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Labor’s Epic Campaign in Longman: Social Market Solutions for the Future?

By Denis Bright

Australia needs a government with a clear plan for the future. Malcolm Turnbull has such a plan and he deserves another term to get on with the business of tackling debt and making Australia an economic powerhouse (from The Brisbane Sunday Mail Editorial 26 June 2016).

With similar endorsement from every major Australian newspaper, the federal LNP expected a huge mandate on 2 July 2016 at last Saturday’s double dissolution election. Such rhetoric is a return to the old market agenda as espoused by every centre-right political leader.

Far from addressing the concerns of individuals, families and communities, the mainstream print media seeks to become a political player in the formation of a more conservative Australian public opinion.

Even without the electoral mandate on 2 July, senior LNP figures still hope to achieve a slender majority in the House of Representatives by staying with Malcolm Turnbull’s Plan for Jobs and Growth through the drift of pre-poll and postal votes.

However, the projected two party national count slightly favoured the Labor Party in the last overall tally from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on election night with a 3.17 percent swing to the ALP on 50.03 per cent of the overall vote.

This result surpassed expectations of the swing to Labor in even the most favourable election eve polls by a 1-2 percent margin. In the potential new Labor heartland electorate of Longman, the final result more than surpasses these expectations.

1 The epic of Longman

At polling booths in marginal seats like Longman which straddles outer northern suburbs of Brisbane as well as bayside and rural areas near Caboolture, voters braved a field of eleven candidates for the House of Representatives.

Confusion might have triumphed without the calming leadership of Susan Lamb’s campaign team.

The last results from the AEC on election night offered the following tentative outcomes:

This 8.4 per cent swing to Labor after election night estimates of preference distributions, demonstrated the capacity of the local ALP campaign to revive its dormant support base after two terms of LNP representation since 2010.

Susan Lamb offered a textbook model of successful political renewal. Challenges came from both sides of the political spectrum.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party achieved almost 9 percent of the primary vote and the Family First Candidate could muster 3.4 per cent.

From the Centre-left, The Greens could mobilise 4.3 percent and the Drug Law Reform Party achieved almost 3 per cent.

Labor’s Susan Lamb could interact with the well funded campaign of the sitting member and assistant minister for technology Wyatt Roy with a well focused and existential appeal to the issues of concern across the electorate.

Such micro political communication agendas in Longman blended with Bill Shorten’s wider campaign focus.

Labor offered a more compassionate variety of social market capitalism that was highly relevant to the growing income divide in Australian society.

These positive political agendas contained no hint of the fear strategies which Malcolm Turnbull claimed to be the hallmark of Labor’s successful national campaign.

Voters in Longman were well aware of the financial pressures placed on local GPs to abandon bulk-billing due to the LNP’s freeze payments to both local clinics and specialists alike.

Private psychiatric clinics with an emphasis on stress related conditions have a very limited distribution in the Longman electorate with its current population of 105,000 voters. Financial incentives may be necessary to improve this situation in Longman where public hospital services strive to cope with demand from this community.

The tensions of both financial and health pressures in Longman were quite apparent when Bill Shorten came along to a town hall meeting at the Caboolture RSL Club on Saturday 25 June, just one week prior to polling.

Bill Shorten was quite empathetic towards the representatives of the Veterans’ Party (Queensland Senate Spot AJ) who attended this event. His responses offered a commitment to more mental health support for post-traumatic shock conditions but these specific initiatives were not just for veterans of Australia’s recent military engagements.

2 Bill Shorten’s strategic responses in Longman

In a very strategic response, Bill Shorten also noted that Labor was committed to more mental health initiatives for both veterans and for the wider population.

In a remarkable show of hands at the meeting, 70-75 per cent of attendees reported that suicide had been a health concern in their wider family and friends’ networks.

Responding to an inquiry from a constituent, a member of Susan Lamb’s campaign team spoke of an alleged threat by one job referral agency to cut off Centrelink benefits to a younger person who had experienced both physical and emotional trauma at a local workplace.

The campaign team member had offered advice about an essential psychiatric assessment to meet the demands being made by the job referral agency.

Ironically in the Longman campaign, advice was first sought from a major trade union to ease the pressure on a younger worker who lost a job after a workplace injury in order to prevent further trauma from the curtailment of Centrelink benefits.

Treasurer Scott Morrison noted in the LNP’s final costing estimates that a further two billion in social security cuts was in the pipeline.

This double dissolution election was called to achieve a mandate for LNP perceptions about excessive trade union power. No mention was made of the fear strategies being promoted in the mainstream press and from within the LNP itself.

In the weeks of political instability ahead, the Longman campaign model will become part of the positive folklore of the contemporary Labor movement.


Denis Bright is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback by using the Reply button on The AIMN site is always most appreciated. It can liven up discussion. I appreciate your little intrusions with comments and from other insiders at The AIMN. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Reply button.



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  1. Carol Taylor

    Indeed Denis, Turnbull was already boasting about his ‘mandate’ before the polling booths had even closed. I believe that Shorten made an excellent effort in addressing what many left wingers have been frustrated about for a number of years, the abandonment of Labor’s core support.

    I also believe that the narrowing in the polls as we got closer to the election was the response to the msm’s attempts to bolster Turnbull’s chances. The photos of Shorten became uglier, the ones of Turnbull became more flattering. The msm completely stopped asking Turnbull any difficult questions whatsoever and instead reverted to stupidity such as how Shorten was supposedly eating a pie….

  2. David1

    Encouraging from the AEC official site, ttheir last count at 1am this morninG had Labor with70 seats – LNP 68.As that count was available for Insiders before it went to air and all the morning talk shows……silence reigned!! The facade continues as the MSM refuses to see reality.
    It is now Labor 72 – LNP 66. Wonderful results from WA have picked up 4 seats now showing 5

    Take not my word as a hardened Labor man, here is the link to the AEC Official results


  3. Diane

    I have been keeping an eye on the ABC Vote Counter David, but many thanks for that link you have put up – I like it much better 🙂

  4. guest

    The plain fact is that Labor had Labor policies. The Coalition said they had a plan for “Jobs and Growth” but when it was teased out even a little bit, it was seen to have been launched on a wing and a prayer.

    In The Australian the main deadline said: “Turnbull clings to a narrow lead.” It sounded as if Turnbull was on the edge of a precipice.

    A subheading said: “Next Senate to thwart PM on tax cuts, ABCC”. Not a rosy prediction.

    Inside, the headline said:”Only one conviction after $46m union probe.” Not a great look for what was one of the triggers for the Double Dissolution.

    Further on, the deadline: “Nation urged to avoid ‘protest vote’ and deliver a solid majority.” The AMA had attacked Turnbull who said any price increase was the fault of doctors.

    Then:”Money trail leads to a coalition victory.” Yet to be seen, but it was a risky bet – a gamble which does not always yield results.

    Next: “Cuts ‘from day one’ facing delay.” More than 2.5m workers kept waiting for tax cuts from July 1.

    “Abbott tells backers ‘not to make things worse’ with protest vote.” Thank you, Tony, for even mentioning the idea.

    More gambling: “Malcolm bets the house on victory.”

    And at the letters page:”Coalition campaign failed to hit Labor where it hurts.”

    One would think that not even The Australian was entirely behind Turnbull, just as there is dissension in the ranks of the Coalition itself.

    Perhaps Turnbull would have been better off letting Abbott crash as PM in the election at a later date. But no, he just could not wait. What is more embarrassing for him? Stabbing Tony “we are not Labor” Abbott – or crashing badly in the election of his own devising?

  5. Catherine

    Labor’s positive policies resonated with the people of Longman. The candidate, with excellent support from the campaign team , was able to get the message across to the voters that she was aware of the needs of the people and would work to achieve the best outcomes for them.
    For the Coalition to be constantly speaking of ‘Jobs and Growth’ at the same time as decimating the car industry and other manufacturing and not providing the adequate funding for health and education made people realize that they do not have their best interests at heart.

  6. Theresa

    Labor has exceeded expectations in Longman and across the board. A great campaign by Labor in Longman.

  7. Paul

    Great result for Labor. A much stronger campaign. They never gave up right to the end.

    Congratulations to the hardworking team in Longman.

    Exciting times ahead for the new parliament whatever that ultimately looks like.

    It’s such a shame to see Pauline Hanson back in the senate.

  8. Lalnama

    Great effort by Labour & Bill Shorten to bring home a possible Labour Government.
    The LNP are just not listening to people & think continuing to ignore the concerns of everyday people just doesn’t matter, well it does.
    Great campaign by Labour & all those volunteers making all those hundreds of phone calls in the electorates to explain Labours message.
    LNP is in tatters &’only have themselves to blame
    Thanks for a great article Denis

  9. The Radical Centre

    Bill Shorten has achieved a lot in reforming Labor’s policies and campaign strategies.

    The high vote for minor right wing parties in a challenge to mainstream politics.

    In the electorate of Capricornia, the fate of the sitting LNP member and Leisa Neaton (ALP) is dependent on more than 20 per cent of the electorate who voted for minor parties.

    Labor must work hard at renewal if Central Queensland is to become a Labor stronghold again.

    Thanks Denis for explaining how Susan Lamb has restored the outreach of the Labor Party. She is already an icon!

  10. Renewal Yes

    Susan Lamb is successful helping to redefine the relevance of the ALP for the hard-pressed families of Caboolture. This message of home is easily transferable to regional electorates like Dawson, Leichhardt and Hinkler in Queesland.

  11. Patricia

    It’s a shame that there can’t be more diversity in print media – I too noticed the lack of balance of reporting in the lead up to the election – with an obvious swing against Labor.
    The people in the Longman electorate voted for the party who listened to and addressed their needs and concerns with concrete sustainable solutions – a very positive result!

  12. Coast@Robertson (Gosford)

    Labor’s message in Page and Robertson was drowned out by the Greens who offered an ideological distraction to Bill Shorten’s emphasis on living standards and protection of Medicare. The failure to win these seats was a real disappointment. Susan Lamb certainly controlled this electoral static in Longman. Great result and fine reporting, Denis. Nice of Bill Shorten to thank the voters of Longman today.

  13. brisbanej

    Well done Susan Lamb. Keep on message. Thanks to Bill Shorten for his visit yesterday at Morayfield. Wish I had been there too. Great reporting about the 2016 Campaign Denis.

  14. Coast@Robertson (Gosford)

    On a grey day in Sydney, our Malcolm has claimed victory. Worse still the Member for Capricornia claims to be a political progressive and wants to borrow policies from her rivals. Let’s watch the way Michelle Landry votes! Straight National! Let’s commence by saving $160 million on the marriage equality plebiscite Michelle. That will do wonders for the homeless people of your electorate.

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