Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

so much hot air « Previous | |Next »
September 2, 2010

The Canberra Press Gallery do go on about a hung Parliament. They cannot seem to accept that the vote in the general election was pretty well 50-50, that the number of seats in the House of Representatives reflects that, and that the politicians need to work with what they've got to form a workable minority government. What is difficult to understand?


Forming a workable minority government means forming coalitions for the right of centre and the left of centre parties in the context of emerging problems. It means different political voices to the two old dogs driven to barking and desire to one eat one another other, by their political unconscious.

Somehow, for many in the Canberra Press Gallery, forming coalitions is bad. According to Peter Hartcher at the National Times:

Labor's primary aim must be to win over the three rural independents to give it the numbers to form a government.Yet by formally embracing the left-leaning Greens in a power-sharing agreement, Labor has now made it harder for the trio to justify to their conservative constituencies such a deal with Labor. Labor's economics are good. Its politics are woeful.

Hartcher claims this, even though Tony Windsor says it is not a consideration for him; Andrew Wilkie has said that the Labor/Greens deal does not influence him either; two of the three country independents have said they supported a price on carbon before they were voted back in; and each party in the Labor-Greens coalition or alliance would maintain its own agenda. Hartcher is spinning hot air not arguing.

Meanwhile, The Australian continues to rage on and on about the anti-mining Greens sinking the mining sector with their push for an increased mining tax and a high price on carbon. This is part of News Ltd's partisan campaign to delegitimise both Labor and the Greens, and to demand another election.

Wilkie has decided to support Gillard Labor. Labor offered him modest government investment in upgrading the Royal Hobart Hospital through proper process, federal action on pokie reform and bringing forward the proposed investments in public hospitals.

Wilkie is supporting Gillard Labor in a minimal sense for supply andf or reckless no confidence motions in the government. On everything else he would vote issue by issue. Wilkie in practice, a ''prickly'' supporter of Gillard and the ALP, because of his strong concern for ethical government. Does Gillard Labor have any idea what ethical government means? If not, then storms lie ahead.

Gillard's decision to tackle problem gambling won't go down well with the NSW Right who have strong links to the pokies lobby hostile to a system of mandatory pre-commitment in which every player is mandated to register for a non-transferrable USB stick pre-set with a maximum loss of $50 day per day. This will use a smart card technology in all pokies, which will allow gamblers to control how much they spend before starting.

What we have currently is the Productivity Commission's estimate that there are 160,000 problem gamblers nationally who generate about $4 billion of the $10 billion in annual losses.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:09 PM | | Comments (9)


The Coalition had said that they would deliver a stronger Budget bottom line than Labor. Their claim was that they would improve the budget by $11.5 billion over the next four years.

They dodged having their election promises costed by Treasury and the Department of Finance---Treasury, they claimed, was partisan, couldn't understand Coalition policies and was no better than a mid-tier accounting firm.

They folded as a result of pressure from the 3 regional independents, and submitted their numbers for costing to Treasury and Finance, who estimated the improvement to the budget bottom line from these promises is just $863 million over four years, not $11.5 billion claimed.

Mark Davis says that a:

quick walk through the costings debate has shown, some of the differences between Treasury and the Coalition are due to the Coalition not accepting Treasury assumptions; some are due to errors by the Coalition; and most arise from the Oppostion of the day being denied access to the official budget information available to the incumbent government.

This is a good reason to establish an independent Parliamentary Budget Office modelled on the United States' Congressional Budget Office.

I take a more jaundiced view of the Coalition's costing than Davis.

They were designed for an election strategy based on debt reduction and not for economic analysis of their assumptions and methodology. These assumptions were not for public consumption---just the headline figure and a brief sketch as to where the savings were to be made.

The election strategy was that the big public debt showed the ALP was economically incompetent, whilst $11.5 billion in budget savings showed the Coalition was economically competent.

The Liberals have just shot themselves in the economically competence foot with the black hole in their costings. Remember , it was the Liberals under Howard sand Costello who established the Charter of Budget Honesty. It was designed to trap oppositions (ie., Labor) into being forced to either be humiliated when Treasury found flaws in their pre-election costings, or dodging the process and looking like they had something to hide.

Unfortunately, it is the Liberals who had something to hide---their black hole. They've been caught in their own trap.

See an unusually acidic Tim Dunlop on the press and the current state of affairs

Fran Kelly has a refreshing MSM take on the drum

She is using Windsor's statements as an example.

"Straight, clear, as helpful as he can be in the midst of all this without a running commentary on which way he's leaning ... and without bagging anybody out just for good measure or to score a quick point on the way through.

So refreshing!"


the black hole in their costings are going to hurt the LIberals in their negotiations with the Independents to form government. They've lost economic credibility.

Bob Katter has published his list of concerns or policy priorities. There is nothing about political donations and power or lobbying or the reform of Parliament. It is mostly about the development of north-west Queensland.

For once John Roskam of the IPA talks some political sense when he says:

It could be however, that as a result of the rise of the independents, the process of passing laws will at least be slowed down. If the power of the executive over Parliament were weakened if there were an independent speaker. and if committee structures were strengthened, there's the possibility well get fewer laws, and the laws that we get will be better.There's scope for a lot more scrutiny to be applied to the proposals that governments present to the Parliament. An upper house not controlled by the government has the potential to do some good. Hostile upper houses are not necessarily an impediment to reform, and there are plenty of precedents to demonstrate this from here and around the world. John Howard ultimately got his goods and services tax through a Senate he didn't control.

He infers from this that maybe we'll have learned we don't need government quite as much as we think we do.

The proper logical inference from this argument, of course, is that maybe we will get better government.

I thought the Fran Kelly piece was quite good too, even though it was light on the policy implications of the independents.

I see that Glenn Milne is true to form--- acting as the mouth of the Liberal Party--- in his attack on Andrew Wilkie. at The Drum. The Liberal sources this time are senior Tasmanian Liberals, which can only mean Senator Erica Abetz.

With the price fluctuations of the last 2 weeks on betting sites many punters have taken the option to back both Labor and the Coalition to form a government. Punters would have had no trouble getting $2.65 for the dollar bet on both. Some betting sites have removed the election betting all together.