Flat White

The warning from the West for Scott Morrison

19 March 2021

3:21 PM

19 March 2021

3:21 PM

The way Liberal parties in Australia constantly abandon their voters to embark on reckless climate agendas means that instead of cancelling Pepe le Pew, the cartoon skunk should be studied closely as a lesson of what happens when you fail to adjust a strategy that never, ever works. 

Questioned about whether the results of Saturday’s election wipeout for the WA Liberal Party had impacted the federal Liberals, Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday that:  You only have to go back to the 2001 federal election which saw in the same year a very, very negative result for the Coalition at the (Queensland) state election, where we got some 28.5 per cent of the vote only to then go and get 45.6 per cent of the vote in the federal election.” 

Not changing tactics now because 20 years ago it all worked out OK is a bold strategy, but it’s one to be expected from someone with such a keen eye for elections. No one knows more about election statistics than Scott Morrison. However, no one seems to know less about the concerns of mainstream Australians.  

Someone who does see the concerns of mainstream Australians would know there was far more at play on Saturday than voters knowing the difference between state and federal politics – there was a rejection of yet another climate policy that was equally destructive and useless. 

In a crowded field the most incredible stat out of the WA election, reported by Paige Taylor in The Australian, is that the Liberal Party were beaten to seventh place in the upper house by the Daylight Savings Party.  

Because at least the Daylight Savings Party knows what they stand for. It’s in the name. The word Liberal is also in the name of the Party Zak Kirkup led, but you wouldn’t know it from the policies. 

Andrew Hastie MP, criticising the WA Liberal Party, said that “we are the party who backs working families and industry.” In recent years it’s the people outside of the political class who have been delivering liberal and conservative parties elections – and this is true across the world 


Regional Queensland delivered Scott Morrison government in 2019. Donald Trump won in 2016 off the rust-belt states and Boris Johnson brought down the then-impenetrable Red Wall’of working-class seats to win the most recent UK election.  

And mainstream Australians do not want reckless climate policies. IPA research released on Monday found 52% of Australians agreed with the statement “Jobs and economic security are more important than reducing carbon emissions” – and only 21% disagreed.  

The WA Liberals ignored this. They appealed to Greens and Labor voters and ignored their own people – and those voters punished them for it.  

Kirkup’s New Energy Jobs Plan would have delivered net-zero emissions in WA by 2030 and would have sold two government-owned coal-fired power stations. It should have been a tip-off to him that his plan was a dud when it was even too extreme for Mark McGowan. 

IPA research shows that a net-zero target puts 653,600 jobs across Australia at risk. And the industries that would suffer the most are agriculture, heavy manufacturing, electricity supply and coal mining – which just so happen to be four crucial industries to Western Australia. 

Western Australians know what plans like Kirkup’s mean – people will lose their jobs, slide into energy poverty and suffer a worse quality of life. And it will be all for nothing – China takes 16 days to emit as much as Australia does in a year. 

These policies went as well as you could expect. Pilbara swung 17.9% to the ALP. Collie-Preston, WA’s home of coal, had a 5.8% swing to Labor, pushing them above 70%.  

There is more going on here than voters recognising state politics is different to federal politics. It’s more than flocking around the leader in a pandemic too. Big green initiatives are not vote-winners, and Liberal parties that pursue them will lose far more of their own voters than they will steal from the other side. 

Yet Scott Morrison has not picked up on this, because the WA Liberal energy plan doesn’t seem so radical once you look at the federal Liberal’s plan. Morrison told the National Press Club in February that our goal is to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050.”  

Once again, a Liberal Party is promoting an energy policy that ignores the concerns of mainstream Australians and, in this case, alienates the very people who got them into power. They may not make that mistake again.  

Pepe Le Pew was cancelled before he realised that cat was never, ever going to kiss him. What will happen to Liberals before they realise the Greens and the political class will never, ever vote for them? 

James Bolt is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs 

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