Contributed by Joe Montero
The massive swing against the Liberals in the Wagga Wagga by election is much more than a loss for the New South Wales government of Gladys Berejiklian. It has been clear rebuff of vote the federal Coalition’s direction and leadership of Scott Morrison.
Having this occur in a seat that has not changed hands for more than 60 years is telling. It shows how widespread the dissatisfaction has become. A swing in the vote of some 30 percent is highly significant. So much so that it will have national implications.
This is a seat where a significant part has connection to the military and is traditionally died in the wool pro-Liberal. Not any more. Across thew board, locals see that their concerns have been ignored for far too long, and when the local member was found to be corrupt, it was the last straw.
Local factors were Important. But they do not account for the size of the swing. If anything, even remotely like this is repeated throughout Australia, the Coalition is going to be decimated.
A state election is due in six months in New South Wales and a national election next year. Victoria Faces one this year. The coalition could not be in a much worse place than this.
Independent, Dr Joe McGirr, is set to take the seat, unless preferences from the Fishers and Farmers Party, hand it over to Labor. As the counting continues however, this is becoming less likely.
New south Wales premier Berejiklian has berated her federal colleagues over the loss. Sher misses the point. All of them are part of the problem.
This nightmare for Scott Morrison is the result of a long-term decay, brought about by the pursuing of neoliberal economic and social policy, and the resulting dissatisfaction it has caused. The big picture is that the shift from trusting politicians, the traditional party system and institutions is continuing.
Currently, the Liberal and National parties are receiving the main blow. Australians are looking for new answers, and this political force is causing internal party divisions and warring factionalism.
Part of the fallout has been the emergence of maverick parties. Another part is that Labor and the Greens have been handed an historic opportunity to capture the mood and offer a new course.
Whatever happens at the coming elections, there will be no return to the politics of the past.
People from all walks of life are paying the price for the damage of an unfair economic system, robbing those less fortunate to line the pockets of those at the top of the pile. It affects those depending on wages, those thrown into dependency on Centrelink, Indigenous Australians, small business owners and many of those trying to make a living in this nation.
For too long the ideology of greed has been in command, compassion for others has been denigrated, the gap between the haves and have nots is widening, and we continue to move headlong into environmental destruction.
Meanwhile, the corporate tax evasion industry thrives, corruption is worse than ever and the big end of town lines up for government handouts. The big banks are exposed as crooks. The cost of housing and dependency on credit are taking a toll. Many Australians are living close to the line and face the possibility of falling over the precipice.
The emerging politics is defined by whether the future is going to move towards an even more restrictive version of neoliberalism, with its accompanied extension of exploitation of the majority and curtailment of democratic rights.
Forces around big money and big media are pushing hard to make this a reality. They have added to the instability of the coalition, undermined Malcolm Turnbull and are already looking to do the same with Scott Morrison. They know that they cannot put their agenda into effect with the Coalition as it is, and are prepared to ensure it loses office, and be remade in a new form.
Or is the future going to move towards a new direction that puts people first and leads to defend and extend democratic rights much further than they are today.
For the Labor and Green parties this scenario provides an historical opportunity to make a break from the Past and provide, by leading in a new direction, where people are put first and democratic rights are both defended and extended to a new level.
The importance of an election is whether it is going to help reach this goal or not.