Australian Federal Election – The Only Good In This Bad Result

Posted on Mon 08/23/2010 by

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Andrew BoltBy Andrew Bolt

With the election result still balanced with no outright winner, and the distinct possibility of a ‘hung’ Parliament, I’m going to concentrate on it for a couple of days until the picture becomes a little more clear. To that end, I’ll be posting two posts from Andrew today. The second of those will show up here at around 6AM, dealing with the ramifications of the support for the major Parties from the three main Independent Representatives, who were all originally members of The National Party, which is part of the conservative Coalition. Those three members may or may not even support the formation of a Government that might afford Australia some stability in Government. The same three members, in the comments they have made since it became apparent late on Saturday night that this situation was evolving, have been surprisingly clear headed and responsible in the way they are viewing this, and frankly, that is something that is refreshing from politicians, especially when the two major sides of politics have become so polarised……TonyfromOz.

THIS election has given us one clear winner – and its neither Tony Abbott nor Julia Gillard.

The winner is us, and not because we’ll get better government.

We won’t.

Whoever wins – Labor’s Gillard or the Coalition’s Abbott – will rely for their majority in the House of Representatives on the backing of a Green extremist, three independent and unpredictable rural populists, or a combination of the above.

In the Senate, it’s worse. Neither Abbott nor Gillard could get anything passed without the backing of the other, or of the rampant Greens, who now hold sole balance of power.

So stand by for more promises blocked and for yet more disillusion of the destructive kind on which the Greens feed.

So why do I say we are still winners? It’s because I’m hoping this startling result will teach us three lessons about maturity.

First lesson: treat voters as grown ups.

Just nine months ago, Newspoll said Labor was ahead by a landslide 57 to 43 per cent. Its leader, Kevin Rudd, had for months been one of our most popular prime ministers.

The Liberals were in such disarray they were onto their third leader in two years.

So how could Labor have lost this election, as well as lost Rudd to an earlier coup to stop defeat from turning into a disaster?

There’s lots to blame. The Government’s administrative bungling was of a scale never seen before. Think of the pink batts disaster or the multi-billion-dollar rorting of the Building the Education Revolution Program.

Then there are Gillard’s incompetent promising of a “citizens assembly” on global warming and an East Timor detention centre, and Labor’s favourite excuse yesterday – that what killed it was all that leaking by that bastard Rudd.

But one other factor explains even more. Labor treated voters as children. As teenagers who’d snatch at any bright thing and never ask the price. It made promise after feel-good promise that any real adult knew could never be fulfilled.

There was the emissions trading system that would actually destroy our economy. Promises to cut fuel and grocery prices simply by setting up websites. Promises of free insulation with barely a thought that people would rip it off.

And all of it sold with spin so shameless it was an insult to hear. One minute we were told that boat people sent by Rudd to Indonesia would be offered no special deal, the next they were here, unpacking their bags.

One minute Labor spinner Bruce Hawker was telling us Rudd was a genius; the next he was explaining why Gillard had to knife him.

There comes a time when people arc up, and that time came when the Government ditched the emissions trading scheme it typically oversold as the greatest moral and economic challenge of our time. After that, Rudd could offer nothing more that would be believed. We knew he’d treated us as children.

Second lesson: do not believe what everyone tells you. Or, if you’re a politician, dare to defy the focus groups.

Nine months ago, almost every prominent commentator agreed the public was eager for an emissions trading scheme. If the Liberals opposed it they’d be on a political suicide mission. And Tony Abbott, newly elected to the Liberal leadership by a single vote, was unelectable. A fool. All over the shop.

In fact, Abbott’s performance since has been, frankly, heroic.

He fought against his self-doubt, and learned to stay resolute even under the most deliberately insulting questioning from political journalists, and under a fierce barrage of personal attack ads – all fired by a conviction he really was the knuckle-dragger everyone said he was.

Yet Labor discovered with Abbott what the Liberals found with Rudd before the last election: that a politician who does not break emerges stronger.

Abbott forced many people to change their minds about him and about this ETS. Now look at him.

Third lesson: there’s a good reason why Governors General should not play politics. And we’re looking at it now.

We may yet face a tied result. This in turn may require deft handling from the Governor General, Quentin Bryce.

I’m sure she’ll do just what’s required, showing no favour to either side. But just as important is that the public believes she is indeed neutral. We cannot afford another bitter division as we had with the dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Ignore that fact that her son-in-law, Bill Shorten, is a Gillard Government frontbencher.  More relevant is the fact that Bryce, a lifelong Leftist, has compromised her position by playing politics so aggressively as Governor General. She toured Africa for Rudd, lobbying for votes for his bid for a United Nations Security Council seat.

She publicly endorsed a position on parental leave that was close to Labor’s own. She represented Australia at a global warming conference in the Middle East.

You are right. None of this says Bryce will not do her job as faithfully as she would insist she will.

But that all this can be said already shows how indiscreet and selfish she has been, promoting her own agenda when she should be concerned only for her country’s.

Three lessons, all about maturity, which in turn is about courage and duty.

Learn these, and this election result may yet be worth the pain.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.
Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and is a regular commentator on Channel 9′s Today show and ABC TV’s Insiders. He will be heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of new radio station MTR 1377. His book ‘Still Not Sorry’ was released in 2006.