Aug 6, 2014

Why 18C was the policy retreat the Coalition had to have

The Coalition's constituency is becoming more ethnically diverse, and it turns out many of its constituents don't want the right to be bigots.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

In all sorts of ways, the Abbott government’s abandonment of plans to water down racial discrimination laws was the policy retreat it had to have. Faced with myriad new battlefronts after a politically disastrous budget, there was little to gain and much to lose from continuing to pursue an unpopular and divisive measure in a policy area of, at best, marginal concern to the average voter.

While some opposition to 18C invoked the classical liberalism of John Stuart Mill, the issue was mostly of concern to a deeply conservative constituency hostile to the project of multiculturalism, which the government may rest assured is not about to throw its lot in with Labor. If the government imagined the well of support would run any deeper than that, it was seriously disabused by a Fairfax-Nielsen poll in April that found no fewer than 88% of respondents agreeing with the basic contention of the existing act (albeit that the margin was quite a bit smaller when the government’s proposal was explained in greater detail by Essential Research).

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13 thoughts on “Why 18C was the policy retreat the Coalition had to have

  1. klewso

    One less spot fire?
    That puts paid to one rumour going around – Abbott does know if his arse is on fire?

  2. Yclept

    So the backflip was for all the “right” reasons.

  3. Jaybuoy

    a failure of corroboration… George’s plan turned out to be the you know what in the woodpile..

  4. klewso

    “Never mind George. We have to win the next election after all. What’s another thirty months …. then you and Andrew and me and Joe can crack the Bolli and a few Behikes?”

  5. Popeye

    ‘An abandonment of plans’, according to Bowe. I’d call it a backflip, and so too would Bowe I reckon – if he was writing about any plans ‘abandoned’ by Labor.

  6. tonyfunnywalker

    This was Brandis’ ‘everyone has the right to be a bigot” that killed the amendments to 18C. The other was the fact that it was a one person amendment – a hurt Andrew Bolt and I note that his vitriol is in top gear as its that of the IPA. Next move — sack Tim Wilson he is now surplus to requirements as he never left the IPA except to collect a taxpayer funded “mega salary”.
    These facts alone vindicate the backflip and perhaps this reversal and defiance of Bolt and the IPA may be the first time that Abbott has shown any “ticker” when it comes NOT kowtowing as the “Puppet PM”.
    He failed with the FoFA regulation changes where they too should have never been changed to become once again the Spiv’s Charter that it once was.
    I wonder where Cormann will be when the next “CBA or Storm” happens.
    Abbott has about 30 months to win back electoral respect and represent the best interests of the electorate not the best interests as dictated by the IPA, BCA and Murdoch.
    Next Leaders Call Tony — Reshuffle — Hockey and Cormann replaced ( I do not know by whom) and a mini budget in October as the current budget is going nowhere fast and business and your sponsors are getting very nervous and upset at Hockey’s ineptitude and total lack of commitment in selling the key aspects of budget.
    So that’s PPT – gone–18C, another fail to add to the list.

  7. William Bowe

    [I’d call it a backflip]

    Just as you’d have seen Bowe doing, if you’d read through to the end.

  8. Andybob

    This feels to me like Rudd’s abandonment of the ETS. It was a core commitment, fervently supported with extravagant language but ultimately important only to people who would never change their vote. I suspect the same thing will happen to Abbott as happened to Rudd. His defenders will evaporate and he will be left to stew in his own juice. Good.

  9. CML

    And I’ve just heard on ABC radio news that Julie Bishop ‘cried’ when answering questions about her phone call to the parents from WA who lost 3 children in the MH17 disaster.
    What no tears for the 300+ children annihilated in Gaza by your friends, Julie?
    That should improve your poll numbers in suburban multicultural Sydney, NOT!!

  10. Northy

    The Essential Research poll didn’t necessarily explain the proposed changes better with this line: ‘It will still be unlawful to “intimidate or vilify” someone because of their race or ethnicity.’ It ignores the broad-ranging public discussion exemptions which basically meant there were no circumstances in which it would be illegal to intimidate or vilify.

    But I completely agree with the view that the desire to change 18C had more to do with a conservative constituency uncomfortable with immigration and multiculturalism than anything else. This was backed yesterday by a Herald article which reported the IPA saying that many of their members were “white-hot with anger” about the scrapping of the changes. If it’s true that they are only concerned about the principle of freedom of speech, why would they be furiously angry? The reality is race is a big part of it.

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