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

The Howard Years « Previous | |Next »
December 9, 2008

I watched the fourth and final episode of the ABC's The Howard Years that traced the Liberals defeat at the 2007 election and their failure to swap Howard for Costello. Not that the change/renewal would have saved them, as the Liberal Party had run out of ideas and policies. It was on the defensive.

I found the fourth episode more interesting than the others because it went beyond the standard mix of political context and surface comments from key players about political events to incorporate judgements about the success or otherwise of their actions and strategies. So we gained an insight into how their assessment of how they were travelling.

The one dimensional characteristic of the previous episodes was overcome, the political mask was dropped and people started talking as people. What came through was the baggage of the Liberal Party from the Howard years on industrial relations and its head in the sand on climate change. The political ground had shifted and the Coalition looked stranded. The Liberal ship was going down and they knew it.

Today the Liberal Party is deeply divided, not withstanding the hugh, and growing, gap between the Rudd Government's reformist agenda and its actual practice. Instead of standing firm on their own amendments on greater accountability and transparency on Infrastructure funding to prevent funds from being rorted, and on the recent water bill they folded. The former is understandable--blocking necessary investment in an economic crisis but not the latter. The Liberals did not even push for an scientific/hydrological assessment of the water savings even though they had the numbers in the Senate to do it.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:47 AM | | Comments (7)


Malcolm Turnbull was very successful in court as a barrister (as, it might be noted, was Peter "Dollar Sweety" Costello) but trying to cross-examine the government via the news media is a far different thing from leading an effective opposition.

I give him 12 months but the big problems is that once he is deposed from leadership he will be a real pain in the arse to whoever the new leader is.

If there isn't any major events with Turnbull he will lead the party to the next election. If there is a deposing it will be in the deputy position and it is unlikely that they will dump a competent woman for a man. That wont happen.
It is up to Rudd and co to prove themselves in the eyes of the public to be "good enough" economic managers. Nothing else at this stage.
Didn't watch the show. Old news.

I'm inclined to agree. Its the National side of the Coalition that is interesting. They are showing less subservience these days and more inclined to defend the interests of regional and rural Australia---eg., on the broadband issue.

The Nationals will stir the pot over an emissions trading scheme next year when the legislation comes before the Senate. They see it as imposing a tax during a recession. The Coalition's position is in principle support for an ETS but delayed until 2011 or 2012 to ensure proper implementation.

disunity will destroy the Coalition. The Coalition is deeply divided.Opposition increases the tensions between the factions.

According to The Australian the Liberals problem in the polls is due to them not standing firm against the Fair Work legislation. Turnbull, it said

... erred in callowly falling into line with Labor's regressive industrial reforms. As The Australian has argued, the Fair Work legislation is woefully misnamed: if enacted into law, it will jeopardise productivity at a time when the economy can ill afford it. Mr Turnbull should be opposing the workplace changes outright, not greenlighting their passage to the Senate for a little tinkering.

The general position is that Liberals are not providing a conservative alternative to Rudd Labor. "Small l liberalism" belongs to the Democrats and look what happened to them.

Turnbull's got plenty of problems trying to round up the Liberals, but he also has to deal with Barnaby upstaging him at every opportunity.

Barnaby's going to find himself in an awkward spot come the Qld election. He insists his senate cavortings mean nothing for the coalition, but it's not being understood that way. Will he sacrifice Qld?

I don't go so much for that disunity is death stuff. I can't believe that many people pay that much attention. It's more a matter of Barnaby's simply shinier and more fair dinkum than Malcolm. He could easily be the next Pauline Hanson, trotting off with support from the ALP and the Libs.

disunity, policy confusion and bad polls, are the normal state of first term Opposition.