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The Last Liberal

November 25th, 2007

For once, my electoral predictions haven’t turned out too badly, so I’ll offer one more before we get back to policy: The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

The obvious option is a merger, but there may be other, more radical realignments in the wings. With no incumbent governments, there’s no real obstacle to a merger, except for entrenched interests in the party machines. But, in many ways, it would be better for the conservatives to start a completely new party, leaving their toxic existing structures to collapse.

I’d welcome this. Governments need to be kept in check. That requires an effective opposition, and a serious prospect of losing office. We’re already feeling the lack of this at the state level.

Update Apparently, Peter Costello agrees.

Further update Some commenters have objected that this is too strong a call to make on the basis of one 53-47 election. But of course that’s only part of it. The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best. Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011, and that depends on the most dysfunctional party organisation in the country getting its act together.

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  1. BilB
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:02 | #1

    That would require a whole new pholosophy, JQ, and the only strong alterantive philosphies that I can see floating around out there are even more extreme than the libnats (we can give them lower case now) were.

  2. BilB
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:04 | #2

    An after thought, it is interesting that the nats have incresed their percentage within the remnant shell of the coalition. Maybe that could be the focus of a revival.

  3. alan
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:12 | #3

    I vaguely remember reading some months ago a comparison of the total number of coalition MPs in all parliaments in Australia on the day JWH became Prime Minister.

    Can someone dredge that out of their archives?

    The number has steadily dropped over the last 11-1/2 years and I guess it is now down by about 35% compared to 1996.

  4. Factory
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:15 | #4

    I was going to say that the nationals are not in all that bad shape (after all they didn’t loose as many seats on percentage as the liberals), then I checked out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Party_of_Australia
    which shows that the nationals have been on a slow decline since the 90’s.
    OTOH the nationals now have more power in the coalition, so they might be able to get a better deal if the parties did merge.
    OTOH the type of policies that the Nationals might want is prolly not what the wider electorate wants, which would make a merger less likely, and a split more likely.

  5. Spiros
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:35 | #5

    It’s possible the Liberals will fracture between their socially conservative and socially liberal wings but it is unlikely. The single electorate voting system is the glue that holds parties together. Now if Rudd introduced a proportional representation voting system, that would destroy the Liberals. Trouble is, the Labor Party would fracture too.

    The Liberals will be back one day. The wheel always turns in politics. Who would have thought after the Latham debacle three years ago that today would bw what it is? Who would have thought it after the Beazley stupor of 2005 and 2006?

    This said, the Liberals will be out of office for a long time. The evidence from the last time they were in opposition federally and their performance in the states currently is that if there’s one thing the Liberal parrty does really, really badly, it is opposition.

  6. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 09:54 | #6

    Every political party has its obituary written after virtually every electoral loss. Admittedly, having Brisbane lord Mayor Campbell Newman as the most powerful elected official in a major national party is pretty worrying.

    Nevertheless, I expect the Liberals to survive and probably be back in power in two or three terms.

    For the sake of speculation though, what are the likely alternatives?

    Other than the merger scenario, the other major possibility is that Labour continues its drift to the centre-right and marginalises the Liberals.

    Eventually that strategy will backfire and you’ll see the emergence of a new major left-wing party, probably based on the Greens at which point Labour will probably implode dramatically as its squeezed from both sides..

  7. rog
    November 25th, 2007 at 10:02 | #7

    I cant figure if the Greens are far left or far right; they tend to be ultra conservative.

    All the pundits are today drawing big pictures but the ALP win might all be down to Jackie Kelly, last minute polling saw massive shifts in ethnic seats after her escapade.

  8. conrad
    November 25th, 2007 at 10:46 | #8

    It will be interesting to see what changes occur, as looking at who is left, it seems like they are still stuck with the people who helped make them generally dislikeable, like Kevin Andrews, Peter Costello, Tony Abbott and Philip Ruddock. I wonder how they can get rid of them. Even their less dislikeable members like Malcom Turnbull are hardly going to be a great hit with younger voters.

  9. November 25th, 2007 at 11:15 | #9

    Thoughts on ‘the loss of Mal Brough’, anyone?

    I was particularly impressed with his concession speech, and the plea from both Brough and Howard that the intervention work started in the NT continue.

  10. Katz
    November 25th, 2007 at 11:16 | #10

    I’ve argued JQ’s line for some time.

    During WWII the UAP fractured and its rump lost connection with Australians’ aspirations and with the statist demands of total war.

    Menzies remade conservativism by accepting a large measure of Labor’s statism. He offered the property owning classes access to the benefits of statism while at the same time flattering their sense of independence and respectability. These were the bases of the Menzian consensus.

    Howard pulled a similar trick by identifying his “battlers” as a group who could be bribed and flattered away from their previous associations with the ALP.

    Menzies’ success was a symptom of the Bretton Woods system. He could subsidise and featherbed throughout his ascendency without immediate or short-term consequences. Therefore, tariffs could go up, interest rates could be pegged, business could live with a central wage-fixing regime and so could Menzies.

    In relative terms, post-Bretton Woods, the scope for successful bribery and featherbedding is much more limited. Howard took the Menzian road to the absolute limit. At the end of the road he found to be nigh absolute the contradictions between wage restraint, materialism, outsourced financial management and rising expectations.

    There is now little scope for a conservative party that bases its appeal to the voters on the Menzian consensus.

    Yet there will be nostaligics who will continue to seek to do just that. The will find themselves locked in mortal combat with the IPA-style libertarians for control of the Liberal Party.

    Neither side will be happy with this open breach. It is possible that one side or the other will move off to form a new party.

    This will be final comfirmation of the end of the Menzian consensus whose limits were discovered, to his enormous cost, by Howard.

  11. November 25th, 2007 at 11:20 | #11

    I tend to agree. Comparisons with previous occasions when one party or the other has been written off are not valid. The latest development is unprecedented because the Liberals have no forum anywhere to maintain the illusion of relevance.

    Oppositions in the past have always been able to gain some traction through their influence in the Senate and/or in state governments. Come next July, all these avenues will be denied to the Libs. Their situation federally will be like that of the Queensland Libs … they’ll get as much exposure as the media feels like giving them. Given the hyena-like preferences of the media, that attention is likely to be for all the wrong reasons over the next few years.

    I anticipate that the Libs will resort to ever more desperate gimmicks and tricks to try to get a bit of public attention … hopefully not to the extent of Peter Costello going around in speedos á lá Peter Debnam. Their main problem will be that the other serious opposition to Labor will be the Greens, with whom any kind of alliance is unthinkable.

    Rather than a new, effective opposition emerging any time soon, I think it’s more likely that Labor itself will begin to splinter. The supporters who have been clinging to the hope that Rudd-in-office will be a very different animal to Rudd-in-opposition may well become quite feral once they realise they’ve been dudded.

    A messier political scene in which people were more inclined to look at issues on their merits amidst a diversity of party opinions would be a welcome improvement compared to the GO MY TEAM footie game approach to politics that we have descended into over the last 20 years.

  12. November 25th, 2007 at 11:33 | #12

    mmm.. what most are not considering is that the Nats have always had much greater power than their numbers, this being true historically as well as in different levels of gov.

    As for the political reality in the medium to very short term, not much will change. In NSW the greenies have lost Kerry Nettle, which is a huge blow to their local capabilities, while the ACT “failed” to deliver the supposed early green senator. That kind of publicity was their huge hope, now totally gone.

    Even if (and these are huge “ifs”) the greenies manage to get something out of SA after Mister X, plus one senator between Vic or Qld, all this only strengthens FF and Mister X.

    Rudd, can easily pick and choose, between that weird mix and even count on a few deals with the Nats to get most things thru the senate. While the ALP will still blame all those above (and the Libs) for the few token things blocked by the new senate.

    The coalition as it existed is now totally gone. The good professor is almost right but the libs may just survive as a small “l” party if Turnbull and a few other can manage to reign in the nutcases: Downer, Abbott, et al.

    Otherwise the good professor might be spot on! 😉

  13. Peter Wood
    November 25th, 2007 at 11:35 | #13

    That is a very strong claim that the Liberal party will never again win the Federal election. I think it is more likely than not that the Liberals win win a Federal election some time in the future. The dominance of the Liberal party in NSW by wingnuts could seriously damage the party however.

    It seems likely that the Coalition will be able to block legislation in the senate. Unless the greens pick up the last senate spot in NSW, Vic or the ACT, the senate will probably be 37 libnats, 1 family first, 32 labour, 5 greens, and 1 Nick Xenophon.

    So there are chances of a double dissolution or of Barnaby Joyce voting with Labor in order for them to pass legislation. Neither of these possibilities look good for the libnats.

  14. November 25th, 2007 at 11:35 | #14

    12 months ago, people were saying the same about the Labor party!

  15. gordon
    November 25th, 2007 at 12:44 | #15

    In the short term, it may well be that Rudd and the Labor Right will be quite pleased about not having control of the Senate. That gives them an excuse to do nothing serious about Workchoices except some cosmetic “fairness” modifications which could be negotiated.

    More strategically, I would guess that Labor will move to the right in office, in order to head off an Opposition lurch to the right as predicted by BilB. We’ll be seeing a lot more libertarian and religious politicking as the Liberals/Nationals try to mount a resurgence based on redneck issues like class hatred, racism and sex (sex meaning things like gay marriage, abortion and foetal stem cell research – don’t forget sex sells). We’re going to get a Republican party, in other words.

    Meanwhile the economy will get more and more dependent on iron and coal as rural exports are decimated by global-warming-caused droughts and manufacturing continues to decline. The Nationals’ constituency will fade away, and the Liberals will become more and more the representatives of foreign-owned mining companies, a role they already have largely taken over. Labor will find itself with no option but to compete with the Liberals for miners’ support, and the miners will be able to play one off against the other to get whatever they want. Labor might be tempted to offer them Special Economic Zones which would amount to a dispensation from industrial relations, tax, OSH, Heritage and planning laws and regulations, but over time such zones would swallow up the whole country, so it would be a superficially attractive but ultimately disastrous option – and therefore almost certain to be adopted!

    What Kevin ’07 ought to do, of course, is get hold of an old copy of “Australia Reconstructed” and the more recent NIEIR report
    “The State of Australian Manufacturing” (.pdf). What are the chances?

  16. melanie
    November 25th, 2007 at 12:47 | #16

    It’s interesting that the Nats have been quite decimated. They’ve lost a minimum of 20% of their seats, if you include Windsor and Katter in their previous total, a quarter if you don’t. They only get 5% of the vote anyway and survive on a gerrymander that is increasingly eroded as the country becomes more urbanised. Even if they do have an increased proportion of coalition seats, I don’t see how this can possibly give them more influence.

    The Greens have really consolidated their position as the third largest party vote-wise and Labor got in on their preferences, so that will make for some interesting politics down the track. Interesting that twice now they have almost pushed the Libs into third place in Melbourne.

    The usual pattern is for opposition parties to tear themselves apart and go through a string of leaders before they manage a comeback. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull will end up as their David Cameron?

  17. alan
    November 25th, 2007 at 12:54 | #17

    “The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.”

    Hah! Like the coalition parties, the Labor party is made of a mixture well-meaning pragmatists, idealists and self-serving opportunists. Like the members of the coalition parties, they will eventually be seduced and corrupted by power and will be condemned for hubris.

    Don’t believe me? It already happened in the campaign. As a personal favour and to demonstrate his power, a Labor Party apparatchik helicoptered an airhead candidate into Boothby. As a result, the ALP went backwards versus a state average swing to Labor of 7.2%.

  18. observa
    November 25th, 2007 at 12:58 | #18

    Well this is not a new situation as one pundit called it. Apparently the Coalition has enjoyed wall to wall status for 9 months in the past and look at them now. As John points out it’s a question of how far back now and how soon. We could roughly divide the answers in two, the broader overarching issues and the specific policy issues. With regards the former, the Coalition, despite some loss of key talent, still has a formidable experience at govt and knows the ins and outs first hand, whereas Labor has almost none on its team now. This will be a steep learn curve for them with the inevitable mistakes and an opposition ready to pounce. The latter will be aided and abetted in that by a generally increasing attack dog media, who will no doubt assume an elevated role in keeping the bastards honest. Tall poppy syndrome alive and well in Oz no doubt. As a consequence of being under seige generally, the Coalition won’t have much time for witch hunts and navel gazing either and I expect a quick circling of the wagons mentality. OTOH Labor faces the double edged sword of nowhere to hide from policy shortcomings and problems, both nationally and statewise, now their spoiler bogeyman has gone. Bogeymen do have their uses from time to time. That’s where I anticipate a very short honeymoon period for Rudd Labor, just as I would if the boot were on the other foot. It will quickly degenerate into- Gotta problem? Blame Labor! Then there’s always the risk of hubris for the winners.

    Then we turn to the specific policy differences. Perhaps the result was really all about interest rates, but conventional wisdom says it’s draconian Workchoices and Howard dragging his feet on GW. Well Workchoices is easily fixed, if not before the Senate majority goes then right after, although you’d expect the Coalition to broadly accept the mandate early on. Whether more labour protection can work in a globalised economy will obviously be sorely tested in any recession. Otherwise the boot’s on the employees foot, supply wise. The biggy is of course GW and Kyoto with rising expectations already surfacing here-
    That’s the big problem for Labor in delivering, given the results to date and also the backflip on China/India coming on board. A promise of 20% reductions by 2020 is easily reducible to 4.6% over their first term and the standard by which they’ll be aptly measured and it makes no allowance for immigration and natural population increase. If mortage interest rates, housing affordability, food prices, etc were the big sleepers in this campaign, then higher priced carbon by whatever policy route, may mean interesting times for that 4.6% reduction promise to fully play out. If that’s a big mouthful, fixing health and hospitals cooperatively is just as big, but Rudd will wisely leave hospitals takeover for the next election campaign. With meetoo fiscal conservatism and general economic policy, that leaves the good war/bad war schizophrenia as a major headache, given their respective states of play and casualty rates. As if that’s not enough there’s always the old perennial problem
    A short honeymoon and getting shorter I suspect.

  19. brian
    November 25th, 2007 at 13:06 | #19

    before people get to chuffed, ive just read the following:

    ‘Dr Kelly said he would join the NSW Right faction when parliament resumed and did not expect instant promotion to the frontbench’

    NSW Right faction??? Is that anything like the Liberal NSW Right faction that was behind the Linsday race hate leaflet???

  20. observa
    November 25th, 2007 at 13:06 | #20
  21. Hermit
    November 25th, 2007 at 13:07 | #21

    Clearly the political centre is shifting left. If Rudd turns out to be not radical enough for some then (as in Britain) Labor could become the de jure small-c conservatives. I guess the Greens will be then become the cutting edge party. This shift could be what made the Democrats drop off the edge.

    It won’t take much for radicalisation to happen; interest rate rises, $150 oil, spiralling food prices, a US led recession. By 2010 a sizeable group could be yearning for a Lib comeback and a similar group calling for someone more radical than Rudd.

  22. November 25th, 2007 at 13:47 | #22

    … the Coalition as we know it is dead, Peter Costello just voted by giving up; my guess is after watching Rudd’s victory speech, he saw the natural leader of the Liberal party, of social democrat conservatives and was dismayed.
    With the election of Rudd the transformation of the ALP is complete, and Australian politics can move past the early Cretaceous period at last. A trivial thing which was begun before Keating; before Hawke; before Wran, or even Gough, a thing which began in 1942 with Menzie’s forgotten people is finally over; The Little Enders have won the Battle for the Middle ground and the distraction of economic policy debate can finally be put back where it belongs, there on the shelf just above sports tribalism and below religion.
    The transient riches of the greatest economic boom in history have obliterated whatever was left of Socialist philosophy long after it’s stinking carcass was cast aside by the worst monsters in human history. While they once have laid claims to the lofty ideals of Socialism or Communism; Stalin; Mao; Pol Pot; Kim Il Sung and Ne Win, all gained power the same as Hitler; appealing to the disenfranchised, the unemployed and the ignorant, stirring prejudice and hatred over trifles then cementing their power through secrecy, fear and brutality.
    Free Trade has long since won over Protectionism and Territorial conquest, with the free traders leaving everyone in their wake. The argument of which economic system works best is over, the argument on how to stop this destroying our world has begun.
    Politics can and must move to the new era, where philosophy and conscious take a place; where the health of the earth is no longer taken for granted. So here at the beginning of the 22nd Century, at the beginning of the “War for the World” may Australia lead the way, with the first battle – the Battle for the Environment.

  23. Peter
    November 25th, 2007 at 13:57 | #23

    Howard lost Bennelong because he took immigrants(Asian) for granted and they delivered a death blow to him.

    Australia has long way to go before becoming an equal society. Many writer’s(including academic) in this blog seem to think that Rudd would be much different than Howard and he would be more inclusive.

    But I think he alone will not be able to do much. Significant amount of discrimination still exist in various Australian institutions.

    For example, while I was browsing though University of Queensland’s economics department(which employs John), I came accross the publication of two researcher’s. One was Dr. Mehta(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pme192.html) and the other was Dr. John Foster(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pfo33.html). While the later is Professor, the former is still an Associate Professor. Even Australia’s so called “top intellectual institutions” are not free from discrimination.

  24. brian
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:23 | #24

    Indigenous leaders welcome Howard defeat
    November 25, 2007 – 1:49PM

    Some indigenous leaders have welcomed the end of the Howard government and expressed relief that Mal Brough has been forced out of parliament.

    Mr Brough – the outgoing minister for indigenous affairs – lost his Queensland seat of Longman to Labor candidate Jon Sullivan after suffering a swing of more than 10 per cent.

    With the likely exception of outgoing prime minister John Howard himself, Mr Brough was the most high-profile coalition MP to be unseated.

    Mr Brough, the architect of the government’s dramatic and controversial intervention into Northern Territory indigenous communities, was a divisive figure.

    His approach was supported by such high-profile Aboriginal leaders as Noel Pearson and Galarrwuy Yunupingu, but others deemed it racist, draconian and unworkable.

    Mr Brough has called on Labor to continue the NT intervention, to which it gave bipartisan support earlier this year, but it will almost certainly be watered-down.

    Indigenous affairs more generally also will undergo change.


  25. paul2
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:28 | #25

    I see the conservatives on this blog are doing their best to rain on Rudd’s victory parade, with their talk of a very short honeymoon indeed.

    In similar spirit, can I mention that those pushing Joe Hockey’s claims for a leading role in the ‘Liberal renewal’ should be aware of a neat contradiction between his recent promise to resign from the Ministry if Workchoices was ever diluted, and his attempts to distance himself from Workchoices last night while commentating on Prime – firstly acknowledging that Workchoices had done the Government electoral damage, and then saying that Workchoices was a policy that he inherited from Cabinet (ie Howard), to which he did not belong at the time….

  26. observa
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:33 | #26

    “A messier political scene in which people were more inclined to look at issues on their merits amidst a diversity of party opinions would be a welcome improvement compared to the GO MY TEAM footie game approach to politics that we have descended into over the last 20 years.”

    Voting the 2 houses in reverse would clearly achieve that Ken. I note that the Greens received 7.6% of the overall vote in the Reps and that would entitle them to around 11 seats in a proportional 150 seat house. Now I’m no Greens policy fan, but the fact they end up with no seats in the Reps is a democratic disgrace, when you compare the Nats vote of 5.5% nationally and their members.

  27. observa
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:36 | #27
  28. brian
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:45 | #28

    Yes, the greens tho they polled well, get no representation….whatys going on here?

  29. brian
    November 25th, 2007 at 14:48 | #29

    ‘A visibly upset Ms Chijoff did say she would be discussing the controversy with her husband today.

    He was among several Liberal members caught distributing pamphlets from a fake Islamic group, which thanked the ALP for backing the Bali bombers.

    The husband of the retiring Liberal MP Jackie Kelly was also seen distributing the flyer just days before the election.’

    i’d like to be a fly on that wall!

  30. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 15:02 | #30

    Anna K: “I was particularly impressed with his concession speech, and the plea from both Brough and Howard that the intervention work started in the NT continue.”

    The intervention is a nice idea which everyone supports in principle.

    It has two principal problems:

    1. The resources provided are grossly inadequate for the purported objective.

    2. Some of the provisions, such as the removal of some of the powers of community councils, are ill-conceived and likely to make the situation worse rather than better.

    I would like Rudd to acknowledge Brough’s good intent and to see him pick up Howard’s proposal for a new Constitutional preamble.

    I’d also like more resources put into policing and health services in Aboriginal communities.

  31. November 25th, 2007 at 15:42 | #31

    brian, and observa: what’s going on here is, you live in a parliamentary monarchy. this has many consequences, perhaps the worst of which is, you are continually referring to the splendor of the emperor’s latest ensemble.

  32. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:17 | #32

    Brian: the Nationals got only around 5.5% of the vote versus around 7.5% or so fro the Greens.

    But the National vote was concentrated in the small number of seats they actually contested and in those seats was sufficient for them to win a good number of those seats.

    The Greens ran in every seat, mostly because they know that doing so helps to increase their Senate vote.

    The Greens will pick up 5 Senate seats.

    Contrary to what Al says this has nothing to do with us beign a constitutonal monarchy.

  33. Fozzy
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:18 | #33

    I preface this by saying I’m not an Economist so maybe I’m being mislead, however …

    A few weeks back I finished reading Naomi Klein’s new book, “The Shock Doctrine”. For those unfamiliar with her writing, she wrote the book “No Logo” which described why the whole anti-globalisation movement occurred. No Logo was a book that was published before the Seattle riots occurred in 1999, so when leaders started asking why, she already had the explanation at hand. The Shock Doctrine analises the role of Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics Experiments in wreaking havoc around the world over the last 30+ years. From South America, to Russia, to Asia, to Iraq, she documents their involvement in bringing about the economic collapse of all these places when the Washington Consensus was implemented. And their inability to connect the relationship between their economic policies and the human rights abuses that occurred on their watch.

    She then goes onto look at the emerging backlash. Most notably in South America where a counter to Chicago School Boys is forming.

    I don’t have sufficient economic skills to be able to critique her hypothesis, but in reading the book I found her arguments (backed up by a very impressive bibliography!) very convincing.

    Having read this during the election campaign I found myself looking at the various policy announcements, etc. through the prism of Friedmanite policies being on their way out and (putting it simplistically) a more Keynesian approach being again in ascendance.

    This would validate the comments made above at 21 and suggests that 22’s comment that “Free Trade has won” maybe premature.

    Workchoices can be easily explained by again the failure to connect the economy with human rights.

    I would encourage others to grab a copy to read.

  34. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:23 | #34

    A shirt addendum to my last comment: New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy like Australia but under the New Zealand voting system (mixed multi-member proportional?), they would have won around 8% of the seats in Parliament.

  35. conrad
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:24 | #35


    How is more policing going to help, apart from sticking more people in jail? Surely the money would be better spent on education, employment and health, rather than draconian solutions bound to fail and cause more problems than they are supposed to fix.

  36. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:29 | #36

    Make that a short addendum.

  37. AnonDepressedLiberal
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:33 | #37

    JQ, you could be right, but not for reasons internal to the Liberal Party.

    As long as the ALP are guaranteed access to Green preferences, they have no reason to move to the left on any policy, and every reason to move to the right whenever they can poach votes from the Liberals. So if the current situation continues, the right factions of the ALP will continue to court big business and other elements of the Liberal base, as they have done in every state under Labor power, and the Liberals will have nowhere left to go other than to argue they would manage things better than Labor, which isn’t a particularly strong selling point.

  38. Trivalve
    November 25th, 2007 at 16:55 | #38

    The exact same thing was being said about Labor about two years ago. They’ll be back

    Let’s hope they bring a few decent human beings next time around.

  39. chrisl
    November 25th, 2007 at 17:20 | #39

    Very perceptive Anon.The liberals almost need a similar right wing party to get preferences from. Very unlikely.
    We do have a democracy but it has some serios flaws.

  40. chrisl
    November 25th, 2007 at 17:25 | #40

    It is hard to imagine anyone under 25 voting for the liberals.Scare tactics regarding unions, inflation or interest rates would have sailed right over their heads. And they were being asked to vote for someone who looked like their grandpa.

  41. Alexander McLeay
    November 25th, 2007 at 17:37 | #41

    Al Loomis, living in a parliamentary monarchy has nothing to do with it. New Zealanders live in parliamentary monarchy, and at the last election, the Greens polled a paltry five percent and picked up six seats in the hundred-and-twenty seat parliament.

    What does it is the fact that firstly we need more representatives and secondly the fact that our House of Representatives is unrepresentative swill. The Greens would also benefit from the necessary increase in the size of the Senate.

    (An additional two senators per state (i.e. 88 senators, 170 MPs) would give us about 80 000 people per MP and get rid of these silly unhelpful 3/3 splits in the Senate; an additional four senators per state (i.e. ~100 Senators, 197 MPs) would give us about 70 000 people per MP and get rid of the relative over-representative of both Tasmania and the Northern Territory, but we’d have unhelpful 4/4 splits instead.)

  42. CazZa
    November 25th, 2007 at 17:53 | #42

    I don’t think Turnbull will allow the Libs to sink so thoroughly.

    Wonder if he’ll now push Rudd hard on climate change response?

  43. November 25th, 2007 at 18:48 | #43

    There will be recriminations in the State branches of the Liberal party who for years have had their collective heads pulled in by John Howard’s Federal machine. Now that there is no Federal machine watch out for the fireworks. This as well as a lack of largesse which accompanies incumbency means that someone is going to have to do some extremely hard yards – too hard for Peter Costello who has jumped ship presumably to resume his war on Trade unions aka Dollar Sweets in the 1980’s.

    The Libral’s folly was to believe that their excrement didn’t stink. They became hostage to right wing groups such as the IPA, the Sydney Institute and the HR Nicholls society and whilst the Liberals lurched to the ultra right the ALP captured the right or what will now be called the centre vote with the left and centre vote sadly being insignificant. Labor has become a conservative party whilst the Liberals had become an ultra right party and the punters punished them for doing so. This was not a win for the true believers of the ALP who will in the coming months find out that the ALP stands for Another Liberal Party and Rudd will go down in history as the Leader labor had to have to despatch Howard to the political boundary.

  44. Jill Rush
    November 25th, 2007 at 19:14 | #44

    The Liberals may get back if they realise that one of the reasons they lost was their inclination to believe that they always know best and that other people owe them a living.

    The other basic character flaw is that they expect others to be abject whilst they kick heads.

    The reason that there weren’t baseball bats in waiting for them was because there were millions of pencils. In trying to destroy the unions ie the financial base of the Labor Party they made fundamental mistakes about how it would be received and how the unions and Labor would react.

    What they ensured was that workers focussed on getting rid of them for two years – they had numbers and provided financial resources as well. If instead of making everyone in unions and the workforce an enemy they had recognised the electoral force it may have been different. Unfortunately the Liberals lack intellectual power as seen by the fact that despite the evidence global warming is still being denied by many.

    If the Liberals are to resurface as a force they have to admit to their unlovely natures and work to improve that as well as starting to make policy based on evidence rather than belief. This is a big ask and may mean that the Liberals may indeed find it difficult to be reborn in a human form.

  45. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 19:28 | #45

    Conrad: “How is more policing going to help, apart from sticking more people in jail? Surely the money would be better spent on education, employment and health, rather than draconian solutions bound to fail and cause more problems than they are supposed to fix.”

    Per head of population, most Aboriginal communities have fewer police than the average Australian township. At the same time, they have much higher rates of serious criminal offences.

    Rape, assault and murder are no less odious because the perpetrator is Aboriginal.

    Yes we need to address the root causes – but the violence is itself one of the root causes.

    Kids who’re physically and sexually abused and neglected and whose teenage mother is herself being physically and sexually abused are unlikely to grow up to be model citizens.

    At the same time, the methods of policing, especially here in Queensland need to change radically. Increasing police resources may actually be one way to bring about such change by getting rid of the siege mentality many police officers in such communities have.

    You can’t exactly engage in community outreach when you’ve got four officers for a community of a couple of thousand people and at any given time one of those officers is off testifying in a criminal prosecution.

  46. November 25th, 2007 at 19:41 | #46

    ian, chrisl, and all the rest of you:

    why do you not refer to oz as a monarchy? have you never read the constitution?

    if you lived in a democracy, you would be voting for policies presented as referenda, not for parties.

    democracy means rule ‘by the people’, a fact scandalously ignored by media, academe, and hobby chatterati. oz is so far from democracy the electorate commonly don’t know what policy is, much less participate in forming it.

    i have no quarrel with rule by a self selected elite, but there are labels for such societies, ‘westminster society’ if you feel approval, oligarchy if you don’t. there are others, but democracy is not one.

    i strongly feel that democracy is the best structure for human society. this view is so widely shared that not only do westminster societies use it, so too does north korea. both are stealing what they have not earned. this theft is partly impelled by shame, but a more sinister component is diseducation, a conscious attempt to disarm the public by the techniques made famous in ‘1984’.

  47. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2007 at 20:00 | #47

    Actually, Al, we know Australia is a monarchy, that’s why I for one used the term monarchy to describe Australia.

    “if you lived in a democracy, you would be voting for policies presented as referenda, not for parties.”

    This definition excludes every single current nation and about 99% of all political entities that have ever described themselves as democracies.

    What you are describing would more accurately be referred to as an isocracy.

    Your views on how we’re all mindless brainwashed sheep have been noted – it would be difficult to avoid doing so since you voice them at every opportunity.

    In this particular iteration though you added a specific claim – that the fact that Australia was a monarchy was responsible for the Greens not winning any lower house seats. This is a testable hypothesis.

    I and others tested it by pointing to examples of monarchies which have voting systems which would have resulted in the Greens winning lower house seats.

    If you like I can also provide examples of monarchies with direct election of public officials and with citizen-initiated referenda.

    Now as it happens I’m a Republican and I agree with you that the monarchical structure in Australia permits the executive to wield undue power.

    But that doesn’t mean your specific claims about the Greens are simply factually wrong.

  48. Sam
    November 25th, 2007 at 20:39 | #48

    Peter @ 23,

    You say “For example, while I was browsing through University of Queensland’s economics department(which employs John), I came across the publication of two researcher’s. One was Dr. Mehta(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pme192.html) and the other was Dr. John Foster(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pfo33.html). While the later is Professor, the former is still an Associate Professor. Even Australia’s so called “top intellectual institutionsâ€? are not free from discrimination”.

    I find this claim a bit confusing. Are you suggesting that the reason that Foster is referred to as a Professor and Mehta is not (i.e. Associate Prof) results from discrimination?? This is a very serious accusation. I am really not sure how you’ve come to this conclusion without knowing both people, reviewing their publication history, teaching work etc etc. I can only assume that you don’t understand the academic system.

    Just so you know, these titles describe the positions held by Foster and Mehta (e.g. CEO vs. CFO). Just because one person occupies a more senior position than another, who happens to have a non-anglo name, does not mean this is because of discrimination. “Professor” is the highest academic position at a university, one does not earn it by publishing one article, but through many years of hard work (take a look at Prof. Q’s CV!). I am not familiar with Mehta’s work, but I am with Foster’s and it is world class. This is why he is a Professor. Not because UQ has descriminated in his favour.

    Hope this clears it up for you.

  49. jquiggin
    November 25th, 2007 at 21:27 | #49

    #23 I wouldn’t want to claim any institution as perfect, but you might at least have noted that the current list of full professors at UQ Economics includes Jie Zhang, Prasada Rao, Rabee Tourky and Flavio Menezes, none of whom could be described as Anglo.

  50. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    November 25th, 2007 at 21:45 | #50

    Getting back to the head thread, JQ, I tend to think that the Liberal Party is likely to split, in a history-repeats-itself-as-a-farce replay of the 50s ALP-DLP schism, with centre left “liberal” Liberals, probably led by Mal Turnbull, who has strong wet and republican credentials, to join with Petro Georgiou and others in Victoria; and the far right elements, currently vying for control of the NSW Liberal Party.

    Howard and Costello were the unifying force between those two disparate elements, funnily enough. The Libs lurched to the right after the first battle the casualty of which was Ian McPhee, the seocnd was the buying of the Hansonite franchise. It worked pretty well, until the spectacular betrayal of Howard’s battlers with WorkChoices, thus breaking the franchise contract.

  51. November 25th, 2007 at 22:00 | #51

    A know a lot of people under 25 who voted liberal. Generally the ones who have jobs that earn more than minimum wage. Or pretty much everyone in Western Australia.

  52. Katz
    November 25th, 2007 at 22:09 | #52

    I guess none of those folks live in Hasluck, Yobbo.

  53. November 25th, 2007 at 22:29 | #53

    I am relieved to shed the title of candidate and apply my thoughts to what we have all just experienced. It has been a very bad example of presidential-style campaigning with all the attendant weaknesses. Autocratic leadership styles reward psychopathic behaviour and create timid and muzzled followers who are incapable of critiquing the errors of the ‘Sun King’. No one could actually tell John Howard that he was wrong, except John Valder, John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser and these former leaders were brusquely shrugged off like out-of-fashion clothes.

    The Liberals’ made unsustainable assertions that they have an inherent right to rule, hence their pathetic argument that the opposition has no experience and never will. Their deference to the autocratic leadership style of John Howard or someone like him is a weakness – not a strength. Liberals willed John Howard to lead them and be everything for them, to sin for them, to torture and kill for them and they found out too late that the old schemer was only in politics for his own benefit.

    We now know that there was no Liberal succession plan and why there is now no successor. Peter Costello has correctly assessed that he cannot hold it together for long enough because no one ever wanted him for the leadership position, not the Liberals and certainly not the electorate. Besides, all his bluster about the good of the country and his experience is now threadbare in the face of better offers from the private sector.

    Paul2 observes, “I see the conservatives on this blog are doing their best to rain on Rudd’s victory parade, with their talk of a very short honeymoon indeed�. But I would predict now that those who expect a short honeymoon for Kevin Rudd are dead right. He is too much like John Howard and Labor people know it. He was useful in getting them into office, but there are lots of Labor people who are very angry with ‘Work Choices Lite’ and they will let him know what they think. “The [Labor] supporters who have been clinging to the hope that Rudd-in-office will be a very different animal to Rudd-in-opposition may well become quite feral once they realise they’ve been dudded�, Ken Lovell is right here.

    Being a Greens candidate is not easy when the major party opponents refused to engage in serious debate. I found Terry Costello’s comment, “the ALP stands for Another Liberal Party� all too chillingly real. As anon depressed Liberal says, “ the right factions of the ALP will continue to court big business and other elements of the Liberal base�.

    The new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd and his Liberal challenger, ‘Councillor’ Craig Thomas, both thought that there were no votes for them if they fronted a politics in the pub session and had to respond to my argument that neither was prepared to deal effectively with global warming. The Liberal candidate depicted his “environmental concerns� as “keeping our waterways (read storm water drains) clean�. These people effectively vacated the stage where the real debate was to be had – and they got away with it.

    Ken Lovell correctly says, “The Liberals have no forum anywhere to maintain the illusion of relevance�. I would maintain that this predicament is of their own making. They had nothing new, relevant or constructive to say. We have just had a very expensive election that was about nothing when really important issues were ignored. It was a contest to see who could present the ‘smallest target’ based on deception and vote buying. The really urgent task of dealing with global warming will be attended to in a piecemeal manner at the politically expedient whim of the Rudd government, if at all. It needs to be front and centre of everything else they do – and it isn’t.

    In politics contingencies for the unexpected should always be factored in. If, as predicted, the effects of global warming are “abrupt and irreversible�, be ready for political necessity. So, comments like “Their main problem will be that the other serious opposition to Labor will be the Greens, with whom any kind of alliance is unthinkable� are a sign of failure of the imagination. As Senator Bob Brown said last night, Labor and Liberals need to learn to discuss issues like the pulp mill, rather than simply refuse to negotiate.

    Melanie commented, “The Greens have really consolidated their position as the third largest party vote-wise and Labor got in on their preferences, so that will make for some interesting politics down the track. Interesting that twice now they have almost pushed the Libs into third place in Melbourne�. In other words, if the major parties wish to be relevant they will need to learn new skills and start with a more consultative consensus-seeking leadership�. We are in new territory folks!

    Willy Bach

  54. Alexander McLeay
    November 25th, 2007 at 23:26 | #54

    Al, your post reads like an American describing America as not a democracy, but as a republic. This fundamentally misunderstand what that sentence truly means, for by it, then Australia is too as republican as America. In this sense, “republic” is not being opposed with “monarchy”, but instead with “mob-rule” and “autocracy”.

    The word “republic” and one stage meant primarily a system which obtained good government by balancing the needs of the different classes: of the commoners, of the nobility, of the king. From there it developed to meaning something more like “responsible government”, and as The Age rightly editorialised in the 1850s, by obtaining our own Parliament, Victoria was now a republic.

    Americans are taught that the United States is a republic not a democracy because at the time of the American Revolution, “democracy” meant “mob-rule” or “anarchy”. It wasn’t a particularly good name to be associated with, so Americans rejected. Over the years, as the United Kingdom has obtained a more and more democratic structure “democracy” came to mean exactly what we know it to mean — a system which obtains good government by consulting the people periodically. Likewise, “republic” has been associated by non-monarchical republics like the United States and Switzerland, more than monarchical republics like the United Kingdom, Victoria and Australia.

    So you are wrong: you want to say “The Greens didn’t get proportional representation because we live in a republic (not a democracy)”. But this is also wrong, because we live in a democracy by today’s meaning of the word; and you are also wrong, because all countries with proportional representation are democracies; and you are also wrong, because if we lived we had direct democracy, then why would the Greens get any representation in a Parliament which would presumably either serve no purpose or consist of all eligible people?

  55. November 25th, 2007 at 23:32 | #55

    I just realised one incredibly important impact of this election – something that we probably, and thankfully, won’t hear too much about, because rather than being a beneficial act in itself, it is instead the omission of an sinful act.

    We will not be seeing any moves towards the introduction of nuclear power in Australia for the next three years at least.

    Thank God.

  56. November 25th, 2007 at 23:32 | #56

    Uranium mining is another story. I hope the states hold strong on that one.

  57. Matt Canavan
    November 26th, 2007 at 00:47 | #57

    Poor post John. You do not provide much evidence. The Coalition got a primary vote only a few points off the Labor party. (And higher than the labor party’s in 04.)

    Further, the ‘labor’ party that has been elected is lead by a bloke that is basically conservative, or at least an economic rationalist. The only way the libs won’t get back in is if labor continue to successfully co-opt their agenda. In that case, we’ll have a liberal government in all but name anyway.

  58. Michael Bamford
    November 26th, 2007 at 06:48 | #58

    Matt Canavan and I have the same viewpoint. Kevin Rudd is as much a Wet Liberal as a Labor Right. He’s probably the best liberal prime minister successor after John Howard, but time will tell. His insistence that he select his own cabinet is very heartening and means he will promote the best for his team, rather than deal with socialist mediocrity.

  59. 2 tanners
    November 26th, 2007 at 07:53 | #59

    It was a landslide in seats, but hardly in votes. Incumbency should make it easy enough to hold on for this and the next term, but surely Rudd’s game plan is to push right. The left wing consitutency (which i believe is becoming smaller all the time) will have little option but to either sigh and vote Labor as the lesser of two credible evils or vote Green. The Greens can then pass their carefully garnered votes straight to Labor, due a stupid deal like the Democrats or with breathtaking hypocrisy, preference the far right parties in order to seize some lower house seats.

    LNP will be back, probably in the same circumstances as today. They will present a small target me-too campaign against an obviously tired Government and attempt to seize the high ground on a couple of mistaken/unpopular policies. And, ironically, they will move to the left a bit, to reclaim the centre.

    Hawke and Howard both knew that the key to winning Government was to find and claim the centre. Rudd does too, but they all lose their way after a while.

  60. brian
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:01 | #60

    Naomi Kleins Shock Doctrine is interesting esp because it links the Tiannamen square massacre to re-emerging capitalism in china…

  61. Katz
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:20 | #61

    Further, the ‘labor’ party that has been elected is lead by a bloke that is basically conservative, or at least an economic rationalist. The only way the libs won’t get back in is if labor continue to successfully co-opt their agenda. In that case, we’ll have a liberal government in all but name anyway.

    In no way does this contradict JQ’s initial point. JQ’s point was about the future of a political organisation, not about the future of a set of policies.

    The Liberal Party, as it is now constituted, carries much baggage that prevents it from fighting effectively for the middle ground, which the Rudd-led ALP grabbed so securely on 24 Nov 2007.

    JQ’s point, as I read it, is that a party will rise in opposition to a Rudd-style ALP, but it will not be the Liberal Party as we know it today.

    In short, the Libs must divest themselves of their right-wing baggage before they can again compete on equal terms for the sympathy of the middle ground.

  62. Mark
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:42 | #62

    I make a couple of observations.

    The 2PP vote is what – 47/53 against the Coalition? I would not be writing off the libs on that basis. The primary vote is not a lot different between the 2 parties?

    Consider what might happen under a social progressive lib leader who is strong on environmental issues. Look out for Malcolm.

  63. snuh
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:42 | #63

    The usual pattern is for opposition parties to tear themselves apart and go through a string of leaders before they manage a comeback. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull will end up as their David Cameron?

    it seems to me costello’s announcement was about positioning himself as the eventual liberal savior/uniter, once the party has torn itself apart. he’s being very vague about what his future plans are.

  64. November 26th, 2007 at 08:51 | #64

    Given the mountain of public funding that the Liberals just pulled in (ie $2 per lower house vote and $2 per senate vote) they are not going to disappear any time soon. The idea that they should start a new party and leave all this money in the old entity is folly. As is the idea that taxpayers should be paying for any of the political parties in the first place.

  65. Katz
    November 26th, 2007 at 08:57 | #65

    Consider what might happen under a social progressive lib leader who is strong on environmental issues. Look out for Malcolm.

    Turnbull hasn’t won the contest yet. The Parliamentary Liberal Party is now full of social conservatives. Howard saw to that. Their natural candidate would be Abbott.

    Even if Turnbull does win the leadership, the political machine in NSW is run by Right Wing loonies. It’s take years to hoick them out of their spider holes.

    And as a political infighter Turnbull is utterly untested. Cleaning out ruthless and wily political infighters is much more difficult than persuading a judge in the dignified setting of a court of law.

  66. gordon
    November 26th, 2007 at 09:55 | #66

    Willy Bach, I voted Green and second-preferenced Labor in the Senate, which makes me a fairly typical Greens voter. Now that the election is over, I can say that I thought the Green policy platform distinctly sketchy on economic and industry policy (on the Greens website, anyway), and that my support was strategic and based mostly on my views about the major parties. I suspect I am not alone in this attitude. If the Greens want to develop as a real “third force” in Australian politics, they must work harder on traditional policy issues like the economy, industry policy, health, education, foreign affairs/defence and industrial relations. One would expect to see an emphasis on sustainability in Green policy on all these topics, which would be fine with me, but the Greens still lack an integrated and well-developed set of policies on these important National issues. Poking holes in LNP or ALP policies in order to garner a protest vote is no longer enough; nor is a single-issue “global warming” campaign.

  67. James Haughton
    November 26th, 2007 at 10:16 | #67

    With reference to Gordon’s comment (66): I would love to see the Greens adopt an “ecocapitalist” kind of program that matched the tax cuts offered by the majors by replacing them with emission, pollution, land use and waste taxes (permits, cap and trades, whatever). It would shake up the economy a lot and need some kind of reorganisation of welfare (due to the resulting rise in utility bills) but place Aus in a very strong position in the long run, as well as reducing all the negative externalities (like pollution) that have big but seemingly unrecognised impacts on our national health and welfare budgets.

    With ref to Mark’s comment (62), it’s probably a bit of a pipe dream but I could also see such a program pulling in support from the Petro Georgios and Malcolm Turnbulls of the (former?) Liberal party. Eco-capitalism is a distinctly under-explored policy option due to the left’s dominance of environmental issues, but the success of things like the sulphur dioxide permits scheme in reducing acid rain in america or the booming markets in carbon permits and offsets shows that it works quite well.

  68. gerard
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:16 | #68

    Turnbull will have a rough and rocky time getting support from the far-Right nutters that dominate the Liberals base these days, if this article from two years ago is anything to go by.


    Young Libs in the Chocolate Factory

    Tomorrow’s Liberal leaders have issues with gays, greenies, young mums, Malcolm Fraser – and each other

  69. Peter
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:32 | #69

    Sam & John,

    It is not only the number of publication that counts, but the quality of publication is also important.

    Mehta has much better quality of publication than Jie Zhang, Prasada Rao, and Flavio Menezes. I agree that Quiggin and Tourky have equal or better quality of publication compared to Mehta. Except Mehta, none of the above mentioned people(Quiggin has a few high quality publications in AER and JET) have a publication in Econometrica.

    I am not saying that John Foster does not deserve to be a Professor. What I am saying that there is no reason why Mehta should not be a Professor given his publication record. And if he were an Anglo then I am almost sure that he would have been a Professor by now. There are many such cases in Australia, one just have to open ones eye to see such discrimination all over Australia.

  70. rossco
    November 26th, 2007 at 11:36 | #70

    I will be interested to see whether the Liberals continue to benefit from big donations from business, wealthy individuals and employer organisations. I assume that when such donations are made there is an expectation there will be some return in the future. With the Libs likely to be out of office in Canberra for at least 2 terms, and little prospect of winning office in any State in the immediate future, the money may flow to Labor.

    The big business advertising on WorkChoices was just money down the drain so I don’t expect that exercise to be repeated any time soon. Likewise with the Farmers Federation advertising.

    Also, not being in office anywhere, there is no opportunity to run expensive publicly funded propaganda campaigns, sorry I meant public information campaigns.

    Without big bucks in the kitty any political party will struggle to afford staff, research and advertising. I wonder how much it really costs the major parties to function between elections and to run their election campaigns.

    I expect internal frictions to cripple the Liberal party in the immediate future but the lack of big money may be what prevents it being an effective power for a long period.

  71. Spider
    November 26th, 2007 at 13:01 | #71

    There needs to a complete restructure of all political parties as the people will sooner or later have to wake up to mainstream politics having departed from representing their interests.

    The left wing of Labor will one day have to stand up for themselves and depart from the ALP and join up with a true Socialist political party such as the Greens. This will increase the strength of the Greens and make them a real electoral threat.

    Right wing Labor in many of those in the Liberals are very similar to each other. People such as former NSW Liberal leader, John Brodgen are further to the left than most of the right faction of the ALP. It is group and across to the Howardites that the people will in the end, abandon through desperation.

    The right wing side of politics will be replaced by Nationalist politics who will be THE rival to the Greens. As the Greens continue to push policy that pulls the country down such as indiscriminate immigration, an open drugs policy, etc, the people who be forced into supporting the Nationalists who will be a mixed bunch of soft Nationalists and fascists and National Socialists.

  72. The Doctor
    November 26th, 2007 at 17:12 | #72

    the best description of Australia’s political system in two words is ‘crowned republic’.

  73. Herbert Stock
    November 26th, 2007 at 17:52 | #73

    A merger of the Liberals and Nationals (Country Party) is unlikely because they represent two entirely different constituencies – the former now represent comfortable, well off suburbanites found in seats such as those in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne who demand small government and self-reliance while the Nationals now represent rural communities whose very survival depends on significant, ongoing government intervention and support. The artificial coalition of the last decade which was shored up by the support of conservative working families (now fled back to Labor) will break down and the conservative side of politics will again have two parties seeking different outcomes.

  74. Sir Henry Caqsingbroke
    November 26th, 2007 at 21:30 | #74

    You underestimate Turnbull’s obsessive tenacity. He is like Rudd except he enjoys a good cigar and Krug at the same time. Nelson is a walk-up start amateur and none too bright. Not fats off the mark. In any case, I suspect Nelson is a stalking horse. The real contender that hasn’t revealed her hand yet is Julie Bishop. She is a player and a patient one at that, as she builds her power base.

    Abbott does not have the numbers, except in NSW. All he is likely to achieve is to split the party. They know it.

    Anyway, I don’t care. They can elect Bronwyn.

  75. Derek Sheppard
    November 26th, 2007 at 23:40 | #75

    The one thing that stands out most at this election, and in previous elections at State and federal levels, is that Australians want balance.

    The people regarded the Coalition’s coincidental control of the House of Reps and the balance of power in the Senate as an anathema. More and better could have been done with those majorities, but the Coalition failed to use it to best advantage, helping me to believe it also threw them off balance.

    The other issue that was clear was that what was made of Work Choices along with the inability of some people to make Work Choices work the best way for both employees and employers was unsettling.

    It seems that many Australians are still not ready, just yet, for a proper enterprise based country. They prefer to have someone watching over their shoulder, monitoring whether they can come to sound employment arrangements and agreements with employers. It seems that some employers still don’t get it that underpaying or devaluing the labour of employees does themselves a disservice. It seems that many people want some form of protection in case they get things wrong, they need someone else to take responsibility lest they fail. In other words, many Australians are still risk averse, and that led to the Coalition’s downfall. Almost like Labor governments, the Coalition was also reluctant to take too much risk – probably because there weren’t enough free enterprise business people and too many lawyers in the Liberal Party.

    If Labor does what it has in Queensland, then it will influence school curricula with its politics, ensuring that Labor is re-elected. I have a sense that PM elect Rudd won’t do that. I sincerely hope, in fact, that he addresses the problems of entrenched bureaucracies to make them more responsive. He failed with reforms in education in Queensland, I understand, because the same bureaucrats remained or were shuffled through the Education Dept in defiance of the need for reform.

    There are many ways and new ground that the Liberals can adopt in order to move the centre of gravity in Australian politics away from the conservative place that PM elect Rudd has taken Labor to occupy.

    Liberals and coalitions can now work harder, ensure the right people are in leadership in the States, expose the many obvious flaws and failings of State labor Governments, and take and win government at the next State elections. That will then ensure that the new imbalance in Australian politics will be redressed. Alternatively, perhaps with some work, refining of policies, creating a presence and commentary, and better presentation, the Liberty and Democracy Party can rise up and fill the void.

  76. GrumpyPedant
    November 26th, 2007 at 23:43 | #76

    …while there is always the need for elections, just to keep the bastard’s honest so to speak, there is no chance of real debate and therefore no need of a parliament until we get real representation.

    Now the ALP has thrown in it’s lot with the forgetable people, there is no longer any party to represent workers.

    Since the LNP decided to chase everyone with an attenion span of less than 20 seconds there no one left to represent small business, or big business for that matter, ..well no one to admit to it.

    With the demise of the DLP; fundamentalist catholics are all but forgotten, and the more embarrased religions have no voice at all, …except the extreme ones.

    Only the Greens come close to having a constituency;

    One of the dinosaur parties is dead, the other is having it’s last hurrah – or at least I hope so.

    On the day we have 15 parties in Parliament, really debating, really representing someone, then and only then will we be close to a democracy.

  77. David Cake
    November 27th, 2007 at 01:20 | #77

    I don’t think its a foregone conclusion yet, but I think jq’s suggestion isn’t too unlikely. If the social conservative wing continues to maintain solid control over the federal party, the economically focussed less conservative wing may well rebel at being rendered unelectable for causes they don’t believe in.

    And in most states and now Federally, its hard to see much chance of the Liberals gaining power within one term, or even two, continuing as they are.

  78. Ian Redpath
    November 27th, 2007 at 13:06 | #78

    “On the day we have 15 parties in Parliament, really debating, really representing someone, then and only then will we be close to a democracy.”

    I wondered at this on election day whilst handing out how-to-votes. Aside from the Liberals, there were several well represented groups advocating progressive change (7 or 8 Your Rights @ Work with their two sided Green or Labor pamphlet, 4 GetUps with an all parties but vote-for-change summary, 2 Greens, 3 or 4 Labor, and 2 BigSwitch on climate change)(and of course a lonely Democrat). We were all using the same lines as we handed out things, and it seemed we were all advocating much the same things. There were the Liberals, and there was everyone else. But I wondered if one day there would be a new political base for the Unions, a unified environmental party, the conservative party for the aging Liberals, a centre right ALP, a frustrated ALP left(out) party, and so on, and that we would all be handing out leaflets for different parties with similar issues, but different degrees of intensity.

    As to the debate about the Liberals making a comeback, it’s hard to see where they will muster the resource base when they are out of power in all states and donations dry up. If they can maintain the illusion that they are the Opposition they will get some airtime. If the real opposition is Greens and progressive groups pushing for stronger action on their issues, then the Libs haven’t a prayer.

  79. Ian Gould
    November 27th, 2007 at 23:58 | #79

    Anyone who thinks proportonate representation is a political panacea needs to look at Israel or Switzerland.

    Israel alternated between periods of corruption and stagnation when smaller parties such as Shas used their leverage to get special deals and periods of “Grand coalition” when the two largest parties got together and agreed on common platform of staggering banality.

    Eventually the electorate, in sheer disgust, handed Kadima a political majority which the proceeded to squander on the Lebanon war.

    In Switzerland, the five major parties form a coalition in which all are presented in government, the result is glacial change. Rather than an election meaning one party emerges with a majority, it means one part emerges with 25% of the vote and gets an extra ministry.

  80. Jack Strocchi
    September 7th, 2008 at 09:03 | #80

    Pr Q says:

    Some commenters have objected that this is too strong a call to make on the basis of one 53-47 election. But of course that’s only part of it. The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best.

    Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011, and that depends on the most dysfunctional party organisation in the country getting its act together.

    THe 2007 fed election was 52.5-47.5. I called it to within 0.5% so I should know.

    I am amazed at the nonsense talk about this being a “landslide victory” (Tim Lambert). It was a middling victory by post-war standards. Rudd called it a “small” margin.

    I was even more amaxed at the “End of the Liberal Party” meme silliness that was circulating after the last federal election. Does anyone remember the electoral pendulum? It always swings back and forth, especially when the phase of its cycle was all one-sided, as it was in 2007.

    Pr Q left his thesis some wiggle room with the subjunctive “things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments.” On my reckoning the LP have done nothing but come back strongly in all elections both state and federal since Ruddo-mania peaked in early 2008.

    They have won big swings in NT, federal by-elections and now WA. They have also put the knife into the ALP in NSW by opposing electricity privatisation.

    The LP is always going going to be the Natural Party of Opposition in state government due to secular changes in the economy. Community services such as health and education are superior goods. They are also best delivered by political authorities. It is natural to have the ALP – a statist party – administer the expanding state apparatus.

    So there will be a natural pro-ALP electoral bias in state elections. Particularly as the electorate’s geographical density and ethnological diversity increases.

    But the inexorable statist tendency sets up the danger of ALP cronyism and corruption, most evident in NSW but also in WA (Brian Burke). So the LP can always make a decent living off public dissastisfaction with ALP political dis-eases and mis-management.

    The L/NP will continue to survive in more or less its present form at the federal level. This is because its conservative “corporalist” position on cultural identity is tending to become more, not less, popular with the mainstream electorate.

    It may well be that the NP will merge with the LP. But this will be a sign of the relative weakness of the NP due to urbanization (eg QLD). It does not really prove that the LP is getting weaker. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    There are four more state elections to be held before the next NSW election in 2011. THese will be in QLD, SA, TAS and VIC. The ALP is currently dominant in all four jurisdictions.

    Nevertheless I am willing to put $100 down that the L/NP in some shape or form will win one of these electaral contests before the decade is out. A neat merger b/w the partie counts as the Coalition by pretty much the same name. A UAP style implosion counts as a win to the Quiggin thesis.

  81. jquiggin
    September 7th, 2008 at 17:15 | #81

    Certainly, the results since this post favor some combination of pendulum and the deliberate state balance of power thesis. (Another point is that calling snap elections to take advantage of apparently favorable political circumstances is a silly idea).

    Still, I’d point out that, since this post the predicted merger has in fact occurred in Qld, and seems much more likely nationally.

  82. Jack Strocchi
    September 7th, 2008 at 19:05 | #82

    82. jquiggin Says: September 7th, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Still, I’d point out that, since this post the predicted merger has in fact occurred in Qld, and seems much more likely nationally.

    I will certainly pay the merger prediction. But there is less to this psephological reshuffle than meets the eye. There is no way that AUS’s right-wing major party is heading for another UAP meltdown. Not in PrQ’s wildest dreams.

    The AUS political economy, like its general economy, is and remains a locked-down two-horse race. Think Coles-Safeways, Telstra-Optus, the Big Four Banks etc.

    I doubt very much that the ALP would want a complete meltdown of the L/NP. The two parties have a nice cosy duopoly as it is. Why rock the boat?

    A LP-NP merger does not imply a weakened “LP brand” or “the Last Liberal”. Quite the opposite.

    It is more of an aquisition by the LP of the NP. The NP is in secular decline in rural and regional electorates owing to urbanization and uneconomic farming practices. As I read it the NP is losing seats to the LP or INDs.

    Also, the LP’s post-Howard cultural conservatism is much more like the NP’s and in tune with the right-wing social outlook of most regional and rural voters. Not to mention outer-surburbanites who are uninterested or unimpressed by fashionable inner-suburban cultural experiments.

    So a merger, if it happens more generally, will simply be a sympathetic takeover of the NP by the LP.

  83. Tony G
    October 19th, 2008 at 10:21 | #83

    “The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election”. What a load of rubbish.

    One of the biggest swings against Labour in history, If I was Rudd and I saw a 1/3 of the Australian population gunning for Labour I’d be scared.

    This post should be called can only “Last one term Labour”.

  84. jquiggin
    October 19th, 2008 at 17:36 | #84

    Maybe you should re-read the post, and the recent comments, Tony. The merger between Liberals and Nationals it predicts has already taken place in Queensland, and will almost certainly happen nationally.

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