The Art of the Deal, Down Under

It is not only Europeans who will be going to the polls, this May. Australians will be going to the polls on Saturday 18th May to elect a new government.

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Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor
On 29 April 2019 10:22

According to this weekend’s Newspoll, published in Murdoch owned The Australian, the Federal Election is due to go down to wire. The Liberal-Coalition government is now only trailing the Labor opposition by 2%, after having started the campaign with an 8% deficit.

Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken a leaf out of one of his predecessor’s books with echoes of John Howard audible in his pledge to limit Australia’s annual refugee intake to just under 19,000 a year. The Howard tribute act is a deliberate strategy, on the part of the former media executive.  John Howard is the second longest serving Prime Minister in Australian history and his electoral success was in large part due to his tough stance on immigration. Mr. Morrison would like to replicate that success, so to make sure voters got the message; he had Mr. Howard campaign on stage with him when he announced the policy.

If you thought that this would turn Mr. Morrison into the voice of populism fir the campaign, you would be wrong. That position is already taken. Despite being down under, the politics of Australia aren’t that different to the rest the world. This means that their current Federal Election campaign has its own new populist Political Party, seeking to break the two-party duopoly, and a billionaire, turned politician leading it.

The leader of the United Australia Party, Clive Palmer is a self-made billionaire, who is the 20th richest person in Australia according to Forbes magazine. He is running on a slogan of Make Australia Great, and just as Scott Morrison is trying to do to a homage John Howard, Clive Palmer is seeking to emulate President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Palmer even uses some of The Donald’s material. He calls out Fake News and is intensely patriotic saying that he will Put Australia First. It will therefore come as little surprise that he didn’t believe the Newspoll was any good, telling Australia’s Today programme:

We’re not polling 5%. You know that’s what they’ve got in the news poll. That’s just Fake News, of course. We’re polling much higher than that. Do you the there would be all this fuss if we were polling 5%. Of course, we’re not. We’re polling much, much higher than that.”

 

In the same interview, the billionaire explained how he was ploughing in the needed financial resources to put the United Australia Party on an even footing, with the two tradition major parties revealing:

The Liberal and Labor Party have spent between 50 and 60 million dollars, at the last election, and I think we will be spending roughly about the same by the time of this election. Because we want to get ideas out there, so that Australians have a choice, for a change.”

 

This Mr. Palmer later claimed in the interview was worth about one- or two-months revenue from his various investments. This is a price he is evidently willing to pay given he told show co-host, Deborah Knight:

“I am happy to invest 50 million in Australia and 50 million in your children’s future.”

 

Mr. Shorten earned his money as a businessman and whilst he has been willing to spend his own money to, in his words, Make Australia Great; he is less keen on spending other people’s money on big government. His distaste for the opposition Labor Party was evident throughout the interview. He was typically candid about the increasingly socialist Party and their leader Bill Shorten:

“Labor’s got no answers. Bill Shorten’s not to be trusted. He’s not fit to be Prime Minister of this country. He’s not fit to be a Member of Parliament. They should throw him out. He’s been subject to enough inquires. I don’t want to attack him. He doesn’t matter. He’s inconsequential. What matters is Australia”

 

Due to the AV electoral system used for the Australian House of Representatives, it is often in the interest of various Political Parties to form tactical voting alliances as to whom their voters should give their lower preferences. This had led to something of united front from those conservative forces within Australia, in their efforts to keep the socialists out of power, through a vote-swap deal.

Mr. Morrison and Mr. Palmer have formed an alliance, which should act as an example to our politicians. They are both due to benefit and both likely to gain seats from it. In an election this close, this deal is due to be a deciding factor, in who will form the next government.

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