Amidst all the post-election uncertainty that’s given Australia its very own Brexit moment, one thing is clear. The people are angry. They don’t love the two major parties so much any more. Like a rusted on marriage or a co-dependency, they can’t quite throw over the old relationship (yet) but they want to give it a very big shock by fooling around with the new talent.
At the federal level there could well be another PM, either very soon or soon after that. And who knows what else will eventuate from an electorate that’s finding its muscle, and starting to enjoy this fun new game of watching the pollies squirm.
Unfortunately for stability fans for a while we are going to have all our boats rocked.
What does it all mean?
What it could well mean is a brilliant opportunity to wrest positive change from the maws of the status quo.
Amidst the static of anger from the people is the scent of fear from the politicians.
The people want to be listened to. The people want their agenda to prevail, not Google’s, not Apple’s, not Rio Tinto’s. Enough prevarications on health, on education, on jobs and on climate. The pollies should realise that people being treated in hospital corridors (we heard on Q&A this week) is not what they signed up for when they agreed to pay their taxes, nor did they expect to be dealing with floods every time there is a storm. And certainly not this rising frequency of storms. None of us signed up for that.
Interestingly this disaffection has meant the political goalies have taken their eye off the ball and there is an opportunity to kick some nice big green goals.
The calmer commentators say what has happened is a shift to the centre, away from the extreme right or extreme anything. (The only extreme we need right now is extreme green). The extreme right is the only social schism suggesting we need a return to Abbott style policies and with any luck Cory Bernadi will lead it to form a new party and stop irritating the coalition supporters who want a rational approach to climate change.
But there is more.
Quick work from clever pollie watchers have taken a look at the independents now in Parliament and scratched deeper than the narrow agenda items that drove them to the hustings. They’ve found more support for a green agenda than most people realise.
Even Derryn Hinch, who had the narrowest of policy agendas, has come out as a climate action supporter. So has Nick Xenophon, who will likely have valuable block of three seats in the Senate. This will be a relief to those who eyed Xenophon suspiciously after he supported axing the carbon tax and played too strongly to local issues.
Interestingly Bob Katter has voiced his support for renewable energy, but it’s a crazy mixed bag of agenda items with Katter because he also supports the Adani mine.
These are all of no surprise to people from GetUp who ran a fierce campaign and held no less than held 45,000 conversations with marginal voters, 27,000 in Bass and Dickson.
See our separate article
Also interesting to note is that GetUp’s strongest membership growth has been in outer metropolitan areas (12 per cent) and rural areas (13.5 per cent) over the past year to now boast one million members – a campaign powerhouse that is increasingly getting up the noses of the ultra right.
Bernardi mentioned it this week and complained there were not enough motivated supporters in the Libs he said, and certainly less money flowing their way.
Maybe that’s to do with the passion that comes with a desire for change compared to the often lukewarm feelings people have for keeping the status quo.
Among the Libs, though, there would have been massive confusion generated by the rise of this extreme right wing that has muddied the ideal of John Howard’s “broad church” of Liberals.
This election at least, the people have shown that Howard’s view is the one that resonates most naturally with them. Bernadi would disagree no doubt; he says the hard right has departed camp for places such as One Nation and other minor parties, though it’s unclear exactly what sentiment One Nation is tapping and whether Bernardi actually wants that kind of right wing supporter.
See what John Connor says about that.
With or without a hung Parliament, the impact is the same. With not much padding for insurance, the pollies on either side will be keen to listen to those who propose ways to deliver more rational humane and climate conscious policies.
On climate the matter is urgent. At the presentation on the state of climate bonds on Monday Sean Kidney, who heads the Climate Bonds Initiative, was devastating in his presentation on the latest climate science, as only a brilliant communicator can be.
We won’t go there now, but action is urgently needed because most people have underestimated the speed of negative change in the climate.
Kidney was there to elucidate the good news, of course. And that’s everywhere in business, which is why we can be upbeat with a kind of rusted on optimism. Besides, what other option is there?
The opportunities are not just in climate and renewable energy. We think the nervousness of the politicians will mean they will start to listen on a range of issues.
Sustainable affordable housing is just one that’s urgent in our big cities and it seems that policy settings are the key. Not lack of money, nor willpower, nor lack of interest from the institutional investors.
At the UrbanTaskforce breakfast on Monday in Sydney (more on that soon) we chatted with one of the property industry’s influential power brokers about the issue.
What was the key to affordable housing, we asked?
Supply, he answered, without batting an eyelid. More land releases. We begged to differ. Besides, the only people who buy on the greenfields are those who can’t afford anything else, we said. Why can’t we do a Nightingale?
You can, but not at scale, he said. The industry has put huge effort into thinking how to deliver affordable housing and the institutions here would love to emulate their counterparts in Canada who’ve been doing it for years and love the solid bond-like product it can produce.
It’s horrendously complicated, our source said.
What’s standing in the way?
Not money. Not will. But policy, he said.
This is just one agenda item that given the bevy of fearful newly sensitive pollies at the top of our government, on which we just might be able leverage some change.
There are so many other issues.
Time to move. And fast.