I don’t have time to read all of this!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/liberalvictoria/
Current leader: Matthew Guy
Campaign Website: https://getbackincontrol.com.au/
Themes: Centre right heading further right by the moment. Tough on crime. Christian, of a very conservative stripe. Pro-religious instruction in schools. Getting a lot of support from the gun lobby, which is concerning.
With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket
I’m going to start by saying that this ticket absolutely enrages me. I expect bloody-minded, irresponsible Group Voting Tickets from small, right wing parties who either embrace the bloody mindedness or don’t know better. But the Liberal Party is one of our two largest parties, and while I don’t expect much from them, I would have hoped that they would be responsible with their preferencing and their Group Voting tickets.
But no such luck. I can cope with them putting the Democratic Labor Party in their top two on every ticket, because this is a clear shout out to the conservative voters who are their base. But the Australian Country Party, the Shooters Fishers and Farmers, and the Liberal Democratic Party each appear in their top five on seven out of eight tickets, and I think the Liberal Party have an absolute hide to go around talking about Labor being soft on crime (and exploiting tragedies / fostering racism to increase their votes) while supporting parties whose main goals are to loosen our gun restrictions.
No wonder the the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia, which aims to relax gun laws, is targeting the Andrews government with a major advertising campaign, but giving the Liberal Party a pass. It looks to me suspiciously as though the Coalition is entirely willing to negotiate with people who want to trash our gun laws if they think it might get them votes, which is utterly irresponsible of them.
Hinch, Health and Transport Matters are also getting the occasional top five appearance on the Coalition ticket, and I can’t help noticing that a lot of people in South Eastern Metropolitan are putting Transport Matters second in South Eastern Metropolitan. I think they are going to get up. Which annoys me, because they are probably going to push out those lovely grouped independents who want to end violence against women.
And speaking of Chawla and Lee, let me tell you about the bottom end of the Coalition ticket.
In most regions, the last five parties on the ticket are the Voluntary Euthanasia Party, followed by Labor, the Greens, the Victorian Socialists, and last of all, the Australian Liberty Alliance. I will acknowledge that the ALA is precisely where it should be on a Group Voting ticket, so at least the Liberal Party has one scruple. In Eastern Metropolitan, Fiona Patten’s Reason Party replaces the VEP – evidently they’ve done something to annoy the Liberals there, and I’m currently in the mood to applaud this.
And in South Eastern Metropolitan they have put Chawla and Lee second last, followed only by the Australian Liberty Alliance. Chawla has, by his own report, attempted to get Matthew Guy to say whether or not he will follow the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, but Guy has avoided answering, and has now blocked Chawla on social media.
(Was Chawla being obnoxious? Maybe. Though from what I was able to see, he was asking Guy the same things he was asking all the other candidates he could find.)
In short, the Liberal Party in Victoria does not appear to have a problem with parties that want to loosen gun laws. But it has a big problem with independents who want to stop violence against women.
It’s good to know that the Liberal Party doesn’t have a ‘woman problem’, isn’t it?
The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations
The Liberal Party gets lots and lots of media coverage without any help from me, so I’m not going to do a deep dive into their policies on this blog. You can probably already surmise that I’m not keen on them – I was particularly unimpressed with the way they made the most of Dutton’s comments about African gangs, because fuelling racism does not generally lead to less crime (and indeed, in this case, it has led to African-looking youths being beaten up by white youths, which isn’t really an improvement).
One thing that I think is worth noting is their slogan – Get Back In Control. The subtext of such a slogan is that things are out of control at present – everything is chaotic under Labor, and the Liberals will make things run smoothly again. I don’t think it’s an accident that the very first thing they say they are committed to is tackling Victoria’s crime wave.
Because I’m an untrusting soul, I thought I’d find out just what this crime wave looked at. There is, it turns out, a Crime Statistics Agency, which measures crime rates in Victoria. And according to them, crime rates in the last year are down by about 5% overall, and down in every region by figures ranging between 1.4% and 8%. Two types of crime are up – ‘other government regulatory offenses’ and ‘sexual offenses’. I’m not too sure what the first one means, and the second one isn’t great, but could also be an artefact of more reporting (and reports being taken more seriously) in the Me Too era. However, that is pure speculation on my part.
Taking a longer view, there does seem to have been a peak in 2016, but crime levels reduced last year and are currently at the lowest levels since June 2015. Less crime would certainly be nice, but it seems that if there has been a wave, we are now on the downward slope of it.
So the Liberal Party is being a little creative with the facts there, and I strongly suspect that this is a dogwhistle to Dutton’s African gangs.
(Edit: I drafted this last week, before the attack on Friday. Yes, I am aware that the attacker was Somalian. And yes – this was a big, shocking, noticeable crime. I do have the sense that we have had a few of these ‘popular’ crimes recently – the kind that get a lot of media attention because of the background or identity of the attacker or the victim, or sometimes because of the narratives they play into (don’t walk alone at night, girls!). But of course the majority of crimes, even violent crimes, are less colourful and don’t make the media (how many Australian women died as a result of domestic violence in October? Yeah, I don’t know either, and I just spent ten minutes trying to look it up.). I think, though, the fact that we’ve had some particularly splashy ones makes it feel as though violent crime is on the rise even though it isn’t.)
So much for the intent of their slogan. The other thing I wanted to note about it is what it says about what the Liberals think we want. The purpose of a slogan is, after all, to tell the public something about you that you think they will like. And this slogan says to me that the Liberals think we like authority. We want someone firm in charge who will Get Things Done and Keep Things Under Control and Tell Us What To Do. It feels a little paternalistic, not to say authoritarian, and gives me, personally, the heebie-jeebies, but I’m not really the intended audience. But I think it’s worth noting that this is something the Liberals view as a desirable model of government.
And… I’m trying to find a non-fuzzy way to express what I’m fuzzily thinking about this slogan, but bear with me… I think the slogan is one of those accidentally-slightly-too-honest ones. Because it speaks to what feels like their primary motivation in all of this – it’s not us, the voters who are going to get back in control if the Liberals win. It’s the Liberal Party. And we would do well to remember that.
OK, I think I’ve milked that slogan as far as I can, so I’m just going to touch on two other points before I move on to smaller and weirder parties.
First, I’m rather concerned with the Liberal Party’s current swing towards religious conservatism, and their intention to bring back religious instruction in state schools. I’m a Christian and a little bit of a theology nerd, so I had a look at the Access Ministries curriculum, and it’s… not terrible. It looks like a Sunday School curriculum to me, and if it were being offered in Christian schools by teachers who knew the subject, it would probably be fine. But there were a few things that were stated in a way that seemed to invite a literalist / creationist perspective, which is concerning (I mean, you wouldn’t have to teach them that way, but you certainly could do so more easily than otherwise), and reports from parents suggest that the volunteer instructors who use this curriculum do come from an evangelical / fundamentalist perspective.
But frankly, this isn’t about theology – this is about an explicitly Christian religious curriculum being offered in state schools, and I don’t think this is something that belongs in a secular country. The possible fundamentalist aspects make it worse, as that’s where you get a lot of the harmful anti-LGBTQIA or pro-purity culture stuff – but if parents have made the decision to send their kids to a secular school, this is just not a curriculum that should be offered.
My second concern is, as you have gathered, the Liberal Party’s apparent comfort with the idea of relaxing gun laws. I’ve already mentioned the attack ads against Daniel Andrews which are being run by the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (if you’ve seen the Not Happy Dan ads, those are the ones I’m talking about). It’s worth noting that the ads don’t mention guns, but rather discredit the government more generally, which is a bit sly. Interestingly, in the Queensland election, SIFA targeted both major parties, but here, they are only targeting Labor. Evidently, they think their odds of getting the kinds of laws they want passed here are better with a Liberal government. And having had a look at the Liberal Party’s Group Voting Ticket, I can see why SIFA has reached that conclusion.
The Victorian Government passed legislation strengthening Victoria’s gun laws back in February of this year, which is probably what has prompted SIFA’s activity. Certainly, groups like the Liberty Alliance were very unhappy about this legislation. I’ve had a scan of Hansard to try to work out who voted for what on this one, but haven’t had any luck, and don’t have time to look forward. Andrews certainly released a media statement that the Liberal Party had tried to water it down, but this is obviously not an unbiased source.
In any case, the gun lobby clearly has reason to be unhappy with the Andrews government, and it’s disappointing to see the Liberal Party being so willing to benefit from this, particularly since it was John Howard’s Liberal Government that gave us our federal gun laws in the first place. I never thought I’d be complaining about the Liberal Party disrespecting Howard’s legacy, but here we are.
So. Obviously, if you are a Coalition voter, I’m unlikely to persuade you to vote Green or Labor, and that’s OK. But if you are still planning to put the Liberals first, I would like to strongly encourage you to vote below the line. I really, really like living in a country where mass shootings are rare, and the death of even one person by gun is considered newsworthy. Let’s keep it that way.
And for everyone, regardless of party, this is a good reminder that we should pay attention to where information and ads are coming from, and what hidden agendas they might carry, OK?
(And in that spirit: Hi! My agenda is totally not hidden, and I think you should vote left, left, left, eschew nationalists and climate change deniers, and definitely put the Liberals low on your ballot paper – though maybe not at the bottom, because there are some very deserving candidates for that spot, and you wouldn’t want them to feel under-appreciated, right?)
PS – Yes, I know this is out of order. Properly, I should be writing about the LDP tonight. But it’s been a very long week and a somewhat unpleasant day at work, and I just couldn’t face dealing with the LDP’s policies, even with the help of alcohol. I shall gird my loins in the morning and try again once I’ve had a good night’s sleep.