Australia held a national election yesterday which all of the polls predicted for weeks would be won handily by the Labour Party. The ruling Liberal Party (which is the conservative party in Australian politics because they still understand the historic meaning of liberalism) has been in office for over a decade, and had struggled as ruling parties often do when they grow stale in office. In fact leadership fights within the Liberal Party had left it in chaos heading into the election campaign. The pollsters and the media called it an “unlosable election” for Labour.
But in a stunning upset, the Liberal Party has won the election. It sounds a lot like our 2016 election, no? Apparently lots of voters told the pollsters one thing, but voted differently in the voting booth. (Update: Keep in mind that Australia has mandatory voting—you get fined something like $50 if you don’t cast a ballot—so this upset can’t be a polling error, since polling ought to be simpler in such circumstances. The upset can’t be because of a sampling or weighting error as sometimes happens in our elections. It means lots of people really did lie to pollsters. Good for them.)
The most interesting angle to this upset is that the Labour Party went all-in on climate change. Here’s how AFP covered it in the run-up to yesterday:
Australians flocked to the polls Saturday capping a bitterly fought election that may be the first anywhere decided by climate policy. Between 16 and 17 million people are expected to vote across the vast island-continent, with the centre-left Labor party tipped for victory after six years in opposition.
Casting his ballot in Melbourne, would-be prime minister Bill Shorten was bullish about forming a majority government after a final poll showed his lead increasing. “Today is the people’s day,” he said. “Be it buying a ‘democracy sausage’, the kids having a bit of a sugar cake or what have you, and voting. In the event that the people of Australia voted to stop the chaos and voted for action on climate change, we will be ready to hit the ground from tomorrow.”
Weeks ago, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative Liberals had been heading for an electoral drubbing.
Also this story from a magazine called Renew Economy:
Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has referred to climate change as an “emergency,” in his final formal pitch to voters ahead of Saturday’s federal election.
“If you vote Labor we will deliver the change that the nation deserves from day one,” the Opposition Leader said in his speech at Bowman Hall in Blacktown, New South Wales, on Thursday.
“We will convene Parliament to prioritise real action on climate change… I promise that we will send a message to the world, that when it comes to climate change Australia is back in the fight!,” he said. . .
As The Conversation put it at the time, the move has been likened to putting the country on a “war footing”, with climate and the environment at the very centre of all government policy, rather than being on the fringe of political decisions.
Already I’m seeing the left blame their defeat on Rupert Murdoch. But maybe the “message to the world” should be that climate change is not a vote winner.
Let’s see whether this augurs any change in the left’s fanaticism for the “green nude eel” here at home, not to mention the upcoming European parliamentary elections, and a prospective general election in Britain. The Australian result continues a clear pattern: with only a few exceptions, left-leaning parties have been in retreat just about everywhere.
More here from Henry Olsen, written several days ago: “Australian Conservatives Face Their Own Trumpian Uprising.”