Monday 23 May 2022

Out! Morrison Is Bowled.

From Public Housing To The Lodge: Anthony Albanese wins the Australian Federal Election, bringing the career of Scott Morrison and his boofhead Coalition government to an end. The defeat of the boofheads was the victory Australia had to have.

CRIKEY! Those Aussies are pissed-off. To appreciate just how pissed-off they are it is instructive to look back at the last time Kiwis moved against their two major parties so aggressively. In 1996, National and Labour, between them, accounted for just 62 percent of the Party Votes cast. Taken together, NZ First, the Alliance, Act, United Future and the Christian Coalition accounted for 34.76 percent. The comparison with Saturday’s vote, of which the centre-right coalition of the Liberal and National parties attracted just 35.4 percent, Labor 32.8 percent, and their challengers 31.8 percent of the Primary Vote, is compelling.

The 1996 General Election in New Zealand was the first to be conducted under the new MMP electoral system, offering electors the novel opportunity to have their political choices much more accurately reflected in the final tally of seats. The 2022 Australian federal election, by contrast, was conducted under the well-established (if complex) Compulsory Preferential Vote system. The electoral havoc wrought across the Tasman is, therefore, even more telling. Angry Australians have dealt a massive blow to the two main political groupings, along with the political culture of bullshitters and boofheads in general.

These latter accretions to the Australian political system have multiplied alarmingly over the last 25 years – and not just in the Liberal and National parties. Some of the blame undoubtedly must be sheeted home to the One Nation Party, whose founding figurehead, Pauline Hanson, somehow succeeded in transforming ignorance into a political virtue. Like her fellow populist, Donald Trump, Hanson and her minders love the poorly educated – who reciprocate that love with unnerving passion.

The conservative coalition of Liberal Party toffs and National Party country bumpkins could not ignore Hanson’s vulgar intrusion into the hitherto settled politics of the Right. The Boofhead Vote was notoriously ill-disciplined, being as likely to award its second preferences to Labor as its more respectable conservative fellow-travellers. If Hanson couldn’t be beaten (and John Howard gave that option his best shot) then the only other alternative was to join her boofhead crusade.

But those second preferences came at a price. Yes, it was an unlooked-for blessing to witness the defection of that part of the Australian working-class which balked at embracing the socially-liberal supporters of feminism, multiculturalism, Aboriginal rights, sexual diversity and environmentalism who were becoming more-and-more entrenched in the Labor Party. But, how to transform Hanson’s party into a reliable electoral way-station for the Right? Part of the answer involved hitherto decent and responsible conservatives forcing themselves to pretend that these new recruits were not dyed-in-the-wool racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes who’d never met a lump of coal they didn’t like.

The ethical corrosion which these new electoral calculations inflicted on both the Centre-Right and the Centre-Left was devastating. By requiring their more sophisticated followers to hold their noses and adapt themselves to the needs of the Boofhead Vote, both parties had opened a pathway to power for their most ambitious and unscrupulous opportunists. Parliamentary politics, never all that refined in Australia, was coarsened still further.

Making matters worse, especially for the Liberals, was the vicious class politics at work on the Right. The upwardly-mobile working-class, and the middle-class suburban “battlers” who idolised “Little Johnny Howard”, felt keenly the lofty condescension bestowed upon them by the Liberal Party’s aristocratic grandees. Safe in their leafy, blue-ribbon redoubts (or sprawling squatter estates) these worthies felt more keenly than ever the pull of noblesse oblige. Boofhead votes were all very welcome, naturally. But, you couldn’t have boofheads running the party, or, God forbid! – occupying The Lodge!

To which the boofheads (Tony Abbot, Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison) responded: “Well see about that, mate. You just watch us.”

But, the boofheads could never have succeeded, or at least, not so completely, had it not been for Climate Change. With Australian coal fuelling the furnaces of China, and Australian iron and copper holding up and connecting much of the world, the inconvenient scientific truths of global warming prompted Australia’s richest and most conservative industrialists to go in search of politicians who could be relied upon to make damn sure that nothing of any significance was ever done to curb it.

To the many boofhead prejudices already injected into Australia’s political bloodstream was added the manifold dangers of Climate Change Denial. It was an affectation adopted without hesitation by a worrying number of the well-paid workers in Australia’s mining industry. The latter’s powerful trade unions made the formulation of a science-driven Climate Change policy extremely difficult for Labor. Meanwhile, on the right, the unholy boofhead alliance of ignorance, anti-intellectualism, evangelical Christianity and rank opportunism had destroyed the career of the leafy-suburbs’ Liberal standard-bearer, Malcom Turnbull.

The 2019 Federal Election, was won by Scott Morrison who succeeded in mobilising every available boofhead vote where it most mattered. (Which was not, as Labour and most of the pundits assumed, in the left-leaning cities.) Unfortunately for the Coalition, 2019 also marked the moment of Peak Bullshit. In the years that followed, the all-too-real impacts of global warming – in the form of devastating bush-fires and floods – left the denialists with an ever-decreasing audience among intelligent Australians.

Labour’s equivocation on the Climate Change issue had already fuelled the rise and rise of the Greens, threatening the party’s left flank and forcing it further and further away from Boofheadism. This became easier, and much less costly electorally, as even the dimmest working-class boofhead began to realise that having his prejudices tickled by Scotty From Marketing did nothing to halt the rapidly rising cost of living.

But if the Greens were challenging Labor for the support of young, non-boofhead Australians, the Liberal Party was about to fall victim to what might best be called “The Revenge of the Grandees”. The good and the great of the leafy suburbs had had enough of watching highly-intelligent and accomplished Liberal moderates whipped into line by the likes of boorish National Party leader, Barnaby Joyce. It was time to strike back against the corrupt political meddling of the Mining Industry and its refusal to accept the reality of Climate Change.

With what might be called “progressive capitalist” backing, a team of first-rate female “independents” was enlisted to destroy the Liberal’s moderate wing in its blue-ribbon seats - thereby making it impossible for the Morrison-led Government to win re-election. This rich admixture of regal blue and environmentalist green produced what, on the night, proved to be a “Teal Revolution”.

The Liberal-National Coalition now faces an historic fork in the road: either abandon Boofheadism and keep the Centre-Right in play; or, double-down on the failed politics of ignorance and prejudice. Dwindling to a vague political memory in the cities, and dying, unloved and unlamented, in some dusty bush electorate.

The editorial published on election day in the Melbourne-based small-l liberal weekly The Saturday Paper, said this of Australia’s boofhead PM:

Morrison, this cruel and bilious man, now asks for a fourth term. He says he’s just getting started. He plans to be different. He looks out at the carnage behind him, all of it the result of his ineffectiveness and ineptitude, and says he is a bulldozer. There is no crisis that doesn’t begin and end with him imagining himself as a small boy playing with a toy truck.

Yes, the Aussies are an angry people. Too pissed-off to give Anthony Albanese and his Labor Party a ringing endorsement, they have grudgingly made him their ‘lesser evil’ prime minister. What they enthusiastically made certain, however, was that Scott Morrison and the Coalition did not win.

The defeat of the boofheads is the victory Australia had to have.

This essay was originally posted on the website of Monday, 23 May 2022.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Generally a fair assessment of politics here. However, you have mislabelled most of the “Teals”. Their support has come from the largely urban, professional women who believe that Labor are fiscally incompetent but that Morrison ignored their role in government, their aspirations and needs, virtually any issues that affect women while chasing issues he thought were important but we’re in fact toxic to the general Australian public. The average Liberal woman is these seats is not “regal” but is a working professional, concerned about climate change, angry about womens lack of voice in Australian politics and desperate for change. My hope is that they put pressure on the Labor govt to progress climate action and actually develop policies, rather than stumble around as they normally do, while reining in some of the “mean girls” in the Labor party who ultimately do little for women anyway. Oh yes, and you neglected to mention the message to both Libs and Labor. Don’t parachute in non-local candidates to safe seats, it ain’t going to go down well.

Kat said...

And the "Boofheads" in this country are already spinning that a similar fate awaits the Ardern govt next year. Just how many of the "squeezed middle" fall sucker to that conflation should be a good measure of the level of "Boofheadism" in NZ.

Can Kiwi men really be influenced by a pale man in a blue suit playing with a BBQ set, somehow I hold the thought we are way ahead of Australia on that one.

Patricia said...

My, brother who lives in Sydney and while he is not stupid, there is certainly not a lump of coal he doesn’t like. When he voted he just put a line through the whole voting paper! I don’t think that the democratic system is working anywhere. Perhaps we should abolish the party system completely. Imagine a such parliament. They would have to talk to each other and reach a consensus. If no consensus could be reached then there would be a referendum. The people would speak!!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Chris, I don't think you really need to use the word boofhead quite so often, but even so it's sort of encouraging to see that people in Australia are coming round to the idea that climate change might have some effect on them. And Pauline Hanson – at time of writing – may lose her seat. That would make the world a slightly better place.

Anonymous said...

Don't go reading too much into it.

In Western democracies, governments change after about ten years.

Their time was up.

John Hurley said...

Some of the blame undoubtedly must be sheeted home to the One Nation Party, whose founding figurehead, Pauline Hanson, somehow succeeded in transforming ignorance into a political virtue. Like her fellow populist, Donald Trump, Hanson and her minders love the poorly educated – who reciprocate that love with unnerving passion.
Ignorant of what?

Trev1 said...

Albo is a thoroughly unimpressive little man who fittingly pursued a small target campaign, taking shelter behind his advisers whenever faced with tricky questions on policy. Morrison learned the hard way the truth of the adage "Go Woke, Go Broke" by signing up to the Net Zero charade. Overall it was interesting to observe that in Australia the rich now vote for the Left who in turn pander to their luxury beliefs which they hold at no cost to themselves. As Kim Beazeley once observed, "the Labour Party once comprised the cream of the Working Class, today it's made up of the dregs of the Middle Class."

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the boofhead archetype was on display at the Wellington protest. A man pointed at the parliament building and lamented that the prime minister was 'a little girl in a skirt'. A female prime minister is not lodged in the psyche of the boofheads. That cultural fact will give Luxon the win next year.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ignorant of what?
Pretty much everything except racism. She's pretty clued up on that.

Archduke Piccolo said...

What is being described here is the wholly foreseeable - and aimed for - result of politicians and their pals messing around with the education system. If the population is ignorant, given to boofheadism, that simply has to have been the desired end result of the manner in which our primary and secondary education has been dumbed down by people who hoped to obtain from them factory produced trained monkeys.

The accompanying inchoate anger is what led to Trump's presidency, to Brexit, and, by the sound of it, to the rage that fuels electoral volatility in OZ and NZ. I have always said, even at the time, that Brexit was a vote in anger; and so was Trump's - the more so as the Democrats were so determined to keep Bernie Sanders out of office they were prepared to risk defeat to compass it.

They were also wake-up calls - and the political parties and their donor-class handlers remain firmly abed, their eyes clamped shut, the blankets pulled and held over their heads.

Unfortunately we are also discovering that there is no such animal as political courage.
Ion A. Dowman

Kat said...

And today true to form in his "Boofhead" spot in the Herald Richard Prebble foams at the mouth that NZ Labour faces the same fate for the same reasons next year as the Liberals in Australia and that Jacinda Ardern must be looking attractively at a future job at the UN.

Ramping up pessimism about the economy and inflation is all "Boofheads" such as Richard Prebble can bark about. "Boofheads" offer no other credible alternatives other than cutting taxes, axing social services and giving more to the top ten percent.

What "Boofheads" such as Richard Prebble have missed about the Australian election is how women were so influential in the outcome, something I suspect Richard Prebble may wish to ignore.

The Barron said...

One of the more peculiar comments I heard as I was following the election girt by sea, was a former Victoria Liberal Party President. His view was that Morrison did not go hard enough on 'freedom of religion', and should have marched with fundamentalists trying to gather during State lockdowns. He made this clothe-eared observation as Western Australia was turning shapely against the Liberals, largely thought because of the Federal Government attempts to undermine the State Government's measures to protect the population.

I was still contemplating this the next day when Morrison signed off his premiership at his Pentecostal Church. There was a continued belief that the previous election was a God delivered 'miracle', and that for many of the Liberal leadership the previous Government was ordained.

Belonging to a preterist belief system, Morrison had ignored the environmental needs. Belonging to a moral extremists movement, he tried to legislate that people may be discriminated against by those with his beliefs. Morrison would visit those in crisis, and 'laying on hands' to the victims of fires or floods with no explanation or consent for what he was doing. This was the Prime Minister of Australia exploiting the vulnerable to commit a form of spiritual rape.

Christopher Luxon has adopted the same devotional framework. It is not acceptable for his faith to be excluded from the transparency required to stand for office. If he is anti-abortion, he should explain the penalties he would personally required upon women. If he is spiritually at odds with diverse sexuality and gender, he should be absolutely clear as to his personal position. He should explain what he believes in regard to preterist views on the environment. If we are to vote for or against someone for Prime Minister of NZ, we have a right know the leader's motivation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the commentators here but I've got to say Chris that boofheads doesn't describe accurately previous Liberal P.M's. Abbott was rumored to be particularly bright and ScoMo fairly quick of the mark and a good pollie but loathed by the media eventually.
But. None of them seem to understand the societal paradigm shift occurring right under their feet. The arrival of the Teals' must have knocked the scales from party hierarchy eyes.
However, subsequent to the outcome, not once have I heard or read the word coal mentioned. With Queensland and W.A. gas, ore coal and extractive industries generally playing such a huge role in their state and the national economy, I've read nothing from the respective unions as to where to from here re Labors pre election climate change rhetoric. The unions are huge, funded and vocal.
I'm keen to see what develops and how and if it's re positioned away from 'the lifeblood' of the country.

Kat said...

And now speaking at the National Party Central North Island conference in Hamilton on Saturday Luxon and his deputy, the current "Boofhead" leaders of the opposition, reckon the cost-of-living “tsunami” is set to sweep National into power at the 2023 election.

Fake news is alive and thriving in the blue camp. Luxon and his deputy know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The question is will there really be enough "Boofheads" to get sucked into it and give the finger at the Ardern govt in 2023......

Something to spin you down the blue vortex while contemplating that question: