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Saving the Senate

March 25th, 2013

Discussion over the Labor leadership, and the government in general, is now academic, in the pejorative sense of the term. Barring a shock on a larger scale than that of 2001, Abbott is going to win the election, whenever it is held, and win it easily. Nothing Labor does or doesn’t do can make any real difference now.

At this point, the only issue to be considered is whether he can be stopped from gaining control of the Senate. Labor and the Greens have 21 seats from 2010, and Labor can be assured of 1 each in the territories (there’s a perennial hope that a Green or independent will win the second ACT seat, but I’m not counting on it. That means they need to win a combined 3 seats in every state for a majority, and can block legislation if they win 3 in at least five states.

Appalling as Labor’s situation is, they should still muster enough support for two senators in each state, but have (AFAICT) no realistic chance of getting three anywhere. So, what’s needed is to elect a Green in every state.

What can be done to achieve this? The first requirement is that the geniuses who run Labor’s preference strategies should not pull the stunts they have in the past, cutting deals with rightwing independents in the futile hope of adding one to their numbers. If anyone reading this has any influence in this respect, they should exercise it now.

The second is to make a positive case for the Greens that will appeal to people who don’t like Abbott, but can no longer justify a vote for Labor. In my view, the Greens are now the real inheritors of the best traditions of Labor, as opposed to the kind of hardhat/HiVizVest posturing that passes for “Labor values” in the ALP. But that case needs to be spelt out for voters who are understandably turned off by the entire political scene.

Suggestions welcome

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  1. Alan
    March 30th, 2013 at 23:02 | #1

    @Jill Rush

    How well did ‘Be quiet and get with the program’ work out in New South Wales, in Queensland, in Western Australia?

  2. Nathan
    March 31st, 2013 at 12:28 | #2

    @Jill Rush

    “…ignore the LNP shortcomings”. Really?

    Have a look at some previous posts in other threads written by the people you’re criticising. Then apologise to them for making things up.

    You simply refuse to engage in specifics, i.e. to address any of the substantive (and entirely gender neutral) policy criticisms that have been brought up in this thread regarding Gillard. I haven’t seen anyone you’re arguing with fail to criticise the unjust and sexist comments the PM has been subject to. But you seem to have the idea that things will be remedied not by denouncing sexism, but by attacking any and all criticisms of Julia Gillard. This is illogical, and does no-one any good.

  3. Jill Rush
    March 31st, 2013 at 13:48 | #3

    @Nathan I possibly could have looked at other threads to get to know the people on this site rather than just this thread but why should I and why would I discuss policy failures when the thread is asking what can be done to win the Senate? To make a football analogy tactics are set before the game, revised during the game and if there if a need for reflection it comes afterwards.

    I notice that Labor seem to be doing some of the things I suggested here but I am sure that they understand the issues far better than we do. This week Facebook and other social media sites have had positive economic data as posts.

    I have no idea what you mean by the last two sentences in your post but the word “illogical” is one which sticks out. I have no idea what you mean by making things up and why an apology is needed either. Perhaps you are suggesting that as a woman I should apologise for disagreeing with others and having the independence of thought to form different opinions. You might like to ponder what sexism means in practice if you think I am wrong.

    @Alan I am not saying be quiet and get with the program but to continue the football analogy: is it possible to win if half the team are working for the opposition and kicking the captain at every opportunity?

  4. Alan
    March 31st, 2013 at 15:46 | #4

    @Jill Rush

    However arguing how bad the ALP is on blog sites and other places will encourage the LNP and its supporters and undermine the ability to get a senate to scrutinise LNP policies. If that is what you want keep on with your negativity about the ALP and ignore the LNP shortcomings.

    No-one here is arguing how bad the ALP is. We are arguing how bad the present leader of the ALP is and pointing out that the same policy and campaign choices this leader advocates have led to electoral oblivion in three states.

    I return to my previous question. How well did not arguing how bad the leader of the ALP is on blog sites and other places work in New South Wales, in Queensland, in Western Australia?

    Politics is not football, except in the minds of politicians who, days before they challenge the leader, say their chance of challenging the leader is as good as their chance of appearing in the Collingwood line-up.

  5. rog
    March 31st, 2013 at 17:40 | #5

    @Alan When you say “how bad the alp is” implies there is a measure of badness and goodness. Is that measure policy or PR?

    On policy I would say that the alp is well ahead of the LNP. Of course there has been bumps and potholes but on a macro level things seem to be ahead and a measure of equality is in evidence. On PR I would say they are lagging by a country mile.

  6. Jim Rose
    March 31st, 2013 at 21:41 | #6

    Labor did not lose a million voters because of leaders. It was lack of vision and the great big new tax.

  7. Alan
    March 31st, 2013 at 21:49 | #7

    @rog

    Separating policy and communication is largely a myth. Typically it is a myth that governments on their last legs use to persuade themselves that their policies are just fine and dandy but the message is somehow going astray. Generally what is really happening is that the policy mix stinks. We had this nonsense from theALP in NSW before the last state election.

    The current federal ALP leadership has taken this to a whole new level of self-indulgence, asking to be judged not on their own policies but on the opposition’s.

    I don’t really care if the Gillard government has policies that are marginally better than Abbot’s. Marginally better than Abbot is frankly a disgraceful place for the ALP to be.

  8. Jill Rush
    March 31st, 2013 at 21:50 | #8

    @Alan,
    Of course you are saying that the Labor Party is bad. Progressive sexists are likely to join with conservative sexists in agreeing that the PM cannot be trusted and is incompetent. Women know what these kinds of put downs mean. So do progressive men. The hatred of the PM by some men is fuelled by resentment as it is so out of proportion in a country where people are very well off in the main. Most are probably decent men who can be fair if presented with solid analysis rather than fear and hysteria.

    Australia is going okay and the course of action that Prof Q suggests is getting people to vote for Greens instead of switching their vote to the Liberal Party. His very practical suggestion is to get the preference deals right. An excellent strategy if it can be done but Prof Q asks for ideas about how this can be done. Your plaintive cry, to get someone who can grow a moustache is an example of left leaning people helping Tony Abbott.

    Understanding strategies and developing skills is a key component of football but politics may be more like cricket because of all the innings, overs, sledging and betting that goes on.

  9. Jim Rose
    March 31st, 2013 at 22:09 | #9

    @Jill Rush WA is the only state where preference deals might matter. even there, the Libs and WA Nats and christian and family parties have a total of 4 quotas as per the recent state upper house election.

    The ALP and Greens will be competing for the last senate seat in most states so preference deals do not matter at all.

  10. rog
    March 31st, 2013 at 22:31 | #10

    @Alan On the other hand being less disgraceful than Abbott must be an advantage?

  11. Alan
    March 31st, 2013 at 22:42 | #11

    @rog

    I wouldn’t recommend you try it as an election slogan.

  12. Jim Rose
    April 1st, 2013 at 08:26 | #12

    @Jill Rush my mistake. Preferences deals will not matter in WA because Labor got 29% of the vote in the recent WA state upper house election – just on 2 senate quotas. Labor will not have any preferences to share with the greens.

    the shooters, christian democrats and family first parties will preference the greens last. their votes combine to about 0.7 of a senate quota. their preferences will elect the WA Nat.

    Labor may lose the last senate seat to the greens in NSW and Vic. there will be no green senator elected in SA or QLD.

  13. Jill Rush
    April 1st, 2013 at 08:50 | #13

    @Jim Rose-you should add if nothing changes. The strategy needs to try to change things. The Greens should also be looking to try and change things and alternative communications are a must because the MSM will continue its Abbott deification and Gillard as Delilah.

  14. Nathan
    April 1st, 2013 at 11:17 | #14

    @Jill Rush
    By “making things up” I was referring to the quote of yours. If I read you correctly you’re accusing Ikonoklast et al of being LNP apologists which (in this company at least) is something of a slur and also wildly inaccurate.

    As for the relevance of policy failures the point that some here (including our host I think) are trying to make is that we are in the rather interesting position of Labour being almost certain to get two quota’s in many states but highly improbably to get three. If this is the case then saving the Senate corresponds to electing Greens, and a promising way to do this (as well as simply focussing in preferences) is to target the large section of the community who previously voted for Gillard but will now not consider doing so. The best way to win those votes is to show that it is the Greens, rather than Abbot, who in fact offer alternatives to the failures of Labour. There seems to very little risk of driving further votes to the Coalition attached to this strategy, as the ALP’s mistakes have hardly been covert. Rather by being critical in a sensible manner, progressives raise their chances of redirecting some of the vastly disaffected voters away from the Coalition.

    Perhaps counter-productive would have been a better word the illogical. What I meant, is that if one doesn’t make a distinction between actual criticism and sexist character assassination then it damages one’s credibility when calling out real misogyny. So it’s not a sensibly strategy if the goal is to stand up to the bullying of women in politics.

    A final thought: you made a good point earlier when you noted that several commenters here seem unwilling to acknowledge the existence of *any* Gillard success stories. I’m more than happy to give credit where it’s due on her legislative record, with (for my money) the highlight being the Carbon price bill which a) was substantially better than Rudd’s and b) actually got passed. Furthermore I think it’s frequently underestimated the extent to which the stability of the minority government depends upon Julia’ skill as a negotiator in contrast to her predecessor. I notice however that you seem seem equally unwilling to acknowledge the serious policy failings and lapses in political judgement.

  15. Nathan
    April 1st, 2013 at 11:18 | #15

    @Jim Rose
    Okay you win, I have no idea if you are being serious or not.

  16. Jill Rush
    April 1st, 2013 at 18:29 | #16

    @ Nathan, nothing I have written has been personal as you suggest. I have been talking of actions and unintended consequences. I have made several points about strategy but to hope that people will vote Greens when policies such as the carbon price are attacked as Julia Gillard’s fault is wishful thinking. The Greens are also blamed by the LNP so voters will be far more likely to vote for other independents and the Katter Party if they decide against the LNP . This will make policies such as changing the voting system to favour the right easier to achieve.

    To fail to call out the overblown rhetoric which serves as a dog whistling by referencing character flaws ascribed to women in general and to not call out the lack of respect shown by many is a failure as it will harm the Greens who are also led by a woman. There are many so called policy failures which have been directly caused by the instability of the Parliament.

    There are many men who won’t even recognise the manipulation of their emotions by the constant references to Liar, backstabbing, weak, incompetent etc which many men who have struggled with personal relationships with women tend to think are features of all women. The sledging in a cricket match relies on such psychological elements. The fact that the MSM labels every decision a disaster means that policies are rarely looked at calmly and this is evident in many of the comments on this thread. A third strategy to overcome this is to use alternative communications channels.

    The other thing I have suggested is to focus on the LNP failings rather than go on about decisions which may be changed for the worse by an incoming government if there are no balancing forces in the Senate. I still remain optimistic that people are basically fair and reasonable and if presented with balanced information will look to provide a protection from extremism in the Senate – but of course it is still possible for this to be undermined by both Greens and Labor.

  17. Jim Rose
    April 6th, 2013 at 10:07 | #17

    Hanson is planning to run again in the Senate in Qld. she will take some socially conservative, economic nationalist voters from Labor and direct preferences to Katter’s mob.

  18. Alan
    April 6th, 2013 at 14:55 | #18

    @Jill Rush

    The problem with your comments on this thread is that you simply disregard anything that is said by those of us who disagree with you and then use some magic mirror to discern our unconscious motivations. As with your arguments about the Gillard policy record, you simply refuse to support your magical discernments except by repeating them.

  19. Jim Rose
    April 7th, 2013 at 08:56 | #19

    Senator milne is on telly saying she will oppose the repeal of the carbon tax under abbott.

    No one is questioned whether she might not have the balance of power

  20. Jim Rose
    April 7th, 2013 at 09:02 | #20

    Milne agrees that effective control of the senate will be decided in SA and WA.

  21. Alan Curran
    April 7th, 2013 at 22:37 | #21

    After September the Greens are finished. Bye bye Sen. Hanson-Young

  22. John Quiggin
    April 8th, 2013 at 08:40 | #22

    @Jill Rush

    I do Gillard the credit of treating her as I would any other political leader, rather than judging her on different criteria because she is a woman. She lost my support early on with cash for clunkers and the consultative assembly, both disastrous ideas that were subsequently dumped. Her performance since then has been consistent with those beginnings – she has failed miserably on asylum seekers, equal marriage, single parents, mining tax, media reform and many other issues, either doing the wrong thing or making a mess of the politics.

    It’s true that, as her unpopularity has increased, the attacks on her have become more personal and, from a significant group on the right, misogynistic. But on the whole those attacks have rebounded – she is unpopular despite the antics of Alan Jones and similar, not because of them.

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