Two Reasons Why The Election Result is Better for Abbott than Winning Outright
1. Because they can use the negotiations with the Rustic Trio of Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor (and perhaps the Nationals guy who beat Tuckey) as a convenient excuse to jettison their ridiculous spending and deficit-slashing policies. These only existed to rationalise their knowingly misleading campaign on how the ALP borrows” $100 million a day” which clearly worked very well with marginal seat voters, even if it is complete economic claptrap. These cuts were bound to alienate the electorate so they were certain to back down anyway. However, with the triumvirate of rednecks as cover, it won’t seem as much a broken promise as a necessary compromise in the national interest. And the rich Tory landowners of Collins St. will forgive this profligacy in return for the untold and abundant pleasures of Coalition rule.
2. The public love seeing a minority government pander to the bush. Ask Labor Premiers Bracks and Brumby in Victoria who successfully dealt with rural independents to snatch victory in 1999 and have subsequently trounced the Coalition with eye-popping majorities three, and soon to be four, times. It was a pleasant surprise for Victorian Labor (for whom I worked at the time) when we realised that every time we stroked the thighs of country Victoria (in a policy sense), the whole state wound-up with semi (in an electoral sense). Australia is the most heavily urbanised continent, but its national identity is intimately bound up with an incongruous outback mythology or, as I coined in in my 2001 essay* in the Australian Politics Quarterly**, “Bush Battler Bullshit: Heartland Myths and the Suburban Voter”***. I wrote at the time:
To the phrase “Bush Battler Bullshit”, we should add the word ‘baffling’, and not just for alliterative purposes, although this alone is a good reason. The fetishization of the Australian country bumpkin is a stubborn and dangerous sociological phenomenon, and the country would benefit greatly if everyone woke the fuck up. Alas, this is not about to happen.****
I will reflect later about how some elections are profoundly significant and leave indelible marks in history — and how this is most certainly not such an election. It is a blip, an outlier. But I will leave it for the time being because I am flying to New Zealand, where the “conservative” National Party Prime-Minister, John Key, is so wet Tony Abbott will have no choice, on the occasion of their first Prime-Ministerial encounter, but to perform an atomic wedgie upon him, causing much hilarity and consternation.
*There is no essay.
** No such journal exists to my knowledge.
*** Again, no.
***** Obviously not.