Newcastle Herald, by Michael Parris
Are the Nationals the most successful political party in Australia’s history?
Newcastle Uni political scientist Jim Jose says there is a strong argument for the affirmative.
His reasoning is this.
At the last election, the Greens attracted 10.4 per cent of the primary vote for the House of Reps and ended up with one MP.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation polled 3.08 per cent and UAP 3.43 per cent. Neither managed to get a candidate into the lower house (Craig Kelly later defected to UAP from the Libs).
The Nats, on the other hand, polled 4.51 per cent and produced 10 MPs.
“The National party, which is not much further ahead in terms of the national vote than either Hanson or Palmer, and way behind the Greens, wield power out of all proportion to their support base,” Prof Jose told Election Diary.
“It’s not a story that gets much oxygen. I don’t get why more isn’t written about this in the popular press.
“They are historically very adept as a political party, and in that context one might suggest they are probably the most successful party in Australia’s history. They’ve managed to get pretty much everything they’ve wanted.”
A survey published this week by Real Insurance showed a clear divide between Newcastle and the rest of the Hunter when it comes to voters’ chief concerns.
In Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the top three “overall concerns” were government (68.8 per cent), climate change (67.3) and “financial” (66.7), mirroring the survey’s national results.
But, in the rest of the region, the top three issues were technology (60.8 per cent), financial (59.2) and government (58.8).
Don’t say transition
“Transition” has been a dirty word for Labor and the Nats in the Hunter campaign.
Barnaby Joyce went as far as to say “transition equates to unemployment” in the Newcastle Herald on Friday, a comment which no doubt elicited a sigh from lobby groups like Committee for the Hunter which have been pushing for a government transition authority.
Labor man Dan Repacholi told ED on Friday that his mates in the mines “don’t like hearing that word” and he had been using “diversification” instead.
Committee for the Hunter chief executive Alice Thompson said somewhat diplomatically that the “local narrative on the Hunter’s transformation from traditional industries to the new economy is more positive and constructive than the external political debate would have us believe”.
She offered to take Barnaby “or any other leader willing to work in the long-term interest of the region” on a tour of the “new jobs emerging in the Hunter”
“The bipartisan support to make the Hunter a hydrogen super-hub is evidence that many do get it, including in the Australian government,” she said.
The parties’ campaign teams are exhausted after a tense and frenetic six weeks on the hustings in the Hunter.
The corflute wars have been raging in Hunter and Paterson, and tempers have frayed at more than one polling booth in the past week.
Asked on Friday whether he was nervous about the result in Hunter, an operative from NSW Labor HQ said: “I’m nervous about everything all the time.”
Happy voting, citizens.