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

the penny's dropped « Previous | |Next »
May 23, 2007

The penny had to drop sometime didn't it. Along with mining booms and prosperity goes the economic insecurity caused by high mortgages, Work Choices and global warming. Another advertising campaign to rebrand Work Choices into a goody goody brand to make us feel safe and comfortable in the Lucky Country isn't going to cut it.

Matt Golding

The realization is that its more than an ALP honeymoon. Something has shifted in public opinion at a deep level. Despite at the lack of overt antagonism to the Coalition unease is now working its way through the Coalition ranks as the clock ticks. The Coalition is looking embattled.

Standing on their economic credentials for a decade of sustained prosperity is not going to be enough. Nor will the fear campaign -'Rudd the destroyer' will tear down our Mcmansions and send us all to the workhouse --- bite deeply.

People must be concerned that federal funding for private schools will increase from $5.8 billion to $7.5 billion over the next five years, whilst funding to public schools will only rise from $3.1 billion to $3.4 billion over the next five years. After all 70 per cent of parents still send their children to government schools. As Ross Gittens points out in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Today, the budget shows public schools getting 31 per cent of the money while the private schools get 69 per cent. But public schools still have two-thirds of the enrolments. Mainly because of Commonwealth grants, funding for non-government schools is growing at three times the rate of spending on public schools, which is far in excess of the growth in the private sector's share of enrolments....Get this: the minimum grant per student paid to private schools ranked as the least needy is now far higher than the grant per student paid to public schools.

The education revolution is one where the commonwealth is quietly moving to a position where they look after the private schools and leaving the public schools to the states. It is a substantial public subsidy to private schools, who continue to charge big fees.

I presume that the anti-public pro-private prejudice of the members of the Coalition is such that it holds public schools are for losers whilst private schools are for winners. Just like public transport.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:33 AM | | Comments (31)


Where theres smoke theres fire. I'm wondering with 4 months to the election if Costello does have time to establish himself....Rudds come a long way in a short time and all he has really done is stand around looking good and speaking eloquently. Costello has street cred!
Last week I was predicting that Aug 25 would be the date because there is a big chance that any momentum that the Coalition has gained with be trashed by all the September 11 stuff which will drag Iraq into the news for a week.
From memory Howard won the last count by 10. So it only means 6 change their minds.

maybe. I think not. Too close. They're stuck with what they've got despite the current rumblings on the backbench. Howard is struggling to get traction with his the 'unions will run the country' --all those union members in the parliamentary party--- and they will send us back to the stone age. He doesn't look good in Question Time.

The election goes down to the wire.However, the Costello voices in the media (eg., Glenn Milne) are getting pretty stroppy. It will be interesting to read what they will be writing over the next month or so.

The Coalition is sure on the defensive. Costello is pretty much carrying them at the moment both in Question Time and out in the media.

This Work Choices affair reminds me of Kentucky Fried Chicken changing their name to KFC years ago. The name changed, however the product stayed the same. This week the Libs discovered that selling unpopular work place reform isn't the same as selling fried chicken.

Yes it was funny yesterday when Costello nailed them all for being members of trade unions. It didn't make the news that I watched though.
The media get bored quickly and is perhaps getting that way with the Rudd leading Howard in the polls story. I would bet that the next few lots of news polls also highlights the preferred leader of the Coalition.Well the 9 and 7 news anyway. That is the audience that will decide the election

The Coalition sure has handled the politics of Work Choices badly.

It's a junk product and seen as such because it takes away penalty rates, overtime, holidays,increase of overwork and unpaid overtime, etc without putting in a safety net for employees in the original WorkChoices laws.

So the situation developed where people traded away penalty rates without fair compensation.

A junk product.

Well it is hard to run a scare campaign when Greg Combet (not Sharon Burrows) comes across as so reasonable, intelligent, rational and considered in the media.

The reponse to unions running the country is well, it would be good for Combet to be there. He's much better than some of the other hacks.

Combet looks to me the number 1 candidate to get Bolts in his neck from the Cartoonists.
He is I'm sure a very smart and smooth operator but I am not sure how he will gel with the public when he is branded as "A Politician" rather than a Union Man.
It makes me shudder to look into my crystal ball and see him and all those ex union dudes that are being parachuted in sitting on the from bench.
ALP KFC It sort of rhymes eh!

You may well be right. I would have thought they would go for Doug Cameron or Bill Shorter, but I guess it is who has the higher public profile.

The previous ACTU president's with the exception of Bob Hawke, have not done very well have they? Apart from Simon Crean, they been almost indistinguishable from the rest of the pack. I'm thinking of Jennie George and Martin Ferguson. However, I'm sure that Jennie does good work in her electorate of Throsby in NSW.

As predicted much speculation of a Costello overthrow on the 9 news also some video of Bill Hayden shaking Bob Hawks hand after Hayden was rolled by Hawk for leader on the day that the Election was called.
The Knives are being sharpened.

yes I saw the Hawke clip and speculation re PM on Sky News when I came back to the Canberra office from a meeting. However, Wilson Tuckey is not credible. He is out on a limb as a loose canon attacking fellow Liberals (Julie Moylan) in the Parliament. Still he's causing trouble and the tensions and leadership speculation are making life difficult.

Camp Costello has a brand problem. Costello is not popular in the electorate.Too much smirking, arrogance and clever barrister trickery. Such a contrast to Hawke, who was very popular, and so gave the ALP a fillip.

Still the Government is heading to an election with an unappealing package-- a PM increasingly seen as past his use-by-date. He needs a circuit breaker quick smart. Attacking the Opposition as hopelessly bad isn't going to do it.

I don't think there are any rabbits for Howard now. He has come to a point where I think there is nothing that he can do to improve his persona possible and can only rely on Labor shooting itself in the foot. Jeanette Howard is beginning to be characterized as another Fat Royal and that isn't helping either. Howard too is beginning to look a bit iffy in his own electorate. There is too the age factor too.
If Howard has any trump cards left he will need to play them in the next few days.
Will be interesting to see how Rudd plays it too. He must be feeling confident up against Howard but up against Costello he is back to the unknown.

the odds in the betting markets are very close (even money) unlike the opinion polls. I prefer to follow the betting markets as providing a more accurate guide than the polls.

I do discern a shift in the collective opinion of the poltical pundits and commentators in the media that the Howard Government is on the ropes. I'm not persuaded. 16 seats is a lot to haul back when the economy is chugging along.

Yes agreed 16 is a lot and then the Senate.
I tend to follow these issues like a hideous reality show. I want to look away but I just cant! It would be hilarious if it wasn't so damn important.
If the Libs change leader they will look like they are beat. If the press start saying Costello has got the numbers(whether he has or hasn't)and he doesn't challenge he will look weak.
Its a hard one. Surely there must be some old photos of Rudd in womens clothes somewhere???

Any point continuing with this, in light of today's revelations?
2004 it was Lennon. This time it's Rudd's bitch of a wife.
People look at Howard and say, well at least the knife comes from the front rather than in the back.
I loath scabs.

I saw the full interview on Sky News.From the account Rudd presented to the media Rein's company appears to have acted properly in relation to her workers. The original common law contracts (not Australian Workplace Agreements), which underpaid the employees, were inherited when her firm ---WorkDirections Australia, a subsidiary of Rein's company Ingeus----acquired Your Employment Solutions.

After the discrepancy was found through an internal review, proper action seems to have been taken.The 58 staff had been wrongly classified by the last owner, leading to the underpayment under the new contracts.The underpaid staff were paid.

I thought that Rudd acted well, even though deeply embarassed. Rein doesn't have to do anything about being arms length from her businesses whilst he is opposition leader. Nor does Rein need to sell her businesses.

What it does mean is that Labor will have to tread more carefully when they point the finger at companies around Work Choices.

aah a political junky--but not a policy wonk. Yes it is a spectacle as the political reality is what is in the media loop.

A suitably briefed Pollie x say 'pppp' as he enters Parliament, pollie y sees it or hears it on the media comments gggg on an interview with the media an hour or so latter and it becomes an issue that gets kicked around all day with lots of minor nuances. Then the commentators will write about it for the following mornings papers, the early morning commentary wil pick it from the papers, and the pollies will comment on it as they enter Parliament the next morning after having been advised by their media officers by phone what's happened in the newspapers and radio.

This will be played out around Rudd's wife companies for several days. It has been played around Howard's 'annihilation' comments in the form of leadership speculation, when it was a tactic designed to create fear amongst the Coalition and as a jolt them into war mode.

It all feeds into the bigger story. The Government may have worn out its welcome. WorkChoices is very unpopular. Climate change a political nightmare. Rudd is an clever opponent in pre-empting Government policy and answering allegations about his wife's business. The Government is still behind in the polls and at sixes and sevens whilst those citizens who are not strongly committed to a particular side of politics remain switched off from the political debate.

So how do Howard and Costello etc deal with that? What are the tactics? Will they work? Political junkies love it.

Sorry Paul, you sound like a desperate Coalition supporter clutching at straws here.

Any objective look at the situation re: Therese Rein is that the company did the right thing - without any outside influence BEFORE a scandal developed.

Contrast Rudd's reaction with much of what has happened during Howard's reign and it is actually quite refreshing to see someone not blaming someone else.

I thought Rudd looked good on the 7:30 Report.

Hartcher in the SMH had a good point today, politically, yesterday belonged to the Coalition, but in the long term Rudd will benefit.

yes the Hartcher op-ed in the SMH was good. The Coalition won the day's battle whilst Rudd managed to salvage the tricky situation.

Dennis Shanahan in The Australian was pretty poor in trying to argue the worker exploitation and conflict of interest line. On the former he says:

Politically, Labor has been caught in a hypocritical stance, pouncing on exploitative employers without warning, adding to public campaigns that have hurt businesses but defending Rein's problems as an "honest mistake."

How does he know it was not a mistake?

The conflict of interest for Rudd only arises if the ALP wins the election in November, and that's not guaranteed, as Shanahan keeps arguing.

It is good for Rudd that he can look good while holding his cap in hand...He will need to do it often if Labor get up.
I suppose that when the C.E.S was privatised Therese Rein was in the right place at the right time.

Rudd would have gained a lot of sympathy from professional women with that interview.It was a great look the respect he has for his wife.

It counters the PM's message that if citizens want to keep the good bits of the Coalition's term - economic prosperity, stable leadership and national security - they can't elect Labor, cos they will wreck things.

Rudd a wrecker? He loves his wife and supports her as a high achiever in the business world.

Yes but will professional women vote for him? or Labor?
I don't think that is their demographic.
Besides hes a seasoned politician/public speaker/media player Thats bread and butter to him. He would of walked off camera and gone straight for the tape.
Most that I talked to about it thought that it was a good way of saying the business is for sale but we aren't panicking and we aren't going to sell it below its value.

I don't know.

Rudd's crafting a public image as a modern politician who understands modern families, not an old backward looking one like the PM.

Therese Rain only needs to do something about the Australian part of her company. The overseas parts can be kept.They earn more money than the Australian operation.

Yes you have to look at it from the Australian persons perspective. We are a basic lot. It will look to many that she is the brains of the operation because she has all the money.

maybe, the reality is that politics and business are two different universes however much they overlap.

I note I merited not one but two responses from you, Gary.
I was coming off of insomnia/ irritability and reacted to the terms of tv and newspapers reports concerning the non-event.
You could add a general frustration with the IR debate, overall.
It's a reaction to the coalition's tactics on the back foot, resorting to guerrilla warfare based on thought-implants against the manipulation of uncertainty as to when the election is called. One smells the likes of Andrew Robb, along with Howard, at the back of much of this. They are skilled at manipulating prejudices.
For example, Like Les, I have suspicions about "B----s in powersuits" ( eg the likes of Heather Rideout ; Margaret whats'er name from Qantas, Hardie's Meredith Hellicar, Janet Albrechtsen, etc; all so cold-blooded as to make Lady Macbeth seem more humanitarian than Mother Theresa of Calcutta ).
Like their male counterparts they adopt such a cold, selfish and predatory outlook toward society. They see the community and humanity as prey rather than a basis for social action.
No, sorry. Can't cop them.
But for reasons mentioned above, it's more to do with loathing of the business ethic and pathology than misogyny.

you may well be right about in your judgement about Heather Rideout, Margaret Jackson, Merdith Hellicar and co as members of a business class.

But note the shift that has taken place. Two weeks or so ago Rideout was bashing the hell out of Rudd over IR. He stood for the past (bad) . On Friday she was out there defending him in the way he respected Therese Rain as his business woman and wife over the IR issue in her company.She thereby affirmed that Rudd stood for the future (good).

That is a significant shift. Gender can cut across class very odd ways. Even Janet Albrechtson in the Australian has come out in support of Therese Rain.

The above response is a very different reaction to that on talkback radio in Melbourne. As Shaun Carney reports in The Age:

The back-of-the-envelope take on the story is that Rudd is a hypocrite on IR laws, with his very wealthy wife enriching their family by using individual contracts to gouge money out of low-paid workers. That's not what happened, but it certainly seemed to be the way most of the talkback seemed to running on 3AW and 774 ABC yesterday.

This event is going to flow in many different ways.The Coalition's attack dogs are going to have to be careful how they play this in terms of the Canberra Beltway policy/political crowd and talkback radio.

Well, of course Rideout, Albrechtsen and co would back up Rudd on Therese Rein!
In the case of these individuals, feminism is misappropriated into a sort of bastardised wedge-creating power-feminism, that operates as ideologicised alibiing for the anti social self-will run riot that commentators like Terry Eagleton so depise.
I thought Therese Rein handled her return home with considerable aplomb and would have much to offer this country as a pm's wife- certainly much more so than that less than useless current bearer of the title.
I watched that individual's husband at work on telly tonight, working away in typically nauseating fashion at the Rudds and the unfortunate public, with his mealy-mouthed wedge politics. Am more convinced than ever that the country desperately needs rid of him, even if it meant the devil himself in his place.
A relatively benign figure in the form of Revin Rudd and the ALP, would at least probably offer an even better short term respite.

do you mean Therese Rain's decision to sell the Australian arm of her job placement empire? It is necessary to defuse the surveillence and the inevitable attention and the appearance of a conflict of interest.

That decision begins to cut the ground away from under Howard's feet.

yes Paul that would be nice. but can we keep the keys to the treasury in a safe place?

So, Therese is selling off part her of business? Sounds like a considerable part.
I saw that the Rudds are already millionaires and that the business could be worth up to $170 mill.
I should have such troubles, on my ten K a year disability pension.
She seems a capable woman. They could make a Clintonesque pair and surely a marvellous opportunity for a meaningful attempt at the higher Weberian goal of serving fellow humanity, as relates to their proclaimed values.
After all, what is the alternative?
"What shall it benefit a person if they gain the world and lose their very soul".
They stand accused of being the most useless form of humanity under God's heaven; aspirationals. And worse still, aspirationals in sheeps clothing!
I'd be truly intrigued to see what they would do if given a chance to disprove such a notion and we cannot do worse than Howard.
But I've been too bitterly disappointed by politicians and humanity in general in the past (including self) not retain a certain scepticism.

As I understand it the overseas parts of the Rain business are worth $170 million and the overseas parts have greater incomes flows than the Australian part.