Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Essay - deaths of cartoonists Murray Ball and Bill Leak, the WA election results

I was saddened to hear of the death of New Zealand cartoonist Murray Ball, the creator of Footrot Flats. I really enjoyed Footrot Flats. As a part Kiwi with New Zealand farm connections I knew enough to understand the local allusions, More importantly, the characters were just fun.

I spent Saturday night watching the West Australian election count. That made for a very late night given the three hour time difference. Since it seemed pretty clear that the Barnett Government would lose the election, the three things that I focused on were the likely scale of the defeat, the size of the One Nation vote and the fate of the WA National Party.

It quickly became clear that a swing, a big one, was on, so my focus shifted to the other two.

Much has been written about the decline in the One Nation vote. If you exclude the lower house seats where One Nation did not contest, the One Nation vote would appear to be around the number suggested by the polls, a bit over 8%, with a higher vote in regional areas, lower in Perth Metropolitan. So well down on the peak poll forecasts, but around the final average poll numbers.

The Liberal decision to preference One Nation in the Upper House in return for One Nation preferences in the lower house clearly backfired. The scale of the backfire is subject to debate, but when you have both Liberals and Ms Hanson herself saying that it was a mistake that cost votes, I'm inclined to go with the professionals.

In practical terms, it looks to have delivered One Nation 1-2 upper house seats, reducing the Nationals by four seats.  In the lower house, it looks as though it may transfer the previously National held seat of Kalgoorlie to the Liberals, although results here are still uncertain.

The results in National Leader Brendon Grylls's seat of Pilbara are too close to call, although it looks as though he will lose the seat to Labor  Here a special factor was in play, Gryll's proposals to increase mining royalties on Rio Tinto and BHP.

In this Footrot Flat cartoon, Dog plays the role of Grylls while you need to dress the two farmers in high vis clothing.

BHP and Rio Tinto are reported to have spent more than $2 million in anti-National advertising, while BHP reportedly tried to encourage its staff in the Pilbara to vote against Grylls. From their viewpoint, it was a relatively small (and successful) investment to avoid a bigger impost.

Listening to election night commentary from both Liberal and Labor spokesmen, they were both men, on the royalty issue, both said that Gryll's proposal was essentially silly because all it would do is to reduce WA's share of the GST. If you think about it, and its correct, that's a dreadful commentary on current fiscal arrangements within the federation, something that Premier Barnett rightly campaigned on. What's the point on taking fiscal action at state level if all that happens is a consequent fiscal hit at another level?  

The sudden death of another cartoonist, Australian Bill Leak, bookends this short post.

Leak was always idiosyncratic, attracting controversy and invective.Towards the end of his life, this seems to have weighed  on him.

Even at the end, he was still campaigning against what he saw as the dead hand of political correctness.

Both Australia and New Zealand have been very lucky in their political cartoonists over a very long period. Often controversial, they have presented political and social issues back to us in ways that make us pause. The pictures they present are something like those distorting mirrors that used to be popular at sideshows and amusement arcades, but they encourage us to look in new ways and, sometimes, just to share the fun.

This Sunday post will also act as tomorrow's Monday Forum. As always, go in whatever direction you like.


2 tanners said...

Very sorry to see Murray Ball go. Bill Leak was one of those cartoonists who I just didn't get - I think his sense of humour was rather different from mine, somewhat like Tandberg.

Fascinated by Hanson's blamestorming about WA. It proves to me a few things - that she can't play with the big parties, because that alienates both her base and some of the base of any party foolish enough to touch her; she's totally furious because her ambitions of being a government 'power' cannot be realised unless she can convince her followers that she is not part of that, and is not a 'politician'; and that her dribbling off at the mouth doesn't alienate most of her followers.

I do take issue with your calculation of the size of her vote, Jim. They fielded candidates in just about every seat, but lost candidates in 5 seats out of a maximum of 59 before polling day, with the candidates repudiating the party and in at least one case, Hanson herself. I don't consider limiting the vote proportion to the seats in which they were able to hold together enough to even make it to the starting line a good comparison. I don't have what the adjusted figures would be, but I'd suggest that One Nation had definitely fallen back from the pre-election polling figures.

The WA gerrymander, where some regions have votes that count 8 times the value of a Perth resident's vote (per Antony Green) means that PHON will crawl in with a couple (or maybe one) upper house seat, but dreams of 4 seats and the balance of power will have to be shelved.

2 tanners said...

The above were my opinions but the drivel I've seen published about how this will force MT to the centre and PHON are now dead is on a par with the repeated reporting about Trump's imminent demise. kvd's usual suspects are right up there, but the whole Fairfax stable seems to have been issued a songsheet.

For those who haven't figured it out yet, Trump is staying unless convicted of something, and MT is not in a position to cross the hard right of his party. Both are presently acting like lame ducks, but two years, never mind four years, is a long time to manoeuvre in politics.

Still, at this point, Bill Shorten must be thanking his lucky stars - his basic policies are "I'm not MT" sung to the tune of the almost-hit single "I'm not Tony Abbott".

My thought is that only Julie Bishop can save the coalition at the next election, and they won't pick her. In the US, if the democrats pick a black woman with cred, such a person might well overwhelm Trump in the electoral college vote by getting out the black vote and the democratic women's vote. Trump proved that the 'doctors' wives' who were predicted to vote Clinton instead voted Republican no matter whose name was on the ticket. If you were to ask me who the Democrats should be grooming as their next candidate, I'd say Oprah.:)

Anonymous said...

Well, tanners, you certainly know how to press the buttons on that old accordian named kvd :) I assume deliberate as any alternative is unknowable.

Cartoonists: both of them were brilliant, but they operated in different spheres, and I am sad that we have lost both. tanners, you seem to think 'cartoons'='funny'? Me, I think they are at best a reduction of complex issues to essential viewpoints; I think the best of them (in the political arena) are the inheritors of the court jester: willing/able to place uncomfortable visions before the ruler of the day. I salute both, but especially admire Leak for his courage, and believe his work was/is more important.

Hanson: let's concentrate our ire upon her, instead of the Nats - is that their WA hat? - both of which did less than spectacularly well. But let's also assume she represents a not insignificant dissatisfied slice of what will be the next national electorate. If you are comforted by the fact she "fell back from pre-election polling" then I can't help where that might mistakenly take you but, in terms of a national election, with the usual 52-47 splits we see, her personal 5% rock bottom remains significant, I think.

Your second comment: I'll refrain for the mo' - except to say that anyone who sees Julie Bishop as a preferred leader is certifiably insane, and anyone who thinks that the US liberal elite's problems will be solved simply by proposing a 'black' + 'female' candidate is also insane - and also racist, sexist. Whatever happened to the old "content of their character, not the colour of their skin"?

Apart from the foregoing, I pretty much agree with pretty much everything you've declared so stridently :)

And here all along, what I wanted to ask for was an informed opinion on just where, in our present energy crisis, the four or five year old complaint/excuse about 'gold-plating' fitted? Maybe next Monday :)


Anonymous said...

I did a disservice with my throwaway comment about our self-imposed 'energy crisis'.

To be clear, I regard water, food, and electricity as national security concerns of equal (if not immediately greater) importance than our national defence.

The SA response announced today is a quite belated reaction to policy settings set at 'failure' from the get-go by governments of all stripes. This is a state now almost devoid of heavy industry, now reliant upon inadequate interstate transmission capability, and with a fixation upon 'renewables' to the detriment of its own citizens.

If I was able to put one thing into Malcolm T's ear, it would be that we, the people, will not stand for political posturing over such a basic need as failsafe-reliable electricity generation and supply.

And you can take your SSM, and alternate-sex toilets, and Head of State, and whale rights, and cycle paths and rockfishing-lifevests and shove 'em as far as I'm concerned. Time for that crap when my light switch reliably works IMO.


Jim Belshaw said...

I see no reason why we shouldn't discuss electricity in advance of next Monday! This is also a Monday Forum post! I haven't commented on the power issue because I haven't been sure of my facts. But for very many years it is an area where theory and ideology has trumped pragmatism!

Jim Belshaw said...

2t, without checking my facts, PHON ran in a smaller number of seats than last time regardless of drop outs. It was, I think, Antony Green who calculated their average vote at 8.1 per cent in seats which PHON was on the ballot paper.

I am glad that you were able to work the kvd accordion even if it is, in kvd's words, old and therefore probably a little out of tune! :) Julie Bishop? mmm. And on the US? mmm again. Still, Oprah would continue the TV star tradition.

2 tanners said...

Now, now, be fair. Did I at any stage mention how good any proposed candidate would be at anything but winning the election?

On digging, my figures were a little out. There are 59 electorates, PHON fielded 35 candidates, 4 withdrew from the party or were sacked and Antony Green estimates their vote at under 8 per cent if inflated to be spread across all electorates.

I think kvd misinterpreted me as rejoicing over Hanson's showing in the west. For me, the key was that for all the media fuss, her base did *not* desert her, no matter what she said. It was the deal with the Libs that hurt her, and I was interested in how that changes some of the potential future dynamics. For her to join up with a major party again, both would need rocks in their heads because of the alienation in each of their bases such a deal would cause.

Jim Belshaw said...

"For her to join up with a major party again, both would need rocks in their heads because of the alienation in each of their bases such a deal would cause."

This does seem to be the commonly accepted wisdom, 2t, on both sides. In Queensland, PHON is talking about banning how to vote cards at booths if they come to power.

The Queensland election is still some time off. There is some discussion that the Premier has moved from favouring an early to a late poll to allow PHON time to implode. That would seem a bit sus. The latest public opinion poll has the national PHON vote up at 11%.

2 tanners said...

I haven't been following the QLD polls, but such a strategy as proposed seems more hope than wisdom. PH is a strong leader and will use the time to try to regroup. I assume the Government is hoping that many of her selections will implode or rebel during a sensitive time window. I guess the real question is "Does Labor have much to lose by delaying the election?".

Anonymous said...

Another 'monday' comment:

All credit to The Guardian for their Long Read -

Well worth a read.


Jim Belshaw said...

It is very good kvd. Actually almost tear making in a way.

ASBS said...

Essay on Elections in Pakistan for BA.