Hours after Scott Morrison won the Australian Federal election, he appealed for more civility. For Australians to "disagree better" in political debate.
He will be disappointed. It is not going to happen. There will be no attitude change, and for easily identifiable reasons. There are any number of reasons the election result defied the polls. And that defection from prediction needs examination by politicians, media and all and sundry.
Here are some of the causes of the result that no one predicted. Well, almost no one. Essentially, it was the polls. For three years, Labor out-polled the Coalition partners, and that's a pretty heavy track record. It convinced one friend of mine, against his own political philosophy, to back Bill Shorten at the shortest odds I have ever seen in order to win next to nothing. Morrison, I'm now told, was as much as 7 to 1 (that is, out outlay $100 and you get $800 back. That's like having the winning Lotto numbers in advance. There is much ink, and maybe blood, being spilt in the aftermath. That betting agency Sportsbet, conceiving that a Labor victory was such a sure thing, paid out bets two days before the election, shows the insanity we live amongst. It cost them a reported $5.2 million, including the real winning bets on Morrison.
Secondly, it was the media who deserve a caning. Australian political media is very divisive. With one exception. I have no problem with media's political leanings, because it is obvious, if not declared. And there is enough competition, particularly in the state capitals. For example, there are four daily newspapers in Sydney. Electronic networking in television and radio, and online, provides multiple sources of information.
That one exception is the Australian Broadcasting Commission. On the taxpayer's dollar, in both TV and radio, the ABC has become feral in its leftism. Bias assumes a whole new appetite on the ABC; so deeply rooted that multiple attempts by various governments to address it have failed dismally. A quote from ABC radio's Jonathan Green: "The repealed lesson in this country is never to underestimate its capacity for smallness. A lucky country full of the unexceptional, riding their luck."
Other "personalities" contributed thus: "Australians are dumb, mean-spirited, greedy." Meshel Laurie.
One-time broadcaster and writer Mike Carlton referred to "Morrison's morons" and Anglican priest Rod Bower messaged "very hard to understand a nation who, through its own willful ignorance, will cause our grandchildren to abandon all hope". Possibly an explanation for the Church's pews losing so much weight.
This is a sampling of acceptable comments. There were plenty of unprintable words expressed by illiterate position holders in the public eye. The activities by the semi-anonymous group Getup almost defy description. In Tony Abbott's electorate, Warringah, they defaced his billboards with four-letter words, destroyed others and harassed voters. One Abbott supporter was stabbed in the stomach by a 62-year-old local, reported on radio to be an economist with a large Sydney firm, who then proceeded to tear down posters. Fortunately the stabbing was only minor.
Maybe due to the lack of non-partisan journalists at Fairfax, the Sydney Morning Herald ran post-election articles by two senior Liberal Party leaders from New South Wales and Victoria.
Back to the polls, and what I believe was the key to the "shock" win — as it was nominated by most of the media. Rather than regale you with plentiful data, I will quote the essentials. "Result was writ large — if you read between the lines" was the headline from the political editor at The Australian newspaper, Dennis Shanahan. "The failure is that of the media, a failure of Trumpian proportions in which polls were ignored or misread, and reality set aside in favour of the preferred result of the insiders, the elite and the affluent."
For months, ex Prime Minister John Howard was also onto it. Arguing that "Labor's primary vote was too low, and undecideds too high to make an accurate assessment of the final result."
After including readily available polling figures, Shanahan concluded: "This was not the fault of the polls. This was a misreading by a Labor Party that had it in the bag, and by journalists blinded by expectations who couldn't look beyond the headlines." Shanahan's article should be meat for journalism students for a long time. So many lessons for struggling parties willing to learn.
The 2019 Australian election has been Shakespearean. Who wrote the script? The drama on Saturday night and beyond has been theatre at its best.
Scott Morrison might believe in miracles but there is another saying, "God helps those who help themselves". While Bill Shorten went to dinner in Melbourne on Friday, election eve, convinced his next bed was in the PM's Canberra Lodge, Morrison worked electorates in Victoria, then flew to Tasmania and worked two electorates on voting day. God helps those who help themselves. ScoMo checked in with Him on Sunday morning and maybe got approval to go to the League afterwards.