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Careful what you wish for

Careful what you wish for. I wonder if anyone ever said this to Turnbull while he scurried around courting leadership votes from his Liberal and National colleagues? There are lots of metaphors you can throw at his current predicament. He’s sipped on Abbott’s poison chalice. His Teflon glean is sticky. His shine has worn off. Voters thought a Turnbull government would look like the cake on the left, but in reality, it’s just the Abbott cake with different colour icing – underneath it still tastes exactly the same.

Reality not meeting expectations is usually disappointing rather than pleasantly surprising. I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand why on earth voters chose Abbott in the first place since I spent years advising against this terrible decision and was completely unsurprised when PM Abbott turned out to be just as big a disaster as I predicted he would be. But presumably Abbott won the last election because voters thought he would do a better job of running the country than the Labor government. It only took a few months for them to realise their terrible mistake. This realisation and corresponding dissatisfaction with Abbott gave Turnbull his chance to pounce. And pounce he did.

In the blink of an eye, Turnbull became Prime Minister of Australia, a job he was never elected for, which, as Gillard proved, had he been a woman and a Labor MP he would have paid dearly for with the label of back-stabbing-illegitimate-swine. But Turnbull slid in scot-free, proclaiming there was never a more exciting time to be an Australian voter who hadn’t voted for him to be PM.

There are good arguments to say Turnbull got away with his coup because voters hated Abbott and were pleased to see him go. It makes sense they were willing to accept whatever had to happen to remove the most embarrassing, incompetent Prime Minister Australia has ever had. But I think there’s more to Turnbull’s free ride and corresponding honey-moon popularity in the polls than meets the eye. I think it’s possible that voters’ acceptance of Turnbull is their silent, shameful, never-to-be-admitted relief that their Abbott mistake went away without them having to admit this mistake was their doing in the first place.

There’s a theory in marketing called Post-Purchase Dissonance which describes the tensions a consumer feels after buying something which they invested time and energy choosing, when they’re not 100% sure they’ve made the right decision. Usually attributed to making large purchases such as a house or a car, buyers apparently often go out of their way to justify their purchases in order to calm their Post-Purchase Dissonance, even when there is rational evidence in front of them that their decision was a poor one. For instance, if the car they bought was a lemon.

You see the same irrational behaviour when people make all sorts of huge life decisions which turn out to be bad ones; it is very rare that the decision maker ever publically admits their mistake. Have you ever met someone who has been through a messy divorce from a man who was clearly a terrible choice for a husband, who everyone always knew was a dickhead, but the best his ex-wife can do to explain why she married him in the first place is to say ‘he changed after we got married’. The divorcee will very rarely say ‘I was a fool for marrying him’ because it’s human nature to justify important decisions in our life as good ones, even when all evidence contradicts this.

For most voters, the decision of who to vote for is not one they invest much time in, but nevertheless, there must be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Australian voters who, while watching Abbott swing a wrecking ball through Australian culture, society and economy had a little voice in the back of their mind saying ‘you chose this outcome… oops’. Imagine their relief when Turnbull erased this mistake?

But this isn’t where the story ends. No, Turnbull really should have been careful what he wished for, and what deals he made with the devil to get what he wanted. All those relieved Abbott-mistake-makers who wanted Turnbull to undo their guilt are now slowly, yet surely, coming to the even more disappointing realisation that Turnbull hasn’t actually undone anything. Because nothing has substantially changed since Abbott was deposed. The car is still a lemon. The husband is still a dickhead. The budget is still a disaster. The NBN has been ruined. The ABC gagged. There is no legitimate climate policy. Social security is still on the chopping block. Gonski is a goner. There’s a risk of a GST rise. Super contributions might be frozen where they are. Australian born babies are being sent to a concentration camp on Nauru. Penalty rates could be a thing of the past. Unions are being bashed. Turnbull is willing to fight an election on zombie-like WorkChoices industrial relations policies. States are being bullied to raise taxes. There will be no Australian Republic under a PM who led the Republic movement. Marriage equality won’t happen. Therefore the decision Abbott voters made at the 2014 election is still haunting them.

These are the sort of emotions that don’t show up in polls. These are the sort of thought processes that people don’t speak out loud. Labor would do well to understand the voices-in-the-heads of the ashamed Abbott voters. The 2016 election is Labor’s best chance to give these voters an opportunity to properly reverse their mistakes and to get it right once and for all.


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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Victoria Rollison,

    Labor needs to tap into the minds of the guilty and /or forlorn voters whether they are dissatisfied former Labor voters seeking alternative progressive choices, marginal voters who voted LNP out of anger against a disunified Labor, or other voters who fear the falling of the standards of living, climate change and environmental destruction.

    Labor needs to show passion for any and all of these groups of possible supporters, if it has any chance in forming an alternative government with help from its friends in the Greens, the Progressive Parties and sane Independents.

    Labor would be wise to show the electorate that it is prepared to form such a formidable working alliance because it is good for Australia and Aussies to represent such a wide, proportionate and representative political front that would wipe out the LNP.

  2. diannaart

    The 2016 election is Labor’s best chance to give these voters an opportunity to properly reverse their mistakes and to get it right once and for all.

    All I want for Christmas 2016 is a government for all Australians.

  3. Michael Staindl

    Love your summary in second last para. But would emphasise climate action above all. If we don’t start acting on this with war-like speed and commitment little else is going to matter. Refugees will multiple a million fold, there will be water and food and habitable land wars, we’ll lost probably over half all species, work choices and super and education will be background considerations compared to a world economic collapse and mass suffering.

  4. David

    Great stuff Victoria, that’s the type of fighting talk I am waiting and waiting to hear from Labor MP’s. Not just the front bench, all of them unified, as they not only take their policies to the public and the election but attacking the Teflon coated show pony Turnbull, there is plenty of scope there, flip flops galore, weak approaches, obviously scared of upsetting the right faction who put him there, and ditto his entire front bench, what a rabble. I haven’t been blocked by dud Dutton yet, he obviously isn’t having tweets forwarded on to him by his minders.
    We can do our part by continuing the all out assault on the Torys on Social media, radio talk back. blogs, there is plenty of scope. I have been going hammer and tongs on Twitter and copping some flak in return, strangely not as much as I expected.
    I haven’t seen any polls for a couple of weeks, hope there has been a reversal in Shortys fortunes. Last I saw was for the dying WA Barnett shambles. Talk about staggering from week to week over here in the West.
    I have my sleeves rolled up, battle has commenced

  5. kerri

    I have many friends and aquaintances who voted for Abbott.
    Recently he came up in discussion with 5 of them. What an idiot. Completely unsuitable as PM etc etc etc.
    “Ah yes!” I boldly interjected, “But you did vote for hi didn’t you?”
    The reply floors me to this day!
    “No I didn’t! I voted for my local member!”
    Accepting Turnbull’s hypocrisy goes with this type of voter.

  6. Backyard Bob

    Note for future reference: Victoria takes the view that electors vote for the Prime Minister. Check.

  7. Alison White

    Ahhhh, Bob – me old mate – Victoria referenced the experience PM Gillard had – apparently ‘people’ were angrey that ‘they’ had not chosen her. Your smug insinuated point, whatever it may be attempting to be, is rubbish.

  8. Backyard Bob

    She said it, not me. It’s not an insinuation.

  9. Paul Murchie

    Victoria Rollison ( :

    Post-Purchase Dissonance (or the LIES by which we tell ourselves and those who point out the stupidity of our decisions that the decisions that we made were “not our fault” or “not the ones that we made” or that they “weren’t as bad as all that”) is a nice simple formula which People would do well to keep in mind BEFORE making Important Decisions (e.g. the responsible Governance of the Country for the next however long): how am i going to justify this if it turns out to be an Error of Judgement, a Mistake, the Result of (willingly) being Deceived ?

    in the Nietzschean sense of people preferring to be deceived as long as they don’t have to accept responsibility for being duped – responsibility is not the province of sheep ! nor is it the capability of fawning, flattering, psychophantic politicians who worship and serve the Mammonitic 1%.

    “The 2016 election is Labor’s best chance to give these voters an opportunity to properly reverse their mistakes and to get it right once and for all.”

    we should at this point be stuffing our ears with bees’ wax ! the sirens of the other side of the Duopolistic Con-Job are luring us toward the rocks ! 2013 : in an orchestrated coup, Rudd was inserted and deposed, MSM “elected” the IPA’s EPO-GIMP (weeks before the election) and the country suffers the consequences. but during the two and a half years of corporate-despotic STUPIDITY (the current Turkey-Necked-Narcissist, Moderate-Nazi-Regime included), the ALP actively participated in the programatic destructions of the IPA-DEATH-CORP-LNP ! although they appear to be trying to give the impression that NOW they’re “waking up”, the ALP have been and still are in complicit, criminal collusion with the “other side”. do i really need to count the ways ?

    the LNP-ALP COALescence duopoly is a NeoConian, Thatcheritic, Total Hyper-Capital BIOCIDAL ZOMBIE MACHINE !

    bon courage, IDIOTS ! if you want to DECEIVE YOURSELVES some more !



  10. randalstella

    I assume you are referring to swinging voters.
    I don’t know how you assume that these Abbott voters felt any guilt
    If they generally did not – where’s the theory? Or is it surmise?

    Why would they care that children born in Aust, are being sent to ‘the concentration camp on Nauru’?
    I know Labor members who don’t care too much about that; maybe even support it. Some of them visit here.
    And if this is such a vital issue, why did Labor vote for it?

  11. Jaq

    Paul Murchie I’m with you…but, where to from here?

  12. John Hermann

    Victoria, you are crediting the average voter with too much intelligence. The sad truth is that the average person in the street doesn’t have a clue about how the system actually works, or about the forces which are manipulating and moulding his/her life.

  13. urbanwronski

    Great summary, Victoria as well as some timely and provocative stuff about post-purchase dissonance. My father liked the phrase ‘buyer’s remorse’.

    Turnbull’s capitulation to the right to gain power has not helped him run the Liberal government. Every day reveals that he lacks the authority and respect amongst his own colleagues to command their support – even if he did get around to making a policy decision. In this sense, he is even more of a liabiity than Tony Abbott.

    His back-benchers are revolting – truly – while the Monkey Pod push amuse themselves by pulling his strings.

    Plus he’s got his Michelle Guthrie in charge of the ABC – and my hasn’t that helped the nation relax its critical faculties?

    Be careful what you wish for indeed!

  14. Douglas Pye

    Indeed Victoria … all valid points, and well scripted … thank you. Coming from a lifetime in Marketing … I resonate with the phrase ” Urbanwronski” used …. and would comment that ‘buyers remorse’ comes in spades when that person has been utterly Lied to! … in the marketing arena there’s actions available to the purchaser to seek redress!! …. food for thought.

    I would never have employed a lawyer or a banker to ‘ market ‘ for me ( scruples ?) …. and of course, the opportunity was never presented … 🙂 … many become Politicians & and earning much more than I could ever have offered…. without any scruples / remorse obligation!

  15. Backyard Bob

    Australian born babies are being sent to a concentration camp on Nauru.

    I’m sorry, no-one from the Labor Party gets to try and make any mileage from this. No-one.

  16. Paul Murchie

    Jaq ( :

    where to from here ?

    there’s no simple, one-shot solution, but if the People agree that the Coalescence is decrepit and THEREFORE CORRUPT, that is the place to start ! if Democracy continues to be shunted between and polarised by the the duopoly to its and the country’s detriment, it can’t go on as Democracy; it’s by now almost anything but !

    if the People can DISENGAGE from their traditional, conditioned Left/Right “Party” Identitarian and Faciality-Celebrity Allegiances: it’s time for the Voting Public to become A-Political, to become Responsible and Appropriately Informed about the State of the Biosphere, the Possibilities for Sustainable Futures, Alternative approaches to Life in this Country, to Economy and Prosperity and Health …

    it’s not difficult to become A-Political at Election Time : simply disregard the Duopoly Bollocks ! then what ? well, since we can’t exactly all stand for election, the People need to focus on finding a Centrist Policy Platform with a Party which is dedicated to implementing it. can you see where this is going ? the (New) Responsible People can’t turn back and there’s really no point treading water until we’re all drowned by the Corporate Totalitariat Machine of Planetary Destruction (as amalgamated in the LNP-ALP Coalescence).

    so, disinfected of Cold War Left/Right Hangovers, informed as to where we stand and what can be done and where we want to be, there has to be some Centrist Party for whom we can vote ! there have to be numerous Independents (not Clive or Lambie or Leyonhjelm or Xenophon TYPES who are (potentially if not actually self-interested) Zombies of Convenience with next to no Policy Platform and always questionable allegiances – who knows when they will “turn” or back some blathering NeoCon STUPIDITY ?).

    Independents of Integrity and Nous and Fortitude and Vision – yes that is asking a lot from a mere Human Being.and if they’re “in politics” without Centrist Democratic Ideas, there’s already something seriously WRONG WITH THEM and there’s no point in swapping the Family Cow for Dodgy GMO BEANS !

    are you still with me ? ( :




  17. MichaelW

    Dead right (excuse pun). Same policies just a smoother talking PM. Absolutely nothing has changed under the worst government in Australia’s history.

  18. Trish Corry

    I absolutely love the second last paragraph. Excellent work as always.

  19. paul walter

    He’s actually worse than Abbott. He knows better and isn’t belled the way Abbott was. He is rational, not a deranged noise-machine. Abbott was daft, but arguably, Turnbull is evil.

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Paul Murchie,

    speaks sense. Study the sane Independents. I name Wilkie, Muir and Lazarus as three great examples of decent and thinking politicians.

    Also, don’t forget the uprising of the Progressive Parties under the umbrella of the Alliance for Progress.

    These suggestions take the pain out of who to choose. Ditch the useless major parties.

  21. Mercurial

    Hi Victoria – good article.

    I think your dissonance angle is very valid. Voters will rationalise that they didn’t like Abbott anyway, so Turnbull’s usurpation is valid. Gillard, however, replaced a popular leader, so the process there was somehow not valid, and because she didn’t secure a majority in the House, her government was therefore ‘illegitimate’. Both arguments are wrong.

    So now those actions are all viewed through the prism of electoral popularity, completely ignoring the established ways political parties elect leaders. Neither party should need to take electoral popularity into account, it should be entirely up to the party how its leaders are chosen. But that’s the way voters think, unfortunately.

    Just two errors – the election was in 2013, not 2014. And the word is ‘publicly’ (although I understand ‘publically’ is somehow gaining popularity – even though there is now word ‘publical’ with which the normal -ly ending would fit).

  22. Paul Murchie

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith ( : cheers ! i didn’t hear of Alliance for Progress before you mentioned it ! do you have an impression on TLCP ? i’m now GREEN, but there will be those that won’t be, so … anything that will reduce, limit, remove the dominance of the duopoly (sensibly and with a view to Democratic Renewal along Centrist Lines and the ACTUAL GOOD of the People and Country and Planet) is alright by me ( : #TearUpTheTPP

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Paul Murchie,

    I have only recently become aware of The Labour Coalition Party but my impression is that TLCP wants what we want, and that is a strong political force that can be clearly differentiated from the LNP Degenerates.

    Like me, they seem to be disgusted by Labor’s subservience to neo-conservative politics and economic rationalism, which to me is identified in Labor’s willingness to fight the LNP in the race to the bottom on compassionate issues like too long ignoring the suffering of asylum seekers and the disillusionment of people languishing in poverty on welfare.

    I re-watched ‘Steven Hail’s presentation on modern money and the “budget emergency”‘ this afternoon, so I could expand my understanding of the Modern Monetary Theory and was pleased to hear the learned people that are all connected to this progressive interpretation of economic activity, such as Joseph Stiglitz. It apparently was presented by The Greens, Mayo Branch in South Australia. Again it is the Greens, who stand up and be counted when presenting progressive ideas!

    If Labor can be persuaded to abandon its arm wrestle with the LNP Degenerates as to who can win the charms of Big Biz and bogans, then Labor would do well to advocate MMT, as a progressive way forward for innovative and positive economic development that will help all of us and make Australia strong.

    This would also be a way to annihilate that TPP abomination because our economic activity under MMT will encourage industry growth, job creation, sustainable economic growth, which is not at the expense of the ever-threatened environment, and Australian workers’ rights and access to diverse employment opportunities.

  24. Colin Gradolf

    Hang the Parliament; Elect Decent Independents; Abolish the TPP

  25. Katrina Logan

    The LNP will probably win with an increased majority .
    If you visit all the right sites they are 100% onside with the LNP and Turnbull .
    Now how many of you on here are voting Labor?
    I rest my case.
    And don’t even dream of Alliances, Greens, Independents because that won’t happen
    I hope Malcolm decorated the Lodge to his liking for a long term stay

  26. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes, yes Katrina Logan,

    what is more important is that whoever speaks against the LNP will NOT be voting LNP.

    NOT looking good for LNP!

  27. Katrina Logan

    Yeah, Yeah,
    Not too many speaking for the Labor party though is there?
    They are the only hope of beating them, so I feel Malcolm must be feeling secure.
    It seems, is you read the comments, more effort goes into rubbishing Labor than Fighting Malcolms Liberals.
    Even in your wildest dreams you wouldn’t imagine the Greens or Independents forming a Government do you?

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    how can anyone believe your words since you represent the ALA.

    Naughty you, for trying to shift the focus from the LNP Degenerates with your half-baked neo-conservative pretend alternatives in ALA.

    Naughty, naughty.

  29. Katrina Logan

    you really do have trouble digesting information don’t you?
    In our last conversation I told you I would be voting Labor in the H.O.R and ALA in the Senate .
    My membership to the ALP went in last Friday .
    What is your take on the outcome of the coming Election then?
    Truthfully, not wishful thinking

  30. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Katrina, congrats for getting to the bottom line of who will win the Election in HoR.

    I think reactionaries like YOU have seriously harmed Malcoim’s chances of heading anything.

    Forget Abbott for we all know he is a self-interested narcissist that brown-noses to a foreigner. NOT good material for a PM!

    The Senate will be won by balanced community power that represents true proportional voices and interests.

  31. Katrina Logan

    “I think reactionaries like YOU have seriously harmed Malcoim’s chances of heading anything.”
    I accept the compliment, thank you .
    Now, all we need is people like you to stop waffling and make as much effort

  32. Jaq

    I’m with you Paul and Jennifer…

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