Q+A Panel Discussion - In response Australian Election
Sunday 8 September, 2013
Panel discussion in response to Australian Election discussion.
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:30pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz.
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.
Q+A 8 September, 2013
Hosted by SUSAN WOOD
In response to Australian Election discussion
SUSAN Now, Jennifer, I know this is your absolute area of expertise – Australian politics. What struck you about last night’s election results?
JENNIFER Well, I suppose the landslide was predictable in the end. Even though Tony Abbott was talking about the lowest percentage of the vote in 100 years, the fact remains that they’re going to have around 55, 57 seats. They’ll be happy with that. Labor will be happy with that. They once said anything with a 5 in front of it is good. It means it’s not as big a rout as it was in ’96 when Howard took over. But, you know, obviously it was time for a change, and the voters will probably be quite relieved this morning that it’s a clear victory. I think the most interesting thing is the Senate – and that came up in the interview – with the micro-parties, and that’ll be something to watch, I think.
SUSAN Because it’s going to be a bit of negotiation, Mike, isn’t there, to get his—? I mean, negotiating with Pauline Hanson, really?
MIKE Yeah, well, that’ll be difficult. I’ve never met anyone who’s successfully negotiated with Pauline Hanson. I know some people who did. But I think Australian Labor Party actually got off reasonably lightly compared with what could have happened, particularly in Queensland. And I think if anything justifies the move from Gillard to Rudd, it is the relative survive of the Labor Party in Queensland, and they live to fight another day and they’ve got some potential successes for Rudd in their ranks.
SUSAN Bill Shorten seems to be a name coming through this morning on that one, David.
DAVID Yeah, he was the hot favourite for some time as the next leader. He damaged himself a wee bit where he was the prime person who actually led to Rudd being rolled, and then the prime person who led to Gillard being rolled, and, you know, that’s not good background, but in the absence of other strong contenders, he seems to be the best bet. But let’s be realistic – Howard got four terms off the basis of his victory. Hard to see this being a one-term government unless they do something very wrong.
SUSAN And speaking of John Howard, he of course— Tony Abbott models himself on John Howard, doesn’t he, in many ways?
JENNIFER Yes, and Abbott’s been very clear that Howard was an important mentor of his. He’s talked about Howard’s capacity to do economic management and that he’s going to mimic that. There's a similar sort of social conservatism to both of them. So, yeah, I think we’ll see a sense of, to some degree, Howard mark II. I don’t think that it’s going to be a four-term Abbott government.
DAVID Not four.
JENNIFER I do think in 1998— The thing about big swings is that’s what they are – they’re a one-off big swing, and Labor has time to claw this back. And in 1998, Kim Beazley actually came very close to taking it from Howard, and in 2001, it then became about 9/11. So, really, I don’t think we can say that the ’96 Howard period is going to be similar to the Abbott government.
SUSAN Impact for this country, Mike? The relationship will be good, I imagine, between—
MIKE Well, it was interesting. I didn’t know that Abbott’s wife was a Kiwi, and I tend to know those things. But it was quite interesting. I read about her in the paper this morning. She actually speaks Māori. And I link that with a speech I saw a snippet of in the Australian House of Representatives where Abbott was talking about the treatment of Aboriginals and said, “We should look across the Tasman and take some lessons there.” So I think perhaps the indigenous people of Australia can take some heart from the fact that Tony Abbott’s married to a woman from Wainuiomata.
SUSAN What about the not-indigenous people of Australia who’ve come from New Zealand to Australia and are very much second-class citizens there, David?
DAVID Indeed, and it was an irony that one of them wrote a letter complaining about this to Kevin Rudd and it turned into an endorsement in one of their brochures, etc. Look, things will get better, I think, between New Zealand and Australia. Not so much because of Abbott personally – we’re not going to be a big focus – but Kevin Rudd had huge ambitions. He wanted to be I call it the Emperor of Asia, basically. He wanted to set up the Asian Union and never talk to New Zealand or anyone about it. So we were irrelevant to him. In a way, the best relationship we had was probably with Gillard. She was great. Her and Key understood we need to help each other out. That’s why Key agreed to the deal with taking some of their refugees. We didn’t need to do it, but we do them a favour, they do us a favour. And they had a very strong personal relationship. When she got rolled, he invited her and her boyfriend to come and stay with them over the summer. So I think Abbott will be better than Rudd from New Zealand’s point of view, but I don’t think we’re going to be a major focus for him.
SUSAN One of the very interesting things is the Greens.
SUSAN They took a hiding.
JENNIFER Well, they did lose close to 4% of their support, and big losses in Tasmania, which is really where the Green heaven and the Green Party sort of started, if you like. So I think there's obviously some backlash from voters against the carbon tax and the way in which Labor-Green have done their deals in both the Senate, but also what's going on in Tasmania with the coalition Green-Labor government there, and so, I mean, this bodes some interesting questions for Labour-Green here, I think.
SUSAN Mike, do you see any sort of parallels in this country?
MIKE There are a couple of really interesting parallels. The message for the New Zealand Labour Party is that disunity kills you. But it also shows that the rise of the Green Party is by no means inevitable. And we tend to think, “Oh, they got X last time and X plus Y this time. Next time they’ll do even better.” That’s not happened. They’ve kind of worn out their welcome thoroughly in Tasmania, from what I gather, just on the early figures.