Politics Opinion

Wren's Week: Labor won WA, time to vote out the LNP nationwide

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WA Premier Mark McGowan is celebrating an election victory while Scott Morrison continues to receive criticism (Screenshots via YouTube)

With WA setting an example, the rest of the nation should consider voting out the Liberal Government's toxic misogyny and endless scandals, writes John Wren.

ANOTHER EXTRAORDINARY WEEK. It started with the annihilation of the Liberals in the WA State Election, a flogging that has reverberated around the nation and struck fear into conservative pundits everywhere.

WA Premier Mark McGowan was always going to with the Election. The WA Liberals Leader Zac Kirkup had effectively conceded defeat two weeks earlier, but few expected the rout that left the Libs with only two seats in WA’s 60 seat parliament, rendering the WA National Party as the official opposition with five seats.

Conservatives were quick to point out that State and Federal politics are different and voters know the difference. This is in part true, however, that’s little consolation to conservative parties in other states.

Why the rout?

There are a number of factors:

  • politics aside, McGowan is extraordinarily popular as an individual. He has a common touch with people, in some ways similar to that which Bob Hawke had;
  • the pandemic — McGowan has been very successful keeping the virus out of WA. Secessionist sandgropers love having their border closed to the eastern states;
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison miscalculated badly when he sided with Clive Palmer in his lawsuit to open the border. This reflected poorly on the Liberals;
  • the WA Liberal Party has been significantly infiltrated by religious and/or right-wing extremists. These people by their nature do not reflect mainstream views and rendered themselves unelectable, hastening the demise of the party; and
  • the WA Liberals were also tainted by their association with their Federal reps Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds who are at the heart of two different rape allegations. Mathias Cormann has left the building, but he also tarnished perceptions of the Party when it became evident that he was likely aware of the rape allegations in Reynolds’ office as well.

The reality is that the Victorian Liberal Party is a re-run of the WA debacle. It, too, is composed of a largely talentless rabble with its branches stacked with religious and right-wing extremists just like its WA sister party. It also faces a Premier in Dan Andrews who is extremely popular despite the considerable propaganda levelled against him daily, led by the Murdoch media.

Former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett even came out during the week warning that a WA-like wipeout was on the cards in Victoria, too, if the Party didn’t get its act together. The Party’s response was a failed leadership challenge by an MP even less well-known than the Opposition Leader.

It’s also becoming more evident that the Federal Liberal Party is being swamped with unelectable religious extremists, led by Morrison himself, of course, but there are many others.

During all this, the calls for toxically misogynist culture of the Federal Parliament and, in fact, many workplaces across the nation have become more strident with women naturally leading the charge, but also well-supported by men.

Morrison has been caught flat-footed on the issue and has not handled it well at all. Conservative Pentecostals like Morrison often have a myopic world view of women and their place in society. They are commonly seen as the principal home-makers — wives and mothers, subservient to their husbands. This is the lens through which Morrison views women. We saw this when the Brittany Higgins rape allegations became public — his response was pure Church indoctrination: “as a father with daughters...”

Within Parliament itself, Morrison is in a bubble surrounded by and advised by men (mostly) similar to himself. As the marketer-in-chief, Morrison’s goal is always to play politics and control the message and imagery. His first goal is always to make himself appear as the leader, decision-maker, man-in-charge.

What galls Morrison the most in this is that he has lost complete control of the narrative. He is used to setting the agenda. Women (mostly) from all walks of life, from within Parliament and without are now driving the messaging calling for change. A very large protest was called in Canberra at short notice with similar protests held around the country in every major city and town.

Morrison agreed to meet with protesting women but only on his terms — he wanted a meeting with the protest’s organisers in a setting of his choosing, presumably his offices in Parliament. Again, he wanted to control the message, control the imagery. In effect, control women.

It was and remains a grassroots protest. The protest, of course, had organisers, but they were not appointed by women to speak on their behalf. This was a near-spontaneous uprising by women who are sick of the demeaning treatment they receive daily. Morrison was shown up as he was not prepared to go out on to the lawns of Parliament and address the throng even for just five minutes. Extraordinarily, neither was Marise Payne, Morrison’s Minister for Women. It was seen as spineless and an unwillingness to listen to women. Both observations are true.

The extraordinary unwillingness to address the issue was later hammered home with shots of Morrison in the lower house and Simon Birmingham in the Senate both turning their backs on women addressing them (Labor’s Tanya Plibersek and Kristina Keneally respectively). We also saw the tin-eared new Senator for WA, Ben Small (Matthias Cormann’s replacement) make a complete fool of himself on national TV when he talked over the top of Labor’s Kate Thwaites who was trying to explain the problem with women not being listened to. His actions proved her point better than any commentary.

The reality of all this is that women vote. The Liberals cannot change what they are. They are a product largely of elite private schools. They have an ideology of entitlement and largely come from wealthy families. Many are religious conservatives like Morrison. The only way for Australia’s toxic culture of political misogyny to change is via the ballot box. Women have roared, they need to keep the roar rolling and exercise it at the ballot box. If Morrison is all about political wins, then the only way to beat him is politically.

And men, to put it simply — if you want a better, more prosperous, safer future with more opportunities for your daughters, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, aunts and wives you must vote the Liberals (or Nationals) last. It’s where they put women. To do anything else is an admission of your own misogyny.

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