Author Topic: No time for a democracy sausage  (Read 502 times)

Offline Peter B

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No time for a democracy sausage
« on: May 16, 2019, 10:04:50 PM »
So, tomorrow my wife and I will head to the local government primary school (where our kids are students) to vote in the latest Federal Election. However, thanks to kids' activities during the day, by the time we get there it'll be too late for us to buy our democracy sausages - the barbecue will be finishing up at 2pm and we're unlikely to get there before then.

On top of that, sadly, for the many schools across the country which will be taking advantage of the election to do a bit of fund-raising through barbecues and cake stalls, a record high number of people have already voted, taking advantage of pre-poll voting. While many people do so for genuine reasons, I get the impression that quite a few people vote early because they object to the idea of being forced to wait for up to 15 minutes in a queue on polling day (aagh, 15 wasted minutes every 3 years, the horror!).

Anyway, this election promises to be an interesting and close one. For the first time in a number of years we have a genuine policy difference between the major parties, as well as a difference in leadership styles.

On the one hand the (conservative) Liberals, currently in government, are led by Scott Morrison, while the opposition Labor Party is led by Bill Shorten.

Morrison has only been in power for about eight months, taking over the leadership of the party after Malcolm Turnbull was dumped by the party. This marks the fourth successive electoral cycle in which the ruling party has replaced its own leader mid-term. While this leadership instability has been getting on the nerves of the public, both major parties have changed their rules so that leader-dumping is harder. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

Morrison is an interesting character. He plays a lot on being the typical Aussie suburban dad who cheers for his local football team, but he's also a Pentecostal Christian (I think the first such person to lead a First World nation). On the one hand he says the Bible isn't a policy manual, but on the other hand he was the minister in charge of the decidedly un-Christian operation to turn back the boats of asylum seekers. And to cap it off, he places himself outside the "Canberra Bubble" (that is, isolated from "real Australians"), while being an almost perfect example of a political insider throughout his working life.

Shorten is quite a different person. He followed the career path of many Labor politicians of making his way to the top of the union movement, then stepping across into politics. Shorten's public persona is dull and colourless in comparison to the extrovert Morrison, giving me the impression his speeches could put grumpy babies to sleep. But the other interesting comparison is that Shorten has led the Labor Party since they lost power in 2013, the longest time anyone has held that position for at least a couple of decades.

There are more differences: Morrison is very much a one-person team, trying to make the election as Presidential as possible; his electoral advertisements focus on the comparison between him and Shorten alone. By contrast, Labor strategy has focused on the breadth of experience in Labor's front bench (many of whom were ministers in the last Labor government), comparing it the with the large number of senior Liberal politicians who are retiring at this election.

But this election isn't going to be a two-party race. Here in Australia, we elect 12 Senators from each state, six each election, using a form of proportional representation. This opens up opportunities for independents and minor parties to hold the balance of power in the Senate, meaning that whichever major party forms government is going to have to negotiate with a fragmented cross-bench to get its legislation through; and this cross-bench has been getting larger every election since the 1970s. But even in the House of Representatives with its single-member seats (which favour a two-party system) there's no guarantee of a major party taking a majority. This is because of a number of seats which are being challenged by high-profile independents, along with the popularity of the two major parties being fairly close.

So where in the past we've generally known the result of the election on Saturday night, this time there might be a bit of a delay. And it'll be made harder by the large number of pre-poll votes: IIRC these don't get counted for several days, making it nearly impossible to predict close results. We're just going to have to wait and see...without our democracy sausages.

Offline bknight

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2019, 09:29:46 AM »
Maybe there will leftover sausages when you get there.  8)
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Online Glom

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2019, 10:43:32 AM »
Eight months? He's doing well for an Aussie PM.

Offline Peter B

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 03:04:32 AM »
Maybe there will leftover sausages when you get there.  8)

No, they were all packed up and gone by the time we were there. At least on the positive side we didn't have to queue to vote.

Anyway, as regards the sausage itself, and how it became entwined with Australian politics, here's an interesting little article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-14/history-of-the-democracy-sausage-sizzle-politics-election/11097396

Offline Obviousman

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2019, 05:58:35 PM »
Looks like Shorten lost the unlosable election. In my own electorate, we dumped the 'parachute candidate' from the Liberals (who came in to replace Ann Sudmalis, who knew she did a terrible job and she was going to lose regardless) and elected a Labor candidate.  It has been a safe Liberal seat since 1984.

Offline smartcooky

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2019, 05:11:50 AM »
I find it disturbing that 10% of Queenslanders voted for that racist cow Pauline Hanson...

On the other side or the coin, it good to see that Fraser Anning has been egged out
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Offline Obviousman

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2019, 05:35:34 PM »
I find it disturbing that 10% of Queenslanders voted for that racist cow Pauline Hanson...

On the other side or the coin, it good to see that Fraser Anning has been egged out

Oh yes, on both counts. I'm traditionally a Liberal voter but, as I said, Sudmalis was terrible & having ScoMo just decide to over-ride the locals wishes and install Mundine... well, the polls showed our anger over that. The Labor candidate has a great reputation, and so that was a win for me.

However, I was unsure about having a Labor federal government, so having the Libs keep power is also a win, I suppose. I still don't like ScoMo and think the whole Liberal leadership is out of touch. I think the reason they won was a very effective campaign ("A Bill we can't afford" et al).

Faser Anning - not one senator. Good riddance to bad rubblish.

Same with Clive Palmer: crooked, a cheat and a liar. AUD$80M spent and not one seat or senator. You know that money he promised for the Queensland miners? Watch how quickly that will disappear... not that anyone has got the money as yet. You know he was making them sign NDAs and clauses where they were not allowed to say anything against him, as a condition of getting paid?

You know, I have always believed that Aussies were pretty good people (I am one, after all!) but the fact that we still elected racist homophobes like One Nation in, and that Anning / Palmer got any votes at all, makes me feel some contempt for my fellow citizens. There are some serious bad people out there, as well as some seriously stupid ones.

Offline smartcooky

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2019, 08:42:32 PM »
I find it disturbing that 10% of Queenslanders voted for that racist cow Pauline Hanson...

On the other side or the coin, it good to see that Fraser Anning has been egged out

Oh yes, on both counts. I'm traditionally a Liberal voter but, as I said, Sudmalis was terrible & having ScoMo just decide to over-ride the locals wishes and install Mundine... well, the polls showed our anger over that. The Labor candidate has a great reputation, and so that was a win for me.

However, I was unsure about having a Labor federal government, so having the Libs keep power is also a win, I suppose. I still don't like ScoMo and think the whole Liberal leadership is out of touch. I think the reason they won was a very effective campaign ("A Bill we can't afford" et al).

Faser Anning - not one senator. Good riddance to bad rubblish.

Same with Clive Palmer: crooked, a cheat and a liar. AUD$80M spent and not one seat or senator. You know that money he promised for the Queensland miners? Watch how quickly that will disappear... not that anyone has got the money as yet. You know he was making them sign NDAs and clauses where they were not allowed to say anything against him, as a condition of getting paid?

You know, I have always believed that Aussies were pretty good people (I am one, after all!) but the fact that we still elected racist homophobes like One Nation in, and that Anning / Palmer got any votes at all, makes me feel some contempt for my fellow citizens. There are some serious bad people out there, as well as some seriously stupid ones.

Well, I don't know where you are from (so no offence intended) but I have always regarded Queensland as Australia's "American South". Certain parts of The South are full of rednecks with names like "Bubba" and "Billybob" who drive around in pickup trucks with a shotgun stowed under the driver's seat. In Queensland, they'd be "cobbers" called "Banjo" or "Jacko" and the pickup truck would be a Holden or Ford Ute.
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► When you argue with idiots you risk being dragged down to their level and beaten with experience.
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Offline Peter B

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Re: No time for a democracy sausage
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2019, 09:57:35 AM »
Looks like Shorten lost the unlosable election. In my own electorate, we dumped the 'parachute candidate' from the Liberals (who came in to replace Ann Sudmalis, who knew she did a terrible job and she was going to lose regardless) and elected a Labor candidate.  It has been a safe Liberal seat since 1984.

Yes, a lot of similarities with the 1993 election, where the Liberal opposition entered the campaign with a heavy policy load in the form of a proposal for a Goods and Services Tax, and the fairly unpopular Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating came from behind in the opinion polls with a successful scare campaign about the GST to win the 'unwinnable'  election.

However, a more interesting comparison may be with the 1948 US Presidential Election, where the pollsters got it wrong enough for papers to announce Truman's defeat. Apparently there's evidence that opinion polls in Australia since the 2016 election have consistently been unintentionally giving the Labor Party a rating a couple of per cent higher than actual voting sentiment indicates, as this article says (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-23/federal-election-2019-aus-votes-polling-malcolm-turnbull/11144464?section=politics). This wasn't some sort of organised program by progressives to nobble the conservatives, but a fundamental problem pollsters face trying to sample a representative section of the population, given our ways of communicating with each other are changing.

The significance of this error is that it almost certainly contributed to the dumping of Malcolm Turnbull in 2018: opinion polls which consistently had the Liberals trailing Labor should in reality have had the Liberals in the lead as often as they trailed. How this might have affected the election is anyone's guess.

But there's still the issue of why the swings went the way they did: seats in middle-class outskirts of Sydney and Brisbane swung strongly to the Liberals, while affluent seats in northern Sydney swung to Labor. The best explanation I've seen is that the Liberals ran a very successful scare campaign on two of Labor's signature tax policies.

The Labor tax policies were designed to address a couple of problems with the Australian tax system, one related to investment properties and the other to tax credits on shares. In their current form each of these sections of the tax system are effectively regressive, with bigger benefits available the more you earn. Labor policy was intended to make them less regressive, which on the face of it seems fair enough. However each of the Labor policies had a flaw which would affect people on low incomes - one affecting renters and the other affecting people living solely on income from modest share portfolios. The Liberals consistently focused on these flaws, and Labor was never able to address the flaws.

It also didn't help Labor that it was stuck between promoting its green credentials in southern states on the one hand and supporting blue collar workers by supporting the opening of a large new coal mine in Queensland on the other hand. Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party gained a lot of its votes in Queensland at the expense of the Labor Party, and many of them then gave their preferences to the Liberals.

One result of the anti-Liberal swing in affluent North Sydney was the defeat of former PM Tony Abbott, at the hands of an independent. Abbott had elected to stay in Parliament after losing the party leadership to Malcolm Turnbull back in 2015, almost certainly fuelled by a desire to regain the PM's job. Even though Scott Morrison comes from the same conservative wing of the Liberals as Abbott, Abbott's presence in Parliament had destabilising potential. So with Abbott's defeat, Morrison is more secure in his party's leadership (and therefore the PM's job) than any PM in the last decade.

So there you have it. People have (perhaps rightly) made fun of Australia's political instability in the last decade, but this election would appear to have brought that to an end. We'll have to wait and see.