In the week before Christmas, most people are trying to remember if Uncle Mark and Uncle Barry can be seated close to each other without arguing about ‘the incident that ruined Christmas’ (which shook the family to it’s core in 1996), joining the crowds in the local shopping centre, checking the car for the ‘road trip’ to see the rellies or laughing at those doing any of the above because they are super-organised and had everything ready to go by December 1. The week before Christmas is also a good time for politicians to ‘bring out the trash’, better known as provide information that was promised but they really don’t want people to think too much about.
And so it was the week before Christmas in 2022. The Liberal Party released it’s review of the 2022 election campaign on 22 December. The reviewers, shadow Finance Minister Senator Jane Hume and former Liberal Party Director Brian Loughnane, who also happens to be married to ‘Sky after dark’ presenter Peta Credlin. identified one of the significant negatives was Scott Morrison, noting
“The prime minister’s standing with voters deteriorated significantly through 2021 to become a significant negative. The prime minister and the party were seen as ‘out of touch’,”
The review noted that “deep frustration among party members” about being locked out of preselection processes made them “reluctant to volunteer”.
The Coalition was forced to fight on multiple fronts: in teal seats where voters “had a different set of election priorities”, making a national election message difficult; while also losing votes to minor parties and independents who “broadly could be considered rightwing”.
Although the primary vote of both major parties decreased, Labor was able to benefit from a higher flow of preferences from minor parties both from its left (the Greens) and its right, with 35.7% of One Nation preferences flowing to Labor and 38.14% of United Australia votes.
The review called for greater outreach to culturally and linguistically diverse communities, particularly Chinese-Australians. It noted that in the top 15 seats by Chinese ancestry, the two-party preferred swing against the Liberals was 6.6% compared with 3.7% in other seats.
However the Liberal’s review also attempts to prosecute the case the reason Morrison’s standing with the public was reduced was a damaging marketing campaign against the former Prime Minister, which allowed the ‘teal independents’ to outspend them and take votes. The Liberal Party review authors also claimed their ‘It won’t be easy under Albanese’ marketing campaign created good market recall (which might be fine for a soap powder – demonstrably less so for a political party). as well as stating their internal polls suggested a 3 to 4% increase in the Coalition voting intention over the course of the election campaign.
With that, we’ve found something that the Liberal Party and the Labor Party agree on. The ALP election review, released earlier in December notes
“The focus on Morrison’s character was highly effective. Morrison’s unpopularity is the single-most-significant factor in Labor’s victory,”
The ALP review identified a number of weaknesses and opportunities for improvement with their campaign. Labor identified that votes leaked from the ALP to the ‘teal’ independents and The Greens. their nationwide direct vote was the lowest since 1934 and despite a Labor state governments in Queensland and the re-election of a Labor government in Victoria, there is significant work to attract voters back to the ALP in those states.
It’s interesting to look at the language here as well. The ALP recognises it has problems in attracting voters to directly support them while the Liberals are looking for excuses for pretty well everything except a marketing slogan.
The ALP review was publicly released after the Victorian State Election, we can’t be certain that any of the review’s suggestions were ‘trialled’ in Victoria. We do know that the ALP won the election with a similar majority to the previous state election, despite parts of the media looking for opportunities to portray the Victorian Premier as the leader of a fascist or communist state with mobility issues due to a failure to negotiate a small set of stairs while on holidays some time ago.
Meanwhile in the blue corner apparently everything is someone else’s fault. Yes, they observe that gender quotas are a good idea, that the ‘teal independents’ generally received some financial backing but neglect to suggest there were individuals who created the groundswell of support for all the independents before anyone offered to donate wads of cash to them, even suggesting
The standing of a number of incumbent MPs in key seats was not what should be expected leading into a campaign,
If that is the case, you would think the Liberal Party would have identified the knowledge and behaviour gaps in the year or so prior to the election and put measures in place to mitigate or train the MP’s to meet the required standards. Even though they were incumbent it shouldn’t automatically guarantee pre-selection.
It should be noted that the ‘teal independents’ weren’t the only group that took seats from the Coalition. Despite the risk of flooding, some of the most expensive land in South East Queensland is adjacent to the Brisbane River, as are the federal seats of Ryan and Brisbane which have a history of Liberal and more recently LNP representatives. Both seats turned to the Greens as did former PM Rudd’s seat of Griffith in the 2022 election. There were no ‘teal independents’ running for election in Queensland, which could be partly the reason why the ALP or Greens now represent all the federal seats along the river through the Brisbane metro area. This area used to be conservative heartland.
To address a problem, the first thing you have to do is realise you have a problem and acknowledge it. Have the Liberal Party done this? Apparently not as just prior to Christmas. the deal in the New South Wales Liberal Party to institute gender parity in the forthcoming state election was scrapped – because one of the factions felt they would lose influence. The deal was finally stuck just after Christmas however if it made the media it is a messy outcome demonstrating some are more worried about influence than gender equality.
To keep a good government to account, you need a good opposition. Hopefully The Greens, micro parties and independents are willing to step up to the mark as the Liberal Party haven’t worked out they have internal problems to solve before they represent Australia’s ‘conservative economic and liberal social values’ rather than their own sectional interests. We all deserve better.
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