Comment from Peter Saxon
I have always been partial to the election sausage.
While medical advice may give it less than a clean bill of health, the humble sausage represents this great nation’s symbol of democracy and it would be unpatriotic not throw caution to wind and partake in the sizzling delicacy offered by a local charity at the local polling booth.
Having read Steve Ahern’s fascinating history of the sizzling snag in radioinfo, I went to bed Friday night salivating in the childlike anticipation of a six-year-old on Christmas eve. Those familiar with my sleeping habits know that I rarely rise before the crack of noon. So, I arrived at my nearest polling station at just after 1pm only to find that the barbecue tent had run out – not a sausage left be sold – not even the sizzle.
Naturally, I was outraged. How could this icon of national identity be allowed to be extinguished with five hours left before polls closed? It was simply un-Australian!
But while that was a surprise, it was nothing like the surprise that was to come later, when it became clear that Scott Morison’s government was about to be re-elected. It was a result that no objective observer expected. Labor expected to win, the Liberals expected to lose. All the polls, as well as the bookies, said as much. How could they get it so wrong?
What the polls did get right was that Mr Morrison was consistently the electorate’s preferred Prime Minister to Labor’s Bill Shorten. And in most pundits’ view it was Scott Morrison’s personal appeal as an authentic Aussie bloke that drove his party to this most unlikely of wins.
The polls also correctly predicted that former PM Tony Abbott would lose his seat of Warringah. The result may send a clear message to the Liberal party that they expect their local member to reflect the views of the constituents ahead of their own.
Perhaps the most defining moments in the final days of the campaign that demonstrated the difference between Mr Morrison and Mr Abbott was first, Mr Morrison’s condemnation of the Daily Telegraph for their beat-up accusing his opponent of omitting “important details” of his mother’s career. Then, just a few days ago, while Mr Morrison paid heartfelt tribute to Bob Hawke, Mr Abbott chose to politicise the death of Labor’s longest serving PM, by saying he had a “Labor heart but a Liberal head.”
While Mr Morrison’s comments undoubtedly helped his chances of re-election, Mr Abbott helped to bring about his own downfall by leaving the majority of voters in no doubt that he is out of touch with them.
What was not expected was how quickly and decisively victory came for independent, Zali Stegall. The defeat for Mr Abbott was so large that it was difficult to put it all down to interference from Get-Up which also campaigned hard to oust Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton. Mr Dutton who was hanging on to in his Queensland seat of Dickson by a thread was expected to lose it. Instead he held it with an increased margin. It seems that the Australian voter is too smart to fall for a spoiler campaign run by a third party.
Mr Shorten was gracious in defeat and wished Mr Morrison success, for the greater good, for the good of Australia. I whole-heartedly agree. I, like most people, was preparing for a change of government. Not because I’m a Labor voter. I don’t follow political parties as if they were football teams. But it seemed inevitable that Labor would win. If they had, I would have wished them every success as I wish for the Liberals. It seems stupid and churlish to hope that your own country’s government fails just because they’re not your favoured party.
In a time of unprecedented disruption, what Australia needs more from a government than anything else right now, is stability. To that end, I hope that the Liberals win enough seats to govern in their own right and for the first time in a long time we have a government that gets through a whole term with the same leader.