There’s a narrative starting to build that the repudiation of the New South Wales ALP last Saturday is a result of the federal ALP’s announcements this year regarding a price on carbon. Today, the Australian’s Tom Dusevic attempts to draw some kind of meaning from that rorschach blobs of information that the election has left us with.

ALP deserters ‘spooked’ by carbon tax

…incoming Coalition MPs in NSW argue that traditional Labor voters were spooked by the prospect of job losses, higher petrol prices and rising household power bills from a carbon tax.

So is the NSW Liberal Party really trying to argue that they’ve won the election on the back of a federal policy announced only a few months ago? I think Possum Commitatus provides the simplest debunking of that idea.


So the ALP were due for a hiding regardless of the carbon price, but lets take a closer look at some of Dusevic’s claims.

The first item on Dusevic’s list is the seat of Bathurst, which recorded the state’s biggest swing. According to Dusevic the carbon tax is an obvious issue:

The electorate is home to coalminers, factory hands, power workers and farmers,

What he doesn’t point out is that the sitting ALP member retired, leaving a relatively unknown ALP candidate without a block of personal support, and that the successful candidate was an incredibly popular local Mayor. According to one local source:

During the last local government elections, Paul Toole (mayor) received a staggering 52% of the vote and left the remaining 48% to be fought over by another 24 candidates. The Mayor of Bathurst is extremely popular

So we have a government on the nose for almost four years, a retiring incumbent, and a candidate with huge personal support, and yet you think that the result swings on a carbon price?

Other seats that Dusevic highlighted include:

There were over twenty ALP members who did not recontest this election, quite a few having resigned in disgrace, leaving the impression that NSW Labor had given up on governing, but Dusevic thinks that eight weeks of talking about a carbon price has more influence?

While it’s obvious that Tony Abbott wants to tie the ALP’s carbon price mechanism to the failure in NSW, it’s insulting to NSW voters to suggest that they don’t understand the difference between the State and Federal Governments, and it also lets NSW Labor off the hook for four years of ineffective government. No matter how loudly the crowd cheered as Barry O’Farrell decried the carbon tax, ignoring the fact that NSW already has an emissions trading scheme in action, the NSW government don’t get a vote in the federal parliament.

If Tony Abbott wants to win the argument over how to reduce emissions most effectively he’ll have to do better than rely on the incompetence of the NSW ALP.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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