Wren's week: Labor victory and Eureka Day

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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (left) and Dr Kerryn Phelps (right) (Screenshots via YouTube)

This week, John Wren discusses the Victorian Labor victory, Scott Morrison''s incompetence and why the Eureka Rebellion is important.

Wren's Week


This week I am writing from behind the iron curtain, deep within the Democratic People’s Republic of Victoria, where Dear Leader Daniel Andrews has been appointed Premier for Life by a grateful populace, desperate to avoid a diet of lobsters and lies.

Labor’s internal polling meant we knew we would win the election, but the scale of the victory took us by surprise. The win was due to an excellent disciplined campaign by Labor, coupled with an appalling campaign by the Liberals — it was essentially a scare campaign based on lies that almost every Victorian had already dismissed. They were led by Matthew Guy, who I recently heard described as “that awful real estate agenty bloke, who always seems shouty and desperate”.

Supposedly safe Liberal electorates fell to Labor throughout the evening. Brighton, one of the wealthiest seaside Liberal bastions almost fell to a 19-year-old uni student who only threw his hat into the ring when no other Labor candidate came forward. Declan Martin’s entire campaign cost only $1,750. I have some insight into this. My sister is married to a QC and they live in Brighton. They’re not short of a quid. For the first time in his life, the QC voted Labor on the basis that the Liberal candidate was “a creepy bible basher who I simply disliked on first sight”. I can concur. I had understood that James Newbury is, in fact, the surrogate IVF lovechild of Tim Wilson and Senator James Paterson. He makes me shudder.

The Victorian loss has highlighted the rancorous divisions within the Liberal Party. It is now essentially two separate parties — one of moderate centrists, the other hard-right fundamentalist Christian extremists. They will never see eye-to-eye. The extremists have dragged the party to the Right and, in so doing, the party has lost its traditional Liberal centrist base. Chisholm Federal MP Julia Banks said as much when she pulled the pin and rolled a grenade under Morrison’s desk after resigning from the party to become an independent. Oddly though, she has committed to giving the government she’s just dumped her “confidence”. Ultimately, the only hope the Liberal Party has for survival is for it to split in a manner akin to the 1955 Labor Party. Bring me my popcorn.

On Tuesday, Dr Kerryn Phelps, the newly-minted independent member for Wentworth, gave her maiden speech. Morrison, followed by most of the Liberal Party, walked out. This is unprecedentedly petulant behaviour from an Australian PM, demonstrating conclusively that he represents no one but those who vote for his party. He is unfit for public office, let alone the role of PM. How the once great nation of Australia has sunk so low, so quickly, escapes me.

Yesterday, the Government announced there would only be two sitting weeks of parliament between now and the election in May. This effectively admits the Government cannot function and thus is avoiding scrutiny and opportunities for a no-confidence motion. It really is time Governor-General Cosgrove stepped in. He should, at minimum, direct Morrison to test himself on the floor of the house with a no-confidence vote. Australians are desperate to send the Government packing. May cannot come soon enough. This, of course, from a Government with many MPs who have accused teachers of being bludgers for taking too much time off. Hypocrisy writ large.

Interestingly, in preparation for the Federal election, Morrison has an advantage similar to the Greens. The Greens have no hope whatsoever of forming government. This means they can promise anything at all, no matter how aspirational, how pie in the sky. They know they’ll never have to implement it and be held to account for their outlandish promises. Morrison, too, knows he has no hope, so over the next few months watch him promise anything and everything. He’s already promised a surplus next year. He has done this by delaying payments on many big-ticket items until the next fiscal cycle. This serves a double whammy. It allows him to engineer an artificial surplus, while simultaneously setting a time-bomb under the incoming Labor Government that will have to deal with his mess. Responsible fiscal management is not a core trait of the Liberals, despite what Victorian Liberals President Michael Kroger claims.

And finally, some thoughts on the Eureka Rebellion. On Monday 3 December it will be the 164th anniversary of the event. Eureka was a revolt against taxation without representation (the same issue that sparked the American War of Independence). Although the battle was lost by the miners, the subsequent enquiry awarded universal suffrage for all men in the colony over the age of 21. Female suffrage came later. Prior to Eureka, essentially only landholders could vote. As a result of this, Eureka is rightly considered the birthplace of Australian democracy. Arguably, Eureka Day would make a more appropriate national day that than our current NSW-centric Australia/Invasion Day. Make sure you fly your flags on Monday. Lest we forget the sacrifices that gave us the right to vote.

You can follow John Wren on Twitter @JohnWren1950.

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