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So, apparently the government didn’t change today. There’s actually not a lot more analysis I can really add on top of that statement. Despite all the talk of a “paradigm shift” in Australian democracy, the strongest undercurrent of the 3 rural independents’ decision was what was best for their own electorates and for rural Australia. In fact, even the changes to Parliamentary procedure mostly benefitted rural Australia – by giving more power to independents (who have almost always come from rural areas or less urban areas – think Brian Harridine, Pauline and the current 4 independents, and also by shifting more power from the House to the Senate.

So, as I predicted all along, the key areas of contention were the Broadband policy, the dominance of the Greens in the Senate and stability, as well as potential areas of conflict. Of course, I had predicted the 3 independents to have stuck together – but by mid-last week, it seemed clear to me that if there was a bifurcation, that Bob Katter would have been the one to split.

In terms of what the government will do moving forward, I think I did a pretty good summary in response to a comment on Facebook:

Well, as a card-carrying member of the Labor Party I’m pretty happy that our side won. It looks like the 3 rural independents won’t use their votes to push a protectionist agenda, so that’s a good sign too.

I’m worried that the Greens will use their power to push through an aggressively stupid economic policy, but otherwise I’m quite happy with what they’re proposing at the moment – a bill to push through same sex marriage, changes to make migration law more compassionate, a committee to discuss the most efficient way of pushing through a climate change bill. The high speed rail project… I’m not opposed to it in theory, I just don’t see how it can be a workable project. There’s simply not enough demand unless you subsidise it to a riduculous degree.

That said, I think a climate change bill may be even better under a ALP/Greens coalition because there will be less pressure to give undue concessions to polluters so that means the onus of reducing emissions falls on them (which is the most economically efficient way of doings things). I’m just worried that it’ll be a carbon tax rather than a carbon trading scheme (which I believe would be more efficient, despite practical difficulties in implementation and auditing).

I would add that the migration policy is vastly improved over a Green migration policy because of the sensible pragmatism of the Labor Party. They would realise that you can’t simply open borders to refugees and cut skilled migration because firstly, it would completely distort current population planning and secondly because of the vast economic benefits skilled migration brings.

It’s not in the interests of the rural independents to make the Gillard government unstable – so I think we’ll see a government which lasts the full term. Tony Abbott has put in a sterling performance post-election, in terms of sharpening his arguments and doing what he does best which is hammering attack lines into the mentality of the Australian population. He’s already left a strong impression in the minds of Australia that the independents are drama queens, that Gillard will give them whatever they want. So, countervailing that, I think Gillard and the rurals will do whatever they can to assuage those fears whilst supporting rural Australia. Which means, no tack towards economic protectionism.

Another thing – I watched the ABC’s Drum program tonight. It was pretty boring stuff. Two conservative commentators (Kerry Chikarovski and Glenn Milne) v a Labor pollster from Hawker Britton. The host was, I think, new to the job and didn’t both to provide balance to the debate and it just became attack lines.

But Anthony Green made some excellent points. Firstly, there’s no legislative imperative for Parliament to sit any time soon, but there is a political imperative in a hung Parliament situation. Secondly, the amendments strengthen the hand of the House of Reps relative to the Senate. Thirdly, performance of the Liberal Party in NSW left much to be desired.


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