In the past couple of day there has been a lot of love from the left for Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. It’s easy to see why. First there was Windsor on Q&A last night, saying things we wish our leader had said, and his analysis of the campaign was acute and was unable to be countered with statements that he was full of sour grapes.
TONY JONES: Tony Windsor, you'd like to break the mould, I suspect. I'd like you to respond to the question in terms of what you think should happen in a future government and could you do anything about it as an independent?
TONY WINDSOR: Well, I think the media have got some degree of responsibility in relation to some of the things that went on, as well, but the - this is the worst political campaign that I've ever seen. I think the political hypocrisy in relation to both leaders in terms of some of the issues they misrepresented was appalling.
For Tony Abbott to go into this election campaign with an industrial relations policy written by the union movement is quite odd and for Julia Gillard to let the Liberal Party write the boat people agenda is quite odd and I think we saw a number of those instances right through the campaign and people switched off. They really didn't know what these people actually represented and there's no wonder that there was a bit of a shift to the Greens that people couldn't make a decision as to who was to govern the country and now we're in the circumstances that we are.
But I do believe that the media - this is the worst campaign that I've seen from the media. I think some of the senior commentators were actually creating news out of nothing. They weren't giving - and maybe the leaders weren't prepared to give of their best but the media commentators in some cases were as appalling as the campaign.
Ouch. That is as good and accurate a slap to everyone’s face for his her performance over the past 5 weeks as you could ask for.
When he talked about policy, the lefties got even more excited:
RYAN STUBNA: Mr Windsor, you have said that the National Broadband Network is “the railway of the 21st century”. What role with the roll out of the NBN play in your decision on which party to support?
TONY WINDSOR: Probably not a lot, but I think it will play a role in the next parliament. I think the major issue that we have to look at is stability of governance and not - I don't intend to go into any negotiations with a grab bag of trinkets that I want for the electorate. There are some significant regional issues that have been ignored: health, aged care, some of the water issues that Malcolm raised, some of the renewable energy issues that have been raised and a broadband network is one of those issues. If there's every been a piece of infrastructure, if it's done correctly, that negates distances being a disadvantage of living in country Australia, this is it.
Now, I'm not suggesting that it's a choice between the Liberal Party and the Labor Party. I don't trust either of them but I think we've got to get it right and we've got an opportunity in this parliament to actually get it right and if we're talking about the delivery of health services and educational service and business services in the future, and we're talking about population of our major cities, this is the key driver that we've got to have so if there was every one thing that we needed both sides to agree on, in my view this is it.
Then Rob Oakeshott was on Lateline, and lefty women around the country were ready to bear his children when he said this:
LEIGH SALES: Do you have any political hero or role model?
ROB OAKESHOTT: Not necessarily within an Australian political context but I always enjoy seeing people stand on their digs regardless of the consequences. In my university days, I was at University College where the reverend of that college was all but excommunicated from the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, a bloke called Reverend Peter Cameron.
As a student he was a pretty interesting fellow but standing on his digs over some of the speeches and some of the sermons he used to give. And in his parting speech to the students, he said, "I hope the great lesson I've taught you as the leader of this college is that you've got to stand up for what you believe in regardless of the consequences."
So people like that in history, the Stephen Bikos of the world - but there's plenty of them but not necessarily in a Westminster parliamentary sense because it's pretty difficult to see leaders and find leaders in the way our Parliaments are structured.
“The Stephen Bikos of the world”? Biko is not the anti-apartheid champion usually trotted out by those on the right.
He then said this on asylum seekers:
LEIGH SALES: Okay, on asylum seekers, particularly those who come by boat, what's your view on offshore processing?
They've normally come through three or four countries where those countries don't even know that people have passed through their borders. So I think we can manage this and manage it in a strategic sense. Our offshore processing is about $470 million a year of taxpayers' money.
I'm not fussed about Nauru, Christmas Island, East Timor but I would ask that at least we consider onshore processing under UN conventions and 90 day rules. I'm sure we could find a mayor or a council in the North or Northwest of Australia who would be very interested in the 350 jobs that we're currently exporting to Christmas Island because we are driven by some sort of fear of dealing with this issue on the mainland.
And they're 350 well paying jobs. They're Defence. They're ASIO. They're Customs.
So you know, I think we need to put fear in the back pocket, deal with it strategically, deal with it on a regional basis, stick to UNHCR guidelines and targets and really step up and deal with the issue on the mainland as much as trying to farm the problem out to some regional neighbour.
So much sense… Again, those from the right in this country have not exactly been rushing to talk about the UNHCR guidelines, nor about putting “fear in the back pocket”.How could the left not get excited by that?
Today News.ltd seemed to sense this slant to the left by the two, and so made sure its feeling were clear. We had The Australian going into Windsor and Oakeshott's electorates:
Reject Labor: voters' message to independent MPs
Yep, nothing subtle there.
We found that “Many, but far from all, of those who voted for their independent believe it would be a betrayal if their MPs gave Julia Gillard the numbers to continue governing when they could have installed Tony Abbott”.
Yes, it’d be “a betrayal” if someone who is independent sides with one party instead of another. I wonder if these voters felts the same way when Windsor and Oakeshott voted for the stimulus?
The Daily Telegraph was even less subtle – how’s this for an editorial:
Independents must pay heed to the voices of their electors
The story for Labor is considerably worse in Mr Windsor's seat of New England, where in the last three elections Labor has recorded primary support of 8.7 per cent, 9.8 per cent and 8 per cent. This is even below the national figure for the Greens.
Yet now this resounding rejection of Labor could end up giving the nation a Labor government. Should this happen, democracy will be gravely insulted.
You get that – democracy will be “gravely insulted” if Oakeshott and Windsor were to side with the ALP. What complete and utter bullshit. Democracy would be more gravely insulted if politicians took the advice of The Daily Telegraph’s editorials each day.
Tony Windsor slapped the Telegraph down in as brutal a manner as you would like to see:
"I wouldn't give that paper the time of day," he said, referring to the Daily Telegraph. "It just shows the role of some within the media in terms of the election process that we've just gone through. I won't be taking the Telegraph as one of my political advisers. I don't give the article or the paper any credibility at all."
Isn’t it nice to see what a politician can say when he is sitting on a primary vote of around 62%. The country would be a better place if politicians in the major parties could say such things. But of course they can’t because if they did The Daily Telegraph would devote every single day to bringing them down. (and if Windsor does side with the ALP, I’d expect him to get more than a few editorial snipes).
Tony Abbott could also smell the Windsor of change and came out to give a press conference detailing how he was really on the same page as the independents. Talking like a boyfriend who wants to get back with his ex, he was all about how he could change – you know, it won’t be like it was last time – I’ll be better, I promise.
Mr Abbott, who has a reputation as a confrontational parliamentary performer, described the idea as "radical" but said debate in Parliament could be kinder and gentler.
"I think we can be a more collegial polity than we have been. I think the spirit of Parliament has been needlessly confrontational, especially over the last three years."
Well done Tony Abbott, you just taken out this year’s hypocrite of the year award (though I think you had it sewn up when you said the ALP’s IR policy needed to be given a fair go).
“Needlessly confrontational”?! Does anyone remember Abbott when he was Health Minister. Try this on for size from 7 December 2006:
Mr ABBOTT —Oh, yes! Listen to their words, Mr Speaker. We have the member for Jagajaga, the current failed shadow minister for education, who described the private health insurance rebate—
Mr Danby interjecting—
The SPEAKER —The member for Melbourne Ports is warned!
Mr ABBOTT —as ‘the worst piece of public policy in Australian history’. We have the member for Perth, the current failed workplace relations shadow minister, who called the private health insurance rebate a ‘public policy crime’ and canvassed its abolition. We have the would-be shadow Treasurer, the member for Melbourne, who called it ‘one of the least efficient programs of all time’. And then of course we have the member for Lalor, the person who does not think she is up to being the shadow Treasurer, who invented Medicare Gold to try to destroy the private health insurance system. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: drop the blame game that you have been playing all week and show me your policies. “Show me the policies!”
Those with memories will recall Abbott doing quite possibly the worst Tom Cruise impersonation history as he shouted “Show me the policies!”
For Abbott Question Time was a shouting occasion. It was all about being confrontational.
But of course we know Abbott means well, but he does not back up his sweet words.
We know this firstly because in the very same press conference he was pledging a more collegial polity he said:
“You will not get a new politics from an old government, particularly from an old government as riven with factionalism, as controlled by the faceless men as the current government so obviously is.
Any continuing Labor government that emerges from this election will effectively be a Labor-Green alliance and I think that would be very bad for regional Australia. It will mean an increased mining tax. It will mean very significant restrictions with what people can do on the Ocean and it will most certainly mean a carbon tax.”
So collegial; isn’t it great to see the end of the adversarial nature of Australian politics?
I do have to say Abbott’s continuing argument that he deserves to be PM because the LNP got more votes than the ALP is rather odd given the argument essentially treats anyone outside the major parties as irrelevant – a position he should now realise is not quite the case.
But hey, if he wants to make it about primary votes, and he wants to talk up an ALP-Greens alliance, perhaps he should consider that thus far the ALP-Greens primary vote is 50.03%. The LNP primary vote is 43.16%.
How do you like them apples, Tony?
The other reason we know this kinder-gentler Tony is hooey, is because as Mark Colvin, of the ABC’s PM program and Malcolm Farnsworth on Twitter remembered, he has said it all before. Back in 2000 in the condolence motion for Greg Wilton after he had committed suicide Abbott said:
None of us reaches out enough to any of our colleagues, and we should not wait until they have gone to appreciate them. Obviously Greg Wilton was not gentle on himself, and I think the best thing we could do would be to rededicate ourselves to being kinder and gentler to each other, as he would have wished. It is all very well to talk about outside help, but the best help is the help we can provide to each other. Had Greg been able to listen to this debate, I am sure he would have felt much more proud of the parliament that he has so tragically left.
Yep he really heeded his own words so well didn’t he for the next 10 years…
But for all of the warm feelings the left have for Windsor and Oakeshott (and even Katter), I have a feeling it will all end in tears for the ALP. Yes whenever they talk they sound like they favour the ALP, but there is no denying they are from the conservative side of politics. This doesn't make their siding with Abbott the only option, but I think the left should realise it is probably the more likely.
It is horrible to contemplate, because Both Windsor and Oakeshott and Katter are so obviously genuine that which ever side they choose, you have to admit they did it thinking they were making the right decision. It would be a bitter pill to swallow if they were to choose the Libs.
But in the spirit of trying to woo, let me give Rob and Tony and Bob my pitch:
They won’t love you as much as we will. They won’t appreciate you as much as we will. Deep down we know you’ll probably choose Abbott, so if you choose Julia the ALP will bend over backwards in gratitude and will work bloody hard to make sure you guys (and your electorates) are showered with policy and programs and infrastructure.
The Libs on the other hand expect you to choose them – in fact many I bet are wondering why you are even bothering with this charade, hurry up and tell us what we already know! You really think they’ll treat you with respect? Bullshit – they’ll take your votes and then target you in the next election with their usual vicious campaign to get a National Party member to unseat you.
To them you are the ugly girl at school whose dad has a beach house where a party is being held on Saturday night. They’ll be nice to you while they need you, and then once they’re back at school, they’ll tease you just like before. You know this is the case – after all Tony’s best friends Warren and Barnaby are already teasing you, and they still expect to be invited to the beach house party!
Don’t think you can change them, Abbott and Co are set in their ways. They won’t respect you in the morning, we on the other hand will shower you in flowers and make you breakfast in bed.
And we’ll also give you the NBN.
But it could be all for nought. Andrew Wilkie looks set to win Denison, and the gap is closing in Corrangamite with the ALP now only ahead by 637 votes. Lost that and the ALP would be down to 71 seats to the LNP’s 73. And I think that would be a gap too far.