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Study postgraduate law: the ANU Juris Doctor

Election 2020 – Liberals’ Holy Grail

By John Hargreaves - 31 October 2016 12

Nicole Lawder and Alistair Coe. Photo: Charlotte Harper

So, we have a change of the guard in the Liberal Opposition. I’m not sure that this is going to work that well. The worry I have is that the leadership teams of all parties need to have complementary personalities, a well-oiled partnership and a shared vision.

I served in the Assembly under the Chief Ministerships of Kate Carnell, Gary Humphries, Jon Stanhope and Katy Gallagher. I knew Rosemary Follett and Trevor Kaine quite well and I know Andrew Barr extremely well.

All of these Chief Ministers had strengths and weaknesses. But it was their strengths which made them successful. Their weaknesses were different and had some say in their departure.

I served with Jon Stanhope, Gary Humphries, Bill Stefaniak, Zed Seselja as Opposition leaders and I served in the Assembly long enough to get to know Jeremy Hanson. Again, they had strengths and weaknesses. But frankly, only Jon Stanhope and Zed Seselja were effective Opposition leaders in my view.

Kate Carnell led from the front in a “catch me if you can” style, going full speed ahead to advance the interests of Canberra. For a while her team followed. But it was her ego which brought her unstuck. Remember the Bruce Stadium grass? The overnight loan? The car crash after a cricket match? The media regarded her as highly newsworthy and indeed embraced her style until they grew tired of the stunts. When the media turned on her, it was only a matter of time.

Jon Stanhope’s team put relentless pressure on the Government of the day and it resulted in Kate’s resignation and the ascent of Gary Humphries.

Whilst the adage is that governments lose elections, oppositions don’t win them, it is also true that an Opposition must help a government lose the election. This happened for the 2001 election. An accident prone Liberal/Moore coalition was helped to defeat by a strong Stanhope opposition.

The opposition didn’t lay a glove on the Stanhope government in the 2001-2004 period. The leadership team of Stanhope and Ted Quinlan was far too strong for the parade of leaders and deputies which ensued in that term of the Assembly. They were out-played, out-classed and out-manoeuvred. The result was a majority Labor Government in 2004, with the lead Labor candidates in each of the three electorates achieving over a quota.

The Liberals didn’t contribute much to the slide in popularity of the Government in 2004-2008. The fall from grace of the Stanhope government had more to do with the unpopular policies at the time; the GDE, public art, an inefficient and expensive bus system, perceptions of the personality of the Chief Minister but the Opposition did nothing to endear it to the electorate.

The revolving door shut under the iron fist of Zed Seselja and he moulded the Opposition into a reasonably coherent voice. This time Labor changed its chief minster and Katy Gallagher ascended to the throne. But her style was difficult to attack. The Liberals’ fixation with playing the man instead of the ball worked against them. Personal attack became the game plan and it merely showed the team to be bullies and this was not a good look.

Nevertheless, Seselja came within a whisker of pulling it off. The result in 2012 was 8 all with Rattenbury the kingmaker. Like it was ever going to be a Liberals/Greens coalition! Nuh!

So, mid-stream a change of leaders on both sides occurred. Both leaders took off to the Senate and left Andrew Barr facing Jeremy Hanson. Both were good performers in the Chamber and both had good oratorical skills. But the leader/deputy combination was weighted on Labor’s side. The Barr/Simon Corbell team versus the Hanson/Alistair Coe team was a massive mismatch. Alistair Coe was never going to be able to match it with Simon Corbell.

As an aside, the Liberals should think themselves lucky that Simon Corbell has retired. They would be belted yet again.

Andrew Barr and Yvette Berry.

So, what of the current crop of leaders? Barr/Yvette Berry versus Coe/Nicole Lawder! Another mismatch, methinks.

Andrew Barr and Alistair Coe will make good copy for the media in the Assembly to come but it is Barr who has the depth, the experience, the temperament, the resources and the mentoring. Coe cut his teeth (as Barr did) in the young politicians’ club, in his case the Young Liberals. He hasn’t had much time in the Assembly. He hasn’t performed all that well in the Committee system because he was overshadowed by Seselja and Smyth and he hasn’t had much effective mentoring.

I suspect he will grow as a member of the Assembly but I fear that as my mate, Ian, says: “He won’t last a clean shirt!”.

Labor has a Deputy with some small experience in the Assembly and as a minister and experience with the media. The Liberals have a Deputy with some small experience as an MLA but not much else.

The descent of Jeremy Hanson will be a massive negative in the Liberal’s quest for the Holy Grail. I will be watching the performance of Mark Parton and Elizabeth Lee to see if either of them have the goods to match the rather strong and experienced Labor team.

As for the Greens – it is Groundhog Day!

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Election 2020 – Liberals’ Holy Grail
1
dungfungus 12:24 pm
31 Oct 16
#

How can you write so deeply about the state of ACT politics without mentioning the nexus between Labor and the unions?

The CFMEU has donated $2.14m nationally to Labor over the five years to June last year. The Liberals can’t match this so really your assessment about who performs best is academic until the unions break with Labor.

In fact, that is possible as there is a story (not in the MSM) that the CFMEU are planning a takeover of Labor.

2
bojangles 6:03 pm
31 Oct 16
#

Congratulations to all elected MLA’s. It will be an interesting 4 years. Any of the moderates biding there time to challenge for the Liberal leadership will have to get past the majority of hard right conservatives (Coe, Wall, Jones, Dunne, Kikkert, Doszpot, Milligan) who are all Christians. Elizabeth Kikkert is a Mormon. Good luck!

3
John Hargreaves 5:40 pm
01 Nov 16
#

It is true that the ALP has its genesis in the union movement and advocating for the working family. It is not true to say, particularly in the ACT that the union movement has an undue influence on the party when in government.

During my time in the Assembly both as a backbencher and a minister, there was plenty of conversation, as there should be, with affiliated unions and with Unions ACT.

Not once in my time was there pressure brought to bear to effect or change a policy position. The same can’t be said for the private sector.

The notion that the union movement funds the ALP is as much bunkum as the notion that problem gambling does. It is true but never acknowledged that the ALP always discloses publicly the source of its funds and the same can’t be said about the conservatives.

Why people insist on perpetuating nonsense when they are not in the loop, is beyond me. I would have thought that considered contributors, who constantly bleat about the provision of proof and justification through quotation of sources, would have known better. I guess I got that wrong though.

4
pink little birdie 8:55 pm
01 Nov 16
#

Most people in the ACT couldn’t care less about any internal ructions of either party unless they are all consuming.
What people care about the is the policies particularly in Canberra. If the Liberals want to be elected they need quality alternate policies that actually stand up to scrutiny. Sure the Liberal’s had a few good short term policies but there were no long term policies. Like the lower rates they had that but they then had nothing about housing accessibility and affordability for people trying to get into the market or renters. They had the rapid bus policy but then were going to reassess light rail in the future.
What’s the point in voting for them if we are just going to get Labor’s policies just 5-10 years later for a higher cost?

5
dungfungus 9:33 pm
01 Nov 16
#

John Hargreaves said :

It is true that the ALP has its genesis in the union movement and advocating for the working family. It is not true to say, particularly in the ACT that the union movement has an undue influence on the party when in government.

During my time in the Assembly both as a backbencher and a minister, there was plenty of conversation, as there should be, with affiliated unions and with Unions ACT.

Not once in my time was there pressure brought to bear to effect or change a policy position. The same can’t be said for the private sector.

The notion that the union movement funds the ALP is as much bunkum as the notion that problem gambling does. It is true but never acknowledged that the ALP always discloses publicly the source of its funds and the same can’t be said about the conservatives.

Why people insist on perpetuating nonsense when they are not in the loop, is beyond me. I would have thought that considered contributors, who constantly bleat about the provision of proof and justification through quotation of sources, would have known better. I guess I got that wrong though.

Here’s some more of that “nonsense”, John:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-16/unions-given-'veto'-power-in-act-government-procurement-projects/7249472

6
rommeldog56 8:01 am
02 Nov 16
#

pink little birdie said :

If the Liberals want to be elected they need quality alternate policies that actually stand up to scrutiny. Sure the Liberal’s had a few good short term policies but there were no long term policies. Like the lower rates they had that but they then had nothing about housing accessibility and affordability for people trying to get into the market or renters. They had the rapid bus policy but then were going to reassess light rail in the future.
What’s the point in voting for them if we are just going to get Labor’s policies just 5-10 years later for a higher cost?

With that sort of analysis of the differences between ACT Labor/Greens by voters, we have the Government we deserve. More years and years of hard Labor:

1) It wasn’t “lower” rates. It was a lower pa increase in Annual Rates. Different things.

2) As I recall, the ACT Libs had the running with policy releases – ACT Labor/Greens were for the most part, just playing policy release/promise catch up, particularly on Health.

3) Housing affordability : Yeah. Right. It is debatable whether the reduction in conveyancing stamp duty will actually help many to “get into the market”. A bit faster maybe, assuming that developers don’t soak up that reduction in higher prices. What about the absurd land prices greatly contributed to by the ACT Gov’ts admitted policy of drip feeding land releases. That isn’t affecting housing affordability is is – nah, of course not. When those buyers who have allegedly been helped to “get into the market” via stamp duty reductions have to pay $6-$7K+ in Annual Rates, “affordable housing” will be just a dream for them.

4) There is nothing wrong with rapid bus transit as a medium term policy. At least it can be undone if the tram or something else makes more sense later on. Its a far, far more flexible solution than the tram will ever be.

7
rommeldog56 8:12 am
02 Nov 16
#

John Hargreaves said :

It is not true to say, particularly in the ACT that the union movement has an undue influence on the party when in government.

During my time in the Assembly both as a backbencher and a minister, there was plenty of conversation, as there should be, with affiliated unions and with Unions ACT.

Not once in my time was there pressure brought to bear to effect or change a policy position. The same can’t be said for the private sector.

The notion that the union movement funds the ALP is as much bunkum as the notion that problem gambling does.

Why people insist on perpetuating nonsense when they are not in the loop, is beyond me.

Undue influence on ACT Labor ? Then there is the MOU between ACT Labor/Greens and Unions ACT. Undue influence ? Nah – surely not.

So, people “not in the loop” can not comment on such things ? I think your “loop” is a bit old now – things have moved on in the ACT Labor/Greens Govt since then. An explosion of development and infrastructure projects for example. Unions are all over these projects aided and abetted by the MOU between ACT Labor/Greens and Unions ACT. Amongst other things, that means higher costs to be funded by ACT Ratepayers.

8
Blen_Carmichael 8:18 am
02 Nov 16
#

John Hargreaves said :

It is not true to say, particularly in the ACT that the union movement has an undue influence on the [Labor] party when in government.

Ha ha! http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-16/unions-given-'veto'-power-in-act-government-procurement-projects/7249472

9
avasiniorez 9:22 am
02 Nov 16
#

Yes I agree, especially in regards to the policies. The light rail policy has replaced the faster buses services, and it just continues on like that. What is the point

10
Blen_Carmichael 12:02 pm
02 Nov 16
#

John Hargreaves said :

It is not true to say, particularly in the ACT that the union movement has an undue influence on the party when in government.

You’re saying the union movement is in government? I think we’re on the same page here, John. Welcome to the fold!

11
justin heywood 12:43 pm
02 Nov 16
#

John Hargreaves said :

The notion that the union movement funds the ALP….is bunkum

Patently untrue. The CFMEU alone contributed $1.33 million to the ALP in 2013/14, including $21, 300 to the ACT Branch. Perhaps you are referring to the fact that the unions have started to fund the Greens, to the tune of $600,000 last year?

John Hargreaves said :

The notion that problem gambling [funds the ALP]… is bunkum

Disingenuous. ACT Labor’s biggest donor, the 1973 Foundation, uses Labor Clubs pokie money to buy property and funnels the profits back to ACT Labor, thus setting up a (very) thin veneer of respectability to the source of the funds. That is the whole point of the 1973 Foundation.
It is estimated that 40% of the revenue from pokies is from problem gamblers.

Maybe some people are so much ‘in the loop’ that they fail to see the wood for the trees?

12
dungfungus 11:49 am
03 Nov 16
#

justin heywood said :

John Hargreaves said :

The notion that the union movement funds the ALP….is bunkum

Patently untrue. The CFMEU alone contributed $1.33 million to the ALP in 2013/14, including $21, 300 to the ACT Branch. Perhaps you are referring to the fact that the unions have started to fund the Greens, to the tune of $600,000 last year?

John Hargreaves said :

The notion that problem gambling [funds the ALP]… is bunkum

Disingenuous. ACT Labor’s biggest donor, the 1973 Foundation, uses Labor Clubs pokie money to buy property and funnels the profits back to ACT Labor, thus setting up a (very) thin veneer of respectability to the source of the funds. That is the whole point of the 1973 Foundation.
It is estimated that 40% of the revenue from pokies is from problem gamblers.

Maybe some people are so much ‘in the loop’ that they fail to see the wood for the trees?

I see that Mark Parton, Liberal MLA, has defended any perceived “conflict of interest” in having a share in a couple of racehorses while accepting the shadow racing and gaming portfolio.

I wonder how many Labor MLAs are members of the Labor club?
That would be a real conflict of interest, not just a perceived one.

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