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The Election We Had To Have

The gun has fired on the race that’s going to stop the nation, regardless of whether we want our nation stopped.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has surprised no-one by finally calling a May 18 election.

Polls are consistently hovering around the 52-53 percent TPP mark for Labor; not the sort of gap that’s historically been bridged in an election campaign. And the ALP have been ahead in every single national opinion poll held since 2016’s 50-50 election, when a one-seat majority was delivered to Malcolm Whatisname, the latest PM we’re supposed to forget.

Bookmakers have the opposition at odds shorter than the average length of a political slogan. Even after six PMs in twelve years, we’re still looking almost certain to vote in a seventh.

You’ve got to vote, folks, it’s part of what makes Australia great. But what doesn’t look so exciting are the options.

The Coalition

“I believe in a fair go for those who have a go,” Morrison said yet again (AGAIN!) this morning. But at least this time he went on to attempt to define it, in a stumbling shamble of keywords where he managed to mispronounce “country”.

“If you’re having a go, you’ll get a go,” he summarised helpfully.

“Who do you trust?” he pled repeatedly, echoing John Howard’s mantra through the election campaign of 2007 – you know, the one where he was turfed out of his own seat.

Sure, they had some good news to share in the budget – at least that’s what they’re predicting. But unfortunately that cash they have to splash is also available to a Labor government.

The Coalition say they’ve solved the leadership circus in a similar way to the ALP, but the thing is, no-one voted for PM Scott Morrison and no-one wanted to.

But he’s still trying to paper over unhealed divisions in the party – not to mention between the Coalition parties. The Nationals have their own troubles, between having a leader that nobody knows and an ex-leader that everyone knows for all the wrong reasons.

And so Morrison, the friendly face the Libs installed because they knew just how toxic putting Dutton or Abbott in charge of the party would be, is our preferred Prime Minister.

Doesn’t say much for Bill Shorten.

Labor

Ah, our PM-in-waiting. An endless parade of zingless zingers and protein-free speechbites leaves the electorate wondering how we could have this daggy dad represent us on the world stage. Even when he’s almost certainly being sincere, he doesn’t really sound it, and he pronounces “th” as “f”, one of the least endearing speech impediments.

But as Liberal’s most high-profile figures (Bishop, Pyne, O’Dwyer, Ciobo) join the stampede for the door, Shorten’s got a strong and experienced team behind him, and he smartly reminded voters of Chris Bowen and Tanya Plibersek in a budget reply speech that actually sounded inspired and even seemed to contain, dare I say it, some sort of vision for the future?

Still, let’s face it, there are going to be a lot of people holding their nose as they cast a vote that will elect Shorten as PM. But as we’ve seen in the past, people will elect a leader they don’t really like if they’re ready for a change. Think of Tony Abbott.

But for those turned off the major parties, the options still aren’t great.

The Greens

After many years of presenting a united front as a third party, the Greens appear to be self-immolating.

While Richard Di Natalie seems to be staying above the fray, resignations and claims of bullying and branch takeovers have struck the New South Wales and Victorian branches of the party in particular.

Their federal vote has seemingly solidified for over a decade between the soaring dream of 11 percent of the vote (where they may just re-elect their one Senator per state) and a crushing fear of 9 percent (where they face near Senatorial oblivion). And living in a state of existential crisis seems to have finally split the party into factions, the dreaded tension that tears apart any party of a particular size.

One Nation

In One Nation’s case, that number tends to be two or three.

Pauline Hanson’s my-way-or-the-highway approach means that she’s the only one of the four elected One Nation senators still left in the party (alongside Rod Culleton replacement Peter Georgiou).

Georgiou is standing for re-election in the WA Senate, but their best hope is for too many people’s favourite conspiracy theorist Malcolm Roberts to return from dual citizenship exile in Queensland.

It remains to be seen whether the NRA scandal chips off some of One Nation’s core vote.

Centre Alliance

You may wonder who this is, but these guys have two Senators – both of whom are going to stay in the Senate until 2022. This party is what became of NXT: the Nick Xenophon Team, after Xenophon himself upped stumps and left politics.

Like everyone in Parliament this time around, they’ve had problems with having foreign citizens in their party, but their main problem with attracting voters is defining themselves as something other than a vacant space where Nick Xenophon used to be.

United Australia Party

Have you noticed? Clive Palmer’s back, spamming everyone with unwanted texts, erecting billboards focused on his thumbs, ripping off 80s hair metal in the worst memes and generally spending a whole bunch of money that legally I’m not allowed to say rightfully belongs to other people.

He’s running candidates in every seat hoping that they can return him to a Parliament where he can mostly not turn up, and when he does, he can fall asleep.

The Others

Cory Bernardi will continue on as a Senator for another three years, a spot he won as a Liberal before soon after launching the Australian Conservatives and swallowing Family First. The only problem is that the electoral evidence so far suggests that the new merged party is less popular than Family First was by itself.

Derryn Hinch, Jacqui Lambie and Tim Storer are among others trying to get elected under a personal brand. And of course Bob Katter will no doubt the North of Queensland all for himself, as is his birthright.

Meanwhile, disenchanted voters across the country are increasingly turning to independents who seem to actually represent their interests. And these seats like Indi and Wentworth might be the Coalition’s best chance to gain back some seats.

Ah. It’s just 37 days until it’s all over.