Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter

Advertisement

WA Election 2008

Dec 16, 2008

User login status :

Share

The Western Australian branch of the ALP has posted an expurgated version of a report conducted by former Senator Robert Ray into its recent state election defeat. The highlights for mine are as follows:

• Ray cites various elections over the past year-and-a-bit to observe that the advantages of incumbency are clearly not what they used to be. In particular, “a formerly inviolable rule of politics was that if opinion polls showed the country or State ‘heading in the right direction’ by more than 55%, re-election was a certainty”. The Howard government was nonetheless defeated with 58 per cent supporting such a proposition, and Alan Carpenter’s Labor joined the club with the figure on 54 per cent. Trumping the statistic in the latter case (and no doubt the former as well) was the belief of 53 per cent that it was “time to give someone else a go”.

• “As a rule, the higher the voter turnout, the better Labor does.” This time it was 82 per cent compared with 85 per cent in 2005. “Was the Labor vote lower because of the reduced turnout or was the loss of community support for Labor a driver of lower turnout? So far, no plausible explanation has been offered.”

• “Too many in the electorate thought that the surplus was just sitting around, unused”, when it was in fact being committed to capital works programs. Voters “readily formed the view that they, as individuals, had not benefitted from the boom and were resentful that the Government was not spending some of the surplus on them.”

• Colin Barnett “looked like he had made a personal sacrifice to resume the leadership and had been unfairly ambushed by the calling of the election”.

• “Dream team” candidates who were defeated in decisive seats such as Mount Lawley and Morley were placed in the wrong seats – though it’s unclear where they should have run instead. Bumping Bob Kucera aside in Mount Lawley is universally recognised as an error, though I do wonder what role the Royal Perth Hospital played in Labor’s loss of that particular seat.

• Ray faults The West Australian for “displaying a bias not seen since the Murdoch excesses of 1975”, which “spread to the rest of the media as though it was the norm”. On the former count, I wonder if Ray remembers the role Murdoch’s Adelaide News paper was said to have played in the defeat of Des Corcoran’s South Australian government in 1979, an election which had many parallels with this one.

• Ray rightly complains that Labor did not run an ad responding to the Liberal effort which gave viewers 30 seconds of silence to think of “three good things Alan Carpenter’s Labor has done in eight years of boom”, which would have written itself. The West Australian reported shortly after the election that such an ad had been considered but rejected on the grounds it would have seemed “reactive”.

• The Nationals “had a simple message, promoted it for 18 months and were allowed to get away with the fiscal irresponsibility of their promises and the illusion of their independence from the Liberal Party”. Blame lay with a “Perth-centric” Labor campaign, which was no doubt inspired by the new electoral landscape ushered in by one-vote one-value.

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, is one of the most heavily trafficked forums for online discussion of Australian politics, and joined the Crikey stable in 2008.

Get a free trial to post comments
More from William Bowe

Advertisement

We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola

69 comments

69 thoughts on “Wisdom after the event

  1. The proof of the pudding Frank is that if you read the Queensland half yearly report that was handed down by the Queensland Treasurer last week, the economy is actually very strong even though going into deficit for the next couple of years. The big difference is that the infrastructure boost in Queensland makes sense, in WA it is a weak budget and the infrastructure planning and funding is a dog’s breakfast.

  2. [I suspect it would have been more of a Godsend if Labor hadn’t gone grovelling to the Nationals with an offer of six seats in cabinet and all the Royalties for Regions they could eat.]

    And Brendon was almost going to grab it with both hands, but was thwarted by Messers Woodhams, Redman and Waldron, who refused to accept any Ministies offered.

  3. #52

    This is why i find people like Frank’s criticisms of the Royalties for Regions a bit hypocritical. If the Nats had backed Labor they’d be doing exactly the same thing, and no doubt Labor supporters would be falling over themselves to justify it.

    And I’m not sure why people think the public will blame Barnett for the slowing economy, given he’s only just come to power and Labor’s been in for eight years. For this reason it probably isn’t in Labor’s best interest to talk up problems with the economy. It’s also why I think electing the former Treasurer as new leader wasn’t smart, even if he is only a stopgap. Surely a fresh face untainted by the Carpenter years would be a better bet?

  4. [And I’m not sure why people think the public will blame Barnett for the slowing economy, given he’s only just come to power and Labor’s been in for eight years. For this reason it probably isn’t in Labor’s best interest to talk up problems with the economy.]

    Read the document MDMConnell, if Labor had produced a document chronicling a drop in the growth rate of this magnitude you would be outraged. The bad news is that Western Australia has gone from Penthouse to out house in record time under a Liberal government, and at a time when no state can afford this level of non – achievement.

  5. “The bad news is that Western Australia has gone from Penthouse to out house in record time under a Liberal government”

    Stop being silly, steve.

    Surely even you don’t believe this sort of Labor propaganda.

  6. And by the way, steve, by your logic it must be entirely the Rudd Government’s fault that the Australian GDP growth forecast has dropped so much in the past year.

  7. Dyno, another one who hasn’t read the WA half yearly statement. It is an official Treasury document and hardly rates as propaganda, more like the poorest economic management of any state government for years.Next you’ll be telling me that the GFC only applies to NSW and WA. It is a condemning read.

  8. “If Labor had produced a document chronicling a drop in the growth rate of this magnitude you would be outraged”

    Since I’m neither a die-hard Liberal nor a WA resident I wouldn’t really care, to be honest.

    Obviously economic slowdown will occur across the country in the current environment, so I’m not sure why you think the public will lay the blame at Barnett’s door, or any other state government for that matter. I do think trying to score political cheapies in this sort of situation is silly and counterproductive. Probably explains why the federal opposition are in such a hole…

    And since in #51 you acknowledge budgets and poor planning have contributed to the slowdown, surely you acknowledge that’s the fault of previous state and/or federal governments, not a guy who’s just been elected?

  9. [And since in #51 you acknowledge budgets and poor planning have contributed to the slowdown, surely you acknowledge that’s the fault of previous state and/or federal governments, not a guy who’s just been elected?]

    Not at all. That’s like saying the latest NSW half yearly statement that was roundly condemn by all and sundry was all the fault of previous premiers and Treasurers. What this document says is that we now have two basket case economies that are only going to get worse at a time when states need competent budgets crafted by competent people.

  10. “That’s like saying the latest NSW half yearly statement that was roundly condemn by all and sundry was all the fault of previous premiers and Treasurers”

    They’ve been in power 13 years. Barnett’s been in power 13 weeks. Bit of a difference.

  11. Not when they produce the same sort of poisonous document that takes their state backwards for at least the next six months when they will probably produce another document just as effective as their last effort, no. I think you might be playing devil’s advocate here, MDMConnell but like NSW, there is nothing to inspire hope for the future in this WA document.

  12. steve’s just channelling the fools who advise Nelson and Turnbull that they should object to and complain about every single thing that Rudd does.

    Swap “Labor” for “Liberal”, and “Australia” for “WA”, and steve could be Denis Shanahan or someone like that.

    steve, I apologise if you were only joking!

  13. And the first lot of Barnett Job Losses have commenced.

    THE State Government has begun sacking its most vulnerable staff as part of its 3 per cent efficiency drive – starting with tea ladies.
    The move has sparked union concerns that thousands of low-paid and unprotected workers will follow while executives in government departments on massive financial packages will be spared.
    The loyal tea ladies within the Department for Child Protection this week became the first victims of the Colin Barnett-driven belt tightening. They will be replaced by machines.

    The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union fears the sackings are a sign of things to come and thousands of lower-paid government workers will be targeted.

    The union’s assistant secretary, Carolyn Smith, said the union has more than 12,000 members working in the public sector who now faced uncertainty.

    She said: “Who’s next? Instead of targeting the lowest paid workers in the public sector, they should look at the highly paid bureaucrats and the money wasted on consultants and advertising.

    “We are extremely concerned that this Government will privatise school and hospital services in an effort to cut costs.

    “Workers will face increased workloads and less pay and the general community will suffer because standards of work will drop under privatisation.

    “Lower-paid government workers are an easy hit and these sackings are a prime example.”

    http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,24828529-948,00.html

  14. The story of the Children’s hospital being two years later and two hundred Million dollars more than the Liberal promise is a good one too.

    [However, Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook said there was no chance the new children’s hospital would be open by 2014.

    “The Liberal Party never intended to keep that promise,” Mr Cook said.

    “It was effectively a fraud that they perpetrated on the electorate.

    “There is a whole raft of promises that they told the WA electorate they would keep and they have manifestly failed.”

    Mr Cook said the report by the Health Department officials should be made public.

    “The Government should reveal their plans on how they are going to stick to their health platform promises,” he said.]

  15. [The story of the Children’s hospital being two years later and two hundred Million dollars more than the Liberal promise is a good one too.]

    Yep, especially as they campaigned to fix the Health System.

  16. Yes, the West’s bias and monopoly certainly played a part in the utter failure of Labor’s campaign, but it had more to do with the choices the ALP made in the framework they had to deal with. The decision NOT to respond to the brilliant ‘think of three things’ ad from the Libs was one of the most glaring failures. In a media environment where it’s difficult to get your policy across to the choose not to take advantage of ads to get the policy and achievements out is a stupendous failure of judgment.

    Timing was also very poor. The ALP was aware from polls that the public was of the opinion that teh govt was arrogant and tricky – to then take advantage of the olympics and the new leader was clearly playing into the hands of those who created that image of the Carpenter government. Another monumental failure.

    But in the end, it was lost seat by seat, and the choice of candidates looked great on paper, but ignored loyalty to popular incumbents like Kucera.

    I think the points about things coming in over budget is not an issue – most people are aware that if their cost of living has gone up, the cost of government expenditure probably will too.