When readers cast their eyes on this column the election will be a week or so away. To fend off the no doubt myriad readers inquiring ‘how will Jim vote?’, here’s my take on it.
To start I take you all back six years to the 2016 election. That was the one where I argued that it was better to punish the Turnbull lefty Libs and preference Labor; to send the Coalition for a spell in the political wilderness to re-group because they so richly deserved it. And that is what I did myself. I put the Greens last, the Libs second last, Labor third last and then just randomly picked the rest. That decision, by the way, looks better with the passage of time as each year since has seen the Liberal party drift ever further leftwards – on energy policy and the daft decision to sign up to the disingenuous net zero; on all freedom related issues; on running the biggest spending and biggest taxing government in our history; on ever-woker universities; the list goes on.
By the way, what I did is the only way to punish the Liberal party if, like me, you see them as a Liberal In Name Only vehicle that has sold out virtually all of its conservative principles. Yes, I know, some of my fellow Speccie writers are saying they will put the Greens last, then Labor, then the Libs, with all the top spots reserved for the minor parties. But doing that amounts to voting for the Liberal candidate in a preferential voting system like ours – and is a big reason why only one other country on earth employs this voting system of ours. It functions as a protection racket for the two main parties, Labor and the Libs. If you put the Libs above Labor, anywhere on the ballot, then it is overwhelmingly likely you have just voted for the Liberals. If you are in Trent Zimmerman’s constituency, you’ve voted for Trent. Ditto Dave Sharma’s. So at least be clear about what you’re doing and whether you can bring yourself to vote for this present Coalition government.
The other preliminary matter to mention is the Team Morrison claim that the government’s handling of the pandemic saved 40,000 lives. This is to defend itself against the charge that Australia’s pandemic response – on the ‘weld them in their homes’ end of the spectrum – condoned despotism, police brutality and heavy-handedness, preventing citizens from leaving the country, unbelievably massive government spending needed after government itself forced businesses to close (and that everyone knows is a main cause for the looming inflation, and for transferring wealth from the poor to the rich via asset inflation and from the young to the old via massive debts our grandchildren will be paying off); vaccine and mask mandates; and the rest.
So what do we make of the ‘we saved 40,000 lives’ claim? Let me be as polite as possible. It’s patent nonsense. It’s worse than disingenuously mendacious. It’s based on looking at Europe, arbitrarily picking a median country death rate per capita, then implicitly assuming Australia’s death rate would have been precisely what it was had we been situated in Europe. But it wouldn’t have been. No European country came close to our low Covid death tally. The European country that now has some of the best ‘excess deaths during the pandemic’ numbers is Sweden, the one country that did not lock down but focused on protecting the vulnerable, trusting individual citizens and not going down the China-inspired lockdown route. So its economy is doing better than most all of Europe and it did not rack up a huge debt burden for the kids and grandkids. What basis is there for picking a model that assumes away every variable to do with geography and being an island? (And haven’t we all had enough of models that were wrong every time throughout the pandemic, and always on the over-stating it side of the ledger so convenient to the authoritarian public health types?) Listen, Taiwan is in our neck of the woods. It was nothing like as despotic as we were. And its Covid deaths per capita were seven times lower than ours.
And anyway, British epidemiologists are already predicting that deaths caused by lockdowns (think missed health checks, suicides, super-charged alcoholism, what flows from a stuffed economy and two missed years of schooling, etc.) will be upwards of ten times higher than lives saved by locking down. It was a brutal, stupid, fear-mongering approach we took in this country. It opted to throw all freedom concerns out the window. Likewise all inter-generational fairness ones. It should not be rewarded.
So if, like me, you can’t vote Liberal because of the way the government handled the pandemic – which was to defer to Labor heavy-handedness always and everywhere – why can you? That is what voters will be asking themselves as they cast their ballots.
Look, I differ from most of my fellow Speccie writers in believing that no long-term good comes from rewarding a political party that positions itself a centimetre to the right of Labor. Over time the Libs do the work of Labor, it’s just a bit slower. Frau Merkel proved this in Germany. I believe we need a circuit breaker. It would have been better to have it six years ago. But now is better than later.
So my advice is this. If your local member is a Coalition MP who has been solidly conservative and stood up against despotism during the pandemic, vote for him or her. Otherwise, if it’s a so-called ‘moderate’ Lib, which over the past six years has meant a Labor-heavy type MP, preference that candidate below Labor’s and take your medicine now. It will only get worse if you don’t. And it will effectively reward the Liberal party’s ever-more-leftwards drift. That’s the truth of the matter.
Finally, I especially don’t agree with those commentators who think it’s important for the Libs to hold on to the posh inner-city constituencies with the most lefty Liberal MPs. If Britain, Canada and the US are anything to go by, these districts are doomed. Rich people now vote left more than right. Clinton and Biden took nearly all of the hundred wealthiest districts in the US. Boris can’t win in the posh inner cities. The Liberal party cannot hold these seats long term. Our voting system slows down the trend but it won’t stop it. The winning conservative coalition is the one Trump and Boris put together – small business types, the lower-middle and working class, outer suburbs, despisers of woke stupidity, and those not in thrall to the climate alarmists.
Sooner or later the Coalition will have to go down that path. I prefer sooner. And as for the Senate, vote below the line choosing individuals. We’ll need some right-leaning small party types to win there to lessen the awfulness of what’s coming.
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