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The campaign trail: looks like veneer to me « Previous | |Next »
March 18, 2004

Whilst John Howard's re-election strategy is centred on 'the economy and national security', Mark Latham is currently walking a tightrop between economic growth jobs and environment in Tasmania. Latham's ALP is trying to neutralize national security as an issue with a quick stir of human concern about children in detention centres.

We have been experiencing 3 days of John Howard here in South Australia. The PM is basically trying to shore up the marginal Liberal seats in Adelaide (eg., Makin, Hindmarsh, Adelaide) with some smoke and mirrors. This involves federal funding for a high tech hub for manufacturing in Elizabeth; more funding to improve the economic and environmental future of the Murray River in South Australia; and funding stormwater retention and new production methods for viticulture in the Adelaide Plains).

There is also a strong attack on the Rann Government's proposed workplace laws; and the standard 'Labor does not understand how to manage the economy' script at a SA business lunchen.

Meanwhile, Latham is trying to keep Tasmania for the ALP whilst trying to win the inner urban seats of Melbourne and Sydney with some green veneer. So far he has endorsed clear felling of old growth native forests, job protection, no changes to the regional forestry agreement, and an unwillingness to retrain forestry workers.

That poses a problem. The ALP strategy is an old one: to influence preferences in key seats in Melbourne and Sydney is going to need more than reassuring the timber industry and unions in Tasmania. Still, Latham has another day to learn the green talk, send the right messages to get those crucial green preferences and put together a coherent, sustained case for reform.

I do not expect much to come out of this Tasmanian visit. It's about political expediency. Latham's writings are neo-liberal in tone (roll back the bureaucracy, open up the market, foster social entrepreneurship) etc etc; and they show little understanding of the way that the economy is dependent on ecology. Latham sees resources not ecology. So he will miss the way the Gunn's veneer mill uses a miniscule fraction of forest destroyed by the unprecedented levels of woodchip destruction of the wild forests.

Oh, I've also heard about little about liberal corporatism in Tasmania from the federal ALP. Then, they always were corporatist, were they not? Hence their historical resistance to the democratic project. Today they serious about political power and willing to sacrifice substantive social and environmental reform.

Update
So Bob Brown endorses Mark Latham even though Latham endorsed the Tasmanian government position on logging. Latham did not concede an inch on forest policy.
CartoonLeakaph3.jpg
Bill Leak

Leak is a bit tough. After all, Bob Browm has raised the profile of the issue from a state to a national issue. Good for him.

So what does Brown's endorsement of Latham mean?

A deal: Green preferences to go to the ALP in the House of Representatives; ALP preferences to go to the Greens in the Senate. That means the Democrats have been cut out. That means more Green Senators in the Senate.

Here's a question. If the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate (as I suspect they might do) then will they work with the government of the day? Or will they say no as they have been doing throughout this term of Parliament?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:29 AM | | Comments (6) | TrackBacks (1)
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Comments

Comments

All we ask is for an end to woodchipping and clearfelling of our old growth forests.

In return I suggest that you commit to building a 1Billion dollar paper mill in tasmania to replace the small number of jobs lost. The paper mill, using cutting edge technology, sources its timber from regrowth and plantations. Our old growth forests can then continue to be selectively felled for valued added products such as furniture and boat building. Why let Gunns take Tasmanias heritage away in some mcdonalds like, corporate wellfare "fast forest" industry?

I fear that the federal ALP will not move to end clear felling of old growth forests and woodchipping.

I have yet to see any indication that they would do so.

This is not a replay of the 1990s Franklin River.

Read The Australian: Peter Walsh: Don't fall for green fallacies [March 19, 2004] about how some of the sentiments go in the ALP in regards to forest issues.

I have been a member of the Victorian ALP Environment Policy Committee during the Cain/Kirner government and the forest issue will always be problematic for Labor. The CFMEU Consruction Forestry Mining Energy Union, which is affiliated to the ALP does not look kindly to the 'greenies', while 'saving the forests' can be a key issue for some inner suburban electorates.

I consider myself to be a greenie, and I sustain that clear logging of old growth forests is illogical. However I can also undestand the position of some forest worker that would feel his job threatened by any more closure of potential timber winning areas. We can't all become tourist operators.

It is sad to observe how some workers however, have become mouthpieces of corporate timber companies. During my time in the Policy Committee, ARMCOR (paper mill company) would allow CFMEU members to attend meetings on company time and even providing them with a car to drive from Traralgon to Melbourne to stifle any proposal which would protect forests form paper making concerns

Is a deal a sure thing or will Latham make a last minute dash to the Democrats? They are far more agreeable to Labor's neo-liberal agenda.

g

Guido,
Yeah I've read Peter Walsh over the years. He gets worse as he gets older and makes even less sense.

What can I say? Other than the ALP has real problems bot h in terms of green issues and the unions acting for the companies.

That's corporatism for you.

The Democrats are surely on the way out anyway. They always had two constituencies -- moderate Libs who thought Fraser was too right-wing on social policy, and a collective of students, teachers and greenies who provided the more activist arm of the party.

The old "Don-Chipp Dem" supporters have long since retired, and I suspect vote Liberal again. And the young greenie-student Dems and teachers vote Green.

The Dem MP's haven't helped themselves either. First there was Janine Haines who got delusions of grandeur and resigned her Senate spot to run third in a lower house seat. Then there was Cheryl Kernot who remade the Dems as the "kindly parent" supervising squabbling children in the major parties, until she lurched to the right by backing the GST, then lurched to the left by joining Labor, then lost her seat altogether.

Then on to Meg Lees, a relic of the old teacher union Dems until she backed the sale of Telstra and became a kind of voodoo doll for her party. I notice she has a weblog now (good for her!) but doesn't allow people to post on it (boo!)

Then .. Natasha! A blaze of celebrity and Doc Martens but no policy direction at all. At about this time, the Greens had managed to replace their ineffective "protest" Senators (Chammarette and Margetts) with hard-nosed politico's like Bob Brown, and suddenly it became the Dems supporting Green policies and not the other way round.

The one thing that irritates me about the Greens is the constant boasting about how their preferences make and break governments and how everyone should be listening to their every utterance. Arrogance is never attractive, especially when its not backed by reality.

But that's just a personal opinion, and no reflection on their polices. I don't vote Green but I admire their dedication.