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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Nip 'n tuck in time « Previous | |Next »
July 14, 2004

Well now. I'm sitting having my coffee in the winter sun reading the Australian Financial Review and wondering why the Coalition is not doing all that well in the Liberal marginal seats in South Australia.

I do not have any access to the private polling in these marginal seats (ie., Adelaide, Hindmarsh & Markin). My judgement about the Coalition being in trouble is based on two recent events. Consider these:

---yesterday's changes to the temporary protection visas for refugees that introduces a bit more humanitarian sensibility to the hardline detention, refugee and border protection policies that demonized refugees as criminals and terrorists. The door has been opened a tad to allow for the possibility of permanent residence. Just a tad.

----this morning's announcement that the Federal Government has backed away from imposing a low level nuclear waste dump on South Australia. The Federal Court had ruled in June that the Commonwealth's compulsory acquisition of land for a site in South Australia was unlawful. The Commonwealth Government has decided that it will not challenge that court decision in the High Court.

My reading of these events is that both issues would have continued to damage the Howard Government in the marginal seats. For instance, Peter McGauran, the Science Minister, had been heavy handed in his approach to the nuclear waste dump issue, and this had created a political backlash amongst SA liberals.

The policy switch by Howard on these two issues aims to claw back the ALP lead by bringing the social liberals (wets) back into the liberal fold. He is protecting his own base. It's a defensive move that indicates the Coalition is in real trouble in these marginal seats.

I notice in passing that Federal Labor equivocates on the issue. I don't trust them either.

CartoonLeak5aph.jpg
Bill Leak

The ALP has also been managing a damaging issue--Iraq. The return of Kim Beazley to the front bench as Opposition spokesperson for defence has begun to neutralize the alliance issue that was damaging the ALP. The tone has already changed. It appears that the ALP is on middle ground, rather than appearing to be anti-American. Beazley's ability to uphold Australia's national interest, whilst retaining a deep sympathy to the US, will prevent an erosion of votes in the all important middle ground.

I presume that the ALP will start looking better in Western Australia, where it was not travelling well. However, unless they are on the nose, governments are good at reeling in their opponents during an election campaign. They have all the advantages of encumbency.

July 15
Gregory Hywood reckons that the ALP has blown its electoral lead of only a few months ago. The finger is pointed at an arrogant Latham's instinctive anti-Americanism. This is deemed to be ill conceived, as it placed the alliance at risk. It is tantamount to political suicide for Labor to thumb its nose at the world's sole superpower, which also happens to be Australia's closest ally.

Why is this so? Hywood says that:


"The US alliance is a staple of Australian politics. Elements of the social and political elite may resent its inherent inequality, but it's just a fact of life. In an alliance between a country of 20 million and another with 275 million that happens to be the most militarily powerful and socially influential nation on earth, the big guy has the last word. Australians instinctively understand this and are prepared to trade off an element of independence for the ultimate insurance the alliance provides. As Latham has found, any mainstream political leader who jeopardises this pays a price."


It is over-the-top rhetoric to say that it is tantamount to political suicide for Labor to thumb its nose at the world's sole superpower.' What is up with the Hywood fellow? Why should the ALP rollover and sign up to the son of star wars?

Should there not be a focus on the Asia-Pacific region and the possibility of an arms race there from Australia's national interest? What possible reason do we have for facilitating an arms race in our region?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:09 AM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

I sometime wonder how people like Hywood can get paid with that sort of analysis. Most bloggers would provide a much more sophisticated argument than that.

This Beazley thing has swung opinion everywhere, which is an indication of how a 'soft centre left' party like the ALP is always squeezed between moderate-progressive/left positions.

For an opinion about why Beazley was bad for Labor read Graham Young comments.

awh shucks Guido,
everybody loves the bomber.They love the way he explains simple things and just adore his sales pitch.

Don't spoil the party. The ALP is now singing along with the Bomber and his glimmer twins.