Features Australia

Rocket science

20 April 2019

9:00 AM

20 April 2019

9:00 AM

The news has finally reached us over here in London. Australia is going to have an election. The choice will be between a) the party on the left of the centre-left and b) the Labor party, Bill Shorten’s team that now occupies the crazier realms of the Rent-Seekers’ and Renewables outer-galaxy where ‘Taxes R Us’ has its head office and economic black holes proliferate. This is where six wasted years (barring stopping the boats and killing the carbon tax) of Coalition government has got us. The Libs over that time threw in the towel on the Big Government NBN, and on the Big Government NDIS, and on the Big Government anti-federalist Gonski education funding that’s divorced from results and on the super Big Government and really idiotic renewables targets – meaning ones that have taken Australia from having the democratic world’s cheapest electricity when I arrived in 2005 to now having basically the democratic world’s highest prices today. They gave up on free speech and did nothing about our massively left-leaning universities and ABC (save for disgustingly throwing tens of millions at the latter just before calling the election). Oh, and they opted not to pull out of Paris, not to cut the world’s highest per capita immigration intake (not in any honest way and they know it) while being, yes, a Big Spending government that has to rely on high tax revenues and resort to every transparently bogus gimmick going to pretend we are closing in on a surplus (‘not quite there folks but getting there’), and to talk up comparatively miniscule tax cuts somewhere over the horizon. All that and a new PM Morrison who has decided to stuff his office with lefties (sorry, in Pyne-speak: ‘moderates’), including his new, one-time Kooyong resident chief of staff and Crosby Textor acolyte, who seem to have convinced Morrison that the campaign should focus on Victorian city seats not those in Queensland.  Brilliant!

And yet even with disappointment and sell-out piled on disappointment and sell-out, the Libs did at least rid themselves of the Labor-lite, spite-filled cuckoo in the nest Malcolm. And despite all of the above they look a lot better than Labor – which tells you how bad things are in Australia if you don’t mind hearing a blunt and extremely depressing truth. In a future column I will give you a more detailed delcon take on our upcoming election and how I’m going to fill in my ballot. Here, in this one, I want to turn to some big picture stuff.

To do so let’s turn overseas for a minute. How many readers realise that in the last US election rich people overwhelmingly voted for the Democrats (and for Mrs Clinton) rather than for Mr Trump and the Republicans? One study found that Clinton won voters with a family income of more than US $250,000 by a 20-point margin. She won virtually all of the wealthiest counties. And the Democrats were far better funded, significantly outspending the Republicans by close to 2:1 (which indirectly points out the idiocy of the stitched up Russian collusion ‘narrative’, that some Russians spending a couple of million on social media buys somehow influenced an election where the Democrats spent billions, and much, much more than Trump).

Or take the Brexit referendum. The wealthy and well-off were massively more likely to be Remainers than Leavers. Oh, and Tories in Britain are no longer clearly the party of the rich there either, though Mr Corbyn with his anti-Israel, excuse-the-terrorists, cosy-up to the IRA, and hard left across-the-board views probably does put something of a damper on even a virtue-signalling, Mercedes-driving doctor’s wife’s willingness to vote Labour in the UK. The same goes for the recent election in Canada’s biggest and wealthiest province of Ontario – and remember, in Canada they actually have working federalism with functioning provinces who levy their own income taxes (all at different rates across the country) and who spend their time doing something other than playing the genuflecting mendicant in the nation’s capital begging for money.  So provincial elections there matter in a way that state elections here (with all due respect to Ms Berejiklian) do not. And in that recent Ontario election the Conservative party winner, Mr Doug Ford, was in no way the choice of the wealthy, inner-city elites. It was those a good deal further down the economic food chain who put him in office.

My point is that this is one of the great trends across the Anglosphere (and probably entire) democratic world. We are living through the realignment of the political spectrum. Country club types who once were solidly conservative now simply are not. They’re far more likely to be lefties. And what were once known as your working class types are now more likely to vote for your Trumps, Fords, Brexits et al. Of course when confronted with this trend your Peter van Onselen-type journalists, and not just ones like him who seem not to have got a prediction right since Noah and the flood (not about how Julia Gillard would perform, not about Tony Abbott being able to win an election, not about the possibility of stopping the boats, not about the quality of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, not about whether Trump would win, or Brexit would get a ‘yes’ – stop me if you can think of anything he’s gotten right), resort to calling this new right-of-centre grouping the ‘hard right’ or the ‘far right’ or the ‘reactionary right’.  It’s palpable nonsense, however widespread and common on the ABC and other lefty outlets. Tony Abbott a proponent of hard right policies? Don’t make me laugh. Would that be the paid parental leave scheme? Or the temporary extra income tax on high earners? Or bailing out on repealing 18C? Try it yourself with Trump. Ask your favourite lefty to tell you which policies it is of his that qualify as ‘reactionary’.

Which takes us back to the upcoming Australian election. In the medium term, seats like Josh Frydenberg’s look to me to be lost to the Coalition. Inner- city seats are going to go the way that they already have in Toronto and the US. Conservatives will win in the outer suburbs or not at all. Queensland will matter a helluva lot more than a few Victorian city seats.

Got that Crosby Textor?

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