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

reverse momentum in Canberra « Previous | |Next »
August 18, 2010

In Don't blame Latham for highlighting home truths in the National Times Peter Costello says that the Labor base is drifting away because it does not see this as a successful government:

Labor's primary vote is at 38 per cent. Last election it was 43.3 per cent. About 700,000 voters have left in three years. If Labor is re-elected, it will be on Green preferences. In fact the election is being fought between two coalitions - the Liberal-National one and the Labor-Green one. The Greens will deliver more votes to their coalition partners than the Nationals will to theirs.

There is is, he adds , a wider disillusion with Labor, which Mark Latham puts it down to stage-managed campaigns and "spin", eg., the way Gillard is being manufactured for the campaign. What Costello fails to mention is that the Coalition also engages in stage-managed campaigns and "spin", eg., the way Abbott is being manufactured for the campaign.

PettyDemocracy.jpg

Though Costello's main point stands--- the election is being fought between two coalitions - the Liberal-National one and the Labor-Green one, and the Greens will deliver more votes to their coalition partners than the Nationals will to theirs--- he doesn't mention the lack of action on climate change. Yet the decline in Labor's fortunes began with the abandonment of the ETS.

Costello doesn't address the core issue that both the Coalition and Labor have turned away from the path to a greener economy, nor the unpopularity of their limited climate policies. As Adam Morton highlights in Sorry state of play when China leaves us for dead on climate in the National Times an:

emissions trading has been abandoned by one party and delayed by the other. Neither can guarantee they will meet even the minimum national target of a 5 per cent cut below 2000 levels by 2020. The plummet to the bottom on climate during this election campaign has only further highlighted how far Australia has fallen behind.While Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks about record levels of investment in renewable energy, she has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from solar programs - Labor had more money committed to ''harness the wind and the sun'' before she became leader. The Coalition has promised similar cuts.

Neither Gillard nor Abbott shows much sign of understanding the risks of climate change, let alone the opportunities that come with moving early. Neither understand that the crucial first step to decarbonising the economy is to curtail the current coal burning binge. Only The Greens understand.

Under both major parties Australia’s greenhouse pollution will increase, even though there is general support amongst citizens for action on climate change to reduce Australia's emissions. They major parties could stop supporting the new coal mines and coal-fired powered stations.

What does that kind of lack of action, and the gap between the political parties and citizens, mean for Australian democracy? Can we still see the ALP as a vehicle for making a genuinely better society one that attacks poverty and inequality as well as an unsustainable economy? I have my doubts. I'm sceptical.

Will we begin to see the Australian political system being placed on the table as an issue, and a debate about Australia's democratic deficit staring up?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:41 PM | | Comments (14)
Comments

Comments

It was quite amusing for me to see that while the Latham story was poo pooing the spin campaign and highlighting points in the ads they were actually running those type of ads in the break.

Are we at the point where we could say that the group that wins has the dumbest supporter base? Or will they have enough smart people to negate the percentage that voted because they believed the spin? Or should I just shut up because democracy belongs to dumb people too.

It has not been a very edifying spectacle, this election.
But I can't bring myself to beleive that people are going to be so foolish as to put in this dreadful opposition..

Les,
the 27 or so questions addressed by citizens to Abbott and Gillard at the community town hall forum at the Brisbane Broncos Club in Brisbane last night were intelligent and to the point. They---200 (uncommitted?) voters---did not suggest a dumb audience.The questions asked were tougher on Abbott than those that were asked in Sydney.

The 'people's forum' is different to the advertising campaign and set pieces of politicians schools, factories and shopping malls in marginal electorates that are designed for the evening news on free-to-air television. I understand that there have been plenty of local candidate town hall meetings around the country, the venues have been at capacity, and local issues have dominated.

Paul,
the experts who read the polls are saying that Labor will lose seats in NSW and Queensland but hold on by a nose---a couple of seats.

They--eg., William Bowie --- reckon Boothby in the southern suburbs of Adelaide will fall to Labor. I cannot see it. The swing to Labor in SA is small --around 0.7% and Southcott's margin is around 2.9%. There are not enough Green preferences to enable Labor to take the seat.

Bowie's general prediction is this:

In New South Wales, Labor to lose Macarthur, Macquarie, Robertson and Gilmore [ie., 3] In Victoria, Labor to gain McEwen and La Trobe, and lose Melbourne to the Greens. In Queensland, Labor to lose Dickson, Herbert, Flynn, Dawson and Leichhardt [ie., 5] In Western Australia, Labor to lose Hasluck and Swan. In South Australia, Labor to gain Boothby. Status quo in Tasmania and the territories. Final result: Labor 79, Coalition 67, independents three, Greens one [ie., Melbourne].

I missed the Abbott half of the Brisbane thingo, sat through the agonising intermission, watched Gillard and switched off before any more commentators came on.

The NBN is the centrepiece of ALP policy but I don't get the impression JG really understands it or its longer term implications. Her social conservatism is a wet blanket. It was as dull as the rest of this election.

If these forums are peoples forums or ''town hall-style meetings', then why they are not held in town halls, instead of the poker machine barns of footy clubs marginal seat NSW and Queensland?

Is news Ltd, who organized these meetings, suggesting that democracy is akin to gambling on poking machines in palaces of entertainment and consumption?

Lyn,
I'm inclined to agree with your comment that:

The NBN is the centrepiece of ALP policy but I don't get the impression JG really understands it or its longer term implications. Her social conservatism is a wet blanket. It was as dull as the rest of this election.

Her reference to the iPad indicated some knowledge of technology, but her phrase "the broadband" showed a failure to understand the significance of a digital economy despite the mention of online medical consultations in her campaign speech.

Does Gillard, or the ALP, understand that increased bandwidth and speed from the NBN infrastructure enables news feeds that do not stutter and start buffering, entertainment (IPTV), learning sessions, realtime online study, and working from home? If so they never mention it.

Lyn,
my guess is that few in Australia understand the long term implications of the NBN in our everyday lives.

In this recent speech---the Charles Todd Memorial Oration--- the NBN Co's chief executive Mike Quigley begins to paint a picture of our digital future. He says:

Providing Australia's homes with access to affordable broadband infrastructure could lead to a substantial reduction in the number of elderly Australians moving into low dependency aged care facilities. For children at home with serious long term illnesses, high-speed broadband can allow the learning experience to continue.

Another picture of the significance of the NBN for an ageing Australia is:
Applications delivered over NBN infrastructure will enable more Australians to live in their own homes longer, with in-home monitoring and high definition video allowing the elderly to communicate regularly with family and health professionals.

We need more of these kind of word pictures.

re:

"Can we still see the ALP as a vehicle for making a genuinely better society one that attacks poverty and inequality as well as an unsustainable economy?"

Not really.These days the defence of the principles of redistribution in the name of equality comes from the Greens, not the ALP.

Gary,

Given that nobody can anticipate where the technology is taking us it would be difficult to articulate the implications. It seems to me that the health and education links are the logical ones to focus on, partly because they're the most imaginable. I just suspect that if either Gillard or Conroy understood what they're talking about a bit better they'd better appreciate the chasm between them and the opposition.

Peter,
"my guess is that few in Australia understand the long term implications of the NBN in our everyday lives" Fair call. I suppose a lot of people would be wondering why faster access to Facebook would be worth so much govt investment.

"and and the gap between the political parties and citizens"

There is a growing disconnection between the “political class” and the electorate as a whole. Brian Costar observes at Inside Story that:

Press gallery journalists in particular react to every morsel of policy announcement, every perceived gaffe by the politicians and every microscopic movement in opinion polls as earth-shattering events; ordinary people know better.That this campaign has been boring has become a cliché. But we’d better get used to it, because the parties and their campaign managers are so locked into the 24/7 media cycle that never again will we see leaders putting forward bold and integrated policy manifestos. Instead they will drip feed the media with disconnected policy statements and thirty-second sound bites and, above all else, they will stay on message (even though they don’t have one) and be risk-averse.

He adds that he suspects that people see through all of this and vote according to their perceptions of the parties’ likely performances in the key areas of economic management, the environment, health, education and social well-being – the big-ticket items of federal electoral politics.

Gary,
A poll on ninemsm "Have you decided how you will vote on Saturday" Yes 94,000 No 26,000

Lyn,
what the ALP is not talking about is
(1) questions of industry (ICT) development, and;
(2) how the Australian ICT sector can best leverage the investment in a national optical fibre network--eg., software developers building innovative new service/applications in business, health and education that will run on the NBN.

It's a good jobs story.

One consolation if the Coalition wins: they will probably be held in check by a Labor-Green Senate.

Another consolation: Labor has contained the swing against in Queensland to around 5-6 votes.

On the other hand, the ALP looks more than likely to lose more seats than hoped in NSW. So it has to pick up seats. ---not from SA since there has been no visits from Gillard or Abbott for sometime.