NSW Labor was vanquished as widely expected despite a formidably resilient showing by outgoing Premier Kristina Keneally. Bearded Victorian lefty Alex White says it’s the worst ever effort, the pre ALP Labor Electoral League managed to win 34 seats in 1891. The only joy for Labor on this funereal night for them was that they appear to have fended off pushes from dodgy vitamin marketer Jamie Parker in Balmain and fanatical Israel-hater Fiona Byrne in Marrickville. Both seats are still considered too close to call though.
The Liberals polled incredibly but the Nats also did extremely well, reclaiming territory lost to highly politically effective, cunning Independents.
In the state seats of Port Macquarie, once held by Rob Oakeshott, and Tamworth, once held by Tony Windsor, the Nats brutally knocked off the Independents, linking them to their federal counterparts, the Greens, the Prime Minister and, of course, the dreaded carbon tax.
The country members are now staring into the political abyss. The seats don’t have exactly the same boundaries although there is considerable overlap. Swings like that would be enough to obliterate Oakeshott and almost certainly Windsor too, assuming he runs again (and it’s widely expected he won’t). The Nats can smell blood now and are going to devote themselves to wiping the two out, whatever happens.
And the contrast with their somewhat estranged mate Bob Katter couldn’t be more stark.
He’s come up like roses, stood up for principle (some of them admittedly a bit eccentric from a city-slicker’s point of view), maintained his rage against Green taxes on mining and carbon but for the most part has been a sensible and pragmatic MP in the chamber, voting with the government often enough and maintaining very cordial relations with the Prime Minister and her colleagues, keeping a good rapport with the Opposition Leader too.
He’s likely to stay the member for Kennedy for as long as he likes. His cheeky plan to hand the seat over to one of his sons will probably work such is the high local community regard for both father and son (a local councillor).
The two wanted to be players and went their separate ways from the bloke who was probably their natural leader. The rush of blood to their head, demonstrated by 17 minute orations by Oakeshott and their foolish participation in a boastful 4Corners programme (that Katter was wise enough to shun in the end) has meant that they are all but finished politically.
While it’s far too early to write off the Prime Minister, the two blokes who ensured she got there have learned this Saturday night that the party is well and truly over.