general politics

Sep 8, 2010

Let the Great Unhinging begin

With two country independents backing Gillard, the Labor party will now pass the only threshold needed in Australia to form government – a majority on the floor of House. There is no

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

With two country independents backing Gillard, the Labor party will now pass the only threshold needed in Australia to form government – a majority on the floor of House. There is no other test, there is no other requisite, there is no other qualification needed to control the Treasury benches.

But this constitutional reality will not stop some. Indeed, it merely marks the beginning of what will become a long festival of delusion, conspiracy and outright lies – where its hysteria will only be surpassed by its grubby bitterness and its commercial exploitation.

With so many having invested so much in the defeat of the Labor government – including the leadership of what was once the national broadsheet of this country –  to be denied victory by political inches, leaving a fragile incumbent holding the most delicate of majorities and being reliant on a handful of cross-benchers representing ideologically  discordant electorates, creates a result that will not be respected.

What we will witness over the next 18 months or more is a Great Unhinging –an orgy of hysterics that will far surpass the duplicity, dishonesty – let alone the complete arsehattery – that substituted for public debate on matters of government during the previous 12 months.

The goalposts of what constitutes government legitimacy will be moved from the constitutional to the convenient, from the reality of the parliamentary majority to  concocted nostrums about mandates to govern.

Every policy and utterance the government or the Independents make will be creatively analysed, deliberately distorted and whose fabricated consequences will be shouted from the rooftops. This will not be an exercise in political analysis, but an infection of pathological political syphilis. It will not just be a campaign against the government, but one rolling, frenzied campaign after another, where each new contrived outrage will assume a greater level of mania than the last.

The Independents will be targeted in a way they are probably not prepared for – they will be demeaned, ridiculed and treated with contempt, where their honourable characters will be distorted into debased caricatures. The character assassination will be ferocious and their connection to their electorates will be serially brought into question, particularly from a group of ostensibly inner urban media elites whose acquaintance with New England and Lyne extends no further than peering down from 30,000 feet as they fly between capital cities.

But it won’t just be the usual suspects here. There will be an angry that we haven’t seen for a long time, from a group of disgruntled political zealots.

The Liberal and National parties have a profoundly successful ability at attracting a disproportional quantity of the most embittered, politically pungent elements of Australian society as supporters – a dark, angry, belligerent underbelly that believes the only acceptable outcome of any political contest is the one they believe in.

Monday’s Essential Report, taken last week before we knew who was going to be government, hammered this reality home when it looked at public views on the election result – a set of findings that aren’t new in their tone mind you, for the same theme has been remarkably consistent by Coalition supporters in the polling since Tony Abbott took the leadership of the Liberal Party . Firstly, Essential asked about the quality of minority government:

After the election neither the Labor Party nor the Coalition has a majority in the House of Representatives – they need the support of independents to govern. Do you think this will result in a better or worse Government for Australia? (A lot better, a little better, a little worse, a lot worse, make no difference)


The “total worse” response from Coalition voters was nearly twice that of Labor or Greens voters. Not only do a majority of Coalition voters believe that minority government would be worse, but a plurality of Coalition voters believe it in the strongest possible terms available in the survey. If the Coalition can’t rule in their own right, many Coalition voters believe it is simply not acceptable.

Secondly, Essential asked about what should happen next:

Do you think Australia should have another Federal election in the next 12 months?


65% of Coalition voters want another election in the next 12 months – the only partisan block to carry a majority on the question, and the partisan block with smallest number of open minds represented by the Don’t know response. If the Coalition doesn’t clearly win, a majority of Coalition voters believe it is simply not acceptable.

A large proportion of the Coalition vote base believes there is one and only one acceptable outcome in politics – theirs. And it is this zealotry that will explode.

The temptation for the Opposition to continue to exploit this belligerence, as they so successfully did in the lead up to the campaign and in the campaign itself, will be overwhelming. When all that stands between the Opposition and a new election – a new chance at *power* –  is one scandal, one stuff up, one member of parliament changing – the attraction of flicking the switch to rhetorical overdrive for effect, and righteous indignation to incite their masses, will simply be too great.  No distortion will be too large, no lie too audacious, no accusation too brazen.

And they will be ably assisted and their supporters commercially exploited, by the leadership and opinion section of The Australian – not to mention the curmudgeonly Lesser Scribes infesting the sewer end of the News Ltd tabloids and that growing group of feeble minded cowards at the ABC whom appear to have lost any capacity for intellectual autonomy when it comes to independently assessing the dynamics of Australian politics.

Yet the Great Unhinging won’t be a one way street. The forces of good within the Liberal Party – the Malcolm Turnbulls, the Simon Birminghams, the Greg Hunts of this world – will, must, start to push back against the tawdry politics and tea party style behaviour that the Coalition will ultimately pursue under Tony Abbott. Someone will take a rhetorical step too far, and the tinder box that has been the Coalition will ignite with a fury.

The National Party – the political group that has done more to piss the living standards of rural people up the wall than any other – now face rural independents that for the first time have real power. The Nats ultimate weakness threatens to be publically exposed in their heartland – that they are impotent, do nothing ratbags that rely on the ideological patronage of their constituents  and give them three fifths of five eighths of sweet fuck all in return. When, later this term, the fruits of Windsor and Oakeshott start rolling out through regional electorates – from health upgrades to the NBN to a plethora of inevitable policy programs – the National Party will start to be seen by their own constituents for exactly what they are, and the fallout will not be pretty.

What we are about to witness will indeed be a new paradigm, but not the one being advertised. This term looks to be the most policy rich in a generation – the NBN, health reform, a tax summit, campaign funding reform, federal whistleblower protection, a Parliamentary Budget Office and a proper review of climate change policy to name but a few – yet while this incredible agenda with its long, far reaching consequences for the nation will be on the table, there will be one side of politics and one wing of the media doing its best to turn it all into a complete and utter circus.

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267 thoughts on “Let the Great Unhinging begin

  1. Puff, the Magic Dragon.

    Has brandis resigned yet? no?
    Oh goody goody gumdrops.

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    […] economist, statistician and polling expert Possum Comitatus wrote a post on his blog titled “Let the Great Unhinging begin” which made the prediction that instead of embracing the “new paradigm” and a […]

  3. Jaeger

    Any updates on the Great Unhinging, Poss? Have we reached peak wingnut yet?

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    […] Possum Comitatus Not a year ago alerted us The Great Unhinging has begun. No surprises for […]

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    […] Let the Great Unhinging begin […]

  6. Violets

    The unhinged party don’t care about what are the best policies for Australia – they just want the power.

    agree totally they attract the meanest, darkest, nastiest elements.

    this is going to be a long battle – but fight the good fight!

    if the govt/indies focus on good results – they can sidestep the spoiling tactics of the unhinged & the media

    the closeness of this election & time to form the govt has felt like a civil war in Oz. Voters thoughts could almost be heard being wrung out with each vote counted across the country.

    In 2010 one might have thought Oz would be progressing to enlightened debates. But this is pitchfork stuff – we can’t choose the battle sometimes – we have to fight with truth, fight with courage & fight against fear! Oz can do it!

  7. DemocracyATwork

    There are those that deny climate change and then there are those that deny flaws exist in the Australian senate counting rules.

    Andrew Bartlet, failed Green’s Candidate for the seat of Brisbane (Ex Democrat Leader and Queensland Senator) continues to deny the FACTS that the system used in the counting of the Australian Senate elections is seriously flawed.

    Mr Bartlett, who served on Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for Electoral Matters failed to identify the flaws in the counting system.

    Has he tried recounting the 2007 Queensland Senate vote?  (Excluding all candidates except the least seven standing – 3ALP, 3LNP and 1 Grn) Obviously not. Unless Mr Bartlet does recount the vote he is not in a position to make an informed decision, but that does not stop him from denying the facts.

    FACTS that Mr Bartlett fails to comprehend.

    FACT The method of calculating the Surplus Transfer Value is seriously flawed.  it increases the value of the Major Party Ticket vote in a situation where there is a delayed election.  In 2010 The Liberal National Party (LNP) NSW ticket vote increased in value byover  14,000 votes as a result of the flaw in the calculation of the Surplus Transfer Value.  14,000 votes is a huge bonus and potential winning margin in a close election.
    FACT In 2007 David Feeney came close to losing the Victorian Senate election as a result of a “Bonus 7,000 votes” added to the Liberal Party Ticket vote. (Even Antony Green. ABC Electoral Analysis has acknowledged this flaw)
    FACT Larissa Waters, Green’s Senate Candidate in 2007, failed to win a Senate seat due to the flaw related to the method of segmentation and distribution of excluded candidates preferences.
    FACT Western Australia recognised the flaw in the way the Senate vote is counted and legislated to change the method used in calculating the Surplus Transfer Value. WA did not correct the flaw in the distribution of excluded candidate’s preferences.


  8. n7133758 KB

    What kind of confidence do the people of Australia have in their government when it takes over 2 weeks to announce a winning party from the 21 August election? The feeling from a generous amount of Australians leading up to election day was one of uncertainty. Who to vote for was the big question on everyone’s lips…Labour or Coalition???
    Both parties put forward some great policy ideas such as Labour’s Broadband network and the Coalitions parental leave plan, but did one party really dominate the election campaign with great policies that made Australians feel confident in giving either party their vote?
    And then, is it really fair to allow a few Independents to give their votes to other parties, creating a winner who otherwise would not have won? Can we really say that our government has been “elected” by the Australian people?
    The question though that poses the most importance for everyone is, how is this going to affect me and those who are disadvantaged and in need of help and support from the Government? As the winning government, how are Labour going to provide assistance to people in need of health care, especially those in need of treatment for a mental illness, people with disabilities, unemployed , other people who live on welfare benefits, the homeless and the list goes on.
    Take homelessness for example. Kevin Rudd’s White Paper for Homelessness in 2008 aimed to reduce homelessness by 50% by 2020. The paper admits that up to 105,000 people are homeless on any given night but the Government funded specialist homelessness services: SAAP National Data Collection annual report 2008–09, shows that 204,900 people (125,800 clients and 79,100 accompanying children) received support from a specialist homelessness agency in 2008–09. Mr Rudd acknowledged that there would be a rise in the next figures due to the global recession.
    There was no public campaigning from the Labour Party in the recent election process about improving homelessness. Isn’t it common sense though, that to tackle an issue we need to implement a plan and have continuous support to ensure success. Why is it then that the new Labour Party does not seem to have an obvious interest in reducing homelessness within Australia? Is it fair to say that The White Paper was dumped right along with Kevin Rudd?
    But would the Liberal Party have been any better? The opposition leader at the time of the release of The White Paper, Malcolm Turnbull, offered support for it but the now opposition leader, Tony Abbott, isn’t providing the same kind of backing saying that the goal is too unrealistic and that you can’t stop some people being homeless “if that’s their choice”.
    The Labour Party have however brought on policy regarding supported accommodation for people with disabilities, Taking action to tackle suicide, Delivering for seniors, Modernising Welfare, Closing the gap for Indigenous People and Creating jobs and skills in Australia. Having government support surrounding these issues provides secondary assistance in preventing homelessness for particular groups as many issues such as unemployment and mental health lead to homelessness. Indigenous people are over represented within the homeless sector so having a focus on Closing the Gap is overly important.
    Another issue of concern during the recent election was the miner’s tax. Wayne Swan’s second reading of the Budget’s speech explains that by introducing the Resource Super Profits Tax we are managing “our resource wealth sustainably — capturing a fairer share for all Australians and turning it into other forms of wealth that last.”
    The proposal has since been reformed so that its less harsh but there is still a 30% tax on iron ore and coal projects and 40% on Petroleum projects, which according to the ALP website, will allow tax cuts on smaller businesses, increase in superannuation and optional standard deduction in our yearly individual tax. The redistribution places responsibility on miners for a large portion of the government’s income. Doesn’t this go against the description of a monopoly economy?
    It’s very Robin Hood; noble, but at the end of the day he was still a thief.
    Wouldn’t it be better to have fees for large contributors to carbon emissions? Make mining companies compensate for the damage their causing to the environment. This would also show that the Government is serious about climate change which is important if we want to reduce global warming.
    It’s always going to be impossible to satisfy everyone and every need. No 2 people are going to have mirrored ideas let alone a whole country coming together to support a political party 100%. As much as we all like to take a go at politicians, realistically if they weren’t intelligent people then they wouldn’t be politicians. In all fairness they aren’t doing too badly, especially considering the limitations on funding and resources. Australia is a pretty good place to live and if we want to make it even better than we all need to do our bit to help out instead of placing all the blame on the government of the day. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to pray just a little that Julia knows what she’s doing.

  9. Rod Hagen

    I see “[email protected]” now calls him or herself “Democracy Denied”.

  10. Democracy Denied

    There was no advantage for the ALP in holding a double dissolution. The risk of growing backwards was too great. Not one of the Senators or players in the ALP that I have spoken to support it. Why would they. They did well in the last election. BUT I can assure you there will be a spill at the next election. It is only a question of when and how not if. The Greens are not a stable partner. Come July 1 both the ALP and the LNP would be wanting a double.

  11. becauseiwanttodoyouslowly

    What a spoilt little girl Julie Bishop is behaving like with her claim that Rudd is the PM in exile.

    Having legitimately lost the election, she and her colleagues are behaving like spoilt little rich private school kids who can’t handle losing and so in response are whingeing and bleating at every opportunity. You can almost hear the stamping of feet and the wailing hissy fits.

    Get over it Libs and accept you lost the election.

    Maybe next time if they spend a bit of time thoughtfully developing some policies that adequately address actual needs and are properly costed they will be a bit more successful.

    Next time a carping, lying scare campaign by Aboott wont work.

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  14. Oscar

    [email protected]

    Apropos of nothing to dodo with DD and dd….. an excellent piece by Peter Brent as usual in the Oz ( the best broadsheet newspaper by a country mile in this country):

    Ah! I see the comic relief has arrived.

  15. JamesK

    Apropos of nothing to dodo with DD and dd….. an excellent piece by Peter Brent as usual in the Oz ( the best broadsheet newspaper by a country mile in this country):

  16. Democracy Denied

       /ˈskrutni/ Show Spelled[skroot-n-ee] Show IPA
    –noun, plural -nies.
    a searching examination or investigation; minute inquiry.
    surveillance; close and continuous watching or guarding.
    a close and searching look.

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    […] piece the other day, espousing what he feels the next period will hold in politics – it’s well worth a read. I wholeheartedly agree with him. I find it incredible that Gillard has managed to triumph in the […]

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