Democracy Inaction: Election 2016

The nation flips a coin; it lands on its side. Again.

For fuck's sake, Australia.
For fuck’s sake, Australia.
The election results this year gave me absolutely nothing to be happy about. It’s a mess, a bloody disaster. Nobody wins from the results. Nobody.

I’m on the left. A big, old fashioned agitprop socialist troublemaker. A latte-sipping urban sophisticate who thinks he knows better than everyone else. Chardonnay socialist. Unreconstructed Whitlamite. Just so you know on what side my bread is buttered.

I just want effective, stable government, and I want that government to succeed – because if the government succeeds, the nation succeeds. And I want the nation to succeed, because I live here. But whatever the result over the next few days, we won’t get that either way. We’re screwed until another election is held, and if that happens we may have a sack of woodchips elected as PM, based on how things went on Saturday.

The sole thing that made me even remotely happy was the fact that the truly horrible Sophie Mirabella didn’t get re-elected in Indi. Aside from that? Nothing much to crow about. (Actually, several friends of mine have a mutual friend in Perth named Madeleine King, the newly minted ALP federal member for Brand; so that’s something.)

I liked the fact that the Greens candidate for (my seat) Batman, Alex Bhathal got herself a 9% swing away from Labor’s David Feeney. She got within 1½ % of a victory after preferences and five tilts at this windmill. But sadly, David Feeney, an unrepresentative, lying idiot, a canned ham in a cheap suit, who lives outside the electorate and barely visited it lo these past three years, will probably retain the seat. So you can be as dumb as a box of hammers, a liar, a hypocrite, not live in the area, and still get voted in. Pffffft.

The great white knight that was Malcolm Turnbull, who could have gone to an election in November of last year, made the most of his good will and 50-plus-percentage-point-lead status as preferred PM, consolidated the coalition’s majority in the House of Reps and lead with a solid mandate for his progressive brand of liberalism. But no, he waited, and stalled, and ran a stupidly long campaign and basically sat back with his ‘to the manner born’ smug face and just expected to get re-elected. Then he threw a tantrum on national TV when it didn’t go his way.

Bill Shorten and Labor? Well, good for them. They were destined for generational oblivion after the 2013 election, and I wagered they’d claw back nine out of 20 seats after a solidly run election campaign*. But even if they did get their numbers up, their primary vote was still dismal. Dismal.

*An effective election campaign, but not one you’d ever be proud of. That whole Mediscare thing – are we just making shit up now? Is this the new normal? A mate of mine pointed out in the pub the night before by saying ‘Why would you want to privatise something whose sole function is to give money away?’ Which is a fine point; that’s not a good business model. The Shark Tank people wouldn’t fund it. I don’t have a problem with the idea of privatising the payments system; you outsource the administration of it to cut costs. Makes some sense, I guess. But Labor won three seats in northern Tasmania, the home of Australia’s oldest, sickest people, who were afraid that Medicare was going to be sold off and killed. And it was a lie. Which really pisses me off, because there’s about 23,000 reasons to not vote for the Coalition, and Labor just made one up for no fucking reason.

And you’d think they’d have learnt their lesson after 2010. But noooooooooooooo, we don’t learn lessons in the ALP. On election night, the ABC crossed to Tanya Plibersek’s Sydney electorate, and Leigh Sales (who was high, as far as I could tell) asked her if Bill Shorten’s job was safe. She didn’t quite answer it, saying she’d rather celebrate the night. Then Nine did the same thing, Lisa Wilkinson asking the same question. ‘We’re just celebrating the results tonight,’ she offered in reply. Seven does the same thing, and Plibersek is responding, incredulously, ‘I can’t believe you’re asking me this!’

I couldn’t believe she didn’t just say ‘Yes’. And I was thinking long and hard about it the next day before drowning my sorrows with yum cha. And it dawned on me – the speculation about the results for the weeks leading up to the poll were that if Shorten led the ALP to regain more than 10 seats, that would be a Pyrrhic victory of sorts, and he’d be fine. Less than that, and he was toast. Depending on who you ask, they may have been heading for no more than five seats. And who’s next in line if he fails? His deputy, Tanya Plibersek. And with nothing determined on election night, she was hedging her bets. She was all but disappointed that they didn’t lose bigger, because she had her eyes on the corner office. Who looks at an almost-narrow-victory, and sees it as a loss, solely for personal reasons? Your Australian Labor Party, that’s who.

Now, even if Labor forms government, somehow, and Shorten is PM, I wouldn’t put it past Plibersek, or Albanese to be loitering in the wings ready to mount a challenge at any given point. It’s like the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd thing never happened. It’s like nobody remembers or learns anything.

The Coalition’s no better. The results aren’t even in and the hard right scumbags in that party want to bring back Tony Abbott, forgetting the fact that’s he was a disaster as a PM (read Niki Savva’s The Road to Ruin – the man’s basically a eunuch). Who else? Asbestos Julie? Why ever not.

Every time Australia gets a new PM is a good reminder for us all to check our smoke alarms.

Then there’s the fact that Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson are going to be in the Senate, alongside God knows who else among the Jacquie Lambies and David Leyonhjelms of the world, because apparently the nation has gone insane.

Just. Stone. Cold. Fuck. Nuts.

It’s a shite state of affairs, from top to toe. It’s a carbon copy repeat of what happened in 2010, which ended in a maddening, ridiculous series of events, which begat the Abbott government, which led us to this point now. Nobody has come away from this unscathed.

In the meantime, the rest of us just go back to work, knowing fully well that every party, big or small, in every branch of government is leaking idiots.

I’m a political junkie, but after Saturday night, I think it’s time to go cold turkey.

4 responses on “Democracy Inaction: Election 2016

  1. Peter

    Just proves they fail to listen to the electorate. Most importantly they fail to represent the electorate. The electorate has spoken in this election. Get it right or get stuffed

  2. Diana

    It is a rare event when I agree with you on matters political but on this occasion you are so on the money. Very well written Matt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *