Mood: accident prone
Topic: election nsw 2007
Picture: Voters in marginal seat of Marrickville yesterday in local Anglican Church hall: Democracy here feels like a religious obligation dominated by power mongering and frightening corruption, where the sheep are duped and abused.
[This replaces our usual Sunday tv political talkies article. We missed 10 Meet the Press, and 7 Riley Diary, we are catching 9 and 2 now.]
As predicted by most the ALP have 4 more years with a lot of bark off them, no landslide, no restored credibility. The Big Media on election night were openly describing the winner as yet “deeply unpopular” (Riley, 7). And as we suspected the Big Press can take alot of credit for the late swing away from the government with all their threshing of brand ALP in the last 3 days or so.
John Howard was even willing to appear with the loser Debnam 20 minutes after his feisty concession speech. That’s not a PM scared of this result. In fact a defensible loss here enhances his chances federally a great deal.
Barry O’Farrell who might actually have won as leader, and once aspirant for the leadership looked tired and not very hopeful of taking Debnam’s job on the ABC panel. The catchcry for the conservatives is ‘1st swing against the ALP since 1988’ which rings true. Barry consoled himself the talent pool in parliament for the work of the official Opposition is greatly boosted with a senior prosecutor, maybe Prue Goward, enviro lawyer Stokes in Pittwater and others. This new blood should shake the tree and really exploit the Iemma Govt’s flaws, incumbency or not. With Debnam as leader with such gains when totally outspent by the ALP.
What Morris Iemma shows with his lack lustre victory speech is that he knows he bought the election with $100M + of taxpayer funded advertising, and pandering to dangerous forces in society – the construction lobby for the desalination plant at Kurnell, the gun lobby for cowboy shooters on public land, the developers more generally in every suburb of Sydney with a good $8M in donations in the last 6 years and gutting of planning assessment laws, the ALP bureaucracy’s own lust for secrecy.
The ALP will argue (eg Anthony Albanese, federal MP Grayndler taking in Marrickville on AM special this morning) that the Liberals failed to take one seat from the ALP government. But that's an exageration of the situation if technically true. No one doubts the MP's in Pittwater and Manly for instance though independents were effectively centre left labour if not Labor. And the Nationals in the Coalition did take an ALP seat out west of the state from Peter Black. And then many ALP seats are far more marginal. The Howard federal government will want to exploit that lurch to the right in the face poor service delivery by Labor in NSW. In short a far more polarised society.
(From Sydney Morning Herald election day 24th March 2007)
In effect Iemma has the same team on a slide and even heavier expectations (and didn't he look tired last night on tv) with very little public goodwill. It’s a recipe for grinding misery really and a difficult parliament. Not as bad as minority government but pretty grim.
There is not an informed person in NSW who thinks democracy is not at least half broken here as per the startling interview on Stateline last Friday here: The Last Interview
Perhaps Morris Iemma knows how thin the ice has got because he may have 'turned the phones off' for the sake of his family today, celebrating his Dad's birthday, but there he is on the box anyway trying to boost the ALP brand again on Insiders 2 in a live cross and 9 Sunday fielding brutal bouncers from Laurie Oaks.
Simon Santo on abc tv Insiders says the vote after about 75% stage is 53:47 this morning, with a swing of 3% to the Coalition. Last night one of the commercial tv stations was reporting 52:48. The ABC is calling 53 seats to the ALP but Sunday 9 is calling it 49 so far.
But the other ‘mandate with a message’ is surely for the NSW Greens. As Leigh Sales of ABC TV accurately suggested, to paraphrase ‘surely you would have expected to do better?’ An extra seat in the Upper House making now 4 Greens up from 3, of limited effectiveness still, beaten in Marrickville and Balmain seats it seems and on average only 8.5% of the primary vote in a year of unprecedented ecological awareness. Truly the Greens are not ‘an enviro group’ despite their colour code to quote Lee Rhiannon, contradicting her ally and new MP John Kaye who once said ‘we are of and from the environment movement’. That systemic confusion in short explains the muted gains of ever hopeful Greens. If they worked a lot harder and effectively on the broad environment and less on boutique social issues, or just more effectively on green and social issues they might actually win a lower seat?
One could only feel sorry for Fiona Byrne of the Greens with half obscured/over exposed postage stamp posters the opposite of the ALP or Liberals Peter Shmigel large format jobs, or even Clover Moore. If your party can’t present decent posters how can you manage an electorate? No doubt they tried their hearts out and their glossy leaflets I saw were very good. But all the materials have to be winners in the big game of lower house seats.
Which brings us to big hearted Rochelle Porteus candidate in the generally vain society of Balmain voters. If the ALP relied excessively on telegenic policy bimbos for cute packaging in this election, the Greens preselection of Rochelle suggests a shallow pool. She may be brilliant and have a heart of gold for all I know and God knows real beauty is not skin deep, but we are campaigning on earth not heaven. I made this point to a Greens stall worker a month ago, and she smiled with no dissent or offence. Rochelle did extremely well to get such a close competitive vote but not good enough. I don’t judge a book by its cover but that’s not voter land. At the least we should have seen a crash diet in the media age of biggest loser.
The Greens are vaguely going forward and holding their position and this is essential for healthy politics in NSW and Australia. But they are going very slow because they seriously lack a meritocracy in their culture where expertise and qualifications mean more than tribalistic ideology in the organisational wing. The triumph of safe mediocrity over geniune talent.
ABC election analyst Antony Green, even allowing for his known ALP leanings (briefing one of the thinktanks) and cynicism says this morning the Greens have reached "their ceiling" and that's a comment that hurts.
Mike Carlton says it's all about the next few weeks of slash and weeding in the NSW Government and that rings true: Next item of business, blood-letting in Macquarie St. Similarly Alex Mitchell says today in Fairfax Iemma will "ruthlessly deal with recalcitrants". Yep. It's a scary place here on Planet ALP.