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

ACT elections: Labor slides « Previous | |Next »
October 14, 2008

There is an election on Saturday for the ACT Legislative Assembly and it is widely expected that the Labor Party Government of Jon Stanhope will lose its historic majority. It's just a question of how significant that swing is. Labor sounds and looks complacent.It has become too used to dominating politics in Canberra.

The issues are unclear but they seem to circle around health and education (public schooling) even though the campaign has lacked debate on the future of the ACT, or it has little to do with a contest of ideas on any serious public issue. It is unclear how the major parties see the future of the ACT under climate change. For instance, where is Canberra's water going to come from in a warmer world?

The history is that Canberra voters have elected five minority governments in the past six elections, thereby inserting checks and balances into the unicameral parliamentary system, and they are expected to do so again. The Greens could win up to four seats in the 17-member chamber, thereby capturing the balance of power. And they are happy to work with Labor or Liberal.

The proportional electoral system used for the Legislative Assembly in the ACT gives a boost to minor parties and Independents. Will Labor supporters park their votes with the Greens as an alternative to a Labor Government that has definitely lost its gloss?

The Greens are seeking "an all party pledge" to improve and strengthen the open, community-consultative style of government by:

* to respect the vote of Canberrans at the election, and to agree to work positively in minority government, if elected;
* to not make misleading statements, misrepresent the policies of other parties or place misleading advertising;
* to explore areas of policy agreement after the election in order to formulate an agreed policy programme for the benefit of Canberrans, which recognises the challenges of climate change and financial uncertainty;
* to outline the Government legislative and executive program at the beginning of each year to be submitted for community consultation;
* to support a review of Assembly procedures to ensure adequate scrutiny of Government is occurring and to increase public participation in decision making, including improved oversight of legislation by the community and cross-benches;
* to guarantee that new legislation be publicly released prior to introduction to the Assembly with sufficient time to allow community input.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:49 AM | | Comments (14)
Comments

Comments

I think the Greens do not have much economic street cred with the punters going into uncharted waters.
I expect Labor to do better than expected but perhaps I am just expecting the unexpected.

Les,
I'm not sure that insight about the Greens applies in the ACT.The ACT is different. Labor reckons that a minority government is all but certain.

Veteran election analyst Malcolm Mackerras has predicted that Labor and Liberal would pick up seven seats each in the ACT's 17-seat Legislative Assembly, and the Greens three. He said Labor's vote would drop from about 47per cent in 2004 to 39 per cent, while the Liberal Party would get 37 per cent of the vote, up 2 per cent from 2004. The big winners would be the Greens, who he predicted would increase their share of the vote to 18 per cent, up from 9 per cent. Mackerras said:

While there was diminishing support for Mr Stanhope, there was a perception the Liberals were too inexperienced. It's a natural left-leaning electorate anyway. The Rudd Labor Government is still quite popular, people in Canberra are far more likely to have greenish types of thinking than anywhere else, with possible exception of Tasmania.

Economics does not seem to be playing a big role in Canberra.

The political landscape has changed over the last couple of weeks federally and I think this will transfer to the ACT election. The cementing of Turnbull has also had a cementing effect for Rudd and he has looked very much the leader in the last 2 weeks.
I am not sure about the Greens and Liberals as you say it is a different place but a 8% drop to Labor would more likely be 2% if that.

Les,
yes the political landscape has changed in the way you describe. But the feds play little role in the ACT and They have been notable by their absence in the political campaign. You may find this debate of interest on the ABC's National Interest program.

The ACT Liberals have been very disunited; reckon that they can slash $464 million from the ACT budget without a single job loss; dumped theior health policy and copied Labor's after ‘‘a $300 million hole’’ was discovered. The original policy was the centrepiece of their campaign launch.However, they now have their act together.

The Labor team is tired, dispirited,

Yes ACT politics has always been a bit lackluster. I guess its only really because of the position of the federal Parliament there that makes it all look like a B grade operation.
Its fair to say that we will be facing across the board job losses in many areas.

Les
The Patterson survey published in The Canberra Times a fortnight ago suggested that a 12 per cent drop in the Labor vote has been harvested almost entirely by the Greens. In other jurisdictions, Labor could console itself with the thought that most of those votes would return to them as preferences -- but the ACT's Hare-Clark system of proportional representation means the shift in votes will translate into seats lost to the Greens.

Interesting. Perhaps I am wrong. And I was hoping to get to Xmas without being wrong once.

The Greens must be disappointed with the world economic situation. They were really gaining some momentum there for a while.

Les,
polls can be wrong. The latest polls say that Zed Seselja, the leader of the Liberals, is too inexperienced, even though he is their best hope for years. Labor is not very inspiring on transport and energy issues.

there is lots of Labor advertsing and The Canberrra Times has been dreadful in its covereage.

Les,
it is 7 Labor Liberal and 3 Green so far. But more counting is needed and the Hare Clarke system has a history of producing surprises.

I like that system---you can not only vote for your party but also vote for which member you want elected, as 5 or more from the same party stand for the same electorate. Much more democratic than single member electorates. Run on the general Australian preferential system in single-member electorates, the results would have been an overwhelming Labor triumph, thanks to Green preferences.

Nan,
That result combined with the N.S.W one makes Labor look unbackable.

Still a newspaper poll here on the coast which is traditionally non Labor reads that 70% feel that Rudd is doing well with the economy.
This suggest to me that he will need to be seen to fail before the voters turn on him as they are doing in the states.

Les,
even though Labor's old stranglehold on state and territory government is now on the way out, the concern in the ACT was with ACT Labor and regional issues not Rudd + co. Although it is currently a 7-7 tie with the Greens as kingmakers, the assumption in Canberra is that the Greens will support Stanhope Labor rather than the Liberals. The interpretation is that the electorate put some significant checks and balances on Labor, but reiterated their preference for a Labor Government.

The Liberals are trying to get into the negotiating table, but their triumphalism at ending Labor's majority rule is undercut by their own loss of votes, and their failure and seeming incapacity to convert former Labor voters to their cause.

The Greens say it is all about policies--who has the best environmental policies since the overriding issue in the electorate was climate change. The Liberals would have to make too many concessions.

I notice that the commenter's and posters on this blog have softened on Labor somewhat.
Has the belief that Labor is the better option dullened or is it that the evil Howard is being forgotten in time?
Or is it that those of us that love the politics are all really just critical of the government of the day?

Les,
there is a difference between state and federal Labor. It is state Labor that is suffering swings against it--around 10% in the ACT. In Queensland, the newly merged Liberal-National Party, the LNP, has injected new life into conservative politics to the point where Bligh Labor continues to trail the LNP on the primary vote. Why so? A 10-year-old state Labor Government is looking tired and run out of ideas? Will they have to rely on the Greens as happened in the ACT?

This swing against Labor is not happening for the Rudd Govt.

An amusing event on morning radio today. Blight was being interviewed about her viewing the new roof at the convention center. She proclaimed "I love a good roof" an awkward silence followed. Very Funny.

Labor here looks dead in the water. The new brooms look ready for action.