JOHN MENADUE. Wentworth wipe-out!

The only surprise in Wentworth was the scale of the Liberal Party collapse. Spin and marketing by the Prime Minister was easily recognised.  The poor product could not be hidden.

Within twenty four hours of the debacle both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer told us that there would be no change of policy,particularly on climate change. They both have tin ears.

The outstanding result for Kerryn Phelps shows once again the reservations electors have about the performance of our major parties.  Their vote continues to decline. Strong independents in safe Coalition seats could have a field day at the next general election.  

Scott Morrison is supposed to be an expert in marketing.  We saw little of that in Wentworth.  It wasn’t just the Liberal Party, but Scott Morrison personally who scored some major own-goals including the Jerusalem embassy fiasco.  He will still not face up to climate change and the cruelty of his Nauru/Manus policies.

Coming on top of his ambiguous role in the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull it was no surprise that the Liberal Party vote fell by 19%.  And that was despite the Liberal Party’s generous benefactors throwing massive resources into the Liberal campaign.  Where I live in the electorate, we were overwhelmed with advertising for Dave Sharma in the streets ,in the post and online.  We received five robocalls in the last week from John Howard, Dave Sharma and Julie Bishop.

Given the rejection of the Liberal Party, it was surprising that the ALP and Green vote fell by about 6% each.  This was despite both having good local  campaigns and candidates, particularly Tim Murray for the ALP.  But Sussex Street did appear to be running dead, hoping for the ALP to finish in third place with its preferences then going to Kerryn Phelps.  It is also likely that many ALP and Green supporters voted tactically and directly for Kerryn Phelps rather than relying on preferences being distributed to her.

Bill Shorten was all over the Braddon, Longman and Fremantle by-elections, but was missing-in-action in Wentworth.

What was  disappointing was the spiteful and petulant response of Scott Morrison when it was clear that the Liberal Party had lost in Wentworth.  This petulance was unfortunately also repeated by Josh Frydenberg and Trent Zimmerman.There was no sign from any of them of taking responsibility for the mess or of being out of touch with the electorate.  There was no mention of reviewing the policy albatrosses that hung around the government’s neck, including climate change and refugee policy.

Resentments within the Liberal Party must have been bottled up during the Wentworth by election. Will that now break out between the right and left factions?

The only thing that Scott Morrison really seemed determined about for the future, was that he would step up the personal attack on Bill Shorten and the ALP. Scott Morrison showed that at bedrock there is not much that is positive about Liberal Party policies. It is about opposing and attacking the ALP. That has been the case since the ALP was formed over 120 years ago. It is the one thing that holds the Liberal Party together.

It is clear that in the next few months the government will try to change course from the calamity of the last few months and get back to what it considers its strengths – the economy and how good Liberals are at managing it.  But there are two problems with this. The first is that despite the marketing, there is no evidence that the Liberal Party is a better economic manager. See ‘JOHN MENADUE. The facts don’t show that Liberals are better economic managers‘ in this blog)

The second problem is that despite 23 successive years of economic growth, there is widespread concern that the economy is not working for everyone. There is a growing and widespread sense of unfairness and inequality.  The neoliberal ideology that the Liberal Party claims has passed its use-by date.  The economy is not an end in itself.  Its purpose must be to serve society.  But so much of Liberal ideology and for its wealthy commercial backers  it is  only the economy that  really matters.  The assumption that what is good for the economy is good for society is just not true.  And the electorate is coming to understand that very clearly. They understand what John Curtin used to call ‘the social question’ (See recent post by Bernie Fraser, ‘Neoliberal failure, putting the economy ahead of society‘.)

The success of Kerryn Phelps is likely to encourage many strong local candidates across the country. They will see opportunities to run in what were formerly regarded as safe Coalition seats.  We saw it earlier in seats such as New England and Lyne, and more recently in Indi, Mayo, Wagga and spectacularly in Wentworth.  The Coalition collapse in Wentworth could be repeated in many safe Coalition seats.  It would be helped if Barnaby Joyce lent a hand!

But lets look on the bright side.It would be worse with Peter Dutton.


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12 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Wentworth wipe-out!

  1. Richard Ure says:

    The definition of being employed (1 hour of work) is a joke when full-time jobs are a smaller fraction of the workplace. Just as crowing about job growth at times of record immigration is nothing short of spin. An important figure which should always accompany these statistics is the ratio of work sought to work available. To be realistic, this needs to be measured in hours, not jobs given the trend to part-time and casual positions.

  2. Mike Jubow says:

    What really took my breath away about the Wentworth by election was the proud refusal to have any sort of emissions policy and the state of the refugees and stupid refusal to allow any of them back in Oz if NZ took them. Neither policy is logical, or reasonable, humane or scientifically justified. In fact stupidity ruled.

    For many years I have believed that there should be an intelligence test (I.Q.) along with a psychological test to rule out psychopaths and those obviously too stupid to think on planes other than about themselves. With the gross stupidity demonstrated by a major party in this election, it reinforces this argument for testing of candidates before they are accepted as candidates. It is a simple thing that can be done these days and the only politicians that could object to it are too selfish to make a good representative any way.

    Yes, I know it is wishful thinking and that political leaders do not want any smart people that may usurp their little bit of power, but I can still dream on about my idea for a political utopia.

  3. martin smith says:

    The cabal of the righteous ones led by Abbott, seeking revenge and Dutton seeking total power in their quest to steal a totalitarian democracy unfortunately hit a snag. Unfortunately the ring-in, Morrison was left holding a decaying chook that no-one was buying

    • Richard Ure says:

      Sadly, some, the already privileged of course, are still buying it. Shama still got more first preference votes after all. Perhaps some of this can be excused by the postal votes and pre-polls which missed the shambolic last week in which the government excelled itself in showing its true colours.

  4. Derek Baines says:

    In another time (another world?) Malcolm Turnbull would have been an excellent leader of a strong centre party.
    Unfortunately, we’ve now ‘lost’ Malcolm from politics and there is no centre party for him to lead.
    As the Liberal Party tears itself apart, we see today what appears to be a relatively united Labor Party, despite the clear left and right factions which have traditionally sparred for power and influence. (And don’t forget Vince Gair!)
    A centre party (or maybe a looser grouping of issues-based representatives) would require a big bang to form, needing large sections of today’s Liberal and Labor to break off and join together. It won’t happen anytime soon as Labor can already taste victory at the next general election, and preferential voting still protects the large parties.
    Maybe the big bang cometh sometime around 2026-7, after six years of the new Labor government, and the increasing strength of issues-based campaigns, the further rise of social media and the decline of traditional media.

    • Richard Ure says:

      Malcolm can never be forgiven for placing his lust for the top job to lead him to capitulate to Tony I’m-no-Bill-gates Abbott’s instruction to kill the NBN. It has cost the nation dearly.

  5. J Deacon says:

    A good Independent is hard to dislodge! No evidence that Sharma would win in general election as per one comment to this excellent article. The Libs show no sign of changing anything. Lemmings.

    • Peter Donnan says:

      Hullo J Deacon

      You wrote “No evidence that Sharma would win in general election as per one comment to this excellent article.”

      I wrote that comment and agree there is no evidence but there is a chain of logic supporting the conclusion. Kerry Phelps has conceded that there were certain events during the course of the election campaign that did not go well for the Liberals: capricious policy re movement of the embassy to Jerusalem; Alex Turnbull’s ruminations; the confusion around the ‘OK-to-be-white vote in the Senate; growing medical urgency around the children on Nauru; suggestions of Nat leadership challenges etc As it was, the Liberal candidate almost got over the line.

      What would give Kerryn Phelps the best chance of re-election next year is that in the coming months she spearheads successful campaigns re the children on Nauru and on climate change; or that she so elevates her profile and credibility with Wentworth voters before May 2019, that voters re-endorse her, along the lines of Cathy McGowan.

      I would like to see that occur but on the balance of probabilities around by-elections, and given the voting demographics of Wentworth, Sharma – should he re-contest the seat next year – is likely to be elected.

  6. Tony Mitchell says:

    And so the other great white hope from North Queensland – ( G Christianson) is also confident that his electorate is nothing like that of Wentworth. Let’s hope they all convince each other…………… before the little surprise next May.

  7. Philip Bond says:

    Well put!

  8. Peter Donnan says:

    Lessons from Wentworth? Dave Sharma is likely to win next year should he re-contest; there’s increasing voter hostility towards MPs such as Abbott/Dutton; independents such as Phelps, McGowan, Wilkie are positive in our democracy. Calling out the hard right agenda, in the manner of Chris Uhlman & Craig Laundry, is an urgent agenda. Kerry Phelps struck a wider cord with honesty around issues such as climate change, children on Naru and capricious policy that elevated Jewish interests and threatened a two-state solution. The most amusing take-away is around the hard-right conservatives who white-anted Malcolm Turnbull for years and are now incensed that he did not play a more active role in the campaign. Barnaby Joyce – a ‘wretch, rash, intruding fool’ – takes the cake here.

  9. Graham English says:

    Imagine what the swing would have been had Peter Dutton been PM!

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