29 July 2016

Enough already

Some people just can't get enough, even after the longest election campaign in yonks. Obviously, I'm one of them because I attended the Australia Institute Election wrapup. It was hosted by Ebony Bennett of the AI with journos Gabrielle Chan and Malcolm Farr. I realised after some time that I had perhaps had enough. I had mostly heard all these thoughts and mostly agreed with them. I cavilled once at MF; that may have been my partisanship, but I don't think so. Eight weeks should be enough for anyone, so this will be a very quick run through. The public was angry, disinterested and unengaged (some journos and pollies felt the same). Disengaged is how Turnbull wanted it. The close outcome is "not such a bad thing". It was a gruelling test for journos (especially for those who had to travel the pollie buses) if not as intense as shorter campaigns. Given it was winter, there were colds and flus. Turnbull had no fun, but Shorten gained energy and won the campaign if not the election. Issues came and went. Labor's issues touched voters. On the Lib side, but what was the role of the budget, did they really "have a plan" and why was their central, almost only, plan to hand $50b in tax relief to companies. [It's not as if trickle down has been a resounding success over recent decades]. Interestingly, MF suggested Scott Morrison now wants to get the whole budget through, so "no more Mr Nice Guy" [is that something new?]. The Senate outcome was "not envisaged at all". Expect deals with Labor and Greens and Xenophon. MF accepted that the Senate voting system is improved, if this Senate composition is worse than before. Obviously, the major party vote declined and this is international (think Trump, Brexit). Stability was a big issue on voters' minds. Questions. ABCC not mentioned during the campaign [well, just a very little when prompted]: it was "just an excuse" (MF). Someone suggested minor parties lacked media coverage, but the presenters disagreed (Di Natale, Oakeshott, McGowan, Windsor were fairly commonly covered). The Greens went backwards, and some "characters" (Hanson, Hinch) are "there for a good time and a long time". Bullying is not likely to work for this Senate; it "certainly didn't work for the voters" [referring to Turnbull's last minute argument not to vote for small parties]. The result can be seen as a correction after the 2013 election. One Nation go directly to voters; they were "very defensive" when GC approached them before the election. What would have happened if Julia Gillard wasn't "backstabbed"? "I have no idea; no-one will ever know" (MF). I had problems with MF arguing that Libs failed with content and message: he seemed to suggest they had policies, but what were they other than a big tax reduction for business and an unjustified promise of trickle down benefits? Turnbull was failing months before when he argued for trust in government then was all over the place on policies [remember the "thought bubble" (not originally my words) policies that changed daily at COAG?] Is Turnbull under the Right wing or just gutless? "Still waiting to see" (GC). Predictions? See more coal [not sure I understood this message]; Libs will [have to] talk more with Labor and Greens (GC); Turnbull will [have to] be more decisive, the quick action on a Royal Commission on NT Youth Justice is an example (MF). Enough already...

Ebony Bennett discussed the Federal Election 2016 with journalists Gabrielle Chan and Malcolm Farr at Politics in the Pub for the Australia Institute.

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