Strategic Futurists; Value Systems Specialists


Australia's 2013 Election – LNP in a Landslide

Friday 6 September 2013

Or is it? ...Over the past six years, the mainstream media polls have consistently shown the Liberal Party /National Party Coalition as well ahead of the Australian Labor Party. Those polls turned out to be wrong last time around when Tony Abbott failed to get enough of the vote to defeat Julia Gillard. Or should we say that when three independents interviewed both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, it was Gillard's vision for Australia they sided with. Simply put, mainstream media got it wrong.... So are the mainstream media's polls right this time? The alternative media voice – social media, has been incredibly active offering alternative views. As a side event, this election may well be a lot less about the battle between the LNP and ALP and much more about the relevance and weighting of old media versus new media.

Anything less than a landslide spells disaster for mainstream media, though they won't portray things in that light. It takes some time before we see the true value of our political leadership, what with the smoke and mirrors in politics and media.

John Howard's biggest legacy came from his push towards gun control in Australia. His failure on Telstra sell off tinged that slightly. His biggest failure turned out to be hubris in believing his invincibility despite the disastrously one-sided work choices legislation which clouded over the excellent move creating the Australian Building Construction Commission.

Kevin Rudd's first ascension to the Prime Minister-ship will see his greatest legacy as the Apology to the Indigenous peoples of Australia. His biggest failing was his capitulation to the mining industry after badly reading the mainstream media polling and ignoring the views of many who put him into office. KRudd's legitimacy for Australia ended on that day.

Julia Gillard's Prime Minister-ship is not yet truly seen for what it is. Both the National Disability Insurance Scheme (if it survives) and the Carbon Trading Scheme (which likely won't survive) had the potential to be a long lasting legacies of great value to Australia, as does her moves on the Gonski funding proposals. But in the end Gillard was a member of a party that forgot the lesson kids learn in childhood – 'if you can't play nicely together, the ball gets put back in the cupboard'.

This has always been a hallmark of the core differences between the ALP and LNP. The ALP would rather be right and out of power, than pragmatic and in power. The LNP has always had the discipline to keep emnity in check for the sake of gaining the bigger prize – the chance to set direction for Australia.

I'm of the view that in the end, the ALP do not deserve to win this election. The lagging issues in NSW and what appears to be a clear case of corrupt behaviour in awarding big benefits to select friends (we're waiting for the final legal outcome of that) are cancerous and suggest significant problems with honesty and trust. The ALP have been out-campaigned at every turn. Despite a world leading economy and amazing stability compared to almost every other country in the world their focus on internal plays and not results, has exposed a lack of political maturity. They just have not found a way to get people to focus on the good outcomes they have achieved. Many a superior product has fallen by the wayside due a lack of effective marketing – the ALP is the Betamax to the LNP's VHS.

Australia will pay a heavy price for that immaturity with the superior NBN being replaced by the vastly inferior alternative. The loss of the Carbon Trading scheme will be a disastrous move with global repercussions. If the proposed LNP austerity measures are not matched by countervailing growth production as planned, then Australia will spiral into recession, following a similar austerity path to Ireland, Spain, Greece and Italy.

And the Australian voters will blame that outcome not on their choices but on the ALP.

But if the targeted LNP growth outcomes ARE achieved (as hoped for) then this election could be the start of a very long time in the wilderness for the ALP. In a quick swoop, the LNP would have finally achieved what it has failed to do for the best part of forty years – make the ALP irrelevant.

Which brings me now to the alternative media sphere – the social media landscape where both parties have been significantly out-gunned by both the Greens and social media groups like GetUp!

If (and it's a questionably big IF) social media is to be believed, then this election is an incredibly close one. I'm not convinced that social media yet has the ability to hold sway against mainstream media but there's not doubt that it's weight is growing daily.

As a futurist I play in possibilities and not so much in predictions. So here's my 'weighing up everything I've seen' estimate of a possible outcome: The LNP will win this election in a huge landslide but it will not do so with the seat margins it expects. The Greens will retain and extend their balance of power in the Senate. The LNP will not be in a position to force a double dissolution because its seat margins will be too precarious to risk a reversal.

In such a world, the pragmatic nature of both the LNP and Greens will need to find some common ground. And that would make for a very interesting dynamic indeed.

Best of luck Australia – this one is going to be one heck of a ride.

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