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

Onward the Greens « Previous | |Next »
October 4, 2004

Steve Lewis in The Australian has made his call. He says:

"It's time . . . to declare Mark Latham the winner of this election campaign. Barring some extraordinary mishap over the next five days, the Labor leader will finish this marathon a clear points winner over John Howard."

I reckon so too. The tide is flowing Latham's way in a fear and bait campaign played by both sides. It has done so in spite of this counter to the ALP + Greens electoral alliance:


Has the tidal flow been enough? Or will the Coalition just hang on? Will the LNP lose the campaign but win the election?

You can sense the vulnerability of the Coalition. Medicare Gold highlighted that. Howard's messages during the campaign have largely been reactive, homing in on Latham's inexperience and running a scare campaign about the "threat" of higher interest rates under a Labor Government. Howard has been playing catch-up to his Latham, in spite of the hint of a forward-looking fourth term agenda: on building vocational skills, a stronger emphasis on vocational education, and the national water initiative. So are we going to see a big Coalition advertising campaign that is overwhelmingly negative in the final week?

Steve Lewis qualifies his call. He says that his money still remains on a narrow Coalition victory. Ken Parish concurs.

Does that mean a polarised electorate, one supporting the Coalition in the House of Representatives and favouring the Greens in the Senate to put a brake on the Government. The Greens have become the new "third force" in the Senate, and they have done so at the expense of the ALP and Democrats.

That is my reading of the desire for change, as of this moment. It's still the prosperous economy that is blocking the underlying desire for a more sweeping change across the political spectrum. John Howard is also blocking the desire for change by his shift from the minimal government (of neo-liberalism )to the big government (of conservatism).

John Quiggin describes the philosophical shift by John Howard's Government this way:

"The new position, most evident with Medicare, but also indicated in his education policy, might be called "Universalism + Choice". In relation to health, this means ensuring universal access to bulk billing and public hospitals while also encouraging private health insurance. Similarly, for schools it means "easing the squeeze" (Sorry!) on the public system, while still providing support for private schools across the board.

Universalism + Choice has some appeal. But, done properly, it's going to be expensive. Unless Howard stages a full-scale "promises overboard", it's unlikely we'll see significant tax cuts any time soon under a re-elected Liberal government."

And the environment, which is usually forgotten by the justice-orientated social democrats? Will the promise to save the Tasmanian forests keep the tidal flow going on the contested ground of the marginal inner city seats? The ALP has to play this green hand first. But it will be minimal change. It will not say no to logging the old growth forests now. Will another promise (to a sustainable forestry industry?) will be dangled in front of us? Will it be one with lots of wriggle room?

What is of long term policy interest is that the signs increasingly look as if the time is up for the ecological vandals in Tasmania. The tide is flowing against the logging industryand timber workers at long last. A Green Senate will keep the pressure on the major parties to do the right thing in a corporatist Tasmania to save the old growth forests.

5 October
Malcolm Mackerras makes his call in todays Australian Financial Review. He says that the Coalition will win by eight seats with the Coalition having 37 seats in the Senate, where the Greens will be a bigger party than the Democrats.

In the same issue Nick Economou says that Victoria will continue to be stalemated electorally with a minimal transfer to the ALP or no transfer at all.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:42 PM | | Comments (0)