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If someone had asked me who I would vote for, I think the answer would obviously be for the ALP. But for someone who believes as strongly as I do that evidence, logic and policy should always carry the day, there should never have been anything ‘obvious’ about my decision in the first place. After all, the Coalition could have come along with superior policies etc etc.

And actually, I had seriously considered voting for the Coalition – especially when Malcolm Turnbull was leader – but I even considered it when Abbott was leader.

Although I strongly support many Labor policies, I am somewhat wary of some of them. The RSPT, as I have continually said, is not just any old tax. It is a 40% tax on profits that is structured in a way as to make it a de facto nationalisation of the mining industry. From a corporate finance point of view, all the risk (and hence all the profits) are given to the government in exchange for a guaranteed reimbursement of all expenses at the risk-free rate.

I support, broadly speaking, the notion of a National Broadband Network, which will deliver crucial infrastructure into the future. At this point in time, however, it seems like it is buying a Ferrari when the average household only needs a Toyota. There does not currently exist any widely available household use of internet that requires 100mb/s internet instead of the existing 30mb/s of internet. There are valid uses for businesses – but that does not require us (at this point in time) to build the network all the way to your front door. You only need to build the infrastructure to the major business centres (loosely defined) across Australia.

We would all prefer Ferraris to Toyotas – but the crucial aspect is the cost. On the NBN’s own estimates, the government will need to fork over around $26bn in subsidies and the private sector will need to fork over another $60bn or so. Which means that all taxpayers will fork over $1000 each, then the users will have to pay three times as much as that. As useful as 100mb/s internet would be, I cannot see it delivering benefits of $1000/head at this point in time.

Why not build the backbone of the NBN by stretching it to all the major business centres in Australia – Chatswood, Epping, Ryde etc in Sydney, all the way to Newcastle and Wollongong. Then why not let the market expand the network to those who value faster internet enough to pay for it? The majority of the cost of the NBN, if I understand the issue, is bringing the optic fibres to every household. That is a ridiculous waste if not every household values faster internet to the tune of $1000 (or, $4500 if you include private sector expenditure). If the NBN isn’t needed now, all we’re doing is building a network that may become obsolete by the time those speeds are actually required for domestic use!

The problem is, you see, that the market approach only works if you can break the Telstra monopoly. The Liberal’s policy is no better than the ALP policy on this front and is substantially worse on several technical issues – especially speed.

That is the crux of why I will not be voting for the Liberal Party. Their existing policies are mostly balderdash (Australian technical colleges, a database to dob in government waste, their NBN alternative) or downright bad (ineffective cuts to the public service, their Nauru Migration policy etc). There are a few good policies. I am a fan of his loosely defined policy to better articulate Australia’s receptiveness to more foreign investment by setting out a clearer FIRB policy, changes to the RSPT etc. I am very much a fan of his paid parental leave policy and his (net) cuts to company tax.

Moreover, how can I trust a Liberal government whose key attack points I disagree with. Their attack on the debt is ludicrous because its factually wrong (the government has no net debt, and the equivalent of a $6000 mortgage) and economically illiterate. Their views on migration have become outright racist and even impractical at stopping the boats.

How can I trust Tony Abbott, who doesn’t believe in Climate Change, to enact good policy on that front? How do I know he won’t start depriving people of their religious liberties, or otherwise force his religious views down our throats? Tony Abbott – unlike the Howard-Costello team – does not have a strong head for economics. His understanding of some microeconomic reform is commendable (I agree with his position on Workchoices, for instance) but overall his instinct is to spend, spend, spend in an inefficient manner. Look at his $2bn direct climate change fund which would only deliver a 5% reduction in emissions.

On the other hand, the ALP has a mild tendency towards delivering good policies. Their East Timor solution has been pilloried but it seems a sensible solution to the problem. If you have a processing centre (which you must, to separate genuine refugees from queue jumpers), then it must be a detention centre (because queue jumpers know they are acting illegally and will try to escape). Your only choice is to make the conditions as humane as possible, and the Timor solution attempts to do that.

The ALP has shown strong economic competence, with what I have continually described as the best designed stimulus package in the world. That was, of course, helped by our non-corrupt political system (cf the US) and by the excellent state of our economy pre-2007 (thank you, China, Costello and Keating) but that does not detract from Wayne Swan’s achievements on that front.

I may disagree with the detail of some policies, but overall at least we can say they have policies. These policies show genuine vision for Australia – an NBN and Education Revolution to push Australia’s economy into the future. A superior water policy for the Murray-Darling. A vague commitment to prosecute the case for an ETS is better than a firm denial that global warming is even happening.

The Liberal Party had a chance to win my vote through strong policies. They have no clear population policy or environmental policy. They have not stated a comprehensive economic agenda, besides reviewing the Henry review and committing to “lower debt” beneath the 0% debt Australia currently has. A generous paid parental leave scheme is a worthy contribution to the debate, as is their mental health scheme. But that is not enough to win them the day.

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4 Comments

  1. While this is all very interesting, I’m afraid you’ve made a grammatical error. IT’s not ‘WHO should I vote for’, but ‘WHOM should I vote for. You see, ‘who’ is the indirect object, making the use of ‘whom’ imperative.

    That being said, vote for whom you wish….

    🙂

  2. Why Flori, I don’t know of what you are speaking =P

  3. Nice try. You may edit the title all you wish, but the error remains in the url.

    When are elections in your backward country anyway?

  4. Hahaha, you’re on the ball.

    They’re this Saturday, which annoys me because I haven’t had any time at all to even watch election coverage due to job interviews 😦

    Why must I be so successful at getting interviews and so awful at actually interviewing? haha


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