The Perfect Political Storm
It’s been a tough few weeks for the Coalition. They’ve been caught in a perfect political storm and have lost some political skin in the process.
To be fair, a lot of what has been thrown their way isn’t their fault.
A young woman making public allegations of being raped in parliament house while deciding not to lodge a police complaint is not the Prime Minister’s responsibility.
Yet many seem to want to blame the PM for the ‘culture’ in parliament house.
Here’s the thing though. Culture develops across many generations. In this case, many election cycles. We could just as well sheet the blame home to every MP and Senator who has ever sat in the new parliament house.
But the reality of that was lost in the quest for political opportunism. No bow was too long to be drawn if it meant the PMs opponents could tag him with a ‘woman problem’.
Amidst all the statements of too few women in parliament, claims of sexism and misogyny, I don’t recall too pundits stating that most of the alleged problems were attributed to the response of female ministers.
A glaring example of not letting the facts get in the way of your opinion.
The PM has even been criticised for talking things through with his wife to gain her perspective or having his wife in a photo with him.
It’s all inside the beltway and quite frankly below the belt political hit jobs but it seems to be making a difference.
New research from Swinburne University shows Australian women’s support for the government dropped from 44 per cent in the final quarter of 2020 to 29 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.
His missteps in the Australia Post Christine Holgate matter and overreach on claims of bullying culture in a media organisation haven’t helped him.
On the plus side, the PM looks indefatigable despite the distractions around him, admittedly some of his own making, but none of them politically fatal.
The Coalition will win or lose the next election on the economy, and specifically whether people have jobs and small business can recover from the blows of the past 12 months.
On that front there was some good news today. The national unemployment rate fell to 5.6% with more than 13 million aussies now in a job.
It doesn’t mean the government is out of the political woods though. Their monetary stimulus in the form of jobkeeper has only just stopped and that will take a while to filter through the system. It remains to be seen if the current trend of falling unemployment, rising consumer confidence and buoyant asset prices can remain intact.
If it does, the government has a powerful narrative to take it to the next election. Australia gambled their economic complacency away once before, when they replaced John Howard with Kevin Rudd.
I don’t think they are in a rush to do it again – and that’s the coalitions Trump card.
Despite the coalitions woes, it’s not all beer and skittles in the Labor Party.
As I detailed earlier this week, they’ve added the one world government agenda to their national platform, decided to recognise the non-existent state of Palestine (even though the Palestinian Authority remains an indirect of terrorism), and still don’t know whether they are Arthur or Martha when it comes to coal mining and coal use in this country.
But their problems run far deeper than policy or principles. It’s becoming abundantly clear that labor culture is actually a real issue. There have always been allegations of bullying and sexual harassment within labor ranks.
Perhaps the most memorable bullying example was when the rank and file members in South Australia chose Don Farrell to lead their Senate ticket while placing Penny Wong in second place.
That’s when democracy became a dirty word and was replaced with claims of sexism.
Farrell was subject to a vicious campaign of backgrounding and bullying until he graciously demonstrated a gentlemanly act of political chivalry by allowing wong to assume the number one spot and for him to be placed second.
Farrell lost his spot at that election but, fortunately for the senate, and the country, was able to return at a later election.
This week also saw allegations of blackmail within South Australia’s Labor Party where opposition leader (and Farrell protégé) Peter Malinauskas reporting a former labor MP to police.
Annabel Digance was subsequently charged with blackmail.
The allegation is that unless a safe seat were delivered then Labor’s dirty laundry would be aired in public.
Bizarrely, this is not the first time blackmail charges have been levelled in the Labor Party.
In 2007, a former QLD Labor minister Merri Rose was actually jailed for trying to blackmail then Premier, Peter Beattie into giving her a lucrative public service job.
What is it with labor women and bullying?
It’s as if the quota system makes them feel entitled to claim whatever they want, irrespective of whether they deserve it on merit or need to earn it lawfully.
When a facebook group also detailed a litany of allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within Labor, Anthony Albanese told reporters
that “harassment, sexism and patriarchy” were not confined to one side of politics but were prevalent throughout society.
He may be absolutely correct but it makes me wonder why the media seem to want to direct all the blame in the direction of the coalition.