in Victoria who are simultaneously repelled by a takeover of the State Liberals by religious conservatives. Outrage at the sacking of Malcolm Turnbull caused  a huge backlash among moderate Libs in last year’s Victorian State Election and resulted in a landslide loss including shocking losses of blue-ribbon seats.

Three or four seats will ultimately go to the ALP over this issue in tomorrow’s Federal vote.

Jobs And The Economy

Important. This is why the LNP are still in the contest. Morrison has been able to say that the Budget is back in surplus (in fact it isn’t until next year on projections, but this year it is very close). The talismanic surplus speaks meaningfully to the electorate on the subject of economic management which is considered a traditional LNP strength.

In addition, while there is very little wages growth, most people have jobs and the unemployment rate is fairly low. While the economy is lacking vigour, most people are working. In conditions where the economy is acceptably good, governments mostly retain power. (Howard’s loss in 2007 a notable exception).

LNP Disunity

This is the election-deciding issue. Fundamentally, the disunity of the government over the last five years has persuaded the electorate that a change is required. Government  infighting has caused the Libs to depose two Prime Ministers and prevented them from finalising basic policy on Power and Energy. This is a basic failing of governance and this will cause them to lose tomorrow’s election.

Well, let’s see what happens…

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Following on from my uninformed speculation about the Federal Election result I would like to add some uninformed speculation about the new Labor Leader and Deputy Leader.

Anthony Albanese would appear to be favoured to win but I wonder if this might create a factional conundrum for the Labor Caucus. I am under the impression that Labor is required to balance factional, gender and State interests in the appointment of its senior officers. Albanese is from the Left faction, but so is current Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek. Would the Labor Right faction be prepared to tolerate the Left owning both leadership positions ? If not, would they require Tanya Plibersek to stand aside as Deputy Leader and cede that position to the Right ?

Plibersek would definitely resist any non-volitional incineration and refuse to step aside. In that case, with the Left owning Leader and Deputy Leader, the Right may have to be mollified by being given a large number of senior Shadow positions.

Could Plibersek end up getting dumped ? 

If so, who from the Right faction would replace her ? Kristina Kenneally is from the Right and also female. She was prominent in the campaign being employed as Shorten’s attack dog. But perhaps Kenneally would prefer not to displace her sister-comrade acrimoniously. But then again, why not ? If the ALP are going to make difficult leadership decisions they might as well do so as soon as possible. Plibersek is strongly associated with Shorten and may now be irredeemably tarred with the losing policy positions of this  election campaign and indeed the past two campaigns.

So there you go: Albanese for leader and Kenneally as Deputy.

Other Candidates

Jim Chalmers (Shadow Finance) is from the Right (factional balance) and would make a good option as Deputy if Labor decide to go for generational change and leadership renewal and completely move away from the familiar faces that have now lost two elections.. Thanks to Nikki Savvas who pointed out this generational change aspect on Insiders this morning. Savvas also says that Chalmers is a sharp communicator with a quick mind. Morrison is very quick-witted indeed and the ALP could use someone prominent with those skills.

Just quickly, Savvas is one of my favourite Insiders guests. Knowledgeable and concise. I wish bloody Malcolm Farr and Barrie Cassidy would stop interrupting her and let her talk. Her contributions are always excellent.

Plibersek would be disastrous as Leader in my view. Sorry, but left-wing feminists have zero appeal as leaders except to other left-wing feminists. Sometimes carries that scornful superiority which bedevils certain left-wing intellectuals. Can tend to scoff and derisively snort. Its electoral poison. Plibersek would reduce the ALP to 1 seat, her own, which she would hold with a 99% 2PP.

Chris Bowen, current Shadow Treasurer and from the Right faction, would be potentially worse as Leader than Plibersek. Morrison would eat him alive. Bowen would be a gibbering wreck in a fortnight. He’s the ALP version of Alexander Downer except wonked out on Theoretical Economics. I actually think Bowen is a very competent Economic mind, clearly superior to Frydenberg, but not the one for National Leader. Sometimes tends to gabble and protest when put under stress by questioning. But then again so do I. I think that’s normal. I’m not judging him. Well yes I am, but not in a bad way.

Chris Bowen (again) could be promoted to Deputy under Albanese to keep the Right happy. But then again it was Bowen’s Big Tax Plans he developed as Shadow Treasurer that have just been flushed by the great Australian voting public. Bowen might remind the public of BAD THINGS. Certainly Bowen will be a daily target for Morrison from now on as author of the so-called Retiree Tax, Housing Tax, Income Tax, Superannuation Tax and in general the loser who wanted to steal $400 Billion in Tax from honest hard-working Aussie battlers earning over $180K per year. And, like Savvas said, Bowen gifted the Libs a gilt-edged attack line on his own policies: If you don’t like Labor’s policies, don’t vote for them. Frydenberg sepulchrally intoned that line every day of the campaign. I think Bowen has to go. Not in a bad way.

Albanese: calm under pressure, relaxed, experienced, is authentic and liked. Good mind. Runs a reasonable attack line. Sense of humour. Should connect well with ordinary Australians. Closest thing to an ALP ScoMo. Should win the ballot in a canter.

Nikki Savvas: Lets herself get interrupted too often. Wouldn’t make her Deputy Leader of the ALP.

Miscellaneous – Who else of the female gender did Shorten have in his group of bodyguards during the campaign ? Maybe one of them would be the go for Deputy. Or all of them simultaneously. Maybe they could operate an an amalgamated cross-factional hive-mind. ? I’ve got one and I’ve never been happier.

The result will be: ALP 74 LNP 71 GRN 2 OTH 4 CLIVE PALMER 0

which means a ALP Minority Government supported by two Greens, Andrew Wilkie and Rob Oakeshott. Oakeshott will become Speaker. You heard it here first.

How We Will Get There

The 2016 result was LNP 76 ALP 69 GRN 1 OTH 4

Since then, the post-election redistribution made two Victorian seats notionally ALP (Corangamite and Dunkley), additional seats were created in the ACT and VIC which are both notionally ALP, a SA seat held by Labor was abolished and Wentworth was lost by the Liberals to the Independent.

So the starting position for the 2019 poll (tomorrow) is: LNP 73 ALP 72 GRN 1 OTH 5

Projected Outcome

The Swing will be 1.5%. ALP will get 51.1% of the vote, 2PP

QLD – Rural Qld needs jobs so the proposed Adani coal mine is popular. This means that the LNP will retain all their rural marginals and gain the ultra-marginal seat Herbert based around Townsville.  Brisbane Metro will align with the national swing and the ALP will gain Forde (Brisbane Metro, 0.6% swing required)

VIC – The anger over the Turnbull sacking has abated. But resentment among moderate Libs at the undue influence and instability engendered by the right-wing Dutton/Abbott group, along with the same resentment felt at the current takeover of the local Liberal State party by right-wing Libs will cause moderate Libs to swing to the ALP.

In addition to the seats that have become notionally Labor by redistribution, the ALP will additionally gain Chisholm (2.9%) where the incumbent candidate has also made remarks seen as anti-LGBT, which will pad the gain from the raw swing; GRN will gain Macnamara (1.2%) , formerly known as Melbourne Ports from the ALP.

Casey (4.5%) will be retained by Tony Smith who did a good job as Speaker in the last Parliament and is a respected traditionally moderate Vic Liberal. Deakin (6.4%) is a little out of range. Higgins and Kooyong will be retained despite significant swings. Flinders (7%) will be held by Health Minister Greg Hunt despite Julie Banks, the ex-Liberal MP, running in Flinders and directing preferences to Labor. LaTrobe (3.2%) too close to call.

WA – ALP are coming off a low base and the State Libs are a bit on the nose, so ALP will gain Swan (2.6%) and Hasluck (3.6%). Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce (3.6%) is said to be close but Porter’s profile as Attorney-General will help him to retain.

NSW – Latest indications are that NSW will swing to the Libs. But ALP will gain Gilmore (0.7%) where the Libs have been beset by infighting. Rob Oakeshott seems to be popular and will gain Cowper (4.6%) from NAT; LNP will gain Lindsay (1.1%) and regain Wentworth(1.0%) from IND.

TAS – The 2016 Mediscare campaign artificially inflated the ALP vote in Tasmania last time and the State Libs are popular. LNP will gain Braddon (1.7%)

SA –  I don’t expect SA to swing much. Libs will retain Boothby (2.7%) and polling indicates that the Centre Alliance will retain Mayo (2.9%) quite easily.

NT – No change. LNP said to be gaining a swing but the margins in both of the seats will be too large for the Libs to gain.

ACT – No change, except ALP wins the newly created 3rd seat.

So that’s how you get to ALP 74 LNP 71 GRN 2 OTH 4 CLIVE PALMER 0 and Rob Oakeshott as Speaker.

Biggish Calls

Largish swings in Victorian seats Higgins, Kooyong and Deakin will not deliver ALP gains. Same for Warringah (NSW – Tony Abbott); Dickson (Peter Dutton) will be retained by the Libs. Farrer (NSW) will swing hard but Libs will retain. Indi (VIC) will be retained by the Independent.

Pivotal Seats

There are many – but LaTrobe in Victoria (Lib 3.2%), Pearce (WA Lib 3.6% – Christian Porter, the Attorney-General), Warringah (Lib 11.1% see above) and Petrie (QLD Lib 1.6%) – could give the ALP majority government (though Warringah would be IND not ALP).

What Chance This ?

ALP win 75 seats on the night then two weeks later win Warringah by 10 votes after a full recount. Tony Abbott delivers govt. to Labor !

Just Quietly

Scott Morrison has studiously avoided assisting Tony Abbott in Warringah, hoping to rid himself of Abbott’s destructive destabilizing presence in the LNP Party Room. This is the second time Morrison has run dead on Abbott hoping for others to do his dirty work which is now an obvious ScoMo Modus Operandi.

The first time Morrison ran dead on Abbott was when Morrison failed to whip his numbers in support of Abbott in the leadership spill against Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott will not have forgotten this and, given Morrison’s current latest passive-aggressive effort to dud Abbott, if Abbott survives into the next Parliament (or even if he doesn’t) it will be Abbott’s sole raison d’etre to destroy Morrison. Ray Hadley’s too.

 

 

 

More on Liberal Party preferencing strategy towards One Nation here.

And of course, here 

Since 1998, with some exceptions, the LNP have claimed that their preferencing strategy towards One Nation is predicated on ethical principles. This post will demonstrate that the LNP has never based their preferencing strategy toward One Nation on ethical principles but has always based it on tactical and strategic considerations designed to maximize their chances of gaining or retaining power.

2019 Federal Election Campaign

In the 2019 Federal Election, the Liberal Party are preferencing One Nation behind the ALP but are not imposing that directive on their Coalition partners, The National Party.  Whilst the Liberal Party have dropped One Nation below the ALP in the preferencing order as a consequence of One Nation’s contemptuous approach to Australia’s Gun Control laws, the fact that the Liberal Party leadership are not insisting that the National Party also de-preference One Nation shows that there is no ethical imperative to the Liberal Party preferencing decision. This continues a long history of the LNP taking an unprincipled stand on One Nation preferencing in order to retain power.

Reluctant Revulsion

As Kathryn Murphy of The Guardian has exposed, the decision to direct Liberal voters to preference One Nation behind Labor was made reluctantly by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Liberal leadership. They were driven to it by the public revulsion directed toward One Nation in relation to the views of Pauline Hanson, One Nation’s leader, that the horrific Australian gun tragedy, The Port Arthur Massacre, in which 35 people were killed,  was the result of a government conspiracy [1]

As always the LNP is claiming that their approach to One Nation preferencing is based on ethical principles, but in reality, as always, the LNP approach to One Nation preferencing is based entirely on strategic motives.

The misleading claims to ethicality lie in Scott Morrison’s assertion that there will be no preference deals with One Nation.  This is a deliberately disingenuous remark designed to conceal from metropolitan voters the fact that the Liberal Party whenever possible preferences One Nation above Labor in the hope of attracting reciprocal preferences from One Nation.

Morrison was speaking in the aftermath of remarks made by Independent (former One Nation) Senator Fraser Anning, a far right sympathizer, who stated that massacre of Muslims in New Zealand by an Australian racist gun man was proof that Muslim immigration to Australia should be halted.

Morrison’s disingenuous no deals locution [3], correctly described as weasel words by the Queensland Federal Senator Murray Watt, concealed the fact that the LNP preferenced One Nation in 50 of 58 seats in the November 2017 Queensland State Election and had assisted One Nation to acquire the eat of Mirani.

Disingenuous
/ˌdɪsɪnˈdʒɛnjʊəs/
adjective
  1. not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.
    synonyms: dishonestdeceitfulunderhandunderhandedduplicitousdouble-dealingtwo-faced, dissembling, insincerefalselyinguntruthfulmendacious;

Placating One Nation: An LNP Quandry

Hanson’s comments on Port Arthur were made public in the week following the Christchurch Massacre in which a racist Australian gunman, adorned with Neo-Nazi symbols, gunned down Muslims in two New Zealand Mosques, killing 50 and wounding 50 others. The public was further disgusted by revelations that One Nation party officials had met with the American National Rifle Association with the intention of seeking donations to support One Nation watering down Australia’s gun control laws.

Consequently, the LNP found itself in a similar quandry to that in 1997 when One Nation was held in opprobrium by a large section of the voting public, at that time as a result of its xenophobic anti-Asian immigration views. Then, as now, the LNP wanted to attract One Nation preferences but could not broker a preference deal with One Nation without alienating a large segment of the electorate. Then, as now, the LNP was trapped between wanting to mollify One Nation supporters and alienating the political centre by association with One Nation and certain of their viewpoints which are shocking to political moderates.

Backlash and Rightward Shift

In the Queensland State Election of 1998, the first election after One Nation’s formation the Liberals preferenced One Nation above the ALP and were punished by metropolitan Brisbane voters for association with One Nation’s xenophobic viewpoints, losing 5 seats while also assisting One Nation to win seats in outer-metropolitan areas with Liberal preferences. For the Liberals it was an absolute disaster.

After this very negative electoral experience, Howard put One Nation last on tactical considerations, to avoid being punished by moderate voters for holding xenophobic views on immigration and culture. But following the Tampa Incident Howard pushed Australian immigration policy to the right. The public proved receptive to this view which was inflamed by Howard and Peter Reith concocting the infamous Children Overboard scare on the Australian public. As Muslim asylum-seekers continued to flow in from Afghanistan following the Taliban wars there, Australian public opinion, encouraged by Howard, then in turn by Abbott and Morrison, continued to harden such that  majority views on immigration became compatible with the rejectionist stance of One Nation and also embedded in LNP policy.

Hanson herself noted this phenonemon by stating

“It has been widely recognised by all, including the media, that John Howard sailed home on One Nation’s policies,”

As the Australian Financial Review puts it

The suggestion Hanson has changed in some fundamental way is actually an indication of how much the rest of politics has changed

Mainstream Xenophobia

This rightward drift of mainstream views on immigration  occurred during a period when One Nation was largely neutralized within Australian politics. John Howard and Tony Abbott had succeeded in dampening One Nation as a political force by secretly funding legal action against One Nation in relation to breaches of the Electoral Act with the result that Pauline Hanson went to jail for three months during 2003. This, along with the organisational chaos of One Nation, culminating in the expulsion of Hanson from her own party, caused One Nation to lose voter legitimacy and One Nation temporarily ceased to be an important political force. In fact Hanson herself did not hold parliamentary office between 1998 and 2015. [2] But the xenophobic sentiments of One Nation had become entrenched in the mainstream and were now amply reflected in LNP government policy.

The overall effect was that One Nation was no longer held in general opprobium. Its xenophobic views, now directed primarily at Muslims instead of Chinese, were embraced by the majority of Australians. Instead of being a lightning rod for the anti-Immigration vote, One Nation became the home of a generalised right-wing protest vote for those on the right feeling alienated and disenfranchised with the major parties. But in general, One Nation no longer excited disgust from the political centre because on One Nation’s core issue – immigration – the centre had shifted rightward and was largely satisfied with LNP rejectionism of Muslims.

Disgusting The Centre Again

Furthermore, the major parties had come to a consensus that directly criticizing One Nation and especially Pauline Hanson was counter-productive and merely acted to increase its support. So after 2016, with the election of Pauline Hanson to the Federal Senate, One Nation was treated by the main parties and the public as a fixture of Australian politics – perhaps not liked or truly respected by many – but representative of an alienated minority of Australians and part of business-as-usual within the Australian polity.

This acceptance of One Nation changed with Pauline Hanson’s embrace of conspiratorial views of the Port Arthur Massacre and their exposure in the week following the Christchurch Massacre. The timing of this exposure indicates opportunism by Hanson’s political opponents but nevertheless One Nation was again equated with far-right viewpoints which disgusted the political centre. Consequently, the LNP again faced the dilemma of associating with far-right opinion and risking backlash from metropolitan and moderate voters.

Tactical, Not Ethical

But Morrison and the Liberal Party also had to accommodate the fact the One Nation vote is significant in some key Queensland rural seats. One Nation traditionally retaliate if put last in preferences by treating opposing parties in the same way. For example, One Nation ran this style of campaign in the Western Australian State election of 2001 putting all sitting members last. Fearing losing the flow of One Nation preferences in these key rural Queensland seats, Morrison has allowed the National Party to preference One Nation and so avoid One Nation retaliation and thus receive One Nation preferences.

The overall strategy of Scott Morrison and the LNP in relation to One Nation preferences therefore is to maximise seat retention. Putting One Nation last in Liberal seats avoids voter backlash in metropolitan seats. Accepting One Nation preferences in National seats allows the Nationals to receive One Nation preferences and hopefully retain rural seats.

So, in the LNP tradition, the One Nation preferencing strategy is all about strategy and tactics: retaining seats whilst attempting to mollify One Nation voters as far as possible while trying to distance themselves from certain far right views of Pauline Hanson.

Milestones In LNP / One Nation Preference Deals

March 1997 – One Nation Formed.

One Nation immediately attracts 9% of the national vote, most of which came from the Liberal/National coalition. George Megalogenis states that the LNP vote fell from 49% in March 1997 when One Nation was formed, to 40% one month later ‘and all of it went over to the One Nation column’.

Howard could not afford to antagonize One Nation as their support base was comprised mainly of disaffected Coalition voters. Howard needed to ensure that One Nation voters would preference him, so he played softly-softly with them.

Howard is not fundamentally opposed to the One Nation agenda and tells his party room that he would prefer to work with them rather than the Australian Democrats. Peter Costello and Amanda Vanstone disagree. Both of these made public comments that the Liberal Party should put One Nation last in the preference order on ethical grounds i.e. that One Nation were racist. Both received long and emphatic phone calls from John Howard they should retract their opinions, Vanstone commenting that Howard was so loud she was forced to hold the receiver away from her ear (‘The Howard Years’, Episode 1, ABC Television, broadcast 17 Nov. 2008)

Howard decides to preference One Nation above Labor. This, Howard hoped, would send a message to One Nation voters that he was not displeased with the One Nation message, particularly in the climate of general social condemnation of One Nation, and maximize the One Nation preference flow to the Coalition.

June 1998 – Queensland State Election

One Nation won an astonishing 22.7% of the primary vote and, aided by Coalition preferences won 11 seats, while the Coalition itself lost 5 seats in Brisbane as inner-city voters expressed their disgust at The Liberal’s preferencing of One Nation above Labor.

If these results were to be repeated at the upcoming Federal Election, Howard and the Coalition would be soundly defeated.

Immediately after Queensland election Howard flies to Queensland to meet with One Nation supporters and try to convince them that the Coalition understood their issues and would help them. In the meantime he commissions Tony Abbott to find a way to destroy One Nation. Abbott creates a slush fund to fund legal action against Hanson and One Nation. Abbott and Howard lie about their knowledge of and existence of the Fund. Abbott and Howard eventually get Hanson thrown in jail.

The strategy of the National and Liberal parties to preference One Nation paid off outside Brisbane, where it won five seats from Labor. In Brisbane the strategy badly back-fired: urban voters ‘punished’ the Liberals for directing preferences to One Nation (Reynolds 2001, 156).

So the overall effect of Coalition preferences was to assist One Nation to win seats, to win some seats for the LNP in rural and outer-metro areas, but to experience significant punishment in urban seats as relatively educated and progressive voters express disgust against associating with One Nation

1998 – Federal Election

Howard decides to put One Nation last to protect urban seats  (of which there are many) from backlash against inner-city voters, foregoes assistance in rural seats (of which there are few) and avoid loss of outer-metro seats to One Nation.

2001 – WA State Election

LNP are-run their 1998 Federal Election strategy and put One Nation last. One Nation responds by putting “all sitting Members last”, whether LNP or ALP. LNP lose power to ALP.

While some consider that the “One Nation last” strategy was germane to the LNP losing power as One Nation retaliated by putting sitting LNP members last, professional psephologists rate the effect of One Nation preferencing as relatively minor in this particular election.

As Antony Green. Australia’s premier psephologist, demonstrates in this paper for the Western Australian Parliamentary Library, Green preferences to the ALP were clearly decisive in delivering seats to the ALP  whereas the effect of One Nation preferences was much more limited. It was, actually the effect of the LNP losing Primary votes to One Nation which was the much bigger concern.

The 2001 WA election was conducted in the climate of a large general swing against the LNP which would have led them to lose power regardless of One Nation preferencing. In fact One Nation preferences split evenly between LNP and ALP, but flowed a little less strongly to the LNP than would otherwise have occurred in the absence of the “sitting members last” directive.

Nevertheless, even though the actual One Nation preferencing effect was minor, WA Liberals decided that the party had suffered materially by putting One Nation last and hence resolved to avoid repudiation of One Nation on the future.

2002-2015 One Nation Temporarily Ceases To Exist as a significant political force

2017 – WA State Election

Barnett, Turnbull and Howard fine-tune the preference strategy, swapping One Nation preferences in Lower House for Lib preferences in the Upper House. The deal is limited to selected seats. The Libs are trying to sandbag Lower House seats and so retain government whilst conceding Balance of Power in the Upper House. They are also avoiding assisting One Nation to win seats in the Lower House.

Like Howard did, Barnett and other Liberals are trying to mollify One Nation voters by saying they are good people, sophisticated and nuanced, and that their concerns are seriously addressed by the Libs.

Also, noting a reactionary shift in the political landscape toward populism, nationalism and anti-Immigration, the Libs judge that urban voters are less likely to punish them by association with One Nation

The Libs, including Malcolm Turnbull, are also trying to distance themselves from One Nation even while cuddling up to them, hence Barnett feigning ignorance of their policies. This is to mollify urban voters and  intended to reduce backlash.

2019 – NSW State Election

The rightward shift of the political centre and the long-standing ‘don’t criticize Pauline’ strategies of the major parties have normalized One Nation and the LNP is able to quietly accept One Nation preferences without raising serious objection in the community. The party attracting most attention vis-a-vis Preference Deals is the Shooters, Farmers and Fisher’s Party (SFF) who support watering down Australia’s gun control laws. NSW Liberal Premier and former Prime Minister John Howard criticizes the ALP for running selective preference deals with the SFF.

2019 Federal Election Campaign

One Nation’s conspiratorial views on Part Arthur in the wake of the Christchurch Massacre disgust large segments of the electorate who once again perceive One Nation as possessing certain unacceptable far right views. The Liberal Party are forced under community pressure to put One Nation behind the ALP, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not compel the National Party to do the same. This bifurcated position within the Coalition crystallises the tactical nature of the LNP approach to One Nation preferences, showing that the LNP is uninterested in an ethical approach to dealing with One Nation.

I go into more detail about the early LNP / One Nation history here, drawing heavily on research by Margo Kingston.

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[1] Hanson alludes to a statement made by former NSW Premier Barry Unsworth as providing insight into government intentions to stage a gun massacre in Tasmania.

[2] Hanson did go very close twice to regaining parliamentary office in this period. In 1998 Hanson was unlucky to suffer a drastic redistribution in her seat of Oxley which cut the seat in half. Hanson stood for the seat of Blair and was the leading candidate on Primary Votes, gaining 36%, but was prevented from winning the seat by being put last on preferences by the major parties. Also, in 2015 Hanson went within 114 votes of winning Lockyer in a Queensland State Election

[3] Thanks to Kathryn Murphy for this lovely word “locution” which so aptly encapsulates the artfully deceptive phraseology of Scott Morrison in this matter

From Kristina Photios in The Guardian, today:

The irony is that our coal industry exports about 95% of its coal. Its key markets are offshore, predominately in Asia, and not at all domestic. In theory we could be 100% renewable and those workers could still keep their jobs.

That’s pretty clear.

We export basically all of our Coal.

Therefore if Australia goes to a 100% Renewable energy grid, not even one Australian job would be lost.

Just for the icing:

The coal export demand will only be curtailed if Asian demand drops as they transition to a clean economy, which is outside of the control of our domestic politics.

Kristina Photios, you are a genius.

Lee Harvey Oswald, by his own admission, played a crucial part in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Oswald may or may not have taken a rifle into the Texas School Book Depository, though he never fired it. It wasn’t Oswald’s role to shoot the President. That was the job of others. Soon after the assassination, Oswald briskly left the environs of the Book Depository and returned to his Dallas rooms where he was alerted by members of the Dallas Police Department that his escape rendezvous was ready to proceed. So Oswald was in cahoots with the assassination machinery

Oswald then decamped to the Texas Theatre cinema where he was more or less immediately arrested. After a day or two in custody of the Dallas Police, Oswald was then escorted to the Police Basement where Oswald played his crucial role – which was to be shot point-blank on national television, the squadrons of Dallas Police surrounding him apparently powerless to protect the most wanted man in the USA.

Oswald Was The Patsy. 

Oswald was the one left holding the blame for the assassination and was himself assassinated by his co-conspirators as thanks for assisting in their act of national decapitation. Public anger at him for plunging the nation into chaos,  an assessment of wickedness of character and a perpetually soiled reputation was all his .

Oswald was The Patsy  
… and therefore expendable.

And this is exactly the role that Peter Dutton played in the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull.

As a Patsy in the service of others.

Revenge

As in the JFK assassination, a central motive in the assassination of Malcolm Turnbull was revenge.

Tony Abbott hated Turnbull for stripping the Prime Ministership away from him in 2015 and from the moment that event occurred has never ceased plotting how to destroy Turnbull in return.

Policy

Again, as in the JFK assassination, the direction of government policy was at stake in the Turnbull assassination. For JFK, his intervention in the CIA  Bay Of Pigs Black Operation, causing it to fail, signalled a change in the tenor and execution of Foreign Policy unacceptable to US Reactionary interests just as unacceptable as Turnbull’s accommodation of Climate Change considerations within Energy Policy and Gender Equality considerations within Marriage Policy.

But Policy does not begin to describe what was at stake for Reactionary interests in both scenarios. What was at stake in both the JFK presidency and the Turnbull Prime Ministership was the soul of the nation.

As David Marr put it,

[the assassination of Malcolm Turnbull is] an audacious gambit by a political faction that knows it is losing traction in the community.

Terrible polling figures for policies dear to their hearts does not dissuade but compels them to act.

The rule is this: when you face losing control of the country, you must take control of the party. Otherwise you are done for.

Camelot

JFK’s Camelot signalled the death of the old order and the commencement of a new way. Reactionary interests were being sidelined. The Military-Industrial Complex, the CIA shadow government and the Monied interests that controlled and parasitically fed on both were outraged. Their grip on the soul of America, their gravy train was coming to an end under the upstart, wealthy, Catholic President. JFK didn’t need them. He had his own means. He was not dependent; no-one’s protege. And to the Reactionaries, JFK was the wrong man in the wrong place. A Catholic ! As President !

Wentworth

And so too was Malcolm Turnbull the wrong man in the wrong job. Socially progressive, yet a Liberal Party Prime Minister. Independently wealthy, he does need Murdoch’s financial backing or anyone else’s. Possessed of his own vision. A Republican !  A supporter of Marriage Equality ! And – lethally –  clear-minded on Climate Change and the role of Fossil Fuels.

The Monied interests of  The Liberal Party and the media organisations they controlled could not abide Turnbull. Under Turnbull the Liberal Party would drift from Reactionary views and come to accept Science-based Climate policy and progressive social currents. No Coal ! The wealth, status and prestige of the Old Order was under challenge.

Malcolm Turnbull , the Member for Wentworth, was an existential threat to the Old Order. He had to be eliminated.

Hemlock

The main players in Turnbull’s downfall were Abbott, sick with the need for revenge, Eric Abetz, insane by reason of mental obsession with his own importance; and Kevin Andrews a crusted Reactionary of instinctive hatred towards progressives.

Abetz, Abbott and Andrews: AAA, Triple A.

But none of these could challenge in their own right. Abbott is a failed and unmissed Prime Minister, described by some of his own colleagues as electoral hemlock. Abetz and Andrews are yesterdays men, politically alive only by the artificial respiration provided by long service to Coal, Tobacco and other Liberal Party donors. Neither could be the suitable face of a renewed or modern Liberal Party. Hemlock the lot of them.

No. They needed a Patsy.

Dickson

Peter Dutton, member for Dickson, Minister for the hugely popular  Border Protection portfolio. Beloved by right-wing media across the country for his unswervable commitment to allowing immigrant children to die in detention, for the humour he finds in the devestating consequences of Climate Change, for walking out on the national apology to the Stolen Generation; for his championing of the plight of White people; for his contempt for Civil Liberties and Refugee Advocacy groups.

This is Dutts, as he’s fondly known to right-wing talkback hosts and their audiences. No wonder One Nation did not stand a candidate against Dutton in the last election.

Praised every week on Sky TV, on 2GB, by average Aussies everywhere. You’d have to be made of stone to be immune to such unrelenting flattery

Dutts is a Queenslander. Marginal seats in Queensland will be crucial to the outcome of the next Federal election.

The Longman by-election came up. Sky and 2GB were confident. The Liberals would win it. The first time a Government would win a By-Election in 90 years.  But instead, out-campaigned by the ALP  the LNP vote went backwards.  That wasn’t expected. Blimey ! We could really lose this.

Phone calls from Triple A. Dutts – we need you. You’re the man. You can save the government. Save The Party. Save The Nation. Dutts is an ex-copper. Grounded. But human. He came to believe it.

The Assassination 

So, Triple A roll Turnbull on Energy Policy. Turnbull looked weak, vulnerable. Longman lost. Energy Policy lost. Now’s the time, Dutts ! So he goes for it. Malcolm is assassinated.

But Dutts loses. Someone else gets the job.

Triple A don’t care. Turnbull is eliminated and the Climate Change elements of the Energy Policy are gone. Basically Triple A and the Reactionary interests have got what they want.

The Patsy

But in the process it has become clear that most of the Liberal Party and most of the nation don’t want Dutton. Most find him unreasonably harsh and possessing xenophobic views outside the comfort zone of the mainstream. Plus the general public has been alienated by the self-evidently selfish and callow nature of the whole Assassination.  We can all see this whole affair is just a vehicle of Abbott to satisfy his blood lust.

Dutton is the face of all this. He will lose his seat at the next election. He drank the Hemlock.

Dutts is expendable.

A Patsy.

Tripe A ? They live on. As do the systemic forces that nurture them.

Why Triple A Couldn’t Lose

Kevin Andrews holds the blue ribbon seat of Menzies on a 2PP vote of 60.6%
Tony Abbott holds the seat of blue ribbon Warringah on a 2PP vote of 61.6%
Eric Abetz holds the No. 1 Senate Spot for the Liberals in Tasmania. His seat in unloseable.

These Reactionaries will be in Parliament until the end of time distantly watching the comings and goings of the less fortunate from the glorious viewpoint afforded by their Ivory Towers in blue-ribbon seats.

Their chosen servant is not so fortunate:

Peter Dutton holds the marginal seat of Dickson on a 2PP vote of 51.6%

Win Lose or Draw in whatever stoush AAA find themselves fomenting, they can never lose. Their seats are too safe.

Dutton, doing their bidding,  is a marginal-seat holder. Any moderate swing would unseat him. Being held responsible for disintegrating the Parliament and knifing a popular PM will be fatal to him.

Abetz, Abbot and Andrews could care less. They’re untouchable, despaching others to do their dirty work.

Cowards really.

A Little Bit Afraid

The vote in the Dutton v. Turnbull leadership spill was 35-48. Triple A only count for three. But thirty-five of the eighty-three Liberal Party MPs voted in favour of Dutton for PM. That’s 42%.

Forty-two per cent of Liberal Party MPs think that Dutts would be a suitable Prime Minister. Given Dutt’s  alarming lack of concern for everything except White people I find it amazing that such a high percentage of Liberal MPs think this way.

Worse than this, we didn’t count the National Party MPs yet. With notable exceptions, such as Darren Chester, National MPs are even more reactionary than Libs. There are 22 National Party MPs in the current parliament. Let’s say that 18 of them are Dutts-friendly. That would mean that the majority LNP Government Caucus thinks like Dutts, 53-52.

Let’s remind ourselves of the Dutton manifesto:

Peter Dutton, member for Dickson, Minister for the hugely popular  Border Protection portfolio. Beloved by right-wing media across the country for his unswervable commitment to allowing immigrant children to die in detention, for the humour he finds in the devestating consequences of Climate Change, for walking out on the national apology to the Stolen Generation; for his championing of the plight of White people; for his contempt for Civil Liberties and Refugee Advocacy groups.

Suddenly I feel a bit afraid of the LNP.

Republicanism and Santamaria

Background for this section is obtained from David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Abbott, Political Animal, QE #47

Even before his first day as leader, Malcolm Turnbull was held in deep distrust by the LNP for the many reasons described above.

For Abbott, the prime motive was revenge, but he also sincerely believes that Turnbull is unsuited to national leadership by reason of his Republicanism. This may seem strange to many that Republicanism should be an automatic reason to consider someone unfit for office, but Abbott really believes this.

Abbott is an amoral political operator; a stone-cold liar primary among his many character flaws, but Abbott considers himself to be a man of values. Foundational to those values are his belief in the indispensible utility and goodness of certain long-standing Western institutions: namely the Papacy, The Monarchy, The Enlightenment, Constitutional Liberal Democracy and the traditional moral code associated with them.

In Abbott’s world, allegiance to those institutions and philosophies automatically make a person good and mark them as a suitable for office. Failure to embrace them invalidates a person for leadership and makes them morally suspect.

Turnbull is a Republican, not a Monarchist. In Abbott’s thinking that disqualifies Turnbull from office. Simple as that

Abbott’s starry-eyed admiration for the values of Western civilisation, the Papacy, the Monarchy and the Enlightenment are a romantic fiction that Abbott tells himself about himself, as he relives the ‘Prince Hal’ [QE #47 p.1] Ladybird books of his childhood,.

Abbott’s heart beats faster at the excitement of imaging himself a new Crusader King, a new reforming Priest or a defender of Western values. As a University student, Abbott, discipled by the famous Catholic anti-Communist warrior Bob Santamaria, spent day after day expunging ideological and moral evil from the campus.

While Abbott was motivated purely by revenge, he is able to delude himself that his assassination of Turnbull was a morally significant act for the betterment of Western civilisation. That’s why, after the result of the leadership spill was announced by the Whips, among the very first to speak to the media was Tony Abbott who said:

As we have been reminding ourselves, we are the custodians of great logical traditions.

“The Liberal tradition of smaller government, greater freedom, lower taxes, the conservative traditional support for families, small business and values and institutions that have stood the rich test of time, 

Values and Institutions that have stood the rich test of time – the evil Republican is dead: Thank me.

So, let’s look at Abbott’s values as he actually lives them:

Following the spill, Oliver Murray of News.com.au quoted two former colleagues of Abbott:

Former Liberal frontbencher Amanda Vanstone told ABC: “All I can tell you is my own experience of Abbott is whatever you do with him, unless he gets his way he’ll be disruptive.

“That’s my own experience of him. My personal view is putting him in any ministerial position doesn’t mean he’ll be a team player unless he gets what he wants.

It’s up to them to decide whether they can cope with that or not. That’s their decision, not mine.”

It was something backed up by former Liberal leader John Hewson.

“He’s got one goal, which is to get back to the Prime Ministership even though he’s made some smooth sort of statements coming out of the room today, it sounds pretty much like, ‘I won’t snipe, I won’t undermine’, the sort of commitment he’s made once before,” he told ABC.

Murray goes on to say: A minister’s position seems a crazy reward for someone who has had a major role in bringing his party to its knees.

 

I have just read David Marr’s essay The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race (Quarterly Essay #65) on Pauline Hanson and her party, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The confluence in name between Pauline Hanson and her party is exact and intentional. As Hanson said on national TV The Party is me [1]. And she is correct. The One Nation phenonemon is entirely a product of Hanson’s passion, personality, raw determination and resilience. Without Hanson One Nation cannot exist.

I will use this post to comment on Marr’s excellent essay, which Marr conceived in order to put a floor of fact under Hanson’s people and her political people [2]. Like all observers of Australian politics, Marr wants to understand the One Nation phenonemon, how it is that a race-based political party can thrive and become so influential within Australia. For those who abhor the phenonemon of race-based politics this understanding is a foundational, crucial first step towards neutralising One Nation or at least preventing it advancing further from its present toxifying influence into a genuinely Fascistic unadulterated race-hate movement.

Can I just say that the title of Marr’s essay The White Queen is marvellous ? It captures Hanson and the relationship of Hanson’s supporters to her perfectly.

Typical

A portion of Marr’s essay is strict quantitative research in which a profile of the typical One Nation voter is resolved from longitudinal survey-based research. This section while relatively dry reading is absolutely essential to understanding Hanson’s people.

Marr finds that the typical One Nation voter is Australian-born, male (56% v 44% female), identifies as working class , secular (not religious), lives on urban fringes of cities and large towns (but also in small rural communities), likely to have a trades education (i.e. is less educated than the general public), are pessimistic about their own economic prospects and those of Australia generally, heavily distrust government and politicians, are inclined to a law and order viewpoint in solving societal issues, thinks there is too much welfare, detests immigration and multiculturalism but does not personally live among or even know recent migrants migrants (though they may live in neighbouring areas to migrants)  or know those on welfare and, strikingly, perceives a nexus between immigrants and crime.

Marr summarises the Hansonites as being from National Party heartland

Infantile

This post will develop over the next few weeks as I add to it, but I just want to start with one comment for now. Hanson’s people are, at an emotional level, infantile. 

Marr, summarizing Rebecca Huntley, who has conducted voter focus groups for many years says Hanson’s people yearn for the past [3]. Many Australians aged 40 or older may express an opinion that the Australia of their youth was a better place, but if pressed, most voters will say, no, they do not want to return to the Australia of the 1950’s with its monoculture, remoteness from the world and limited work opportunities for women. But Hanson voters do really want to return Australia to the 1950’s. Hanson’s voters want to return Australia to the young adulthood of their fathers, when they were children, when everything was certain, secure, predictable and they felt physically and emotionally safe.

Consequently, even though Marr does not say this, I do: Hanson’s people are infantile.

Engaging One Nation

This is an important finding for engaging with One Nation. It means that you are dealing with children. How do you win an argument with 55 year old children ? You can’t. You just need to give them a few lollies and their favourite blanket and hopefully that will quiet them down before they trash the joint.

John Howard knew this. When engaging with One Nation he didn’t try and argue with them. He tried to mollify them. Specifically, he addressed their insecurities. Howard said, speaking of his GST reforms, that he would  give them something better than what they had i.e. economic security and in this way draw them back to the mainstream.

Keating terrified Hanson’s people. Open borders, open tariffs, familiar industries closing down, unfamiliar new industries to be encouraged, the welcome of Asia. Every Hansonite in the country, beginning with Hanson herself, filled their nappies in horror.

The Hansonite infantilism drives their insecurity. Hence their attraction to law and order solutions such as Capital Punishment and to gun ownership, by which they hope to protect themselves and their property from both ravishing migrant hordes and theiving, dishonest government.

Hansonites are impervious to argument. They need calming down.

So the first thing you need to do for Hansonites, like Howard, is say ‘Yes, yes I hear you’. And then listen. I mean really listen. But, as for children, don’t necessarily do as they demand. Reassure them. Offer them a rosy picture of the future. Let them know they are important. I would even give them a few lollies like, I dunno, rural subsidy for road-building or construction of humungous Anzac Day memorials if it was thought this would help social cohesion and defuse their anger to some degree.

Social cohesion is worth paying for. And it is necessary for governments to argue the case for social change. Hansonism is partially at least a result of governments taking the conservative under-educated for granted.

But ultimately if the giant 55 year old toddler baby Hansonites refuse to stop tantruming, they should be ignored. Their core constituency is low in number. You can’t let the country be governed by children.

And this is the problem that Marr identifies throughout his essay. The major parties are willingly accommodating to Hansonites. John Howard was in fact a Hansonite himself. So is Dutton and the rest of the conservative, reactionary, white male rump of the Liberal National Coalition. Both Liberal and Labor have adopted Hanson’s policies in regard to Asylum-Seekers.

The country needs a government that will treat Hansonites as children. But not dismissively as Keating did, but inclusively, without succumbing to the attraction of populism or the fear of educated reactionaries who should know better.

Hanson Is Not Racist

Hanson denies she is racist. She defines racism as a belief that one’s own race is superior to other races and says that she doesn’t think that whites are superior to Aboriginals or Asians or anyone else.

I believe Hanson. Marr does not.

Marr says that what betrays Hanson as a racist is her conspiratorial mindset, the belief shared by aggressive, ideological racists that they (the hated and feared other race) have a secret agenda to take over. This is certainly Hansonite territory.

Hanson once believed that Asians were soon to swamp Australia and now believes that Muslims intend to impose Sharia Law on us all. So-called University-educated Elites were also imposing Political Correctness on mainstream, normal Australians like Pauline Hanson, so taking over Australia with some kind of leftist Sharia. Malcolm Roberts, her climate denialist compatriot and co-Senator thinks that Climate Change is a hoax invented by Jews acting in concert with the IMF and United Nations to take over the world and enforce One World Government. Why would Jews want to do that ? Because they are evil, presumably.

While the fear of being swamped or displaced by another race or culture is indeed a feature of racist thinking I don’t believe that Hanson is racist. I consider, instead, that Hanson is Xenophobic, i.e. has a fear of outsiders from other races. Specifically Hanson fears the extinction of her own culture: which is conservative, white, secular nominally-but-not-actually-semi-Christian Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Fish and Chips 1950’s Anglo-Australian middle-class parochialism. Once upon a time everybody Hanson knew, met, or ever even saw, was like that. Hanson thinks that this particular thing that she is, is the only kind of Australian that is authentically Australian.

John Howard is this kind of Australian too. John Howard once said that he was quintessentially Australian. This gave John Howard the self-assumed right and authority, therefore, to state what was Australian and what was UnAustralian. What was Mainstream and what wasn’t. Who could have rights and who couldn’t. Hanson assumes the same nativist, infallible perfection of insight. She is Australia and can therefore speak infallibly for Australia.

Hanson fears the loss of her own culture in her own country. She fears and experiences disempowerment. Her views were derided are passe, unacceptable and crass. She feels a displacement from the cultural centre, in other words a loss of privilege which she perceives as an attack on her and her culture; she perceives targeted assistance for Aboriginals as unfair to white Australians. She calls herself  a proud Australian. I don’t want to see my culture gone. She wants everyone to behave the same way as her when in her town, state and country. She refuses to accept that her views may be out-dated or vulgar and finds such an idea impossible. She does not believe that it is acceptable or possible for a culture to change, that there is more than one way to be Australian, that the idea of being Australian can evolve.

Hanson is definitely conservative and Xenophobic. These things do not mean that she considers her own culture superior to other cultures, but she does want to make sure her own culture remains dominant in her own town, state and country. I doubt she shares the anti-Semitic views of her co-Senator Malcolm Roberts.

[1] Marr, QE #65, p.72 from Sunday Mail 10 January 2015.

[2] QE #65, p.96

[3] QE #65, p.59

[4] QE #65, p.71

Keep It Light

A controversy recently erupted over Coopers Brewery cancelling a limited edition release of their Coopers Premium Light Beer. Coopers had planned to release 10,000 cases of beer cans emblazoned with different Bible verses to commemorate the 200th birthday of The Bible Society. In conjunction with the release, The Bible Society produced a video of Liberal Party MPs politely discussing the issue of Same-Sex Marriage, taking different sides without hostility. The video exhorts Australians to ‘Keep It Light’.

Coopers cancelled the release following a boycott by pubs with a LGBT clientele. Coopers also promised it would join Marriage Equality Australia, issued an apology by video and press release, affirmed Coopers support for its valued Coopers drinkers and extended family, as well as saying that Coopers encouraged individualism and diversity.

Bully Is Spelt ‘L-G-B-T’

Many Christians then expressed shock, outrage and disgust over Cooper’s decision to cancel the release of Bible Society cans saying that the Gay Lobby had bullied Coopers into their decision by use of a boycott, that this was typical of the bullying tactics of the Gay Lobby, that Christianity itself was under attack, and that free speech in Australia was dead. Examples are here, here and here.

Especially galling to Marriage Conservatives is Coopers decision to join the Marriage Equality Association. Marriage Conservatives see this as proof that the Gay Lobby uses force and intimidation to compel compliance to their agenda.

In my view Coopers got what they deserved by way of the product boycott.  Coopers are not neutral on the Marriage Equality question. They were just pretending to be. The LGBT community saw through the charade instantly and called Coopers out for being anti-Same Sex marriage, which they are.

I think Coopers got what they deserved.

Imagine This

The following is a fictional scenario designed to illustrate how Christian groups have over-reacted to the Coopers decision:

Officeworks decide to assist The Australian Federation Of Islamic Councils celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the first English language Qu’ran.

So Officeworks release a special edition of Copy Paper emblazoned with quotes from the Qu’ran on them such as

‘And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say).”

AFIC release a video with Liberal and Conservative Christians debating whether or not Jesus is God, while referring to special edition Officeworks Qu’ranic Copy Paper.

The video participants all agree that a discussion about whether or not Jesus Is God is of vital importance to Australia.

Subsequently it emerges that Officeworks are long-time donors to Islamic Charities and to AFIC and most of the Officeworks board are Muslims.

1. Are Officeworks neutral on the Jesus issue ?
2. What are Officeworks trying to achieve by releasing Qu’ranic copy paper ?
3. Some churches boycott Officeworks. Are they justified in doing so ?
4. Are these churches enemies of free speech ?
5. Have the churches bullied Officeworks ?
6. Can we now say that free speech is dead as a result of the church boycott ?

Language Markers

Initially Coopers defended The Bible Society video, saying that the video debate was light-hearted, balanced and mature and that ‘its a debate we need to have’.  This essentially endorsed The Bible Society’s line that the “national conversation” on Same-Sex marriage had become “fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion”.

These different phrasings of the same sentiment are exactly how anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations voice their opinion that the Gay Lobby uses bullying and intimidation to achieve its goals. When anti-Same Sex organisations speak to each other or to their members they typically characterise  LGBT advocates as intolerant, shouty bullies, as the three articles here, here and here demonstrate.

But when anti-Same Sex Marriage organisations or persons wish to talk with the general community they emphasise the need for balance, mutual respect and good manners as Coopers initially did, mirroring the language of Dr. Peter Jensen of the Anglican Church when he appeared on Q&A (See and Ye Shall Submit, 10 Sep, 2012) to discuss Gender and Marriage issues a couple of years ago.

PETER JENSEN: You’re speaking to me as though you respect me and I respect you, well I hope you do. Let’s have a respectful discussion on these matters not (AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOWN SNEERING). OK, I’m sorry.

The audience member sneered at Jensen because Jensen’s appeal to respect was transparently insincere and reeked of condescension as a perusal of the video will show, the segment quoted above occurring about 90% of the way into the episode.

Condescension

The Gay community see the repeated calls for mature, balanced debate on Same-Sex Marriage as arrogant, unbelievable condescension. Why is it that Marriage Conservatives think they need to instruct others on what constitutes morality, ethics and human rights when such matters are well understood by everybody ? Do Marriage Conservatives that it is only straight people that have a moral conscience or manners ?

Jensen’s comments, while superficially conveying a commitment to respectful discussion actually mean this:

You and the Gay Lobby generally are fraught with shallowness and contempt for those who have a differing opinion. You are a bunch of shouty, intolerant bullies who systematically intimidate and victimise those with opinions different to yours. You force Marriage and Gender Conservatives to adopt Politically Correct positions by way of such intimidation. The behaviour of your lobby is reprehensible. Let me now demonstrate the manner in which mature, balanced, mutually respectful civil discourse on this topic should occur as I now explain it in the condescending manner of a parent instructing a child.

In short, the LGBT community recognised the language markers of their opponents in The Bible Society video and in Coopers defence of it. They saw through the charade and reacted to it. The entire campaign of Coopers was a pretence at impartiality by an organisation that was already committed to an anti-Same Sex Marriage position.

History

The long history of Coopers with The Bible Society, their long history of donating to Christian charities and to the Liberal Party is the behaviour which confirms the correct instincts of the LGBT community to the true attitude of Coopers to Same-Sex Marriage which is to reject it.

Which of course Coopers are entitled to do.

But Coopers should not be pretending that they are impartial on the issue.

And Christians should re-evaluate their over-reaction to Coopers decision.

Show Me The Bullying

The boycott by LGBT-friendly pubs is not a bullying of Coopers, though anti-Same Sex Marriage advocates portray it that way. Quite simply, people are permitted to boycott products for ideological reasons if they choose to. Why not ? How the companies react to the boycott is up to them. Boycott is not of itself bullying.

The pubs were not forcing Coopers to support any agenda. Rather, the pubs chose not to support a company they felt held a stance in opposition to their own values. Isn’t that a basic right in a democracy ?

The Newtown Hotel, which decided to discontinue stocking Coopers products,  said

“Dr Tim Cooper and the Coopers Brewery are entitled to spend their money however they wish — as are we”

In my counter-example above churches are permitted to boycott anti-Christian products if they so chose. Isn’t that self-evident ? Should churches really be expected to support anti-Christian organisations by buying their products regardless of what ideologies that company supports ?

But Coopers Support Marriage Equality !

Some defenders of Coopers see the decision of Coopers to join Marriage Equality Australia as proof that Coopers are honest brokers in the debate, promoting civil debate even while supporting the ideals of Same-Sex Marriage.

In my view, this view is mistaken. Coopers are anti-Same Sex Marriage.

Coopers have, for decades, been donors to The Bible Society, Christian Charities and the Liberal Party. These organisations are Marriage Conservatives. Then one day, faced with a damaging boycott to their $240 million dollar a year Beer business, Coopers decides to join Marriage Equality Australia.

Coopers is one of the biggest sellers in the inner-west of Sydney, amongst the many boutique pubs there and enjoys a 5% share of the national beer market. The boycott was taking effect in its retail heartland.

I think this plainly shows that Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is predicated on the profit motive. In my view Coopers’ pattern of behaviour established over decades for conventional Christian beliefs is much more of an indication of their true ideology than a sudden decision taken in the face of threats to profitability.

In my opinion, Coopers decision to join Marriage Equality Australia is simply PR and does not indicate any heart belief except a desire to protect market share.

But Coopers Didn’t Even Support The Video !

Coopers tried to distance themselves from The Bible Society video, which precipitated the boycott, saying

We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s ‘Keeping it Light’ video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.

In my view, this distancing is disingenuous and while probably correct on the bare facts, does not account for the approval of the video expressed by Coopers in its first press release on the controversy, nor does any public comment by Coopers over the boycott reflect its own  mission statement given in its annual report last year, which Coopers says includes fostering family and community support based on Christian values. If those values do not include support for Marriage Conservatism then I will be highly surprised.

Finally, the distancing of Coopers from The Bible Society video does not square with its long-term support for The Bible Society. The press conference announcing the release of the commemorative cans featuring Bible verses and celebrating the work of The Bible Society was jointly hosted by Tim Cooper, the managing director of Coopers,and Greg Clarke, the chief executive of the Bible Society Australia. The Guardian noted that joint press conference was  laden with bonhomie.

The distance between Coopers Brewery and The Bible Society was not reflected in any language prior to the boycott and in fact is contradicted by the long-term support for The Bible Society by Coopers over decades. Press releases by The Bible Society reflect this sense of common purpose.

Bible Society Australia has teamed up with Coopers Brewery for the launch of a commemorative Coopers Premium Light beer.

Andrew Hastie, the Marriage Conservative Liberal MP in the video told the ABC  it was “a bit disingenuous [for Coopers] to suddenly distance themselves” from the video.

I fully agree.

Grandma, Ranji And The Politically Correct Bullies

My Grandma was a flat-out racist. Everyone in her generation was. Racism was normal in her generation. Nowadays its not.

One day my Grandma told my sisters You can marry anyone you like providing he is Australian, English, American or a New Zealander. What is the common factor amongst these nationalities ?

When The Olympics were on Grandma would cheer exclusively for the white athletes. She felt the muscular superiority of black athletes gave them an unfair advantage, particularly the black female athletes. Look at the size of them ! She would say, implying there was something not quite normal, not quite natural with black people.

Grandma grew up at a time when India was still a colony of England. She enjoyed cricket. England’s premier batsman for a period from 1896 was an Indian Prince named Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji Jadeja, popularly known as K.S. Ranjitsinhji or Ranji.

 As Wikipedia says  Ranji has widely been regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time. The famous cricket writer Neville Cardus described him as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”. Unorthodox in technique and with fast reactions, Ranjiitsinhji brought a new style to batting and revolutionised the game, amongst other things inventing the Leg Glance.

When Grandma saw something that was very black she would say ‘That’s as black as Ranji’s bum’. One day I pointed out to Grandma that it was vulgar to draw attention to a person’s skin colour. She nodded and said sadly ‘Yes, it is nowadays’.

Grandma’s voice carried a  defiance that indicated that modern social norms regarding racial equality had unfairly constrained her right to free comment on Ranji’s bum and its blackness. She was put out by my demand for manners in regard to dark-skinned people and if the term had existed at the time of our conversation she would have no doubt considered me Politically Correct. 

Grandma, like all racists, thought it perfectly acceptable to be mildly insulting to black people. Unfortunately for her, social norms had moved on. It was no longer OK to be a racist. She felt bullied by those who told her that racism was vulgar. She felt attacked and a bit vulnerable.

Loss Of Privilege

Grandma’s sense of vulnerability was a result of her losing her privilege of assumed racial superiority. Her loss of privilege to vulgarity made her feel like she was being judged and found wanting by the transient social fad of racial equality.

Advocates of an anti-Same Sex Marriage position are feeling that same sense of bullying, judgement, vulnerability and attack that Grandma did. Social Conservatives have lost the privilege of the assumed right to be able to state who should and should not be able to get married. Modern social norms consider the assumed privilege to reject Same-Sex Marriage to be Homophobic and Social Conservatives therefore to be ignorant of what constitutes basic human respect and decency.

Seen from the perspective of Same-Sex Marriage proponents, Marriage Conservatives thus find themselves in possession of a Homophobic ethic as vulgar and as self-evidently disgusting as Racism. Explaining his decision to discontinue stocking Coopers products,

Union Hotel general manager Luke Hiscox said he found the video condescending and could not continue to support the brand, especially as many of his staff identified as LGBTI. “The idea that we need to have a discussion about basic human rights is probably why people are so upset,” he said.

When told that their views on Same-Sex Marriage are vulgar and passe, Marriage Conservatives feel shouted at and bullied, same as my Grandma did when being corrected for her casual and unconscious Racism. Just as my Grandma was shocked to be called a Racist, Marriage Conservatives are shocked to be called Homophobic and reject that labelling.

Marriage Conservatives are feeling what its like, for a change, to be the ones considered to be holding degenerate views, to be told to reform their degenerate thinking and learn what is basic human decency.

The claim to be suffering bullying and persecution is the pained and confused cry of those having privilege stripped from hem.

After a considerable number of centuries where Marriage Conservatives have held privileged and uncriticised views, the shoe is now on the other foot.

So, personally I don’t think Marriage Conservatives are being bullied by the so-called Gay Lobby. Marriage Conservatives are merely suffering a loss of privilege. Naturally, we don’t like it.

I should know. I’m a Marriage Conservative.

Some Final Words On Ranji

Ranji had to crash through barriers of Racism in order to take his warranted place in the English cricket team. The ingrained Racism of authority figures in the England of the 1890’s gives a great background to my Grandma’s epithet ‘As Black As Ranji’s bum’.

Though popular amongst many in England, both in the upper-class and in the general cricket watching public, many resented that a dark-skinned man could be better than an Englishman at cricket.

Surely that bipolar attitude toward Ranjitsinhji must have been mirrored in Australia: admiration for his ability and disdain for his colour. Like my Grandma said ‘No-one could get him out’

Again from Wikipedia,  in 1896, although his form merited selection, Ranji was not chosen by the MCC committee which chose the team.

Lord Harris was primarily responsible for the decision, possibly under influence from the British Government; Simon Wilde believed they may have feared establishing a precedent that made races interchangeable or wished to curtail the involvement of Indians in British political life.[78]

Bateman’s assessment is less sympathetic to Harris: “the high-minded imperialist Lord Harris, who had just returned from a spell of colonial duty in India, opposed his qualification for England on the grounds of race.”[79]

Ranjitsinhji made his Test debut on 16 July 1896. After a cautious 62 in his first innings, his final score in the second innings was 154 not out,[84] and the next highest score for England on the last day was 19.

He was given an enthusiastic reception by the crowd and the report in Wisden stated: “[The] famous young Indian fairly rose to the occasion, playing an innings that could, without exaggeration, be fairly described as marvellous. He … punished the Australian bowlers in a style that, up to that period of the season, no other English batsman had approached. He repeatedly brought off his wonderful strokes on the leg side, and for a while had the Australian bowlers quite at his mercy.”[85]

Although Australia won the match, the players were astonished by the way Ranjitsinhji batted.[86]

Not everyone was pleased at his success. Home Gordon, a journalist, praised Ranjitsinhji in a conversation with an MCC member; the man angrily threatened to have Gordon expelled from the MCC for “having the disgusting degeneracy to praise a dirty black.” Gordon also heard other MCC members complaining about “a nigger showing us how to play the game of cricket”.[87]

More on Liberal Party preferencing strategy towards One Nation here.

The Liberal Party has decided to preference One Nation in the upcoming Western Australian State Election. This decision has endorsement from the national executive of the Liberal Party including the Prime Minister and is also endorsed by former Prime Minister John Howard whose regard within the Liberal Party is hagiographic, kind of like living royalty, the effulgence of an idealised Philosopher/Statesman.

John Howard, campaigning for the WA Liberals, wholeheartedly approved of the One Nation preference deal calling it very sensible and pragmatic.  Since John Howard is formally campaigning, and he is in his very person a living extension of the Liberal Party secretariat, his comments tell you that the Liberal Party at the highest levels endorse and approve preferencing One Nation in the WA Election. This is despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull expressing the formal autonomy of the State-level Liberals and distancing himself from any opinion or input into the decision.

WA Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett, has made no secrets about the rationale for the One Nation Preference deal – its a simple matter of maximizing his chances for re-election. There is no consideration of ethics or policy. His decision is completely unprincipled and designed simply on tactical considerations of how to retain power.

As Barnett said:

 (It’s) just a mathematical equation, the Liberals best chance of winning. (We) can’t sit back and let it all happen.”

As straight-forwardly stated by WA Today, The WA Liberals want to avoid a repeat of the 2001 election when Richard Court lost power after putting One Nation last.

Barnett, trying to avoid being tarnished by association with One Nation viewpoints, has claimed he doesn’t even know what their policies are. This is absurd and Barnett can not expect anyone to believe what he says. In fact, just like Labor and the Greens, One Nation is opposed to one of the Liberals’ signature economic policies. That is the privatisation of Western Power, mainly in order to reduce the state’s extremely high and worsening debt levels.

So Barnett’s central Budgetary policy will be likely scuppered by the outcome of the preference deal he has made with One Nation as a  probable result of that deal is that One Nation will hold Balance of Power in the Upper House.

Apart from this, of course, all of Australia, including Colin Barnett, knows what One Nation stand for. Barnett is trying to avoid guilt-by-association while forming a partnership with persons he knows both reject his major Budgetary policies and hold a range of reactionary, xenophobic, irrational and homophobic viewpoints and in fact are an entirely erratic, idiosyncratic collection of individuals loosely bound by broad agreement on certain themes.  Consigning Balance of Power to such a group is unbelievably irresponsible on the part of Barnett, Howard, Turnbull and the entirety of the Liberal Party executive and leadership.

Sophisticated And Nuanced

The Liberal Party have attempted to justify their preference deal with One Nation by claiming that One Nation is no longer reactionary, xenophobic or racist and that Pauline Hanson and One Nation themselves have become more nuanced and sophisticated.

This is simply untrue. One Nation is the same entity as it ever was. As the Western Australian newspaper WA Today reported, WA One Nation candidate Richard Eldridge once advocated killing Indonesian journalists and attacked “poofters”, Muslims and black people on his then-deactivated Twitter account.

Mr Eldridge, a real estate agent contesting an upper house seat in the South Metropolitan region of Perth, called Muslims “little sheet heads”, derided gay relationships as “poo games” and advocated taking up arms against “extreme Muslims”.

He recently revived his Twitter account, saying his 2014 comments did not represent his views today.

A second WA One Nation candidate, Michelle Myers, nominated for the newly-created seat of Bateman, said that the gay community uses Nazi-style mind control techniques in order to brainwash ordinary citizens into supporting policies of the alternative sexuality movement. WA Today quoted Myers as follows:

Are you wondering why even some Christians are being swayed by the gender industry’s pitch and push 4 same sex ‘marriage’ and acceptance of fake families?”, the One Nation candidate asked. It’s not by accident; it’s by a carefully contrived but disingenuous mind control program, melded together by two Norwegian homosexuals who graduated from Harvard – one of whom has since prematurely passed away.

Whatever one thinks of the statements of Myers and Eldridge, it is obvious that One Nation has not changed one iota. They remain the same beast they were in 1998, utterly unnuanced and unsophisticated, as  when John Howard instructed the electorate to put One Nation last in every seat.

As the Australian Financial Review puts it

The suggestion Hanson has changed in some fundamental way is actually an indication of how much the rest of politics has changed

Consistently Unprincipled

The decision by The Liberal Party to preference One Nation continues its historical policy of dealing with One Nation purely on the basis of Unprincipled Self-Interest. This is the way that The Liberals have always dealt with One Nation and what they are doing now in the WA Election.

Here are the major milestones of the consistently unprincipled Liberal Party / One Nation preference deal journey:

March 1997 – One Nation Formed.

One Nation immediately attracts 9% of the national vote, most of which came from the Liberal/National coalition. George Megalogenis states that the LNP vote fell from 49% in March 1997 when One Nation was formed, to 40% one month later ‘and all of it went over to the One Nation column’.

Howard could not afford to antagonize One Nation as their support base was comprised mainly of disaffected Coalition voters. Howard needed to ensure that One Nation voters would preference him, so he played softly-softly with them.

Howard is not fundamentally opposed to the One Nation agenda and tells his party room that he would prefer to work with them rather than the Australian Democrats. Peter Costello and Amanda Vanstone disagree. Both of these made public comments that the Liberal Party should put One Nation last in the preference order on ethical grounds i.e. that One Nation were racist. Both received long and emphatic phone calls from John Howard they should retract their opinions, Vanstone commenting that Howard was so loud she was forced to hold the receiver away from her ear (‘The Howard Years’, Episode 1, ABC Television, broadcast 17 Nov. 2008)

Howard decides to preference One Nation above Labor. This, Howard hoped, would send a message to One Nation voters that he was not displeased with the One Nation message, particularly in the climate of general social condemnation of One Nation, and maximize the One Nation preference flow to the Coalition.

June 1998 – Queensland State Election

One Nation won an astonishing 23% of the primary vote and, aided by Coalition preferences won 11 seats, while the Coalition itself lost 5 seats in Brisbane as inner-city voters expressed their disgust at The Liberal’s preferencing of One Nation above Labor.

If these results were to be repeated at the upcoming Federal Election, Howard and the Coalition would be soundly defeated.

Immediately after Queensland election Howard flies to Queensland to meet with One Nation supporters and try to convince them that the Coalition understood their issues and would help them. In the meantime he commissions Tony Abbott to find a way to destroy One Nation. Abbott creates a slush fund to fund legal action against Hanson and One Nation. Abbott and Howard lie about their knowledge of and existence of the Fund. Abbott and Howard eventually get Hanson thrown in jail.

The strategy of the National and Liberal parties to preference One Nation paid off outside Brisbane, where it won five seats from Labor and failed only narrowly to secure the re-election of the Borbridge Government (Ward and Rae 2000, 114), in Brisbane the strategy badly back-fired: urban voters ‘punished’ the Liberals for directing preferences to One Nation (Reynolds 2001, 156).

So the overall effect of Coalition preferences was to assist One Nation to win seats, to win some seats for the LNP in rural and outer-metro areas, but to experience significant punishment in urban seats as relatively educated and progressive voters express disgust against associating with One Nation

1998 – Federal Election

Howard decides to put One Nation last to protect urban seats  (of which there are many) from backlash against inner-city voters, foregoes assistance in rural seats (of which there are few) and avoid loss of outer-metro seats to One Nation.

2001 – WA State Election

LNP again put One Nation last. One Nation responds by putting “all sitting Members last”, whether LNP or ALP. LNP lose power to ALP.

While some consider that the “One Nation last” strategy was germane to the LNP losing power as One Nation retaliated by putting sitting LNP members last, professional psephologists rate the effect of One Nation preferencing as relatively minor in this particular election.

As Antony Green. Australia’s premier psephologist, demonstrates in this paper for the Western Australian Parliamentary Library, Green preferences to the ALP were clearly decisive in delivering seats to the ALP  whereas the effect of One Nation preferences was much more limited. It was, actually the effect of the LNP losing Primary votes to One Nation which was the much bigger concern.

The 2001 WA election was conducted in the climate of a large general swing against the LNP which would have led them to lose power regardless of One Nation preferencing. In fact One Nation preferences split evenly between LNP and ALP, but flowed a little less strongly to the LNP than would otherwise have occurred in the absence of the “sitting members last” directive.

In the view of Bill Johnston, State Secretary of WA ALP in 2001, the orthodox view that One Nation’s preferencing against sitting MP’s delivered the 2001 State Election to Labor.. is.. a bit narrow. As evidence, Johnston shows that coming into the 2001 election, the ALP held five seats by narrow margins; four were held despite the “sitting members last” directive of One Nation causing a majority of One Nation preferences to go against the ALP. The one seat that an ALP sitting member lost, Kalgoorlie, had overwhelming local factors that dwarfed the One Nation preference effect.

Nevertheless, even though the actual One Nation preferencing effect was minor, WA Liberals decided that the party had suffered materially by putting One Nation last and hence resolved to avoid repudiation of One Nation on the future.

2002-2015 One Nation Ceases To Exist as a significant political force

2017 – WA State Election

Barnett, Turnbull and Howard fine-tune the preference strategy, swapping One Nation preferences in Lower House for Lib preferences in the Upper House. The deal is limited to selected seats. The Libs are trying to sandbag Lower House seats and so retain government whilst conceding Balance of Power in the Upper House. They are also avoiding assisting One Nation to win seats in the Lower House.

Like Howard did, Barnett and other Liberals are trying to mollify One Nation voters by saying they are good people, sophisticated and nuanced, and that their concerns are seriously addressed by the Libs.

Also, noting a reactionary shift in the political landscape toward populism, nationalism and anti-Immigration, the Libs judge that urban voters are less likely to punish them by association with One Nation

The Libs, including Malcolm Turnbull, are also trying to distance themselves from One Nation even while cuddling up to them, hence Barnett feigning ignorance of their policies. This is to mollify urban voters intended to reduce backlash.

I go into more detail about the early LNP / One Nation history here, drawing heavily on research by Margo Kingston.

 

Many people believe that in 1985-87, when Negative Gearing was abolished in Australia by the Hawke/Keating government, that rents rose, and rose dramatically.  This is certainly the assertion of the Turnbull government as part of its 2016 Federal Election campaign strategy in which the spectre of massive rent rises coupled with a  dramatic fall in housing prices is daily utilized as a scare campaign.

In fact, during that period 1985-1987, while rents did rise in Sydney and Perth as NG was abolished, they fell in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane and remained steady in Melbourne. In other words there was no relationship between the abolition of Negative Gearing (NG) and rental prices in that period.

The predominant reason that rents increased in Sydney and Perth during that time was tight rental vacancy rates. Sydney, in particular had very low vacancy rates (less than 1%).

If the abolition of Negative Gearing leads inevitably to rent increases it should have done so in all cities during 1985-1987.

It did not.

This alone is enough to disprove that abolition of Negative Gearing has a dramatic influence on rents.

Even the recent (March 2016) BIS Shrapnel report which modelled a particular set of assumptions about Negative Gearing and which has been used by the Turnbull Government to forecast general economic disaster should Negative Gearing be abolished, agrees that rents did not rise during 1985-1987. It says

neither rents nor dwelling prices displayed any notable change of behaviour or deviation from trend during 1985-87 [when negative gearing was abolished]

The CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, Ian Narev, whose bank owns a $400 Billion property portfolio says that Negative Gearing is only a minor influence on housing prices. He said:

I can tell you having a $400 billion home loan book – your assumptions on unemployment and what’s happening in global interest rates will dwarf whatever assumptions you’ve got on the modelling about the impact of negative gearing by a factor of…I can’t tell you the number but it’s a big number.

It would appear that the BIS Sharpnel model is drivel.

Macrobusiness characterises the BIS Sharpnel modelling outcome as hoplessly inconsistent on its own terms:

 [BIS Sharpnel say] restricting negative gearing to newly constructed dwellings would somehow crash dwelling construction, raise rents, and destroy employment, the Budget and the economy? Even in its own terms this makes no sense. How does a sagging economy and rising unemployment lead to a rental cost spike?

One should also note that the NG scenario that BIS modelled is significantly different from the actual policy that the ALP has proposed, though Prime Minister Turnbull and Treasurer Morrison used the BIS Sharpnel scenario to criticise the ALP’s NG proposals.

So Why, Then, Was Negative Gearing Restored In 1987 ?

We are thus left to answer the question: So if Negative Gearing has a negligible effect on housing prices and rents, why then did the Hawke/Keating government resume Negative Gearing in 1987 ? My assessment is that they caved in to political pressure, possibly due to the upcoming NSW State Election being fought in a climate of rental stress and declining construction activity.

The Cabinet Submission prepared by Keating in 1987 said, in general agreement with Ian Narev above, that

Evidence suggests local factors rather than tax measures dominate in metropolitan rental markets

But the submission nevertheless stated an expectation that Negative Gearing would re-stimulate the construction sector, which had dropped off over the prior 18 months, during the time that Neg Gearing had been abolished. Keating’s submission said

restoring negative gearing could be expected to provide some stimulus to construction in the medium term

This ‘expectation’ of Keating’s is nowhere backed by evidence in his submission.

As we have already noted, the actual available evidence (listed in detail in the submission) points to ‘local factors’ driving rents. Not Negative Gearing..

My contention is that Keating was feeling political heat and just wanted to be seen to be doing something to assist the Building Construction sector and ease rents. But he knew re-establishing Negative Gearing wouldn’t help much, if at all.

The failure of Negative Gearing In Australia to provide its stated aims of stimulating Housing Construction and reducing rents is well-established by the prominent Australian economist Saul Eslake.

An Expensive And Failed Policy

In 2013 Eslake noted that 92% of housing investors buy established dwellings, so NG has not significantly improved housing supply. All it does is assist investors to buy established homes, this bidding up prices on the existing housing stock.

Eslake also notes that in the decade 2001-2011 Australian Housing Stock grew at a rate less than the population growth. Negative Gearing has simply been ineffective at increasing housing supply to any significant extent, if at all.

In fact, by rewarding speculative investment in Housing,  The National Housing Supply Council, of which Eslake is a member calculates that NG has assisted in the suppression of  investment in new housing during 2001 and 2011, such that the national housing stock was 228,000 dwellings less than would otherwise have been under historical rates of housing formation.

In summary then

  • Abolition of Negative Gearing did not increase rents between 1985 and 1987
  • Negative Gearing does not stimulate housing construction
  • Negative Gearing is a very minor factor in housing prices
  • Negative Gearing does not reduce rents
  • The March 2016 BIS Sharpnel report is based on a faulty and self-contradictory model of Negative Gearing effects.