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Time for the B team

April 11th, 2010

I spoke yesterday at a Forum on the Bligh government’s privatisation program. I got a presentation ready (it’s over the fold) but spoke off the cuff instead.

As well as my oft-stated critique of the government’s case for privatisation, I took a look at the broader budget problems facing Queensland. Although the government has overstated these problems to promote the privatisation push, they are real enough.

The fundamental problem is that the government is committed both to high quality service and to keeping Queensland a low tax state. According to standard measures, Queensland’s tax effort is about 85 per cent of the Australian average, which amounts to a shortfall of around $1.5 billion, or pretty much the gap the government is trying to fill. In addition, Queensland provides more business subsidies and incentives than any other state, most notably the indefensible Investment Incentives Scheme. To the extent that these incentives actually attract new business to the state they increase the demands on infrastructure and thereby create even more problems. Mostly, though, they are just a waste of money.

The government has committed itself clearly and publicly to providing Queenslanders with services that are as good as those in other states. That can’t be done while also holding down tax revenue.

Looking at the political situation regarding the asset sales, it seems to me unlikely that they can be stopped while Bligh and Fraser are in charge, and unlikely that Labor will change leaders unless electoral defeat appears inevitable. I’ve therefore concluded that, in the absence of such a change, I’ll be giving the Greens my first preference and the LNP my second.

In a democracy, it’s important that parties should alternate in office to some extent, and it follows that it can’t be reasonable always to prefer one major party to the other. As a general rule this hasn’t had any practical implications for my vote – for most of my life, long-running Labor governments were a rarity. But Queensland Labor has been in for 20 years, with only a brief interruption under Borbidge, and it shows. It looks like it’s time to give the other side a go, unimpressive as they are.

Update More from Mark Bahnisch at LP

AssetSales1004 (PDF)

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. boconnor
    April 11th, 2010 at 10:34 | #1

    PQ, I normally agree with your posts and your analysis is usually first rate.

    Can’t agree this time – in a democracy just giving the vote to opposition parties, independent of the quality of their leaders or their policies (but just because the incumbents have been in power for some pre-defined time) does not enhance good government.

    It would imply that voting signals should reward those who “wait for their time”, rather than do the necessary grind required to develop attractive alternative policies. This is bad for good government – oppositions should ideally be a source of alternative analysis and solutions to pressing problems.

    Instead we have seen what the waiting game produces in NSW – the LNP is likely to be elected next time not because they have policies that will enhance the life of NSW residents, but just because they have waited long enough.

  2. Salient Green
    April 11th, 2010 at 10:53 | #2

    Well I agree with John because having to overcome the ‘been in too long’ syndrome should make a government strive even harder, if they’re up to the job. I believe in a good ‘refresh’ once in a while because in my 35years as a voter I have seen a lot of new ideas and information presented and tested after a change of government.

    Mostly though I am pretty damned pleased to hear that John is going to vote Greens, even if we might lose him again down the track.

  3. Rationalist
    April 11th, 2010 at 10:54 | #3

    Wait a tic… didn’t Queensland just have a state election in late 2009? As a result there won’t be any election until 2012? How long does it take to privatise things?

  4. Ikonoclast
    April 11th, 2010 at 11:17 | #4

    The tragedy of Australian politics is that each of the major parties is functionally the same if not professedly the same. Once in government they function in pretty much the same way and with markedly similar policies. We can change governments but we cannot change policies. Why is this? A key factor is the extent to which governments have relinquished responsibilty for governing by giving excess defacto powers to “the market” to run things. Because of the structure of the modern market this means giving effective power to the large capitalist corporations to run our society.

    So called conscience issues like abortion or expression of sexual orientation are given a non-party-lines determined vote but issues of the economic superstructure which impinge on people just as powerfully are left to the market (i.e. the corporations) to determine. Until this political power to determine economic superstructure is taken back from the corporations and exercised by democratically elected governments we will continue to get policies of which this economically and socially irrational sell-off dogma is an example.

  5. April 11th, 2010 at 11:45 | #5

    Pr Q said:

    In a democracy, it’s important that parties should alternate in office to some extent, and it follows that it can’t be reasonable always to prefer one major party to the other. As a general rule this hasn’t had any practical implications for my vote – for most of my life, long-running Labor governments were a rarity. But Queensland Labor has been in for 20 years, with only a brief interruption under Borbidge, and it shows. It looks like it’s time to give the other side a go, unimpressive as they are.

    I agree. Following Schumpeter’s model, duopolistic electoral democracies should alternate governments every three terms or so. Unfortunately demographics are running strongly against the L/NP in general. And state governments have an ALP welfare statist bias in particular.

    This is encouraging the emergence of the ALP as the natural party of government at state levels. With the possible emergence of one-party state political machines, ala NSW.

    (With occasional L/NP goes at federal level when alien threats are perceived – internal cultural identity or external national security. The L/NP have now quite unfairly lost their lead as the party best suited to managing economic prosperity. No one to blame but themselves for this.)

    The demographics are not auspicious for the L/NP. The anti-L/NP NESB’s, single mothers, and aging “baby boomers” now are a larger and growing fraction of the electorate. That is compared to the pro-L/NP ESB’s, wive-less farmers and dying “geezer gloomers”*. This is entrenching ALP political dominance at federal level, at least until dog whistles are blown.

    And the state level of government also got a chronic pro-ALP bias as this tier acts as Santa Claus welfare state to a huge number of dependents and clients who will vote for the party that tends to hand out these goodies.

    I did not believe that the “Emerging Labor Majority” was really happening until Bligh defeated the perfectly electable L/NP in 2009, a result I incorrectly predicted. Now I routinely pick ALP governments, unless something absolutely horrendous occurs, such as NSW.

    The endless series of ALP governments continues with the elevation of the ALP to government status in TAS. It seems only WA is the outlier in this trend. The mining boom is making them a bit Right-wing, for some reason. I fully expect the ALP to be returned in VIC, perhaps slightly reduced majority.

    Perhaps voters will get sick of ALP dominance at federal and state level. But the continued degeneration in L/NP political talent does not offer much hope.

    So long as the ALP skillfully manages to dole out the surplus from the mining and realty booms it can probably keep running things until the PRC hits a speed bump.

    * Menzies generation that survived the Depression, fought the war and built the post-war nation.

  6. stockingrate
    April 11th, 2010 at 11:45 | #6

    QLD Labor is too dazzled by dollars to strive for “the light on the hill”.

    They seem to be to be infatuated by their role as players, spruiking billion dollar privatisations, public works no matter how overpriced or wasteful, and cosying up to billion dollar sellouts even if the deal doesn’t exist (cf China First).

  7. Paul Norton
    April 11th, 2010 at 12:01 | #7

    John, would you also argue, in Game Theory terms, that bad Labor governments tend to play Chicken with people and constituencies who are usually their supporters, and that it then could become a rational option for those people and constituencies to respond by playing Superchicken?

  8. April 11th, 2010 at 13:03 | #8

    Like you, my vote, had I used it, would have made zero difference to anything. I’ve always lived in seats that were on such generous margins that it simply could not have made a difference. I live in Epping, Sydney. At state level, only an absolute disaster for the coalition could make this seat marginal. At Federal level, this was within John Howard’s seat and did become marginal by 2007 due to boundary changes, and Howard lost.

    That said, there’s simply no way I could cast a vote for the LNP. Like BOCONNOR, you can’t vote for change without having a clear idea of the kind of change you’d like and some confidence that the people who will get your support might be willing to try it. All a Greens 1 LNP 2 vote would mean was a vote for fetishising delivery of public goods by ostensibly private operators, outsourcing public sector work, tearing up the working conditions of people in the public sector, and giving extractive industry a free pass on acting as it pleased. It would be a vote for Barnaby Joyce’s vision of the role of the state, and for xenophobia in S E Queensland. That would be how people would explain leaking green preferences — as a vote for population control read: opposition to immigration.

    I know that your vision of tactical voting is popular, but I just don’t see the ALP moving to a more social-democratic vision if they think they are bleeding to the parochial Howard-Joyce right.

    If you have optional preferential, just vote Greens 1. If you don’t, then number Greens 1 LNP last and have it share the same number with the ALP candidate, Put anti-immigration or Christian dems just above them and independents who are unclear between them and The Greens. That way, the vote counts as formal, but won’t pass preferences to either party or anyone likely to get elected.

    Then you can write to the ALP candidate explaining why they didn’t get your vote, as I always do.

  9. paul walter
    April 11th, 2010 at 15:06 | #9

    Re Paul Norton,#7, just the situation here in SA, with the recent state election.

  10. paul walter
    April 11th, 2010 at 15:08 | #10

    Re Paul Norton,#7, just the situation here in SA, with the recent state election.
    what is with Labor, they feel this intense compulsion to antagonise their own, particularly when the dominant faction comes from the Right.

  11. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    April 11th, 2010 at 16:42 | #11

    Fran – you live in Epping? We’re basically neighbours then.

  12. iain
    April 11th, 2010 at 17:53 | #12

    For now, it makes a lot of sense to preference Greens 1; it gives them some power and guaranteed funding/status, and obviously sends a message to the major parties.

    Eventually, the Greens will need an influx of talent/better policy to be a party that could capably govern across all areas.

  13. Freelander
    April 11th, 2010 at 18:10 | #13

    The threat of punishment for those in power needs to be credible otherwise it is not a threat. Even with a bad B team, there comes a time when an incumbent needs to be punished. Without punishment a deteriorating incumbent is simply destined to become worse and worse.

  14. paul walter
    April 11th, 2010 at 18:40 | #14

    And they wonder why people get suspicious, as to their schemes.
    Trust Anna Bligh?
    Sure, after the despicable bad faith demonstrated in the breaking of an absolutely explicit “core” promise on privatisation made immediately prior to the election in the certain knowledge that the public would reject it at the polls, having, rightly, learned to despise this and the PPP subspecies of it.
    Just like NSW, to prove it wasn’t a fluke!

  15. Stephen L
    April 11th, 2010 at 20:24 | #15

    Fran, a vote like that would not be formal federally, or in Victoria. It used to, but this was changed in 1997.

    More substantively, John, I too am pleased to hear you’re planning to vote 1 Green this far out. I know you’ve indicated an intention to vote Green before, but I’ve usually had an impression this was a later decision and more qualified.

    The reason I think the difference is important is that one of the major things that holds the Greens back is a perception of economic illiteracy. Whether or not this is justified the perception certainly exists. I don’t think there is anyone who is better placed to spend some time assisting the Greens on drafting economic policies, including taking things to a level of detail we’ve seldom attempted on the mainland. If you were to do this, and own the contribution publicly, I think it would be very useful come the campaign.

  16. Martin
    April 11th, 2010 at 21:21 | #16
  17. gerard
    April 11th, 2010 at 22:20 | #17

    Fran is right. Why bother voting 1 Greens and 2 LNP? That’s basically the same as voting 1 LNP. I can understand being fed up, but this is the party of Joh Bjelke-Peterson we’re talking about. Major collateral damage to a lot of innocent victims. Seriously cutting off the nose to spite the face. If you can’t bear to put the LNP below Labor, then vote 1 Greens, leave the rest blank.

    Labor Right doesn’t care about losing to the Tories – and the threat won’t make them change anything – but they HATE the Greens, almost as much as they hate Labor Left. And they don’t care about being in opposition, as long as they remain the majority faction in the Party. Which, under a QLD-style two-party dictatorship means that nothing has been achieved.

    There is ONE circumstance under which I’d vote LNP – that is if they promised to bring in Tassie style mixed-member representation.

  18. paul walter
    April 11th, 2010 at 22:48 | #18

    Just looking at the quick summary offered by Quiggin, at least as far as headings are concerned; you really get a sense of how ideologically-driven the government’s plans are.
    Someof their parents and grandparents must be turning in their graves. For some higher up, I think,
    “The handbags and the glad rags
    your poor ol’ grandad had to sweat to pay”?

  19. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 11th, 2010 at 23:36 | #19

    Jack, I am not sure if I agree with your claim that Labor is the natural party of state government. The reason is that the Liberal Party started to become more competitive in state and territory elections almost as soon as Labor won office federally.

    Labor’s dominance at the state level during the noughties was largely a function of two things. Voters having some preference for divided government between state and federal levels, and the strong economy making life easier for incumbent Labor governments to dispel concerns about economic management. Take away those two things and the equation changes markedly.

    At this stage, Labor will most likely lose Queensland, New South Wales South Australia and Tasmania next time they go to the polls. They should hold Victoria by a reduced majority.

  20. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 11th, 2010 at 23:42 | #20

    Jack, I agree in theory with your thinking that state politics should naturally favour Labor.

    State governments have less control over the economy, are responsible for less taxation, but perform a fair amount of service delivery, welfare state functions, and employing public servants. These are all areas that should be Labor’s natural home ground advantage.

    But for some reason, I don’t think it always works out that way.

  21. April 12th, 2010 at 00:41 | #21

    I also attended that talk.

    Of course I had a lot to say and only said a fraction of what I would have liked to have said.

    I dispute the accepted wisdom that privatisation cannot be defeated.

    If the Unions claiming to be solidly opposed to privatisation called meetings of members and asked them if they wanted to take industrial action to stop privatisation, I have little doubt that members of those unions would overwhelmingly support that action.

    And there is no doubt that the broader Queensland public, overwhelmingly opposed to privatisation (at least 79% against) would support that action. An online opinion poll taken by the Courier Mail when the Redbank Railway workers struck last November showed 66% would support industrial action.

    However, as far as I am aware, none of the Unions have ever offered their members that choice. Nowhere has a ballot been held or mass meetings called of the members of these unions so that the issue of taking industrial action could be considered.

    ETU President Peter Simpson’s justification for refusing to take industrial action seemed very unconvincing.

    Essentially the reason he gave the meeting was that if they took industrial action, he thought it likely that the Bligh Government would use punitive anti-union legislation, presumably inherited from the Howard Government to impose fines of 10′s of thousands of dollars on the unions and individual members.

    If this was the case, then why weren’t the workers from Redbank fined when they struck in December?

    Surely the fact that they were not shows that taking industrial action need not automatically lead unions being fined and union officials jailed.

    How could the Bligh Government possibly expect to get away with fining workers for taking industrial action against its privatisation program opposed by 79% of the Queensland public?

    I also think that members of these unions, and members of the public who have campaigned so hard to stop privatisation these past months are entitled to an explanation from the leaders of unions such as the ETU which purported to be strongly opposed to privatisation.

    The situation they now face, in which the unions now claim the Bligh Government’s privatisation plans have become too entrenched to stand any chance of being reversed was a predictable consequence of the Unions’ refusal to take strong industrial action before this situation came about. As I wrote in a leaflet which I wrote and distributed outside the Labor Party conference on the Queen’s Birthday weekend last year:

    A prolonged campaign …

    Clearly many are looking to the unions to act decisively against the privatisation threat, yet, instead, some union officials are talking of a drawn out industrial campaign that could last up to two years.

    This is insane!

    If the union movement cannot win public support now, then when can we ever hope to win?
    If decisive action is not taken early and, instead, the industrial campaign is drawn out, this will surely only make our fight harder.

    If the privatisation legislation is carried by Parliament and the the Government has entered contracts with private companies, financial advisers, investment brokers, banks, etc, are we more or less likely to change the Government’s mind with industrial action?

    And how are we expected to maintain our drive and enthusiasm for two years?

    … or decisive action now?

    In fact, it should be possible to win the fight against privatisation without a single union member needing to down a tool for even an hour.

    The Queensland Union movement could deliver to the Government a simple ultimatum:

    Either (A) withdraw completely the privatisation legislation or (B) agree to put the privatisation legislation to the people of Queensland through a referendum, or else face an immediate sustained campaign of industrial action and public protest until the legislation is withdrawn.
    The union movement should also demand that Fraser and Bligh justify privatisation in a televised debate before the Queensland public.

    Could any Government other than, possibly, the Burmese military junta dare proceed in the face of such an ultimatum?

    So, by their own admission the unions’ adopted strategy has failed as anyone with any nous should have been able to predict at the outset.

    I think that members of these unions should be entitled to know:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case;

    2. If they truly imagined that their feeble campaign would cause Bligh and Fraser to change their minds, when did it finally dawn on them that it would not;

    3. Why, at that point did they not give their members the choice of taking stronger action that stood a greater chance of succeeding?

    It was said by others at the meeting that they would not like to be in the shoes of the supposedly anti-privatisation unions at the moment.

    I would suggest that within the ranks of their unions, and, indeed, in the broader public there are probably thousands who would gladly step into their shoes in order to be able show the leadership necessary to stop the theft of our assets and I suspect that they would be perfectly happy to defy whatever anti-union laws the current union officials claim the Bligh Government would dare use against them.

    Many who wrote letters, stating that they were not normally sympathetic to unions, but who expressed their willingness to support the unions if they took industrial action against will now perceive the unions as only self-interested.

    A chance to broaden the appeal of unionism as well as to stop privatisation will have been needlessly lost.

  22. paul walter
    April 12th, 2010 at 00:57 | #22

    yes Daggett. Its tied up in documents like the AUSFTA which demand certain forms, or procedures, including ideas production, that may be actually quite inimicable for the average Australian, but quite fine for Wall St.
    Globalisation corrupted.

  23. April 12th, 2010 at 01:09 | #23

    Apologies, but the pasted buffer contained an earlier version of the document.

    One mistake is that the sentence:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case;

    Should have been:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case, would cause Bligh and Fraser to change their minds;

  24. April 12th, 2010 at 06:51 | #24

    @Stephen L

    It is still the returning officer’s primary duty “to attempt to ascertain the intention of the voter”. In the last by-election in Bradfield (Federal), I scrutineered for the Greens. There the RO declared that if the ballot were formal up to the last two places, it would be counted to that point.

    Thus, there were 24 candidates on the ballot and iof the voter had numbered 1-22 accurately but had given two candidates 23 or 24 or any other number or mark, we counted the vote to 22 and exhausted.

  25. Stephen L
    April 13th, 2010 at 16:50 | #25

    Sorry Fran, but that’s in contradiction to the electoral act and the way the AEC normally counts the votes. It may be that the RO made an exception because of the large number of candidates in Bradfield, but it would never stand up in court, and its certainly not the way they do things normally. The only thing allowed in the House (Senate rules are more flexible) is either every number filled consecutively, or every number filled consecutively with the last box left empty.

    I wish you were right, but ask Antony Green, or contact the AEC directly if you don’t believe me.

    Of course, Qld has optional preferential, so this is all moot for the state election.

  26. April 13th, 2010 at 17:34 | #26

    @Stephen L

    If QLD has optional preferential, obviously one would use that rather than this artifice, but I can assure you, this is how the count was done in Bradfield.

  27. Socrates
    April 14th, 2010 at 07:11 | #27

    I agree with JQ. I usually preference Labor, and think the Federal government is doing very well. But I reached a similar conclusion with SA Labor here in the recent election. I wouldn’t vote for Qld or NSW state Labor either. I think people need to distinguish between supporting a party/principles and supporting a collection of individuals who may or may not live up to them. If they don’t then it does not serve those principles to have them re-elected. Politicians believing that certain constituencies will always vote fot them no matter what leads to their taking those constituents for granted. Blind loyalty is how US democrats who oppose health care get elected.

    Of course there are some exceptions – I would never vote for a Tony Abbott or a George W Bush type. But if the choice really has become Tweedle-Dumb or Tweedle Dumber, then you might as well change governments every two terms. At least it reduces entrenched corruption.

  28. April 14th, 2010 at 07:28 | #28


    you might as well change governments every two terms. At least it reduces entrenched corruption.

    Corruption is a transaction cost like any other. Poor policy, poor process, churning and incompetence also have transaction costs. Unless you can quantify the transaction costs of institutional corruption as higher than those in the other categories it is not sound to adjudge the matter this way. It’s simply a form of psychologically comforting and moralising fiat.

    What needs to happen is the creation of a constituency for good policy and good process. Simply rearranging the deckchairs can’t deliver progress. I can’t imagine that the unmitigated disaster that Mr O Farrell would usher in would be one jot less perniocious than staying with the present mob. All this would do is lay the foundation for a new bunch of Liberal careerists to be parked at public expense for the Federal coalition.

    If through some miracle for the ALP, O’Farrell is defeated, it will be enormously demoralising for the coalition, and probably lead to their political collapse. That in turn could usher in a new political alignment around a more priogressive consenus. So as appalling as are NSW Labor, I can’t but think that in the longer run, it would be better if they survived. Ditto in Queensland.

    If that collapse occurred and we saw the emergence of a more liberal party in its place — something more like the LDP in the UK — as the opposition to the ALP, then I’d probably take a different view about “the B Team”.

  29. Megan
    April 14th, 2010 at 09:44 | #29

    I agree that part of the privatisation push is aboout keeping Queensland a low tax state (and I for one am happy to pay higher taxes for infrastructure). Yet, given the LNP’s views on climate change and a variety of social issues, or even that the LNP might not make it to the next election (can you maintain a marriage between agrarian socialists and free market liberals?), I cannot agree with giving the LNP my vote simply as a protest against privatisation. It is still about 18 months out from the next Queensland election; and a lot can happen in 18 months.

  30. Socrates
    April 14th, 2010 at 09:45 | #30

    Fran 28

    I must disagree with you on this one. Corruption is not just a transaction cost. This is not just an economic problem; I am an engineer but do not pretend that technology solves all problems. Likewise I wish economists would remember that not all of the worlds problems revolve around economics and resource allocation. In my view political principles that underpinn the correct fucntioning of liberal democracies are MORE important than economic principles. The latter are dependent on the former. Corrupt governments need to go – period. Re-read Edmund Burke if you disagree.

    How do bad governments ever get reformed if they keep getting reelected? Obviously NSW Labor hasn’t reformed itself. Those deckchairs keep getting rearranged. It isn’t just about good policy and good process either. Sometimes you can have wonderful policies and proceses delivering terrible outcomes under corrupt or partisan decision makers. This was as true under John Howard as it is in Queensland Health. When that happens the voters are correct to dismiss the government at the next election.

  31. April 14th, 2010 at 10:48 | #31


    Corruption is not just a transaction cost.

    Of course it is. Some of the costs (eg “trust in government”) are hard to quantify and for that reason ought to be deemed to be pretty high, especially if the corruption is institutional but you must surely know that not everything that is allegedly corrupt is corrupt. The word has strong emotive power and so it is used when people mean “sub-optimal” or simply as hyperbole when what has happened is some incompetence. Oppositions play these games all the time.

    In the end what one must weigh corruption against other transaction costs. Say for example you are delivering an aid program in Africa. I have actually been part of delivering an aid program in Africa in the 1980s. Here and there to get things done, you had to pay off people. This didn’t affect the programs which were quite successful, but if we hadn’t paid them off the programs could not in practice have been delivered or we’d have had to set up an expensive parallel infrastructure to do it at much greater expense, which was not our core business. And in the end even the bulk of the corruptly acquired resources ended up going largely to people we would have helped anyway, since the corruption typically involved where we sourced supplies or whom we employed on ancillary tasks, or lending people underutilised vehicles.

    Making swingeing moral judgements is easy — but often suffers when it butts heads with the reality of delivering policy. And really, I’m not great fan of the conservative Edmund Burke, who opposed the French Revolution. Here’s a guy who twice went to parliament from rotten boroughs (including once after he had been defeated in the seat he’d held). Mind you as there was no proper suffrage, one might well wonder at the standing of any “parliamentarian” then.

    How do bad governments ever get reformed if they keep getting reelected?

    Well in Tasmania, you can actually change the personel while re-electing the government, which is a start.

    It isn’t just about good policy and good process either. Sometimes you can have wonderful policies and proceses delivering terrible outcomes under corrupt or partisan decision makers.

    In which case the processes are deeply flawed rather than adequate, obviously.

  32. April 14th, 2010 at 11:44 | #32

    I have actually come around to the view that a LNP government would be a lesser evil than the current Bligh Government.

    What has brought me to this conclusion is the knowledge that only two state Labor members of Parliament, voted even in caucus to oppose privatisation. I think they would have been fully entitled to to vote on the floor of Parliement against privatisation, but within caucus, every MP is supposedly free to speak their mind and vote accordingly. However only Jo-Ann Miller and Evan Moorhead voted against privatisation.

    That can only mean that the rest of the caucus has no backbone or they actually agree with privatisation. So, for all their faults the current LNP members are actually far better Labor representatives than the Labor members.

    To the consternation of the Courier-Mail and journalists like Paul Williams, John-Paul Langbrook and the LNP have stood solidly against privatisation all these months.

    Of course what matters is what ultimately matters is what they do when they win office, but if they were to have been thanked by the trade union movement for what they have done, rather than ignored, then the prospects of them being held to their word would be far greater.

    Indeed there seems even an outside a chance that John-Paul Langbrook may actually prove to be an honest servant of the Queensland people, rather than another glove puppet of corporations, but of course we should not be counting on it. I am concerned that an LNP Government may allow the mining of Uranium and probbaly allow the destruction of many more pristine wilderness areas, but that doesn’t altere the fact the Bligh Government, itself, has to rate as one one the world’s biggest environmental vandals with its plans to dig or pump out of the groung the absolute maximum possible quanttity of coal or coal seam gas in the shortest possible time regardless of the consequences for our farm land, natural habitat, our water tables, and global warming.

    It has been obvious for years that Trade Unions are not being represented by the Labor Party. If trade union leaders believe that workers are not entitled to parliamentary representation, they should either fight to win control of the Labor Party back from the hands of the corporate glove puppets in control, or else leave the Labor Party and attempt to build a viable alternative.

    However, they have done neither except seemingly briefly, in 2008 ETU President Peter Simpson threatened to disaffiliate his union from the Labor Party but never carried through that threat.

    So, what are we to conclude other than that the ETU leadership together with the rest of Queensland trade union movement accept that workers (and, indeed, the 79% of Queenlanders opposed to privatisation) are not entitled to representation in Parliament?

  33. April 14th, 2010 at 11:58 | #33


    I have actually come around to the view that a LNP government would be a lesser evil than the current Bligh Government.

    Gosh … what a surprise … well they are xenophobic and parochial so there’s a start. And what is being in the pockets of extractive industry and the rural pork barrelers when you have something like that going for you?

  34. April 14th, 2010 at 13:08 | #34

    Thanks, Fran,

    Anyway, perhaps it may have been rash on my part to suggest that the LNP would be a lesser evil. In truth this time it is just not possible to know. In the past, I have always considered that most wretched Labor Government preferable to a conservative Government, but this time I am not sure.

    The problem is the way our electoral system practically gives any Government a blank cheque to do as they please upon winning office. Almost invariably they can concoct excuses almost out of thin air to do as they wish, such as the Beazley Black Hole and the Cain-Kirner Government having left the cupboard bare, etc.

    If it were possible to extract an iron-clad promise out of John-Paul Langbrook to halt privatisation as he says he will, to not embark on Greiner-style slash-and-burn budgets and to at least be no more environmentally vandalistic that the Bligh Government, then an LNP Government would definitely be preferable.

    Anyhow, discussion over which of the two major parties is the lesser evil is a diversion.

    The Labor Party is clearly unacceptable and the LNP most likely will be also, so we need a viable alternative to both big business parties.

    If the Greens could not become that alternative in 2009 after years of misrule by both Labor and the LNP they never will.

    As some may know I stood as an Independent in 2009, One reason I stood was to offer choices that no other candidates were prepared to. Incredibly, I happened to be the only one in all of Queensland who even explicitly raised privatisation. This is in spite of the fact that I personally asked Bob Brown, Ronan Lee on 22 February and a number of times since to oppose privatisation, but they refused.

    Whether or not that was their intention, the refusal by the Greens to raise privatisation cheated all but a few Queenslanders in the electorate of Mount Coot-tha out of having any say over this issue.

    In my view, if the ETU and other anti-privatisation unions had any depth of commitment to their stances against privatisation, they would surely, by now have begun at least the commencement of the process of creating an effective electoral alternative to both Labor and Liberal.

    They would either back candidates like me, or, alternatively, stand candidates of their own that people like me would be happy to throw their weight behind.

  35. April 14th, 2010 at 14:58 | #35

    On another matter, daggett has not been able to post to Larvatus Prodeo since 28 December 2009.

    I have e-mailed Mark Bahnish and his administratore several times about.

    On Saturday at the Forum on Privatisation I approached Mark Bahnish personally to see if it was his intention to maintain the ban.

    He assured me that it was not, and that if I e-mailed his administrator it would be lifted.

    I did e-mail Mark and his administrator, but I haven’t heard since.

    However, one post on their forum about privatisation vanished without trace.

    I posted a test message just now and instead of it vanishing, I got a message telling me it was awaiting moderation.

    If my post appears eventually that would be an improvement, I guess, but hardly satisfactory.

    If anyone here happens to agree with me that the quality of disucssion on LP would not be improved by my contributions being censored, or by my contributions being subject to moderation and the entailed delay, and is able to reach Mark Bahnisch, please let him know that.

  36. April 14th, 2010 at 15:24 | #36


    Provided 9/11 conspiracies are left out and you don’t flood the site, I’d be OK with you posting there.

  37. paul walter
    April 14th, 2010 at 15:53 | #37

    Don’t worry Daggett, they did the same to me.
    They dislike Greens and any one not from the rarefied world of academia, and will go some length to prevent people they have developed a personal dislike or set against from being allowed to express a point of view, in case it conflicts with or refutes their own prejudices ( “us…biased ??).
    They even accused me of being a”pro rape advocate”, the last time I conflicted with them: No right of reply, of course.
    It’s called “fascism” where I come from, altho it would be beyond their limited self reflexivity to identify the trait within themselves-they alone are beyond reproach- with more to do with them being a mouthpiece for the Queensland ALP Right.

  38. April 14th, 2010 at 16:04 | #38

    @paul walter

    Well I’ve had some sharp exchanges there including with mods and am clearly “green sympathetic”. I’ve not been censored.

  39. paul walter
    April 14th, 2010 at 16:31 | #39

    Fran, that was an appalling remark, #33.
    You often present really interesting stuff, but that was a low kick. You know full well he’s not right wing, and in the same tone as your own posts today, despairs of ever seeing the system fixed.

  40. April 14th, 2010 at 16:42 | #40

    @paul walter

    You know full well he’s not right wing, and in the same tone as your own posts today, despairs of ever seeing the system fixed.

    Anyone who wants the system “fixed” by the LNP is clearly adopting a right wing position. In D*gget’s case, he also has a bee in his bonnet about population. Especially in the context of QLD history, what inference might one draw? He’s a 9/11 “truther”. Hmmm

  41. paul walter
    April 14th, 2010 at 19:03 | #41

    You also know that was an expression, a metaphor he employed to express his despair.
    if the ALP has turned so far to the right that it is indistinguishable from its Tory rivals, is he so innacurate inhis coment, either.
    Am not sure about the “truther ” bit- maybe he speculates on the events of 11/9; fair enough.
    I dare say there is a “soft” “truther” line, perhaps to do with the Bush group’s relations with Arab oil sheiks , or related to the mistakes the Americans themselves made before hand, or failed to answer fully on afterwards, as well as the “hard” right conspiracy theories.
    As for population, like me, he is likely reacting to the ridiculous Big Pop nonsense plied by neolib/labs and their developer mates through tabloid media.
    You may not be aware of this Fran, but since the Kanakas there have been major changes to Australia and the world, most of all involving a raft of environmental sustainability issues that folk apparently dont want know, about that will ruin viability for all.
    Cornucopia is long gone and what’s needed is an end to facile consumerism, involving things like 1700 dollar spiked heels, four wheel drives and inefficient Macmansions in cities unable to cope with population increase and a leadership more interested in hobnobbing with developers to sabotage real reform, that deal with the sorts of reforms that could make BigPop a finally viable idea.

  42. paul walter
    April 14th, 2010 at 19:09 | #42

    btw, where is Alice?
    I need to hear her comment for today, altho its likely she’s waiting ’til late, since,according to her, she’s only allowed one per day,

  43. April 14th, 2010 at 19:16 | #43

    @paul walter

    Paul … perhaps you are unaware, but the “truthers” are a very murky bunch of folks who include without apology some on the extremely bigoted far right. I won’t repeat the litany here, because if I did I’d soil this blog.

    The fear of the other in this country also has a very long history, particularly in QLD. Again, I am going to stay clear of a detailed review because we don’t want to open the door to Strocchiverse, and in that context, the politics of population has a particular resonance, especially today with the asylum seeker angst still running. The Nationals and Liberals are particularly hot to trot on this.

    So one has to ask oneself when doing politics — in whose political company does one want to be? At the level of the parliament, the LMP reports to a very different constituency than does the ALP, which is why despite the apparent proximity of their policies, there remains a significant difference in what supporting each means. Taken wioth his other concerns, their is a consistent theme, which is absent from that of this blog’s host.

    The host’s position is an oddity when compared with the rest of what he says and can be read as symptomatic of the kinds of apolitical discussions that occur within small-liberal circles. D@ggett’s context is different and less flattering.

  44. April 14th, 2010 at 19:17 | #44

    oops “LNP”; “small l-liberal”

  45. Alice
    April 14th, 2010 at 19:26 | #45

    @paul walter
    Im here Paul Walter…alas the debits and credits left me working late on a taxi company with a cashflow bordering on zero (up down up down – I keep wondering if and when we will be insolvent…??) Yet the state government, in its wisdon wants to issue more taxi plates just like that….State Labor has issued more plates, with themselves as beneficial owners….sit back do nothing (build no radio room, pay for no radio room and no staff – not cheap) and lazily collect lease fees from brand new taxi plates.

    Lets watch the NSW govt stuff the taxi industry…you heard it here first (because they want money for doing nothing). They would have been better off not privatising State lotteries but what can I say? Im just a humble taxi industry accountant and economics teacher in my spare time (because universities are stuffed too and only do contracts).

    Ah bugger…its a cheapskate world we live in!! I only just got home after processing everything for free just to make sure we look after cabbies and their operators….we need to pay for the radio room (not a radio room these days – thanks to legislation – a sophisticated highly expensive digital data transmission centre – not cheap).

    But NSW Labor wants a kick out of it…. with none of the costs. Move over private business – we will take your share…!!!!! (after Amex and Cabcharge they can line up and be in the business of getting the lion’s share of profit for nothing much).

    We talk about society in NSW?? – be prepared for State Labor to muscle in where it can…and rip business off and offer little help or genuine services because it just cant be bothered with stuff that matters. Be prepared for a state labor govt on the take. Im damn sure the same mindset exists in QLD. How can we make as much as possible for doing as little as possible (after we have privatised all)?

  46. Alice
    April 14th, 2010 at 19:46 | #46


    The whole privatisation game by State Govts is an utter sham. They privatise some public service, then they crow about the sale price, they ignore totally the revenue stream the public entity generated, then they go looking for some other private sectir enterprise they can rob for no effort at all.

    Privatisation = a sham. For everything they privatise… they will rip the heart out of some other private sector business (to which they contribute none of the costs which instead will be diverted to their super and their perks).

    State governments are rapidly becoming an impost we dont need. Inefficient in the extreme.

  47. paul walter
    April 14th, 2010 at 20:31 | #47

    Sorry Fran, as I’ve said several times during this conversation , in the wake of yet another egregious and callous example of Labor laissez faire illustrated in that 4 Corners show this week that no one else seems to have watched, that the difference you claim to exist betwen the Tories and Labor is now substantially as well as cosmetically non extant.
    Basically the same level of emotionless duplicity as the business with the refugees on the convict hulk “Merak”, which itself draws back to an equivalency with Howard earlier in the decade.
    I could then mention Anna Bligh’s astounding lies over privatisation and a raft of other duplicitous stufff involving Labor over recent years, but maybe its also to do with finally choking off oxygen for a REAL obstructionist Hansonist; Abbott, as Bernard Keane extrapolated at Criikey earlier in the week.
    I’d like to think Labor is better, coming from a rusted on Labor background, but, oh, am tired of them breaking my heart every time they gain government; they really are heartbreakers.
    Perhaps, if the last of the old reactionary wing of the Libs is at last mercifully dispatched next election, maybe, unemcumbered of Abbott’s obstructionism, Labor will finally feel free to move to a more “Labor” approach.
    I’ll wait, as you suggest, but hold little hope for the sort of zeitgeist change needed within Labor that we’d hope for, actually happening.

    Alice, that’s two posts.
    Prepare for an explosion of wrath from on high.
    ” There will be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth”.

  48. April 15th, 2010 at 01:18 | #48

    Prof Q, and everyone else, “Megan” at #29 was another person, not me.

    And I disagree with the sentiments of other Megan.

  49. paul walter
    April 15th, 2010 at 04:20 | #49

    Megan # 29 am releived to have been directed to your post. It at least offered a contribution and must say your grey-hued comment made plenty of sense.
    On the Asylum seekers, It occurred to me just how contemporary this situation is. The future is less certain, yet some how beckons and draws us toward it. The “Othering” thing is a phenomena, for sure. Are we taking hostages against the future in our hirthoe perhaps natural uncertainty as to it?
    That’s where Fran’s and earlier, Alice, et al, posters come in: it is a fearful thing to do if its chronic rather than a process of adjustment we are passing through.
    Whatever the politics, I’d agree there are big problems in prolonging for too long the uncertainty of the ‘seekers already directly involved with/ by us.
    The situation represented with the prison hulk”Merak” represents an obscenity.
    Maybe not an obscenity of the Seive X magnitude, but if something’s obscene, whichever way you may look at it, that’s it, like a skid mark on your underwear.
    It is grubby the way we buy off Indonesia and other places nearby to avoid coming to terms with the refugee issue and devising a more realistic solution, I remember someone writing somewhere. It’s so horribly true.
    For many it seems to have been “realistic “as well, certainly the discussions brought on across the community indicate a rift as with “Tampa” but not as severe this time and just as well, after a decade.
    But the time is coming when previous positions may be becoming as untenable as the situation is becoming apparently on board foetid “Merak”.
    Otherwise we will have gone back to Howard’s mid noughties and that can’t be good for the lives eventually lost, irrational delays (for Christ’s sake shut up, Abbott!) or the soul of us, or at least me personally, particularly if maybe it turns out we (I) should have known better this time.

  50. April 15th, 2010 at 13:32 | #50

    gerard@#17 said

    There is ONE circumstance under which I’d vote LNP – that is if they promised to bring in Tassie style mixed-member representation.

    Yes, the example of TAS governance is one which we mainlanders are all eager to follow. The TAS government operates at about 1/4 the political efficiency of mainland states.

    TAS has 25 MLAs for a population of 500,000. NSW has 93 MLAs for a population of 7,000,000. So TAS has 1 member per 20,000 versus NSW 1 member per 75,000.

    I think gerard that you would be better off if you carried on in your usual way and judged politics based on blind adherence to ideology. The moment you wander off the reservation you get into all sorts of strife.

  51. April 15th, 2010 at 14:37 | #51

    While we are on the subject of poring over the psephological tea leaves, its time to check my psephological predictions, this time on state elections. On Mar 20th, 2010 at 3:58 am I predicted that the ALP would win “close victories” in both SA & TAS state elections:

    I haven’t looked at the state election partisan alignments as indicated by polls. But my current thinking is that the ALP is the Natural Party of Government unless the [ALP] in [state] office

    – is thoroughly discredited by corruption
    – been there for longer than three electoral cycles
    – is in the midst of a major economic recession

    None of these conditions pertain in SA or TAS so far as I am aware. These states also appear to have a high single mother ratio, always a predictor of high ALP vote.

    So I predict close ALP victories.

    If that is in fact the case then we are looking at the ALP one-party-state theory, since Rudd will clean up Abbott in 2010 federal election.

    [gloat] GLOAT ALERT

    The results are now in and I was right. Both SA and TAS are now ruled by ALP governments who won in “close victories”. So apart from getting the QLD election wrong I have been right in every state and federal election since the turn of the millennium. [/gloat]

    There are now five out of six state governments in ALP hands. SA, TAS, QLD, NSW & VIC. Plus the two territories ACT & NT. Only WA remains as an outlier. Lot of nouveau-riche battlers made good over there, not overly keen to share the loot.

    One has to say that QLD & NSW state governments look stale, tired and accident-prone. But they have looked that way for years and yet still keep getting a weary thumbs up from the voters. I suspect they may spend one or two terms in the electoral sin bin and then return for another endless spell on the Treasury benches.

    I am very confident that VIC state ALP will be returned comfortably at the next election. Plenty of pinkos in the big V. Ditto for the territories.

    So the odds are that the ALP will continue to dominate at both state and federal level. The L/NP looks to be in secular decline. And the GREENs do have some electoral upside, if they can lose some of their kinky cultural philosophy. They are going to look mighty prescient as icebergs float past Sydney Harbour.

    I think its time to consider that the ALP has an in-built structural electoral advantage. The Natural Party of Government leads to the One-Party State. Beware the passage of Mark Arbib…

  52. April 15th, 2010 at 14:46 | #52

    @Jack Strocchi

    TAS has 25 MLAs for a population of 500,000. NSW has 93 MLAs for a population of 7,000,000. So TAS has 1 member per 20,000 versus NSW 1 member per 75,000.

    All this underlines is why we ought to lose local councils and state governments and have a two-tiered structure of Federal and regional government

  53. jquiggin
    April 15th, 2010 at 14:53 | #53

    @Jack Strocchi

    I’m usually not so bold on specific electoral predictions. But I called the general trend back in 2002


    Labor now appears to be the natural party of government in all the states, with the exception of the Northern Territory and perhaps WA, and even there, the old mould of non-Labor dominance has been broken.

    In the past fifteen to twenty years, Labor has rarely lost a state election, except when it has displayed high levels of incompetence, arrogance or both. Even in the wake of fiascos like the Victorian and South Australian bank failures, the Liberals have struggled to gain a second term, and have never managed a third. By contrast, all the Labor governments on the eastern seaboard have won re-election by landslide margins, and all look set for extended periods in office.

    At the Federal level, John Howard’s current dominance of the political stage has led many observers to overlook the fragility of his hold on power. The government scraped back in 1998 with a minority of the two-party preferred vote, and appeared doomed to defeat early in 2001. Only the combination of international crisis, astute demagoguery and a hopelessly lame opposition strategy saved them, and even then the win was far from crushing. As recently as August, the government trailed Labor (on a two-party basis) in opinion polls.

    In an election fought solely on domestic issues, the government would probably lose, despite relatively good economic performance and the absence of an inspiring alternative.

  54. April 15th, 2010 at 15:56 | #54

    Fran Barlow@#2said:

    All this underlines is why we ought to lose local councils and state governments and have a two-tiered structure of Federal and regional government.

    I used to entertain radical thoughts like that, at one time being an ardent ideological centraliser. Nowadays I see the point of state governments, especially in a country like AUS which is basically an archipelago of urban islands dotting an oceanic desert.

    State governments are handily placed regional service providers. Perhaps many of their functions can be out-sourced to the private sector, down-sourced to councils or up-sourced to Canberra.

    More generally, we do need state governments to connect rural regions to urban centres and then onto Canberra. Its a big country and the flag needs to be shown on the periphery.

    Otherwise I feel this is too complicated to figure out.

    When I feel that way I trust in the wisdom of the founding fathers, whose constitutional acumen far exceeds any one chancing on this blog.

  55. April 15th, 2010 at 16:38 | #55

    Pr Q@#3 said:

    I’m usually not so bold on specific electoral predictions. But I called the general trend back in 2002.

    Good call. Especially the qualifier about “election fought solely on domestic issues”.

    I was ambivalent about the ALP-NPG theory for some time. The Senate (states house) had for a long time shown an incumbent counter-valent tendency. Which indicated that voters wished to check & balance the federal government, perhaps using state based institutions.

    There is also a sort of ideological division of labour between state and federal tiers of government. At the state level voters prefer the ALP as Mommy Party acting as housekeeper for the Nanny State. At federal level voters will sometimes opt for the L/NP as Daddy Party to keep out home-invaders.

    So state government issues mostly play into the hands of conservative ALP administrations who molly-coddle citizens. Occasionally the citizenry gets cranky and elects a ferocious L/NP government to bash foreigners.

    So over the past few years I reluctantly came to the conclusion that the L/NP was in secular decline, both at federal and, particularly, at state level. Here I am in mid-2006 dreading the passage of Howard:

    the LN/P [at] the next election…have to start out as less favoured because of the return swing of the electoral pendulum and the attenuation of national security and cultural identity issues

    So the ALP will continue to have the upper hand at federal level, so long as national security and cultural identity issues are sleeping dogs. But let the dog whistle be blown…

    But generally the policy issues favour the ALP at federal level. Citizens are happy to treat the Commonwealth as Santa Claus and put their hand-out for goodies at each elections.

    Ultimately this is because the polity is unconsciously evolving a pro-ALP bias. The anti-L/NP NESBs, single mothers and Baby Boomer are a growing share of the electorate. Whilst pro-L/NP ESBs, farmers and “Daddy Geezers” are a dwindling share of the electorate. Its not like there is a lot of love out there for the ALP. But a multitude of voters have an allergic reaction to voting L/NP. (Think Catherine Deveney’s legion of fans.)

    Perhaps this slavish statism is the Road to Serfdom. Or perhaps its just the Road to the Convenience Store. In Brave New World there is not a lot to choose between the two.

  56. April 15th, 2010 at 16:50 | #56

    @jack strocchi

    Nowadays I see the point of state governments, especially in a country like AUS which is basically an archipelago of urban islands dotting an oceanic desert.

    And yet Tasmanians are not as numerous as people in Blacktown and there are several council districts larger in area. NSW embraces radically different demographics. The Sydney conurbation is one, and everything else is different. You could probably have a region called Murray-Darling that would make administrative sense. You could have another called S-E Queensland and Northern-Eastern NSW etc …

  57. April 15th, 2010 at 17:02 | #57

    PS I can’t help but think that the enduring appeal of the ALP and the secular decline in the L/NP must open up an electoral gap in Left-field for the GREENs. Thats assuming the electorate does not lurch to the Right-wing after another L/NP dream run like Timor/Tampa/9-11/Bali/7-07/Cronulla/ATSIC/Intervention.

    So far the GREEN vote has stubbornly refused to go north of 10% of the electorate. Thats despite overwhelming evidence of their prescience on global warming.

    Obviously I believe their failure to make the political break-through is due to their kinky cultural values. If they could only manage to iron out those kinks they would become the major Third Force in AUS politics. Some properly coded appeals to the huge mass of people opposed to Big Australia wouldn’t hurt.

    Perhaps thats why the L/NP are driving their next wedge into the immigration slot.

  58. sdfc
    April 15th, 2010 at 17:04 | #58

    The federal government is a parasite as far as I’m concerned, the states should do the majority of tax collecting as they provide the majority of services.

    Abolishing the states might sound like a good idea if you live in Sydney or Melbourne, but here in Perth it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  59. April 15th, 2010 at 17:12 | #59


    Abolishing the states might sound like a good idea if you live in Sydney or Melbourne, but here in Perth it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

    What about a region like Perth and the S-W corner?

  60. April 15th, 2010 at 17:16 | #60

    Fran Barlow@#6 said:

    The Sydney conurbation is one, and everything else is different.

    You’ve got it in one, although I am not sure you realise it. Federalism is yet another good idea which nicely drags the “Sex and the City” tendencies of our Eastern urban elites.

    The best thing about the state-federal government arrangements is they curb the inexorable Sydney-centricity of our elites. If there were no states then pretty much all the major organizations would head to Sydney to do lunch and take clients out on the harbour.

    Sydney already hogs far too much of the national infrastructure, particularly the Defence force which loves R&R in Sin-City. People like Keating would just turn this tendency into an unstoppable trend with his grandiose ideas to inflate Sydney into a global city. (Republicans are very elitist in that respect, somewhat mimicking the Monarchist grandees they feign to oppose.)

    TAS should merge with VIC to form a super-state, hopefully big enough to knock those boastful Sydney-siders on their ar*e. Pardon my freedom.

    More generally, Pr Q is quite right to urge a tactical vote for the L/NP in the QLD election. The populus need more tactical voting and buying and viewing everywhere to counter insidious elitism. Left to their own devices the New Class will form a Natural Party of Government and then establish a One-Party State. The Tall-Poppy syndrome is your friend.

  61. April 15th, 2010 at 17:27 | #61

    Fran Barlow@#9 said:

    What about a region like Perth and the S-W corner?

    A federal system keeps elites eyes focused on places beyond Sydney, where most of the citizens are “just camping”. Otherwise their eyes would be focused overseas, as always, cooking up the next international project to lure the Northern metropolitan Sahibs into their patch.

    The financial class love Sydney, the media-cultural class are basically tarts who will throw themselves onto a patrons lap. So if the political class were centralised in Sydney how concerned do you think they would be with the parish pump politics in Hicksville?

    Try to imagine what short shrift this piddling jurisdiction would get from the likes of Richo, Keating and Mark Arbib. And Howard was almost as bad, siting Cabinet in Sydney allegedly for his family’s convenience. (Me-thinks to spare philanders the risky drive back to Canberra on Sunday evening.)

    Canberra is a hole, I know. They should have sited it on the coast in a more pleasant place with more organic industrial base. But at least the capital is not Sydney or Melbourne, which would be intolerable to the RoA.

    I know its fashionable to decry the Dead White Male “Founding Fathers”. But the older I get the wiser they seem to me, at least.

  62. April 15th, 2010 at 17:38 | #62

    @jack strocchi

    The trouble is that the “founding fathers” were and are wrong, not only now, but then. Even at the time, the structure was stupid but you had entrenched stakeholders so a rotten compromise was needed.

    Today it’s even more ridiculous. Governance should closely meet the needs of the people lving there. Governing for different people out of the same pool of funds is always hard. The ability to purchase in bulk for common needs is not something one should lightly discard.

  63. sdfc
    April 15th, 2010 at 17:42 | #63

    Fran Barlow :@sdfc

    What about a region like Perth and the S-W corner?

    And the rest become commonwealth administered territories Fran? Now it all becomes clear. Your suggestion sounds like a grab for our resources.

  64. April 15th, 2010 at 17:56 | #64

    Fran Barlow@#12 said:

    The trouble is that the “founding fathers” were and are wrong, not only now, but then. Even at the time, the structure was stupid but you had entrenched stakeholders so a rotten compromise was needed.

    Yes, I see your point. The “founding fathers” were “wrong” and “stupid”. Their constitutional “structure” was a “rotten compromise”.

    How could I have missed these glaring faults when they were staring me right in the face?

    You can see all this clearly in AUS’s history which is one long nightmare of poverty and tyranny. Compared to the RoW where everything was sweetness and light.

    Can I suggest that if “blame your parents” is not always the solution to personal problems then it surely isnt for political ones?

  65. April 15th, 2010 at 18:30 | #65

    @jack strocchi

    How could I have missed these glaring faults when they were staring me right in the face?

    You surely aren’t inviting me to answer to your won failing, are you? I enjoy a free kick as much as the next chap, but I’m not one to take unfair advantage.

    You can see all this clearly in AUS’s history which is one long nightmare of poverty and tyranny.

    Well the claim doesn’t call for that as the benchmark. It only has to be a palpable problem.

    Can I suggest that if “blame your parents” is not always the solution to personal problems then it surely isn’t for political ones?

    Sure you can. You can also suggest pickles and cream but I’m going to pass on both, especially in this case where contemporary problems are made harder to solve by the past rotten compromise.

  66. April 15th, 2010 at 20:25 | #66

    And whilst were are on the subject of psephology, has anyone been paying attention to whats going on in Europe? The EU is supposed to be the quintessential post-modern super-state so maybe its a good idea to pay attention to the devil in its details.

    I am an EU citizen and I feel I should be better informed. But I am Solomon compared to the MSM and even the Ozblogitariat who are obsessed with the US to exclusion of the RoW. Status-whores all.

    There is yet another massive swing to the Far-Right in Mettle Europa. The Baltic States, Italy and Hungary are all leaning even more to starboard. Its part of a general swing to towards Right-wing parties that has been evident throughout the EU since , oh, let me see, about 11 SEP 2001. Which I have been banging on about for several years.

    This article from the Guardian, which is actually quite good on the subject (know thine enemy!), covers the weird goings on in Hungary. Political scientists suggest that the Far-Right is gaining strength because the Centre-Right and Centre-Left parties are out of touch with mainstream voters (where, oh where, have I heard that phrase before?):

    Political scientists note that while there is much talk of “neo-fascism”, in western Europe some of the most successful parties are rooted less in 1930s European fascism than in disaffection with mainstream conservativism.“What’s new is that some of the conservatives have moved to the radical right, rejecting multiculturalism, Islam and immigration,” said Camus. “It’s … a radical right that is disconnected from the traditions of European fascism.”

    In colonising the far-right territory, these former conservatives are winning over traditional leftwing voters. Where previously their powerbase was made up from small businesses, shopkeepers, and lower middle class, they are now making inroads into the working-class vote among those hostile to immigration and worried about job losses.

    My general sense is that the Right-”corporal” shift at the national level is a populist reaction to the Left-liberal shift at the regional EU level. With a bit of resentment over economic downturn thrown in for good measure. Whatever the ultimate explanation it is throwing sand into the gears of EU accessions.

    It would be nice if professional social scientists could apply some analytic rigour to explaining these momentous events. The RoW does not begin and end with Obama’s latest nuance on global warming.

  67. Alice
    April 15th, 2010 at 21:07 | #67

    @jack strocchi
    Jack says
    “Sydney already hogs far too much of the national infrastructure”

    Pardon me for saying so but I notice nice freeways and road systems in Canberra… and Brisbane isnt doing too badly either…but traffic and transport mobility in Sydney is nothing but an underresourced mess Jack. I dont call this hogging national infratsructure when many more people are trying to use the inadequate transport system in Sydney than the comfortably funded in Canberra.

    Im not for giving NSW Labor any more money and would argue for a federal takeover any day but I can see the point of the Perthians who would like to keep their big mining money all to themselves (naturally if not beneficially for whole country).

    But to argue Sydney “hogs the national infrastructure” simply ignores population densities and usage.

    I think we have moved beyond State Governments but can also see that SOME (only some) States help keep the feds honest (except NSW Labor and Bligh’s sell off party who would rather keep everyone in business dishonest and all else in the electorate blind)

  68. Freelander
    April 15th, 2010 at 22:06 | #68

    Interestingly, Tasmania probably takes the prize for hogging ‘far too much’.

  69. Freelander
    April 15th, 2010 at 22:18 | #69

    Come to think of it, maybe Canberra does edge them out but only if you count the monstrous monuments Federal money has been wasted on, including in this category the ‘new’ Parliament house. The roads do constitute a waste but the ACT is a small area to waste road expenditure on. In contrast, Tasmania is a larger target for wasteful but politically desirable roading expenditure.

    In NSW, you have the New England Highway, an unjustified expense that keeps many country electorates happy. But unfortunately, across the country there is also a lot of missing national infrastructure that has long been well justified by cost benefit studies.

  70. April 16th, 2010 at 08:50 | #70

    @Fran Barlow (on page 1) wrote in response to @daggett :

    Provided 9/11 conspiracies are left out and you don’t flood the site, I’d be OK with you posting there.

    In fact, I have not attempted posted anything about “9/11 conspiracies” since 28 December 2009.

    As you at least agree with me that I should be allowed to post material to the site, then I would appreciate if you could put that to Mark Bahnisch or make that view known.

    As for my “flood[ing]” the site, the “flood[ing]” occurred on one page only specifically set aside by the administrator to discuss the issue after others expressed interest about the topic.

    I also suggest you have a look yourself at that page and see, whether I am any more guilty of having “flooded” that page than the large number of trolls who ganged up against me in order to pillory me for having had the effrontery to express my heretical views.

    (The following to some extent t draws upon what I wrote on 4 March 2010 on “Monday Message board” mumber 165:)

    In my article “Cyber-bullying, censorship, 9/11 Truth and Larvatus Prodeo”, updated on 2 March 2010, I cited examples of the lynch mob mentality that was whipped up against me:

    “Welcome to StoushGym TM.”

    “Let’s face it folks, this thread has turned into StoushGym TM with Daggy as a multfunctional piece of workout equipment.

    “So far Fyodor’s been hogging it but at least he’s not leaving any sweat behind on the seat.”

    “WE really all should club together and buy Daggy a yearly StoushGym TM pass.”

    “100 comments to go! [until the 2,000th post]”

    “I really don’t think M. Fyodor is looking to change Daggy’s mind here so much as to work out the kinks in his left jab. Gotta work on not dropping the shoulder so slightly to telegraph the punch.”

    In the end, I believe I won the argument, although the abrupt end of the discussion stopped me from tying up all the loose ends. Of coure others are free to look and draw their own conclusions.

    Anyway, Mark Bahnisch has told me that he has no objection to my posting to his site, so I am hoping that others, including Fran Barlow, might gently suggest to Mark or his administrator that they allow me to do so and perhaps also put in a word for Paul Walter if he is still banned.

    I see no good reason to maintain the ban except, that is unless he is overly concerned my presence may wound the pride of a number of trolls by reminding them of their humiliation.

  71. April 16th, 2010 at 09:06 | #71


    I won’t pretend to be party to Mark’s (or the LP team’s) thoughts on the matter, but I very much doubt that the potential for others pride to be wounded would be an issue.

    If as you say Mr Bahnisch has told you he has no objection, why not politely seek clarification as to when the ban will be lifted in practice? That way you find out.

    Either that or you could simply do what most people would do: invent a new nym with a new email addy and confomr your posting style to the culture there. Some might still suspect that it is you, but they won’t know for sure, and if Mr Bahnisch really has no objection, then no breach of ethics is thereby entailed. You’re simply circumventing some technical or administrative snafu.

  72. April 16th, 2010 at 10:06 | #72

    @Fran Barlow wrote:

    … I very much doubt that the potential for others pride to be wounded would be an issue.

    Well, I can’t come up with any other explanation. If I was the person who was so soundly beaten as they claim I was, I can’t imagine why my presence would be a concern to anyone.

    I have made many e-mail approaches to Mark Bahnisch and his administrator, and made one approach in person last Saturday and once again by e-mail since.

    @Fran Barlow wrote:

    Either that or you could simply do what most people would do: invent a new nym with a new email addy and conform your posting style to the culture there.

    At this point, I choose to go to the effort and mental contortions in order to pretend to be other than who I am.

    If it turns out than I am not to be allowed to post, after all, I can live with that, as I do have other means to express myself on the web, but if I am not entitled to post my views to Larvatus Prodeo, I believe that I am entitled to draw the attention of others to that fact and I believe others are entitled to know about it.

    For our part, we don’t censor any material posted to our site candobetter.org and make no demands that anyone conform to our ‘culture’ (that is, other than to refrain from making personal attacks, because we won’t tolerate anyone being subject to any more mental trauma than that which is necessary to defend their point of view).

  73. April 16th, 2010 at 10:21 | #73

    The sentence in my previous post should have been:

    At this point, I choose not to go to the effort and mental contortions in order to pretend to be other than who I am.

    My apologies.

  74. April 16th, 2010 at 10:53 | #74


    For our part, we don’t censor any material posted to our site candobetter.org and make no demands that anyone conform to our ‘culture’ (that is, other than to refrain from making personal attacks, because we won’t tolerate anyone being subject to any more mental trauma than that which is necessary to defend their point of view).

    You, through your acts of commission (putting the arm on those who launch personal attacks) and omission (what you do allow) author the culture. It may be different from LP, but it is still “a culture” i.e. “how we do things around here”.

    I periodically get posts of mine stuck in moderation at LP for reasons even the mods profess not to know. Even here, one from 18:30 yesterday still is for no apparent reason. This morning, one that was in moderation at LP seems to have vanished. Meh … that’s how it goes.

  75. April 16th, 2010 at 12:14 | #75

    @Fran Barlow , as another wrote once, the moderation policies on LP are “quite inconsistent [and] erratic”.

    Ours are not.

    In fact, we rarely resort to censorship.

    Even when we find personal attacks, our most common approach is to publish the comments whilst rebuking them. That can be even more effective than not publishing them.

  76. Chris Grealy
    April 18th, 2010 at 17:43 | #76

    Just a guess, a wild stab in the dark, but the ‘other side’ would sell off even more. So how is giving them a go going to help?
    Guards with dogs, lockouts, massive unemployment; all the things we’ve seen from the coalition in the past would return. How does that help?

  77. paul walter
    April 18th, 2010 at 19:40 | #77

    Fran, stop trying to defend the indefensible.
    If LP have been censoring people out of personal spite, or an unwillingness on their part to have their particular views on an issue challenged, then Daggett is quite right to expose it.
    And that includes all the”silences”, sulks and “transgressions” aimed at weasel wording contributors whose views vary from theirs into compliance.

  78. jquiggin
    April 18th, 2010 at 21:27 | #78

    As regards the comments policy at other sites, that’s a matter to be raised with the moderators there. Please confine comments here to the topic at hand.

  79. paul walter
    April 19th, 2010 at 00:03 | #79

    Not possible John, when they refuse to respond.
    The thread topic concerns the inability of western politics to reform itself.
    What hope society reforming itself when even supposedly progressive units where debate and discovery are supposedly developed or generated, as an ambit, “without fear or favour”, themselves resist full discourse when certain positions subsequently put up for discussion are rejected subjectively on personal taste or prejudice, rather than in relation to the political issues.
    ” Contempt prior to investigation?”.
    but yes, if what’s arisen during the thread’s progress tends to draw attention away from Fraser, Bligh, Tebbutt, Joe Tripodi and their Tory opponents who are as bad, and what makes them the way they are, and the consequences arising thereof ( public suspicion of bigpop policies, for example, in the hands of such people?), that would be far from any intention of mine

  80. Alice
    April 19th, 2010 at 06:36 | #80

    Well I am really pleased to find here that others are guilty of “flooding” a site….I have only been guilty of “swamping”. That might not be as bad as “flooding” on the scale of water damage….!! Sorry JQ – have you noticed Ive been very moderate lately…just a polite trickle? Im leaving it to Terje and Fran although Terje must be on hols…

    Back to the current team in QLD. They have been infected with the same neo liberal policies as NSW…..the ones that clearly arent working and we await their enlightenment sooner or later. It has to happen because they are impoverishing too many people.

    Mums are already on the warpath as the neoliberal model of childcare produces a perverse price that didnt fall as it should have but rather rose and then rose more and is still rising (and then there is electricity and gas – all everyday household expenses). There is definitely something wrong with de-regulation and privatisation when the price rises …and rises some more.

    I thought all that lovely “competition” (cough…splutter)..was supposed to make the prices fall? I suggest we privatise Ms Bligh and Mr Fraser and Ms Keneally and Mr Roozendahl before their retirements as they are clearly working towards their political retirement incomes, rather than the states’ income. Ive never been very fond of Tebbutt either. She is supposed to be from the left but hasnt really contributed any advances to a socially inclusive style IMHO whilst she has been in politics. Dare I say it but I think she is the Labor version of Julie Bishop.

  81. paul walter
    April 20th, 2010 at 16:46 | #81

    Re #28, Fran Barlow, etc.
    Attempted suggestion proffered.
    Result: more censorship.
    Should not second rate sites be exposed?

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