There are lessons for conservatives from this eclectic election in the most isolated state on Earth.
It was historic, epic, and “A complete and utter landslide“. And the message is “borders”.
Remember “Build the Wall?” Conservatives all around the world seem to have forgotten the power and appeal of being able to control who and which viridae, come across the border. If the Democrats in the US fortified the wall, they might not have to fortify election results.
The election Saturday was a wipeout of legendary proportions among democracies anywhere. Only four years ago, the Liberals (conservatives, theoretically) were the ruling party in Western Australia. Today they hold but two, as in one plus one, seats in the lower house of the WA Parliament, out of 59. They may win 3. …
The Labor leader, Mark McGowan, is no Rhodes scholar or Cary Grant. There are no stirring speeches, but he’s wildly popular, by mostly just for standing up for the state. The Labor Party WA is an old fashioned centrist type player. So un-progressively neutrally-woke that when the (ahem, right wing) Liberals recklessly talked about removing all coal power in… f.o.u.r… (4!) years, McGowan said it was too fast, renewables were too unreliable and electricity bills would rise. Did I say centrist?
Firstly, secondly and thirdly, it was about borders
Make no mistake, there was only one issue in this election … and that was the two week mandatory quarantine — the hard borders. They worked brilliantly (at least for people on the inside of them). …
So Western Australians have lived the last year like Covid didn’t exist and loved it. (Wishing our friends could too). Closing the borders was hugely successful, wildly popular, and the Liberal (conservative) party opposed it all the way, and they lost the election months ago, and everyone knew it.
For months on end, the voters universally sent the message, that they didn’t want Covid, or lockdowns, or any of that. McGowan reached stratospheric popularity — in the order of 90% approval. At one point in polls — as many as 95% of WA voters approved of the border closure. When, in any democracy, on any question do we get such a unanimous decision? Even Apple Pie would struggle.
It’s worth noting that this was popular among young voters: despite not being at much risk from the virus, the young wanted the borders closed even more than older voters in WA did — probably because their jobs in the service industries of restaurants and pubs were so at risk from lockdowns.
And thus with no virus and no lockdowns, the open economy boomed, the stadiums had crowds of thousands, the nightclubs danced, and the weddings rolled on. We could visit our older folk in aged care homes without a second thought. The only exceptions to the happy list were some tourism operators and the poor sods caught outside the state trying to get back in. A problem that is still a blight. What does it mean to be a citizen if you can’t come home?
But even many of the hapless tourism operators ended up happy. Western Australians were prolific long distance travellers before Covid, but after Covid, many of them finally toured the distant corners of their own state, and the roads were packed with caravans. Local flights were busier than before.
The Liberal state opposition in WA, and the federal government Liberals in WA too, consistently took the side of other states, including backing Clive Palmer and his High Court case against WA. Go figure. It was like they wanted to lose. And it will hurt them federally too. Which WA Liberal Senator or member spoke for WA? As far as I can tell, they all represented the Liberal Party, not the people. They got what they deserved. …
Once upon a time, conservative parties were the ones which spoke of sovereign borders, but when it came to the cheapest and most obvious way to stop a potential Sino bioweapon, to prevent debilitating lockdowns and loss of individual liberties, mortality, hospital surges, long term unknowable health problems — most conservative parties missed the best chance they’ve ever had to argue for strong borders. And they are still missing it.
Western Australia is an extreme example, but this was an extreme result. Border control is a tougher pill when the economy is built on tourism instead of iron ore sales to China (which need to diversify). It’s awful when families are split. It’s tough when there are border towns — but there must be a better way to manage them than a state wall through the middle — why not draft a federal agreement that the twin towns are automatically temporarily moved to the care of the state without an outbreak?). But the next virus is coming. Giving up the trips to Bali was a small price to pay to avoid doing lockdowns and to avoid potential long debilitation.
Speaking of which: What’s a lockdown with no border control? At best, inefficient. At worst, sabotage. …
The Green-left climate trap:
Facing disaster, the WA State Liberals installed a new inexperienced leader in the last few months. He promptly announced a far left climate anti-coal policy and thus drove off any support from the base that still remained. His energy policies were so bad, they didn’t just make it hard for Liberal supporters to vote Liberal, they made it imperative to vote against them. In a complete flip of normal politics — the Liberals sounded like the Greens, and the Labor Party were speaking like climate skeptics.
The stupid Green Left Climate election trap is so obvious, it’s amazing any Western politicians still fall for it. The trap is when any centre right politician thinks they can appeal to young lefties in the hope of picking up Green votes. The climate religion has nothing to do with science or reason, or the centre of politics. It’s only a fashion quest for status — so young woke voters cheer the craven centre right for two microseconds (if that), but they don’t change their votes.
Appealing to the group that say they care about carbon dioxide emissions is doomed from the get-go. Reducing actual emissions is worthless to them — as has been shown again and again. In every choice between cutting CO2 and advertising their own virtue, they choose the advertising every time. They don’t support nuclear power, they don’t say “no” to flights for frivolous holidays, or advocate online conferences instead of carbon hungry global symposiums, and they keep supporting wind and solar power even though neither of those is a cost effective way to reduce CO2.
The Liberals in WA didn’t do their research, didn’t understand the voters they represent or foolishly tried to target.
The WA Labor Government was initially a bit slow to close the borders, but once it did we eradicated the virus with a short lockdown and have been almost covid and lockdown free ever since. Life goes on almost as normal. A few cases of covid come in via travelers in quarantine. Covid managed to escape from the quarantine hotel only once — which caused a five day lockdown (the virus escaped on someone who, it fortunately turned out, was not a super spreader).
The WA government got covid protection right — maximum protection at minimum cost — and was richly rewarded at the next election.