New South Wales is the previous name of Australia. At the time, New South Wales not only included the whole of the country but it also included New Zealand. Since those early colonial days, it has constantly been the principal state of Australia, counting for one third of the population as well as one third of the economy of the country. The recent major change to its political environment will necessarily have repercussions on what may continue to be considered today the conglomerate of Australia and New Zealand.
We have seen the effects of the interdependency of life styles and economic conditions throughout a vast geographic region as a result of earthquakes occurring in New Zealand and Japan. We will doubtlessly see similar effects throughout Australia and possibly also New Zealand whose economy and population are intimately and inextricably entwined with ours, due to the recent political change in New South Wales.
Such effects may well have been imperceptible had there been regular or frequent change in the past. Evolution tends to go unnoticed in the short term. However, what we have just witnessed is an especially rare event. We had not seen any political change in New South Wales for sixteen years.
That was in 1995 and it was a swing back to normal, back to Labor. Labor has been in office for 52 of the past 70 years. That is what makes the recent swing so special. It is not normal. It goes against the grain. Things had to be unusually bad for such a dramatic change to occur.
Appearances, however, can sometimes be quite misleading. Despite the huge margin of votes, nobody actually won the election. Labor lost. The electorate obviously considered that the labor government was so bad, it was simply not posible to keep it in office any longer. The LNP just happened to be the only viable alternative. It was the right party in the right place at the right time.
Though the LNP may not have had any special merit, the consequences of its rise to power are, nevertheless, far reaching. The whole political spectrum in what may be considered to be the conglomerate of Australia and New Zealand has suddenly changed. The balance of power has swung from left to right. It will take time for this to filter through but tensions will inevitably arise between state and national governments. The successive defeats of Labor, first in Victoria four months ago and now in New South Wales, will weigh heavily in the balance. A wind of change is blowing across the states,isolating the federal government. A clear majority of both the economy and the population of the country is now governed at the state level by the Liberal Party and their allies.
There seems to be very little room for doubt in the electors' minds. The new Liberal state governments will be successful. They have not had to make any rash promises that cannot be kept. All they are expected to do now is to get on with the job honestly and effectively and do the simple things that Labor has been incapable of doing. Simple, straight forward things like building basic infrastructure and hospitals which everyone considers to be essential. Nothing fancy, just basic utilities which Labor talked about but never got around to implementing.
It is not the intellectual vote or that of the privileged class that caused the swing. It is the vote of the ordinary citizen, the average wage earner, the tradesman, the blue collar worker, the housewife , the student, the pensioner, all of whom constitute the mass of the population. These are people of plain common sense. They understand simple language. They are the sort of people Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he observed :
You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.
As we are all aware, there is a lot of clean up work still to be done in the aftermath of the recent natural disasters that hit the Australian continent, including large sectors of New South Wales. Now there is also a lot of clean up work to be done in the aftermath of the state legislative elections. This will occupy the new government for quite a while over the coming months.
There can be no doubt that the labor government has disgraced itself and the party will need to carry out a thorough analysis of what needs to be done in order to restore credibility and voter confidence. The election has triggered that and the descent into purgatory will be a long and painful process. It can be expected that a number of heads will roll and many promising careers will probably be broken. That is part of the terrible price to pay for the wayward manner in which the labor government conducted the state's affairs leading up to the final judgement of the electorate.
Such is often the fate of governments that cling to power long after they have exhausted their usefulness and their capacity to regenerate vigor and inspiration into their action. They inevitably lose touch with reality and find themselves turning in circles, ultimately sinking into a state of total impotency and debauchery. This appears to have been the initial trigger that led to the final downfall of the labor government in New South Wales.
It is a matter of debate as to who is at fault in such cases. It is easy to put the blame on the political parties involved. However, it should be recalled that the rules and principles of democracy in New South Wales stipulate that state legislative elections must be held every four years and that voting is compulsory. It is not the privilege of governments to decide whether they should remain in office or not, nor for how long. It is the electors who decide. Not only are they free to decide, but it is their legal duty to do so.
Four times the question was put to the honorable citizens of New South Wales over the past sixteen years. Three times they voted for the labor government to continue. It took sixteen years for them to realise in what a pitiful state the government actually was, and sixteen years before they finally conceded to let its tired and worn-out members off the hook and take a well-earned rest.