Christopher Pyne: Australian Voters Don't Like Being Told Who They're Going To Vote For

After the 2016 election I stated on television that the Liberal Party was an "election-winning machine".

This was greeted with great hilarity by many who prefer to believe that Labor is the natural party of government.


Here are the facts: In the last nine elections, the Liberal and Nationals have won seven times, Labor once and the ninth was a draw. If the Adelaide Football Club or the South Sydney Rabbitohs had won seven of the last nine Grand Finals, the commentators would happily call them Grand Final-winning machines.

(Image: AAP)

The ‘Canberra bubble’ is real. Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the members of the Liberal and Nationals party room time and again -- “get out and talk to voters, don’t obsess about the Canberra Bubble”.

The Australian voter doesn’t like to be told who they are going to vote for -- they like to make up their own mind. The people who re-elected the Liberals and Nationals last Saturday have gained a new moniker -- they are being called the “quiet Australian” or the "shy Tory”. They are Australians who want lower taxes, a lower cost of living and are aspirational about their future and the future of their families.

It really is that simple.

Those on the left of the political spectrum lecture and hector these voters, and it doesn’t change their minds. It just makes them keep their views to themselves or within their circle of friends and family.

I witnessed this firsthand on the Sunday morning after the so-called ‘shock’ election result (by the way, I predicted that a Liberal and National Government would be formed on the Thursday before the election and again on Saturday afternoon on Network 10).

The Network 10 Panel on Election Night 2019.

Alighting my airplane to fly from Sydney home to Adelaide, the in-flight manager cheerily congratulated me on my party’s win the night before. We had a brief and pleasant chat. Once I had moved on, the person immediately behind me bitterly said to him, “It was a win for greed.”

I imagine the in-flight manager got quite a shock and will likely avoid the subject of politics in the future!

That’s how a lot of non-Labor voters feel. It's one of the reasons the opinion polls missed the target so spectacularly. All of them. For a long time. Not just in this election -- in South Australia in 2018, Tasmania in 2018, the United Kingdom’s last election, the Brexit referendum in the UK, the contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016, New South Wales in March this year. I could go on.

The fact is, the quiet Australian is content to keep their views to themselves and do their talking through a lead pencil in the ballot box. Who can blame them?

Labor has totally bought into this narrative about their amazing campaign ability. So much so that they developed a set of policies that were electoral poison and didn’t think it mattered. They were uber-cocky about winning.

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Their ‘retiree tax’ energised older voters against them; the abolition of negative gearing as we have understood it and the doubling of capital gains tax energised property investors, renters, and aspirational voters; their lack of enthusiasm for company tax cuts frightened small business; their inability to explain what a 45 percent emissions reduction target means to the Australian economy worried everyone (particularly people looking for a job or in an industry that would be directly affected).

In short, they gave millions of voters a reason to vote Liberal and National.

What Labor will learn from this result is for them to write about, but the early signs aren’t good. Most of the Labor spokespeople since Saturday night have variously blamed Clive Palmer, Bill Shorten, a lack of time to explain their policies (six years isn’t long enough?) --­ even the media!

One thing we know for sure: by the next election in 2022, Labor will have been in government for nine years since I was first elected in 1993. That’s nine of 29 years -- a sobering thought next time they trumpet their election-winning credentials.