The Victorian election has absolutely no implications for the upcoming federal election. None! And it can’t be considered in anyway an indictment of the decision to dump Malcolm Turnbull.
I know this, because as the results came in, any Liberal MP who had a media gig was pretty clear that this was a state election fought on state issues and the dumping of Turnbull was in no way responsible. Like the Wentworth by-election, it had nothing to do with their overall standing in wider Australia. It was just some untypical people expressing their views on something that wasn’t the Federal Coalition. Nothing to see here, move on.
Actually, I was waiting for one of them to blame Malcolm Turnbull for not coming to Victoria to campaign, given that was the main reason that they lost Wentworth. However, I guess it would be hard to complain given how little interest the boys in Canberra took in the Victorian result. As Josh Frydenberg told us: “Scott Morrison and I and other federal colleagues didn’t play an active role in this campaign, and it was fought on state (issues).”
In case you’re wondering why they didn’t, you have to remember that Scottie had a bus to catch in Queensland, and Josh found moving outside his seat of Kooyong too stressful because people keep mistaking him for Peter Dutton. Still, I wonder if the same commentators who bagged Turnbull for not campaigning will have anything to say about the lack of “an active role” from Morrison and others.
Frydenberg was in fine form all round last night, trying to suggest that the Liberals couldn’t have expected to win by pointing out that no first-time government in Victoria who had a majority for their entire term had been dumped in over hundred years. Note that there are several qualifiers there, such as “Victorian” and had a “majority for the term”. Otherwise, it’s not much of a point to say that no first-term government had been thrown out of office since 2014 when the Baillieu/Napthine lost. It’s not even a straw to clutch at, when you say, “This hasn’t happened since the most recent election”!
Josh seemed to have learned from the Victorian Liberals that running a good, strong negative campaign is the way to go because he went on to point out that Bill Shorten had been responsible for the demise of two sitting PMs. I was waiting for someone on the panel to point out that it’s now four, if you include Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull…
There was a lot of analysis and apart from the Liberals who were directly involved in the knifing of Turnbull, the general consensus was that disunity is death in politics. Jeff Kennett did his bit to promote unity by calling for the resignation of Micheal Kroger, the state president. This, Kennett apparently thought, would leave him free to run the party and make all the decisions leading to a united, happy party all working together and anybody who didn’t agree with Jeff could FRO… A leadership style which won Kennett two elections.
Mind you, he contested five state elections as leader and lost three of them. People kept telling us what a smart political operator he was, when in power. I do remember saying that he’s only on a fifty percent win rate. Then he lost the fifth and retired from politics, giving him a strike rate of forty per cent.
Kroger did his bit for unity by pointing out that the last time Kennett called for a resignation publicly was – as President of the Hawthorn Football Club – Alistair Clarkson, the coach who went on to win four premierships. To his credit, Kroger refrained from saying Jeff’s proclamation earlier this week that changes to Hawthorn’s Tasmanian arrangement would happen over his dead body could be considered a win/win situation.
So where does this leave the federal Liberals? Are they going to continue on like Donald Trump and simply deny any fact that doesn’t suit them? Will they argue that the gangs that made people frightened to go out to dinner in Melbourne, scared them into not voting? Will they continue with the idea that Victoria doesn’t have implications because it was run on state issues and, anyway, Matty Guy only lost because Dan Andrews ran a tricky, positive campaign which caught them by surprise.
Or do they think that their best chance is to change leaders?
Will Dutton challenge? Or will they realise that the only way to get rid of Tony is to make him PM and have him lose his seat a la John Howard? Short-term pain for long-term gain.
Yes, I can hear a lot of you thinking, “No, of course Dutton won’t challenge. How could the Liberals possibly think that a change of leadership would help? How could they think that the public would put up with more Canberra nonsense and infighting? How could they fail to see something that’s so clear?”
However, if you’re thinking like that, I’d ask you to go back and have a look at everything they’ve done and said since… Um, let’s say the knighting of the Duke and ask yourself again, can we really guarantee that we’ve reached the depths of Coalition stupidity?
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