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

Canberra gaze: the electoral middle « Previous | |Next »
April 16, 2010

We are now in election mode with both major parties busy clearing the underbush and the simmering fires to establish the ground they want to fight on. Rudd Labor wants this year’s election to be about health; Abbott's Coalition wants it to be about about boats. The election campaign is well and truly under way and the contest will be fought around marginal seats and the electoral middle.

In A vote-changer? at Inside Story Peter Brent from Mumble explores the concept of the electoral middle ground in the context of the current debate about asylum seekers. He says:

Australian electoral politics is dominated, to a greater extent than probably any other country, by the views and interests of the “middle.” Not the “middle ground,” but “middle Australia” or the “outer middle,” a group who tend not to identify strongly with either major party and whose votes are often up for grabs.Young couples with children are overrepresented among these voters,who the major parties see as unengaged, conservative, reasonably affluent, self-interested, materialistic and prone to see themselves as victims. They are also very white, wary of change and, when pushed, unenthusiastic about immigration.

He adds that they congregate in reasonably marginal electorates in Australia, mostly in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne and the further-out “regions,” our electoral geography gives them extra influence. And this being possibly the most suburbanised country in the world, there are lots of them.

Hence Labor's asylum freeze---a suspension of the processing of new asylum applications from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in order to defuse an issue that has not, and is not, playing well for Labor.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:04 PM | | Comments (13)


Well, let's start with the last sentence.
Why has it, or is it, "not playing well for Labor"?
Because of a butt apperture like Abbott and his tabloid friends trying to feed off the last dregs of Hansonism and fend off the likelihood of the old right heading for anihilation at the next election.
"Shorter", they are so sterile this is the best they can do as to issues and policy.
Abbott tried to have it both ways with this, but was undermined by the timing of the departure of the most recent and most significant rats yet deserting the sinking ship, Minchin and Turnbull.
Now, loss of momentum has him in the same situation he hoped to put Rudd and for Labor, revenge is best served cold.
Rudd sidestepped neatly the issue last weekend, because the subtext involving Abbott is so clear. This is brutal for both the Hansonists and people like those at Merak; Rudd is making sure others responsible are also identified.
Abbott now has to belatedly share the approbrium that he sort to direct at Labor, who have longed simmered over the equally unscrupulous Beazley Tampa squeeze.
Rudd has been able to sellthe message that it is abbotts politics rather thanhis harshness that is at rock bottom the cause for genuine refugees current plight. This is also amoral of course, but at least accountability is now shared about and Abott exposed.
I think Abbott will be routed for his brutality and ineptness shortly, particularly if they call a snap election.
The real question is, would a Rudd government free of the encumberance of the Right, finally do the right thing, or simply become lazy and corrupt like some of the state governments.

Indeed - it's hard to see this move as anything else besides a knee-jerk move to try and defuse a hot issue in an election year. I'm not sure its really going to work in any case...

". a knee jerk move to try and defuse a hot issue".
Guy, Rudd or Abbott?

The market has Labor @$1.30 and the Coalition @$3.40 at this stage. I backed them @$4.

Not hard to work out what the main issues are this time round.

Trying to understand why people get so antsy about boat people, obviously the media and opposition's harping on about it gives the impression we're being inundated. I guess I feel the same way about importing beef from countries with mad cow disease, or ships dumping oil on our coastline, or dumping bilge full of invading species in our waterways, or whaling in waters we think of as ours, or illegally fishing in our waters.

The real reason they are coming in boats is because they have heard about our very fast broadband network that is being established. Who do they think they are taking OUR internet. The Bastards!!

Right on cue Les. Ours has been pretty much at a standstill for days now.

Joy Baluch, the good mayor of Port Augusta in South Australia, isn't going be too welcoming for 64 Afghan asylum-seeker youths.

They are not opening Baxter Detention Centre yet. The accommodation being used is 8 houses, owned by the commonwealth, which are surrounded by a corrugated fence, and are at the end of a road in the middle of a residential area

They've re-opened the Curtin centre on an airbase near Derby in Western Australia's north, to house Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum-seekers whose applications for refugee status have been suspended.

Curtin has a reputation for being a living hellhole--its past includes a string of riots, self-harm, assaults, fires and even a mass escape. It resembles a concentration camp.

Re last couple, unfortunately, the latest op poll seems to indicate roughly two thirds of the country seem happy with this.
The issue has become too inflamed by the Hansonists and the pollies will not move on it again until some sections of the public simmer down.

Just thinking on it, add refugees to Abbott's proposals on welfare and you really do start to get a better picture of what they really about; fear-driven exclusion/disempowerment.

Yeah I was a bit taken back by Abbott's remarks on welfare--that he was thinking of stopping dole payments to able-bodied young people (under 30) so as to take pressure off the welfare system and reduce the need to bring in large numbers of skilled migrants to staff mining projects.

The long term unemployed do not have the skills the mining industry in WA requires. Who is going to train them? Not the mining industry that's for sure.

No matter. The conservative heart of the nation says that they should be rounded up and made to work--just read the comments in The Australian on this story. Too many bludgers lounging around shopping centres, skateboarding at the beachfront, surfing and generally doing nothing productive, from Monday to Friday. The system is clogged by people who have never worked a day their lives.They usually receive the dole straight out of school

etc etc.

The only way it can work is if the unemployed stay on the dole until they've finally won something in the miserable jobs lottery (does Abbott REALLY beleive people unemployed, LIKE being unemployed, on the whole?
I really do NOT think the West is importing workers because local unemployed won't work.
I've been around a little while now and there is not a remark more offensive to most people who have any acquaintance with unemployment,apart from the short honeymoon period. Neither does it amuse an unemployed person to come from a day of looking at nothing better than desktops full of other application,and you get home and find some fat hog of a bosse's rep whining crocodile tears about all the jobs the bosses have but can't find workers.