Home > Oz Politics > Three Cheers for Judith Troeth

Three Cheers for Judith Troeth

September 8th, 2009

In my last post, I was thinking about the fact that one Liberal willing to cross the floor and combine with Labor, the Greens and Nick Xenophon, would be enough to pass an improved emissions trading scheme. Now, this pattern of votes has combined to repeal the Howard government’s hateful practice, inherited from the Keating Labor government, of charging immigration detainees for their own imprisonment. The sole Liberal was Judith Troeth, and she deserves our heartfelt congratulation.

Alleged Christian Steve Fielding voted, not merely to pass by the other side like the priest and the Levite, but to join the thieves who beat and rob the needy stranger. I incorrectly stated that Steve Fielding voted against the bill. He spoke against, but voted for.

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  1. Alan
    September 8th, 2009 at 21:02 | #1

    From http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/09/08/2679939.htm?section=australia: ‘Despite saying he would oppose the bill, Family First Senator Steve Fielding also voted with the Government.’

  2. September 8th, 2009 at 21:13 | #2

    Judith Troeth definitelyhas my heartfelt congratulation. Not only is this a win for the human rights of refugees, it is also a win for democracy.

  3. Caroline, VIC
    September 8th, 2009 at 21:23 | #3

    I emailed her to say thanks before i realised that she is a Victorian Senator. Even nicer to know. Great to hear about the votes in the House of Reps. This is a positive change but I would like clarification on outstanding debts that detainees are still facing payment demands for. Was this mentioned in the bill?

  4. Fran Barlow
    September 8th, 2009 at 21:33 | #4

    Yes kudos to her on this issue, though I do note she is not running for re-election.

    Today she voted like a human being rather than a conservative, but let’s not forget that she was one of the people who helped create the context to brown out the CPRS. And what was she doing when mandatory detention, the excision of immigration zones and so forth came in? Not protesting as I recall.

  5. rog
    September 8th, 2009 at 21:40 | #5

    “the Howard government’s hateful practice of charging immigration detainees for their own imprisonment”

    It was Gerry Hand of the Hawke cabinet that brought the law in.

  6. jquiggin
    September 8th, 2009 at 21:48 | #6

    You’re quite right Rog. I had thought this particular abomination was a later wrinkle introduced by Howard, but it was part of the originalscheme. I’ve edited to reflect this.

  7. rog
    September 8th, 2009 at 22:04 | #7

    Not all detainees are to be free of debt – illegal fishermen and smugglers are still liable. So the question remains – should other criminals also pay for their incarceration? If not it seems a curious law.

  8. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    September 8th, 2009 at 22:31 | #8

    It sounds like they did the right and decent thing. When will they end mandatory detention?

  9. Mark U
    September 8th, 2009 at 22:59 | #9

    John, you could have edited to say “the Keating Government’s hateful practice, inherited by the Howard Government,….”.

  10. thewetmale
    September 8th, 2009 at 23:31 | #10

    “Steve Fielding … spoke against, but voted for.”

    Classic Fielding.

  11. Donald Oats
    September 9th, 2009 at 04:54 | #11

    Making people pay for indefinite incarceration until demonstrated to be a lawful immigrant by way of refugee status – that has always been wrong in my book.

    I heard Judith Troeth explain why she felt she could cross the floor while other like-minded Liberals could not. She reckoned that there is a real fear (by younger politicians) of being marked by crossing the floor, and that it could affect later political career. Of course, since she is intending to leave, she no longer is concerned about that.

    While I can appreciate the benefit of major parties presenting a united front on policy, sometimes the cost is too high.

  12. Freelander
    September 9th, 2009 at 07:27 | #12

    Maybe Steve Fielding spoke against and thought he voted against but, in fact, voted for? Not impossible.

  13. rog
    September 9th, 2009 at 08:15 | #13

    The truth is that the mandatory detention for illegal arrivals and asylum seekers including the detention debt policy was first introduced by Gerry Hand (Migration Amendment Act 1992) and further amended by Nick Bolkus (Migration Reform Act 1992 which included detention of ‘unlawful non-citizens’) and received bi partisan support.

    Lib MPs Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan, Danna Vale and Russell Broadbent all spoke against it.

  14. Uncle Milton
    September 9th, 2009 at 08:17 | #14

    As others have said, Troeth is retiring at the next election, so it’s only two cheers for her. It’s very easy to be courageous when there are no consequences.

  15. fred
    September 9th, 2009 at 08:56 | #15

    Well I’d give only one muted soft cheer.
    I only give small cheers at best for those that do now under favourable circumstances that which should have been done previously.
    Where was she during the last decade of the COALition govt when the policy introduced, as noted above, by previous ALP govts, was brought to a fine pitch of inhumanity?
    Really there should have been an unanimous vote against the shameful policy years ago.

    “Gidday mate, welcome to Oz”

  16. September 9th, 2009 at 09:02 | #16

    Given Fielding’s revelations yesterday about his learning difficulties, he may simply not have worked out yet where the ‘Ayes’ and the ‘Nays’ ares supposed to go.

  17. Michael
    September 9th, 2009 at 10:24 | #17

    @Ken Lovell
    Lets hope so

  18. Alice
    September 9th, 2009 at 11:02 | #18

    Yes indeed…. Thanks and congratulations to Judith Troeth. A liberal with a genuine conscience.

  19. Glenn Tamblyn
    September 9th, 2009 at 12:41 | #19

    Well done Judith!

    Maybe what the Liberal party need is more of the old guard to come out of the woodwork and back the ‘wet’ side of the party. Where are Ian McPhee, Malcolm Fraser? (And when I was at Uni in 1976, Fraser was the devil incarnate – how times have changed)

    If the Liberals are to find their soul again, they need to consign the Howard Years to the dust bin. Australia needs two parties, one of the moderate Left and one of the moderate Right. John Howard was one of our coutries most masterful politicians. What a pity that ability was in the service of such a dessicated view of life. The Grey Gnome is gone now but we still carry the scars of his thinking.

  20. pablo
    September 9th, 2009 at 13:23 | #20

    Gerry Hand went on to become an immigration consultant, may still be for all that. You wonder what his advice might have been to some poor illegal visa-overstayer who would otherwise be facing a spell in Villawood or Marynibong. Sounds like the ultimate conflict of interest. “Here is my bill which you need to pay upfront before we go any further with your claim… While you’re with the cashier, I’ll just make a coupla calls”.

  21. Alice
    September 9th, 2009 at 16:46 | #21

    @Glenn Tamblyn
    Glen – I agree re Howard’s dessicated view of life and the same fractured view of life of some of his followers…I think you know who I mean..but the list is reasonably long so I wont write it here.

    Good choice of phrase (as in dried out and lifeless) and yes – we do bear the scars of being encouraged to think of everything in terms of pure greed and self interest and the push to work harder and faster for less money and less dignity and to have many levels of sound government systems criticised as being a waste of money (eg social policy research and inititiatives) all round by JH. There was no cultural flourishing, that is for sure…

    And maybe someone is right…that Judith Troeth has nothing to lose, coming to the end of her term anyway but if thats what it takes to get people to act for the Australian people in government, then its a sorry state of affairs that they obviously have to put their party before their conscience, especially when the party has been populated by ratbags.

    I dont congratulate the Hawke / Keating government either who allowed some idiot from Treasury to present this little abomination…imagine that…a genuine refugee spends years in prison and then when finally permitted to live as an ordinary citizen here, starting all over again in a new country,…has to spend years in a debt prison to the government – when did this become the land of such jackboot style unproductive small minded viciousness? There is no other word for it. Man’s inhumanity to man is just sickening and whats worse is, there is no point to it. What does it do for the economy except to keep these people in poverty unable to spend or prosper, probably for their entire lives. Whats left of them.

    Yes no thanks to the Hawke Keating Government either…with their worship of private markets, and de-regulation either

    I wonder if either of those two have any remorse. My father used to think Hawke would be the best prime minister we ever had. I say what an almighty disappointment he turned out to be (and likewise Keating) yet neither went quite as far in turning my stomach as the ugly selfish rhetoric that came out of the twisted Grey Gnome’s government.

  22. Jill Rush
    September 10th, 2009 at 00:21 | #22

    It is an excellent outcome and Judith Troeth showed courage whether she is standing for re-election or not. What is if concern is that younger Liberals felt the need to speak and vote against a spectacularly unsuccessful but very awful piece of legislation. Steve Fielding has once again shown his unfitness for the job (and that Christian values don’t help) whilst Nick Xenophon and the Greens also deserve credit.

  23. jquiggin
    September 10th, 2009 at 06:21 | #23

    As regards the relative role of the Howard and Keating governments, both have cause for shame. But this issue was a peripheral one under Keating – most people were barely aware of the way the policy worked. By contrast it was a defining issue for Howard, deliberately chosen as such, and pursued with brutal vigour.

  24. Alice
    September 10th, 2009 at 08:29 | #24

    rog is correct in these names also that spoke out against mandatory detention “Lib MPs Petro Georgiou, Judi Moylan, Danna Vale and Russell Broadbent all spoke against it.”
    That also deserved congratulations..and the retired Fraser constributed positively to the debate also by either starting or being heavily involved “A Just Australia” and the qualifications of the patrons of this organisation are much more impressive than the qualifications of those in Howards small minded government (so small minded they deliberately chose to avoid expert advice on many occasions and saw their own narrow views as being “above all that”).


  25. Donald Oats
    September 10th, 2009 at 11:19 | #25

    My recollections of Fraser in power is that most of the vitriol (from Labor voters) was over the Liberals blocking of supply, which ultimately forced an election. There were a few other issues that grated, like the way Fraser ignored convention when two politicians left parliament before the end of term – my memory of that is too vague to say much more on it, although I think the coalition replacements of those two politicians changed the balance of power in parliament, which allowed the coalition to block supply. Can’t run a country if funding is blocked!

    Although a lot of Liberals view Fraser as having moved to the left, I’ve wondered whether it’s more of a case that the Liberals moved much further to the right, making Fraser appear more leftwing. However, the times have changed and what was once important is now long forgotten; perhaps that is explanation enough.

    While Fraser was a bastard in politics, he was great fun to draw – minimal alterations and a good caricature was born! Any of the “Bustards in the bush” cartoons by Larry Pickering covered the rest of the mob rather well.

  26. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    September 11th, 2009 at 12:09 | #26

    When Fielding was first elected way back in 2004 (taking Senate seat in 2005) he said things that were symphathetic to plight of boat people. But he’s up for re-election next year and so is a desperado. Family First are apparently a very politically savvy bunch (hence pulling the wool over Labor’s eyes re preferences) and he’s probably got some Richo types telling him he’s got to go hard on refos.

  27. W.G.
    September 13th, 2009 at 08:13 | #27

    First comment, and it’s a gutless anonymous snark. You’re banned immediately and permanently. Feel free to whine to your friends about how you’ve been censored – JQ

  28. Jeremy
    September 14th, 2009 at 23:11 | #28

    Wow, I only stumbled upon this website by chance and am amazed at the leftist hippie rubbish that has been writted here by some people. Of course on a site like this its only natural that the Howard haters will make an appearance and once again you have amazed me with your ignorance and blind hatred. Alice in particular is now most likely smoking a doobie and dancing around the maypole while sticking pins in a voodoo doll shaped like JWH himself…

    Where do you people actually live? I don’t mind people thoughtfully attacking the previous governments policies but to continue to lambast him with such vitriol this long after his election defeat is ridiculous. I mean none of my lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant, dentist, banker friends talk this much rubbish… oh well I think I just answered my own question!

  29. Jeremy
    September 14th, 2009 at 23:18 | #29

    I should probably also mention that very few detainees ever paid anything and that it was largely a deterrent. So once again Labor and the Greens have succeeded in creating a warm inner glow for all their supporters without actually doing anything… how fitting.

  30. Sebastian
    September 14th, 2009 at 23:59 | #30

    “I mean none of my lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant, dentist, banker friends talk this much rubbish”

    Obviously they have jobs, and committed themselves to several years of intensive study. Indeed, I’m sure they have very little time to talk rubbish. I think you just answered your own question too. While I am no fan of Howard (due to the fact that I believe he strayed from classical liberalism in the direction of big government conservatism), these people continue to use him as the scapegoat for everything, from oil spills to the death of their hamsters to the continuing low uptake of veganism in the general populace.

    You have to be careful of course. I arrived at this site much like you did (after Quiggin’s name came up in a (well justified) rant about economic irrationalism by my current macroeconomics lecturer). He of course took objection to the fact that my comments were not “socially useful”. This blog, of course, is not public, so he reserves the right to purge/”moderate” comments (hence I am restricted to one comment a day).

    Strangely enough, while he believes in private property when it comes to his blog, when it comes to expropriating the salaries of hard-working individuals he has no such concerns.

    One may then ask, why does John Quiggin hate freedom? And why does he pronounce laissez faire as “lay-say fare”?

    You may think Alice is bad (I would say hopelessly separated from objective reality), but the worst one by far is the one that continually throws random french expressions into her high-pitched, emotional calumnies (“Ooh la la, le mauvais laissez faire, la baguette avec de l’aspect existentiel, j’adore Jean-Pierre Jeunet, soufflet de merde etc etc

    Such behaviour does not surprise me.

  31. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 06:39 | #31


    Here is my post on your mothers medical practice – Ive put it here in case you missed it which you obnviously did…it got out of moderation.
    For you and your new best friend Jeremy who sounds about 16 and has obviously learnt to spray vitriol from the same masters as you…

    Neither of you idiots can see the woods for the trees..Howard was a nutcase when it came to IR (drunk with power) and got thrown out with disgust. What part of that dont you too get? Sour grapes deosnt become anyone..

    On Regulation V deregulation…Sebastian

    Its my brief joyous respite that you are condemned not to be able to reply except for once a day Forgive me Sebastian but you do take a rather condescending tone towards workers but I can assure you I have seen ugly racist homophobia in the wealthy as well. Its never pretty but isnt a class determining feature, rest assured.
    But …Im not letting you ooff so easily on your Mum’s family medical practice being gobbled up by one of the large corporate medical centres where medicos have been effectively turned in wages slaves and bullied by suits with no medical qualifications (admit it…I have friends who were gobbled up as well – your mother isnt alone),
    But Sebastian you say
    “it is obvious that the burden of higher regulation is more easily absorbed by larger businesses, who can, for instance, employ somebody to specifically deal with all the paper work.”
    Of course it is BUT that is NOT the defining reason why your mother’s medical practice got gobbled up at all. It was de-regulation that did it. It was the permitting of corporates in suits and sometimes sharks in suits who made investments in machinery and medical centres YET WHO HAD NO MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS to own, operate, hire and fire the real doctors…
    But Sebastion what is worse is that I liked smaller family medical practices better and now I have no choice but to sit in the impersonal barn of the local medical centre waiting rooms of I want to see my doctor. I dont like it (and as an old nurse, properly trained, long ago I wince at those jam packed full waiting rooms and worry about cross infection).
    Now – the other ugly side of the medical centre debate is the surreptitious and insidious pushing of medical staff (employees now) to perform tests that are not warranted. A radiologist I know told his three “corporate minders” to shove it whenn it became apparent they wanted him to spray X-rays around willy nilly on adults and children so they could get a return on their “capital.” (the damn machine).
    Now lets move from there to the case of the pharmacists – and the mootings of de-regulation over the rights to sell pahramaceutical drugs.
    We all know the corporates like Woolies are waiting and itching to get their hands on chemist (????family) businesses also…
    Expect to see the same thing happen to pharamcists as has happened to your mother’s family medical practice Seb…..gobbled up.
    This is the consequence of excessive de-regulation, not regulation. Your claim that your mother “couldnt compete due to excessive regulation” – after the govt had struck the fatal blow by first by de-regulating the industry to allow the not quite as ethical corporates in …is like wailing that you couldnt get a bandaid for a patient already suffering major blood loss.
    Its not all black and white Seb (regulation Vs de-regulation). If you dont mind I dont need that sort of trickling down and neither, I dare say, did your mother.

  32. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 06:41 | #32

    Oh the utter comtempible hypocrisy of these libertarians….

  33. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 20:30 | #33

    Sebastian and his new de-regulation sidekick Jeremy say things like this

    “I mean none of my lawyer, doctor, engineer, accountant, dentist, banker friends talk this much rubbish”

    Obviously they have jobs, and committed themselves to several years of intensive study.”

    Now you two pathetoc de-regulation experts – what regulation do youb want to see lifted first (no anwer???”).
    How about we take off the de-regulation of doctors like Seabastian’s mother and lawyers like Jeremy’s friends…

    De -regulate them all..let voodoo doctors in from South America to play their wares (bones of dead chickens etc) and set up in competition to your Mum Sebastian (as if the suits werent enought damage).

    Lawyers…de-regulate them also. require no training and hire someone with an AK47 instead to carry out vigilante law.

    Thats the trouble with you libertarians – you have one majic word (de-regulate) yet barely a single one pof you has ever sat down to say, to work, to argue exactly waht regulation you want lifted and where…

    Lets start with Mum Sebastian…lets let the voodoo doctors in…

    Lets de-regulate medicine, who needs to spend all that time in training, like your mother did really???? Anyone can set up as a doctor in a liberal paradise.

    Fools and children – do some work if you want de-regulation – what laws and where???. You dont have any satisfactory answers or any suggestions – you only have one empty meaningless word “de-regulate.”

  34. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 20:43 | #34

    I have spelt badly in the heat of the moment but lord give me people who can argue the liberal view with finesse – Terje or Andy (not these two novices…).

    Yes – I like their end view of small businesses flourishing with lots of competition – its very pretty indeed and I would prefer it — but it seems to me these people like Sebastiaon and sidekick Jeremy (who has no intellectual depth or comeback whatsoever, except to accuse people in this blog of being hippies who, in his words, smoke “scoobies”, ahem – Jeremy’s words but so very junior).

    Yes, I like their view of a flourishing small business sector and competition, but they have no clue whatsoever how to get there and have only one word they wave like a magic wand in fairy land – to “de-regulate” … when de-regulation is taking them and us in the opposite direction comepletely and enuring the rich and concentrated get the “de-regulation they want”….go ask your mother Sebastian, if she wants to work in competition with any de-regulated voodoo doctors (or corporate non medical suits, same thing) who hangs up a shingle and buys an Xray machine????.

  35. Rationalist
    September 15th, 2009 at 20:45 | #35

    Alice, I didn’t get a mention for vitriol! I am shocked and slightly disappointed!

  36. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 20:49 | #36

    If you ask me nicely Rationalist…I happy but you have not been quite as rude as these two yet!

  37. Rationalist
    September 15th, 2009 at 20:51 | #37

    Yeah tbh, I bet if this legislation went to a true conscience vote a lot more Liberals would vote in favour of the change, rather than the well known gang of moderates.

  38. Sebastian
    September 15th, 2009 at 21:42 | #38

    Dear Alice,

    Thankyou for your rant.

    “voodoo doctors in from South America to play their wares (bones of dead chickens etc)”

    Well… That sounds a little elitist. I’ll have you know that they actually have proper doctors in South America. One of my colombian friends was studying medicine, and he never mentioned anything about los huesos de pollo muerto (dead chicken bones) being used in Colombia.

    Ok, let’s just suppose we have a South American voodoo doctor (technically I think they would be from Haiti if they practised voodoo). Would you actually pay to go and see them? How would they get any patients? Would you not feel a little uneasy walking into their office and seeing bones of dead chickens on the walls, or hearing them chant incantations in quechua, or noticing they did not have a degree from a well-known institution? In fact, why bother importing a South American voodoo doctor – isn’t there already a massive waste of time and energy being devoted to ‘alternative medicine’? What’s to stop me opening my own little witch doctor practice? That’s right, I wouldn’t get any customers and no insurance company would be willing to insure me against medical malpractice.

    Most people would prefer seeing a qualified medical professional (qualified is not the same as belonging to the AMA). Although given my impression of you, I’m a little surprised you didn’t show more enthusiasm for the thought of a witch doctor selling you magic beads and spirit crystals instead of Evil Western Medicine.

    Your rant against the sharks and suits in the medical industry reads more like a conspiracy theory than a coherent argument. While (unfortunately) some doctors do run tests to make money, the main reason is so they don’t get sued, which is easier than you think, and hence they have to cover all their bases. As for Woolies getting their hands on pharmaceuticals, why this should make any difference I don’t know – wouldn’t you be happier to get cheaper meds through increased competition? Do you have any current objection to Priceline and the other pharmacy chains?

    FYI, Mum’s surgery didn’t close down for lack of business, it was always booked out, even after the opening of several super clinics. It was almost purely so she could stick to seeing patients while the corporation would take care of all the bureaucratic red tape.

    Of course, even after deregulation in the Evil Land of Libertopia, fraud and violence remain illegal. If you’re worrying about a doctor running unecessary tests, I suspect you could argue that this constitutes a form of fraud – but as I pointed out, the risks and costs involved in medicine are massive, and hence doctors tend to err on the side of caution by running the tests, so the line would be hard to draw.

    On another note, yes the mandatory detention policy was terrible. As P J O’Rourke said on Q&A, by locking them up we’re “missing out on some mighty fine potential Australians” and I would tend to agree, even if they do sell medical remedies that consist of dead chicken bones. They definitely have more right to be here than the scores of whingers who complain and moan about government not doing enough for them. As well as the rednecks.

  39. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 21:42 | #39

    What legislation? Gimme EX Fatty OBarrell any day over the lunatic hardliners…did you hear what those poor liberal females had to say about the likes of Abbott and Hockey getting all the questions in the question time???. So we have females in the liberal party but they are only there if their hair can stand up to 50 knot gales like Bishop’s and their faces have been botoxed and dont get shocked ever.

    Shame on the Coalition for not only bullying the Australian people but also bullying liberal females who are there for the pics, the hairspray and must be regulated and kept silent….

    OWM Club.

  40. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 21:52 | #40

    So sebastian,

    You acknowledge it yourself …Your Mum’s family practice, the choice of which to go to I might have preferred to have kept, over my now no choice between infectious cow barn waiting rooms (how has my choice been improved Sebastian? How has your mothers?)

    You state she just wants to treat patients and get the corporates to do the paperwork but secretly she doesnt even like working for them…and who have they got backing them to buy the machines but the bloody gambling banks…

    You know it and I know it..

    You hold your personal freedom of choices like a flag yet all around you and me they are falling…not to regulation but to weak, sycophantic governments and inadequate regulation and if you had any real desire for freedom and de-regulation you would swing more to Rothbard than Hayek and realise that when banks are dictating who will and wont prosper, with money they are gambling (instead of performing the grease in the wheels of financial transacting of real good and real services, they have overstepped their function, well and truly…

    You are in the wrong team of the right Seb. I need ABOM here to talk some sense into you because as I said before…Im all for your end game but I dont agree at all on how you think it can be achieved.

  41. Alice
    September 15th, 2009 at 22:00 | #41

    moderated again – have you got friends in moderation SEB? – its only my replies to you…..jeez

  42. Michael of Summer Hill
    September 15th, 2009 at 22:02 | #42

    Crikey John, the Federal Coalition have been caught with their pants down for sidelining female Liberals and allotting them only 8.4% of the questions asked in parliament so far this year. Is this discrimination or not?

  43. September 16th, 2009 at 02:04 | #43

    One small challenge. If you still have faith (any at all) that regulation will somehow come in and save the little guy, have a read of The Big Ripoff. It does read as a bit of a polemic, but Carney does make many excellent points.
    The main one is that big business likes regulation. They have no interest in a de-regulated market. They also tend to prefer higher taxes.
    I see your position, being broadly in favour of more regulation, as no doubt heartfelt and from good intentions (despite the many adverse things you have said against me personally) but I can see it as being little more than in the category of a useful patsy for big business.
    Give it a read (even just the first few pages on Amazon if you do not want to pay for it) and come back. It may be in your local library, though.

  44. jquiggin
    September 16th, 2009 at 05:08 | #44

    @Andrew Reynolds , I doubt that Australians, except a few well to the left or well to the right, are likely to be convinced of the applicability of US examples to Australia.

    You only need to look at the healthcare debate to see that doing anything that challenges corporate interests is just about impossible there. Obama has done his best to buy off the pharma, insurance and medical lobbies, and still faces an uphill struggle to get anything through. By contrast, the pharma/private insurance lobby hates the PBS and Medicare, but has failed to do more than dent them even with people like Wooldridge in charge.

    There’s no doubt that large corporate interests control the entire political process in the US, including the regulatory setup. But, to turn the question back to you, it seems as if most of the policy changes you support would make us more like the US, not less. Why do you think that the result would not be to empower big business to demand and get more friendly regulation, as it has done in the US.

  45. Alice
    September 16th, 2009 at 07:39 | #45

    @Andrew Reynolds
    Prof has just made the point I was trying feebly to make above Andy….the end vision of libertarians is desirable but the methodology of acheiving it with endless unquestioning de-regulation is resulting in an entirely perverse outcome that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the vision of small flourishing businesses operating freely in a competitive market.
    The point I was making is…”de-regulation” for de-regulation sake will not ever produce your happy village scenario Andy. It hasnt with the banks, it hasnt with the finance sector, it hasnt with big pharmaceuticals as Prof notes, it has brought any semblance of a health system in the US to its knees, it hasnt in lots of sectors….why do you still keep pushing for it, when your parents and friends and small family friendly businesses have been decimated by it??…and why is there no serious attempt by libertarians to be able to distinguish the effects of the regulation they seek to remove? They dont even know what regulation should go first if any…”its all bad” in their one eyed view.

    As I said Andy, its an empty rhetorical word, thats all it is, its as bad as only focussing on GDP growth as Stiglitz recently noted, its a magic wand that you think will deliver paradise but has delivered hell and less competition increasingly more often than not…the only creative destructionism that happens…destroys your small family businesses, while large institutions become even more overbearing.

    Sebastian above writes “why wouldnt I want cheaper medicines from Woolies?”, above??

    I no longer shop at Woolies for my groceries on principle over their outrageous prices…I saw a television show advertised this week telling people how to make their own cleaning aids (have you noticed the exorbitant pricing of the Proctor and Gamble ranges on Woolies Shelves?? This is the company that now creams huge layers of profits by offering less for much much more).

    Why would Sebastian even imagine for one second that if Woolies got hold of small family chemist shops which they are desperate to do (along with the small family petrol station MV repairers we used to have and the small family liquor shops so rapidly disappearing)…that they would sell medicines cheaper…

    That is simply denialism in the extreme. The dogma of widespread indiscriminate de-regulation will not and has not worked as planned to acheive your beautiful world. I dont want to go any further down the road it is taking us all and wait for you libertarians to find out crushingly, in the end, you chased a faulty and dangerous dream.

    Im all for SOME de-regulation. Im just not all for ALL deregulation and someone needs to be discriminating or I may as well call in Voodoo medicine men with dead chicken bones to run policy. If I try to argue some common sense with you Andy and I may have said some adverse things and delivered a knowckout punch or two, but you know you always bounce back ineffably cheerfully (with…. exactly the same robotic views Andy!).

  46. September 16th, 2009 at 10:19 | #46

    The changes I would like to see are things like a ITAA that a normal person has a chance of reading in an afternoon and understanding – not something that seems designed to make it impossible to understand even if you are a High Court judge. I think that would be a great help – and nothing like the US. A reduction in the large quantities of regulation we face would be nothing like the US – which is heavily regulated and in many ways more regulated than us (particularly in banking, BTW, Alice). To take your example, PrQ, the US government already spend more as a percentage of GDP than we do on health – and that is just the government spending. No unregulated Utopia there.
    Unlike the US there are a few (very few) examples of where regulation is working here largely as intended – you have highlighted one.
    Large swathes of it, though, is not working as intended. You only need to look at the media regulations in this country to see that the PBS is an outlier. Banking regulations (thanks for bringing that one up, Alice) could almost have been written by the big four for their own benefit. Throw in the large quantities of very complex Acts, Codes and Prudential guides that banks face and the only real surprise to me is that any smaller institutions survive.
    Another example of yours, Alice, is a great one – Coles / Woolworths. Have you ever asked yourself why there is generally only one in an area? Why no other competitors seem to be able to build stores? The answer is fairly simple – planning regulations. Deal with those and your favourite little bugbear will be reduced. There are plenty of documented cases where Woolworths and Coles have fought in favour of more regulations, Alice – precisely because the regulations cost them less per unit of sales than it costs a smaller competitor and because it makes it very difficult for them to build large stores.
    The big guys find it very easy to lobby politicians to get what they want from the regulations – so the regulations are framed that way. They like complex (and fairly high) tax laws as they can afford the lawyers and accountants needed to reduce their impact, while the small guys cannot.
    As I said – read the book. What struck me was more the similarities than the differences.

  47. Michael of Summer Hill
    September 16th, 2009 at 14:46 | #47

    Andrew Reynolds, when insurance premiums rise faster than workers’ wages and overall inflation then that position becomes unsustainable. The recent Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust survey report found since 1999 premiums had increased 131% whilst wages increased a measly 38%. Obama needs to do correct the problem before it all blows up in their faces.

  48. 2 tanners
    September 16th, 2009 at 15:15 | #48

    Back on topic for a mere second, it was my privilege to work with Judith Troeth for a time in the 90’s. She is a sincere, hardworking, dedicated person whose commitment to her ‘small l’ liberal views forever condemned her not to rise above Parliamentary Secretary status. Politics is the art of the possible, and if she had to wait till now for the possible to become the actual, sobeit.

    I take her apologies for others with a grain of salt – disunity in the Coalition is such a familiar refrain today that many with th intention of one day providing a proper Opposition or even a new Government might have felt the damage to the party by yet another public confict was too great to be afforded.

  49. Scott
    September 16th, 2009 at 19:24 | #49

    I can offer an example of deregulation that I feel it would be prudent to remove – Every industrial relations change since the Rudd government came into power.

    That way the 25 or so employees of my parents small electrical contracting business could spend 2 hours less a week dealing with on site paper work. Mum could spend less time dealing with awards and entitlements and not have to pay a helper to do the books. The seasonal employees that come in to the business could come and go as it suits them and the business, and could just leave if they found a better paying company.

    Let’s be honest, flexibility in the workplace is pararmount. right wing

  50. Michael of Summer Hill
    September 16th, 2009 at 19:45 | #50

    Scott, times have changed and businesses need to adjust to the new industrial environment. And contrary to what you say a good employer does not let go of valued employees.

  51. Alice
    September 16th, 2009 at 20:06 | #51

    @Michael of Summer Hill
    Speaking of insurance premiums Mosh..this year, as usual, my home insurance premium was raised 12% whilst the value insured was only raised 5%.
    Insurance industry ….as notable scammers as large financial institutions…
    In need of more regulation, not less
    And does anyone seriously think carving up Telstra (using regulation) is a bad idea? What was a bad idea was to privatise Telstra in the first place. The Mums and Dad investors were seriously ripped off for something they already owned (apart from tranche 1).

  52. Sebastian
    September 16th, 2009 at 23:59 | #52

    If I didn’t know any better, it would seem that somebody was discussing my activities on another blog…

    Yes, why don’t we nationalise everything? All these private businesses are obviously scam artists – surely if government was in charge of everything it would be in the interest of the people.

    Although I can’t say that the splitting up of Telstra is particularly unappealing – it’s original privatisation wasn’t great anyway.

  53. Rationalist
    September 17th, 2009 at 06:32 | #53

    After seeing how government run industry operates first hand… no thanks.

  54. Alice
    September 17th, 2009 at 07:16 | #54

    I hereby extend you an invitation Sebastian (to the other Blog). There are two people Id like you to meet…ABOM and Andy…and I think you would like them both but you would agree more with Andy. I agree on the carve up of Telstra..there – thats 1 thing we agree on (so far Andy and I have agreed on 4 things…Andy keeps count better than I do).

  55. Sebastian
    September 17th, 2009 at 11:25 | #55

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having it privatised, indeed I’m all for having most things privatised.

    It’s just that I got the impression the original privatisation process wasn’t particularly well thought out – the government just seemed to hand over a monopoly to private hands without the proper competitive structures in place, Russia shock-therapy style. I remember Michael Costa saying that this was the one big problem with Thatcherism as well, and Stiglitz of course (who does have some good points, despite the fact that I cannot understand his continual faith in government) wrote a whole book criticising this approach. My attitude is that they shouldn’t have been nationalised, or created as government monopolies in the first place, but if they’re going to be denationalised there needs to be some serious thought devoted to how they will function when privatised.

    The fact that Telstra could perform as poorly as it has, and still enjoy a form of monopoly power in the market seems to indicate that something went wrong – not sure what, however.

    Anyway, it’s unfortunate that I had to waste today’s post clarifying that I haven’t suddenly become a statist by osmosis by spending so much time here, like the rest of Quiggin’s cronies – although you were right to fear that I had!

  56. September 17th, 2009 at 12:43 | #56

    To me (and as I have argued here before) Telstra presents a compelling case for re-nationalisation, then being broken up while under government ownership and then re-sold. This process where the government re-writes the rules on an ad-hoc and arbitrary basis is not fair to anyone that bought shares in Telstra in good faith.
    As for your insurance premia, I would suggest contacting an insurance broker and asking if they can do better. I would be staggered if they could not get you cheaper insurance – and probably cheaper than you were paying before. Competition is the best possible price regulator out there.

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