WATER TORTURE: How did Ted's Liberals turn their best issue into their worst embarrassment?

louiseasher Victorian Liberal leader Ted Baillieu is under pressure from members of his party room to push out Louise Asher from her shadow Water portfolio following her bungling of party policy on the government’s controversial “north-south” pipeline.

The pipeline has been considered by conservatives their last, best hope for winning the next state election with the pipeline seen as symbolic of the state governing putting Melbourne ahead of regional Victoria.

Liberal strategists say it’s not just country seats directly affected by the pipeline either, South Barwon, Ripon, the Ballarat and Bendigo seats, Macedon, even Yan Yean and certainly Seymour where the government will be feeling the heat.

It was assumed by outsiders that Asher’s new position was a carefully thought out strategy to snatch and grab those country seats and make that a higher political priority for the election that will be held on 27 November 2010.

Thursday last week, Asher declared most emphatically that a Liberal-National government “will not take water from the pipeline” and that isn’t “morally just” to do so.

Now the position is not greatly different from the government’s that the pipeline would only be used if needed.

Sadly for the Liberals, Asher’s position wasn’t carefully considered. It was a snafu of extraordinary proportions.

More than a backflip or an error, it’s a reversal that highlights that the complexity of the issue and why the pipeline is being built in the first place. It is an insurance policy for Melbourne, in case it runs out of water in 2010.

But the politics of taking country water “for Melbourne’s toilet bowls” was set to be devastating at the next election for a long-term government. The government has clearly not adequately made the case for the need for the pipeline. Letting Melbourne become a desert ghost town is not a defendable position, so there’s certainly scope for the state Government to get the message out. Unless they wish to rely on the Opposition’s own-goals, they government would do well to consider how they are communicating on this issue.

A number of Asher’s foes in Spring Street are saying the only solution is to give her another portfolio or to dump her completely so the vision of her backflippery cannot be used in the future.

Some in Ted Baillieu’s office are believed to be reeling over this debacle and agree Asher has “cost them plenty” but she is a crucial part of the bloc of support that underwrites Ted’s leadership of the party. “Humiliating Lasher is not an option for Ted. We’ll just muddle through and hope it’s forgotten in the excitement of Grand Final Week.”

For Essendon supporters like Asher, there’s not much excitement at all this Grand Final Week, just a few memories of past glories, a longing for victory and a probably unrealistic hope that rebuilding won’t take another five years. Her foes are right. She needs to be moved from Water at the earliest opportunity.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “WATER TORTURE: How did Ted's Liberals turn their best issue into their worst embarrassment?

  1. looks lke she’s recanted today.
    total fuckwittery. she should be sacked just for those zany tatooed-on eyebrows alone.

  2. Mary West

    Louise Asher is a competent lady. She should not be turfed out over what is merely misreporting of her serious thoughts.

  3. misreporting?
    then why didn’t she or Big Ted come out and clarify their position immediately?
    and she may be a lady (as in “I’m a *LAYDEE*”, what with the tatooed-on eyebrows and the blokey stare), but she has displayed zero competence on this cruicial issue.

  4. Obi Wan Kenobe

    The temptation to play populism over sound and sensible policy is great within the dark side at this time, (just take a look at the federal opposition). In the end, both major parties will do much the same thing on most issues, including water. The government is on the dark side too…

    Oh when does the Third Force arise again?

  5. Jim

    Given the crappy leadership of Ted and friends, it will be the Nats who stand the best chance in places like Ripon to profit from the politics on the pipeline.

  6. Right Said Fred

    Issue is being over played by every one. Townies couldn’t give a rats arse about the pipe and they control the votes in country areas. The farmers don’t care if any water goes to Melbourne or not it is the issue of having any sort of pipe. If you have a pipe, you can put a meter on it and if you do that people can’t steal water. Telling farmers that the pipe will produce water savings is like telling a tax cheat that your closing their loopholes but cutting their rate of tax

  7. anon

    Another Liberal lightweight.
    She has nothing going for her except for her legs.
    Kennett summed it up years ago when he suggested she should breed.

  8. Braemar Old Girls Guild

    The problem isn’t really Louise Asher – Although she is policy lazy… The problem is the parasitic relationship the Nationals have with the Liberals. They just cannot survive without eachother. Same old conservatives – different haircut. Get used to the ‘policy gaps’ until they merge.

  9. anon

    Dear anon 21:22,

    Have you actually seen her legs say, in the last 7 years??? Yuck!!!

  10. Brighton avenger

    Louise isn’t to blame. She is one of the brightest in the shadow ministry. She is frustrated with Ted’s vagueness and inability to focus on anything, yes anything.

    She has had no direction and is clearly frustrated that her efforts in supporting Ted do not count for much.

    She is not alone. Unless Ted becomes more inclusive and works better with the shadows these problems will continue.

    One of Louise’s close suppoters says she has been near beraking point in recent months.

  11. Kroger follower

    Interesting comment Avenger. Louise used to be a close Kroger friend years ago as did Ted. Ted now finds vengance against Admin and in particular David Kemp (including former Baillieu operatives Snell and Pesutto) more important than defeating Brumby & co.

    Sadly Ted is the only option but if he loses in 2010 then that’s that for him.

    If he had any brains he would mend fences with Kroger (both) and get them on side for the real battle. If he tried he might be surprised with the result.

  12. Cross+Hairs

    Brumby’s Labor government is to be congratulated. The north-south pipeline in time will come to be recognised as a huge Victorian tourism attraction – the world’s longest didjeridoo!

    Louise needs her neck wrung because she is a useless old chook whose poisonous presence in parliament has contributed almost nothing over an extended period.

  13. QWERTY

    Poor old Louise is way past her use-by date in the gourmet poultry section.

    Is it impossible for Liberal powerbrokers to comprehend that priveleged toffs are hard to vote for as the economic world melts down – and the gulf between rich and poor deepens?

  14. Maedros

    Brumby (Ivanhoe and Melbourne Grammar) and Hulls (Xaiver, Peninsula) don’t come from working class backgrounds either.

  15. anon

    LuLu Asher is almost useless, and has been for many years.

    Totally lazy, in Port Douglas more than her own electorate office, wont use a mobile phone, refuses to drive at night, fought to keep Deputy Leaders Car and Driver when she wasn’t in the job anymore, looks like an ageing callgirl who got dressed in the dark… etc…etc…

    Now add policy stupid to this list.

  16. Sunbury voter

    Macedon is a lost cause for the ALP.

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