Election post mortem

We’ve all tried to digest and analyse what happened and why – tried to make sense of the senseless results to the point of depression. Despite our species priding itself on being a complex and intelligent creature, we’re still an animal that has two basic drivers – fear and greed. Those in power know this and play it beautifully. Below are some analyses of the forest side of the election results and information the media overlooked.

Loggers influence on the outcome – a Furphy

It was not the ALP’s logging policy – as some pro-logging politicians and analysts claimed – it was scare tactics, fear of interest rate rises and other lies and spin that won the day for the Coalition.

In Gippsland we had logging interests and the union pay tens of thousands to put up a pro-logging ‘independent’ candidate, Peter Kelly (he stood as the Shooters Party rep. last election). His preferences went to the Coalition but he polled fewer votes than the Greens (see results futher on).

Our local member, Craig Ingram, claimed that the ALP’s forest policy lost them one of the two Gippsland seats. The neighbouring seat of McMillan was held by the ALP and was always going to be close. The swing to the Coalition echoed the general swing across Australia. Kelly’s 3.7% vote in the Gippsland electorate made little impact compared with the National Party member Peter McGauran’s 19% swing in his favour.

As for the two Tasmanian seats of Bass and Braddon, they were tipped to go to the Libs long before the ALP’s forest policy was released. An EMRS poll showed the ALP was losing regardless of either party’s forest policy. This didn’t stop supporters of the logging industry claiming credit, and lazy journalists parroting the claim ever since.

However, there was a rise in the ALP’s vote in at least eight marginal seats where they won. Could this have been due to their forest policy? No one mentions this.

Loggers union boss charged with disloyalty

Logging union boss, Michael O’Connor, could be expelled from the Labor Party after his role in backing the conservatives and encouraging workers to vote for Howard during the Federal election.

The rest of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) are seething over O’Connor’s campaign that put the woodchipper’s interests before those of the ALP and the rest of the union movement.

This unprecedented mutiny by the Forestry union’s (F of the CFMEU) Michael O’Connor has seen charges of disloyalty lodged against him by retired meatworkers’ union boss Wally Curran.

If the charges are proved within the state ALP, the case is likely to go all the way to the ALP national executive, which would have to decide whether to take the serious step of expulsion. If that happens, it will be one less thorn in the side of the union movement, the ALP and the forest campaign.

O’Connor bans ALP Minister from logging coupes

Late November on the ABC’s Insiders program, Michael O’Connor says there will be no relationship with Labor’s new environment spokesman Anthony Albanese, while Mr Albanese refers to union members as ‘vandals’. When asked what the options were, O’Connor threatened that the loggers would ban him from their workplaces.

Mr Albanese says the debate about when to stop clear-felling in Tasmanian forests must continue. “I want to talk about the issues, which include the need to save the great Tasmanian forests, as part of Labor’s environment policy.”

Jill / ABC  29.11.04

Loaded questions backfire on industry

An opinion poll commissioned by the Tasmanian forest industries before the election showed that the logging industry’s campaign is in serious trouble. Despite manipulative and misleading information and loaded questions, 68% still want oldgrowth logging stopped.

24.9.04 TWS

Time for the CFMEU to become the CMEU

The Forestry Division only seems to care about its members when there is the chance of forests being saved, not when jobs are being shed by increased mechanisation and woodchipping. In most other respects it is a bosses’ union. They bring the otherwise noble, militant and worker-focused C(F)MEU into constant disrepute by association.


O’Connor in for Darwin Award

Michael O’Connor has been suggested as a nomination for the Darwin Award. Running around telling people to vote for a party that is going to put your union out of business seems to have a pretty high stupidity rating.


Loggers and supporters claimed it cost the ALP the election. But Federal Labor’s new shadow environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese, has defended the ALP’s forest policy as ‘absolutely right’. Not surprisingly, Dick Adams, the Labor MP for Lyons in Tasmania and huge fan of clearfelling, called him a ‘mangey dog’. Michael O’Connor from the CFMEU called him ‘ignorant’. Howard’s Conservation Minister, Ian Macdonald, accused Labor of having ‘fallen for the radical green line’ – all predictable responses.

The ALP junked its controversial $800 million policy to end old-growth logging in Tasmania shortly after the election. However, with Anthony Albanese going in to bat for the forests, it appears they are now only reconsidering the amount offered as assistance.

Mr Albanese said no one could stand in the devastation of a clear-felled forest and argue the practice makes any sense. He also added that these are “some of the most precious natural resources on earth, and we simply can’t allow the sort of approach, which is clear felling, wood chipping and exporting. (It) doesn’t make economic sense either”. He claims the three principles that the ALP based its policy on was “absolutely right”. They were to keep the industry going, to protect jobs and protect the environment (as the industry also includes the plantation sector this isn’t such a contradiction). He’s still making placatory noises to the workers but at least isn’t cowering to Dick Adams’ attacks. We’ll all have to make sure this issue constantly remains on the radar screens of our Federal reps.


Mr Howard’s Tasmanian forests package offered protection to one-third of the area, and 5% of the money offered by Mr Latham, but there were still some positives to come from it.

There should be 170,000ha put under permanent protection (although it was never under serious threat and much of it is uneconomic to log or having no logs at all) and an end to the use of 1080 poison by December 2005. Also, an end to Forestry Tasmania’s exemption to Freedom of Information legislation – though this is easily maintained by having endless exemption excuses within the FOI system. There should also be increased funding for research on the impacts of forestry on water and on Tasmanian Devils.

However, the Howard Government has now said it will not meet its December deadline to implement its policy and detail what areas it will save. If this isn’t Howard’s first broken promise for this term, it’s a major weakening of it.

The Tassie forest issue has gained a huge profile both nationally and internationally in a place with the toughest RFA and the most backward state government. It won’t go away now until it’s fixed.

This all helps set up the Victorian campaign and will put much pressure on Bracks for the State election in 2006.

Another positive could be the end of Michael O’Connor – the driving force behind the pro-woodchipping Forestry section of the CFMEU.


% of vote
% swing
+ 2.23


– 4.17


+ 0.28
+ 3.39
– 0.2
Family First
– 0.27

% of vote
% swing




Family First

% of vote
% swing
+ 0.18


– 2.97


+ 19.36
+ 2
Ind x 2
Logging rep
Family First
One Nation
– 2.05

We also have to account for the concerted, grubby anti-Green campaign waged by Family First, Howard and their pet journalists.


The woodchipper’s epicentre at Eden in NSW recorded a 3% swing against Labor but it was by no means the biggest swing in the larger electorate. The combined Labor vote in the four logging industry heartland booths was up on the previous election. One booth, Wolumla, actually had a 4% swing to Labor. But the significant swings against Labor occurred in booths that had no logging industry influence like Queenbeyan (interest rate fears?). The Greens vote went up in all booths of the Eden-Monaro electorate. Overall, Labor increased its vote slightly while the Greens gained a 2.3% swing.

The Liberal candidate got back in by the skin of his teeth so this is still a seat in a delicate balance.


The Green preferences in Gippsland weren’t considered valuable by the ALP. They must have done their sums and calculated they’d need more than our 4-5%. They didn’t offer old growth, rainforests, water catchments, not even Goolengook. All they offered in the hope for conservationists’ vote or a preference was altered terms of reference into a possible enquiry into whether Goolengook should be protected … ! The local Greens Branch considered this to be an insult and ended up printing how-to-vote leaflets with two choices of preferences on it (split ticket). They didn’t want to influence voters either way.

Peter Kelly, the rent-a-candidate put up by the F of the CFMEU was endorsed by our State MP for Gippsland, Craig Ingram. He helped launch his campaign (a secret affair that I turned up to anyway but was grunted at to ‘go away’). Peter Kelly had full-page ads in every Gippsland newspaper many times over – with a grand finale of four in the one paper in the last week. We don’t know if there’s any truth to the rumour that he was given $50,000 of union funds to pay for these ads. But whoever funded him, they’ll again realise that that Greens will always outpoll loggers.



Candidates will receive $1.94 for every vote they attracted in the recent Federal election, provided they polled more than 4 per cent of the vote. So who gets what?

Failed independent Pauline Hanson will score $200,000 along with her running mate.

The Greens polled over 4% in every state so will get $4 million.

The Family First party will take one Senate seat in Victoria (thanks to the ALP’s preferences!) but as it only scored a miserable 2% of the primary vote, gets nothing.

The Democrats scored their worst ever result, making just $8000.

But the major parties get the biggest haul with Labor taking $16.5 million and the Coalition a cool $20.5 million.

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