Maurice Newman, the space cowboy, has been disappointingly rational in his last two outings, and he largely keeps it together for this week. But the excitement of Turnbull’s toppling took him to the edge of reason once or twice. Maurice lashes out at those elites who don’t get the ‘umble folk as Maurice does.

“They [t.e.h elitesz] think slogans that ooze condescension and promote cargo-cult dependency rather than advocate sound financial management and self-reliance fool the majority.”

Ah! That’s what the people want! Austerity and cuts. Strangely, they have given a quarter of their votes to parties that are big-spending and protectionist. Still, I’m sure what they really want is everything they’re walking away from, across the world. Even Maurice seems to be gravitating in that direction. ‘Today the brands [Labor and Liberal] are as different as Coles is to Woolworths.” Striking phrase — or it was, the first 200 times Richard Di Natale uttered it this election. Why space cowboy, you old Greenie you! See ya in the ganja circle at the next anti-fracking lock-on!


Above Maurice, Bill Leak is madder than usual at the fact that 671 consecutive anti-CFMEU cartoons have done nothing to stop the Coalition losing 16 seats. Yesterday’s gem featured an outraged Turnbull pointing at piles of uncounted votes on a table, while AEC workers taking a smoko say they’re “keeping everything on the table”. Good god, the actual counting process is a pro-Shorten go-slow! Bill thinks the AEC is a union!

Albrechtsen persists

Perhaps Maurice is laying off the right-wing sociobabble because Planet Janet has taken over the franchise. On Wednesday, in column three of her article, she had an answer as to why people weren’t voting for the globalised free-trade vision of the major parties: it’s not exciting enough.

“Capitalism lacks romantic appeal,” she quotes Peter Saunders as saying “[unlike] socialism, fascism or environmentalism … it offers no grand vision for the future …”. Yeah, that’s why people vote for Bill Shorten, for the thrill.

Planet should consider other viewpoints in this, like, say, her own article (column two), where she berated Turnbull for not seeing that “words that genuinely excite him — innovation, incubators, agile, nimble — don’t excite other people … Instead these words can be chilling.”

Planet, Turnbull’s guff is exactly capitalism as a romantic, visionary project! Everything globalised capitalism does these days is hair-raisingly “visionary”, whether it’s privatising the global seed bank, copyrighting human genes, or destroying the manufacturing base of whole nations. That’s what people are voting against: for social democracy and protection. But please, keep believing they’re all secret free-marketeers. Good for another three or four elections at least.

Buyer’s remorse

Though it is now little more than a recap of itself, The Age can still rock it out, and Wednesday’s article — from a “leftie” who voted Greens in Higgins and now regrets he didn’t vote for Turnbull, to shore up the Libs’ “more progressive side” — has done that rare thing: it is the most Age-ishly Age op-ed piece in history, a sort of semiotic bikram yoga in which the idea folds in on itself and vanishes altogether. Per Chesterton, a liberal is someone who won’t even take their own side in an argument. How we will miss this, after 5pm, October 19, 2017. Oh, have I said too much?

Bad science

Your correspondent is not the only person using the Bell Street curve: the finding that, in Wills and Batman, practically all booths above Bell Street, the southern edge of Preston, have a Labor majority, almost all booths below, Greens. But almost everyone is using it wrongly, for the obvious reason that the result doesn’t show margins. Were you to factor those in and shade by magnitude, you’d get green pockets, a red edge sweeping northwest to Fawkner and Glenroy, and a lot of red-greenish ones in the middle. Bell Street is a border of sorts, but below it, there’s a pretty mixed zone; amazingly, these people seem to get along. Batman is not the West Bank (hummus is so 1995, for one thing), but if you read a map badly, you’d imagine it was.

Leyonhjelm to rest

Finally for sheer giggles, we couldn’t go past the communique from Planet Pain that is David Leyonhjelm’s column in today’s AFR. No one was interested in anyone but the Greens, says the leader of the party who scored a tenth of their vote. Other minor parties used stunts in their ads, wailed the man who portrayed the business of government as two pugs eating a cake. The Chaser were mean to me, by making “Hayek campers” — Wicked Campers with their slogans altered to reference Leyonhjelm.

We sympathise: it’s tough when you lose the donkey vote, and the intro of ballot logos takes away the confusion vote, and you are left with the hundred or so combovers you’ve always had. We would be kinder to Leyonhjelm, who has had some good ideas, if he had not marshalled every bogus argument in favour of loosening gun control and put the return of civilian massacres in Australia back on the cards. Still, it’s a sprightly piece of writing. Read ’em while you can, because country vets don’t get AFR columns.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey