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What would a Liberal Government look like in the ACT?

By johnboy - 3 July 2012 60

Let us, for a moment engage in a thought exercise as to what it would mean for Canberra if the Liberals were to form Government after the October election?

Firstly how would this come about? Labor is short of high profile candidates in both Ginninderra and Brindabella with the retirement of the very popular Jon Stanhope and John Hargreaves.

To attack this weakness the Liberals are running a full court press down south (Brindabella) with Brendan Smyth and Zed Seselja both running and the highly respected Val Jeffery a chance to hoover up the wrinkly votes (get a better wooly jumper this time around Val).

Out Belco way (Ginninderra) the Liberals are hoping Coe and Dunne can hold their own (we’re unconvinced the plummy painfully young Coe is connecting with West Belconnen working families as he’d hope, but let’s play it out for the hypothetical OK?).

From there they’re hoping the iconic Chic Henry can hive off the unthinking Labor base with a Summernats vote. It could happen.

Suddenly the Liberals are effectively in six seats before Molonglo’s bevy of seven seats is considered.

Losing Zed to Brindabella won’t help them, but it’s hard to see the Green vote doing anything but going down to single seat representation.

Three seats to the Liberals in Molonglo (up one from the historic lows of 2008) is nine Liberal seats. In a 17 seat Assembly.

Majority Government Liberal?

It’s a possibility.

Faced with a 9 seat voting block including the Motorists Party you might even see the Greens cutting a deal to get a seat at the big table (and hang onto the speakership).

And then what?

One could imagine they will try and be more developer friendly than their predecessors, but Labor in the ACT have been far from unfriendly to developers. With Canberra real estate coming off the boil in the forseeable future that’s likely to be moot.

There seem to be a disproportionate of Catholics in Liberal ranks, so expect social policy to lean that way.

But before there is wailing and gnashing of teeth I would suggest we think a bit more about this.

The ACT’s public service and institutions are pretty well stacked with at best fellow travellers and in a lot of cases movers and shakers within Labor politics.

The Liberals don’t have anything like the cadre to purge those institutions and make more friendly replacements. They don’t have that many mates here in Canberra, and with State Governments Liberal across the nation (and anticipated federally) there’s no talent to bus in from interstate.

So we’d have an incoming government after 12 years in the wilderness asking a lot of pointed questions of institutions it’s not in a position to fully takeover.

We’d also have a public service not particularly minded to help out the Government in the event of any dodginess on their part.

Include a reliance on Chic Henry who doesn’t appear likely to want to be a tory stooge and we could get a pretty functional government willing to turn over rocks and shine lights into dark corners of the ACT if only to embarrass their enemies, and unable to create too many dark corners of their own.

It’s worth thinking about.

What’s Your opinion?

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60 Responses to
What would a Liberal Government look like in the ACT?
HiddenDragon 1:13 pm 03 Jul 12

After what seems like a rather long stretch of Labor government, there must be some sort of It’s Time factor at work, but for many people, I would guess that the response would be “time for what?” – Madam Cholet’s pithy observations are most pertinent here.

I would be very interested in a party, or plausible independent candidates, who could persuade me that they have a clear, sharp focus on the delivery of essential, cost-effective services – no stunts, frolics, hobby horses or taxpayer-funded pandering. Do what truly needs to be done, let the great majority of decent, sensible, intelligent Canberrans live their lives without unnecessary interference and regulation, and lend a hand to those who really need it.

A major factor surely at play in the next Territory election campaign will be the strong likelihood of a federal Coalition government taking power some time in the next year, or so. Many will no doubt feel that sticking with ACT Labor will provide some insurance and protection. Others will hope that a Territory Liberal government may be treated more favourably. Some, with a more sinuous twist of imagination, might even speculate that a federal Coalition government, particularly if it has a sympathetic Senate, may be sufficently provoked by the continued existence of a Territory Labor government (even one led by the amiable Ms G.) as to perform some interesting surgery on the ACT Self Government Act.

Beau Locks 1:03 pm 03 Jul 12

It’s an interesting thought experiment, isn’t it? I doubt it’ll happen, tho. Why can’t the Libs put on a few interesting people and also let them be themselves and allow the community to get to know them? (I could say the same thing about Labor, but they’re already on a pretty good wicket.)

The thing that I think would be most disappointing in the event of any significant changes after the next election would be the likely loss of Caroline Le Couteur. I reckon she is the most committed and consciousness person in the council, and also the person with the least ego, just quietly getting on with things and keeping the guvment to account.

There are also one or two Tory candidates that could be good, but they’re in the shadow of some of the current crop, which doesn’t help anyone.

Skidbladnir 1:02 pm 03 Jul 12

With their current level of organisation and experience, minimal visibility as a valid Opposition, lack of clear policy, I’d expect prettymuch the final weeks of Carnell all over again.

You know, fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, four years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together in sin, mass hysteria…

johnboy 12:53 pm 03 Jul 12

In my personal experience a lot of people voted Green at the last election because they were choosing between Liberal and Green (Labor being on the nose) and decided to give the Greens a try.

Not all of those voters are thrilled with the Greens and the Liberals are, if dispiriting, at least not a rabble this time.

I’m only making this case in Molonglo where the second Green seat is on a razor thin margin.

Thumper 12:52 pm 03 Jul 12

I’d also put it to you that Chic Henry is better known, liked, and trusted in Belconnen than any given member of the Legislative Assembly.

Valid point.

Grail 12:44 pm 03 Jul 12

Why would people who voted Green last election not vote Green next election? What do Labor or Liberal parties offer the Green voter?

If the Liberals do get in at the next election, here’s how their playbook will work: “OMG Labor left the government in SO MUCH DEBT, at this rate of spending we’ll be paying $1M in interest for every wage earner in the town!” Everything after that will be some kind of failure attributable to the previous Government (because they haven’t had the experience of running a small business much less a Government for 12 years).

That’s what Liberal governments do: despite their claim to be familiar with running businesses or corporations, the opportunity to point at lots of red in the budget to make the other guy look bad will not be passed up simply because the debt was to purchase production capital or service infrastructure damaged by once-in-a-lifetime events.

Expect a large purge of the local public service, a severe reduction in social services aimed at rehabilitating criminals, drug addicts, abuse victims, and all those people who have failed themselves and society by not being better people. After all, Liberals believe in self actualisation, and that we are all what we choose to be, don’t they? And of course, tax cuts for the rich and tax hikes for the poor: all in the name of a “user pays” economy.

What I do imagine happening is Liberal and Labor both losing votes to independents and fringe parties. It would not surprise me at all to see Chic Henry getting a seat. Would Liberal or Labor voters abandon their parties to back Chic Henry/Australian Motorists Party to strike back at the cyclists and people wanting to enhance public transport by taking lanes away from cars?

Greens will likely make another 4% gain in total votes, though not enough to win another seat. Most of those will be cyclists, or single-occupant-vehicle drivers who dream of a rosier future with free public transport that is actually useful for commuting to work outside of the 9–5 rat race.

The next three years will probably come down to (a) scuttlebutt as Liberals leak Labor papers showing how bad they were, Labor leaks Liberal papers showing how bad they are, and Greens leak their own papers in the hope that someone cares, (b) ramping up the cars vs everyone else debate, and (c) Chic Henry falling flat on his face inside 12 months, along the lines of Peter Garrett’s abysmal failure to fit into Labor party politics. Chic will learn the hard way that there’s a huge gap between being a lobbyist and being a member of the Government of the day.

If only the Liberal Party had actually had some policies of their own and referred to them when opposing everything, we’d be in a better situation.

Holden Caulfield 12:35 pm 03 Jul 12

I wonder how much it would boost the Libs’ chances if Zed and Brendan didn’t run at all!

Madam Cholet 12:35 pm 03 Jul 12

Very fanciful thinking JB!

I’m not into the whole who gets what where, but from my perspective these are the things I’d like the Libs to do that would convince me that they are interested in anything other than themselves….

Get rid of Zed as leader. Hasn’t achieved anything in terms of traction or recognition for being a credible alternative.

Get Jeremy Hanson into the top seat quick smart. He is a good performer but over-shadowed by the non-performers who are just unprofessional

Get some of the old folk to move on. Brendan is a nice guy, but if you haven’t had success with old faithful, then get moving on your succession planning

Remove the reliance on cronies doing your dirty work and try and look like you have a clue as to how a party should run….stop letting staffers become party office bearers as it only ever backfires.

Don’t employ people who are solely popular with the community, a la Val Jeffries and his grubby jumper. He may have put out raging fires to gain community trust but it’s way different from doing it every day and understanding bigger issues

Give your new candidates who do have great experience a bloody go for heavens sake – some profile would be nice. I know I’ve got one of the newbies in my area, but have no real idea who she is – I know it’s a she at least. Got a good awful flyer with a few sentences obviously badly written by the head office. Lets get to know them. In other words, stop relying totally on the old gang who get you no where each time.

Hey Liberals…it’s not just ok to increase your vote. You have to actually win to remain credible.

johnboy 12:27 pm 03 Jul 12

remember people that Labor’s high primary vote in Ginninderra was largely the result of Jon Stanhope’s personal vote.

I’d also put it to you that Chic Henry is better known, liked, and trusted in Belconnen than any given member of the Legislative Assembly. But I guess we find out come election day!

Thumper 12:09 pm 03 Jul 12

I should add that it would, however, give this town a shakeup for a term, which in the overall scheme of things would not be a bad thing thing.

Thumper 12:06 pm 03 Jul 12

Majority Government Liberal?

Interesting premise but not a chance.

Best outcome for them would be eight seats and even then they’ll be in opposition due to the ALP and Greens forming government.

This time next year everything will be samey same.

CrocodileGandhi 12:06 pm 03 Jul 12

I think you’re being very generous to Chic. It’s hard to imagine that there will be enouh people who will vote for someone who will be running on a platform of “Summernats = Good. Parking = Free. Everything else = erm…next question”.

CitizenK 12:02 pm 03 Jul 12

johnboy said :

3 out of five in tuggers. Three out of five (with Chic) in Belco. Three out of seven in Molonglo.

Yeah OK, more achievable I guess. Still can’t see the Libs picking up three in Belco where Labor had its best results and where the Greens have their best operator.

But three in Tuggers is do-able, and possibly in Molonglo (out of 7). Eight max, which still wouldn’t give them a majority in their own right, but would give them a moral victory of having more seats than Labor!.

johnboy 11:51 am 03 Jul 12

3 out of five in tuggers. Three out of five (with Chic) in Belco. Three out of seven in Molonglo.

CitizenK 11:49 am 03 Jul 12

Scary thought JB. I can’t see though the Libs picking up 4 out of 6 in Tuggers, that would require more than 50% of the votes I would suspect.
I like this analysis done at – seems to be somewhat considered. But like you, I wouldn’t discount the Libs going damned close. I doubt Chic in Belco will poll anything more than a few hundred votes though and Coe and Dunne are not hugely popular, and the Libs will really struggle in Molonglo.

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