By the Numbers: The Race For Election Glory

It has unofficially been the longest Federal election campaign in history, but finally, this momentous marathon event has been run and won. And much like the first-time marathon runner, Australia has only just made it over the finish line, and is now bucking at the knees and dropping to the ground in agony, scarcely able to breathe and vomiting what little stomach contents it has left into a small, acidic pool surrounding its $279 Indonesian-made cross-trainers. Thankfully, in our duties as Australia’s most trusted (i.e. non Murdoch-owned) news source, Lot’s Wife is here to dust the nation off, hand them the water bottle of knowledge, and recap the whole affair, including wondering exactly where those chunks of carrot now dispersed around the nation’s ankles came from.

In an election that has been so pre-occupied with numbers, with endless poll-pushing and dollar-crunching, it only makes sense to summarise by the numbers.

Let’s begin with One Nation. Even in 2013, Pauline Hanson and her party are still thrashing about and trying to make political noise, despite the fact that their core issue during their halcyon days in the late 90s – strict immigration and border protection – is now in largely in line with Labor and Liberal policy, making the party an archaic hangover as relevant as “Who Let The Dogs Out”, only more interested in keeping them out. And the Asians, the Muslims, and anyone else who isn’t already a jingo-slinging, flag-waving Australian. But in perhaps the first example of an Australian current affairs TV program doing anything relevant in twenty years, an awkward interview with candidate Stephanie Banister, in which she demonstrated a complete lack of cultural – and more importantly – political knowledge, derailed the party significantly. She withdrew within 24 hours, but the damage was done. Nonetheless, we look forward to Pauline ’16.

Conversely, after entering the political fray on relatively short notice, it appears that Clive Palmer’s humbly-titled Palmer United Party will take two seats, with former Rugby League thug Glen Lazarus securing a Senate role, and Clive himself tentatively ahead in the count for the seat of Fairfax at time of print. But aside from Clive’s love of digging holes and being a professional eccentric, we know very little of the PUP. There was a candidate for every position in the country, but who are these people? What do they stand for? The colour yellow? No one truly knows. The success of the Palmer United Party proves that you don’t need policy; all that all you need is a stack of mates, an easily identifiable colour as a brand, and a streak of insanity… which, on reflection, sounds remarkably like student politics.

How fortuitous for Tony Abbott to be constantly surrounded by the “sex appeal” of his three daughters throughout his election campaign, which has clearly now made him qualified enough to hold the portfolio for women in his own Cabinet? Bridget, Frances, and occasionally Louise were omnipresent on the Abbott roadshow, accompanying Dad to functions, events, baby kissings, openings of chip packets, and generally anything that might be seen by a member of the public. We sincerely hope, for their sake, they weren’t required to accompany him to any public toilets, too. But with Tony constantly accusing Kevin Rudd of running a “presidential campaign” based on a cult of personality, you can only wonder – if he wasn’t hypocritically using his family image to help run a presidential campaign himself, it can only mean that Tone wanted to threaten us with the knowledge that he is a virile, spermatozoa-shooting machine. If that isn’t a thought that stops the boats, then surely nothing will.

It appears that when all the vote counting is finally completed, Labor will have registered a slip in the two party preferred vote of between four and five percent. What went wrong? Where did the Labor supporters go? Political autopsies are horrifically boring, so let’s instead try to analyse the loss through the scope of a metaphorical house party. You, the potential Labor voter, walk in the door expecting a Triple-A rated night, but you already sense the depressing environment. Kev is rattling on endlessly about everyone owes him money for the pizza, and about how grateful everyone should be that he is even here. You expect some familiar faces, but most of your old friends aren’t even here. Emmo and Garrett left the party ages ago, so no-one is singing or dancing. Combet was immediately gone as soon as the party climate changed. And there are rumours that Adam Bandt is throwing a much better party somewhere in the city; a small affair, a bit wild, but plenty of green. And all the while, the lifeless corpse of Julia Gillard goes completely ignored, floating face-down in the backyard pool. Despite best intentions, track record and highest expectations, sometimes parties just suck. The Labor Party of 2013 appears to be no exception.

Leading up to the election, the Coalition’s six-point plan to stop the boats was easily one of the most public policy proposals put forward by the Coalition, and a vital aspect of their election strategy. Sadly, someone forgot to forward that memo to the Liberal nominee for the seat of Greenway, Jaymes Diaz. In what must be one of the most humiliating on-air political deaths on record, not only could Diaz not summarise the six-point plan to stop the boats, but he could barely construct a six-word sentence in the ensuing embarrassment. Broadcast internationally, his gaffe was only compounded further by the fact that he was cradling a copy of the Coalition’s Real Solutions pamphlet during the interview; a pamphlet which contained that exact information. Diaz was the only Liberal candidate in Western Sydney to fail in winning a seat. Now with much more time on his hands, he is now said to be looking forward to catching up on his reading.

There are always losers who find themselves thrown to the wolves after every Federal election, but spare a thought for Dr. Tim Flannery. Eight years after being announced as Australian Of The Year in recognition of his work as a conservationist and world-leading climate scientist, it took less than a week of official business before the new Government dissolved the Climate Commission, an organisation that Flannery has presided over since its inception. Taking their plans to virtually eliminate foreign aid spending, and to continue the human rights violations of asylum seekers that the UN recently charged Australia with, we can only postulate that the Coalition feel they can combat climate change themselves solely through their frosty exteriors and natural cold-heartedness. Look for a third ice cap forming over Canberra in coming months.

Special recognition for their contribution to the election season must go to TV powerhouses Seven, Nine and Ten, who bravely rejected advertising money when they would normally otherwise be begging for small change for their dying industry. Get Up!, a politically independent group which staunchly encour­age democratic participation in Australia, took exception to the actions of (former Australian) media mogul Rupert Murdoch, as he pulled no punches in promoting a very anti-Labor opinion through his newspapers. Armed with significant funding from Get Up! members, and a short advertisement depicting an actor scrap­ing up dog poo whilst telling viewers, “don’t let the crap decide your vote”, Get Up! were swiftly rejected by all three networks. Was it the image of faeces on TV that the networks found so reprehensible? It seems surprising that the three major commercial networks could be so adverse to showing a piece of shit, yet still insist on broadcasting such cultural touchstones as Slide Show, The Big Bang Theory, and The Bolt Report. Dealing with Rupert is like dealing with an elderly, incontinent family member – everyone can smell it, but no-one has the courage to point it out.

Finally, one last number: 1100. That’s a rough estimate of the likely number of days until the next Federal election. Regardless of your political persuasion, and whether you found any pleasure in the election results, we’re all going to do it again sooner than anyone really cares to acknowledge. Start training again, exercise your politics regularly, and let’s all make sure the next election is a supreme demonstration of political athleticism, and not another excruciating struggle for survival against a back­drop of malaise, ambivalence and public weariness. See you at the starter’s gun.

Bren Carruthers

The author Bren Carruthers

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