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October 08, 2004

Election Eve: it's the economy

I cannot call the election. It is beyond me. I don't have the skills or the knowledge to do so. I reckon its still line ball. It could go either way. The Coalition will lose seats and the ALP will gain some. From what I can gather it still depends on the large number of undecideds.

I fear the worst.

But do check out Poll Bludger Mumble. And Back Pages, as Chris has the ALP surging ahead. Scott Wickstein over at Troppo Armadillo punts for the ALP

The Canberra Press Gallery is saying that Howard will win despite the lift in the primary vote for the ALP and the surging green vote. The ALP just cannot get the 13 seats required. So argues Laura Tingle in the Australian Financial Review. The ALP may win 13 but lose 5 says Lenore Taylor in the AFR. (I concur.) A narrow Coalition win says Crikey.

From what I can make out most of the newspapers are siding with the LNP. The reason they give is economic prosperity and economic growth, despite the lack of a fourth term reform agenda by the Coalition, and it looking very tired. I concur. The economy is the key.

The Australian Financial Review is typical, as it acknowledges these flaws, but then pumps iron for the LNP. The LNP's platform it says:

"... appeals more than Labor's to the qualities Australia needs to overcome the competitive challenges of the 21st century. Mr Howard at least makes the link between past sacrifices and present prosperity. Labor takes the fruits of reform for granted, and concentratres on doling them out to favoured groups----lower-income earners, two-income families public services --rather than than on ensuring future harvests."

Oh, the pork barrelling and handouts to all and sundry by Howard is conveniently forgotten. Were not the handouts the real golden thread of Howard's campaign? This is spin not analysis.

The AFR goes on after praising Peter Costello as experienced and capable:

"Labor's front bench has too many weak links especially in economic policy.When the pork and regrets are stripped away, the Coalition would do more to reward effort and enterprise and promote growth than Labor's resort to the retro-fashions of redistribution and ever larger public services. That, and Labor's cynical obstruction of reform in opposition, should be enough to give John Howard his coveted fourth election win."

How odd. Latham is all about reward and effort in the classic neo-liberal style. He is willing to move beyond the Hilmer reforms of the public sector to a reform of the Trade Practices Act, so as to stop big companies from using their market power to damage competitors. It is the Coalition resisting increased competition to protect the big end of town.

The neo-liberal Latham just disappears out the window. So does the big tax and spend Howard Government described by John Quiggin.

What can we say? The AFR has embraced cartoon politics.

Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at October 8, 2004 10:30 AM

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