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Commentator and former Tony Abbott chief of staff Peta Credlin. (Image: AAP/Paul Miller)

The collapse of the Liberal vote in Victoria is something not even the most committed Laborite could have dreamed of.

Labor are guaranteed a thumping majority in the lower house and are predicted to extend it even further as the remaining seats are decided. Has this led to an outbreak of self-reflection within conservative circles? 

Well, in some cases, yes. Goldstein MP and Freedom Boy Tim Wilson (a man who may feel his safe seat isn’t so safe anymore) betrayed a nagging sense that perhaps there is no silent majority who correspond with hard-right talking points on, for example, climate change: “There is no left and right view on these issues. If anyone thinks there is this great public sentiment out there that people hate renewables and they’re hugging coal, I say get real.” 

But elsewhere, the right has demonstrated an admirable commitment to not learning a single damn thing.

There was too much crime to campaign about crime

To be fair, former Abbott chief of staff Peta Credlin delivered a relatively thoughtful column in Monday’s edition of The Australian, looking at some of the long term, foundational, and practical factors that cost the Libs so dearly. But that doesn’t excuse her contention on election night — that the Bourke Street attack made campaigning more difficult for the Coalition because they couldn’t go as hard on law and order, fearing they would be accused of politicising the issue.

Actually, a particularly racialised law and order rhetoric had been a central plank of Matthew Guy’s platform, aided and abetted by Credlin’s coworkers at News Corp and their endless focus on “African gangs”. The idea that the Coalition wanted to avoid politicising the Bourke Street would have to ignore the Liberals’ statement, issued in the wake of the attack, that claimed “bail is broken in Victoria” and concluded that “the community demands and expects that they can live in safety. We will give them that.”

This was followed by another the next day. And more law and order were to come — remember the boot camp idea? Oh yeah, and when Matthew Guy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and a fleet of media visited the site of the attack in a totally non-campaigning way

Peter would’ve won

Having concluded that the result “just goes to show you don’t need to have a brain to have a vote”, hard-right commentator Prue MacSween had a solution for the Coalition: super-cop and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. If he’d been prime minister, “we may have had a chance“.  

We in the Crikey bunker are sure the relentless mockery of Dutton’s infamous “people are scared to go for dinner in Melbourne because of African gangs” line is no indication of Dutton’s popularity in one of Australia’s more left leaning states. 

This has no influence from, nor impact on, anything

As the first casualty lists were coming through, after the election had been called in Labor’s favor with unseemly haste by an Antony Green clearly dizzy on caffeine, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was hauled in front of the ABC cameras to comment on the carnage.

It’s a thankless task at the best of times, but Frydenberg’s commentary was the rhetorical equivalent of jamming his fingers in his ears and making “la la la” noises. Asked if the omnishambles that is the federal Coalition had an impact on the result, he clearly pointed out that it was merely a state election, in which they didn’t have any involvement, except for when they did. 

What it was really about, he said, was the “arrogance and hubris” of Bill Shorten. “If Bill Shorten wants to get ahead of himself and start measuring up the drapes in the lodge, he’ll be as wrong now as he was in 2016…”

He’s since returned to using the election results to go Shorten a few times, which is exactly how voters would like the Liberals to react, we’re sure. 

If there had only been more culture wars

While each take is a distinct tint and shade, it all belongs to a distinct colour wheel: the Coalition was far too progressive.

The Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine occupied her usual territory of obsessing over strangers’ sex lives and being furious at other people for not doing the same. Claiming Guy “wimped out” around the issue of safe schools, Devine said “it illustrates a profound problem for the conservative side of politics. If you don’t engage with the culture wars, you are complicit, and the electorate will view that as a betrayal.” 

Yes. So betrayed were those voters disgusted by an anti-bullying program that they voted in droves for a party that has unequivocally said they’ll support it. 

Peter Fray

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