Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A note of caution

Below is one part of the post-mortem that the Liberal party is understandably having at the moment. I am inclined to think that the outcome will not matter much. It is often said that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them. And the ALP is constitutionally incapable of dealing with the economic disaster that is already unfolding so will make any alternative welcome. And the Liberals are the only party with a claim to economic rectitude so will romp in next time

History is instructive. What hope is there that the ALP will tame inflation? None that I can see. Their policies will expand it. In an earlier era Gough Whitlam (ALP) pumped inflation up to 19%. That gave Malcolm Fraser (LCP) such a big victory that he even took the Senate with him

James Allan’s take on the worst night on the Liberal Party’s history is, by and large, right.

The leafy suburbs of Sydney have for years not been Liberal heartland in fact, and now they are not in name. People who are loaded and don’t have to worry about the cost of keeping the lights on, and can afford to indulge in their climate warrior fantasies and champagne socialism, vote Left as part of their virtue signalling. Allan is right: preferential voting delayed the transformation, but it’s now happened.

Allan’s long-time thesis, repeated many times here, is that the Liberals’ recent time in government tossed aside its social and economic liberal roots, and that a spell in the opposition paddock will soon set things right. Well, he’s got his wish.

But he is also confident that this period of agistment will be brief. ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a renewed conservative Liberal Party win in 2025,’ he wrote on Monday. Provided, of course, that the Liberals follow the prescription and ‘opt to go down the conservative renewal path’.

The truth is, Jim, that the appropriate response is what The Castle’s Daryl Kerrigan used to say about classified ads in the Trading Post: you’re dreamin’.

Renewing the Liberal Party will take more than one term. It will take years beyond that. What happened on Saturday is so much an existential danger that long and extremely hard looks need to be taken by the party not just to consider what went wrong, but to determine exactly what its values and principles should be in an age where voters don’t much seem to care as long as they get free stuff, and parties believe they can substitute the character assassination of opponents for the hard work of policy-making and shaping a programme for government.

That means it’s too early to say, as some already are, that the traditional heartland-turned-Teal should be abandoned for the outer suburbs and regions. It’s too early to say that going hard to ‘dump Dan’ or ‘maul Mark’ is a key to renewed Liberal electoral success at state level. In fact, it’s too early to say anything. Just trying to make sense of Saturday’s every which way slaughter of the Liberal parliamentary party does my head in.

We in the Liberal party need to return to our centre-right conservative roots, but are they the roots of Menzies in the 1940s, or of a new plant more attuned to the realities of the 2020s? Is it simply standing firm against the climate warriors and social engineers, or is it something more innate? Is it going full libertarian or accepting, like Burke, that the state and community have a respected place in our lives?

As for the politics of the Liberals returning to government, truly this was a good election to lose. The social, economic, and security headwinds Mr 32 per cent Anthony Albanese, his Left-leaning government and even further Left-leaning upper and lower house crossbenches, will try the competence of a far more talented and balanced ministry than Albanese’s will be. But an invigorated Labor also will continue to outplay the Coalition on politics, and drive wedges into the new Opposition to exploit existing divisions and create new ones – do you really think that Albanese committed to implementing the Ayers Rock Statement from the Heart ‘in full’ entirely out of altruism?


Green True Believers now rule

It’s much worse than we thought. The ALP will govern in its own right, but will be forced into extreme positions by a Green-left Senate.

The first thing to recognise is that the result demonstrates a new consensus.

There are some differences between the ALP, the Coalition, the Teals, and the Greens. To placate its funders within the union movement the ALP will seek to abolish the ‘gig’ economy and promote a 5 per cent wage rise, something the Greens would also support. But that apart, the consensus represents a goal of abandoning the fossil fuel burning energy industry and coal and gas exports; differences are essentially confined to the pace at which this happens.

Replacing the socialist-free enterprise divide that conditioned political dualities during the 20th century, we now have the belief in global warming as the key delineator.

The vast majority of politically actives within society are undeterred by or unaware that there has been no significant warming over the past 30 years or that warmings and coolings were a feature of planet earth long before fossil fuels were burned. They are convinced that Armageddon is upon Australia with fires, floods, and rising sea levels resulting from human-induced global warming. These, the new True Believers, further believe that if Australia (with one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions) ceases to burn fossil fuels we will restore some imagined ecological nirvana. And, unchastened or unaware of this year’s five-fold increase in wholesale gas and electricity prices, they believe this will come at a trivial cost.

The Teal candidates, (described by Peta Credlin as, ‘Greens with nice clothes and designer handbags’) represent the left of the Coalition and have captured six Liberal blue-ribbon seats in major cities to add to their two incumbents.

Such success would not have been possible without the $12 million spent by Simon Holmes à Court and his affluent supporters (many of whom have vested interests in an outcome that promises more subsidies for renewables).

But Clive Palmer spent $70 million, which yielded very little.

The difference was that the Teals had the support of an army of devotees, many of them the result of the long march through the institutions that has indoctrinated a generation and a half of schoolchildren into accepting the green illusion.

Some National MPs representing coal districts and a handful of Coalition Senators like Gerrard Renwick, Matt Canavan, and Alex Antic depart from the delusionary climate consensus and recognise the importance of coal and gas for power generation as well as exports. There may be others, like Peter Dutton the presumed new leader, who were previously muted.

The Teals’ success may bring a split in the Coalition. Such an outcome was foreshadowed by Liberal leftist Senator, Simon Birmingham, though he saw this as a formal rupture between the Liberals and the Nationals, when the central Climate Change issue divides both parties (some more successful Nationals MPs, like Darren Chester in Gippsland, are pro-climate action). Simon Birmingham would take the federal Coalition along the path adopted in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, a path that would leave it in permanent opposition to the ALP/Greens.

If the Coalition parties split, the conservative elements would develop policies covering a range of matters beyond energy and climate change to include freedom of speech, regulation reform, and spending cuts.

But forging such a new party would be a formidable challenge. The Freedom Friendly parties which include One Nation and Liberal Democrats and, incongruously, Palmer United, failed to exploit any presumed gap from the Coalition adopting green policies. Taking the Senate vote, compared to the Coalition (at 33 per cent) and the ALP (at 30 per cent), these parties (plus the shooters, fishers, farmers) got 11.3 per cent. The Greens and their close allies got 14.6 per cent.

The freedom parties’ vote has hardly grown. Senate, swings to the freedom parties, as illustrated below, were much lower than those to the greens and their allies – they were even lower than the 1.95 per cent swing achieved by Legalise Cannabis Australia!

The fact that fewer than 12 per cent of people unambiguously voted against green mysticism suggests that, in terms of political tactics, the Coalition could have done worse than prosecute the campaign on a me-too climate change platform. But this is, in part, because for six years they failed to explain the importance of reliable energy to the economy both for supplying domestic power and for its share of the export revenues (half and growing). Nor did they make a dent in unwinding the institutional forces feeding the climate change agenda.

The policies the electorate has endorsed are profoundly against the nation’s economic interests and must lead to an economic collapse. For a poor country, like Sri Lanka, going the Full Green Monty quickly unravelled the economy. Australia, though, has fabulous natural wealth and a desperate government may be able to avert disaster by cashing-in much of that, since, even after the excessive spending of the Turnbull/Morrison/Frydenberg era, debt remains at only 54 per cent of GDP, half that of many European countries, America, and Canada.

World recession and rising interest rates may however expedite an unravelling of the economy. In any event, we need political leadership which explains the operations of the economy with the hope that the people through a democratic process will recognise where their true interests lie.


Tony Abbott sees hope in suburbs and regions

In the USA, the Republicans have become the party of the worker Australia's conservatives could have a similar future

Tony Abbott’s advice to the Liberal Party not to focus too much on regaining the lost blue-ribbon heartland of Australia’s richest real estate but to look to less well-off outer suburbs for renewal and revival is spot-on.

Abbott believes too many former and current Liberal MPs have provided knee-jerk reactions to the drastic loss of affluent inner-city seats to the so-called teal Climate 200 group, declaring there needs to be a move to the “right or left”, particularly on climate change policy, as a solution without recognising the problem.

A swath of moderate, progressive Liberal MPs has been wiped out by teals running on just two policies – an integrity commission and more cuts to greenhouse gas emissions – in a parasitical political campaign that cost Scott Morrison any chance. In an election that mostly concentrated on cost-of-living pressures, the seats of Wentworth, Kooyong, North Sydney, McKellar, Goldstein and Curtin were not clamouring for income support.

But instead of conservatives or the remaining moderates fighting a new climate war over the undoubtedly difficult policy of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 they need to stand back strategically, and recognise the changed landscape and the entrenched nature of the affluent independent vote.

They also have to identify where to garner new support and build on existing strengths.

Abbott helped the Liberals where he could during the campaign and, unlike the man who knocked him off, Malcolm Turnbull, did not criticise or undermine the Coalition. As well, he has now spoken without recrimination or ideological bent to simply identify a potential advantage in a slough of despondency.

Women were ‘forgotten people’ by the Liberals this election
Former Liberal candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves says women were “the forgotten people” by the Liberal… Party this election. “Women like me who are told we can have it all – we got educated, we’re looking after kids, ageing parents, keeping our relationships together. We’re tired,” she told us.

As one of only four Liberal leaders to win government from opposition, as a successful opposition leader who reduced Labor to a minority government after just one term and who then won the next election with a 16-seat majority, Abbott’s view on a strategy on how to win deserves attention. He has recognised the likelihood of entrenched elitist, inner-city MPs holding traditional Liberal seats, just as Greens will hold traditional Labor seats, and the need and potential for Liberals to extend support in the outer suburbs and link with the regional and rural support of fringe Liberals and Nationals.

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson says the forgotten Australians need to be remembered in regaining… Liberal voters. “I think it’s incredibly important that the Coalition work together to ensure that they do not miss the concerns and aspirations of the so-called forgotten people,” he told Sky News

The demographics and election results speak for themselves of the potential for Liberal appeals to small business, family, migrants, tradespeople and contractors in the less affluent suburbs. In Sydney’s western, formerly Labor seat of Fowler, the only true independent success of 2022, Dai Le, who defeated former NSW Labor premier, Kristina Keneally, who was parachuted in from Sydney’s uber-exclusive Scotland Island, did so as a migrant and small businesswoman, with a family and grassroots support.

Obviously the Liberal Party has to repair its broken state organisations but it also has to do the reshaping without falling back on the stupid ideological and factional battles and look to a longer-term goal.


increased subsidies for electric cars coming

Anthony Albanese will introduce policies to boost the take-up of electric vehicles but will stop short of imposing a ban on petrol or diesel cars as part of his plan to tackle climate change.

The Labor Party will introduce tax benefits to reduce the price of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, forecasting that 89 per cent of new car sales will be electric by 2030.

The new government will also make it easier to charge electric cars by setting up hundreds of new charging stations so drivers can easily travel long distances.

Although the cost of buying an electric car puts many potential buyers off, they are much cheaper to run than petrol cars and will save drivers money over the long term.

By making electric cars cheaper and more convenient, Mr Albanese hopes there will be 3.8 million on the road by 2030.

Labor will also invest in boosting the electricity grid so it can cope with a big increase in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Former Energy Minister Angus Taylor claimed the plan would push up power prices by $560 a year, an outlandish claim that was quickly de-bunked by experts - but there could be some smaller short-term price rises.

It remains to be seen whether the Greens will pursue their ambitious policies - such as banning petrol cars - in the senate where they can use their balance of power position as leverage on Labor.

Electric cars will be exempt from a five per cent import tariff that would reduce the cost of a $40,000 vehicle by $2,000.

They will also be exempt from fringe benefits tax which will encourage workplaces to give their employees electric cars.

The move would result in savings of up to $8,700 for a $50,000 vehicle.

The tax cuts will be introduced on July 1 this year and will be reviewed in three years.

Electric cars will be exempt from a five per cent import tariff . They will also be exempt from fringe benefits tax

Labor will also invest $39.3 million, matched by the NRMA, to deliver 117 fast charging stations on highways across Australia.

This will provide charging stations at an average interval of 150km on major roads, allowing Aussies to drive from Adelaide to Perth or Darwin to Broome with an electric car.

The result of these policies is that electric vehicles will make up 89 per cent of new car sales by 2030, with 15 per cent of all cars on the road by then being zero-emission.

According to this forecast, 3.8million vehicles on the road will be electric by 2030.

There is no electric vehicle sales target but Labor will overhaul the Commonwealth fleet to make it electric.

Labor dropped former leader Bill Shorten's plans to introduce average emissions standards for new vehicles.

In Australia just 1.5 per cent of cars sold are electric and plug-in hybrid. This compares to 17 per cent in the United Kingdom and 85 per cent in Norway.

Mr Albanese predicts some 5,960 jobs will be created in the electric car industry.

Electric Vehicle Council of Australia CEO Behyad Jafari has welcomed Mr Albanese's plans.

He said: 'It's refreshing to hear a federal political party recognise the massive potential electric vehicles provide for Australia and start to outline a plan to realise those benefits.

'There are some very positive and welcome steps already outlined. But key among them is to work with industry to develop a well overdue National Electric Vehicle Strategy.

'A great sign of things to come.'




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