The long drawn out by-elections are nearly upon us. Super Saturday! Seriously, could I be less excited about anything in my life? Considering how close it is to the next election, would it have really hurt to leave those seats vacant for a few more months and just contest them as part of the general election? I know we can’t do that, but it does seem an awful fuss about nothing, not to mention a terrible waste of time and money for the people involved.
Despite what we will be told by people whose job it is to scrutinise the minutiae of daily political developments in Canberra, A poor showing by Labor does little more than increase the Coalition’s wafer-thin majority. But a stronger majority doesn’t make it any easier to pass legislation than a small one.
Some will argue that a show of low support for Labor in this handful of elections will impact national voting patterns as it will be seen as indicative of a trend, but this is a fairly speculative argument. By-elections are usually fought on local issues.
Similarly, a stronger than expected showing by Labor will not necessarily have any knock on effect to their national polling numbers. Nor will it give them any greater capacity to influence national policy in this parliament. It will just return us to the status quo.
And on paper the status quo looks pretty damning for the government. It should be too. They have failed on economic policy, immigration policy, foreign affairs, energy and social policy.
But that is not what I’m talking about. Surprisingly, despite their poor performance, the Coalition only trail Labor by a small percentage in the opinion polls.
But they have still lost 35 of these polls in a row. This would seem a grim omen as we approach the next election, but Labor supporters would do well to temper their expectations.
Like a corporate Dr Frankenstein, Rupert Murdoch will soon fully animate his News Corpse monster (not a spelling error) and unleash it against the ALP.
You may say that Murdoch papers and a lot of commercial media organisations already run with a strong conservative, right-wing bias. I would say that is true, but wait until the election gets closer- especially if it is still looking close.
Expect to see a stream of headlines about immigrants, welfare, African gangs, border protection, ALP leadership speculation (and very little spoken about Tony Abbott’s very obvious undermining of the PM) and even some union bashing. This isn’t an exaggeration. Look at what has happened in the past. If you remember headlines like, “Kick this mob out,” and, “Australia needs Tony,” you’ll know just how far Murdoch will go to keep the LNP in power.
To most of us, this seems depressingly transparent, especially when you consider the numerous free kicks Newscorps has received from the government through corporate tax cuts, multimillion dollar gifts and deliberate government attacks on the credibility of the ABC. But don’t discount the impact these headlines will have. They only need to sway a small percentage of voters and we will be stuck with this cruel, incompetent and deceitful Coalition government for another term. Considering the damage they have done to our economy, our energy policy and our international reputation in the last few years, imagine what they could do with another term.
It’s an awful possibility but one that we should be prepared for, as it is far from improbable.