Around this time of year, in my old nabe of television, we’d all be gearing up for an end-of-year on-air wrap. A “That Was The Year That Was” flashback. Plus a few predictions for next year.
In my last Crikey contribution for 2017, and after a full year of the tumultuous 45th Parliament, I should follow that tradition, but when it comes to predictions I remember the “Ondine Curse” (which I’ll explain later) and still hold the view that: when you are right, no one remembers; when you are wrong nobody forgets.
Off the top though, I’ll still give you one of Hinch’s Hunches for 2018: Former PM Tony Abbott will resign his seat or (if an early election is called) will not re-contest Warringah. Makes sense. The same sex marriage Yes vote of 75% in his own electorate shows how out of touch he is with the community. True, there was a 38% national NO vote (after a campaign of negativity that Abbott led so ardently) but recent polls from the rainbow people show that the Abbott factor was a downer. A vote loser.
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I mentioned the chance of an early election. People in Labor senators’ offices told me weeks ago they were gearing up for a House of Reps only in March next year. That came at the same time as several young acquaintances (who do casual work for the AEC during federal elections) said they had been contacted by the AEC and told to keep February clear.
I say House only, because the only way the PM can target the massive Senate cross-bench, which expanded in 2016, is to call a double dissolution. (We are there otherwise until July, 2019). He won’t do that, unless they’re handing out funny cigarettes in Point Piper, because he’d end up with even more Hinches and Hansons.
Not for me to query the Liberal Party strategists — if, in fact, they have any, going by the 2016 campaign fiasco — but I think Malcolm Turnbull should, and will, hold out for as long as he can until early 2019. And he will lead the Libs to that election.
He hasn’t quite got Keating’s “beautiful set of numbers” yet, to bring home the bacon, although the economy is improving and jobs are up, but Bill Shorten was seriously wounded on two fronts in the final days of both houses this month.
“Shanghai Sam” Dastyari could well be the Opposition Leader’s Chinese tar baby. It wasn’t enough to take away the (recently re-instated) Deputy Whip’s job and later tell reporters that Dastyari’s career was “going nowhere”. The fact that Slippery Sam was “going nowhere” — like, out of the Senate — is what was making Shorten’s leadership bleed.
(A prescient boast: About two hours before Sammy D announced he would not be back on the red leather benches next year, I was on 2GB Breakfast with Chris Smith quoting Hinch’s Law: “Any man who says three times he will not resign, will”.)
The other, seemingly self-inflicted, hit that Shorten took last week was the DualCitz scandal with David Feeney and Kate Gallagher being referred to the High Court. For weeks, Shorten and his team had gloated and boasted about their “rolled gold” infallible checking process. Whoops.
Interesting trio dining at the Realm Hotel’s Buvette restaurant several hours after former prime minister Tony Abbott squibbed it and fled the chamber so he wouldn’t have to vote on the Same Sex Marriage law change. There was Abbott, Peta Credlin’s husband and former Liberal Party head honcho, Brian Loughnane, and National Party Senator Fiona Nash’s Liberal replacement, former army Major General Jim Molan.
I think the High Court was grossly unfair to disallow Nash’s original replacement Hollie Hughes because she took “coin from the Crown” later in 2016. She was “clean” when she nominated and when the July 2 election was held. The Senate seat was hers.
Speaking of The Realm: Bumped into former treasurer, and now our ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, there last week. He was home and did a fascinating Q&A at ANU with David Speers as moderator.
We were having a pleasant, innocuous, conversation about our dramatic life changes, when several other men crashed and started talking about who would win the next election.
I reiterated what I’ve written here. If I were Chloe and Bill I wouldn’t be measuring the curtains for The Lodge just yet. And added something like: “… and don’t forget, Turnbull has achieved more in the Senate in a year than Abbott ever did.”
The harrumphing protest from Joe Hockey could have been heard at the ANU. Aaah, we can all rewrite history.
And now the “Ondine Curse” and why we should not make predictions. The yarn does have a political connection because it involves one Lou d’Alpuget, father of Blanche (who was Bob Hawke’s biographer, lover and then/now wife).
Lou was news editor on The Sun in Sydney in the early 1960s when I joined the paper as a police roundsman. The exotic Blanche was there too, as a cadet. Lou, who had a fearful temper, was also the paper’s yachting writer and wore the nickname “the seagoing ox”.
In 1962, some American smart ass brought a show pony yacht called Ondine to Australia for the Sydney to Hobart and the owners started fancying its chances.
Lou (whom I would sack when I returned as editor a decade later, but that’s another story) absolutely flayed Ondine in his columns. It had less chance than the proverbial snowflake down there.
It won. In record time.
Have a safe and meaningful Yuletide season and a happy New Year. May your news, in 2018, be good news – and, as they say in Hawaii: