Mike's Minute: Aussie PM's miracle a lesson in good politics for NZ's Labour Party

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Monday, 20 May 2019, 7:03AM


There is a very significant lesson out of Saturday night in Australia for any western Labour party that cares to learn it - and that includes Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand.

It came from the focus on Bob Hawke on the eve of the vote. The key was not the fact that Hawke was the greatest Prime Minister of the modern age, but why he was.

He wasn't remotely representative of any of the modern Labour movements. Hawke floated the dollar, freed the economy, liberalised trade, things that these days would be seen to be very much at the conservative end of the Labour movement.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Photo / AP
Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Photo / AP

Blair, Hawke and Lange. They were all centrists, populists, representatives of middle New Zealand, or Australia, or Britain, and that is why they were popular.

As one Queensland party volunteer said, the Australian Labor Party used to be the party of the worker. Now it's the party of those who don't work.

Bill Shorten's promises were outlandish. There wasn't a scratch he didn't throw money at.

It was everyone else's money, and that's why Queensland didn't go with him. Too many of them were having their pockets raided to fund it all.

Bill Shorten concedes defeat following the results of the Australian federal election on Saturday night. Photo / File
Bill Shorten concedes defeat following the results of the Australian federal election on Saturday night. Photo / File

It's why the CGT didn't fly here. There's a limit to how much redistribution people will accept.

Scott Morrison deserves every credit. He's a better campaigner than Shorten, and he peddled the tried and true reality that hard work and opportunity are what countries are built on, and what people vote for.

He also proved that rolling Malcolm Turnbull was the right thing to do. Would Turnbull have turned Queensland? No, he wouldn't have. This is Morrison's miracle - and it was a miracle.

Not a single poll had the result right.

Tony Abbott, who won three elections ago, lost so many polls, and Turnbull rolled him. Turnbull then went on to repeat the same trick, so in came Morrison.

Morrison never turned the tide. He got the numbers close by Saturday, but 51-49 is what every single one of us had, including even the Coalition, thinking that it was Labour's to lose.

And what a loss it is.

Michael Daley was bad enough in New South Wales, but Saturday night was devastating for the ALP.

And unless the party goes back to basics, back to the Hawke-style of thinking, they'll be increasingly un-electable.

Corbyn has made his version un-electable with his love of Marxism. Our Labour Party governs with the goodwill of two others - they're not as much of an individual force as they could be, or should be, or indeed once were.

Politics in the western world is won in the middle. Morrison knew it, argued it, sold it, and as a result got as good a victory as you will ever see.

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