The election period ran from 11 April to 18 May.
Incredibly, during this time more Australians googled a bloke who used to play rugby for Australia than the man who ended up being elected to run Australia.
It really is an amazing statistic, especially when you consider that rugby is the least popular football code in this nation and Israel Folau is probably mistaken in the southern states for a Middle Eastern food.
Take a moment to think about it because it says a great deal about sports, politics and Australian culture.
The graph below shows the comparative number of google searches for ‘Israel Folau’ and ‘Scott Morrison’ over the election period according to the all-seeing eye at Google Trends:
And if we take out the data for 18 May, which is when the election result led to a massive peak in google searches for Sco Mo, we can get a much clearer picture of Australian’s interest in Izzy:
Google Trends data shows that Australians were almost twice as likely to search for Israel Folau than the Prime Minister in the election period.
And there is one reason for this: Australians wanted to know if Israel Folau would be sacked for quoting the Bible. It was the dominant news story of the election campaign period, even if it was barely mentioned by the politicians.
The drama around Israel Folau book-ended the election campaign
Folau’s social media post was made on 10 April 2019, the day before Scott Morrison went to visit the Governor-General. And Folau was sacked on election eve.
News coverage of this farcical saga dominated the media the day the election was called, the day we all went to vote and pretty much every other day in between.
And while the politicians barely mentioned Israel, it was what people were speaking about at football clubs and around the water-cooler, after Sunday church services and in the pubs.
It was what Australians were googling.
And guess which state did the most googling of Israel Folau? Queensland.
That would be the same Queensland that overwhelmingly rejected Labor.
I guess it’s fortunate for Labor that Gary Ablett was able to escape the witch-hunt. It could well have been a very different story in Victoria if the most famous AFL player had been sacked too.
While most of the commentators have linked Labor’s dismal showing in Queensland with its failure to support the Adani coal mine (and I do not disagree with this), somewhere there must be recognition that the furore over Folau played a pretty massive part in this rugby state too.
Adani represents jobs. But Folau represents the difficulty keeping a job in the PC world of anti-discrimination law, codes of conduct and corporate activism.
Australians aren’t stupid and regardless of whether they support Israel Folau’s views, they knew that if he can be sacked for expressing an opinion, they could be sacked for doing the same thing too.
And while it is true that Folau was sacked while Scott Morrison was Prime Minister, Australians also knew that the demand for his execution was driven by the rainbow and anti-free speech agenda of Labor and the Green left. Australians understood that a lurch to the left would only make it more difficult for them to express an opinion and remain employed.
It’s not hard to see why.
In the middle of the campaign, while all the controversy surrounded Folau, a contractor was sacked by the Queensland Labor government-owned Gladstone Ports Corporation.
He wasn’t sacked for expressing a religious view. He simply asked Bill Shorten a question about his tax policies. It was enough for this worker to be swiftly shown the door.
It left Australians scared. Scared of Labor. Scared of the Greens. Scared for their future.
This fear is genuine. One regular reader of this website contacted me yesterday from North Queensland to remark on this fear. It is palpable.
He told me that after the election he went to a bottle shop to buy a drink to celebrate the result.
The attendant who served him was also happy. So happy that he looked over his shoulder and then whispered that he hated the Greens too.
Let me repeat that.
The day after the Greens were belted along with Labor by the vast majority of the Australian population, this man in North Queensland still felt that he had to whisper his view.
Why? He’s afraid that if his opinion is known he could suffer as a result. He could lose his job.
I saw this fear on election day too.
I was handing out how to vote cards for the LNP in the electorate of Forde, south of Brisbane. Most people either took no how to vote cards or accepted one from every party. They were keeping their views to themselves.
Very few made their intentions clear. But of those that did, the vast majority of them were backing Labor.
I went home expecting the LNP to be smashed at the booth I attended. But the results were very different.
The LNP lost that booth 47% to 53% but received a swing of almost 10% towards it from the last election. Conservative voters were keeping their mouths shut and yelling with their pencils.
In the current environment people with leftist views are comfortable expressing them. But those with differing opinions are afraid to do so. They are not just shouted down. Activists seek to bankrupt them, have them sacked and put their addresses online so that they can be harassed and intimidated.
And it seems that people are so afraid that they even feel the need to lie to opinion pollsters about their views, lest they face repercussions.
Even arch-leftist, Peter FitzSimons, recognises this. He wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald the day after the election the following words:
As the night went on, it was all but confirmed. By close of play it was almost certain that Scott Morrison had held on against extraordinary odds. All the polls were dead wrong.
The explanation? The best guess, surely, is some Trumpian dynamic whereby, in the privacy of the ballot box, enough people were voting in a way that they weren’t saying publicly before the poll, that the results were skewed away from all expectations.
Scare campaigns work.
And this election Labor and the Green left frightened the hell out of Australians. So they voted for safety.