Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Despite victory, the booers and hissers spoil the party

By David Burchell - posted Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Late on election night I found myself in front of a television screen among a group of newly joined ALP members, the kinds of folk who pop up in these electoral circumstances the way buttercups appear in a field after spring rain.

They were cheering, booing and hissing, of course, roughly in the manner university students do when they first discover the joys of political involvement over a flagon of rough red. Except that these people had left their uni days behind some time in the 1970s.

John Howard's dignified concession speech elicited a torrent of boos that made his words almost inaudible. Julia Gillard's gracious tribute to the now ex-PM was met with sullen grumbling.


By far the greatest excitement, though, was reserved for Maxine McKew, the star ALP candidate who is the new member for Bennelong.

McKew is an intelligent, focused and personable politician with a big future. But it was hard to resist the impression that she appealed less for her personal and political qualities than on account of what she's taken to stand for.

You know what I mean. ABC-reared and raised. Socially concerned and culturally sophisticated. From the right part of town. Our kind of girl.

The media coverage of the election in McKew's home town of Sydney reflected some of the same obsessions. The three big seats in town were taken to be Bennelong, Malcolm Turnbull's eastern seat of Wentworth, and Joe Hockey's seat of North Sydney.

It's a focus that says more about the self-obsession of members of the political class than it does about Australian democracy.

In point of fact, the swing in Bennelong was almost slam-bang on the NSW average of 6 per cent. The Liberal vote went down by about 4.5 per cent; the greater part of Labor's increased vote actually came from the Greens, who ran dead.


In North Sydney the swing was less than 5 per cent, and Hockey was never troubled. In Wentworth there was no swing at all. High-profile but accident-prone lawyer George Newhouse was the only Labor candidate in NSW to lead his party backwards.

In short, most of the big stories were not such big stories, truth be told.

By contrast, there were other results, in other, less fashionable parts of town, that were much more telling indications of the country's new electoral landscape.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

First published in The Australian on November 26, 2007.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

6 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David Burchell, a senior lecturer in humanities at the University of Western Sydney, is author of Western Horizon: Sydney's Heartland and the Future of Australian Politics.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Burchell

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 6 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy