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Issue #1703      September 23, 2015

Canning by-election

Handy Andy limps in

Even before the by-election in the WA seat of Canning had taken place the first casualty bit the dust when a Liberal leadership ballot dumped Tony Abbott and replaced him with Malcolm Turnbull. It did not change any of its policies which so concerned many people.

In Canning, while the task of more left and/or progressive political forces of overcoming an 11.8% margin of the previous incumbent seemed almost doable with Abbott in charge, the superficial change of leadership federally cushioned the blow against the incumbent Liberals. The corporate media helped them out, prepared to ignore substantial issues such as climate change and renewable energy, free trade agreements, affordable housing and jobs.

It became a campaign of whose political party had the best sounding rhetoric and who could fill up the electorate with the most well known “celebrity politicians”.

Andrew Hastie the Liberal candidate presented himself to the electorate as, “Not just another politician”, but in the end, when pressed by local media, came across as a politician of the status quo. This despite Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop making much of Hastie’s time in Afghanistan in the SAS “defending Australia”. She of course made no mention of the accusations that his regiment had mutilated the corpses of enemy combatants by amputating their hands, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Hastie had denied any involvement or knowledge.

At the polling booths around the electorate the volunteers who gave out how-to-vote materials and had last minute conversations with the voters found recurring themes of wanting to vote for a local candidate, provide local jobs and the funding of local infrastructure.

When the voting had ended and the votes were counted it was the Liberal candidate Hastie (46%) who had won but with a majority that had been more than halved while there was a 7% swing towards the ALP candidate Matt Keogh (36%) and the Greens candidate Vanessa Rauland in her first outing managed to hold the Green vote to about 6-7% – the latter being about a 1% drop from the result of the previous election.

If Hastie and his Liberal Party do not respond to the real needs of the people of the electorate he will go the way of many of the corporate manufactured politicians who last only one term or who are propped up by a party machine supporting the interests of capital rather than the needs of the people.

While the race has now been run in the Canning by election, Hastie and Turnbull’s will within 12 months face the nation again in a general election, this time with Australia’s economic, political, social and environmental fortunes looking increasingly shaky.

Next article – Rich history

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