Jul 23, 2012

Andrews smacked Labor hacks, got Kanis over the line

Daniel Andrews smacked down the coarse Greens assault from Labor heavyweights Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes during the Melbourne byelection campaign. Party officials were today glad he did.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Victorian opposition leader Daniel Andrews smacked down the coarse Greens assault from Labor heavyweights Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes during the Melbourne byelection campaign. Party officials were glad he did today, pointing to the more nuanced strategy as a core factor behind Jennifer Kanis' victory on Saturday. The approach -- fermented by factional hardheads and rolled out in the wake of the NSW Right's off-piste attack two weeks ago -- hardened resolve among centrist voters considering a dalliance with the Greens' Cathy Oke and Liberal voters marooned without a candidate. The Greens primary vote jumped from 31.92% at the 2010 state election to 36.37% on Saturday (against a very low 33.32% for Labor), but that was influenced by an historically low voter turnout. Andrews' call to run the line that only Labor can enact the progressive policies that both parties share pricked some Labor ears and helped corral the 25% Tory vote clustered around Docklands and East Melbourne. "Daniel's strategy worked, and it'll work again in 2014", a senior Labor Left source told Crikey this morning. The scene at the Labor celebration at Flemington-Kensington bowls club on Saturday night was one of cautious jubilation mixed with LBJ-style realism as the carefully-curated preference patchwork of minor parties filtered back into Labor's pile. Kanis was in a festive mood, with hubby Davydd Griffiths (smashing an official club tracksuit) working the bar offloading $4.50 VBs and connecting multiple kegs until after 2am. There was only one hitch -- the lack of EFTPOS facilities -- which sent some scribes scrambling to the Greens' more maudlin shindig at North Melbourne's Lithuanian Club. Those that remained, including feisty Altona MP Jill Hennessy, were rewarded with rivers of pinot grigio at the dubious Doutta Galla hotel in Flemington Road. One Left wag noted the faction "finally succeeded in taking over Doutta Galla", recalling the parade of right-aligned MPs that controlled the former upper house province from 1976 onwards. The role of the S-x Party on Saturday -- that garnered 6.6% of the vote and preferenced Labor -- will be carefully watched in the lead-up to next year's federal election. Greens sources claimed this morning that candidate Fiona Patten had admitted to a deal with Labor when they called to negotiate a preference arrangement, leaving two possible chop-outs on either policy or preferences. As independent candidate Stephen Mayne reported yesterday, only 55% of S-x Party votes ended up in Labor's tally (against probably 30% if it had fingered the Greens), equating to about 100 extra votes for Kanis. But don't be surprised if the party's enthusiastic serial candidate ends up with some preference largesse and perhaps a stronger bargaining position on Capital Hill. Two of the p-rn party's pet policy peeves are the internet filter, still in limbo pending the "restricted" classification review, and the proposal to track internet usage for two years, currently before Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. Patten is said to be very keen to ascend to the Senate, and will want to garner strong preference flows from Labor's group voting ticket to stand any chance of success. Stephen Conroy, while all but ruling out preferencing the Liberal Party ahead of the Greens in Victoria, stayed mum on whether Patten could trump the Greens No. 1 Senate ticket candidate Janet Rice. If the Greens fail to achieve a quota in their own right, Rice could be tipped from the third left-leaning Senate position in favour of Patten. Privately, some Greens loyalists are smarting over some of the policy scrambling that dogged their campaign the last few days when Age state politics scribe Tom Arup managed to extract some long-winded funding explanations from Cathy Oke. Adam Bandt had backed rival candidate Rose Iser for preselection against Oke, and there was a suggestion that Iser -- who has forged strong links with local housing commission groups as Bandt's community liaison officer -- may have managed to squeeze some facial recognition juice out of Flemington public housing tenants (even though the Greens vote at the Flemington booth actually jumped). Without the Liberal preferences he snagged 2010, Bandt will also struggle to get over the line, leaving the curious scenario where Rice ascends to the red leather while Bandt is forced to return to a grey Slater & Gordon hot desk. With the Greens yet to concede Saturday's result, strategists are asking questions about the whereabouts of the 853 former North Melbourne Central booth votes recorded in 2010 (the booth was abolished for Saturday's ballot). While the North Melbourne booth recorded a jump in voters of 484 and Hotham Hill soaked up 150, curiously 300 fewer voters rocked up at North Melbourne East. Despite the overall slump in voter turnout, numbers of actual voters on most booths were either up or down by a couple of percentage points. Greens psephologist Stephen Luntz says that in the absence of an unopened box of ballot papers hidden behind a closed door "we have to choose between two unlikely things: that hundreds of people in North Melbourne alone chose not to vote, and that the VEC staff were so incompetent as to not notice a discrepancy. I can't think of a third explanation." But locating a rogue box won't change the overall result with the Greens only likely to pick up, at a stretch, 150-200 votes -- not nearly enough to bridge the current Labor margin of about 750. Rank and file Greens members are also eagerly awaiting the release of a Greens-commissioned YourSource exit poll, that may shed more light on why some voters decided to plump for or avoid the party.

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32 thoughts on “Andrews smacked Labor hacks, got Kanis over the line

  1. Andrew Chalmers

    It’s becoming increasingly evident that both Sam Dastyari and Paul Howes are political novices, foolishly handed the mantle by those who should know better.

    Both of them may as well be paid up members of the Liberal Party for all the good they’ve done. It’s time to get over the teen-ankle obsession and put some real experience in place.

    Well done Daniel Andrews. Dastyari and Howes should be both ashamed of themselves.

  2. wilful

    formented? Editor!!!

  3. Bo Gainsbourg

    If a poor result for the Greens ends up getting them an extra 5% of votes I’d hate to see a good one. The Greens will be disappointed, but what they have to look forward to is more hard graft, more getting into the community and getting their heads around local issues, more base building. They will eventually crack it. They will have to put together good campaigns with the right candidates, and they will have to work the preferences possibly better than they have. But the bottom line is that the only way they can really be kept out for a long time in the longer term is if Labor preference the Libs and other loony rightists first. When that starts to happen Labor will be in terminal trouble if its not already (yes it can get worse). Labor would be better off coming to an accommodation with the Greens across a broad social democratic agenda and focusing on their real enemies. Abbot and co. Lets not have another shoehorning of Family First into the Senate for years on the back of the genius preference deals of days gone by.

  4. shepherdmarilyn

    I think the ALP have to explain their deranged hysteria. And get rid of Dastyari and Howes, they are menaces.

  5. Owen Gary

    I think Labor need to give an explanation as to how Shorten & Howes both union organisors are right wing members of the party ???

    They are both putting right wing agenda’s before the principles of the Labor party & against the interests of union movements??

    The rest of the right wing interlopers of the Labor party like Dastyari, Fitzgibbons & co are alienating labor voters because of their closeness to conservative ideals.
    The public are finally seeing through them & I hope hordes of voters flock to the Green’s at the Federal election. It seems both Labor & Liberal are colluding so much against the Greens lately that it has alerted the public, to their unholy alliance.

    I think these bi-& state elections need to be scrutinised more closely since ballot boxes seem to be also gooing astray??

  6. Russell

    Prior to Saturday, the Greens were cock-a-hoop, and most of the media were slavishly reporting their imminent victory. Today many still can’t believe voters can count, and actually care about things like costings. Many don’t its true, but enough… Though Adam Bandt is still claiming the result as a “win.”

  7. Sharkie

    At least Andrews understands the correlation between the number of times Howes opens his mouth, and the decline in support for Labor. Why the ALP hasn’t culled some of their back room operators (especially from the NSW right) is beyond me.

  8. Edward James

    The way our elections play out would serve taxpayers much better if voters started making the effort to exercise their own votes by directing their own preferences! Edward James

  9. Pedantic, Balwyn

    One aspect of this election was that despite the juvenile ravings of Howes and Dastyari and several more polished Labor legends, who should know better, that their tactics failed to turn the electorate against Ms Kanis.

    It appears common sense prevailed; namely that the only way to beat the Liberals was to give Labor the numbers in the Parliament, as opposed creating a pseudo coalition of Labor and the Greens that may or may not come together to unseat Mr Bailleau.

    But it was odds on that the NSW Right would be ignored in Victoria anyway as they are perceived as incompetent and out of touch; slagging the opponent is never the best way to win hearts and minds.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Sancho, it’s not sex or labor that’s the problem word in the title – it’s ‘Party’. The ALP is created by the union movement in its image, it’s not the other way around. Sex is everybody’s thing, party politics involves a lot more compromises.

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