You’ve got to have hope

“The only thing that they have to look forward to is hope and YOU  have to give them hope. Hope for a better world. Hope for a better tomorrow.” [Harvey Milk]

“Milk Men”by bright strangely is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The election result is a shocker. No two ways about it. I spent a day numb, in shock, sick to my stomach. But we have to go on.

No doubt it’s a disaster for pensioners and people on benefits, asylum seekers, LGBTI people, and a host of others. And the crowing and triumphalism are nauseating. But are they justified? Is there hope?

They only just scraped a win

Most 1st preferences went to progressive parties: just a tad over 5m to Labor and Greens, just a tad under for the Coalition and its satellites. A difference of only 300,000 votes [all figures from AEC as of 11am 20/05].

A tiny majority of 2PP votes went to the Coalition. They won the 2PP by only 180,000 – hardly a ringing endorsement and nothing resembling a ‘mandate’. This is reflected in the teeny tiny unstable majority in the House.

Match that with a cross bench both pro and anti coal, and a slew of Greens in the Senate, and you have a government living on the edge of a precipice, at the mercy of any random maverick.

They are hopelessly divided

Morrison stood out front and alone during the campaign because the party dared not parade its deep and abiding divisions.

The Rabid Right of the party, religious and secular, cannot stand the “Modern Liberals”. The Moderns hate the RWNJs and think they’re dumb: it was Moderns who coined the RWNJ (‘Right Wing Nut Jobs’) label for these antediluvian relics.

Moderates and RWNJs both believe they are the ‘real Liberals’. Now that the distraction of the election is over, they will set to work undermining and backstabbing each other.

Their coalition partners the Nationals hate all of them: they are only united with their coalition partners in their detestation of Barnaby Joyce, but none of them have yet figured out how to knife him. Rest assured they will try – repeatedly – and Joyce will fight back.

Meanwhile most of the ‘good’ Liberals – people like Turnbull, Bishop, Pyne and a host of other talented people – have left parliament and left the party. The talent pool is serious depleted and full of second-raters, much like Morrison himself.

Morrison is a dope

The PM pro-tem is an excellent spruiker, but that’s where his talents begin and end. He is prone to firing off at random without thinking, he weasels out of commitments, he is frankly loathed by a good chunk of his own party for his nauseating public religiosity and his shameless exploitation of it. The man’s a great salesman, but in all other respects an idiot, and pretty soon that will become evident.

This is their last hurrah

Murdoch will be dead soon, but hopefully not before he witnesses the demise of his media hegemony in Oz. His power is almost gone: for all the shit he shovelled out, he could only win the government a majority of 180,000 votes and one seat. The Emperor has been exposed as naked, and it’s a pretty ugly sight.

The RWNJs are also on their last legs, literally and figuratively.

Looming recession

Despite everything Morrison said, the economy is in poor shape, the jobs aren’t there, and aren’t going to be, and all he can offer is a small tax cut to lower and middle income earners and a big one for business.

Plus cuts, cuts and more cuts to government spending. History teaches us this is the best way to trigger a recession and/or deepen an existing one. And a recession is coming.

Religious wars

Morrison will try to bolster his position by reigniting the culture wars, aided by his fellow RWNJs. Specifically, he will stoke the war between LGBTI and extremist Christians like himself. This is not likely to play well in the electorate.

The influence of quasi-religious types has diminished, and continues to shrink: Lyle Shelton, who used to be everywhere, was near invisible during the election, and couldn’t even get himself into parliament.

A gays-versus-god war will reunite the fractious rainbow tribes, who have fallen to squabbling among themselves again since marriage was achieved. And we all know what happens when we combine our strengths. Plus, we now have a lot of godly people on our side, not his.

I should add that the war, like all wars, will be nasty, bruising, wasteful, and for some in our community, fatal, as it was the last time.

Queensland

Quexit is a fine joke, but don’t let it distract us from the facts.

Labor did not offer a credible alternative to the folks here in Queensland, or communicate one in clear and simple language. 

Contrary to the myth, Queenslanders are not stupid. Fixated on their own concerns, yes. Fiercely defensive. But not stupid. Calling them names only gets them offside. And we need them on our side.

They know as well as anyone else that coal mines are bad for the environment, that we need to move to renewables, save the reef, put the water back in the rivers. They see and live with the damage done.

What they don’t see are viable economic alternatives, because no-one is offering any.

Tony Abbott was right in one thing. When you frame the issues as moral ones, the Coalition will always win. You have to frame them as economic issues, and provide economic solutions.

Queenslanders have said, in effect, ‘OK, go ahead, close the mines, remove the water from agriculture, shut down polluting industrial plants. Now tell us what we are going to do for a living? Don’t go all Thatcher on us and say the market will do it, because we know it won’t, certainly nowhere near fast enough.’

‘What projects will you fund that will employ us all in the short term? What businesses will you, as a Labor government, bankroll in this region, to create secure, permanent, long-term, well-paid jobs for us and our kids? We can’t all live on minimum wages, wiping old folks bottoms, changing tourists beds, and serving coffee on the Esplanade.’

‘And how will you pay for the restructure of our regional economy? You want US to pay for YOUR “right things to do”? Stuff that!’

I wouldn’t call that stupid.

LABOR

Last but not least, the elephant in the room.

As we have seen from the miniscule majority and tiny shift in the vote (magnified by the electoral system), they failed to get voters to buy into their agenda. People were unpersuaded.

Already people are saying they shouldn’t have put all those plans and policies out there. They should, in effect, have concealed their agenda. Lied to the voters. You know, like the Liberals did. Wrong.

They should have had a comprehensive economic agenda for the transition to a green economy. Support for new jobs and new industries, as well as closing down old ones, like coal mining. Make the economic case that Australia can prosper and grow by leveraging our position in the world, our climate, our natural assets, to become a global leader in renewables.

As Harvey Milk used to say, you have to give people hope. Hectoring never changed anybody’s mind, and indeed, entrenches them in their obstinacy. Stress the positives. Give them a way forward to a future they can believe in. Make their self-interest work for you, not against you.

And tell the unions to shut up, stop defending the indefensible, and prepare plans to transition their members to new jobs.

COALITION

The Liberal Party on their own gained 3,277,843 votes at the last count. The Coalition – including Liberals, LNP, Nationals and Country Liberals, recorded a total of 4,895,419

Labor on its own gained 4,006,735 votes: the Greens 1,118,830, for a combined total ‘progressive’ vote of 5,195,565

Lesson: Labor and Greens must put aside their mutual antagonism and negotiate in good faith to go into Coalition. Now.

The next election may only be a year away. Morrison and his ragtag crew may not even last that long.

Be ready for them.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)