Guy Crouchback: Fremantle a curious case

26 May 2009

By The Record

The Fremantle by-election result points to stark realities.


Fremantle Greens winner Adele Carles.


By Guy Crouchback

The results of the Fremantle by-election provide some rather unpalatable food for thought. Before saying more, I will declare my political position by pointing out that although I am not very active in politics at present I come from a Liberal background and have been a Liberal State candidate.
Readers may wish to judge what I have to say in the light of this.
Fremantle has been a Labor seat for 85 years.
This time it had in Peter Tagliaferri a moderate, experienced, well-respected and generally well-qualified Labor candidate. Tagliaferri was defeated and a Green elected to State Parliament.
If the Green Party was founded with a worthy concern for environmental conservation it has in Australia, as in much of the rest of the world, moved far away from this emphasis.
It is now associated with  the most extreme positions of abortion, euthanasia, and other far left-of-centre issues, which also tend to be positions in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. Fremantle has always been thought of as having a large culturally Catholic population. Much of its population is descended from Italian and other southern European, and traditionally Catholic, migrants.
At the May, 2009 by-election no Liberal Candidate was standing (at the previous election, in September, 2008, the Liberals got 30.21 per cent of the vote).
There were, however, three broadly right-of-centre and pro-family parties: the Christian Democrats, Family First and the Democratic Labor Party (the last-named having had to register officially as an independent).
One would have expected these parties to have picked up a very substantial part of what would otherwise have been the Liberal vote, although Peter Tagliferri was also, I would have thought, well-positioned to pick up some, particularly because in this by-election the ALP could throw the whole weight of its resources into the campaign without competition from the Liberals.
Instead, the Family First and CDP vote appears to have actually gone backwards. The combined vote of the three family-values oriented parties totalled, according to The West Australian of May, 18, only 3.43 per cent of the vote.
On a two-party preferred basis the Greens got 54.01 per cent of the vote and the ALP 45.99 per cent.
The West Australian’s political commentator Robert Taylor pointed out: “On Saturday, with no Liberal candidate, those who voted conservative last September, or a significant majority of them, moved right across the political spectrum. They ignored the moderate, business-oriented Labor candidate and gave their vote to the hard-left Greens … it was the Liberal supporters from last year who dumped an extra 2000-odd votes in the Green’s basket.
Traditional Liberal-voting booths in East Fremantle, Richmond and Bicton voted Green … despite the Green’s anti-business, anti-development policies …”
The Greens are entrenched in, as Taylor put it, “The inner-city Bohemian enclaves,” and not just in Fremantle. They are part of a trendy, secularist culture which tends to be quite opposed to traditional values.
Fremantle is not a typical seat, and does not have a typical population.
Certainly nothing can be predicated about any future State election from this result. However, it is decisive enough to suggest a massive, and, in my partisan opinion, frankly alarming, failure by the family-oriented parties to get their message and values across.
It is hardly my business to give political advice, even if I knew what useful advice to give, yet it seems to me plain that here we are facing a cultural problem of some magnitude and it would be foolish to ignore that fact.