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shifting political ground « Previous | |Next »
July 5, 2005

The Howard Government has now gained control of the Senate. The Democrats have now lost official party status. The Nationals gain Senate party status. The Greens have effectively aligned themselves with the ALP.

Leahy2.jpg
Leahy, After the Deluge

Maybe not.

The Nationals are looking pretty frisky with Senator Barnaby Joyce talking the classic Senate talk of House of Reviews, federalism, and Senators representing their region. That checks and balances view is the response the centralisation of industrial relations in the hands of the federal government. Even the WA senators are edgy.

The Nationals are also talking about driving hard bargains on Telstra, industrial relations, voluntary student unionism, and retail competition.

A more flexible labour market may well have a detrimental impact on families. If households are placed at risk through unfair dismissals by bastard employers using the new IR legislation, then that pulls the rug under quality family life. The neo-liberal IR reforms then start to undercut the value of family life in a globalised world. Are not family values resolutely defended by cultural and political conservatives?

Now that discloses a good space for the ALP to play some classic wedge politics. Will the ALP conservatives have the strategic smarts to do this?

Or will it be the Nationals in order to regain lost popularity and rebuild their profile?

Remember National Senators, such as Barnaby Joyce, and Family First Senator Steve Fielding, were elected by electoral Senate constituents traditionally opposed to neo-liberal economic reforms and very wary of the proposed Coalition bills, especially the sale of the core network of Telstra. If both Senators want to be re-elected they will need to keep that constitutency onside.

That means they cannot afford to become clones of a Liberal Party that will contest their Senate seat in 2010. That means they will have to maintain their minority profile to avoid political death.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:47 AM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

Similar to my thinking here. It will be make or break for the Nationals, I feel.

Guy,

that was a good post It highlights the way are living on the knife edge of a contradiction now that One Nation has gone.

With all the neo-liberal legisaltion coming before the Senate that contradiction between economic reform and regional community viability can only sharpen.

They will have to be sharp witted and clever as they may lose even more ground to independents if they are not oppositional enough.