PLAYED: Liberal upper house leader learns age-old adage "never hold an inquiry unless you first know the outcome"

sirjohbjelke daviddavis Today’s highly amusing farce of the proposed inquiry into Victorian Labor’s nasty campaign tactics turning into a witch-hunt against the major parties generally appears to have been part of a cunning plan by Labor’s chief electoral strategist and street-fighter of the old school, Stephen Newnham.

It is conventional wisdom for many of the adviser class to duck and cover at the first sign of conflict.

But often the smart play is to have conflicts around the conversations you want to have. Forever enshrining the notion that a vote for “independent” candidates backed by extreme left money and Liberal preferences is a vote for the Liberals fits very well with Newnham’s strategy.

In the case of the conflict over whether saying a vote for X candidate is a vote for Y, that is a small issue. The assertion that it is misleading, in any way that could cross a legal threshold, is clearly not supported by logic or sound legal opinion. That’s why the candidate didn’t take the matter to court. He knew he’d lose.

But this little scrap says a lot we think about how the players play the game.

The Liberals under Baillieu’s leadership are always reacting. It’s not clear what they stand for and why. It’s not clear who they’re speaking for anymore.

Under Premier Kennett it was always clear. Progress. Development. Opportunity. Let’s go, let’s get it done, now. It was an awesome sight.

Perhaps this is an easier role for incumbents to play. And certainly Kennett sometimes looked very ordinary as Opposition Leader.

But here’s a case where Ted Baillieu’s principal backer David Davis made a stupid, ill-thought out decision to have an inquiry without following that age-old doctrine: never hold an inquiry unless you first know the outcome.

You know who said that originally? Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, who governed Queensland for an absurdly long time. Whatever his limitations and achievements for the state, we feel confident in advancing the argument that his political skill was vastly superior to any of the current Liberal parliamentary leadership in Victoria.

By contrast it seems that Labor’s state secretary in deliberately trying to inflame the issue knew exactly what he was doing.

His provocative letter this week to Davis is one of the more amusing things we’ve seen in quite a while. It is clearly calculated to provoke and draw further attention to the issue.

Newnham openly refers to the Liberal Lefty as a “latte” liberal, and seems keen to press every Liberal button within his reach:

I am appalled by your shamefully patronising view that you assume working families in Kororoit are incapable of making informed political decisions. The arrogant assumption that you can somehow dupe working families is a view that really only holds currency in the coffee shops of Kew or in the waiting rooms of Camberwell chiropractors.

Mr Davis of course is a retired chiropractor who made his fortune dealing with the tennis elbows of the women of leafy eastern suburbs.

He even threw in an added taunt about Baillieu’s leadership that would have had D-squared squirming in his red leather chair.

But most importantly he makes his case in a way that few with an open mind could seriously dispute, providing clear proof of claims made during that election.

His calmness under fire was probably at the heart of the campaign success in Kororoit, a campaign that could have gone horribly wrong for the government. The MP Marlene Kairouz is going very well indeed we hear but found herself to be the candidate with very little time to campaign. It all happened so fast.

We say the stakes were much higher than a by-election loss for a government that probably deserves the occasional kick up the backside.

It is clear if candidates supported by the extreme left are elected in the place of ALP candidates in the west that there is not only a weakened Labor Party (for Liberals a good thing) but you open up the house that forms the government to be held hostage to people with extreme agenda (a good thing for no-one, Liberals or Labor alike).

That’s why Labor and Liberal should stop preferencing Greens in the lower house. Before it’s too late. That’s why Liberals should resist the temptation to preference to candidates financed by Dean Mighell again. It’s dangerous politics because it’s not values driven. It’s purely enemy of my enemy is my friend politics with potentially catastrophic consequences.

The stakes were high.

In battle, to be willing to draw fire so that others might achieve their objectives takes a unique courage. To do so and survive, repeatedly, suggests that not only bravery but a lot of smarts too.



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30 responses to “PLAYED: Liberal upper house leader learns age-old adage "never hold an inquiry unless you first know the outcome"

  1. Charlie

    I can’t believe that f*cker is still there.

    Am I completely impotent?

  2. make the change

    Phil Davis would never have fallen for this. Reinstate the Dark Lord or at least promote Matthew Guy.

  3. Chiropractic is such nonsense.

  4. Anon Annonski

    Far be it from anyone with a brain to defend Ted’s laughable team. But bagging Davis is a surely a bit much! He may have made a mistake this time, but its hardly a gotcha moment!
    Davis is probobly the one Liberal MP in Victoria who works like a dog at attacking the ALP – i.e actually doing his job. The key to the Davis psychology is that he spends as much time plotting internally as he does externally – he is a true obsessive.
    His approach has paid off plenty before now.
    Unfortunately for Davis his dedication is not contagious.

  5. No More Mercy

    Physios are far more reputable than chriopractors.

  6. The Big Lie Continues

    Using Newnham’s and VexNews’ logic

    the claim should have been “A Vote for Liberal is a Vote for Les Twentyman”

    Claiming he is “extreme left” and a Liberal stooge is simply ridiculous.

  7. Anonymous

    Is it true that David Davis has been in talks with one Diane Anderson of Higgins fame?

    Jeff Kennett was going to make Diane his campaign director for Lord Mayor of Melbourne. The Boroondara Vote Reform blog exposed this and Jeff saw the light. He ditched Diane and then decided he didn’t want to be Lord Mayor after all. Robert Doyle stood instead and he’s doing a great job.

    We counsel Davis to avoid Ms Anderson like the plague. Unless of course he wants to catch it!

  8. Dean Mighell

    How can you question my values ?? All men that refuse to wear mini-skirts and lipstick for my pleasure are my enemies

  9. Insider

    The Big Lie Continues…… I agree with you, in some regard….Twentyman is not a lib, as everyone knows…but Twentyman is a fraud of the highest degree. He professes to be the arc-angel for street kids and the homeless…but all he has in common with this these people are the dirty jeans and Black T-Shirt he wears, mind you, this outfit is just for looks. He normally dresses in more refined clothes than that. Open Families who he worked for, secretly hated the way he would sprout of at the hip about stuff he really know nothing about just top get a head line. Each time he did, the senior officers of Open Family, would be forced to mend bridges to avoid loosing much needed funds. However, the most concerning thing about this entire issue is that the Libs gave this fraud their preferences. It was like give Pauline Hanson a preference, how desperate are the tori’s, and they are still trying to defend their actions, pathetic.

  10. Anonski

    Pretty sure that David Davis couldn’t give a stuff about some letter from Stephen Newnham.

  11. Mr T.

    “Under Premier Kennett it was always clear.”

    When Kennett first went to the people as leader, he had no articulated policies. He got in because the Cain Kirner government imploded. There is no way anyone can make the above claim.

    By saying nothing Kennett could do what he wanted with the lack of articulated policy and the majority he had.

  12. Crackers

    Stephen Newnham’s letter is just nutty.

    What a shame the plot to get rid of him failed.


  13. Walter Plinge

    “Mr Davis of course is a retired chiropractor…”

    Right. A quack.

  14. Choo choo

    The GTM Express would never make these schoolboy errors. Bring it on. Choo choo!

  15. Anonymous

    I remember Sir Joh. His spirit now lives inside the Councillor for Griffin Ward.

  16. Liberal Liars

    I recall the Liberal Party running a very deceitful “Save Prince Henry Hospital” campaign in the former Monash Province upper-house electoratein 1985

    They had deceitfully place ALP’s candidate Robert Millar second and were actively promoting the fact that Robert Miller as number two. What they failed to highlight was that the Liberal Candidate, whose name escapes me, was number one.Of course they knew that Prince Henry’s could not be saved and that Melbourne’s hospitals needs to be upgraded and services decentralized and the funding relocated to where it was most needed. The Liberal Party who was behind this scam were actively targeting old age pensioners who where told that their hospital was being closed. They failed to mention of course that Prince Alfred around the corner was being upgraded.

    This deceitful Liberal campaign cost Robert Miller the upper-house seat of Monash Province and the ALP balance of power.

  17. Rivers

    I will soon be restored to my rightful position as Leader of the Liberal Party in the Upper House.

    Change will soon be upon us. In can hear the GTM Express in the distance……”Choo, choo….”

  18. There was an excellent article about me in that usually leftard publication, the Sunday Age.

    Read about all my amazing accomplishments in my first 100 days as the Rt Hon Lord Fatty Doyle.

  19. Anonymous

    Poor polewal being rejected in favour of a dovadella.

  20. There is also an article about me in the Sunday Age.

    I like that the word “dog” was used in the article’s headline!

  21. ALP Liars

    I recall the ALP promising that there would be no poll tax on students. Little Kevvie is now going to break this promise.

    I recall Bracks promising that the Scoresby would be built toll-free. I then remember him breaking that promise just months after winning the State election.

    I recall Bracks promising to save Waverley Park.

    When it comes to top marks for being lying liars that lie, the ALP wins every time.

  22. McPerton

    My dear Lord Fatty, the dearest of dear Lord Fatties.

    I note that a political figure has said: “When you have a handful of policies and most of them quickly blow up, that’s not exactly called being successful”

    What complete nonsense. Who is this pathetic figure they speak of? We all know your policy nous is first class. Just look at your brilliance over the Eastlink Tolls policy. The ALP lied to the public over an important issue. But you managed to turn that lie into a positive for the ALP. No ordinary person could achieve such a feat. You are to be commended for everything you do.

    Please visit me in San Francisco as soon as possible. I miss you and your willingness to pay for lunch.

  23. Professor Maku Dong Long

    McPerton I am just confirming your appointment for next Tuesday?

  24. LondonCalling

    Hope DD can keep his dick in his pants for 5 seconds…..

  25. Anonski

    Rumour has it that Foxy Ross may be running for preselection in either South Eastern Metro or Eastern Metro.

  26. anon

    D Squared does not go to Thailand on “special visits” so he should be ok.

  27. McPerton

    State Council will be held in May this year.

    There will be heaps of fun for all.

    Sadly, I will be unable to attend given my San Fran posting. So the blue blazer and chinos will have to stay in closet.

  28. Natasha The Despoiler

    Come out of her my children…

  29. Sir Ruperts Ghost

    In my experience, progressive liberals like Fifi wouldn’t touch neo-con pond life like Fatty Doyle with a disinfected barge pole.

    She is a very good girl, really.

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