Posts Tagged ‘Labor’

Labor got the hiding they expected and deserved in the NSW by-elections. They may have only lost one seat, but the swing against them speaks volumes. Rees is going to need to eliminate the stench by 2011 or, barring yet another Liberal Party implosion, the Carr-Iemma-Rees dynasty will be over.

The Nats – and, since the Libs chose to stay out of the fight, the coalition – missed out on getting Port Macquarie. That should clear the way for a Liberal candidate to run in 2011.

The ACT seemed to flow the predictions. The attempt to build the swing against Labor into a favourable narrative for the Liberals seems a bit of a stretch – the swing went to the Greens and minor parties. When you boil it down to the total number of seats, Labor lost 2, the Libs regained the seat they had lost when Richard Mulcahy left the party, and the Greens gained 2. So, it might reflect badly on Labor, but this was not a two-party contest.

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Interest rates dropping and now unemployment down slightly – the Libs are going to need a new economic narrative to tag Labor with.

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After viewing the clouds of the US convention speeches, I’ve been playing around with Wordle myself. Here are word clouds for a few of my favourite speeches in Australian political history. Links to the original text of each speech are below the clouds.

Redfern Speech, Paul Keating, 10th December 1992

Eulogy of the Unknown Australian Soldier, Paul Keating, 11th November 1993

The Light on the Hill, Ben Chifley, 12th June 1949

(NB: If you happen to be near the Central West of NSW later this month, here’s something to do)

Apology to the Stolen Generations, Kevin Rudd, 13th February 2008

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I’ll put my hand up

Ken Lovell asks:

Is it permissible to speak harshly of the Rudd Government yet?



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This is just pathetic:

In an effort to soften the impact on motorists and prevent petrol price hikes, the Government is to go against the strong views of climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut and regularly cut petrol excise to make sure the emission trading scheme does not push up the fuel prices.

Piss. Weak.

The Government has moved itself toward the policy incoherence that has been proving so spectacularly unsuccessful for Brendan Nelson. As a result, they will achieve little and yet leave themselves open to attack from all sides. Stupid politics combined with stupid policy. Bravo.

UPDATE: The Green Paper has been released. Here’s a quick link round-up:

  • The Green Paper itself.
  • Crikey’s coverage, most of which is free to non-subscribers (for now, at least).
  • A couple of initial reactions from Peter Martin – the first generally positive, the second identifying a specific negative.
  • An initial blog entry (with a link to the PDF of Christine Milne’s press release) from the Greens – not surprisingly, they’re unimpressed by the patchwork policy.
  • Reaction from GetUp!
  • Tim Dunlop’s early morning comments plus updates, including a link to Andrew Bartlett’s report on a Ross Garnaut public forum.
  • Open thread at Larvatus Prodeo, with links to their related blog entries.
  • An Onymous Lefty’s reaction – we appear to have had a Vulcan Mind Meld thing happening this morning.
  • Andrew Bolt demonstrates what I meant about the capacity for Labor to be hit from both sides.

That should get you started. No reaction from Timmeh yet – it probably gets a bit confusing when “the Left” (i.e., everyone who doesn’t want to wipe out Islam and definitively insist that global warming is not happening) doesn’t fall into one cohesive group like a flock/tribe of winged monkeys.

UPDATE #2: Brendan says, “Leave the Taragos alone!”

UPDATE#3: Day 2 of the reaction, and some interesting posts are coming through:

  • Andrew Bartlett gives a thorough analysis of where things could go from here as the Green Paper moves toward the enactment of legislation. His comments on the role of public pressure are worth noting, but he also draws on his Senate expertise to discuss what could happen in the Upper House to shape the scheme, including the potential for Labor to pull out the double Ds.
  • Senator Christine Milne wrote a piece for Crikey today, in which she argues that the Government has underestimated the public’s willingness to accept what is needed to truly address climate change and failed to show the leadership needed to honestly set out what must be done.
  • Ken Lovell articulates his feelings about climate change and the Government’s proposed response, coming across as both pragmatic and cynical.
  • Gary Sauer-Thompson called Rudd a wimp yesterday, and today discusses the possible political considerations behind welfare payments to large corporate polluters compensation to carbon-intensive industries like coal-fuelled electricity generators.
  • After his initial post suggesting that the Green Paper strikes a balance between the need for decisive action and the need to create a scheme that is politically viable (see the pingback in the comments below for the link – it’s well worth reading), Tim at the Tree of Knowledge has posted some Green Paper excerpts on the petrol excise cut and then elaborated on his position and responded to some of the negative reactions.

My reactions now – I’ve followed Tim’s advice and taken a deep breath. I still think the Green Paper – particularly cutting the fuel excise and compensating investors in carbon-emitting sources of electricity – is piss weak. Both provisions seem to be counterproductive to the policy objectives, a view that I seem to share with Professor Garnaut.

The themes in Christine Milne’s article resonate with me. This is a time for the Government to lead – instead of being guided by political considerations or public opinion, their first effort should be to change public opinion and gain political ground by doing so. They had the higher ground against the Opposition – Nelson and his colleagues have been incoherent and contradictory on emissions trading and their knee-jerk calls for populist manouevres to reduce financial pressures (e.g., an excise cut) haven’t given them any traction in the polls and haven’t received the clear support of the Liberals. And yet the Rudd Government continues to allow Brendan Nelson to set the agenda.

If Steve Fielding’s insistence on lower fuel prices is an obstacle, the Government can join citizen activist groups like GetUp! and tell him he’s dreaming. If insistence on an unattainable goal by Fielding or others is a barrier to the Government passing legislation, then that would seem to be exactly what the double dissolution provisions are designed for. Then it goes directly to the public to choose who they want to have in Government and maintaining the balance in the Senate.

This is the time for the Government to assert and, where necessary, to convince the electorate that decisive action is needed, and to follow that statement with an actual decisive policy.

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Not surprisingly, the OO’s theme du jour is that energy policy will be the bane of the Rudd Government’s brief existence. Of course, the OO also stakes out its own position, which is that the future must be radioactive. We were all just too stupid to listen to John Howard.

The Editor-at-Large exemplifies the Oz’s current horoscope prophecy forecast for Kevin Rudd:

AUSTRALIA’S energy policy debate is about to erupt. The emissions trading system pledged by Kevin Rudd looms as a policy nightmare that means higher energy and transport prices.

And now an old demon has re-emerged, with demands Australia should go nuclear.

It is as though Australia is sleepwalking into the biggest restructuring of its economy for a generation, with a popular culture that thinks climate change solutions are about light bulbs and carbon-free concerts.

The community is utterly unprepared for the harsh application of climate change mitigation – if the Rudd Government has the will to impose it. The question is whether a political constituency can be mobilised for a rigorous emissions trading system that will make Australia, outside Europe, one of the few nations to enter such carbon pricing arrangements.

Yes, the other hallmark of our elite punditocracy – the unshakeable belief that the Australian populace is stupid. They know exactly what, and how little, we think.

The only OO opinionata to bother noting that another leader in our Parliament may be facing a similar quandary, not to mention the real possibility of being toppled from his job in the near future, was Lenore Taylor:

Behind the scenes, there are clear divisions within the Coalition about how to balance short-term realpolitik with long-term responsibility in the position it takes on emissions trading.

But if Nelson gives in to those advocating that he abandons the bipartisanship that existed around the fundamentals of this debate at the time of the last election, it will make sensible policy formulation even harder. Not to mention endangering the Coalition’s hard-won reputation for economic credibility.

Despite the typical OO slant towards spelling doom for Labor, they actually have hit the fundamental point on the head (for once). Emissions trading and the other elements of energy policy should be the most important issue that determines the success and/or failure of both major parties over this Parliamentary term. The challenge for both the Government and the Opposition is to formulate a coherent and effective policy. The rising voice of the Greens in the Senate will ensure that there is legitimate criticism and analysis of their positions.

But the temptation that both major parties need to resist is to believe that the voters are dimwits who don’t understand the stakes and the costs, whose votes can be bought through cheap stunts that relieve our short-term pain without addressing the challenges of the future. They need to recognise that we are more sophisticated than Paul Kelly gives us credit for.

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Glenn Milne divines the inner thoughts of a group of people who he has never been intimate with – the Australian Labor Party. A piece of speculation and opinion-shifting as rank as this should stand out as distinctively pathetic journalism – it says something about the current state of reporting on Australian politics that it merely looks a little sub-standard.

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I has it.

UPDATE: On the flipside is this tactic from the Opposition, which manages to both (i) stall the Government’s plan to eliminate a clear form of discrimination and (ii) implicitly suggest that homosexual partnerships are on a par with siblings and other carers rather than married or de facto heterosexual couples. There should not be delay for delay’s sake, but there should be scope for debate and careful consideration where it is appropriate. Of course, instead of a nuanced examination of the merits of each Bill, this week’s media coverage is more likely to be “Government: The Opposition wants to stop us from governing!!!” and “Opposition: The Government is circumventing Parliament!!!” in a recursive loop.

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New Leadership

Meet Team Rudd.

Meet the Next John Howard – except that I don’t think this one will win government.

Meet the Next Peter Costello – except that I think this one will have the guts to challenge his new leader.

And it’s going to be Bishop vs Gillard on IR. Given that these are the current and previous education ministers as well, it will be interesting to see whether Bishop will confine herself to the new portfolio or will try to match Julia across the board.

In general, the Labor Cabinet seems to make pretty good sense. Rudd had a fair bit of talent to squeeze in there, but he seems to have handled it pretty well. Now we’ll wait and see how the opposition chooses to match up in the rest of the portfolios, and to what extent Nelson opts for renewal (and attempts to wipe clean the Howard hierarchy).

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Horrible, arrogant Labor – inviting their three surviving Prime Ministers to the campaign launch.

By the way – they have won.

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