My main reaction to the result of the Australian federal election was intense relief. Not so much because we will have a Labor government, but because we no longer are obliged to endure the incompetent, destructive malice of the Morrison brand of Liberal rule.
To me, there were a few major points worth noting from this election.
One important aspect was the utter failure of Clive Palmer’s lunatic party to achieve anything at all, despite the money the billionaire threw at the election. The failure of his mad puppet Craig Kelly to be re-elected was very heartening.
Indeed, it seems the deliberately obnoxious fringe parties of the right generally failed to win traction this election, with old stager Pauline Hanson losing ground too.
The rise of the “Teals” in formerly Liberal seats speaks volumes. As soon as voters in these seats were given the opportunity to vote for rational conservatives who were prepared to discuss a humane agenda, they switched en-masse, leaving the Morrison-Liberals high and dry.
Most heartening of all, to me, was the obvious and inescapable failure of the Murdoch media empire to achieve its aim of having Morrison’s government re-elected. Its frenzied campaigning on behalf of the Liberals and against Labor, the Greens and the Teals fell short. Many Australians, it seems, may have finally realised this nasty empire is not their friend and that it cannot be trusted to provide anything worthwhile in the way of news or commentary. It is, in fact, a blight on Australian society and its failure to achieve its goal in this election represents a massive win for all of us.
Surge for the Greens
The surge in support for the Greens is significant. Many younger people, coming up to voting age, are deeply concerned at the failure of the major parties to act effectively against climate change. They have seen that the two big parties have been enslaved by the money of the fossil fuel corporations (and other cartels like banking and gambling) and they fear that no progress is possible until that nexus is broken. As older voters die off and as more young people arrive at voting age, this trend will continue – assuming the big parties fail to reform.
Scott Morrison’s epic failure in Western Australia should not have been any surprise. His “let-it-rip” rhetoric in the early, frightening days of the Covid pandemic – reading straight from the big business, Murdoch media scripts – played very badly in the West, especially when he backed Clive Palmer’s legal bid to force the borders open.
Worth noting is the low primary vote for both the major parties. Labor is set to govern despite receiving a low primary vote. Clearly, many voters preferred another party first, and put Labor second. It should be of deep concern to Labor that many voters regard it as not much better than the Liberals – even the dreadful Morrison-Liberals.
What happens now for the Liberals? Murdoch’s commentators have made it clear they want the party to ignore the obvious lesson of the election and to pull even harder to the right. It isn’t surprising that the much-disliked Peter Dutton has been allowed to achieve his long-time wish to lead the Liberals. It’s early in Labor’s term, and whoever is Liberal leader now isn’t necessarily going to be Liberal leader when election time rolls around. Potential rivals might well be expecting Dutton, given enough rope, to self-destruct.
I expect Murdoch’s long game will be to push the Liberals as far right as they can be induced to go in preparation for a hard-right, pro-corporate government when the pendulum swings back. Based on past experience, even the mad NewsCorpse rags will soft-pedal on Labor for a little while, waiting for some gaffes and slip-ups to leverage into the next propaganda onslaught.
For now, the Murdoch empire will hope that Labor will be too pre-occupied with other issues to start the difficult and dangerous job of de-fanging the vipers in the company’s crowded snakepit.
If the Liberals had any sense they would rebuild as a moderate party of economic and social commonsense and rational tolerance. That doesn’t seem likely, given Murdoch and Dutton.
Re-fund the ABC
As for Labor, I hope they make a clean break and govern well. This government will have to deal with a deadly and relentless enemy in the media. It should recognise this and start work on undoing the concentration of the nation’s media ownership. Murdoch should get no more undeserved taxpayer funds. The ABC should be re-funded, and put back on a safe footing. It has already slipped in quality under the hammer blows of Murdoch and the Morrison-Liberals. That quality needs to be restored and reinforced.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart requires attention. It needs to be as satisfactory as possible to all the vital stakeholders before it is adopted – which it must be.
We need the promised Anti-Corruption Commission to be powerful and independent and we need the enabling legislation to shore up its foundations against future attacks by hostile governments. Once in place, we need it to get straight to work. It has many, many inquiries to make, based on the past decade of rot and decay in public life.
There is little to no hope of Australia having an independent foreign policy, but it would make sense to dial down the foolish war rhetoric that was being flung about by Peter Dutton in the last months of the Morrison government.
It would be good, too, to see Australia’s government formally request the return of Australian citizen Julian Assange from his political imprisonment by our AUKUS allies.
Affordable housing is a huge issue, but like the other by-products of the massive money-printing campaigns by the world’s big governments, it must been seen in its true global context. Public housing construction might be the best way to move, given the precarious state the world’s financial systems are apparently heading towards.
I hope Labor’s factions can make peace, and that those factional warlords not currently holding the levers of power will be able to contain themselves from undermining the Albanese government. It’s often been said that Labor’s internal factions hate each other more than either of them hate the Liberals – or even the Greens. That needs to change.
On energy policy Australia’s world-class researchers into renewables need better support to turn their discoveries into solutions.
As for refugees, the disgusting indefinite detention of people in offshore island hell-holes is inhumane and should end forthwith. Of course Labor doesn’t want to make any moves that will set the boats in motion again, but there must be a more compassionate way of dealing with those now being held in ludicrously expensive custody.
So much to do. So many obstacles.
But so much to gain from sincere effort.