Apr 7, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly of the WA Senate re-run

The WA senate byelection on the weekend has produced three very different, and symbolic, examples of current trends in Australian politics. Some of it is good, but much of it is ugly politicking.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The Western Australian Senate re-run has produced a set of symbols of contemporary political directions so perfect it seems like some political deity designed it. Scott Ludlam, Clive Palmer and Joe Bullock together offer a road map of contemporary Australian politics.

The big swing to Ludlam not merely reverses a run of outs for the Greens since Bob Brown’s departure (my colleague William Bowe has a more pragmatic take on that) but keeps Ludlam in the Senate after he suffered not a political near-death experience but actual defeat, however brief, last September. True, the re-run favoured minor parties who were able to communicate their message in an atmosphere untainted by wider election dynamics. And the Greens spent up big on advertising, reversing their error of last September, when they directed a huge amount of funding, inexplicably, to hanging on to Adam Bandt’s House of Representatives seat rather than shoring up what was always going to be a difficult WA campaign.

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18 thoughts on “The good, the bad and the ugly of the WA Senate re-run

  1. Steve

    Bernard, you partly touch on the main issue which was that this was not a normal senate election where often unappealing candidates (but not necessarily potentially poor politicians) are invisible. Scott Ludlum used his profile as did Clive (blanketing his local puppet Wang). That left the Labor Party caught out with 2 candidates who where from either end of their electoral spectrum that mainstream voters found harder to engage with.
    It does bring to the fore the problem Labor has in giving their number one ticket to someone so socially conservative that he would be at home on the right of the Liberal Party.

  2. zut alors

    Perhaps Joe Bullock is the next Mal Colston.

  3. Peter Bayley

    As usual, the results prove that Labor hasn’t a clue what it stands for any more; what’s its principles are or who it is trying to appeal to. Rudd’s selfishness trashed the Labor Brand and no one, even Gillard, had the guts to admit their mistakes and start afresh.

    Their trouncing proves they’ve lost their base while the parachuting of Bullock proves they’re still beholding to the Unions. We are left with the dangerous situation of a blunt, neo-con Government trashing everything that doesn’t fit its extreme ideology unchecked by any strong, viable alternative story. Abbott has ample time to consolidate and put his own people everywhere that counts.

    I suspect we are in for many years of extremist, nihilist, backward-looking Government in Australia driving us to become the pre-eminent pariah in the Asian area.

  4. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Peter Bayley, I thought that what Rudd did at the time of his election in 2007 was try to distance the elected parliamentary wing of the Party in general and his own picks for ministers and Cabinet in particular, from the union and faction groups in the Party. Of course later, the factions came back after him and got even (or worse), ruining whatever credit the ALP had in the public eye and burning Julia Gillard in the process. You think Rudd trashed the Labor ‘brand’ but I think it’s that very brand of union/faction/backroom operation that is bringing Labor down and will keep doing so until it is properly trashed and made ‘dead, buried and cremated’ like its Liberal Work Choices counterpart.

  5. Jaybuoy

    Bullock has got Mal Coulsen tattooed all over him……

  6. Pedantic, Balwyn

    Noting the result of W.A. Senate election, I wonder when Labor will wake up to the fact that presenting themselves as Liberal Lite disenfranchises many progressive voters. Putting conservative, old men in the box seat does nothing for the younger voters, who are forced to align with the the media savvy Greens and finally in this rant people like Bullock will never understand that badmouthing your party and candidates is a massive turn off and has lost them votes. Yet he will sit in the Senate for six years, do bugger all that contributes to a better society and gets a fat pension. No wonder Australians are pissed off with pollies!

  7. Electric Lardyland

    Yes, Zut, I was watching Bullock’s media appearances and thinking exactly the same thing. I’m not sure how the dates line up, but is it possible that he is actually Colston’s love child?

  8. Jackson Harding

    Why has no one asked the question: Bullock’s conviction is for assault, and as I understand it that carries a potential penalty of more than 12 months imprisonment. A conviction for an offence that carries the possibility of more than 12 months imprisonment bars one from being a member of parliament. Is not Mr Bullock’s election invalid?

  9. CML

    @ JH = I thought about that too, but maybe the offence has to occur whilst the person is already a politician? However, if you are correct, then I hope someone in the ALP goes after Bullock with all guns blazing!
    On the other hand – why is everyone getting their knickers in a knot over this Bullock sh+t? The LNP have their Corey Bernardi sh+t, and no one is predicting the end of the world as we know it because he is sitting in the Senate.
    A bit of perspective here, please!

  10. Greg

    Interesting and helpful to understanding what went on in the ‘West’.

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