Coalition wins unwinable, Labour loses unlosable


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?


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.

Abbott survives 61 – 39


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has survived the spill vote on his leadership with 61 votes to 39.

That is not a convincing win.

Unless he can win back the confidence of those unhappy with his leadership this will be seen as the first battle in an on-going war.

That won’t be good for the government, the Liberal Party or Australia.


Exit polls indicate Liberals’ landslide win


A Sky News exit poll points to a landslide win for the Liberal Coalition.

Exit polls, like any others, can and do differ from the final vote count but it would be a very foolish gambler who put any money on a Labor win tonight.

Australia can learn from NZ – Hockey


Australian shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has praised the New Zealand economy and says Australia can learn lessons from the way it is managed.

“Your economy is doing so well. You’ve got your act together in New Zealand,” he told The Nation today. 

The Liberal Party member for North Sydney said the cost of doing business in New Zealand was 20 percent lower than in Australia but lower wages were not the only factor. . .

Australia needed to make prudent cuts to expenditure, pare back on waste and get rid of taxes that were a hand-break to growth, he said. . .

The learning isn’t one-way. The Labour party here could learn from what Hockey said too as it still hasn’t grasped the importance of prudent cuts to expenditure, paring back on waste and getting rid of taxes which are a hand-break to growth.

It still wants to spend more, waste more and tax more.

Political compass


Kiwi in Canberra pointed me to the ABC’s political compass.

You don’t have to be Australian, or in Australia, to do it.

My results were:

vote compass

Liberal Party 71%; Labour Party 50% and Green Party 28%.

I didn’t know enough about some of the issues to give a really accurate answer but somewhere in the light grey area is probably where I feel most comfortable.

A lot of issues aren’t black and white, and nor are political views.

I’m more liberal on some things, less on others and further right on some, less on others.

What particularly caught my eye about this was that

Politics part of community service for founding member


Community service, a desire to help people and loyalty were common factors which motivated the women who were celebrated at the opening of the National Party’s 75th annual conference.

One of those women was a founding member, the late Hilda Gardiner was a conservative with a social conscience.

The daughter of James and Jessie Patrick, she was born in August 1896 and grew up on farm on Taieri Plains. Her mother was a great role model and told Hilda ‘we are put on this earth to serve others’.

This was a guiding principle for Hilda though out her life and the major motivation for her political involvement.

Hilda was a stalwart of the local community, local organisations and political scene. She was very concerned about the welfare of young mothers and children not getting a good start . This led to her involvement in the Free
Kindergarten Association, Birthright, Plunket and IHC. She was also active in Women’s Division Federated Farmers.

Her life-long involvement in Red Cross started when driving during the flu epidemic in 1918. She was awarded the society’s highest honour and represented the organisation overseas.

Hilda was also awarded an MBE.

She was brought up on a farm with livestock, observed the seasons, the cycle of nature and cultivation of food and this planted the seeds which made her a conservationist. She was active in the Tree Planting Association, Beautifying Society, Soil Health Association and a founding member of the Compos Society. She was very aware of the need to tread lightly on the earth.

When the National Party was founded Hilda was living with her husband, Arthur and their seven children at Tokarahi in North Otago. She held office at branch, women’s section, electorate and Otago Southland divisional level, was a
member of the Dominion Council and served as Women’s vice president.

A high point of her involvement in National was when the party first came to power in 1949. She had been involved in the party from the start and had worked so hard for it, there was a real sense of achievement in the election

In A Pretty Piece of Driving, a book on Hilda’s life, her granddaughter Jan Bolwell wrote:

“1949. When our man Tom Hayman stood against Nordmeyer, I said, ‘Tom, if you win this seat for us, I’ll ride on a bicycle down Thames Street.’ When Tom won, I jumped on the back of a bike being ridden by George Elvidge, the
manager of Wright Stephenson, and sailed triumphantly down the main street of Oamaru. Everyone thought I’d had a few.

“Then when Tom died the party asked me to take his place.

” ‘Hilda,’ said Arthur, ‘if you become an MP I’ll divorce you.’ So that was that.”

Hilda threw herself into voluntary work instead.

Her party involvement necessitated many trips to Wellington where she loved discussing issues and policy. She was extraordinarily knowledgeable and didn’t just work off emotion. Her grandchildren would visit and find her
listening to parliament on the radio with a copy of Hansard under her arm.

Hilda was a woman of stature and presence with an astute political brain. She had huge admiration for Prime Minister Keith Holyoake who was a good friend. She enjoyed working with him and the men who served in cabinet.

The party was in power for so long there was a sense of mission. The government was able to not just take a short term view but develop and implement policy for the mid and longer term too.

“I loved those meetings at parliament. Keith and the other ministers would join us when they could get away from the House. Tom Shand, Ralph Hanan, Norm Shelton and Harry Lake. All good men. We would sit for hours discussing issues of the day  . . .

“Strong, loyal women in the National party were listened to, I can assure you of that! Keith always said, ‘an ounce of loyalty is worth a ton of cleverness’ . . .

“Politics is not about brainpower, It’s about teamwork and being in touch with ordinary people. I learned that from Keith and from old Bill Massey . . .

“He was the Prime Minister. A mate of my father-in-law, Willie Gardiner. Farmer Bill we called him. Great mountain of a man with his busy moustache, huge paunch and bellowing laugh. On his tours around the country Bill Massey often stayed at the Grange, the family farm at Papakaio. That’s how I got interested in politics, listening to these two men talk about the latest events around the country. This was in the early 1920s before the Reform and Liberal parties joined to create our national party. We still had the remnants of the old Liberal Party in North Otago and they were dead against Farmer Bill and his Reform party. There was a real split between the farmers and the townies in those days. I remember one night old Bill was to address a crowd in Ngapara, but there was widespread flooding in North Otago and all the rivers were overflowing. Wee Willie Gardiner – you know what a massive man he was – heaved the PM on to his back and staggered across the swollen Windsor stream. It’s a wonder they weren’t both drowned. In Ngapara the Liberals gave him hell, booing and jeering and completely disrupting the meeting. ‘Listen to the lions roar’, old Bill shouted, ‘I didn’t know you had a zoo in here’. There was dead silence after that. Had them eating our of the palm of his hand. I learned a few tricks from Massey, especially those rallies I organised at the National Party rooms in Oamaru.”

Hilda was also a formidable worker and fundraiser.

“In 1940, just after he was elected leader, Sid Holland called in for lunch at Island Cliff with his secretary Tom Wilkes and our local MP David Kidd. He urged us to come up with fundraising ideas. Our National party was only four years old and desperately in need of decent premises. A group of us National Party women in North Otago decided to run a restaurant. In the end we had a fully equipped kitchen and restaurant that could cater for over one hundred folk. It wasn’t fancy tucker, just wholesome, cheap, food. People
brought in fresh vegetables and home killed meat and we relied on a network of volunteers. Our restaurant was very popular with the local community and we managed to raise thirty five thousand pounds!

The National Party rooms also hosted large meetings. Hilda’s strength of character, strong will and sense of duty were exemplified the day she was speaking at one of these. She had got the news of the sudden death of one of her sons that morning but carried on with the meeting.

Hilda was a pragmatist who took the highs and lows in her stride, knowing it was the cycle of politics. However, the 1984 election was a low point, she was disturbed not so much by National’s loss as the nature of it.

“What a fiasco. I was furious. It wasn’t the defeat. It was the way we lost. Besides licking our wounds I never imagined that as a party, we would also be forced to hang our heads in shame. How could Rob do that to his loyal followers? And not being straight with the new Prime Minister. Fancy Mr Lange having to fly Bernie Galvin, the secretary of the Treasury, and Spencer Russell, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, up to Auckland to tell him the true state of the country’s finances. Disgraceful. Nothing left to do except pick up the blue flag and march on before communism devoured us all.”

All Hilda’s community involvement was very much part of her life and times.

It started in the days before the welfare state when people had a responsibility to take care of the community, particularly the vulnerable. She firmly believed it was what you did; you didn’t and couldn’t rely on the state to provide.

Her service to National was part of her service to the community. Hilda Gardiner, the conservative with a conscience, was involved in politics to help people.

A Pretty Piece of Driving by Jan Bolwell is published by Steele Roberts. Jan also does a one woman stage show about her grandmother.

P.S. National ministers Paula Bennett and Hekia Parata were interviewed by Patrick Gower on women’s role in politics.

Loser but no winner


Australia may have its first hung parliament in decades after election night results gave neither Labor nor the Liberals a majority.

Julia Gillard refused to concede last night and it’s possible she may be able to cobble together a coalition once preferences are counted. But coming second on election night was a loss for Labor and its very new leader.

However, being ahead by a nose but without a clear majority can’t be counted as a win for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party either.

One of the criticisms of MMP is that it doesn’t necessarily give a conclusive election night result. But Britain’s election under First Past the Post earlier this year and Australia’s preferential system have both given indecisive results.

Turnbull down but not out


A former party leader can go quietly or stay and fight.

Malcolm Turnbull, who was deposed as Australian Liberal Party leader last week, has a blog post Time for Some Straight Talking on Climate Change  which indicates he’s doing the latter:

While a shadow minister, Tony Abbott was never afraid of speaking bluntly in a manner that was at odds with Coalition policy.

So as I am a humble backbencher I am sure he won’t complain if I tell a few home truths about the farce that the Coalition’s policy, or lack of policy, on climate change has descended into.

First, let’s get this straight. You cannot cut emissions without a cost. To replace dirty coal fired power stations with cleaner gas fired ones, or renewables like wind let alone nuclear power or even coal fired power with carbon capture and storage is all going to cost money.

To get farmers to change the way they manage their land, or plant trees and vegetation all costs money.

Somebody has to pay.

So any suggestion that you can dramatically cut emissions without any cost is, to use a favourite term of Mr Abbott, “bullshit.” Moreover he knows it.

The whole argument for an emissions trading scheme as opposed to cutting emissions via a carbon tax or simply by regulation is that it is cheaper – in other words, electricity prices will rise by less to achieve the same level of emission reductions. . .

Maybe Tony Abbott and Phil Goff should consult each other on how to handle the choir when some of its members are singing a different song.

Hat tip: Larvatus Prodeo

August 31 in history


On August 31:

1894 The Arbitration Act became law, a flagship policy of Richard Seddon’s Liberal government, made New Zealand the first country in the world to outlaw strikes in favour of compulsory arbitration.

1918: US lyracist Alan Jay Lerner was born.

1940: Australian actor Jack Thompson was born.


1945 The Australian Liberal Party was formed by Robert Menzies.

1945 Irish musician Van Morrison was born.

1949 US actor Richard Gere was born.

1957  The Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia) gained its independence from Britain.

Flag Coat of arms

1962 Trinadad and Tobago became independent.

1974 Prime Minsiter Norman Kirk died.

1991 Kyrgyzstan declared its independence from the USSR.

1994 The Provisional Irish Republican Army declared a cease fire.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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