Doubly Disillusioned


There are lately some Labor supporters who are expressing a somewhat fervent hope that Australians will face, at some point in 2014, a Double Dissolution election, brought on by whatever trouble Labor and Green Senators can cause the Coalition Government.

I can only guess that this hope is driven by the understandably desperate desire to be rid of the Abbott Government, given what it represents and what we are likely to face as its legacy.  I say that because I can see no political reason to wish for such a thing.  In my estimation the most likely outcome of a Double Dissolution election would be a disaster for the Labor Party (and potentially the Greens and smaller groups in the Senate).  The Coalition in all likelihood would gain control of both houses.   I don’t know how you feel about the pox, but I’d prefer to avoid it.

My case for holding that view is this:  there is no reason that I can discern or fathom for any person who voted for the Coalition at the last election to, at this juncture, change their vote.   There has been nothing in the actions of the Government sufficient to cause this to happen.  Yes, from a Labor supporter’s perspective the Government has thus far been atrocious, but aside from some international diplomatic missteps – which will be forgotten about in a month’s time – the Government has done nothing that isn’t consistent with its stated intentions and/or its approach to matters socio-economic.  There is therefore no reason for those few tens of thousands, who gave the Coalition Government, to reverse that choice.   The handful that may have cause to second-guess themselves will not be sufficient to cause change.

The other reason that a Double Dissolution would be disastrous for Labor is simply that they will not be ready to govern.  They cannot go to such an election with their old Government agenda because that is being unraveled as we speak.  By the time a DD comes around there’d be little or nothing from it to rescue.  The NBN will be more or less trashed and probably unsalvageable.  Disability Care has been largely settled (although important questions remain as to its administration).  Asylum Seekers is an issue about which Labor has little to say that will differentiate it from the Government.  They gleefully joined in the race to the bottom for cheap electoral advantage.  Now much of the nation is simply fatigued by the whole thing.   There is no electoral leverage for Labor in that matter – and they arguably don’t deserve to have any.  Labor is going to need the three years of an Abbott Government to get its policy base in order.

Some might argue that the Coalition went to the last election with a policy platform so weak and unstable that no sane person would set foot on it.  That may be true, but the political circumstances surrounding that were perfect for the Coalition.  That won’t be replicated for Labor.  They will not, for example, get the easy ride into another election that the Coalition received from the media in the last one.  The Coalition will not be suffering under the weight of enormous internal instability.  Bill Shorten will not have sufficient time to stamp his authority on the Parliament and look Prime Ministerial.  That dynamic takes time.  In a nutshell, the Coalition will not have had time to significantly self-destruct, especially if it hasn’t really done anything.  Labor will not have a basis to make an argument of substance for its return to Government, at least to the particular voters it has to convince.

In the context of a Double Dissolution, electors will be inclined to instinctively vote for stability, not change.  The representative mish-mash that was delivered by the Senate result will almost certainly not be repeated.  People will see it for what it is and vote for stability and certainty.  That will benefit the major parties.  If stability is what people find themselves voting for, then it will benefit the Coalition far more than Labor by virtue of incumbency.

It won’t be especially difficult for the Coalition Government to prosecute the case for surety and stability of Government.  Labor and the Greens, rightly or wrongly, will be gifting that argument to the Coalition through an obstructionist Senate (and the prospect of a dysfunctional and chaotic one into the future).

We should surely recognize by now that the Coalition has become extremely adept at pushing the right emotional buttons with the electorate.  The last election was about psychology, not policy; it was about pushing the psychological buttons of trust, loyalty and betrayal, security, faith in authority etc.  Once those deep-seated psychological triggers are activated in certain people, no amount of facts is sufficient to quell the emotional disturbance.   Trigger it enough times and the psychological force is tsunami-like.  It is quite simply unstoppable.

Even though in practical terms I think the chances of a Double Dissolution are almost zero – the risks to either side are too great for anyone to seriously contemplate it – the risk to Labor is far, far greater.  If the Coalition has any faith in its ability to manipulate and exploit the make-up of the new Senate, it will have little reason to be interested in a DD.  They can pretty much afford to wait.

Also, from a Labor supporter’s point of view, what looks like an arrogant lack of concern for things like science, and, oh, you know – taking advice from anyone, appears as strong, assured and decisive Government through a more conservative lens.   It’s important to remember that Paternalistic Government is a very attractive thing to a lot of people, primarily those that can’t be bothered being informed and meaningfully politically engaged.  What are Governments for, if not to govern?  Given the complexity and pace of modern life, that disposition is a strong cultural force and one we underestimate at our peril.

I mean, do we really expect people to research and think about something like the Asylum Seeker tragedy when they have dinner to microwave, children to rebuke, IKEA catalogues to peruse, twenty five Facebook and eighteen Twitter thingees to respond to, the latest Home and Away episode to PVR, an electricity company hawker to shoo away, elderly parents to ignore, newly laid turf to fertilise and manicure and Lotto numbers to select?  How dismissive we are of stuff that matters!

If you should be a believer in some sort of force that drives the fate of the Universe, I exhort you to pray to it, in wherever way is applicable, for the Abbott Government to see out its term (extraordinary and fortunate circumstances excepted) because a Double Dissolution would almost certainly end in a crisis of faith.

There may, of course, be arguments and nuances that I’m missing.  If so, I welcome learning of them.

Contact: Dan Rowden

Categories: Politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

49 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Left in Limbo.

  2. Dan you are right………we should sit back and wait as abbott will destroy himself…….dd would be of no advantage as you say to the labor party….self destruct…..people listen….this will happen

  3. Yep. Unfortunately, you’re spot on. I’m counting on Tony going Chernobyl.

  4. I strongly concur with Mr. Rowden’s cogent analysis regarding the outcome of a federal DD during the first year of the Abbott government. Moreover, it would be foolhardy to expect any reduction in the “fast and furious” distortion of the truth by the reenergized Murdoch Empire (copycatted ad nauseum by Fairfax, Guardian and ABC News, of course).

    Czar Rupert is still savouring the taste of Julia Gillard’s and Kevin Rudd’s blood, and he’d be drooling at the very thought of what a delicious dessert Labor’s current LOTO would make.

  5. you are right that Labor are not ready to form government yet,but if Howard had control of the Senate a lot earlier would he have lasted 12 years? Get rid of the upper houses,Federal and State,then we can see what they are made of from day one.and it’s cheaper.

  6. Very valid points raised, Dan. As someone said elsewhere, this is very sobering. Great article.

  7. Patsy King was my favourite Prisoner star

  8. Utterly depressing article, but very true. The best we can hope for is for Abbott to screw things up so badly that they have to quit. Hopefully he will respect the Constitution sufficiently to call the next election in 2016 when it is due, although I am very much concerned that this evil little dictator will attempt to destroy even that in his insane lust for power.

  9. UNLESS… there are some more spectacular and monumental cock ups that no-one can forgive. Something like Abbott using a baby as a human shield.

    Don’t say it can’t happen.

  10. Agree. To go early, would mean that Abbott would get a free run.

    I am afraid, politics in this country has reached such a low, that people will have to feel the pain, before they wake up.

  11. I strongly disagree. Their key platform was basically two issues: stop the boats (they haven’t and won’t be able to), and stop the debt (they’ve only added to it, and the rorts scandal only makes this look far worse). The carbon tax is a fairly neutral issue now (and may even be swinging toward Labor with recent environmental crises). Also, it seems that many voters were completely blind to what an Abbott government would actually be like, and they’re waking up by the day. People didn’t think about policies at the last election – they only thought about leadership tensions. That’s all over now. And a DD is actually our only chance to continue the NBN largely unscathed (the decision on how to proceed has been delayed until mid 2014), something that I’m sure would pick up many votes for Labor. Murdoch is still behind the Libs, but lived experience is much harder to lie about, and the rest of the media is turning against them. The only advantage I can see to not having a DD is that Labor’s victory would be even bigger after three years of Abbott, but I’m sure 9 months will be enough to see him turfed.

  12. Reblogged this on Left in Limbo.

  13. Lee J. You are correct in some points, however, the MSM and murdoch are still in control and would wage an almighty campaign on Tony’s behalf. Better to let him self-destruct as in Fukushima. In the meantime, natural justice may occur, coronaries are common to people with Rupe’s profile.

  14. We will have the Senate rerun in WA and the by election in Griffith, Both are likely to throw up protest votes.

    I believe there are a couple of state elections coming up in the new year. If Victoria is any guide, the Coalition could be in trouble.

  15. Don’t hold your breath, Stuart. Rupert’s rich enough to buy someone else’s heart.

  16. Much as I hate to have to say it – I can’t see that you’re anything but likely to be right in your prediction, Dan. At the same time, i have to see that it does make me feel a little better to read the positive hope of Fed Up and Lee J.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the Australian electorate will wake up unless there is a revolution. A significant factor in current voting trends and, indeed, attitudes that influence them, is the overwhelming effect that a materialist society and capitalist system has had on people. Australia is now (generalising, of course) a society of greedy, uncaring, selfish and xenophobic, small minded people who care for little other than what they feel will benefit themselves.

    So many people today exhibit the same misconceptions as those who have lots of unread books on their shelves but think that the fact that they are there makes them clever or knowing – they seem not to understand that they do nothing for them unless they read and understand them. Similarly, people are willing to vote against their own interests because they apply the same sort of logic – they seem to think that siding with the well-heeled will somehow accumulate wealth for them, too. I know it sounds silly – it is silly – but that is largely the electorate we have – not the independent and capable voters that the politicians would have us believe.

    Only a real change to our electoral system and a strict adherence to the Separation of Powers will improve things in Australia and it is unlikely to happen. Newman in Queensland and Abbott federally are proving that already with the sorts of policies and changes they choose to implement. Discarding the upper houses won’t help, either – we in Queensland are only too well aware of how easily the government can get away with drastic and pernicious legislation (such as the extra penalties for bikies) because there is no upper house.

    Yes, I’d love to disagree with you, Dan, but I can’t find any rational indicators that you’re wrong – unfortunately.

  17. The only thing that would trigger a Double Dissolution is a teeny-weeny thing called principle. Using a Double Dissolution as a political strategy to win back ‘power’ is brain-dead. Enduring a Double Dissolution caused election and a resulting ALP loss is neither here nor there if it involves a ‘principle’. As far as I’m aware the only trigger for a Double Dissolution is if the Coalition puts the repeal of the so-called Carbon Tax to the senate and it gets knocked back twice. That process would take us to March 2014. So we wouldn’t have another election prior to mid 2014, so why wouldn’t Abbott just wait until the senate changes on the 1st of July 2014 anyway? Abbott wants to make a lot of noise about this and claim ‘mandate’ BLAH BLAH BLAH, but really caving in on an ETS without having Abbott justify ‘Direct Action’ would be unconscionable. I don’t even think it would be politically expedient. On the law of averages the ALP will form government again within the next decade & I don’t think Climate Change is going away. They (ALP) want to make sure they don’t inherit an absolute shit-storm and economic basket-case.

  18. Since the rorting scandal and a long list of other evil by the regime, I would argue that Abbott would win but with a reduced majority

  19. why are the major part of you so down on a double disillusion, i don’t agree at all with your attitude have you no faith in the labor party meeting every challenge that conservatives offer. i say don’t be afraid of having a DD, yes, we may lose the challenge, but if we win and i’m certain we will then think of all the good we can do, so let us have no negative talk about the DD think of it as a positive weapon in our armory, and keep making positive comments AIMN because they all do us good, negative comments make us feel negative.

  20. Unless Abbott installs a GG that does his will, there is little likelihood of a DD. Needs more than one bill knocked back twice. GG has to be convinced that government is unworkable. If they stick to the rules, Abbott will be told to try again after the new senators take up their positions.

  21. Iggy 648 – Yep, even if they don’t consent.

  22. I agree Dan, a forced DD would be a boon to the LNP. People voted with their guts and a ‘feeling’ about the leadership last election, they were not interested in policy. When the LNP failed to deliver on policy they voted for them anyway and refused to pressure them for election promises. I can’t see that they will pursue them after the election to live up to them. I am disheartened and wonder what our country is going to look like in three years time. If I thought praying would do any bloody good, I would have raw knees by now. I can think of one positive and say well, we survived a decade of little Johnny, surely we can get through the next few years. Labor needs someone who is fearless, who has a big dream for our country, one that everyone can feel included in. They need to stop politicking and do some serious revision behind the scenes. Clear all the boards and start becoming a force for change. Instead of being reactive to the govt, they should take the fight to them and begin developing solid policy of their own which they can introduce way before an election and begin to build support for. Otherwise they will face certain defeat at the next election. It won’t matter if Abbot leads a pack of bumbling morons to the next election. I mean, he did at the last one and still was voted in. Its about being able to use the media to sell your message and avoiding all the simple traps laid for them the last three years.

  23. the rabbott won because he represents the racist, sexist and economic thoughts of the workers and was able to express them over and over unchallenged. It is irrelevant that he is frightened of the power women because women do not believe they have power. It is beyond comprehension that any ‘capable’ woman would vote for him but millions did just that. It is irrelevant that he thinks the lighter an Aborigine is the more aware, the darker the more genuine and that all community Aborigines are ‘they’ to be treated as one size fits all. Why would those who believed hockey’s tirades against swan change their mind when little joey, with complete media immunity borrows billions more to fix labor’s mess? Talk to anyone, especially women, and you will blanch at the depth of anti-labor belief, the rabbott and Murdoch have driven into society. The current labor men and women are settled for a long haul and the rabbott will prevail over electricity bill who will be of retirement age before a young lemon takes over. The WA election may represent a backlash but labor had no stomach for a fight before sept 7 and believe it is better sit back and wait than make any waves. The rabbott, pyne, joyce and little billy can just be thankful for their Jesuit training and old boys’ network.

  24. You could have saved yourself screeds of paragraphs…the Tories havent got the balls to call a DD. PMThing has got what he wants. There is no way on this planet he will risk losing his God given right (in his sick mind) to rule over the minor members of his kingdom. He was sent to rid this land of Gays, abortion,womens equality, unwhite skinned persons, non catholics will be servile…the list goes on…just how thick is this country they cant see through this lunatic. A DD is the last thing he would risk.

  25. Why has no-one mentioned the obvious? Like Howard, Abbott and crew will at every turn seek to move Australia’s common wealth upwards. Abbott won government because Aussies are asleep but nothing wakes them up like a jolt to the hip pocket nerve. As this wrecker goverment marches on trashing our social democracy, more and more will feel the pain. As wages and conditions are rolled back and unions are attacked and the economy tanks (remember Murdochs tweet? “Public sector workers sucking australia dry”) people are going to feel more and more uncomfortable. I cannot see the LNP getting a third term unless they change the system to favour themselves, much the same way they are ignoring parliamentary conventions. The Liberals end game is for Australia to be a one party elected dictatorship with an ineffectual opposition as per our nearest neighbours – this has me more worried than disengaged voters.

  26. You are very much on the money, and I’ve not heard any of my wise and learned Labor supporting friends talk of wanting a DD. It is the type of hysteria the Party needs to avoid, not just now but forever more. Rebuild, restructure, form a competent policy platform and then go to the people.

  27. There have only been six Double Dissolutions since Federation and they certainly should not be approached lightly as they are also very expensive.

    Kevin Rudd was criticised for not going to a DD after the Senate had twice declined to pass his CPRS Bill but, personally I believe that this could have worked against Rudd and obviously the opposition saw an opportunity of causing mischief with the possible prize of an early election; always an opportunity for an opposition.

    In the present parliament the possible trigger would almost certainly be carbon pricing which, in the event of a DD, would work against Labor. This is probably why a lazy coalition want to scrap the Clean Energy legislation without even bothering to put up anything as a viable alternative.

    The LNP are cruising at the moment; how else can you explain the Sri Lanka situation where Cameron for the UK, India and Canada have come out strongly on human rights and would normally be supported by Australia but Abbott has chosen to take a parochial approach to keep Sri Lanka onside over returning refugees: a very cynical and base approach but one that seems to fit in with what we are becoming as a nation.

  28. As much as I agree, I’m not sure how much more frustration, anxiety and anger I can tolerate over the next three years.

  29. I can’t agree with this. The Coalition went to the polls screaming about ‘the Debt’ then promptly raised the debt ceiling by $200 billion. Labor’s turn to scream! They have also kicked their heartland in the belly by cancelling subsidies to small business. Business confidence is sinking, so the thin financial promises that hey made are all unravelling. Even if environmental vandalism is of no concern to voters, abuse of 457 visas, and workers conditions & other fiscal incompetence should be.

  30. If Kevin Rudd had gone to a DD when he had the chance instead of bowing to the so called wiser heads of the labor party then perhaps things might have been different for the labor party and perhaps Kevin Rudd would still be prime minister , because, it was from that moment when he didn’t go to a DD that people started to doubt his fortitude and and doubt his leadership, and that’s when everything started to go wrong for K Rudd.x

  31. I agree there is no way Tony Abbott would call a DD. But the Labor Party does not need to reinvent itself. It had the ammunition to win the last election but the media and Abbott’s PR team took the gun away from them so, instead of prosecuting their case, they allowed themselves to be distracted so far by polls that they forgot their priorities and shot themselves in the foot.

    I realise the conservative perspective is vastly different to my own and it is difficult for me to understand how conservative voters will react but surely they must be at least wondering. Increasing the debt limit by 200 billion? Surplus promises disappearing? Bad bushfires and hurricanes? Coal mines approved and environmental challenges no longer allowed? Endangering the Reef? Scrapping the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing 6 months out from them producing the report they have been working on for over 2 years? Hiding the boats? Antagonising our neighbours? Looking to cut welfare while promoting paid parental leave to millionaires? Cutting superannuation co-contribution for low income earners and delaying/scrapping the super increase to 12% while removing the tax on payouts of over 100,000 a year for those who have over 2 million in their retirement fund? Stopping the instant asset write-off for small business while scrapping the mining tax on superprofits of mining companies? Pushing for free trade agreements that could see our government being sued by corporations if our laws inhibit their profit making?

    When, after the carbon tax is removed presumably in July next year, prices don’t go down, I would suggest that will be game set and match.

  32. All it takes is for Labor to realise how to get an easy message out there.

    For example – fuel tax credits. This is a tax payer handout to big miners worth $2 billion per year.

    This equates to $182 per taxpayer every year, and worth a staggering $9.4 billion over the next four years to some of the most profitable companies operating in this country. This is a much greater cost than the carbon price will have on households.

    These wasteful, inefficient handouts will continue to promote fossil fuel use at a staggering rate of $4,480 of taxpayer dollars per minute, day in, day out.

    While the rest of us pay 38c a litre in taxes at the bowser, mining companies only pay 6c a litre.
    The oil and gas industry also gets a massive tax break through so called “accelerated depreciation” that is rising towards a staggering $2 billion per year by 2018 to companies who again are making record profits.

    The mining companies funded a very successful “poor me” campaign previously. A little bit of truth to the public and we could see a very justifiable groundswell of “you gotta be kidding”.

  33. @ Kaye Lee…. “When, after the carbon tax is removed presumably in July next year, prices don’t go down, I would suggest that will be game set and match”

    I an almost guarantee price of electricity will go UP after the C Tax is revoked. I have several friends operating in the solar industry, and they tell me the next wave of solar installations will be people disconnecting from the grid and installing batteries to go stand alone/off grid……..

    There is a new saying in the electricity industry….: “death spiral”!

  34. The elephant in the room, that cannot be denied. Abbott claimed in parliament that electricity had doubled under Labor, then waffled on to say, if it went up by 9%, it will come down by 9%.

    Trouble is, that many say, they did not put their prices up. So if it went up by zero, it will come down by zero, one would think.

    “……….The electricity ‘death spiral’ is raising considerable angst. Residential demand for power appears to be declining. This has led to higher prices to cover fixed network costs. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has highlighted the relationship between embedded generation (such as home solar systems) and network pricing in its Strategic Priorities.

    So what is the ‘death spiral’?

    The idea is simple. The cost of the electricity network – the wires and poles that bring power to our homes and workplaces – is pretty much fixed. It depends on peak demand, not on the everyday electricity load. The network is built to meet a specified level of reliability so that our power doesn’t go out (too often) on exceptionally hot days in the middle of summer when we all turn on our air conditioning. So most of the time the network costs are just a fixed cost of delivering electricity that doesn’t depend on the amount of electricity that consumers buy.


  35. Well Dan,I must admit you have opened me up to a more panoramic vista,I have been sweating on a DD election but the way you point things out only makes me more concerned.I fully realize those that voted for abbott and the NP are not likely to change their vote,but what I would be counting on is that a great number that couldn’t be bothered to vote last time now realize how they are being affected by this Gov.
    Thanks for another good/bad learning experience,fuck I hate these Libturds.

  36. Much as I would love to see the end of the Abbott government, I do agree that it would be unwise to rush in. The Labor Party has a lot to do to make itself into a valid alternative government. The Gillard government passed some awesome reforms, but the internal bickering screwed the Party. The Labor Party tried so hard to be acceptable to the Australian people that in some areas it it became similar (almost said “a carbon copy!”) of the LNP.

    The best example of this, of course, is asylum seeker policy. Labor has abandoned its humane instincts on this one, turning it into a political football, just like the LNP, and has adopted the cruel “stop the boats” mantra.

    I think Labor needs to get its act together, scrap the egos, and develop a more coherent and humane set of policies.

  37. Thanks Dan. Until reading your article I had been looking at a DD as a sweet solution to rid ourselves of the most dangerous government our country has seen. The thought that a DD could cement their power and leave no one to challenge them is far more horrifying. What we need now is for Labour to find a leader who embodies Whitlams vision, Keatings oratory and Hawkes charisma!

  38. doctorrob54.

    but what I would be counting on is that a great number that couldn’t be bothered to vote last time now realize how they are being affected by this Gov.

    That’s a really excellent point you make. Hopefully those folk will make their feelings known at the next election. Could be just the thing to swing it against the Coalition.

  39. The AEC studied the 2010 election and found more than 3 million Australians did not vote.

    Of those 1.5 million people were not enrolled, 900,000 people were enrolled but did not vote and nearly 750,0000 people cast an informal vote.

    The figures were worse this election. Of those aged 18-24, 400,000 people did not enrol in time. 6.7% of enrolled voters didn’t cast a vote, and of those who did, 5.9% of them were informal.

    The Coalition hold several seats by very small margins and it has been suggested that 30,000 votes would be sufficient to change government.

    Considering the numbers, you make a very valid point indeed doctorrob54

  40. Exactly,could not come up with with anything better.Thank you,and to you also Dan,
    I think of all that are present Anthony the man.But with the nature of the new structure
    this is now not even a possibility,And there is no way Shorten will ever get the votes to win.
    Don’t look good does it?.

  41. Now then…….. WHAT were you all saying about the unwinnable double disolution…??
    Nielsen’s first poll since the election delivers a rude shock for the Abbott government, showing Labor with an election-winning lead and Bill Shorten travelling 20 points better on net approval than Tony Abbott.

  42. Slowly,slowly people are starting to see through the light,and they still have not yet felt the bite.
    I think in future some will return to Labor or Greens,but am hoping many more will take their vote
    serious and realize what a wonderful privilege we have.

  43. The right to vote is the last vestige of democracy we have. And they are slowly but surely demeaning the values of our votes.

  44. Mike,

    Abbott holds a 49-41 lead as preferred prime minister.

    That’s a pretty significant fly in the ointment.


  1. Doubly Disillusioned | OzHouse
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