Talking Points: Breaking News – Government celebrates stunning victory in one horse race

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Talking Points: Breaking News – Government celebrates stunning victory in one horse race

By Andrew Woodward, President, Bellinger River Branch, 3 December 2017

Malcolm Turnbull is getting the band back together and welcoming Barnaby Joyce back on stage.

It is a band that can’t sing as one; has old instruments; they’re way out of tune and they’ll put out albums on vinyl that go straight to the clearance bin. They’re like one of those one hit wonder bands from the 1970’s that makes a living off the country RSL tour circuit forty years later.

Let’s be clear, the result in New England wasn’t a surprise. Right wing parties have held the seat for over a century. Labor’s vote peaked in New England in 1983. As someone who was on a booth for ten hours in Armidale yesterday, the message I got from voters that came through was they were miffed at having to be there and wanted to get in-and-out of there as quickly as possible. It wasn’t a day for politics. It was like going to RMS and renewing your Drivers’ Licence.

The issue in New England has always been who gets the conservative vote. So, in essence, the Nationals had a stunning victory in a one horse race. There’s was no strong former National (like Tony Windsor) running as an independent; there was no One Nation candidate and there was no Shooters, Farmers and Fishers Party candidate . The vote for these types of candidates are the normal measure of the strength of the Nationals performance in an electorate like this. A performance measure of the Nationals in this seat is not Labor’s vote. It hasn’t been since the Hawke years. In the 2017 by-election, there was one known conservative voice and people voted for him – as you would expect.

Barrie Cassidy got it right on Insiders today – this was a correction.  Joyce’s TPP yesterday didn’t beat Tony Windsor’s TPP in 2007. Let’s look at the two-party-preferred vote going back eight elections:

  • 2017 TPP National 73.63 v Labor 26.37 (by-election count to date)
  • 2016 TPP National 66.42 v Labor 33.58
  • 2013 TPP National 70.71 v Labor 29.29
  • 2010 TPP former National 71.52 v National 28.48
  • 2007 TPP former National 74.33 v National 25.67
  • 2004 TPP former National 71.00 v National 29.00
  • 2001 TPP former National 58.3 v National 41.70
  • 1998 TPP National 62.93 v Labor 37.07

Yesterday’s result was on par for an electorate like this, as it is for Farrer and Riverina in NSW and Mallee and Gippsland in Victoria. Further, I expect Mr Joyce’s TPP to reduce in the days ahead – closer to 70 per cent than 75 per cent. It could even go below 70 per cent.

In delivering for the Nationals yesterday, it must also be remembered that this came at a cost of $2 million. The by-election happened and taxpayer funds were spent because Barnaby Joyce broke the law and was ineligible to sit in parliament. And the fact that the Prime Minister and Mr Joyce celebrate this victory and ‘party like it is 1999’ reaffirms just how deluded and desperate they are. In their speeches last night, did either apologise for the cost and inconvenience of yesterday? No. They just don’t get it. They’re arrogant, out-of-touch and bumbling along.

So the band put out a record yesterday; they listened to it themselves a few times and, declared it a hit! They’ll hit the road serenading their adoring fans in the next two weeks. It will be short-lived. Kristina Keneally will deliver a gold record on 16 December. The tune of the nation will change then.

And one more thing: Labor’s primary vote went up over four percent in New England yesterday. If that happened nationally in a general election, Labor would take government in a landslide – and deservedly so.

Updated: 3 December 2017

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