As the day after the federal election dawned, Crikey readers — alongside a good deal of Australians — started asking the crucial question: what happened? How did Labor lose the unwinnable election; how did the pollsters get it so wrong? Crikey’s correspondents hit the ground running with their dissection of the Coalition’s shock victory in a special Sunday edition, and readers had more than a few points to add. We expect that the question will take a while to answer.
James Burke writes: Labor refused — in 2019! — to focus on political corruption. It was left to Clive Palmer and his Russian troll inspired advertising blitz to soak up all that vague, instinctive outrage about crooked parties and their sinister schemes. Guess who benefited? The Coalition government is conspiring with big business to destroy the country, is selling weapons to the Saudis and for all we know is preparing to invade Iran. Yet Labor chose to ignore all that while foregrounding charisma vaccuum Chris Bowen and his ruminations on franking credits, whatever those are. We’ve now lived through a decade of federal Labor refusing to wield truth as a weapon, refusing to hold the Coalition to account and expecting others to fight its battles. It’s almost as if the party’s leaders don’t believe in it.
Richard Barnes writes: Australia broke my heart for the first time in 1975 and has been doing so ever since. But until now I’ve always thought that next time we might do better. This, however, WAS the climate catastrophe election — but sadly the majority of comfortable, self-absorbed, ignorant, middle Australia didn’t realise it. And now there isn’t going to be a next time to do better. In fact, I now know that as the apocalypse washes over us — literally in some cases — this vile nation will move further to the populist right, propping up a life of comfort for the “sensible centre” until we realise what has happened too late. The “climate change election” existed in the minds of perhaps 100,000 out of 20 million. It was good to be optimistic for a few weeks, but sadly we fooled ourselves.
Michael Alroe writes: My theory is that people were essentially ashamed of what they would do in the polling booth. Asked for their opinion by pollsters many gave an opinion that was acceptable. In the secrecy of the pooling booth, hell, they could vote against the environment and for keeping unaffordable franking credits and not give a toss for the survival of their own children or grand children. And no one would ever know. Coat the outcome in a bit of old time religion and people can ever feel righteous about it.
Judith King writes: Bill Shorten was not able to promote, defend, or explain his policies well enough, and was not precise enough in how the reforms — such as negative gearing and franking credits — would benefit individuals as well as the nation. He did try to do this but was caught out too many times without the detail and without a clear exposition of the advantages. He was not able to bat away the Murdoch and Morrison mother of all scare campaigns. Would Albo have done any better as Labor leader for the last six years? No way to answer that now, but he may well have been able to “sell” the policies more effectively.
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