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CONSERVATIVES..THE future of Australia

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Australians voted against more climate-regulation mania, but there’s still much to do

Opinion: The Labour/Green alliance lost promising a raft of more spending and regulations


The conservative Liberal National Coalition (LNC) went into the Australian election on May 18th as a minority government. All opinion polls predicted the Labor Party would come out of the election with a majority with a margin of 8-20 seats in the 151-seat lower house. In the event, the LNC was returned with a firm majority under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had been leader for less than nine months, following a bitter leadership battle in his party. With some results still unconfirmed, Morrison’s party is shaping up to control 78 seats to Labor’s 67, with six going to others.

The Labor Party had run in a de facto alliance with the Green Party (they previously had a formal alliance agreement, that lapsed, but they remain allied). Their Labour/Green alliance had lost on a platform promising a raft of more spending and more regulations including:

— New privileges to trade unions (which cover fewer than 12 per cent of workers) and pay increases for certain low-wage workers;

— Tax cuts focused on the less well off;

— Aggressive climate policies including (but not limited to) restraining coal development, vastly expanding renewable energy and adopting subsidies and mandates for electric cars;

— More spending on schools, health and disabilities;

— More funding to the left-wing state-owned public broadcaster, the ABC, as well as a clutch of new commissions to address “hate speech,” financial services and LGBTQ issues;


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Australia's vote should worry Canada's Liberals

As it was noted, when climate change is a moral issue, it does well with voters, but when it becomes an economic matter, opinions change

If you want an inkling of just how badly wrong pollsters got Australia’s weekend election, consider this: victory for the left-wing Labor party over the right-wing Liberal party was considered so certain that an online betting firm paid out more than $1 million two days before the vote on the assumption Labor’s victory was a done deal.

A spokesman for Sportsbet joked that “the quality of toilet paper and stationery will need to be significantly decreased” at company offices to cover the bungle. But the firm could hardly be blamed. The election result went against received wisdom, intelligent opinion and punditary forecasts. Everyone who knew anything knew that the Labor Party, under former labour organizer Bill Shorten, was supposed to win.

The smart money and the experts weren’t paying attention to actual voters


Instead the prize went to Scott Morrison, who only got to be his party’s leader after two predecessors — both prime ministers — were ousted by their own colleagues. Shorten campaigned on a pledge to wage war on the growing collection of environmental calamities blamed on climate change; Morrison’s biggest promise was to ensure a giant new coal mine project goes ahead after years of delay. Morrison was so surprised by his own success he equated it to a miracle. It more likely resulted from the fact the smart money and the experts weren’t paying attention to actual voters.

Australia is one of the world’s favourite examples of climate-change horror. Summers have become a time of brutal heatwaves, with temperatures topping 40 C for days at a time. Not only do savage highs set records, but daily lows set new highs as well. Bats fall from trees, dead fish float up on shore, fruit cooks in the fields. Combined with record drought and critical damage to the Great Barrier Reef, it’s hard to find a Western country with more first-hand experience of the impact of rising temperatures.

bill_shorten.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allBill Shorten, leader of the Labor Party of Australia, concedes defeat in Melbourne on May 18, 2019. Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Shorten promised a raft of remedies: higher carbon-reduction targets, a multibillion-dollar infrastructure upgrade, an increased drive for renewables, programs for low-emission vehicles, business tax deductions for carbon-friendly firms, more charging stations and a greater supply of carbon offsets. He also tossed in the usual left-liberal enticements: middle-class tax cuts and rules on gender equity.

Against all expectations, Morrison bested him by campaigning in favour of one of the climate industry’s all-time favourite corporate villains. Morrison is a big fan of coal, and ardently championed a massive new mine in the northern state of Queensland, to be built by an Indian firm to feed power plants in India, where carbon emissions rank among the world’s highest.

australian_votes.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allAn Australian Electoral Commission official empties a ballot box during the federal election count at a polling station in Melbourne on May 18, 2019. Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg News

Not only did he tie himself to Big Coal, but his party did a pre-vote deal with a billionaire coal magnate named Clive Palmer, a controversial figure hit with an asset freeze last year over the collapse of a nickel firm that cost hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions in debts. Despite his legal troubles Palmer was able to launch his own party and spend $60 million assailing Shorten and his plans. Australian electoral rules let voters pick second and third choices; Morrison’s Liberals obligingly agreed to encourage supporters to make Palmer’s candidates their second choice. Not a single Palmer candidate won, but its tiny share of the vote may have been the difference between victory and defeat for Morrison.

Does any of this ring a bell? Canada, like Australia, is a big resource producer. We depend a lot on the ability to export those resources. We have serious concerns about climate change, but when Western Canada — a region heavily dependent on resources — perceived its livelihood being threatened, it rejected plans that pleased activists and urban voters, largely at their expense. In the wake of Australia’s vote, former prime minister Tony Abbott noted that when climate change is a moral issue, it does well with voters, but when it becomes an economic matter, opinions change. It’s a view premiers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario would understand.

australia_papers_2.jpg?w=640&quality=60&strip=allA news stand displays newspapers in Sydney, Australia, on May 20, 2019, following the federal election. Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg News

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals might want to take note. Thanks to shifts in population and seat allotments, it’s possible to build a majority without strong francophone support. Stephen Harper did just that when he won the 2011 vote with just five seats in Quebec.

Liberal policies on climate change bear a close resemblance to those that fell short in Australia. Much of Western Canada is in open rebellion against Trudeau’s stand on pipelines, oil production and an ill-considered tanker ban. His party is trailing Conservatives in support in Ontario, where the result is likely to be settled.

Australians have enjoyed 27 consecutive years of economic growth. Despite climate concern, voters feared Labor’s policies would jeopardize that streak and chose the alternative. Is it likely that Canadian voters put less weight on jobs and prosperity than those in Australia?

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Polls have to be one of the greatest propaganda machines.  Look at the US.  Trump was never supposed to win according to the polls but he did win.  People look at those numbers and if they are not a hardline republican or democrat they will change their vote based on the polls because that is what lemmings do....follow the crown (sheep do it too).  basically it is uninformed voting and crowd following.  The lowest common denominator can make a hue difference.


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