Mike's Minute: The Australian election is far from over

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 15 February 2019, 8:02a.m.

Later this year Australia goes to the polls, it is widely expected the Liberal-National coalition will lose, and possibly lose badly. But history is instructive in these matters

Part of what puts the government in the position it currently finds itself in, is the extraordinary game they seem to want to play with party leadership. And as a result of that activity, normal programming seems to have been suspended.

When Malcolm Turnbull got knifed, the opportunity to extract revenge was palpable, hence Kerryn Phelps got elected in Turnbull's old seat as an independent. It was an event so extraordinary you suddenly realised a lot of people had, at least in part, lost their minds.

Now, once that mood pervades the landscape it's hard to break the cycle. Part of the government trouble was the aforementioned leader, before he got knifed, used to wander round espousing the virtues of the Paris climate accord, and the need to cut back on natural resources, the very resources that fuel the Australian economy.

This might have been okay if Turnbull had been a green, but he was in fact, allegedly, a conservative. And the Liberals couldn't stand his liberal (small l) bent.

Enter Scott Morrison, a blokey sort of bloke who under different circumstances would be doing a lot better than he is. But back to history, the Liberals have been here before, namely under John Howard. And the very that saved Howard, twice, could save Morrison.

The boats, the smugglers, and the refugees.

Labour, for the first time in about 100 years defeated the government on a vote, it was a vote on refugees, and broadly they're softer on refugees than the government. They want them brought to the mainland, they want them better resourced, and better looked after.

But it in winning the vote in the house, it's enabled the government to not only one, shove the embarrassment of an historic vote loss to one side, but more importantly, two, show tangibly that their opposition is soft on boats.

And if they can cement that thought in the electorate's mind, watch the polls close. The boats have been a disaster for Australia, the very reason they're on Nauru and Manus Island is because they filled up the mainland. The centres were heaving with dangerous, undeclared desperados with lord knows what intent.

If we know one thing in this wacky old world these days, borders are worth votes, people want to protect their country, and their lifestyle.

If Morrison can milk that, what was a foregone conclusion may well now be a race.

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