RECENTLY a contributor to the Letters to the Editor section of this newspaper was at pains to argue that our New England division was no longer conservative.
Naturally the story might have imbued some lefties in our community with a warm inner glow but if readers prefer I’ll split New England up between Labor incorporating green, socialist, communist and the current independents and non-Labor – the Opposition parties known currently as the Liberal/Nationals.
I like to think of myself as “conservative”, believing in institutions that have demonstrated their worth and stood the test of time such as our version of the Westminster system, our Commonwealth constitution and federal system of government, our flag of stars and crosses, our legal system.
Nothing pleased me more than to see Malcolm Turnbull’s republican elites lose the referendum for the republic we had to have back on one wet Saturday, November 6, 1999.
Saying all of that doesn’t mean I don’t care about other issues such as the detrimental effects of coal seam gas extraction, coal mining, and flogging off our state’s assets such as electricity generators, poles and wires. A conservative embraces those issues too and is concerned about them.
The problem is the voting results of New Englanders from election to election do not support the notion that our electorate is not conservative or non-Labor (if you prefer) as evidenced by the Two-Party Preferred result for the last 20 years:
* 1993 TTP Non-Labor 60.20 per cent/ALP 39.80 per cent.
* 1996 TTP Non-Labor 69.18 per cent/ALP 30.82 per cent.
* 1998 TTP Non-Labor 62.9 per cent/ALP 37.07 per cent.
* 2001 TTP Non-Labor 63.85 per cent/ALP 36.15 per cent.
* 2004 TTP Non-Labor 63.21 per cent/ALP 36.79 per cent.
* 2007 TTP Non-Labor 64.80 per cent/ALP 35.20 per cent.
* 2010 TTP Non-Labor 66.80 per cent/ALP 33.20 per cent.
The above TTP results would suggest that the people of New England prefer the non-Labor side of politics which has been identified historically as either conservative, anti-socialist, liberal, nationalist, country, national-country, National, Liberal/National or whatever name you’d derisively like to call it.
Interestingly it should be noted that the ALP first won New England in 1906 and retained it at the 1910 election until 100 years later in 2010 when our current federal member joined with the ALP and Greens. The ALP lost New England at the 1913 federal election again 100 years ago.
There might not be a majority of conservative constituents in New England but there certainly is a majority of non-Labor constituents and I know many of them feel aggrieved. I have sometimes found that a small core of voters who have voted independent for 20 years are more conservative than the conservatives who have well and truly moved on from the politics of scorn, hate and vanity.