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pork barrel as a political attack weapon « Previous | |Next »
February 24, 2005

I'm reading an old Bulletin---last weeks, which I found lying around. It seems to be so very thin in the way of content, with little to say that is of much public interest. It appears to be on its last legs. It's circulation is dropping. And there is now some nostalgia being expressed for The Bulletin's better days.

Is there any space for weekly print magazines these days with the burgeoning virtual media?

The Laurie Oaks' 'Power Play' columns in The Bulletin are worth reading. His regional rorts running up to the federal election in this old issue are interesting. He says:

Like Sports Rorts, Regional Partnerships helps government MPs to defend marginal seats. But it is also designed as an attack weapon to dislodge opposition MPs.

Oaks says the Sports Rorts under the Keating Government were essentially defensive in political intent. The primary aim was to help Labor hold on to its marginals in the 1993 poll. Labor MPs could shore up support by securing grants for projects, usually sports-related, in their electorates.

How did the Howard Government's Regional Partnerships achieve their attack objectives? Oaks spells it out:

Before last year’s election, when grants went to seats held by Labor or independents, the sitting members were left out in the cold. Announcements were made by “patron” Liberal or National Party senators assigned to those seats, with Coalition candidates involved as prominently as possible. It was a means of boosting the profile of Liberal and National Party candidates. “A Coalition candidate could be made to look like a more effective local member,” claims a Labor frontbencher.

Sounds about right to me.

Such are the ways that Australian Governments try to entrench themselves in power. A lot of the politics we see being played out are about retaining the hand on the levers of power.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:47 PM | | Comments (0)
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