Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mixed News for Labor, Libs

There has been mixed news for the major parties in the last few days:
  • the Cabinet leak about Julia Gillard questioning the costs, and the political value, of a paid maternity scheme, and possibly pension rises above normal should never have occurred. It was good news for Tony Abbott, and a number of Opposition members trotted out to the media for the 5-10s media sound bite. Cabinet discussions are supposed to be confidential. The finger is being pointed at Kevin Rudd, but no evidence has been made public to support that, and he has denied any responsibility. Cabinet leaks are not common, but the last Liberal-National government had them too. There were police raids on newspapers and individual journalists over leaked Cabinet documents previewing Howard's intervention in Aboriginal communities in the NT. That was 14-Nov-2004. The raids were ordered by Howard's Dept of Prime Minister & Cabinet.
  • Economics has largely favoured Julia Gillard's government. The inflation figures released today for both CPI and underlying inflation fell, and it is likely there will be no interest rate rise this month. Fairfax newspapers reported, in the business section, that the predicted price rises from both Labor's Climate Change policy, and from the Coalition's increased tax on big business, will be about the same. Whichever party is elected, the "Coles & Wollies" effect will be similar. Mortgage applications rose by 2.3% in the June quarter, and the decline in personal credit (loans and credit card applications) will be good for an economy overloaded with personal debt. All up, good news for Julia Gillard's Government, and not good for Tony Abbott's Opposition. The news gives voters no reason to change government. Tony Abbott has been forced to promise a tax cut for business, but it won't take effect till after 2013, or perhaps in teh budget before an election. It's a cynical backflip, while attempting to be populist  to buiness.
  • The media ran stories about Julia Gillard's photo makeover for Women's Weekly. Yes, it's only images & story, but it will  only help Juila Gillard's standing with women, and possibly some men. Already the Coalition is worried about her appeal. It will likely remain a significant stumbling block for Tony Abbott.
Score: ALP: 5; Coalition: 2


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Election - State of the Parties Week1

During the first week of the election campaign, we have seen:
  • Tony Abbott stumble over WorkChoices. He wanted voters to believe that WorkChoices was "dead, buried & cremated". then he let slip the real agenda will be in the second term of his government, if elected. That could be a fatal self-wounding.
  • Tony Abbott run as Tony Abbott only, until the Saturday polls showed he was losing women voters to Labor. So, Saturday saw the first appearance of Tony Abbott with his Deputy, Julie Bishop. She made complimentary comments about him, as she did for every other leader for whom she has been Deputy Leader. It was nothing other than an attempt to attract back a few women voters.
  • Julia Gillard try to sideline Climate Change Policy, by announcing a forum of 150 people drawn from the electoral rolls. Everyone saw it as nothing other than attempt to avoid giving details of a climate change policy.
  • The spectre of Kevin Rudd, with news he is seeking a part-time Climate Change job with the UN. It took tony Abbott's WorkChoices bungles off the front page. Mind you, I would understand his frustration at being pestered by journalists looking for a story, ANY story, about him in his electorate.
  • Labor released its cashback policy for old (pre-1975) cars if they are upgraded to new, efficient cars. (see an earlier post)
Overall, I give a 2-Party preferred 'vote', as follows:
  • Labor:  51.5
  • Coalition: 48.5

Election Policy - Libs' Boat Policy

In the previous post, we saw that Labor's cashback for old cars had some implications not stated. ie that many popular large cars would be excluded because they are are not sufficiently economical.

Today, we will look at the Coalition's, and particularly the Liberal Party's policy on refugee boats. The website states:

The Coalition will maintain rigorous offshore processing of those arriving illegally by boat, reintroduce temporary protection visas (to deprive people-smugglers of a product to sell) and be ready, where possible, to turn boats back.

What they don't say:
"Caveat emptor" - buyer beware.  
Not much detail in this policy, is there? It's blatant populism - a facade that makes no attempt at detail, and relies heavily on sloganeering - the 'only we can stop the boats' (like the last Liberal government) chant. It might be popular with some voters, particularly in western Sydney, Queensland, and Western Australia, but the last Liberal-National Party Government did so by:
  • breaching International Maritime Law, when it denied the Norwegian freighter Tampa permission to take almost 250 refugees to Christmas Island. It denied the Tampa, contrary to advice from the Attorney-General's Department.
  • lying to us voters during an election campaign when John Howard and others claimed refugees had thrown 'children overboard', even when they had been advised that was wrong. A later inquiry verified that teh then PM & senior Liberal Ministers knew no children had been thrown overboard, but they continued to make that statement.
  • breaching Australia's obligations as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It did this with long-term, and off-shore, detention, including at Nauru. That long-term incarceration, sometimes up to 3 years, affected the physical and mental health of people. Indeed, the UN High Commission on Refugees was critical of John Howard's Liberal-National Government, saying that The Pacific Solution was
“an unfortunate precedent, being for the first time, ..., that a country with a fully functioning and credible asylum system, in the absence of anything approximating a mass influx, decides to transfer elsewhere the responsibility to handle claims made actually on the territory of the state.”
The policy will do nothing to solve the problems faced by many people in (mostly) northern parts of Sri Lanka, nor minority people affected by the war in Afghanistan, nor terrorist activity in Pakistan. It does nothing to encourage Indonesia to crack down on people-smugglers.

The policy is populist, and will only serve to again damage Australia's international reputation.

See also:


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Election Policy - Labor's Car Cashback

Today, the ALP announced a $2000 cashbback offer for people purchasing a new, economical car, as follows. (Full press release at: )
Motorists with old, higher-emission, less fuel-efficient vehicles will be eligible for a $2,000 Cleaner Car Rebate when they purchase a new, lower-emission, fuel-efficient vehicle, under a Gillard Labor Government.

This will encourage people to get their old polluting cars off the road and help the environment for the whole community.
It is anticipated that the measure will see close to 200,000 pre-1995 vehicles taken off the road over four years from 1 January 2011 to the end of 2014, ...
Under this measure, households that trade-in a car manufactured before 1 January 1995 for scrappage will be eligible for a $2,000 rebate ...
What they don't say:
"Caveat emptor" - buyer beware.
Of the best known car brands, the list below shows those current models that have the required green rating of 6 or more:
Ford:  - Fiesta, Focus (not XR5 Turbo)

Holden: - Cruze, Barina; Diesel variants of Cruze, Captiva, Epica, Colorado

Mazda: - Mazda2, Mazda3, Mazda 6, Mazda CX7 (Diesel)

Toyota: - Prius, Yaris, Corolla, Camry

Subaru: - Impreza; Liberty 2.5i, Outback 2.5i, Forrester (Diesel); Outback (Diesel)

So, no Ford Falcon or variants; no Holden Commodore or variants, and the choice for families is rather limited.
For the full list, see:

Like all such things, this policy is dressed to sound appealing, especially if you don't do your homework.  It is like most parties' election policies. It is as the Minister said, designed to replace older, inefficient cars. He just
didn't include the bit 'but not with new cars that are still less economical'. Perhaps we will see 4-cylinder diesel variants of the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore sooner than we think.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Electioneering 2010

The Federal Election 2010 is not yet a week old. Are you bored yet?? You should be.

Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard has maintained her "ice-queen" persona. It is a continuation of her performances as Minister for Education & Minister for Industrial relations. Measured, reasonable, logical. But there's little sign of passion. There has been little policy detail. At least the Labor Party's site (   includes its traditional logo, unlike the Liberal Party's (see below). Deposed PM Kevin Rudd is rarely mentioned, and mostly by journalists. For his, part, Rudd seems to gag and has not mentioned Julia Gillard's name. there are plenty of slogans, photos to feed the journos, and create the desired image, but not much policy reporting.

Opposition, & Liberal Party, Leader Tony Abbott has also done his best to seem measured, but it took a matter of days before his foot was firmly in his mouth over ... WorkChoices. He "promised" that WorkChoices was "dead, buried and cremated",  but then indicated he wouldn't 'make changes to IR laws in the first term, but would in the second!  It seems there was a conscious party decision to try to bury WorkChoices, and keep its desired changes from teh public. His picture on the front page of the Liberal Party website ( ) does NOT include the Liberal Party Logo - it's not anywhere! His official election photo (right) also has no identifier Perhaps he doesn't want people to remember Liberal Party policies when in government. Little has been heard from the National Party, at least in metropolitan areas. Perhaps they are trying to keep a lid on Barnaby Joyce.

What we are seeing is a form of electioneering that involves:
  • image manipulation. There will be only 1 structured, manipulated, "debate".
  • attempts to be measured and reasonable, to point of iciness. The facades are brittle, especially for Tony Abbott
  • a distinct lack of policy detail through the major media outlets.
  • simple, transparent, attempts to gain votes by demeaning the other leader.
  • a "presidential" style, where we voters are asked to vote for a leader. Except for the people in their respective electorates, we don't.
There is a real risk that this type of election campaign will alienate more voters, who will either deliberately vote informal, try not to vote, or donkey-vote. Both parties demean our democracy, for some perceived short-term interest. I'm sure many voters want to see policy detail, and just a little passion - enough to show firm belief in the policies.


Saturday, July 17, 2010


Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) has  this morning asked the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce (right) to dissolve the House of Representatives and call a general election and half-Senate election. The election will beheld on Saturday 21-August-2010.

Ms Gillard announced the election at a press conference at noon today.

Both (Labor) Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and Opposition (Liberal) Leader, Tony Abbott, will be able to score political points, similar to those below:

Tone Abbott will score "points" on: Labor's mistakes made in spending to avoid the global recession, particularly in school buildings and badly-installed home insulation; the compromised mining super-profits tax; and he will certainly play on xenophobic right-wing fears about refugees arriving by boat. (It seems nothing has changed since the 1970's when Vietnamese refugees arrived by boat - politicians still want to run a scare campaign); and Labor's inability to act on climate change, even though the Liberal/National parties do not want to act!

Julia Gillard will score "points" on: the Liberal/National Coalition's desire to resurrect at least some parts of WorkChoices - a Howard policy they ALL voted for, but which was manifestly unjust in its objectives, and which Tony Abbott, (Deputy)Julie Bishop, Eric Abetz and a string of other Liberals still want; she will claim a "tie" on refugee policy, while trying desperately to ameliorate social justice concerns about the treatment of refugees arriving by boat; she will also score points on Tony Abbott's "great big new tax" - his term- on business.

So, where does the average voter look? Truepolitik's analysis of the Australian political spectrum for the major parties is shown below. the National Party is largely right-wing, but has a distinct socialist policy: to socialize losses from agriculture (but countered by a policy to privatize the profits)

 This election will lack the myriad promises of personal tax cuts and spending initiatives as both sides seek to position themselves as 'economically responsible'. The fact is both Labor and the Liberal & National Parties are conservative. The Greens are the only party that could properly be labeled "Left", and Labor, while conservative, is more centrist, and more environmentally aware that the Liberals.

It's now up to Australians. Many will vote for a particular party, "because that's how we've always voted". It's us swinging voters that the parties will try to target.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Election Selling 101

Following from my last psoting, to help you.

Laugh - at least you'll feel better.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

It's Almost Election Time

I've been rather sick - this winter has seen some nasty bugs going around. I seem to have caught most of them this year.

One 'bug' going around is the political BS bug. We are currently being inundated with pollies' photo opportunities; press releases as 'news'; and leaders' media statements, complete with nodding acolytes. PM Julia Gillard has been busy working to clear problems, and enhance her image, and the image of her party. Within 24-hours of her Prime Ministerial dress-sense being questioned by women in the media, Julia Gillard has upped the ante this morning with a pin-striped "power suit". {Aside - why is that the media, especially women in the media, need to do this? Sell their journalistic soul for a quick buck, they would.}.
  • Julia Gillard is trying to be seen as firm, a listener to people, and decisive. Kevin Rudd has been removed from the media: he was not appointed to the Ministry, despite wanting to, and has kept an almost nil profile since. The mere absence of Kevin Rudd has done wonders for the Labor Party.
  • She has largely resolved the mining tax: at least it's off the headlines. No legislation has been announced, and it's unlikely till next year - after the election.
  • She has almost settled the issue of boat people with the announcement of the intended use of East Timor as a holding place. The sticking point is that East Timor has not yet agreed to do this! The move is, however, a move to the right to try to nullify the xenophobic one-liner non-policies of the Liberal Party, and appeal to populist voter fears. Nauru is off the list - Labor does not want to use a facility they, and the UN, criticised as breaching Australia's obligations to international treaties on refugees.
  • The superannuation revue allowed for the release of potential good news for most Australians. The retail fund managers made noises opposing, but have now kept quiet - perhaps they don't want people to start thinking about the high fees they charge!
  • The Building the Education Revolution waste, where schools have grossly over-priced, but underwhelming, buildings, has been quietly shuffled off to an inquiry.
Still to come are statements on: climate change/Emissions Trading Scheme/carbon tax; and a final settlement of how to deal with boat people.

I expect that Parliament will not sit in August, as scheduled. It could represent too many opportunities for the Opposition. If you've already had enough of unsubstantiated marketing from Labor, and the Liberals, you're out of luck. I reckon you've got another 6-8 weeks worth before the election. And remember, it's ALL just marketing. Marketing, marketing ... and repetition of unsubstantiated statements.Try imagining each of the parties' leaders in checked sports coats, cigar in hand, looking like shonky used-car salesmen .. err .. persons. At least you'll laugh.