Recently in Election 2007 Category
Gerard Henderson in today's SMH remarked that conservatives don't do opposition well.
He's being a bit unfair on his team. It's not limited to the conservatives, they all struggle during the first term. What conservatives do well in opposition is never lose their 'born to rule' mentality.
This was shown all too clearly by Brendon Nelson's bleating about the lack of consultation over the content of tomorrow's "Stolen Generations" apology. Ignoring that they could have delivered the apology themselves, his attitude is particularly galling given the contempt they showed the other side when they were in power.
From where I stand, things couldn't be better. Rudd has deftly wedged the conservatives over the apology and in doing so, has probably condemned Nelson's leadership. He's already being compared to Simon Crean.
Brendon's about to learn the real pain of opposition.
Baring a Lazarus like comeback from Peter Costello, I'm going to enjoy the right wing of the Liberal Party coming to terms with promoting the only other viable leader, Malcolm Turnbull.
So much to look forward to!
Kevin Rudd's comments that we should increase savings may be the first indication that the government is rethinking the tax give-aways planned for this year's budget.
With inflation on the rise and the Reserve Bank poised to increase interest rates, now is not the right time to provide a tax break.
Given that the planned tax cuts are a result of the previous government trying to buy its way back into office, and the mood of the electorate was for the revenues to be used to restore services that were neglected by Howard and Co, I think the government would be forgiven if they reneged on at least a portion of the cuts.
Alternatively, they could cut the tax rates while simultaneously increasing the percentage of compulsory superannuation contributions.
Rudd is keeping faith with the voters by staying true to his election promises, no matter how outlandish. That faith will be tested if the promised cuts are provided only to be removed by the Reserve Bank.
This post I started a week ago. Old news in the finest tradition of "The Pigs."
It's been suggested that Peter Costello, rather than planning to leave parliament, will lie low for 18 months or so before challenging the Liberal Party leadership. Batteries recharged, he will take what he's always regarded as rightfully his.
I feel this is far fetched. If he'd really thought that way he'd have displayed some bottle and challenged Howard for the leadership two years ago.
Skepticism aside, I hope he eventually does take the opposition leadership, as it will go a long way to ensure another term for the Labor government. I base this assumption on an extraordinary interview he had with Virginia Trioli on ABC's Lateline last Friday night.
A few snippets follow ...
When you look at Labor, Labor didn't run on policy at all. All Labor ran on was that you could have some kind of continuity with a fresh face at the top and that was their strategy.
Was he awake during the campaign? I'd have thought that Work Choices and climate change were two major areas of difference.
[Rudd] didn't put forward any substantive policy differences in my view, and we could have muted that appeal of Labor if we'd had a fresher face, but we didn't.
Read 'fresher face' as 'my' face. Pity the polls didn't back this assumption.
When you think of the announcements that we made, huge announcements like the Murray Darling basin, we cut tax in the Budget, we had federal intervention in the Northern Territory, these are huge announcements.
But, and the public by and large agreed with them, overwhelmingly agreed with them. But they just weren't in the mood for hearing new policies from a Government which they regarded as having been in office for so long.
These comments prove just how out of touch the Conservatives were regarding the mood of the electorate. They thought that the usual bribes and a big announcement would get them over the line, while the electorate's attention was firmly focussed on the long term consequences of Work Choices.
The Murray Darling announcement was bold. Pity it was thought up by Howard in the holiday season, without consultation with anyone, and was costed on the back of a fag packet. The public had well and truly moved on by the time the negotiations with the States were taking place.
Unfortunately, the Labor party was spooked into matching the Liberal's tax policy. Voters were thinking that the good times wouldn't last for ever, and it was about time the government started banking some of the proceeds of the mining boom. I think they could have promised to bank half of Howard's tax cuts and still have won the election.
By the way, it's not going to be nearly as big a majority as was first thought, but I wanted to see the Government return. I think it's in Australia's interests, I always will.
I wonder what Costello thinks is a comprehensive defeat? Obviously not a 16 seat majority into a 20 seat deficit.
Well we weren't going to take [Work Choices] any further, that was just a complete Labor furphy in the campaign.
But, yes, there were people that were genuinely scared by a very good PR campaign. But I never saw masses of people on the TV who had been put out of work by our IR laws.
That voters would take a long term view would be surprising to a political party that always aimed policy at the baser instincts of the electorate.
The end of the interview was telling, when Trioli tried to get Costello to state his long term intentions ...
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: I'm going to want to hear the never ever, ever line here from you, Mr Costello.
(Peter Costello laughs)
Take you time Peter. Put the feet up for a year or so. Feel free to challenge when ready. Labor needs you!
After twelve long years! So long that my 13 yo daughters had trouble grasping the concept of a change of government.
Winners are grinners! Maxine looks like being only the second person in Australian political history to defeat a sitting Prime Minister.
The tragic figure of the night. Should he have challenged for the leadership when he had the chance? Would things have been different if he had?
Gave a wonderful speech in defeat, but I couldn't help feeling contempt for the position he found himself in. If he'd resigned 18 months ago, it could've been so different. He would have left at the top of his game, and been revered as a legend in global conservative circles. Now he's just pathetic. A new Liberal leader could have distanced himself from the baggage of the past decade. The truest statement of the evening was Howard taking responsibility for the government's defeat.
Kevin's victory speech was true to image, safe and bland. We can only hope that he will, in fact, change a lot (if not all) now that they've made government. Labor governments don't last that long (federally at least) but they do produce lasting reforms. Let's hope Kev maintains the tradition.
Later: A late night and a few drinks play havoc with writing skills. Going over the last two sentences ... Let's hope Kev maintains the Labor reformist tradition.
With five days to go before polling day, it's as good a time as any to list some of the things I don't like about the current regime.
I rarely vote for the conservatives, so it wouldn't take many of these (perhaps none!) to influence my vote. However, I imagine many less committed voters are indicating their voting intentions (according to the polls) as a result of the cumulative dissatisfaction caused by some or all of the following.
In no particular order ...
- The concept of the 'non core' promise.
- The lack of support for the Republic Referendum.
- Mindlessly following the lead of the US regarding foreign policy.
- The deception used to justify joining the debacle in Iraq.
- Cynically using the populations' xenophobia for political advantage. (Refugees, Tampa, the Pacific Solution, fear of terrorism, manipulating the legal system to detain suspects on minimal evidence.)
- The abandonment of an Australian citizen to years of detainment without trial. (Until it became a political imperative to act.)
- Ignoring climate change. Debunking the mounting evidence that human action is causing global warming. Not ratifying Kyoto, particularly galling after major concessions were granted to encourage us participate. The sabotaging of promising green technologies in favour of the coal industry. (Until it became politically impossible to ignore.)
- Neglecting eduction. Increasing the funding to rich private schools by using a dodgy funding formula. Leaving public schools were left to fend for themselves. The financial squeezing of universities, and the neglect of skills training. (Until now, of course.)
- The myth of being great financial managers, when all they've really had to do is redistribute mountains of incoming cash courtesy of the mining boom. The manipulation of the budget surplus to provide tax cuts at politically opportune moments. Not using those funds for desperately needed improvements in infrastructure, education and health.
- Work Choices, or how to screw the weakest in society. (Until the next recession, when we all get screwed.)
- The lack of an apology to the 'Stolen Generation.'
- Promising to keep interest rates low while political expediency causes them to rise.
That'll do for now. It only took only a few minutes to compile. There'd be many others given more time.
I'm open to suggestions.
There's a lot of dissatisfaction baggage between Howard and an election victory.
Bring on the 24 November.
I can't help feeling that Howard's $800 per year per child education rebate may be a vote winner for the conservatives.
There'll be many parents in the outer suburb marginals who'll be sorely tempted by this bribe. They won't think about where the money's coming from, its effect on inflation and their mortgages, the leeway it gives for private schools to keep raising their fees, and the inequality of providing the rebate to the wealthy while those in real need with kids in public schools get little benefit.
It's a typical Howard move. Welfare supposedly aimed at the needy but in fact benefits the wealthier demographic. Just like the Health Insurance Rebate.
I'd like to think that the Labor party will not be tempted to match it in some way. Oink Oink, Flap Flap!
Update: The pigs are on the wing!
Paul Sheehan wrote a scare piece in yesterday's SMH. In general I like Sheehan's articles. He's right wing but not hysterically so. This piece is an exception.
Writing about the prospect of the Federal and all State governments being Labor controlled, he states ...
Australia is thus approaching a fascinating historical juncture. Amid such benign economic conditions, we may be on the brink of an unprecedented experiment in power politics - giving control of every government in the nation to a political machine with a proven record of insularity and self-serving public patronage on a large scale.
This is uncharted territory. Nine Labor governments out of nine. Nine governments able to cross-fertilise each other's power base, exercising complete control over appointments to the judiciary and the senior bureaucracy. Nine Labor governments with big debts to the unions that underpin their finances. It could change Australia's political culture for a generation.
Actually, it's not that 'unchartered.' In 1969, all governments were controlled by one party, when the conservatives held all the speakers' chairs. I don't remember the country's political history being effected by that calamitous event. There have been several other periods when both sides held the Federal and all but one of state governments. It didn't hurt our democratic framework then, and it won't this time.
State governments have a lot of more pressing things to be worried about. They can't raise the funds to finance their activities. They've been marginalised to the point of irrelevancy by successive Federal governments using the Foreign Affairs and Corporations provisions to override state powers. It's hard to see how they can have any real influence in the modern era.
The fact that dodgy state governments have survived as well as they have is an indication of just how uneasy the population is about the current Federal government.
Besides, the clean sweep won't last too long. I'll make a brave (not) prediction that some of those state governments won't win another term. For the NSW government to survive another election would be a miracle.
Sheehan concludes with this ...
That is what the election on November 24 is really about. Under a Labor government, the deputy prime minister and minister for industrial relations would be a hard-left union ideologue and labour lawyer, Julia Gillard. The attorney-general would be Senator Joe Ludwig, who, in the great tradition of the Labor patronage machine, is the son of a Queensland Labor powerbroker, Bill Ludwig, the national president of the Australian Workers Union. Leaders of the machine would dominate the ministry.
So what's new? Labor governments throughout the century have been populated by ex-trade unionists. I don't need to point out the renowned Labor Prime Ministers who sport that background.
It's a pity commentators don't mention the business connections that fund and man the conservative parties.
Memo to K Rudd ...
A sure fire winner. Promise that, once elected, election campaigns won't be allowed to run longer than three weeks.
Take it from me. You'll romp it in.