In hindsight, the Coalition’s win on May 18 should not have been a surprise. As numerous media commentators are now pointing out, Bill Shorten was not well liked, his policies made the ALP a big target for criticism and fear-mongering from a range of non-Labor sources and the election wasn’t a defacto referendum on Australia’s climate change policies, regardless of how much activists wanted it to be so.
The most obvious conclusion to draw from the election is that voters readily differentiate between state and federal issues. Labor was hoping the low Coalition vote in the most recent Victorian and West Australian elections would be reflected in federal voting intentions. This didn’t happen and instead voters in those two states assessed the policies and personalities of the various parties and decided to maintain the status quo.
It’s clear that climate change was not the issue that Labor, the Greens and GetUp! were telling us it was. In Queensland, the ALP was devastated electorally because voters put jobs above climate change. In Tony Abbott’s seat, while ‘independent’ Zali Steggall may have campaigned on climate-related issues, voters are more likely to have decided that, after 25 years and with no prospects of Abbott returning to the ministry, it was time for a change.
GetUp! also had a dismay result. They focused on seven Coalition seats and only one of these seats changed hands – in Warringah, Tony Abbott lost for reasons that I believe had nothing to do with climate change and not because Warringah voters suddenly changed from being blue-ribbon conservative Liberal supporters to green activist supporters.
And let’s not forget the hypocrisy of Getup! and other losers in this election. Their national director said that the election results were disappointing ‘as it shows fear campaigns have successfully divided us’, yet GetUp! and various green groups based their own climate change campaigning on fear – we only have 10 years to save the planet!
The union movement can take no joy from Saturday’s results. Not only did their hand-picked man Bill Shorten lose and announce his retirement as opposition leader but, out of the 16 seats they targeted around Australia, 15 of those seats remain unchanged.
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