Political trouble for the bubble down under

By Ross Elliott, cross-posted from New Geography:

In a remarkable and most unexpected outcome, Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison has retained the country’s leadership at the recent Australian Federal Parliamentary election (18 May, 2019). Morrison’s victory confounded a wide array of commentators, academics, advocacy groups, industry groups, all of the opinion polls, most of the media and a host of fringe political groups who not only predicted victory for the Labor opposition but an emphatic one.

The outcome was a stark reverse of expectations. The Labor Party recorded a swing against it and rather than winning seats, lost them. Their primary vote collapsed in many areas. In the resource rich state of Queensland, only one in four voters gave Labor their first preference vote. Nationally, the figure was just one in three.

The result has dumbfounded the inner urban elites of government, the bureaucracy, media and industry, many of whom are in denial or seeking therapy. Most important, it has helped draw a new geography of political boundaries based not on long standing ideologies of labour or capital, or of class, but of location and privilege. A more complete reversal of traditional party allegiances would have been impossible to imagine before last weekend. As observed by The Sydney Morning Herald, “The Queensland seat of Capricornia is a perfect illustration. It has many coal-mining workers and was held almost steadily by Labor from the 1960s until 2013, yet as of today it is a much safer Coalition seat than Josh Frydenberg’s well-heeled Kooyong, which was (conservative Prime Minister Robert Menzies’ old electorate.”

Prime Minister Morrison only last year had toppled the previous PM, the nominally conservative but left-leaning climate conscious inner-city Malcolm Turnbull. He campaigned on basic economic management, tax cuts and moderation. In contrast, the Labor Party campaigned on the cause célèbres of any number of inner urban hipster coffee shops, bistros or university campuses.

Labor sought a 50% target of renewable energy by 2030 (yes, within the nePoliticalxt 12 years!) and adopted much of the climate agenda favored by inner urban interests with the financial means to afford higher electricity costs – much more so than their suburban middle or working class counterparts. (The left wing Greens Party demanded a 100% renewable target). Labor also promised a future where half the new cars in Australia would be electrically powered by 2030 (but couldn’t describe how these would be charged or how these would work across the remotely populated Australian landscape).

Labor were aligned with The Greens, who tend to poll strongest in inner urban seats or in the wealthiest suburbs, on being ‘anti coal.’ A proposed major Queensland coal mine became the focus of a “green convoy” (all driving petrol powered vehicles mind) from inner city Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to the coalfields of Central Queensland – where job hungry communities turned their backs on the convoy and many refused to serve the protesters. The green anti-coal pro-renewables protest convoy proved such an irritant that it cost Labor seats in working class communities.

“This is the climate change election” both Labor and the Greens promised. Coal miners facing lost jobs and failed communities reliant on those jobs in regional areas were blithely told “you’ll have to retrain.”

Other policy items on the Labor menu included a tax on retiree savings, removal of tax breaks on housing (with a market already falling), looser borders and being more forgiving on illegal immigration. Labor also proposed an un-costed fantasy in the form of a very fast train between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Perhaps they planned to recruit the genius minds behind the Californian experiment?

“If you don’t like our policies, don’t vote for us” anxious retirees were told. They didn’t.

The truly remarkable thing about the days prior to the election was the utter confidence of the inner urban cabal. They were going to win and there would be little left of the governing Liberal National Party. Breakfast TV through to evening current affairs shows – all of them hosted in well to do inner urban areas – expressed complete faith in a Labor win. One gambler was so confident he placed an AUD $1 million bet on Labor winning. To say the least, he lost big.

The denizens of trendy inner city secondhand bookshops may have been filled with confidence, but not of suburban and regional voters. Struggling with flat real wage growth and having borne the brunt of a changing employment landscape, rising electricity bills and falling confidence in their future, this was not the time to tell them it was their duty to sacrifice even more to ‘save the planet’ by paying ever higher electricity bills, or buying an electric car they can’t afford. Especially when that message comes from smug sounding public servants or wealthy, entitled inner city residents who have been the beneficiaries of economic change, as well as overseas investors, rather than its victims.

The conservative vote which returned Prime Minister Morrison came from working and middle class people, living in the suburbs and regions of the country. It did not come from traditionally affluent inner urban seats – many of which were once held by conservatives but which are now marginal or in the hands of Labor or left leaning independents. (The Greens hold only one Federal Parliament seat – based on the hipster inner north of Melbourne).

Saturday the 18th May 2019 proved an “inconvenient truth” for the inner city agitators and climate warriors. It was also a reality check for many in industry who have adopted fashionable positions on religion, marriage, immigration, diversity, economic and green causes. Being surrounded inside the bubble with so many echoing the same things, the fact that these views aren’t widely shared outside the bubble may have come as a shock.

And much like the denial, dismay and denigration from Democrats in the US following Trump’s election, the commentariat of the Australian left haven’t coped too well.

“Australians are dumb, mean-spirited and greedy. Accept it,” said nightly TV host and comedian Meshel Laurie in response to the result.

“We may have to declare war on Queensland,” said Mike Carlton – a former high profile national political journalist. (He was blaming the result on Queensland voters who resoundingly abandoned Labor and the climate agenda).

Former media columnist Clementine Ford was “crying over the climate destroyed, bullshit world Australian voters are determined to leave (to her children).”

Another former journalist – Margo Kingston – who led an alliance of left leaning independent candidates campaigning on climate change declared “It is over. My idea of Australia is over. So be it. I’m retiring and having a life while it’s left.”

And Jane Caro – a feminist green social commentator, writer and lecturer – said “If the LNP wins we have decided to be a backward looking country in a backwater. I wish I was a New Zealander.” Much like many US Democrats who reportedly wanted to escape to Canada in the aftermath of Trump’s win?

The sentiments echo the now notoriously derisive 2013 comments from noted Sydney Morning Herald urban affairs writer Elizabeth Farrelly (who lives in trendy inner city Redfern in Sydney), who once described the suburbs of Australia in the following terms:

“The suburbs are about boredom, and obviously some people like being bored and plain and predictable, I’m happy for them … even if their suburbs are destroying the world.”

The Australian election proved the suburbs are anything but predictable, and political destruction awaits those who treat them with contempt.


  1. Not sure what we learnt about mainstream Australian views that wasn’t already made clear in the 2013 election. Similar to that election, the LNP ran a better campaign, and the ALP arguably ran a worse campaign, given they thought they’d won and ‘declared’ on the Thursday prior to election day.

    • DominicMEMBER

      Reading the above analysis it’s a wonder Labor performed as well as they did.

      • It’s almost as if 49% of eligible voters actually do support the tree hugging leftist SJW agenda the ALP were trying to foist on the electorate.

    • TripleBeamMiracleDream

      yo, Ross can you work in the phrase “shag-a-licious” 5 times into this ‘article’?
      Ross: Nah
      how ’bout replace every ‘now’ with ‘meow’
      Ross: Nah, but I can work the word ‘inner’ 15 times into an Article Generator Pro template.

  2. Other Robert here.
    Labor and the greens need to merge and form the Bourgeois Party! Nuf said.

  3. That’s right Robert , Labor were very cocky about the election result last week before the actual poll. I remember all the Laborites moaning how sad of Bob Hawke’s passing last week as he didn’t make to Sat to see a newly elected Labor Govt.Perhaps he knew better.

    The other interesting comment was made by Bob being recorded in an interview earlier this year stating his opinion on Bill Shorten . Paraprasing along the lines “Bill would not be a great Prime Minister but still do a good job” ?

    • boyracerMEMBER

      Paraprasing along the lines “Bill would not be a great Prime Minister but still do a good job” ?

      I’d settle for an average performance at this stage!

    • It reminded me about the Alan Jones “die of shame” controversy over the death of Gillard’s father.

  4. I wonder if the PC and identity fixated Left and sell-out ALP ever imagine that they are their own worst enemy? They keep making the rural-urban chasm larger and larger – now the country has fallen into it.

    You can’t bring the country together over issues by dividing it. The nation state has to accommodate all. By attacking what it is to be ‘Australian’ the radical Left and whiney ideologists have damaged the vehicle for collective change and empowered the far Right. They have given people no other place to go. By their tribalism they have generated other tribalism.

    Well done you numbskulls.

    • epic once again Clive. I didn’t realise Albo was so far left and he’s been meeting with the UK labour who he shares the same goals. He’s might be realising that you can’t f over your citizens and get away with it. Not saying the lnp don’t and they need to get on the right path or they are gone, but this election it was Bill’s history and policies that lost it. People really want pollies to look after their own first. Even my dad voted against Bill and he’s never do this before. He was really scared about the hospital situation with some many new arrivals, and he’s had to wait in pain many time now already. Ask any doctor or nurse now and it really is a big issue, but the pollies never address it honestly. Boost GDP at all costs.

    • Neoliberalism for how many decades hard wired into the social fabric due to rational expectations and investor driven [ self funded ] it would be “irresponsible not to speculate” [ Peggy Noonan ] Bernays cortex injections and yeah …. labour blew it …. chortle ….

    • ‘You can’t bring the country together over issues by dividing it.’

      • DominicMEMBER

        Progtards demand ‘equality’ and insist we celebrate ‘diversity’

        These farkers wouldn’t know their left hand from their right. Too busy ‘feeling the virtue’

  5. bolstroodMEMBER

    Where to for Labor from here?
    I see a split coming.
    The Left, Environmentally conscious going to the Greens.
    The Right, Union backed, religious Blue collars going to One Nation
    Labor started in Queensland over 100 years ago, in Queensland it will finish.

    Why does this comment need moderating?

  6. At this present time some insight would be invaluable for the labor luvvies focussed on #equality and #jimmygrants, but that would require some #insight

  7. – I didn’t read the words “Negative Gearing” in this article. Those 2 words made it more easy for the Coalition to sink Labor’s ability to win the national elections. It came on top of all the issues mentioned in this article.

      • The Traveling Wilbur

        You’re not expecting commenters to start reading articles before posting are you? Silly boy.

  8. – Yeah. Labor should have made economic issues the centre of their election campagne. Just dust off the old school / old fashioned (economic) themes of the left. There are A LOT OF of economic issues that would resonate well with all the households that are under (financial) stress. And that would have helped Labor in these elections to achieve a victory.
    – And one of those themes that sank Labor’s victory is – I hate to be a broken record – Negative Gearing.
    – Although I am a bit surprised to see that Labor didn’t lose more seats. the damage could have been much larger.

    • Old fashioned left issues were central – wage growth targeted to low and mid incomes, heath, education, housing affordabilty.

    • Yep, if your average Aussie likes Scomo & that was the reason for their win then Albo is not the man for the job.

  9. Apart from trying to use the words ‘urban’ ‘inner city’ and ‘elite’ as much as possible, what’s the point of this article?

    Caro, Carlton, Laurie and Ford are irrelevant (Ford especially toxic) but citing them as bogeyman is just baiting for I don’t know what.

    The enivornment is [email protected] and we’re doing nothing about it, so let’s pile in on a group that may or may not prefer soy lattes (or whatever).

    Constructive & helpful.

    • JunkyardMEMBER

      Agreed. The posted article is trying way too hard and just feeds the division. It adds nothing to the discussion “Lets blame neoliberalism on the hipster apocalypse”

      Scomo can be a smug fck for a few weeks but pretty soon even Queenslanders will realise they are still going backwards…

  10. Were Flawse still around he might feel somewhat vindicated in his city/rural observations.

  11. passivereader

    I would have liked to read this article, but pop-up Rocketman ads seem to be the priority. This place could challenge some adult sites on the ad front.

    I think I’m done here.

  12. Summary: “The LNP has run the economy into the ground so badly, poor and low-skilled people were terrified of any change of direction, as any numbskull should realise!”

    Dunno. It all seems a bit … meh.

    The ALP need to understand that they can’t achieve anything if they don’t win. A fixation on winning beautifully is costing them. Just win. That’s what the other mob do and it’s why they win and get to make all the running. After you win you enact your change. Forget the guff about mandates. That’s for babies.

    Realise I’m posting this well after anybody will read this thread. Old man shouting at a cloud!