Who cares about Labor?

I haven’t made much reference to the Labor Party’s leadership struggle. There is a reason for this and it boils down to this: who cares?

The paper’s are chock full of references to “declines”, “blows” and “sappings” of consumer confidence resulting from the infighting. the SMH is typical:

AUSTRALIA’S business leaders have hit out at the political infighting that has gripped Canberra, saying it has sapped consumer confidence and affected the economic management of the country.

The Myer chief, Bernie Brookes, criticised the nation’s leaders for ”poor economic management”.

”All of our politicians have diverted their attention and energy in the past few weeks to a potential leadership challenge, rather than running the country,” Mr Brookes said.

”I don’t have a view on whether Gillard or Rudd would make a better prime minister. I do believe the decision of Rudd to resign … will bring the matter to a head very quickly.”

Mr Rudd acknowledged the affair was becoming a distraction. ”It is important that business confidence is maintained in Australia, the economy and jobs are core to what any responsible government is about,” he said in Washington last night.

If you read that paragraph very carefully you will notice that Bernie Brooks actually never says that consumers are losing confidence. That’s because it’s irrelevant. Have you walked away from a big screen TV because Kevin Rudd’s face was on your old TV the night before?

Nor is business affected. If they base investment decisions on something so ephemeral they really shouldn’t be in business.

Traditionally speaking, I am more in favour of the Labor Party’s methods for succession than I am Liberal. Labor tends to stab existing leaders swiftly in the back and drag out the corpse with promises of some plumb posting serving tea in the Vatican.

The Liberal Party on the other hand, and I think conservative parties in general, have a more “master and apprentice” approach. They venerate the elder leader until he feels ready to retire. Whether its in the wider interests or not, younger generations of conservative leaders await their turn. Costello was a classic case in point.

There are exceptions of course but I think that’s a fair description of how the Party’s cultures typically work when it comes to succession time.

I’m not sure how the electorate views the respective approaches. They probably take both in their stride: enjoying the regard of the Liberal approach but respecting the ruthlessness of the Labour. The ultimate judgement hanging upon timing.

And in that sense the current schmozzle can only harm the Labor Party. There is no apparent need to remove Gillard from the PM’s chair. Her numbers have been recovering steadily since the carbon tax debate subsided and the interest rate cycle turned. What’s more, she’s under challenge from yesterday’s man in Kevin Rudd, who really resembles a vengeful child not an unstoppable force of leadership that it is in the interests of all to elevate. This does not feel like a titanic struggle for leadership so much as a political party ripping itself apart because nobody has the force of character and vision to make the choice inevitable.

So, my judgement for what it’s worth, is that the only people being harmed by the Labor Party schmozzle are those in the Labor Party itself. The leadership contest reeks of a kind of internecine arrogance. A bizarre display of entitlement that is simply highlighting the Party’s lack of fitness for power, certain to deliver one outcome: death at the ballot box.

With the Opposition promising to scrap the carbon tax, MRRT and slash the Budget, that’s the real uncertainty for business.

Comments

  1. they can’t make up their mind who they represent

    is it the working class?

    the landed middle class bloated by wealth they did not earn but now makes them think they are above their working class roots?

    is it the “New Labor” type statistical results of focus groups and surveys?

    is it the power behind the media and the lobby fronts for big money and international interests?

    who is it they actually represent?

    nobody knows – least of all themselves

    at least we know who the coalition represents

    that’s the one and only thing giving Labor any survival chances whatsoever

    what a sorry bunch of low-lifes

    pop

    • Wait, who exactly does the Liberal party represent? Once upon a time I could have easily said what the constituency was, but now it just seems to be anyone in a marginal seat not wedded to their vote…

      • Wait, who exactly does the Liberal party represent?

        Well, there’s still the traditional constituency of rich old white men, but Howard further brought the “middle class bogan with entitlement complex” (or “battlers”, as he called them) into the fold as well.

        If need Government help, the Liberals will be happy to tell you that you don’t deserve it. If you don’t need it, they’ll give you as much as you can take.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      And here in lies the ENTIRE problem with politics in this country right now.

      They are there to represent US – the PEOPLE and for the GOOD OF THE COUNTRY.

      I am fed up with hearing “this is for the good of the x party”. Frankly, screw that, start doing things that are best the country and the people you are meant to represent.

      Fed up with the whole lot of them. It is like our Country is being run by a girl’s high school class. All bitching, name calling and backstabbing for all parties.

      Wish we could kick them all out and start again.

      • Please don’t use the word ‘us’ in caps. For a minute there I thought you meant representing the interest of the US of A (and you can understand how that confusion is entirely justifiable).

      • thankyou for stating this so i didnt have to, the ideology of parties being for special interest groups has to go and will have to naturally or else bye bye country

        watching Q+A every week, the audience questions range from what are you going to do for me to how come my special group isnt getting funding/subsidies…

  2. Prime Minister Abbott should be entertaining if nothing else. Bring it on!

    Sadly for Australia there is great talent in our Parliament who will never lead Australia, because he’s genuinely in the middle and belongs in neither party.

    • I’m with you Lorax (assuming you’re talking about Turnbull). I’d be happy if I never had to see Gillard, Rudd or Abbott on my TV ever again.

      • at least with katter we wouldn’t be sucked into a free trade policy when the rest of the world is protecting via currency manipulation.

      • Actually, its the only time that Australian farmers make profits (kind of like, but the same as miners), due to the structural imbalances (read Woolworths/Coles duopoly) in the system. ITs actually more of a quality problem than a quarantine or tariff problem. (WOW/WES demand too high quality foodstuffs at very high cost to farmers, who have next to no purchasing power, with huge waste. These quality standards are thrown out when there is a supply problem, and WOW/WES just use whatever they can get there hands on. In these periods, the farmers who are unaffected can clean up – but most of the time the duopoly just import cheap, unknown standard (what do the Chinese spray their crops with??) produce….) off topic sorry

      • +1. Malcolm the only one I could really vote for.

        Although from a soap opera perspective I would like to see Rudd reclaim the Labor party lead and eliminate everyone who backstabbed him starting with the “world’s best treasurer”. It is why I wouldn’t rule out Rudd’s chances of beating the libs.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        Now that is entertainment. Gotta say I am impressed with ol Kevin. Pretty sharp move he has made there. Gillard only real move would be to sack him, and he removed that option from her.

        And of course he still has the trump card where he can just quit if things don’t go his way and bring on an election anyway.

        Excellent stuff – entertaining if nothing else.

      • Yes, I enjoy the entertainment perspective – and Freddy’s soap opera scenario would be gripping stuff!

        Plus continued exposure of these internecine manoeuvres definitively kill the myth that vested corporate interests deposed a prime minister/government – destruction wreaked by Labor itself.

      • I dunno.

        It might be entertaining if it was happening on some trashy prime time reality show, that this opera is likely to influence the outcomes for our country, I find depressing, and somewhat frightening.

      • Not Malcolm’s finest moment admittedly but more an error of political judgement than policy judgement.

        I vote for policy, not political skill.

      • Agreed. I’d love not to have to hear the phrase “working families” repeated 10 times within 2 minutes ever again.

      • +1 working families, Australia’s future, working families, Australia’s future, working families, Australia’s future. Enough already!

    • Maybe Malcolm should lead the ALP.

      At least they would be lead by an adult. Even an adult with terrible judgement is better than a child.

      • If Rudd loses he stays on the back bench sniping. He wins then his opponents bust a gut to undermine him.

        Above all else this will demonstrate to all how the independents are only interested in covering their own arses should they continue to support this mob after next week.

      • +1 to that. I’d vote for whatever party he’s heading up, but his defence of the Lib NBN policy for the sake of holding the line is a point against the perception of a principled stance.

      • If only we could pick and choose:
        Add: Turnbull
        Add: Transparent and accountable NBN
        Minus: Political football over asylum seeker policy
        Add: Fiscal discipline
        Minus: The promise of a return to surplus in the next year or two
        Minus: Robert Gottliebsen’s Government backed mortgage lending thing
        = My vote!

      • dumb_non_economist

        RS55,
        You’re not asking for much, are you!!lol. You mean you want effective gov’mint. You’ll have to wait for your b’day/xmas for that.

      • Exactly! I’d like that too please.
        Well written opinion piece. I think you’ve read sentiment. Who is this bizarre gallery of circus freaks really? Do we want these people in charge when they have so totally lost sight of what they are supposed to do?

      • I like it, a fantasy football league with politicians instead. Call it the APL (Australian Parliament League), you get a total IQ budget of 1000 to “spend” and have to pick 76 members.

      • +1 This. And..

        Turnbull seems to be a nice man. But after Monti and Draghi in Europe and Paulson in the US, I don’t want to see a Government Sachs here in Australia.

  3. I have a different opinion. With the Opposition promising to scrap the carbon tax, MRRT and slash the Budget, that’s certainty for business, once we hold an election. I look forward to these developments and beleive the country will be better off.

    1) Carbon tax – chip on the shoulder redistribution of wealth with government picking winners (think school halls, pink batts, set top boxes to demonstrate how good they have been in this regard). Why handicap the Australian economy when every other country in the world that was thinking of going down this path has stepped back from implementing anything real? Why are we forced to have the highest tax in the world? How does that serve the environment.
    2) MRRT – will barely raise any money in an extremely volatile tax that is being used to fund a stable and growing list of spending. Budget black hole certainty, which creates uncertainty for business for where a new tax will be raised to fix the hole.
    3) Slash the budget – it needs slashing. So many wasteful programmes. Scrap the NBN and the Department of Climate Change – fire everyone, turn the lights off and apologise for the people. Put in place a credible border security so that the blow outs in the immigration department can be brought under control. So much fat….

      • In the short term, yes, the pressure to act on climate change has receded. In the long term, climate change isn’t going away, unless you’re willing to bet that science has made its biggest mistake in history.

        As for Dutch Disease, I think Abbott will quickly find himself in the uncomfortable position of being seen as a supporter of the mining sector, while everyone else is suffering … and there are far more electorates suffering than prospering. I expect the unions anti-mining campaigns to ratchet up a notch or seven under an Abbott government.

      • Yet again, what is NOT being explained, in my opinion, is regardless of the veracity of the science, the risk of climate change needs to be managed.

        This type of long term risk management (which even if deleterious climate change does not occur) does not fit into our 24 hour social media/political cycle, nor stretches the intellectual firepower of the average Australian… or is that cause and effect I’m mixing up there?

      • I’ve always wondered why no money seems to be spent on modelling adaptation responses. It seems silly to go all in on “we will stop it” when clearly — clear to me anyway — it (CO2 emissions) are not going to reduce.

      • If you actually look at the proposed actions, most are not about “stopping” it, but rather slowing and attempting to mitigate an exponential path upwards – once the feedback loops kick in, it gets worse faster. Any rhetoric about stopping climate change and locking in the status quo is misguided and ignorant.

      • I guess I am lumping stopping and slowing into the same boat to the extent that both “plans” ignore Adapting. It seems as though they don’t want to use the “A” word presumably because they fear that using it will lose momentum for their positions.

      • How do you “adapt” global society to increasing uncertainty about weather? How do you “adapt” to water scarcity in developing nations – though that is happening with or without climate change. How do you “adapt” to rising water levels in island nations?

      • Aren’t those the answers that need to be explored?

        As for uncertainty about weather, isn’t the thrust of the global warming consensus that there is certainty, i.e. the models are gospel, the planet will warm, sea levels will rise. An adaptation response would be to take the gospel and work out how to adapt. Why do you feel so threatened by that?

      • dumb_non_economist

        LBS,
        PLEEASE! Junk science, REALLY! I’ll be the first to admit I have no idea whether the science is accurate or not, I doubt many people on MB do either, regardless of how good your maths is. The number of fields that cross over/interlap etc makes it difficult. For me, I take my cue form the nearly all recognised Uni/research institutes from NASA downwards that say the science is correct.
        I didn’t read your link, but I’m aware of the story and all I can say is ethical or not he exposed the hypocrisy of business.

      • Thank you for those words of sanity dumb_non_economist.

        Hugo: How do we adapt to Venus? How do we move our cities and farmlands new climatic conditions? How do threatened species adapt? Does the loss of biodiversity have a dollar cost?

        We don’t live in an economy. We live on a rock floating in space, that through an extraordinarily unlikely sequence of coincidences supports all life as we know it.

        We only have one shot at this. If we choose to adapt and we get it wrong, the consequences are catastrophic. If we choose to mitigate, and we discover it was unnecessary, we’ve endured a few years of sub-par economic growth.

      • Lorax now I know why 3d1k loses patience with you.

        You and your ilk seem to have predetermined that an adaptation response is not possible. Rather than assume the answer/outcome how about investigating this — that is all I am saying.

        As for living on Venus. That is the typical hyperbowl nonense that merely serves to undermine climate change discussions.

      • dumb non economist
        “I take my cue form the nearly all recognised Uni/research institutes from NASA downwards that say the science is correct.
        I didn’t read your link, but I’m aware of the story and all I can say is ethical or not he exposed the hypocrisy of business.”

        Have you not read that the institues from NASA are proving to be corrupt. Ethical give me a bloody break mate. If a skeptic did what this bastard did it would be front line news. No he basically provided that the alarmist in this debate are getting desparate because their JUNK SCIENCE IS BULL$HIT.

      • By all means, investigate away! All we’re doing is adaptation anyway. e.g. relocating people from low-lying islands, protecting cities from tidal surges, drought relief for farmers.

        Again, I can only point out the obvious, that if you’re wrong, the consequences are catastrophic, and if I’m wrong, we get sub-par economic growth and an accelerated transition to sustainable energy sources, which we all know has to happen anyway.

        Knock yourself out denialists…

      • Lorax why don’t you just move to Venus now. No real estate bubble and no mining industry killing other sectors of the economy.

      • Hugo, easy enough for you to say “adapt”, when it is your grandkids or great grandkids that will have to do the adaption.

        In addition to baby boomers SKI motto – Spend Kid’s Inheritance, this generation can add another motto – GLAM – Good Luck Adapting, Morons.

      • Mav in the complete absence of having ever investigated it how do you know how hard it may be to adapt?

        In the absence of some concrete information from scientists and engineers — and good luck for them getting funding for that — your hand wringing is uninformed alarmism.

      • Plus it is all made up on junk science. The alarmist are doing everything they can to keep from losing the battle. Read this.

        If you’re going to try and make a claim about things being “made up on junk science”, it would help if your link actually has something to do with refuting that science.

      • how do you know how hard it may be to adapt?

        Yes, we have to adapt – BY FFing changing our lifestyle to a low-carbon emission one – Why is that not “adapting”?

        Prevention is better than cure. You are suggesting that we adapt a cure BEFORE the event, while the rest of us are suggesting that we adapt preventive measures.

      • no, you’re not – it’s precisely the issue with CC – and probably will remain so until market forces deal with it independently of political/public will to do something about it – think slow boiling of frogs meme

        (unless of course we have a major disaster that scares the bejesus out of everyone world wide – think weight change and massive increase in volcanism and earthquakes)

        whether Aus should be playing any role in “leading” the world is probably an issue of leader’s egos – it’s not like China or the US is going to look at our policy and think – gee that powerhouse of intellect and political leadership has acted – it’s time for us to act too

        but you can try and change things – i’m sure we’ve all a few neurons and axons hanging around waiting to hook in and rewire our brains to be more aware (giggling and crying at the same time)

        p

      • My prediction for what it’s worth: climate change and peak oil will be multi-generational events, far outside the attention span of our societies.

        Human beings are incredibly good at adapting to change *if* that change happens slowly and gradually i.e. the boiled frog phenomenon.

        The deserts of the Middle East used to be lush rain-forests only 3000 years ago….

      • My “Yes” was in answer to “Do you think pressure to act on climate change and Dutch disease will recede?”

        1) Pressure to act on climate change will continue to recede as the world works out its a crock. If it is real, the best course of action is adaption to changing conditions. The globe has had ice ages and hot spells and life survived through both.
        2) Dutch disease will recede as mining boom comes to an end. Give it time.

      • I am tertiary educated but not in science. So in that regard, equivilent to the high priests of Al Gore amd Ross Garnaut. I am smart enough to critigue shoddy science when I see it though. The fact that “climate science” is happy to be associated with terms like “science is settled” and “consensus”, tells me its pretty flimsy science. Why is the one brand of science which looks at the earth from the longest time perspective being completely ignored – i.e. Geology. Ask any geologist (I work with many) what they think of climate change and I have not found one of them yet that thinks AGW is real. Most will concede that GW is real, but is driven by things bigger than man.

      • MM, how the hell does a geologist know the first thing about the causes of global warming? Are they going to talk about increased volcanic activity?

      • dumb_non_economist

        MM,
        No offence, but you’re smart enough to critique without any training in science??
        Your comment about one brand versus another hits the nail on the head. It isn’t one science, but many, with them working together that has come out with the consensus.
        A lot of the problem is having to dumb it down and provide sound bites for the media.

      • Q “how the hell does a geologist know the first thing about the causes of global warming?”

        A: Geologists look at climate from the longest timeframe of the various sciences. They laugh at the timeframes that “Climate Scientists” are looking at. Human life is a blink of an eye on the geological record. Tempretures have been much hotter and colder according to the study of geology. Sea levels both much higher and much lower.

        Q: “you’re smart enough to critique without any training in science”

        A: Yes. If you accept what scientists tell you without questioning and critiquing that is a dangerous thing to do in my opinion. Climate science is being used to tell me I should be taxed more and my economic opportunities impared. Should I swallow this without question?

        Modelling is being used to justify temp changes and emissions projections. I model things for a living and I understand the pitfalls of any model. The models made 10 years ago by science are not holding up to date.

        IT experts told society they needed to spend billions of dollars on fixing the millenium bug. We didnt know any better and blindly beleived. They knew their field better than anyone else and we were not qualified to critique. Conflict of interest?

      • dumb_non_economist

        MM,
        You say “Yes” without any training in science, is your tertiary education high level maths? I just cannot see how you consider yourself to have the ability to decide the science is rubbish! I accept people will decide on a side based on accepting their argument (which is what I think I have done), but to say they have determined the science themselves is ludicrous in most situations, though not for all.

        For me to utterly reject the united science view is to accept that they are all part of a conspiracy.

        For me JFK wasn’t killed by the CIA, 911 wasn’t instigated by the US Gov and Elvis is dead.

      • how the hell does a geologist know the first thing about the causes of global warming?

        Palaeoclimatology, yo!

        The instrumental record goes back <200 years. Historical records go back patchily perhaps hundreds to a couple of thousand years.

        Longer term data (thousands to millions of years) is collected by palaeoclimatologists (a sub-discipline of geology/earth science) from things like speleothems, corals, foraminifera from sediment cores, ice cores etc.

        Even longer term (hundreds of millions of years) it is via the geological record that we know that periods of global glaciation are not uncommon.

        So, geologists certainly collect the data to describe climate change over time. Who better than they to take a stab at what the causes are?

      • And the consensus of paleoclimatologists is? That the rate of warming in the past 200 years is unlike anything in the geological record.

        If Prince charted it in Trading Day, GB would be going off, but because it’s a climate record it means there’s a conspiracy theory behind it rather than what’s staring you in the face?

        The market is way more gamed than the sediment and geological record, folks.

    • Not sure why slashing the carbon tax, MRRT and budget gives business more certainty.

      Lower taxes, sure, but we’d still be in exactly the same position with regards to certainty – one party in favour, one against.

      I think “certainty” is often used as a more friendly alias for “less tax”.

      • If Abbot wins, the carbon tax will be to Labour what work choices is for the Libs. i.e. there will be bipartisan support to remove the carbon tax so that Labour can move on and rebuild. Otherwise labour will be left in the wilderness for a long time.

      • good angle…that might happen MM. Possibility (all other things being equal) of rally on Coalition election win? As someone else said “certainty” maybe just alias for “less (corporate) taxes”.

        Would likely put nail in coffin for alternative energy companies too.

      • That really depends on how much of the opposing side is Greens – the left-leaning electorate swinging away from Labor because of their confusion doesn’t necessarily run to the Liberals, even if the middle breaks that way.

      • The Senate would be interesting I think. It would be a major change of policy for Labor to actually support repeal of the carbon tax, but the Coalition may not be able to do so (assuming they win the election) without their support.

      • “If so, why don’t the states, the Liberal party or the miners launch a court challenge?”

        Because it hasn’t been passed yet. It got through the HoR but the Senate has shunted it off to a committee.

      • You’re probably right on the carbon tax, but not sure that the MRRT will go the same way. Not if the mining boom continues to put “restructuring” pressure on our economy for eternity the way Treasury are predicting.

      • MRRT wont have to go the same way as carbon tax as it wont raise much tax. Maybe 2-3 years of ~$1-2bn p.a., if that (could be zero). The problem for mining companies will be preparing reams of paperwork from 2015 or 2016 onwards where no net tax is collected but hundreds of people will be employed to administer the thing. Seperate books for 1) corporate tax 2) investors, 3) the state government for royalties and 4) the feds for MRRT (the most complicated of all of them).

      • which makes a simple change to the corporate tax rate all the more easier. Up it to 40% or 50% across the board for non-renewable resource companies, scrap royalties and be done with it.

      • royalties are state taxes because the states own the resources.

        if anything is to be scrapped it is all federal based mining taxes and instead have a revision of state royalties to make them more flexible to cash in on windfall prices.

      • so what, you don’t accept the constitution either?

        that would make you the revolutionary wouldn’t it?

      • Hugo, are you telling us RSPT/MRRT is unconstitutional?

        If so, why don’t the states, the Liberal party or the miners launch a court challenge?

      • Mav read my lips:

        The states own the resources. They charge royalties because they own the resources. That is how it is under the constitution.

        The mining tax is a corporate tax on companies. The Fed run income tax and can write whatever screwy tax code they like — it provides work for accountants and lawyers. That is how it is under the constitution.

        The point of my comment was that the mining tax is a back door way of the Fed grabbing a share of something the States own.

  4. Correct, the only people being hurt here are the ALP. Australia should end up the big winner though as there is a decent chance we will have an election very soon.

    “With the Opposition promising to scrap the carbon tax, MRRT and slash the Budget, that’s the real uncertainty for business.”

    So your saying cutting taxes (that we were promised not to have) and slashing spending (that is entirely unnecessary) is a bad thing? If that is ‘uncertainty’ then give me ‘uncertainty’ any day of the week, cheers.

    Even IF the Liberals are terrible, there is absolutely NO way they can be worse than the mob of children we have in charge right now. Bring on the election.

    • Even IF the Liberals are terrible, there is absolutely NO way they can be worse than the mob of children we have in charge right now.

      All I need to do is look at the decade of Abbot and Costello to realise that the Liberals would unquestionably be worse.

    • Yeah, he definitely thinks he’s a possibility 🙂
      Unfortunately, the only certainty from a Swan Prime Ministership would be another leadership spill before the next election. Labor is doing it’s best to replicate its failed NSW model, at the moment.

    • The blame can be squarely landed at our own two feet.

      The Australian public gets the politicians it deserves.

      Sorry to be harsh, but that’s how I see it. I no longer blame the pollies, even though there is a politico-media-business-union complex behind it all, and the propaganda machine is well oiled and serviced, it is our own fault.

      • I no longer blame the politicians either – I just ignore them.

        It’s a far less frustrating world when you avoid reading about or listening to any of them.

        You’re correct that we get what we deserve and I despair that things will never change.

      • I do not blame the pollies to the extent that they are a product of the system. If Gandi was elected for parliament here it wouldn’t be long before he became a back room number cruncher and head kicker. That is the system we have.

      • Gandhi specifically opted out of joining politics in India post-Independence. I think you’ll find that type doesn’t get involved.

        To some extent though our system is geared towards the current state of affairs – compulsory voting means the swing vote determines the government, and that’s all too easily bought with short-term promises.

      • our system is geared toward parasites who join young labor or young libs then follow the following path:

        labor: labor lawyer, union rep, labor staffer > safe seat

        libs: staffer > safe seat.

        A common thread for the majority of our elected people is minimal experience outside of political number crunching.

        I’ve used this quote before here, it comes from a book called “Truth” by Peter Temple and he is describing a fictional character which basically could be anyone of several hundred of our federal and state politicians:

        …this shoddy little arsehole, a nothing, no talents, just a political creature who knew how to slime around, how to get the numbers, how to suck up to those who could advance him, screw those who couldn’t, how to claim credit, duck responsibility”

        When I first read that the problem I had was that there were so many faces I could have put to the character. That is what is wrong with Australia

      • I think Douglas Adams said it best:

        “One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

        To summarize: it is a well known fact, that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

        To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job.

        To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.”

      • “The Australian public gets the politicians it deserves.”

        I used to think that, but now disagree.

        Our armed forces can keep to their own standards of behaviour independent of how the general population thinks and behaves. Same goes for the Judiciary and Police. All three are routinely criticised for “being out of step with community values”.

        Channeling their inner bogan is a choice. Every day they would feel some remourse for ignoring the coutries needs and continuing the soap opera instead.

      • i’d go one further

        the Australian public gets the Australia it deserves

        but

        can we blame a voter with little education (to speak of, really), all of the biases we know humans have, nothing but (mostly) a totally self-interested media and all of the dirty interest groups from voting to get what she thinks she wants?

        i used to teach my kids that i’d rather be bribed directly to vote for someone than have some group at the top bribed and my choice taken away entirely

        our system is indeed flawed

        but that has been the basis of argument since the dawn of agriculture and civilisation

        p

      • well said POP.

        You’ve got to think it might be easier if we could just sell our votes, like on Ebay or some other auction system.

        Be cheaper in the long run probably.

        Not sure if serious…

      • Selling votes would be a fascinating issue. Single votes would go for a low price, even in marginal electorates. But you could buy up a lot of individual votes then onsell them as a block. This would be far more valuable. Most valuable of all would be if you could buy up enough votes to guarantee a seat.

        Then think of the futures market. There’s money to be made in this.

    • dumb_non_economist

      Hugo,
      I agree, but can someone point out a system that does work? The USA, French, British, WHERE FFS.
      The system is screwed because of US (not usa, ok!), no other reason. We are greedy and vote for our own cause and wallet.

  5. You’re right this is playing into Shortens hands. Let these muppets destroy labor, go into opposition for a while then he will take the leadership. He is still a muppet himself though IMO.

    • I don’t think our voters would be stupid enough to vote for Shorten.

      But then again these are the same voters who were convinced that higher income taxes and higher interest rates were a better idea than the RSPT.

  6. “With the Opposition promising to scrap the carbon tax, MRRT and slash the Budget, that’s the real uncertainty for business.”

    Best thing they could do is scrap the carbon tax. If it stays lets talk in Dec and see how much everything goes up in price…….

  7. Labor tends to stab existing leaders swiftly in the back and drag out the corpse with promises of some plumb posting serving tea in the Vatican.

    The Liberal Party on the other hand, and I think conservative parties in general, have a more “master and apprentice” approach.

    There was an interesting article in the NY Times magazine about how it works in American politics – the Dems are perpetually disappointed in their leaders for governing “for the middle”, while the GOP gets behind their leaders at least while they’re in office or on the ascendancy. Afterwards, the Dems airbrush the blemishes away and venerate leaders, while the GOP ignores and moves on – the exception to the rule being Carter and Reagan respectively. Sounds familiar here…

  8. “With the Opposition promising to scrap the carbon tax, MRRT and slash the Budget, that’s the real uncertainty for business.”

    Yes, 1+1=3

    We await Mr Abbots unveiling of some form of mathematics hitherto unknown to mankind.

  9. General Disarray

    Winston Churchill – “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

    If we take that to be true, how do we improve the average voter?

    My thoughts,

    1. Stop using 5 second sound bites to sell policy – no more 3 to 5 word slogans.

    2. Stop playing to people’s fears.

    3. Encourage education and don’t disparage those who think as “elites”. Ignorance combined with a strong opinion is probably not a virtue.

    4. Stop trying to buy votes. If there are going to be a group that benefit financially it should be because research and evidence say it will improve Australia as a whole.

    My 2 cents, and a complete pipe dream.

    • GD, I see you and I raise you:

      1. Eliminate compulsory voting
      2. Eliminate the federal lower house of reps – there is no actual reason to have one.
      3. Eliminate the States politically, go to cantons (merged with city and regional councils)
      4. Eliminate federal political parties – can only have parties at canton level
      5. Introduce cabinet style “management teams” to vote for – say 10 people max. These become the “ministers”, who are then checked/balanced by the Senate. Minimum 5 year terms. Members CANNOT be part of a political party.

      and 6. to accommodate all of above, widen the taxiways at Canberra Airport so the Pigs can land a bit easier.

      • 1. Eliminate compulsory voting

        The rest of the stuff I can get behind, but not this. Compulsory voting is one of the single best features of the Australian political process. It helps to control extremism, and gives a good indication of what “the silent majority” _really_ think.

      • you’re making me sick. Apart from the questionable use of coercive powers how does forcing bogans to vote control extremism?

        people are saying we get who we vote for. Well in fact we get what we are strong armed into voting for.

      • you’re making me sick. Apart from the questionable use of coercive powers how does forcing bogans to vote control extremism?

        Because it means everyone votes, not just the true believers who are motivated by whatever particular outrage some politician has stirred up.

        people are saying we get who we vote for. Well in fact we get what we are strong armed into voting for.

        Rubbish. You’re not forced to vote for anyone specific, nor even lodge a valid vote at all.

      • You’re not forced to vote for anyone specific, nor even lodge a valid vote at all.

        Right, compulsory informal, a.k.a. donkey, vote. That will protect us against extremism?

      • Right, compulsory informal, a.k.a. donkey, vote. That will protect us against extremism?

        Leave the poor straw man alone.. I didn’t say “protect”, I said “help to control”.

      • apologies for replacing “helps to control” with “protect from” — inadvertent while typing a reply. As you can tell I think what you are saying is silly enough without the need to purposely modify it.

        Would Pauline Hanson be more or less successful without compulsory voting?

      • Would Pauline Hanson be more or less successful without compulsory voting?

        Probably more, but it’s not about individuals, it’s about averages. If you create a system where only politically active minorities are pandered to, then only politically active minorities will benefit.

      • “Apart from the questionable use of coercive powers how does forcing bogans to vote control extremism?

        people are saying we get who we vote for. Well in fact we get what we are strong armed into voting for.”

        Exactly. I thought that was the usual MO of dictatorships. Only one candidate.

      • Exactly. I thought that was the usual MO of dictatorships. Only one candidate.

        Perhaps you could compare and contrast your fantasy world to our actual system where not only do you have multiple candidates, but you do not have to cast a vote for any of them.

      • So it’s better to force people to vote who honestly don’t care either way and dilute (or completely obscure through populist vote buying) the opinions of those who actually care and think.

      • So it’s better to force people to vote who honestly don’t care either way and dilute (or completely obscure through populist vote buying) the opinions of those who actually care and think.

        Yes, because I don’t want to live in a society whose politicians focus on pandering to extremist policies, rather than those that target the majority.

      • Yeah, have to agree with the dissenters here drsmithy.

        Extremism? How about Howard, arguably the worst PM on record with extreme political, ethical and economic views.

        Its all about capture and apathy.

        Dilution is the word.

      • Its all about capture and apathy. Dilution is the word.

        Compulsory voting _combats_ apathy. That’s one of its benefits.

        You call it dilution. I call it quantifying the majority view.

        I don’t want to live in a society whose politicians do nothing except pander to extremists. I see compulsory voting as a key factor in preventing that scenario.

      • Compulsory voting can result in pandering to extreme positions at least as much as non-compulsory.

        If 40% of the population actually cares, not about extreme issues, but about health outcomes, education availability and quality, fiscal responsibility, and of those 4/10 people who care 75% strongly favour the policies of one party:

        Under non-compulsory voting the result is 3/10 people are happy, 6/10 still don’t care, and 1/10 people are unhappy about the government.

        Under compulsory voting both parties have to try to find something that the 6/10 care about (at least enough to buy their vote) – housing handouts, middle class welfare, negative gearing, discounts on holdens (i.e. massive support of car manufacturers). This probably also means that they have to drop funding for essential services.

        If the party that would have won gets in you have 3/10 happy (but less so due to service reductions), 6/10 who still don’t care – but have a holden, and 1/10 who are unhappy. And as a society we are worse off because of even more inefficient use of government funds.

        However you could now just as likely have the other party get in as they did a slightly better job of buying votes, so 1/10 are happy (but less happy because of service cuts), 6/10 still don’t care but have a holden and a mcMansion and 3/10 are unhappy. And as a society we are worse off because of even more inefficient use of government funds.

        It is a fallacy that compulsory vote results in an engaged populace. It results in median voter buying, which is usually in areas where the government should be involved, it is not in areas of market failure which is the reason to have a government.

      • Although I normally favour individual liberty and choice, I agree with drsmithy here and support compulsory voting. Or rather, I support compulsory turning up to a polling place and doing what you like with your ballot.

        I much prefer to see a political system where it’s more important to win over the middle rather than just get-out-the-vote by motivating your base with outrage (e.g. the US).

      • I’m at work so I don’t have time to work through your maths, however:

        It is a fallacy that compulsory vote results in an engaged populace. It results in median voter buying, which is usually in areas where the government should be involved, it is not in areas of market failure which is the reason to have a government.

        This – particularly the “fallacy” assertion – is a very bold claim that needs to be supported with evidence.

      • I much prefer to see a political system where it’s more important to win over the middle rather than just get-out-the-vote by motivating your base with outrage (e.g. the US).

        It’s not even about “winning over” the middle, it’s about being able to confidently estimate and extrapolate what they want (because they actually voted for it) rather than speculating about what they want (because they weren’t pissed off enough to vote against it).

      • Problem is, how do you know it wouldn’t be worse without compulsory voting?

        Without compulsory voting Howard might still be in power pushing his “extreme political, ethical and economic views. “

      • good point. It could be like the USA and you get extremism built in to the system (see the Republican nomination tickets right now…wow…)..

        I could be completely wrong and it ends up being worse, but I wouldn’t mind trying it for awhile just to see.

        Just for the record, I have no party affiliation if it seems like I’m hitting Howard/Liberals and Republicans a bit too much… I subscribe, mainly, to the Stupid and Evil paradigm explaining each side of politics. Some days the wings (and winds) change.

      • “Just for the record, I have no party affiliation if it seems like I’m hitting Howard/Liberals and Republicans a bit too much… I subscribe, mainly, to the Stupid and Evil paradigm explaining each side of politics. Some days the wings (and winds) change.”

        Translated: you’re to the left of Lee Rhiannon?

      • That was tongue in cheek, Prince. I had actually gathered from your writing that you are more of a grass roots democracy type.

        That was one thing that came out of our visit to the Political Compass a while back, if you remember. All the MB commenters who tried it came out in the bottom left quadrant, ie left of centre, more libertarian than authoritarian. Virtually all politicians are more authoritarian. So a pox on all their houses.

      • no worries, long and rough day today. You’re kind of right – prefer Direct Democracy as best “practical” method of government without government….

      • it certainly seems that politics attracts those with a desire to control thing.

        When I tried that quadrant thing I went back and did it a few more times to try and see how I would have to answer in order to end up in the typical areas where politicians reside. It was pretty scary.

      • Don’t start – I see both your’s and Steven’s point on pros/con DD. I actually think the most likely outcome is Scandinavian style democratic socialism for Australia, not the German/Swiss style co-operatism democracy.

        Its just not in our genetic makeup as a culture, which is a shame. Maybe it will change in 20-40 years, or it won’t. I’m almost past caring, but with a new little Princess in the household, I am very concerned about the direction we are going. I need a drink I think.

      • well let me ask you this:

        Do you reckon we would even be having the pantomime that prompted this article if it wasn’t for compulsory voting?

        If Rudd gets reappointed to the top job it won’t be because his colleagues think he is the best man for the job, it will be because he has populist appeal. It is doubtful that the majority of thinking australians, and those who would vote even if they weren’t required to, would vote for this tosser. But the compulsory majority have seen him with Mel and Kochie and know he is ok.

        Paradoxically he undoubtedly views the bogans that show up on polling day only because they have to, and then vote for him, with contempt.

      • Do you reckon we would even be having the pantomime that prompted this article if it wasn’t for compulsory voting?

        Given compulsory voting has absolutely zero to do with who is the leader of any political party, I’d have to go with “yes”.

        It’s disappointing, but unsurprising, that the most common argument being used against compulsory voting is, basically: “we don’t want those morons voting, only us intelligent, responsible, educated folks”.

      • seriously? If they didn’t have to woo Sunrise voters on election day — who are required by law to vote — you reckon Rudd would still be under consideration by Labor caucus.

      • If they didn’t have to woo Sunrise voters on election day — who are required by law to vote — you reckon Rudd would still be under consideration by Labor caucus.

        So your reasoning is that under a voluntary voting system, they’re _not_ going to try and “woo Sunrise voters on election day” ?!

        Your logic is completely backwards. Did you even think before you wrote that ?

  10. Sorry, H&H, your thesis on differences between how left and right treat their leaders doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Your views have been coloured too much by recent memories of Howard & Costello. Both parties are all too willing to stab leaders in the back if they don’t measure up, especially in opposition. Lib stabbings since 1997 – Nelson, Turnbull. Previous to Howard government – Peacock, Howard, Peacock, Hewson, Downer. Lib Prime Minister stabbed in the back – Gorton.

    Labor’s stabbings – during the Howard government, Beazley,Crean, Latham, Beazley. Prime Ministers stabbed – Hawke and Rudd (so far). Not much difference there.

    If you look at state level, both sides have had long serving premiers who never looked like being stabbed, as well as some who didn’t last long. Opposition leaders on both sides have tended to turn over fairly quickly.

  11. My 2c.

    I agree with the Turnbull supporters. He is one of the few intelligent politicians. He should switch parties and be PM.

    As far as H&H’s point about business/ the economy being undermines by this domestic political ego battle – spot on. I read an article about how the leadership battle would be a risk to foreign investment, as if foreign investors think there is a major difference in likely policy between Rudd and Gillard. In Belgium there was no government former for almost two years after their last election. And guess what. The country ran perfectly fine without politicians

  12. I was told that when Gillard took power from Rudd that as she was backed by the unions the money was on her doing rid of the ABCC. Exactly what has happened. I do not like Abbott but almost anyone will get my vote over Gillard.

    • I concur somablu!
      This has been engineered as a distraction to distract “some” of us from the cesspool of problems brewing “overseas” that will wash on our “isolated” shores soon enough.

  13. I’d be amazed if Shorten is not behind this, or at least stirring the pot in a major way, and regardless of what he says he’d love to be the Prime Muppet.

    Regardless of what Labour say, people have stop listening, at least the people I hear discussing it. Rather than use a term in office to manage some major reform well, they have put some many policies through that we’re seeing volume vs quality as a metric. We know in business or in our lives if you rush major decisions they tend not to be successful, and that what I think is part of their problem.

    However, no side of Australian politics has the ability to see the big picture and act on it IMO. The Liberals are a joke, and I agree with some comment above that Turnbull would at least be better, but as an investment banker who is he going to serve? The Greens are … well have no answers regardless of all the rhetoric, and would love to deindustralise the planet. Both Labour and Libs will have us in more wars before long, and at what cost??? Buying F35, subs, and before long drones for our skies … this is a joke.

    H&H’s post on WA sovereign fund shows that at least some states are looking to the future.

  14. “I haven’t made much reference to the Labor Party’s leadership struggle. There is a reason for this and it boils down to this: who cares?”

    DITTO H&H

    • Australia definitely needs a de Gaulle like leader at this point in history. Keating is probably the most likely candidate, and he would still be younger than when the old Frenchman was backing up for another go at the Presidency. But you would never hear the end of small business owners and tuck-shop Mums bleating about the ‘recession we had to have’. The Mining Council would probably put a hit out on him, anyway.

      • Pigs might fly and so on, but should Keating come in at this point just as we’re looking likely to hit another recession we have to have, he’d be turfed out by the week after. I think that’s why some hear clamour for Turnbull.

  15. Climate change deniers remind me of that ships captain in the Black Adder sketch.

    Captain: “Opinion is divided on the point, sir”
    Adder: “How so?”
    Captain: “All the other captains say it is, but I say it isn’t”