They are not like you and me

Caption: Kerryn Phelps meets the voters of Wentworth.

“Let me tell you about the very rich”, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, in The Great Gatsby. “They are different from you and me.” Years later, Hemingway mockingly replied, “The rich…were dull and they were repetitious…[but] he thought they were a special glamorous race”.

Both judgements are true of the ultra-rich voters of the beachside Sydney electorate of Wentworth.

Despite the ridiculous hyperventilating of an over-excited media, or the pontificating from its new member-elect, Wentworth is nothing like the rest of Australia, and its by-election was not a “referendum” on the Morrison government. Quote:

Wentworth is a land removed from the daily struggles faced by other Australians, a place where rising electricity prices barely touch the hip-pocket nerve, where God’s own airconditioner blows gently off summer waters, and “action” on climate change, by which they mean “subsidies”, boosts the share portfolio. End of quote.

Wentworth is a tiny, elite enclave of the chardonnay socialist set, as far removed from ordinary Australia as Versailles was from the slums of Paris.

The second-smallest electorate in Australia, it encompasses the wealthiest suburbs in the country: from super-rich beachside Bondi and the harbourside mansions of Double Bay to the glittering gay hub of Oxford street. Its voters are bankers, lawyers, doctors and ABC journalists. They are almost exclusively white and commute less than 10km to their CBD offices. Quote:

Only the foremost of First World problems are discussed around the dinner table. Wentworth has the third highest concentration of university degrees in the country…Wentworth is home to 731 [journalists], the third highest concentration in the country, beaten only by the neighbouring seats of Sydney (962) and Grayndler (837). End of quote.

The only reason ABC journalists think that Wentworth is somehow the barometer of national sentiment is because it’s where they live; the ABC itself is right next door. Secure in their inner-Sydney ivory tower, these modern-day Marie Antoinettes delude themselves that browsing their Twitter feeds in a Paddington cafe counts as keeping their finger on the pulse of ordinary Australia.

Losing this once-safe seat and moving to minority government is not the result any government would want, but it’s not like minority governments are a novelty in Australia. Quote:

The result needs to be kept in perspective, a virtue that was conspicuously lacking in much of the weekend analysis. A loss in Wentworth would be less troubling than the loss of a seats like Longman on Brisbane’s northern fringes, not to mention the failure to regain it earlier this year.

The polling booths the Liberals must win are the ones where you pay for the sausage sizzle with coins, not Amex. End of quote.

Member-elect Kerryn Phelps is as deluded as any Ancien Régime monarch, swanning along in her carriage, murmuring, “Let them take refugees”. The issues she boasted that she is the “voice” for might excite the surgeons and investment analysts relaxing by the beach at Bondi, but ordinary Australians have real problems to worry about. Quote:

Climate change, social justice, the rights of LGBTIQA+ schoolkids, children on Nauru, the future of the ABC etc — would barely nudge the dial in 90 per cent of the country.

That these things are top of minds in Wentworth reinforces what a happy little land it is.

It’s a place where brows are untroubled by mass immigration…nine out of 10 have Australian or European ancestry. Six out of 10 migrants have lived in the country for more than 10 years, compared to less than 40 per cent in other parts of Sydney. The Muslim population is 0.4 per cent…The issue of refugees and asylum-seekers was rated as the top non-economic issue by only 6 per cent of voters in the 2016 Australian Electoral Study, yet in Wentworth at the weekend we’re asked to believe it was a hot-button issue. End of quote.

Australians are overwhelmingly concerned about bread-and-butter issues: the number one ranked issue is cost of living, which is also shorthand for electricity prices and housing affordability. National security and terrorism are a top-ten issue; asylum seekers and refugees are not. Voters rank cost of living, health care, and jobs as the most pressing issues for the government to address.

Only at Versailles-on-the-beach can they afford to fret about a few mangy country-shoppers refusing to shove off from Manus Island. Quote:

An absence of self-awareness appears to be a permanent feature of the cultural elite. End of quote.

As Scott Fitzgerald said, “They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are”.


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Who is Lushington D. Brady?

Well, a pseudonym. Obviously.

But the name Lushington Dalrymple Brady has been chosen carefully. Not only for the sum of its overall mien of seedy gentility, reminiscent perhaps of a slightly disreputable gentlemen of letters, but also for its parts, each of which borrows from the name of a Vandemonian of more-or-less fame (or notoriety) who represents some admirable quality which will hopefully animate the persona of Lushington D. Brady.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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