|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2010-08-20 16:44:00
Thoughts on the Australian Election
No, I aten't dead. I've just been staying quiet due to things like the beginning of a new semester at Uni (three programming units and a maths unit which requires a lot of programming - if I haven't been in larval mode before, I will be by the end of semester) and lack of interesting stuff to say. But there's an election on Saturday, and I figure I'll just give a short (okay, very long) rundown of the way I'm seeing things.
First up, the Liberals really should have taken Tony Abbott out into the back paddock and left him there. I will give the ALP strong kudos points for realising that an election called quickly after the leadership shuffle would mean that the Liberals were definitely going into the game fielding their B-team. I've had a long-standing theory that there was a Liberal party backroom plan which consisted of a last minute leadership shuffle in about October, and the subsequent leader campaigning basically on a platform of "at least I'm not Tony Abbott". The timing of this election (shortly after the ALP leadership shuffle) meant the Liberals couldn't be seen to be "indecisive" or "unstable" in the run-up to the polls, so they're stuck with Tony Abbott as their main contender. Much as they'd probably prefer otherwise.
This has proved to be a Bad Thing. For a start, the man is positively a study in how to lose friends and influence people badly. He's managed to piss off just about everyone who isn't white, male, conservative, upper-middle-class and Christian (which doesn't leave him with a majority to play to). He's also shown himself to be lousy at handling the press (despite the best efforts of the Aussie press pack, who are under firm instructions from their corporate masters to make the Liberals look as good as possible at all times), at answering serious questions on economic matters, and at keeping his feet out of his mouth. Now, the Libs were going into this election on the back foot anyway - they're the opposition party, so they have to show that they'll be *better* than the incumbents, while all Labor has to do is show they won't be any worse than the alternatives - but they're also going into it with a certain amount of political bad history behind them.
To remind those Australian voters who, unlike myself, can't remember the Howard years, let's have a few small examples of the electoral bad blood the Libs are struggling to overcome. To start with, this is the party which introduced the notion of "core" and "non-core" election promises. A "core" promise is one they plan to keep. A "non-core" promise is one they don't plan to keep; to put it another way, it's a blatant lie to the public. So for voters whose memory extends past last Thursday (and I'd like to think that's most of us) the big question when faced with the Liberal party platform is always "how many of these promises are the core ones?" Answer: probably not many.
Next up, there's the straightforward reality of what they're promising. On the one hand, the Liberals are harping on about the necessity of reducing the deficit (which isn't anywhere near as high as the ones being maintained by other OECD countries) and cutting back on debt. They're promising to bring the budget into surplus by 2013. On the other hand, they're also offering money all over the place to try and win votes - community centres, new initiatives, you name it, they're going to put cash toward it. But where is this money coming from? Nobody really knows, because the Liberals have basically ignored their own Charter of Budget Honesty, and refused to have their proposals costed by the Treasury. Instead, they got their uncle's brother-in-law's friend Max to look over their figures, and Max reckons they're a-okay.
Another factor I'd rule in for my state in particular (Western Australia) is the extremely negative and nasty campaign style which is being promulgated. Basically, Western Australians have been bombarded with a whole range of ads (funded by the WA Liberal Party, it seems) which essentially accuse the ALP of ignoring WA and expecting our state to bankroll the whole country. In my local electorate (Brand) we even have the Liberal candidate accusing the Labor candidate of not being a "local". It all strikes me as being rather silly, and almost secessionist in tone. Our household even received a promotional postcard purportedly from our state premier, telling us if we were good Western Australians, we'd vote Liberal (given I didn't vote for this bloke when I was living in his electorate, this had precisely as much effect as you'd expect). It puts me off the whole idea of voting Liberal - to the point where if I could legally put a number greater than the number of candidates on my House of Reps ballot paper, I'd be putting my preferences for the Libs at several million.
This doesn't mean I'm overly impressed with the ALP. They appear to be campaigning on a promise of "more of the same", and quite honestly, it's a less-than-exciting same to get more of. About the only thing I'm reasonably keen on is the National Broadband Network, which seems to finally be taking the infrastructure side of telecommunications out of the hands of Telstra (which really should have been done back when the Howard government first privatised it) and putting it back into the hands of the Federal Government where it belongs. I'm less than enthused about their blasted internet filter, but I have to hope that the voters of Victoria will show Senator Conroy their opinion of such things by making certain he loses his senate place (remember folks, all the numbers below the bar is better for strategic voting on your Senate ballot paper). They seem to be hung up on restoring the budget to surplus, which is irritating since it's kowtowing to the sort of economic thinking which got everyone into the whole global financial mess in the first place. It would be nice to have heard them asking the Libs why the deficit is such a major problem, particularly since this is something the Libs are absolutely harping on to the point of obsession.
Nope, actually the party which has really got my interest this election is the Australian Greens. At present, they're a minor party in the Senate, but they're a bit more left-wing than Labor on a lot of issues, and they seem to be more concerned with the future 100 years down the track than either of the two major parties. Given both the Labs and the Libs seem to do all their planning with an eye to the next Newspoll, this is a very good thing indeed. They're also a bit more interested in things like education, youth and ageing issues, sustainability, and so on. Of course, we haven't seen much of them during the campaign (it's all been focussed on Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard) which in many ways is probably all to the good - as the old saw goes, better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
So this election, I'll be voting Green, with preferences going to the minor parties before either of the two big ones, and with Labor getting a higher preference than the Liberals. Much the same as last time, in other words.
This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/10058.htm