The Greiner landslide of 1988. A warning to Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison

At the March 1988 election, Nick Greiner led the Coalition to a landslide victory in NSW to end a long period of Labor rule under Neville Wran. The Coalition scored a swing of over 8 percent and took 22 seats from Labor, including several Labor heartland seats where the Coalition had not come close to winning in years.

It was not widely appreciated at the time that the main reason for the desertion of Labor voters in heartland seats was the unpopularity of the so-called economic rationalism of the Hawke-Keating administration.  Of course all those seats went back to Labor as soon as the punters realised that Greiner was on the same track.

Boris Johnson is alert to the danger of losing  his new supporters, hence the kind of open- wallet administration he has promised with the focus on spending in the north.  As noted on Election night in May, Morrison did not gain seats by promising action on free speech, leftwing sabotage of education, abuse of the ABC charter or sensible climate and energy policy. It was about jobs for trade unionists in central Queensland and Bob Brown was probably the decisive influence.

It remains to be seen what the Coalition can do to retain those seats and also attend to things like red/green tape, the national debt and power prices.

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16 Responses to The Greiner landslide of 1988. A warning to Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison

  1. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    There are many worse fates than having Donald Trump as president. Many! If you include moving to Tehran, yes. But the list is short, and not one most people would have on their bucket list.

  2. Rob MW

    It remains to be seen what the Coalition can do to retain those seats and also attend to things like red/green tape, the national debt and power prices.

    To start off with they can immunise themselves against the Pox and get a full spinal fusion plus a liver transplant to get rid of any quibbles they have about trying to court votes from clueless nefarious socialist arseholes, then work out a plan to fix up the country’s economy without employing crony-capitalism and forcefully fix the land tenure system that they helped fuck.

    Apart from that, all’s good 🙂

  3. I_am_not_a_robot

    The Liberal’s line on energy policy in the lead-up to the election could be paraphrased: ‘our policy may be bad but Labor’s is much worse’.
    On that crucial matter it sums up a pathetic government (so far) and very disappointing PM.

  4. Buccaneer

    Greiner was photios’ mentor. He set up icac and was hoist on his own petard.

  5. Old Lefty

    A small historical correction: Wran retired in 1986 and was succeeded by Barrie Unsworth, an old union man with a background in the Industrial Groups (i.e. the anti-Communist ‘Movement’). He made himself unpopular in the region’s by pushing him control, but also came across as stolid and colourless. And his background as a Catholic anti-Communist made the lefties in the media leery of him and less popular inclined than usual to campaign for him (the ABC and SMH loathed him)

    An odd footnote to history: if Greg Sheridan is correct, the 1988 NSW election was the only time Tony Abbott has voted Labor, because of his personal regard for Unsworth.

  6. Lee

    There are many worse fates than having Donald Trump as president. Many! If you include moving to Tehran, yes. But the list is short, and not one most people would have on their bucket list.

    Far better than having a corrupt Democrat as president any day of the week!

  7. miltonf

    Interesting analysis old lefty. I was a bit of a Liberal party kool aid drinker in those days and thought Greiner would be better than Wran or Unsworth. Looking back the Greiner-Fahey era was not all that great. I have no idea why pissing people off by closing Gordon Public School (for example) could be considered good policy.

  8. miltonf

    The other thing that struck me about the Greiner-Fahey era was that it was full on PC.

  9. Roger

    It was about jobs for trade unionists in central Queensland and Bob Brown was probably the decisive influence.

    Brown’s caravan was a mere transient annoyance.

    State Labor Treasurer and deputy Premier Jackie Trad telling coal miners they would be out of a job due to climate change and needd to re-skill (coding?) was a much bigger factor up here.

  10. Roger

    Bill “watch me speak out of both sides of my mouth” Shorten being the icing on Labor’s rancid cake.

    Asking people to vote themsleves out of employment is not a good pitch for an aspiring Labor government.

  11. Squirrel

    The next federal election will obviously be a big challenge for the Coalition, particularly if Labor are clever about when they replace Albanese, but today’s “forget about the surplus” performance from Morrison and Frydenberg is probably a taste of what’s to come in the battle for hearts and minds.

    Whoever leads Labor next time, chances are they will seriously over-play their hand on climate change – assuming, once again, that the punters in swing seats will vote to make serious sacrifices to appease the weather gods.

  12. Archivist

    It was not widely appreciated at the time that the main reason for the desertion of Labor voters in heartland seats was the unpopularity of the so-called economic rationalism of the Hawke-Keating administration.

    No.
    “economic rationalism” was really just a market reform movement. What you’re saying is that the very policies and strategies advocated on this site were so unpopular that when Labor started adopting them, they lost power.

    But that’s not what happened. The Wran Labor government was seen as corrupt. Wran’s replacement Barrie Unsworth saved the furniture somewhat, but the rot had already set in and was visible.

    Greiner ran an anti-corruption campaign. In a bid to clean up the state, and to put political corruption in the dustbin of history, Greiner introduced ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, but this new institution was soon employed in an ingeniously political undertaking that brought him down.

  13. Archivist

    It was about jobs for trade unionists in central Queensland and Bob Brown was probably the decisive influence.

    That’s an overly pretty dismissive take of the Adani issue.
    It was a strong stand (by both sides) on a big difference in policy.

  14. I think if we had an election right now, the Greens would suffer badly. Yesterday after noon Denis DiNatale was on 3AW with Nick McCallum (a fill in for holidays and soft soft touch socialists, a gentleman one at least).Apparently Natale conceded that fuel reductions burns have to be done in the future, otherwise his reception was not welcomed at all. No doubt that Labor and Liberal etc will ‘green wedge’ the Greens hopefully into political irrelevance. Listening to the many calls from farmers and other assorted land owners, the common thread is that they want control back of their properties, they have had enough of environmental big stick being used to whip them over clearing issues. Also hopefully regional councils are in for a massive shake up, folks have a gut-full of them as well.

  15. 2dogs

    ScoMo only needs to do one thing to get re-elected:

    Call a plebiscite on nuclear power.

    The ALP will be forced by its Left wing to oppose the plebiscite being held (and be shown to be anti-democratic in the process), then oppose nuclear power during the plebiscite (and be shown to be anti-science in the process), and then, to top off the stupidity, oppose the result when the plebiscite passes (driving home the anti-democratic point).

    It becomes the Australian version of Brexit with ScoMo repeating the victory that BoJo has just won.

  16. Billy Boy

    Linden, I doubt whether the fuel reduction story will run for long. I understand this has been recommended over the years after serious fires. These areas currently being burnt will not burn again for many years and the need for hazard reduction will soon be forgotten. Recently I drove from Sydney to Brisbane and noticed the fire damage along the highway around Taree. Cattle were happily grazing on land very close to the highway which had not been burnt — the grass was short — and the homes were untouched as well. Where there was no fuel, there was no fire.

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