Let me begin by saying that not only has Roger Federer never beaten me at tennis, but Tiger Woods has never won a round of golf against me.
Ok, I suspect the main reason for that is because they’ve never competed against me, but if they did they’d probably win… But they’d only win by the fact that the rules benefit them by allowing them to use their superior skill.
Sort of like the unfair way Labor won on preferences in Eden-Monaro… Or the shifty way that Julia Gillard was allowed to govern in 2010 by forming a coalition with the Independents and Greens. As Tony Abbott suggested at the time, that just wasn’t fair because only the Liberals and Nationals are allowed do that. Why they even call themselves the Coalition so it’s really not fair when someone else does it.
Of course the point I’m making about Federer’s lack of success against me is simple: It’s really not something that tells you anything about a likely result in the future. Sometimes history can help you predict what’s likely to happen; other times history is irrelevant. The fact that no federal government has won a seat from the Opposition in over a hundred years is not a statistic that makes it impossible. Before we conclude that it’s all uphill for a government we need to look at some simple facts about by-elections and why it’s unlikely for a government to win a seat held by the Opposition.
- For a start, the seat was previously held by the Opposition. This means that sometimes it would be a blue ribbon seat that wasn’t marginal and therefore unlikely to be lost.
- Secondly, governments sometimes don’t bother to field candidates in by-elections because there’s very little upside and it can look bad when there’s a massive swing against them.
- By-elections aren’t likely to cause a change of government so people often feel free to vote for the Opposition candidate just to keep the government on its toes. By-elections are even less likely to cause a change of government when you vote for the status quo.
- While the government can pork-barrel in general elections, when they do it in by-elections, it’s more likely to be met with cynicism. “If you really think we deserve gold-plated public toilets on every street corner, why didn’t you do it before the local MP resigned?”
So while last week various journalists were telling us that Eden-Monaro would be a tight contest, now the same journalists seem to be suggesting that it was probably a waste of time that the Liberals even bothered to field a candidate when history was taken into account. It’s amazing, apparently, that it was a close contest and that’s thanks to the popularity of Scott Morrison, while Labor winning a marginal seat on preferences is just a reflection of Albanese’s lack of cut-through and surely there needs to be leadership speculation because we need to talk about what Labor are up to because they’ve been in power for six of the previous twenty-four years and they may one day actually be contesting an election which they can’t win because we’ve been telling you for years that their leader is “unpopular”…
I know I’ve said this before, but the question on the opinion polls is never “Do you like Leader X?” It’s not even: “Would you like to share the Big Brother house with Leader X?” And it’s certainly not: “Do you regard Leader X as a potential romantic partner or friend?”
The question is always about whether you approve of the job they’re doing or whether you think that they’re better than other alternatives. In the case of the latter, asking someone whether they’d prefer to eat Brussel sprouts covered with cow dung or being forced to listen to all the speeches of Pauline Hanson non-stop for twelve hours, it does not mean that cow dung Brussel sprouts are actually popular and I wouldn’t suggest using the dish as an audition for Masterchef.
In 2013, I’m sure that many Labor voters wanted Albanese instead of Shorten as leader because of Shorten’s role in the removal of Rudd and then Gillard. And yes, they probably also thought he’d do a better job. However, I suspect that if you asked a bunch of Labor members now whether they found Albo more likeable than Shorten, followed by do you think he’s doing a better job as Opposition Leader, the answers would not be the same for each question.
Morrison’s “popularity” is people saying that they think he’s done a reasonable job with the Covid-19 response. It doesn’t mean that they’ll forgive him the next time he decides to do something like go on holiday during a national emergency. And it’s not the sort of popularity which will necessarily translate into votes.
Why did so many people in Eden-Monaro vote Liberal then? Well, there’s a number who believe that the Labor Party is the work of the devil and it would be better for all concerned if we did away with these silly elections and just declared the Liberals the rightful party of government. Undoubtedly some others may have thought that the Liberals are the government so the best way to get assistance is to elect a government MP. And, of course, a number of the electorate are connected with Defence and may have only voted Labor because Mike Kelly was their sort of guy. When you take all that into consideration, getting less than forty percent of the primary votes isn’t actually great news for them either.
Finally, I’d like to say farewell to Mathias Cormann. Not just him of course, but he’s a least doing the decent thing and deserting the ship. His steady hand on the Finance ministry has helped get Australia where it is today. Yes, I know that we’re about to slide into recession but, according to Nine media, the economy will bounce back. Ok, not in terms of jobs or wages, but that economy thing which I would have thought included jobs and wages but no, in keeping with the austerity theme, it’s only growth these days – jobs is being cut from the slogan.
Apparently the Liberals have a five-year plan to restore things, which given the fact they’ve been in power for seven years does seem a little late. “Yes, we’re into the ninth year of our five year plan!” seems a little bit like the Carlton Football Club which coincidently has had quite a few Liberals as members so perhaps they’ve picked up something.
However, it’s good to have a five-year plan because that means that when they go to the next election, they can say that we’re completely on track because we didn’t expect things to be fixed until after the election when we’ll be BACK IN BLACK and there’ll be two chickens for every pot and nobody need go without toilet paper.
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