Ten reasons the Australian Labor Party lost the unlosable election
by Mark Powell | May 20, 2019
Returned Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with indigenous school children during the campaign
Well, he did it. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten snatched defeat right out of the jaws of victory. Which is all the more embarrassing when you remember how he once introduced himself to Arnold Schwarzenegger as Australia’s next Prime Minister.
But, incredibly, not only did all of the media pundits get the election result wrong, but so did our nation’s leading betting agency. Because according to The Australian, the only other organisation to lose as much as the Australian Labor Party, was Sportsbet. As Brighette Ryan wrote:
It has been an expensive federal election night for betting agency Sportsbet, which has had to pay out both Labor and Liberal punters. On Thursday, the agency opted to pay out all bets on Labor, in a strong signal the race was already over. Over A$1.3 million was paid out to those who threw money behind Labor and its leader Bill Shorten, with someone walking away with a $128,000 win.
Sportsbet was obviously not alone in suffering from a bad case of The Bradley Effect. The illustrious Peter van Onselen predicted that Labor would win 86 seats, whereas Waleed Aly went with a more conservative 81. Although, he somewhat presciently alluded to the victory of Trump in 2016 when pressed with the question as to whether or not there was any way for Morrison to win.
But before analysing the decalogue of reasons why Labor lost, we should all honour Rowan Dean, editor of The Spectator Australia, who was the only media pundit that had the courage and foresight to predict a Coalition win. As Dean tweeted all the way back in April:
49-51 As I and I alone have said for the last six months Scott Morrison can and will win this election #auspol— Rowan Dean (@rowandean) April 28, 2019
Unfortunately, Dean never really explained why he was so sure about his bold prognostication. But what follows are ten reasons why Sportsbet—and every other media polling agency in the country—got it so wrong.
1. Bill Shorten. Has there ever been a Federal Labor leader—at least in living memory—as deeply unpopular as Bill Shorten? Let’s face it, if Anthony Albanese had been leader then it would have been an entirely different outcome.
2. Again, Bill Shorten. Yes, his influence on the outcomes of this election really was that significant. Note, for example, his faux feminism in wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, ‘Chloe Shorten’s husband’. Although, to be fair, the original skit which inspired it was pretty funny!
3. The death of Bob Hawke. Even the most agnostic of Flat White readers would have to acknowledge the fortuitous timing of the former Labor leader’s passing. Because the contrast between the goliath of the past and minnow of the present couldn’t have been greater. As Dr Stephen Chavura wrote on Facebook:
Could it be that the death of Bob Hawke, far from boosting the Labor vote, actually set the Labor vote back? Millions of Australians were reminded of how far Labor and its leadership has strayed from a less ideological and more common-sense and pragmatic past. How did Shorten look on the eve of an election in which everyone was honouring the memory of Hawke? Not good. A toast to Hawkey.
4. Shorten’s inability to explain Labor’s costings. Everyone still remembers the financial chaos of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. Especially after they had been gifted by the Coalition with such a significant budget surplus. If there was just one moment in the election campaign that consolidated Labor’s reputation for being unable to manage the economy then it would have to be when Shorten doggedly avoided answering the questions put to him by journalist, Jonathan Lea, about Labor’s policy costings:
5. To gain power Labor had to win big in Queensland. Jobs are key in Queensland and Adani’s Carmichael Coal mine will guarantee work. Labor knew it, but couldn’t negotiate its environmental agenda, while backing the multi-million-dollar resource project.However, the swing against them was massive due largely to the climate change alarmism promulgated by The Greens against the Adani mine. Even the ABC was forced to concede:
When Bob Brown’s anti-Adani convoy rolled through the Sunshine State demanding voters shun coal, he hammered a nail in Bill Shorten’s electoral coffin.
6. Israel Folau and ‘freedom of speech’. The elephant in the room throughout the entire election campaign was the saga involving Israel Folau and Rugby Australia. All of a sudden the issues of freedom of speech and freedom of religion were brought to the fore. Up until recently Labor had been riding the high moral ground of championing everything LGBTIQ. But with Folau’s trial and termination came the public realisation that ‘tolerance’ had morphed into denouncing any other opinion.
7. Religious Freedom. Following on from the previous point, many private schools took the extraordinary step of urging parents not to vote Labor as it would strip them of their right to employ staff who shared their ethos. This was because Labor’s legal affairs spokesman, Mark Dreyfus, said that:
A Shorten government would remove key legal protections for religious freedoms, fuelling concerns schools will find it more difficult to insist teachers agree to uphold their core values.
8. The Gender Commission. Dr David van Gend outlined the implications for parents in regards to Labor’s transgender policy brilliantly here in The Spectator Australia. But he was obviously not alone. Kerri-Anne Kennerley also unleashed an extraordinary attack on Labor’s plan to fund a National Gender Centre. As Kennerley said:
These kids out there who are gender confused, and there’s a percentage of people out there gender confused, they will put up this Commission and we, like Tasmania, will have a child and it won’t be male or female, it will be gender-free. That’ll be national…
And if your child is confused, the rights of your child will go tothem, you will have no rights as a parent. That child will go, ‘I want to be either a boy or girl, please give me whatever I need’ and you as a parent will have no choice.”
9. Tanya Plibersek’s aggressive policy of extending abortion. While the subject of abortion may have been viewed as too ‘controversial’ and ‘divisive’ for the Coalition to tackle, for many conservative religious voters such as myself, this was the real deal breaker. Especially when the deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, promised that if Labor won the election then they would offer free abortions in all public hospitals.
10. Scott Morrison. Credit where credit’s due. Because Labor didn’t merely lose the election; the Coalition actually won it. In his acceptance speech Australia’s first Pentecostal Prime Minister acknowledge that, in keeping with his theology, “I’ve always believed in miracles”. In fact, Dennis Shanahan wrote in The Australian:
Morrison didn’t just beat Labor in this election. He beat the Zeitgeist, the vibe and the emotional appeals while leaving Clive Palmer and the Greens failing to live up to expectations. Bill Shorten’s political career ended last night but Morrison’s is just beginning.
In scenes, reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Trump, many leftist progressives had a complete emotional meltdown. For instance, Dr. John Dickson, formerly of the Centre for Public Christianity, issued the following tweet in response to the hysterical nastiness of feminist Jane Caro, the 2018 Walkley Award recipient for Women in Leadership.
But enough of the Schadenfreude, or should that be as Stephen MacAlpine labels it, ‘Shortenfreude’. Australia has dodged a bullet and we’ve been given the benefit of a conservative government for another whole term. Now that we’ve seen how unreliable all of the pollsters are, maybe we can even stick with the same Prime Minister for an entire term.
Mark Powell is a columnist for The Spectator Australia and the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield. This article has been republished with permission.