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Fadden. Good Result For Dutton; Great Result For Labor

There have been quite a few articles about the Fadden by-election telling people: “The Honeymoon Is Over For Labor”. Actually there have been a number of pieces written speculating about how the honeymoon is over for about ten months now.

Ok, people, one does have to stick with this analogy and ask: If the honeymoon is over, how’s the marriage looking?

There seems to be an assumption that once the honeymoon is over then couples are ready for a divorce, not that they’re ready for the more realistic relationship that makes a successful marriage and…

Yeah, you’re right. Your relationship with your government isn’t really a marriage and it isn’t really a honeymoon. Why writers keep using the same tired metaphors is anyone’s guess. It’s sort of like when government is compared to a household budget. Or a business.

Don’t get me wrong. Comparisons are fine for helping people understand a difficult concept, but they’re also flawed and the fact that you’ve needed to simplify something ultimately means that your comparison is rather like a model of an aircraft. It may look like the real thing. It may even fly. But don’t jump on it and expect to make it to New York.

So when it comes to Fadden, we’re being asked to choose between the spin of Labor’s “nothing to see here” and the Liberals “this is the beginning of our successful 2025 election campaign.” In truth, neither view is completely accurate but let’s look at each a bit more closely.

First the Liberals are asking us to believe that this is a great result because it’s no worse than it was at the previous election. In fact, it’s a little better. And this is all due to people being upset about the cost of living, the Voice and Federal Labor not dealing the state issue of crime in the streets of the Gold Coast. I don’t actually know what the crime rate is in the electorate of Fadden but it must be high because it was apparently a concern. Perhaps they were including white collar crime and people understating their income for tax purposes…

As a little aside here, how many of you read that wonderful article about Fiona uh“Not Your Typical Landlord” Martin in the Nine papers? It was a strange article because it was trying to suggest that most landlords weren’t rich fat cats with multiple properties at the same time as saying that the focus of the article wasn’t that either, so in one sense she was your typical landlord. It conveniently overlooked her role on a landlord advocacy group but, hey, you can’t cover everything in one article.

The article also pointed to the fact that many, many landlords had very low incomes. Some of their incomes were below the poverty line which would make you wonder how they got the money to buy an investment property unless you stop to think about the fact that negative gearing is designed to reduce your taxable income and enable you to pay as little tax as possible. The article didn’t say, for example, Thaddeus McGillicuddy only has a taxable income of $200 after paying interest on his 93 investment properties.

Of course, it’s a good result for the Liberals in the sense that it’s the first time that it hasn’t been a bad result. To borrow an analogy (flawed I know), this is like a tennis player who’s lost the first two sets and down four games to love in the second, holding serve. It’s a good result but if they lost serve here, their chances would be almost zero, instead of slightly better than almost zero. Whatever, it’s a good result for Dutton because it means that Sussan won’t have the numbers and Sussan is very concerned with numbers. As you’re aware, numerology is why she put the extra “S” in her name, so she’s not going to challenge unless she finds a way to put an extra few MPs in her suppporerss.

However, Labor shouldn’t take things for granted that just because the by-election didn’t produce a significant swing against them that there’s nothing to learn here. Saying it doesn’t matter and we’re getting on with the job might start to sound a bit arrogant if they say that about the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. It’s good to say, “We’ve heard the message” occasionally particularly if you don’t say what the message you heard was. That makes it sound like you’re listening even if you’re not.

The great thing for Labor is that the by-election ensures that Peter Dutton keeps the leadership. While there have been a large number of unelectable leaders elected in the past ten years and a number of surprise results in elections, Dutton has one thing going against him that most of the others didn’t. His inability to maintain a populist line.

While others have run an appeal to the hip pocket or the out of touch politicians, Dutton has taken the Coalition on a roller-coaster, demanding that the budget be in surplus, then when it was, arguing that they’d have had a bigger surplus, and now that it’s bigger, it’s too big and it’s all because Labor are taxing too much. Of course, this overlooks the fact that the surplus potentially allows Labor to announce either popular initiatives – which Dutton will attack – or tax cuts for those under $100k a year – which Dutton will say we can’t afford and that they’ll be inflationary, even though it’s probable that inflation will be lower and the concern will be a possible (or actual) recession.

While opinion polls have been wrong in the past, if you take the average of the reputable ones, you’ll find that there have been very few results that were outside the margin of error. Usually it’s been the interpretation of the polls that has been the problem. For example, the fact that Trump was only given a small chance of winning in 2016 led people to interpret that as no chance. Similarly, Labor was regarded as a certainty in 2019. However, if you look at the current polling, Dutton has a long way to go to get his approval rating above fifty per cent.

And that’s just in the Liberal party room.


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  1. TwainandHume

    Impressive summation.

  2. Terence Mills

    Hey, man don’t forget that the Legalise Cannabis Australia party got 6,147 votes, outpolling the Greens and on the heels of One nation.

    That’s one hell of a crazy electorate – pass the spliff man.

  3. Sully of Tuross Head

    If I had a dollar for every time- I read or heard a Murdoch propagandist claim the “honeymoon is over” I would be a very rich man.
    Yesterday, I would have been much richer, as the Australian web page headlines were full of it.
    I never buy any Murdoch product, but the headlines on the website always tell their stories.

  4. Harry Lime

    Sully, once upon a time I might have let the dog shit on the Oz,If I tried it now,I’d get a chomp on the arse.(Yes, even the dog is politically savvy….good dog.)

  5. GL

    Opposition says Albanese should take responsibility for Games cancellation”

    Er, it’s a state decision…oh wait…silly me I keep forgetting that brains are well and truly optional with the federal wing of the LNP.

    If the LNP was ruining…running…Victoria it’s no worries throwing untold billions at a bloody sporting event. “Big deal,” they would say. “We’ll cut the shit out of far more important services to cover the costs and hit up the federal government for any inevitable shortfall and/or overruns. Victorians would understand.”

  6. New England Cocky

    I look forward to Sus$san LeyZee becoming the first lady Leader of His Majestys Loyal after the passing ofLife Appointed Boofhead Duddo. She may even get his Life Appointment with any luck.

  7. Cool Pete

    Aston and Fadden were chalk and cheese. Yes, in both seats, Labor had the same candidates in 2022 and 2023, but Tudge’s margin was much lower, and there was voter anger. Credlin’s preposterous “analysis” of it was based around the grassroots of the Liberal Party, not the voters of Aston. If we compare it to 1998, Kim Beazley’s declaration that the Labor Party was back was based around two factors. One, yes, Labor scored a higher proportion of votes, but the Liberals won more seats. And two, that was on the general result of a general election, not a single seat!
    Stuart Robert held the seat with an margin of greater than 10%, so it was a big ask. The demographic of Fadden is also different.
    You have said that some unelectable leaders have been elected, and Tone the Botty is a classic example. Tone the Botty made John Howard look like a saint, and the fact that the electorate was stupid enough to not be able to see through the bullshit scare campaign of the “carbon tax” validates Winston Churchill! Anthony Albanese not knowing the exact figure of something that is elastic cannot be compared with the idiocy of not knowing that the country north of the USA is Canada not Canadia, the difference between a rectally-inserted medication and a place to store something and that knighting a prince is as preposterous as it is.
    There are only two things that Potty Boy has done that I believe deserve respect, and they are, intervening to stop the deportation of a Bangladeshi-born doctor with an Autistic daughter, and despite personally voting no to marriage equality, saying that he would vote yes, if his electorate did. Tone the Botty made himself the face of the no campaign and looked like a bloody fool when most of his electorate voted YES and he, after all the stalling tactics failed, abstained from voting. And, for a voter with a long memory, his handling of the RU-486 debate should have made him less electable than fresh dog shit!

  8. Phil Pryor

    The Liberal party, (hah) a wrongly named farce there.., contains skinfuls of human looking dollops of dung and some are to face preselection problems.., good. Dutton, LLLEEEYYY, Angus Bumrot, The Queensland Quota of Queer Queazes and Qunts, nearly ALL, should be OUSTED for IDIOCY and Incontinence of the ID. These backward hypocrites STINK.

  9. go nads

    Swollen Pickles (YouTube) has a great breakdown of the results, results that have basically been the same for close to a decade. Fadden has always been a Lib safe seat so no biggie on the results. Yes, the Greens lost seats to other parties but the % shift away from the Libs is basically the same result as last year in total. So is it good news for Dutton sort of, is it good news for Labor sort of.

  10. Bruce

    Re Games cancellation: It’d have been smarter to not call the Games and I suspect the promise of the Games was more to do with boosting public confidence post-lockdowns and prepping for the election that followed. Victoria is not separate from Aust. There was heavy involvement from the Federal level from the get go. VIC claims a cost blowout of $4.5B+ is the cause of cancellation and Federal Labor does nothing. The Federal govt underwrites a good portion of the costs so is partially responsible. Why then didn’t the Fed govt step in with an extra $5B or whatever? Do they have no power to make changes without authorization from their puppet masters?
    Labor & Libs are happy to go ahead with Stage 3 tax cuts worth some $250B but can’t fund an extra $5B to keep the Com Games in tact. Who gains from Stage 3 tax cuts? Is it everyday workers or highly paid Labor & Liberal politicians, high level media personalities, the upper level of the Games admin, etc? The cancelling of the Games is a perfect example of hypocrisy. Follow the money. The ‘leaders’ don’t want a more vibrant economy or a greater degree of fairness, they want ‘their’ tax cuts.

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