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state elections + Canberra Press Gallery « Previous | |Next »
March 20, 2010

After voting 1 Green this morning in the South Australian state election I bought the AFR and browsed it over morning coffee curious to see what the informed commentators from the Canberra Press Gallery were saying about the state elections in Tasmania and South Australia.

Commentary means some kind of analysis over and above the news style reportage from the last day on the hustings that could provide some insight for democratic citizens.

blamegame.jpg

There was such an article. It was entitled "Tempting you to be independent" in the Perspective section of the AFR. It was written by Louse Dodson, Mathew Dunkley and Mark Sculley and they offer their informed insights about the role of independents in Australian politics.

In doing so they comment about the changes under way in Tasmania where the Greens have been the main beneficiary of Labor's dramatic fall in recent months:

In Tasmania, voters could elect Australia's first Greens government and if not, the Greens are likely to determine who leads a minority government, although there is a chance of a majority Liberal government. The result might not be known for some time.

In other words they haven't the slightest idea what will happen in Tasmania and they have little knowledge of what is likely to happen in Tasmania's 5 electorates-- Braddon, Lyons, Franklin, Bass, Dennison. Nor are they interested, as the next 12 paragraphs are about the outcomes in the Senate given the possibility of the Rudd Government calling a double dissolution this year.

They then turn their attention to the political changes happening South Australia and say:

With Labor struggling, independents in South Australia could determine which party runs the state if there is no late swing back to Rann in the election on Saturday. Rann is preparing to down to the wire --mainly because it is tough going for a third term...Negotiating with independents is certainly on the cards for Rann once again in South Australia.

That doesn't tell us what we already know--the swing to the rejuvenated Liberals is such that a demoralised Labor Party now hopes for little more than to hang on as a minority government. It may well just sneak back in depending on how evenly spread the swing to the Liberals is across the suburbs, and so it is the role of the independents in the Legislative Council. There is nothing about this.

Though Dodson, Dunkley and Sculley devote 19 paragraphs to the possible independents in the lower house in South Australia, we do not learn what the independent's policies are, what they want to negotiate about, or what they will stand firm on--ie.,what policy issues on which they cannot compromise without upsetting their base. Nothing. There is even no reference to the history of the various charters of agreement signed by Independents in with minority governments in Tasmania, Victoria, SA, Queensland and NSW.

The inference?There is little point in reading the mainstream press. It is better to go the blogs. They are more informed. In Tasmania they predict an end to 12 years of majority Labor Government and the Greens holding the balance of power.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:18 PM | | Comments (25)
Comments

Comments

Well, they not atypical, the AFR journos.
Adelaide's own Advertiser has squandered several rainforests worth of paper space to discussing every thing to do with the SA election except what the real underlying issue is; the loss of individual and community sovereignty to vested, often absentee interests.
Hence the progressive indies real agendas are not examined, particularly involving a return to community sovereignty, since this would be a tacit acknowledgement that democracy no longer exists in SA, regardless of who wins.

Paul,
even though Labor will hold onto power in SA, it would seem that Rann is the problem as well as Labor. His days are numbered--- given his lack of credibility and trustworthiness---whilst Labor will increasingly becoming ever more disliked. There will be a change of premier but that won't ease the dislike.

Unlike NSW Rann Labor is disliked but not loathed--yet. Bartlett Labor in Tasmania was loathed--- 12 per cent swing against them--and the Greens now hold the balance of power.

What happens now--a new era of politics in Tasmania? Will the Liberals form a minority government on the floor of parliament? Who will be their only potential partners to ensure surviving confidence motions and budget supply? Labor or the Greens?

The press gallery has the same resources available, blog-wise, as anyone else. If they were interested in thorough reportage, or if they were allowed to, they'd use those resources and there'd be much less crap published.

I was planning to depend on an ABC video feed last night, but there wasn't one for the Tas election. Antony and the current affairs big guns were doing Tas, but SA was the only video stream. So I listened to ABC Tas radio and kept an eye on Twitter and the Poll Bludger. Tas2010 was trending 6th globally on Twitter at one point, yet the ABC didn't bother with video.

Don't know about SA, but commentary from Tas was all about local issues and local campaigns. What's the bet that, despite that, the results will be widely interpreted by the political commentators to be a repudiation of Rudd? We'll have a week of Rampant Tone stories and Peter van Onselen will analyse it as a vindication of Joe Hockey and Bronwyn Bishop. Or some such nonsense.

Lyn,
re your comment:

I was planning to depend on an ABC video feed last night, but there wasn't one for the Tas election. Antony and the current affairs big guns were doing Tas, but SA was the only video stream. So I listened to ABC Tas radio and kept an eye on Twitter and the Poll Bludger. Tas2010 was trending 6th globally on Twitter at one point, yet the ABC didn't bother with video.

I too was planning to watch an ABC video feed last night, but was stunned that there wasn't one for the Tasmanian election.

Why not? It would have been easy for the ABC to provide. It is definitely a mark against the ABC as a public broadcaster since Tasmania was the more significant election.

I was planning to rely on pollbludger myself but thought the enthusiasm on the site died a bit through the week and on the day as Labor began looking like there was a big swing against it.
All the stories up here seem to be about S.A and Tassie is just tacked onto the end if at all. Perhaps not enough sexual intrigue going on down there. Still, the Greens are now in a good position to showcase their ideas and talents if they have any.

Abbott would be well advised not to say too much new stuff this week and let the media blame Rudd for the swing against Labor.

good news. The South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has announced he will step down from the ministry and retire to the backbench.

The video gamers will be pleased since Atkinson has blocked any R18+ classification for video games, meaning that games meant for adults are rated MA15+ Atkinson has pretty much gone along with the censorship proposed by the Australian Christian Lobby and the Australian Council on Children and the Media who link adult video games with violent and aggressive behaviour.

Rann Labor won, despite losing the popular vote because it retained their marginal seats Light, Mawson, Hartley and Newland and possibly Bright.

What's needed is even more renewal of the Rann ministry than Atkinson going to the backbench.The grip of the Right faction, which dominates the Rann Government, needs to be loosened. There's been far too much slash and burn from Foley as Treasurer given all their talk about the wonders of the SA economy under their glorious management.

Gary,
There is no way the Greens will hold any power at all, let alone the balance. The Libs and ALP will quit pretending to be opponents if that's what it takes to keep the Greens marginal. As some wag on Twitter said last night, the result was Greens 5, Gunns 20.

As Les said, the partisans at the Poll Bludger lost interest when it looked as though Labor would lose, but their attitude towards the Greens is nasty. As we've seen in the federal senate, the notion of an ALP/Greens love in is a lefty fantasy.

On the ABC video feed, there were plenty of people asking for one last night, but the ABC kept responding with the audio. They'd be aware that they didn't meet the demand. Having said that, there were heaps of technical glitches with what they did provide.

It could just be our media deciding what's best for us.

Is it really true that Atkinson is going to the backbench? Should we break out the virtual champagne now, or is he likely to be replaced with someone equally dense?

Lyn re your comment:

Don't know about SA, but commentary from Tas was all about local issues and local campaigns. What's the bet that, despite that, the results will be widely interpreted by the political commentators to be a repudiation of Rudd? We'll have a week of Rampant Tone stories and Peter van Onselen will analyse it as a vindication of Joe Hockey and Bronwyn Bishop. Or some such nonsense.

SA was about local issues as well.

It hasn't taken long at all for the Canberra Press Gallery to what you predicted. Glenn Milne in The Australian says that:

There are two federal messages out of the Tasmanian and South Australian state elections at the weekend: momentum and mathematics. And both are moving Tony Abbott's way.

I cannot wait for Peter van Onselen's pearls of wisdom.

Les
you say re the results of the Tasmanian state election that "the Greens are now in a good position to showcase their ideas and talents if they have any"--implying that they don't have any ideas
Have you bothered to read their policy statements? Their policies go beyond a refusal to support old-growth logging or the environmentally devastating proposed Gunns pulp mill. They are a mainstream political party under Nick McKim and oppose Labor's Tasmania Tomorrow education reforms.

The Institute of Public Affairs is not impressed, but the IPA's policy prescription is just to reduce spending and sell assets.

Lyn,
you say that

there is no way the Greens will hold any power at all, let alone the balance. The Libs and ALP will quit pretending to be opponents if that's what it takes to keep the Greens marginal. As some wag on Twitter said last night, the result was Greens 5, Gunns 20.

It is true that both Liberal and Labor have said they would not enter into negotiations with the Greens about a coalition government. This raises the prospect of a “grand coalition” government shared between the two major parties.

However, I would say that political reality of the Hare Clark system will dictate that the Liberals start talking to the Greens about some form of alliance. It is certainly possibly that Will Hodgman will be a Liberal premier reliant on Greens support to govern.

Nan,

No great challenge in predicting the Canberra Press Gallery, let alone Milne.

The Piping Shrike has the most interesting and informative piece on the SA election so far. Puts the media to shame.

You are rid of Atkinson. Congratulations.

We have to recognize that the Greens are the third force in Australian politics now. Tasmania will join the ACT in a major party entering into a power-sharing agreement with The Greens short of a formal coalition.

Lyn,
The Piping Shrike's interpretation of SA state election is accurate. The Rann Govt is technocratic, it stands for very little apart from economic growth and adequate service delivery, is controlled by the faction system with the Right dominate and it's heartland working class base in the western suburbs is being hollowed out.

That technocratic government is also populist in a socially conservative sense on law and order and censorship. That is the limit to the Piping Shrike's depoliticizing thesis. The politics of water is another limit.

Gary,
The stuff about standing for something is interesting in relation to the depoliticisation of state politics and the anti-politics stuff we're getting both state and federally.

On one hand we're being told we're sick of politics and why can't they just do something constructive. That much is true, and plays into arguments about obstructionism and mandates.

On the other hand, all this claiming to represent the centre erodes the symbolism of party politics in the old business vs workers sense and the issues sense.

All you're left with is the symbolic figureheads and no idea where policy may end up. So we got Howard's father of the nation act with Workchoices. With Rann it's bikie gangs and censorship. With Bligh it's jobs and selling state assets. There's no coherence.

the various charters signed by the Independents and minority governments in the states since the 1990s were primarily concerned with increasing the accountability of executive government and parliamentary reform.

Nan,

Yes the Greens do have words. We will see if they transfer into actions.

Sue Neales in The Mercury reports that there profound differences existed between key Labor players about why the Government should go meekly into opposition when it has as much right constitutionally to govern in a minority as do the Liberals.

A key question asked by Peter Tucker at the Tasmania Times is: how vulnerable is Bartlett from a coup from within his own party?

Will the Left of the party, led by Lara Giddings and the two O’Byrnes, sit quietly and let government slip from their fingers all for not at least talking to the Greens? Will they see a stint in opposition, led by a relatively unpopular leader, as the best way forward from here?

What would the old guard right faction say about Labor cutting a deal with The Greens? Is their strategy one of Labor sitting back in opposition and letting the Libs make a hash of minority and come roaring back promising stable government.?

Les,
Matthew Denholm reports in The Australian that:

a hung parliament will bring major changes to Tasmania's policy landscape, with Labor's post-Year 10 education reforms and the Tarkine tourist road early casualties and a bet limit likely to be introduced for poker machines.

That's rolling back some of Labor's policies, as opposed to introducing new ones.

Ewee!
That's the sort of fantasy I'd get off on, the Labor Left finally abandoning the now dominant DLP-ish New Labor and finally linking with the Greens. Nasty tease!
Enjoyed the Shrieking Pipe's take; was in awe, truly.

Paul,
it is a fantasy given that Labor still blames the Greens for the Field government’s split with the Greens in the 1989-92 Green-Labor Accord period, and is blind to the way that Labor is captured by the powerful forestry interests.

Many in Labor are still saying that the best strategy is to let the Liberals take government with the active or passive support of the Greens. This, they say, will lead to instability, brawls and eventually a major split. Labor would then win the next election in a landslide as voters sought a recipe for stable government.Labor does not seem to recognize, or is unwilling to accept, that the Greens are a permanent fixture of the political process in Tasmania. It is Labor that lives in a fantasy land.

Richard Flanagan points out the consequences of Tasmanian Labor making the Greens the enemy, rather than working with them. If the ALP were a progressive party it would form an alliance with The Greens.

Nothing much has changed in SA. The Right faction remains firmly in control, whilst Rann is wildly spinning about listening to the people to reconnect his government with the public,

I wonder if he will start talking about reducing inequality or depression and anxiety? Or will the short-termism of today’s populist politics remain centre stage.

i wonder what is happening to water now that Karlane Maywald, the Nationals and former water minister, has gone?

in SA it is a case of things remaining the same. SA has a long way to go before it becomes a high-investment, high-innovation economy and an information society. The last decade has been investing too much in property, mortgage and shopping malls and too little in the innovation that will create jobs and exports in a digital world.

Peter Tucker at Tasmanian Politics says that:

hatever the final seat outcome the basic equation will not change: whichever major party the Greens support will govern.
So the discussions can and should begin now, but I'm not sure that is happening. The stage is set for a political leader to step forward and grab the initiative. From press reports, David Bartlett seems to be sitting back and waiting to see what happens with the Liberals, while Will Hodgman can't seem to get a consistent message out there. What is going on? Don't these people want to govern?

He answers thus:
I know what's going on. The "hard heads" in the parties it seems to me would prefer opposition than minority government. They think that a couple of years in opposition can then be followed by a decade in power when the minority government inevitably fails.

I'm not sure so that the basic equation is that whichever major party the Greens support will govern.

You could have Bartlett Labor supporting the Liberals with the Greens excluded.