At first – despite there being a heck of a lot that’s gone down of late on the #auspol scene – I wasn’t sure where to start this article. I didn’t want to talk about the Second Leaders’ Debate because for one, it was batshit boring, and Wade McCagh had already sacrificed himself to that dull beast for Pelican earlier in the week.
Then today I saw this video from Senator David Leyonhjelm, the sole member of the Liberal Democrats in Parliament. The video is abhorrent as it parodies Kevin Rudd’s historical apology to the Stolen Generations, with an apology made instead to taxpayers for government tax and spending policy. To equate colonial genocide with such policies is shocking – and that it is an election video released by an elected representative is downright barbarous. I’ve long had issues with Mr. Leyonhjelm, and this recent display of utter disregard for the awful history endured by our nation’s first peoples is just the latest in a line of ‘I’ll say what I like because I’m an old, white, male prick and you can’t stop me’ incidents. Reminder: this is the guy who only got into the Senate because people thought he was a Liberal. Guess who’s not getting back in.
Get rekt, Mr. Leyonhjelm.
The end of May saw perhaps the most controversial resignation of the election campaign so far. Two weeks ago Nova Peris announced that she would not be recontesting her Senate seat for Labor in the Northern Territory. Controversially sidelining NT Labor heavyweight Trish Crossins in a Gillard ‘captain’s pick’ in 2013, Peris was the first Indigenous woman to be elected to Federal Parliament.
The Liberals have also lost contenders, with NSW candidate Carolyn Currie recently abandoning her campaign seat of Whitlam to endorse the Greens candidate instead. Labor holds the seat with a margin of around 7%, and the Greens lag far behind in the primary vote stakes.
The seat of Fremantle can also breathe a sigh of relief following the resignation of Liberal candidate Sherry Sufi. After a string of controversial past comments about same-sex marriage and Indigenous recognition in the constitution, Turnbull was forced to distance himself from Sufi. The ALP have also had difficulties in Fremantle, as their original candidate Chris Brown (ikr) was disendorsed in favor of Fremantle deputy Mayor Josh Wilson for failing to disclose criminal convictions. The Greens have, in past years, been encroaching on the traditionally Labor heartland, which is held by a margin of 5.4%. The success of Greens candidates in formerly safe Labor seats is a trend that is likely to continue at the 2016 election, with the Greens significantly expanding around their seat of Melbourne, currently held by Adam Bandt.
The Greens are on Labor’s tail in Melbourne more than anywhere else. In May, Opposition Defence spokesperson and MP for Batman in Melbourne’s north David Feeney failed to declare a $2.3 million property in the suburb of Northcote, leading to a series of embarrassing blunders and backflips, and perhaps the most damaging for Labor so far in the 2016 election campaign. This, along with the fact that he doesn’t live in the electorate, his tenants are openly planning to vote Green, and the surge of the Green vote in the areas of Batman during the Victorian state election mean that the once safe Labor seat is now at risk of falling to Greens candidate Alex Bathal. I guess you could say that Feeney isn’t the MP Batman deserves; just the MP Batman has right now.
The loss of Batman would be a serious blow to Labor’s hopes to win office or at least force a hung result. Another potential though unlikely victim of the Green’s surge in the outer suburbs of inner Melbourne is former Labor Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Grayndler.
Feeney was not the only casualty of a closer look at the property and private dealings of Australian politicians. Green Senator Di Natale’s progressive credentials were injured with allegations about a poorly paid au pair for his children and an undeclared rural property. As the media leapt to his scorn, his image of a new champion of the Labor’s formerly disenchanted left was left hurting. Additionally, Di Natale’s campaign to be allowed a spot on the leaders’ debate was met with silence and in some corners, mild humour. While the Greens will likely be a major party in coming years, their time is not now, and impatience will only hurt them.
But perhaps most entertaining in the election campaign so far has been the meme war that has festered between pro-Liberal and pro-ALP youth on social media. The ALP Spicy Meme Stash page depicting Malcolm as a velociraptor (‘clever mal’) is a particular treat. More bizarrely, pro-Labor trade unions have also gotten in on this. If you haven’t already seen it, Insiders explaining the meaning of a ‘dank meme’ is the best thing you will see from the 2016 campaign. The Huffington Post has also provided sterling coverage of the escalating meme war. The value of memes has not gone unnoticed by the major parties and interested groups. They realize that memes have the power to actually inform and engage the youth vote, which for so long has been split 30% progressive, 20% conservative, and 50% just not giving a flying fuck. It seems that in order to seize the means of production, the trade unions have seized the production of memes.
Never one to be left out, Cory Bernardi has also attempted to join the meme game. Though, classic for Cory, he had to take it to the extreme. His memes are, well…odd. As a friend of mine commented, the hammer and sickle was a nice touch. But let’s talk about Cory for a bit.
Bernardi’s unashamedly pro-Abbott conservative stance is increasingly at odds with the mild and boring Turnbull approach, and has led to speculation that following his reelection to the Senate, he will split from the Liberal Party as an Independent. After being knocked from the top South Australian Senate spot in favour of Education Minister Simon Birmingham and posting an article by banned pro-rape, neo-masculinist scum Roosh V, one is left to wonder whether Bernardi can launch his own conservative revolution within the party, or if he’ll pack up and go rogue.
With another three and a half weeks to go until the election, both parties are yet to release major policy platforms and importantly, how they plan to pay for them. Considering the Liberals’ main axis of attack revolves around labeling Labor as the high-taxing, high-spending, economically irresponsible party, it will likely be crunch time. Shorten has made many promises about spending, yet has said little about how he intends to get the budget into surplus simultaneously.
Recent polls have put the two major parties at 50-50, or 51-49 in Labor’s favor, including a 10% swing against PM Turnbull in his own seat of Wentworth. Labor needs a swing of somewhere in the neighborhood of 4% to wrest government from the Coalition. Despite massive setbacks for Turnbull and the Coalition, this still looks unlikely.
The Pelican Election Pendulum (PEP, because we’re full of pep and vigor) as of the 6th of June stands as such:
Words by Brad Griffin