Coalition wins unwinable, Labour loses unlosable

May 19, 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has won the election that pundits and pollsters said was unwinnable.

The Labor Party lost the one that was supposed to be unlosable and its leader Bill Shorten has resigned.

Scott Morrison has earnt a permanent place as a Liberal Party legend — returning the Government in what was meant to be an unwinnable election for the Coalition.

Mr Morrison smashed the doctrine that disunity will lead to electoral death.

Despite three prime ministers in two terms of government, the Queensland swing to back the Coalition and swings in Tasmania and WA showed that ultimately jobs and fear of change are too dominant.

Labor conceded but it’s not yet clear whether the Liberal Coalition has enough seats to govern as a majority government or whether it will be a minority one with the support of independent MPs.

The Prime Minister made the campaign all about economic management and himself — out-campaigning Labor by running a brutal and stunning campaign demolishing Labor’s big-target policy agenda.

Mr Morrison made the campaign a referendum on him and Bill Shorten, and downplayed the Liberal brand — cultivating a new Scott Morrison image and promising to be a steady pair of hands on the economy.

He told a packed crowd of Liberal supporters in Sydney he had always believed in miracles.

“And tonight we’ve been delivered another one,” he said. . . 

Labor took a big risk campaigning on big changes to tax loop holes including franking credits and negative gearing, allowing Mr Morrison to spend every day of the campaign casting doubt on the way Labor would remake the country.

His message was sharp, piercing and he never deviated from the one central claim — that Labor was a high-taxing risk to the economy and Mr Shorten would take money “from your pocket”. . . 

By contrast, Labor drifted from message to message — it started on health, moved to wages and staggered into climate change. . . 

The party prosecuted a message about the future premised on climate action and fairness while the Coalition stuck to a disciplined campaign with almost no new policy announced apart from the tax cuts unveiled in the Budget and a last-minute pitch for aspiring young home owners.

Are there lessons for New Zealand?

Economic management matters and high taxes don’t win elections.

It also raises questions about how much buy-in there is from the public to climate change policies which come at a high economic and social cost with questionable environmental benefit.


Advance Australia where?

July 3, 2016

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has not got the decisive election result for which he was hoping.

The Liberal coalition hasn’t got a majority but nor has Labor.

The answer to the question over where and how Australia will advance now matters on this side of the Tasman too.


Hard to hang on when cracks appear

February 9, 2015

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing a leadership vote this morning.

If he wins it, his victory is likely to be temporary. It is very hard to hang on to the leadership once cracks appear in a caucus.

He benefitted from that as Labor went through a prolonged leadership uncertainty with Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard then Rudd again.

We’ve seen it in New Zealand with members of the Labour caucus undermining successive leaders.

One of the reasons John Key’s leadership and the National Party have been so successful is because the caucus has been disciplined and united.

No doubt there are some robust conversations behind closed doors, which is healthy. But there has been none of the disunity or disloyalty that signal a caucus in turmoil and a leadership in trouble.

It is, of course, much easier to be united when your leader and party are popular.

But whether disunity and disloyalty precipitate a poll plunge or follow it, one builds on and encourages the other.

Party leaders come and go, and an unhappy and leaking caucus is a strong sign that the going is likely to be sooner rather than later.


NZ envy of world – Joe Hockey

July 23, 2014

Australian treasurer Joe Hockey says New Zealand’s economy is the envy of the world:

Mr Hockey told TV ONE’s Breakfast today that Australia could learn some lessons from their Kiwi neighbours.

“New Zealand has done a splendid job, the Key government is a standout government around the world and as a result of that it is heading towards a surplus,” he said.

“New Zealand is starting to live within its means.”

Delivering his first budget this year, Mr Hockey said he was forced to slash spending by $10 billion because of the previous Labor government’s overspending.

“They took us to a position where if we don’t take immediate action we will face much bigger debts,” he said.

“If you make the difficult but important decisions up front then you get the benefits down the track. We’ve got a long way to go to catch up to the budget position of New Zealand.”

The government borrowed to take the roughest edges off the global financial crisis but at the same time took a very disciplined approach to public spending.

By doing so it turned round the forecast decade of deficits Labour left it with and is now back on track to surplus.

The growing economy is one of the reasons we’re getting a net migration gain:

. . . In the June 2014 year, permanent and long-term (PLT) migrant arrivals numbered 100,800 (up 14 percent from 2013), the first time more than 100,000 arrivals have been recorded in a year. Migrant departures numbered 62,400 (down 22 percent). This resulted in a net gain of 38,300 migrants, the highest annual gain since the October 2003 year (39,300). New Zealand recorded its highest-ever net gain of 42,500 migrants in the May 2003 year.

In the latest year, New Zealand had a net loss of 8,300 migrants to Australia, well down from 31,200 a year earlier. Net gains were recorded from most other countries, led by India (7,000), China (6,300), and the United Kingdom (5,500).

In June 2014, New Zealand had a seasonally adjusted net gain (more arrivals than departures) of 4,300 migrants, the second-highest monthly gain of migrants. The highest gain ever recorded was in February 2003 (4,700).

Net migration has been positive and mostly increasing since September 2012. The difference in the net gains recorded in September 2012 and June 2014 was mainly due to:

  • fewer New Zealand citizens leaving for Australia (down 2,400) 
  • more non-New Zealand citizens arriving (up 1,500)
  • more New Zealand citizens arriving from Australia (up 500).

Seasonally adjusted PLT arrivals of 2,000 migrants from Australia in June 2014 matched the number of departures to that country, resulting in net migration of zero. The last time this series recorded net migration of zero was in August 1991. 

We’re on track for our first ever net gain of migrants from Australia.

No wonder their treasurer envies us and the benefits we’re reaping from the hard, but right, decisions taken to get the government back into surplus and the economy growing sustainably.


Rudd retires

November 14, 2013

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced he will retire from parliament.

. . . In a shock announcement on Wednesday night, an emotional Mr Rudd, who served twice as Prime Minister and was one of Labor’s most polarising figures, said there came a time in every politician’s life when their family said “enough is enough” and there was no point “being here for the sake of being here”.

He leaves at the end of the week and did not say what he planned to do next. The general reaction among his colleagues was a mixture of sadness, relief he was gone and concern for the byelection and the pressure it could place on Bill Shorten. . . .

It is very difficult for a former leader to go back to the back benches.

His presence there and active undermining of Julia Gillard destabilised her government.

Had he retired when she beat him in the leadership race the Labor Party might not have retained power but it would almost certainly be in a much stronger position than it is now.


Ruxon on Rudd

October 17, 2013

Former Labor MP Nicola Ruxon has delivered a very frank assessment of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:

NICOLA Roxon has called on Kevin Rudd to quit parliament, defending the 2010 coup as “an act of political bastardry” that was warranted because he had been “such a bastard himself”.

Delivering what would be her “first and last” public comments on Labor’s time in government, the former attorney-general launched a blistering attack on Mr Rudd.Ms Roxon said it was the “bitter truth” that as long as Mr Rudd remained in parliament, he would feature in leadership polls and be a destabilising figure.

“In my opinion and it is only my opinion, for the good of the federal parliamentary Labor Party . . . Kevin Rudd should leave the parliament,” she said.

“Removing Kevin was an act of political bastardry, for sure, but this act of political bastardry was made possible only because Kevin had been such a bastard himself.”  . . .

It’s difficult to understand why former leaders hang on when they’ve been ousted.

It must be very, very difficult to go from leading the country to warming a seat on the back bench.

Julia Gillard acted with dignity when she accepted her defeat as leader and didn’t seek re-election as an MP.

Rudd’s determination to stay in parliament will continue to destabilise his party.


Bill Shorten wins ALP leadership

October 13, 2013

Bill Shorten has won the leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

Mr Shorten, 46, of the right faction, is the first Labor leader to be elected under rules introduced by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, in which the result of a ballot of the Labor rank and file is weighted equally against a ballot of Labor MPs. . .

Reunifying the party after years of internal division and a substantial defeat at last month’s election will be a big job.


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