Victorian Labor and rural electoral myths

Is Victorian Labor in trouble in rural areas? This theme is getting some coverage in the media. However much of the coverage tells us very little. The Age interviewed Mallee farmers, the problem is that they have always been very conservative. Year in year out the small rural polling booths in the Mallee record primary votes in many cases of over 90% for the conservatives. Asking them about Labor’s prospects would be like judging the Greens statewide prospects by a Brunswick St vox-pop. Continue reading

Indigenous claims and the Constitution

Discussion of the proposed amendment of the Constitution to acknowledge aboriginal occupancy prior to 1788 occasionally evokes the memory of the high support for the 1967 referendum to enable aboriginal people to be counted in the census and to include them in the race power. Legislation for the Constitutional amendment was not opposed in Parliament so there was no ‘No’ case issued to voters. The positive vote at the referendum was 90.8%. However it was 81% in Western Australia and 86.3% in South Australia. In 1978 Monash political scientist and future Liberal minister David Kemp considered this in his Society and Electoral Behaviour in Australia. Continue reading

Labor woes: a vaguely Gramscian view from 2003

The failure of Labor’s vote to recover post-election is generating some angst on the left. A pessimistic interpretation might be that Labor’s 2006-2009 ascendancy was an aberrant product of Coalition errors and that the Coalition are now the natural party of federal government. Back in 2003 I made the following observation in a paper on the emergence of a mass Labor electorate in early 20th century Australia: Continue reading

Populism from Bryan to Obama

Barack Obama’s current political woes are slightly overstated, the current Democrat slump has been worsened by a panic reaction to bad economic news, even although the economic evidence viewed overall points to a continuation of the slow recovery. Continue reading

Have Australians become more conservative?

Interesting debate at John Quiggin on whether the election revealed a rightward shift by Australian voters. Left-inclined posters keen to deny this, but the evidence seems irrefutable. Consider two key issues: immigration and greenhouse policy. Conservatives have long been anxious about the decline of Anglo-Australia particularly since the 1970s when non-Anglo immigrants became assertive and demanded that they be recognised as part of an Australian nation that could no longer be defined as purely Anglo. Continue reading