Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Election 2010: Game Over (or, Fibre to the Lodge)

Well we all knew how that was going to play out didn’t we?

Today was one of those fun days in politics where everything seemed possible and every rumour of an eyebrow raised or an elbow scratched was interpreted as a major event.

The morning found Dennis Shanahan reporting:

No-one is prepared to call the result but the momentum Julia Gillard developed last week in the public arena has slowed.

Just what the hell momentum means in a  situation where three guys were making a decision was never explained, but oh well the talk was that the independents might side with Abbott.

So the true believers on twitter got nervous.

There was Abbot’s Chief of Staff in having a meeting with Bob Katter, then there was Oakeshott and Windsor talking together in a hallway. What did it all mean?

Around 12:30pm, the three independents had a meeting after which Katter pretty well stormed out, and called an instant press conference in his office. It was obvious they had split. Or it looked like it could be obvious that they had split.

157939170And then Katter announced he was siding with Abbott… or sort of… I think.  It was a pretty bizarre press conference. He said that he decided on the basis of his 20 point wish list – effectively Abbott had scored more points. He then said that if the other two went with the ALP he would support the ALP in a no-confidence motion.

So yeah, clear as mud.

Katter was a bit all over the shop. He said he would have supported the ALP if Rudd were still leader, but he was most strongly against the mining tax – which was a Rudd initiative. He also said Rudd had personally been lobbying him to support the ALP, but this held no sway. So he would have supported a Rudd Government, but he won’t support a Government that Rudd wants him to support?

Katter also said he had left the meeting with the other two because he had made up his mind, and they hadn’t. But then why announce his decision first?

This had people wondering if that meant the other two could go with the Libs, or perhaps it didn’t. Or did, or how about we talk amongt ourselves for 30 minutes because we’ve got a 24 hour news channel and we have to do something.

And so we waited.

Barnaby Joyce was on ABC24. He did not look happy.

Then out came Oakeshott. Out came Windsor.

Windsor spoke first saying with amazing understatement “for what it’s worth” that he was supporting Labor. The main reason without doubt for his decision was the NBN, a close second seemed to be climate change. He also spoke of the desire for stable Government, saying:

"We've also looked at issues of stability - if a government is formed, how long could it last? What sort of relationship would there be with the Senate?"

r634451_4348824In answer to one question Windsor suggested that going for the ALP was more stable because he had heard noises from MPs in the Coalition that if they got in they would go to the polls as soon as possible. He then said he thought the Liberals would win an early election.

This caught the notice of a few people, but he clarified it on the 7:30 Report saying he was only saying what he thought they believed. To be honest, I agree with him. The Libs were always going to find any reason to go back the polls as soon as possible – and were Abbott PM he would have an aura of incumbency, and I believe that the Libs would win in such circumstances. Windsor however did not say he thought the ALP would lose the next election, just that he did not believe they would see any advantage in quickly going to an election. He is spot on.

But still, expect those on the right to make a mountain out of his molehill of a statement.

Windsor also referred to his maiden speech where he had mentioned that for many years the rural vote has been taken for granted – by the ALP because it knows it won’t win any seats, and by the Coalition because it knows it will win the seats. His speech was essentially a calling out of the National Party to stop being sop closely aligned to the Liberal Party – that it hasn't delivered anything to the rural areas. His call was also to the voters in these areas to stop automatically voting National if it wasn’t actually bringing anything to their electorates. In effect he was saying they should think about voting for some independents.

I wonder if any National Party MPs were listening and thinking that could be them.

Rob Oakeshott then spoke for a good 15 minutes. Quite a few commentators have criticised him for the length of his address – and it was excruciating for those of us watching – but he only spoke to lay out his reasons in full, who can blame him given what he will no doubt be subjected to.

His main reasons were broadband (again), education and stability (again). At this point (about 15 minutes in) everyone knew he was going for Labor – there was no way he would talk about stability and then go 75-75.

And so it was.

So now what?

Well the The Oz is making its views pretty clear:

Independents rescue Labor from ruins

  • Dennis Shanahan, Political Editor
  • September 07, 2010 3:31PM

Yep, nothing like a nice positive headline to start off the new paradigm of politics.

Expect it to get worse. Anyone thinking those who campaigned so long and hard to bring down Rudd will stop just because of the small matter of an election result are seriously mistaken.

Barnaby Joyce was quickly making sure everyone knew the spiel that would be used when he continually referred to the ALP-Greens Government, and he also referred only to 2 independents – apparently in the LNP’s mind Wilkie is not independent. 

Abbott in his speech in response was fairly gracious, but then let go this beauty:

"My intention if the government does well is to give credit where it's due; if it does badly, to hold it ferociously to account."

Yeah sure you’ll give credit. The Building the Education Revolution stimulus spend has a 97% positive response and yet he savaged it as the biggest waste in the history of Australian history.

I fully expect Abbott to do everything in his power to bring this Government down as soon as he possibly can. I have no confidence the LNP in the Senate will act with any care for the next 10 months – after all they didn’t ever during the Rudd Government, so why start now?

And with every blocked piece of legislation many in the media will crow and call for another election – all the while talking about the illegitimacy and fragility of the Government.

Of course it will be fragile – but let’s not underestimate the desire of the Gillard, Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie and Bandt to make it work. Because it is in each their interests to make it work. If it crumbles all will face a severe test at the next election. So Abbott can huff and puff, but he only has at best 74 votes, and as Julia has displayed in the past two weeks (and in fact throughout the Rudd Govt) she is very good at negotiating and getting people on board.

r634498_4349704 But what now for the ALP?

My advice – don’t be timid. Yes it is “fragile” but the biggest fault they could do is to not do anything for fear of upsetting someone.

The number one lesson of the Rudd Government is that people want decisions taken. Don’t worry if it is unpopular, worry about whether or not it is a good decision. And if it is a good policy, then argue its case – be an advocate for it, not a salesperson.

When you go to court you don’t want a used-car salesman as your lawyer, you want an advocate. An advocate explains why a policy is good, defends the apparent weaknesses – in fact turns them into positives, and then savages the alternate view. A salesman says forget about that, look at all the goodies you’ll get if we bring it in. The problem with the RSPT was it was never really advocated as being a necessary economic/taxation policy, it was sold as delivering money for superannuation, money for infrastructure and being able to drop the company tax. If a taxation reform is worth doing, it should be worth doing in and of itself, not because of what things may be able to used with the money raised.

Advocacy is the key; it is the antithesis of spin.

Gillard is a much better advocate than Rudd – she needs to use all of her skill in this regard.

Yes it will be hard, and I know many think it will not last more than 18 months, but it can also be the making of the ALP. Because of the numbers, the factional types like Mark Arbib will not be able to do much backroom workings because if they do, the 2 independents will be justified in saying it’s all over, and the ALP will then be slaughtered. 

The ALP needs to work out a new way of doing things – or more to the point they need to remember how things were done under Hawke and Keating. They also need (as Bernard Keane perceptively wrote today) to forget about John Howard. Just because he did something does not mean it needs to continue being done. If, for example, they think the schools funding mix needs to be changed then advocate why – and convince the electorate that you are right. Don’t cower and avoid making a decision because of some bullshit about upsetting Howard’s battlers.

If you’re not going to do things, then go to the GG now and tell her you’re not up to the task.

Be your own Government and take the public with you, not with spin but with good policies and programs well advocated.

Easy.

(Oh and yeah keep the 76 MPs happy all the time as well – even easier.)

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all of your thoughtful commentary during the election. I will be sure to drop in in future.

James Neill said...

Nice summary

AOCarr said...

Great post mate & cheers for the hard posting work during the election.

Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Labor now needs to act like a real Government. For so long Labor in Government in many cases has acted "as if", that is as if they were not really entitled to govern, as if they were really "the guilty party" etc. Never defending their record nor taking on the media in any really fair dinkum way.

This time around they will have everything possible thrown at them. The Opposition and its friendship circle will be digging very deep to get some dirt or to find an edge, to run them out of power. Their families and friends won't be safe either since the Opposition will use everthing they can to besmirch and smear in an attempt to change the Government.

It means that all Labor supporters need to remain strong and united, unlike the disintegration which took place during the last few years.

Tonight I'm celebrating - tomorrow I'm working toward keeping Labor in Government by doing all I can to support the crossbenches in the face of the attacks coming their way as well.

Agnes Mack said...

You never disappoint, Grog. Hope Julia or someone on her staff reads and heeds the excellent advice you offer. Thank you again for lighting us through the threatened darkness.

db said...

I've been waiting for your analysis and you've summed it up perfectly!

I am not so much elated as relieved. This is potentially a great outcome for the reasons you've identified.

Labor has to keep the costings pressure on the Libs for the whole of this term and rightfully own economic management.

Anonymous said...

Did you detect a few subtle to not so subtle sideswipes at the media today by PM elect Ms Julia Gillard?

For example, commenting on something the Nationals are supposed to have said she quipped [approximately] "Well you can run it as headlines or you can analyse it".
And Wayne said in response to a journo question:
"That is just not correct".

Maybe just maybe they have learned the #1 rule of game playing, don't play by the rules of your opponents.

Cos surely this election was between the ALP [and Greens] and the Murdoch media and its mates with the COALition merely along for the ride and to pick up the spoils at the end.

fred

SM said...

Bravo, thanks for taking us all along for the ride. Judging by the joy some journo types have in baiting you, you are doing a great job. Look forward to more sport and literature posts too.

In the end I expect much of the bluster and screeching from News Ltd and the now confirmed Opposition worked against them. It is a shame it has taken an Independent to call those elements of the partisan press for what they are.

Of course all that all of the independents have said is they will support supply bills and won't support an unjustifiable no-confidence motion. Every piece of legislation will be negotiated from here on in.

I think it was the need to keep negotiating that ultimately swung it.

Gillard was willing to keep trying to find a compromise, Abbott wanted to be elevated because of something to do with peoples roots and no doubt would never sully himself with compromise again.

With any luck Tony Windsor has convinced every national party voter that they would be better off voting independent. The Nats of course will be missed even less than the DLP.

Anonymous said...

Yup Grog, you've hit it yet again. The gummint needs to advocate as to why they are on the side of the angels. Won't be easy, but hell, trying to sell didn't work last time.

BER proved that. The total misrepresentation of the stats around the "fiasco" of the home insulation also showed that. They HAVE to advocate (and sell) what they are doing.

I've started to breath a bit better this afternoon. But the big work is still to begin.

New coalitions have been built with the "independents", but there are much broader ones stil to be built.

The energy industry is crying out for stability; who would have thought that we would be hearing "Wadda we want? Carbon Pricing When do we wannit? NOW!" coming from them now? Well we are; It's in Gillard's hands to bring that baby home.

Oakshott seems to also be saying we need to look out big time for our indigenous citizens as well; hopefully that can become a bi-partisan issue - remember Rudd's Apology? HE proposed a bipartisan "war cabinet" on closing the gap. Nothing came of that. Lets get that going, and rather than tying it to the hardest (remote community) part of the issue, try and do stuff with those brothers and sisters of ours in regional and metro as well.

Broadband; Regional and Remote want it more than Warringah realise it is necessary. Lets get that going.

Don't promise the world in smaller regional health; a PET scanner could be funded in 30 hospitals, but we don't have technicians to run them; sure we can train them, but without decent braodband and eHealth we won't be able to get those scans to the physicians who can read them,. There's no way in the world that we'll get 300 Nuclear Med specialists trained and in small regional areas in the next 10 years - so find a better way of servicing thru eHealth or patient transport.

The real battle has just begun.

We now have a minority government that will HAVE to do things transparently, and be careful that it does actually deliver it's promises.

And that has to be a good thing.

@BernardK

Pip said...

Thank you again Grog, no-one says it better. I agree with other posters that the Coalition and their media army will do everything in their power to bring this govt. down. They were so excited when they "heard" him say that the Coalition would win. My family and I all thought he meant THEY thought they would win. The first question after that implied that he said he thought they would win and the journos were off and running. There will be no review from them of the correction on the 7.30 Report unfortunately.
Labor must own this govt. This term they must as you say advocate and explain every step of the way, as well as standing up to all the news outlets. Every last one of them. Warren Truss said that they have to work from today to win the next election. Barnaby Joyce will probable blow up and bust and Christopher Pyne and Kate Ellis's opponent haven't removed all their election posters yet. For mine the Coalition never stopped campaigning over the last 17 days so we'd better brace ouselves for much skulduggery.

Scott said...

Excellent, excellent point about good governance being about advocacy not salemanship.

Thanks again Grog for your insightful commentary. You've helped to keep me sane throughout the entire ordeal.

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Grog.

What the hell are you going to do with yourself now that the election's done and dusted and there's not a SA team within a long drop kick of the AFL finals series?

How good is Beevor's D-Day, btw?

Grog said...

Anon, I have no idea what I'll do!

Good thing there's still lots of political things to write about - who will be Ministers for one.

And yeah the AFL is just dispiriting for a Crows' fan.

At least Federer is still alive in the US Open - and here's hoping Stosur beats Clijsters today.

Lulu said...

Brilliant. Thoughtful and obviously I agree with it all. I too had realised I was holding my breath waiting for confirmation Rob Oakshott would say Labor, but everything he said was important so I started to breathe before I fainted.

if we try to summarise everything into the four second grab we will invariably dumb the story down .... unless of course we are listening to Bob Katter. What a muddle of ideas, metaphors and mixed messages.

So new game plan. Much of the media this afternoon were still working to the same plan of two parties, instead of thinking about parliament now being a discussion of many ideas in order to reach consensus. Challenging certainly. Now we don't have a budgy smuggling PM, I am relaxed and comfortable ... tonight.
Cheers Grog.

Grog said...

Oh and, yep Beevor's D Day is excellent.

the bogan whisperer said...

lets hope labor have a pair to make decisions, fight and execute them.

feeling a little more razzed by julia than young kev.

Tez said...

Once again, spot on. It will be tough but I think it will be the making of Julia. We are yet to see the best of her and this will bring out the best. Rupets puppets, Andrew Robb, Barnaby, Joe and the rest of those talentless conservatives will scream like stuck pigs (they have already started). Watch Tony - he will implode and emerge as the real Tony - especially when he realises he has to wait three years for another crack.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Grog. Always insightful commentary! Take the week off!

Rowan said...

I said at the start Abbott wouldn't be PM, I had a gut feeling, even in my darkest moments, he wouldn't be PM, pray God I continue to be right.

Even with Mighty Murdoch as Abbott's cheerocracy, the Libs barely scraped a higher vote than under Howard's smashing defeat (I can't be sure as the QLD LNP is counted in a block now, and I'm not sure if the AEC keeps the real figures anywhere). And yet, they are hailing this as a great victory for Abbott!

I'm bracing for a new onslaught of negativity as the media cheer squads limber up and shake their pom poms out.

Longfulan said...

I'm a little concerned for the safety of Windsor and Oakshott. Remember that the Liberals are the party of hate....just like the Republicans in the US.

I agree that Abbott will oppose for the sake of opposing. They will not forgive.

Grog, I thought Abbott's press conference was as ungenerous as it gets. Truss was probably even more negative.

Anonymous said...

On ya Grog.
ta muchly for the effort over the last little while.
i just hope that all this fibre is as effective as my brekky cereal.
last night i tippled in triumph.
yours
Dylwah

tvStatic said...

I got linked to your blog from the Something Awful forums fairly early on in the campaign (I think it was during your rise in popularity due to your piece on media focusing on stupid shit). Just wanted to say thanks for your thoroughly enjoyable analysis during the campaign and through this interminable wait. I hope you'll keep it up through the next term of Government, however long it ends up being.

Guido said...

I agree with your views 100% Grog. The Labor Party needs to stop being so obsequious to the media and the spin by the Liberals. They have started already. If you heard the Coalition on today's media they are all saying that they won the most votes and the most seats which is not true as <a href="http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mumble/index.php/theaustralian/comments/declaration_votes/:>Mumble has stated that the ALP has won the 2PP vote</a>. The media just accepts this stuff, as they accepted that the funds to school was a waste etc. which wasn't true. This has to be challenged all the time.

Anonymous said...

My lasting impressions will be:

Fran Kelly getting hystrionically menopausal with Windsor re his coalition election comment:

The obsequiousness of the press gallery's warm applause for Abbott when he entered his presser:

Bob Brown's 4.00pm presser where he commented "that august publication the australian";

my 23 year old disgusted at O'Brien not even having the decency to call Julia 'Prime Minister' on the 7.30 report;

a clearly sedtated barnaby on Lateline;

how the sky news f*ckwits immediatetly leapt to the 'legitimacy' meme after the oakshott windsor presser;

windsor's dignity and honesty in his announcement, oakshotts idealism - lets hope they keep that up;

trawling through Bolters Blog last night and reading the comments of his supporters - advocating violence and firebombing nonetheless;

picking up todays telegraph and seeing the disgusting charicature of the PM onthe cover.

If the PM and co have any balls they will come up with some fantastic things in the next couple of years.

The public service is now in for the shock of its life - please bring on a night of the long knives.

Nutra

ChrisintheCapital said...

one of the (many) good things about the return of the Gillard Govt is that you won't now be forced to make good your promise to stop blogging if Abbott got up. A win for all of us.

eamon said...

Your emphasis on advocacy vs selling is well made. I'd like to draw attention to Windsor's nuanced appeal to country voters not to waste their partisan vote. What Windsor was saying is that country voters should vote more like those in city swing seats - ie pragmatically and not be held ransom to their partisanship. Windsor voted for ALP mainly to make this important point, in my opinion.

sam said...

The attacks that will characterize the Opposition have started. See Possum f08/09 for how this will be the tone of the next Parliament
Its a battle for the survival of the Nats. Windsor has thrown down the red flag. If he and Oakshott can deliver more than the Nats could, it is hard to see why anyone would support the Nats in the future. Cornered rats come out to fight.

Amused said...

"And if it is a good policy, then argue its case – be an advocate for it, not a salesperson. "

I agree with the essence of this, but what horrified and amazed me was that they didn't even try and sell their successes. They weren't even salespersons. They apologised for their successes! The BER 97% yes, but they kept us out of recession. Why didn't they say that? And as for the insulation, the fact is that they increased the number of installations by 30 times and the number of fires remained the same. And why was that their problem anyway? Why didn't they push the blame onto the dodgy operators? Sheesh. They've done a good job policy wise and a crap job sales (or advocacy) wise.

Grog said...

Amused - that's the point they didn't advocate their stimulus strategy - ie why they were going into defecit and debt - abnd thus when Abbott went in hard on them they had no foundation to support themselves.

Nutra - I will just say it wasn't the journos applauding Abbott - it was his own MPs and staffers.

Anonymous said...

The Libs are spoiling for a fight. Just look at their response to the ETS committee. Abbott has told all MPs that none are allowed to sit on the committee, even if they support the idea, like Turnball.
They have servere sour grapes, and are looking at any opportunity to go to the polls.
So much for Julia bringing the sunshine into parlament as she said.
One MP said he would not support anything the rainbow coalition (ALP, Greens and Ind's) put forward. Great start to a new term of govt. So negative.
Hopefully this will show all the misguided public the real bullshit of the Libs.