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The miracle of democracy?

August 23rd, 2010

There seems to be a significant chance that the election will produce a Labor government depending on Green votes in the Reps to provide a lead over the Coalition, and in the Senate to pass legislation. I find it hard to believe that the process we’ve just been through could produce such an outcome, not only matching my preferences but reflecting those expressed by the majority of voters, but that’s what some of the papers are saying is likely. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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  1. Rationalist
    August 23rd, 2010 at 06:47 | #1

    Funny if Abbott wins, “we will never ever ever have a Coalition government ever again”.

    God bless Steve Fielding who will be hanging around until 1/07/2011 so if Abbott becomes PM there is a path for him to get legislation through without the Greens until then. If Labor get in, they can block. Bob Katter is a climate change sceptic as well.

  2. August 23rd, 2010 at 07:15 | #2

    Pr Q indulges his fantasies:

    I find it hard to believe that the process we’ve just been through could produce such an outcome, not only matching my preferences but reflecting those expressed by the majority of voters, but that’s what some of the papers are saying is likely.

    Thats not what the Age says. I guess one should not always believe what one reads in the papers.

    This article in todays Age suggests that the balance of power might be held by people of a brown, rather than green, complexion.

    THREE country independent MPs who are poised to hold the balance of power in the new Parliament have indicated they could act as a bloc in negotiations over whether Julia Gillard stays as prime minister or Tony Abbott replaces her.

    Something tells me they might have a different agenda to an inner-city Green MP.
    I guess one should not always believe what one reads in the papers.

    More generally on the subject of proverbial wisdom:

    Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

  3. August 23rd, 2010 at 07:16 | #3


    I doubt the lower house MPs are going to allow legislation that would require Fielding to get past. Nor do I think that even Abbott, would propose it. That would have no legitimacy at all.

    Oddly, the Australian Democrats last dying act may have been to preserve Humphries (a Liberal) by the skin of his teeth in the ACT senate with their preferences.

    Keeping the senate dishonest …

  4. August 23rd, 2010 at 07:42 | #4

    I don’t think Fielding plus the Coalition can do a lot until next July. Between them they have 38 votes. That’s enough to block legislation, but not enough to pass it. They’d need either Nick Xenaphon, or a Labor/Green defector, to vote for them to get legislation passed. And, of course, they’ll need some independent votes in the House to pass legislation too.

    The reporting today on how the close seats are looking is all over the place, but even if things go well for the Coalition in the next few days, they won’t be in a strong legislative position before July 1, and they’ll be in a terrible legislative position after it.

  5. Alan
    August 23rd, 2010 at 07:47 | #5


    Nor should one always believe what one reads in a blog comment. The closeness of the country independents to the Coalition could perhaps be measured (no transcript yet) by Tony Windsor describing Barnaby Joyce as a fool or Bob Katter’s bitter criticism of the effect that privatisation has had in his electorate. All 3 seem quite anxious for a broadband plan that would give them, in Windsor’s phrase, equity of access. I don’t know know that I would be eagerly counting them as firmly in the Coalition’s coop.

    I might even note that Tony Cook, the newly elected National MP for O’Connor has announced he will not be sitting with the Coalition in Canberra.

  6. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 09:17 | #6

    Im still enjoying the Green power. Its a sign that people are saying “hang on..despite Murdochs blatant attempts to dummy us all down…we are not idiots”

    I really dont give a fig who gets it in the end of the majors (although Abbott really is a definite worry with the very strange mix of pro war christianity and fiscal austerity rigidity).

    Neither major deserves to rule over the other. Arbib and Bitar ought to be cut out or moved out of Canberra into Roozendahls office so they all can pull the strings of KK who had the nerve (hide of Jesse) to criticse the federal campaign?

    Can State Labor get any crazier?

    So we now have denialists mad pro deregulation privatisers in Coalition and denialist mad pro de-regulation privatisers in State Labor (and QLD State Labor) and a fair few of them in power broker positions at Federal Labor level. Spot the differences?? Its hard. They both have the same religion but only one believes in God.

  7. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 | #7


    Tony Crook surely …

    He has sided explicitly with the mining thugs, while demanding Canberra match state funds under royalties for regions. I’d be telling him to take a long hike and to spend his time kissing up to someone else. He also opposes a price on carbon. Neither of these policies distinguishes him from the troglodyte Tuckey of course. This makes him effectively another Liberal.

    His slogan should have been: Set a crook to catch a crook.

  8. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:03 | #8

    John, I have to agree with you given the latest count a Labor government is more likely than not but it will all depend on postal votes. Currently the ALP has 73 and the L-NP can do no better than 72.

  9. johnW
    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:25 | #9

    Would the GG have to take into account the Senate being Lib controlled until next July when calling on a party to form Govt? Because I can’t see how a Labor minority government could be stable with the senate blocking everything they do.

  10. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2010 at 10:31 | #10

    Crikey John, I gave the L-NP one extra seat when in fact the best they can do is 71 if you exclude the newly elected WA National Tony Crook.

  11. August 23rd, 2010 at 10:59 | #11

    In addition when you go through the numbers not only are quite a few ALP members winning only by virtue of green preferences, there are now also several seats where the green vote is in the mid 20s and only a few percent behind the liberals giving them a fighting chance of getting them in the future. I’d call this a dream result and hopefully the beginning of real change. Those green voters won’t drift back because they are being driven to the greens by the relentless creep of visible climate change. Their numbers can only increase and if the major parties continue to handcuff themselves to the coal mining industry they will be destroyed by it.

  12. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 11:41 | #12

    Senator Penny Wong was talking nonsense on election night, bleating that the Greens were taking votes off Labor.

    The truth is that Labor abandoned the Green vote in the attempt to move to the right and take votes off the LNP. This is clearly a flawed strategy (as well as abandoning Labor’s traditional core values). For every vote Labor took off the LNP they probably lost 2 votes to the Greens.

    In addition, Gillard and her backers basically allowed the corporate mining bosses to dictate who could and could not be PM of this country. Notice how the mining bosses got to say whether and what taxes, if any, they would pay!

    Who’s running this country? It’s certainly not the “people of Australia” that much overworked and content emptied phrase used by Gillard and Abbott.

    Basically, the mining corporates own and run this country.

  13. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 11:54 | #13


    That’s close to right Ikonoclast — certainly, they are effectively a third chamber through which proposed legislation must pass.

    One might say the same of the timber industry in Tasmania, as Flanagan points out at The Drum.

  14. peterm
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 | #14


    I do not think that Labor ever had the Green vote. Have a read/listen to what John Black (former labor Senator for Queensland) has to say on this issue in this “Who are the green voters?’ counterpoint interview:


    It seems to me that Labor’s problems are basically demographic. Their base in manufacturing and argriculture is shrinking. (And the politics of the shrinking base is not alligned with that of the Greens.)

  15. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:03 | #15

    Also, I seem to recall that at the time of the election of the Rudd government, some people expected a long period of Labor hegemony. I was not so sanguine. My basic reasoning was that Labor and Liberal had essentially become Tweedledum and Tweedledee. There was and is little to chose between their policies in action. The rhetoric is a little different at times but the actual policies (if they can be graced with that name) are essentially the same in practice.

    This means that election margins which appear to indicate a tectonic shift in support are really only the fluctations of voters desperately seeking some change, any change at all and not getting it.

    The big corporates and the mining corporates in particular basically have both major parties in their pockets due to their donations. All major political economy decisions are made to suit corporate capital. This is now not the era of democracy but the era of pseudo-deomcracy underpinned by corporate capital’s hegemony over all aspects of our political economy.

    The parliaments are neutered as all decisions must suit corporate capital or corporate capital will;

    1stly withdraw corporate support from the party defying them;
    2ndly engineer or threaten to engineer a capital flight from any country which does not govern in the interests of corporate capital.

    Our major party politicians are weak and totally servile to corporate capital. The ordinary people are so fed up that any politician with the courage to openly tell corporate capital to take a hike would probably win an election by wide margin.

    Take the recource giants who threatened to leave. All we had to say was;

    1. Good, see you later.
    2. BTW we are nationalising all your assets so you leave with nothing.
    3. So what if some of our resources stay in the ground a bit longer? They either become more valuable or they get replaced by renewables. These are all wins for the 99% of people who are not corporate capitalists.

  16. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:11 | #16

    @Fran Barlow

    I can only go by myself and I think I am fairly representative. I was a rusted on Laborite and unionist having been both a blue collar and a white collar unionist in my time.

    I am thoroughly disgusted by Labor’s move to the right, the Labor party machine’s increasingly cosy accomodation with corporate capital and Labor’s cavalier disregard of the urgency of the green crises of climate change, pollution, species extinction and resource depletion.

    Former rusted on Labor voters like me have been driven to the Greens as our only chance.

  17. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:12 | #17

    Sorry , I meant the above reply to be to peterm.

  18. AuFozzy
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:19 | #18

    JQ your observation matches my thinking. It’s more likely the ALP will form government, but the electorate said neither party should govern in their own right – which I think was really the sentiment in the nation. But how does that happen? There’s no concerted case of everyone going “you vote for A and I’ll vote for B”, but essentially that’s what happened.

    It is, as you said, a miracle!

  19. Marginal Notes
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:26 | #19

    I have also had an unexpected mood swing in the upward direction, and not only because the Brisbane Lions won! If you separate out Bob Katter, who is an old school McKewin-ite, propounding agricultural protectionism and northern development as a “new paradigm”, the NSW independents could work quite well with Labor’s policies (health, education, broadband, carbon price). Add in a Green and an ex-Green and you have a “coalition” that could well revive what’s left of the left in Labor. A stable government with the capacity to get effective climate change legislation through, to take humane action on asylum seekers (Oakeshott has put up a protesting asylum seeker), and to talk sensibly about other policies. And Windsor is an economist! Surely we can trust him.

  20. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:27 | #20

    You say that ‘corporate capital will … engineer or threaten to engineer a capital flight from any country which does not govern in the interests of corporate capital”

    Does not this capital flight hypothesis suffer from a collective action problem? What you describe has the attributes of public good, and the market is supposed to under-supply them. A market failure in the supply of class rule?

    The central thesis of Olson’s Logic of Collective Action is that larger groups are less likely to achieve their goals than smaller groups.

    It is not in fact true that the idea that capitalist groups will act in their self-interest follows logically from the premise of rational and self-interested behavior.

    Unless the number of individuals in a group is quite small, or unless there is coercion or some other special device to make individuals act in their common interest, rational, self-interested individuals will not act to achieve their common or group interests.

    Individuals will forego the potential costs of class interest and instead concentrate on their own self-interest. The class action that Marx envisioned did not occur because “there [were] no individual economic incentives for class action”

    Capitalist exploitation and conspiracy faces a severe free-rider problem. Individuals will not organise to defend their collective interests unless collective action problems are solved. Marx also missed that the rational individuals he envisioned would not have an incentive to participate in the class revolts he predicted.

  21. peterm
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:30 | #21


    According to Black and I believe he is in a good position to make a rational comment:

    “John Black: Well, they’re certainly rich, there’s no doubt about it, that the greens are the richest group of voters in Australian politics. The poorest of course are the National Party voters…”

    If you are not one of Black’s “Doctor’s wives”, I suspect you are more an exception than the rule as a Green voter.

  22. Donald Oats
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:33 | #22

    Major parties have let me down, time and again, on taking action concerning AGW. The previous Rudd Labor government was voted in by an absolute record swing to it, and that was in no small terms due to the policy goal of acting on AGW (okay, okay, climate change) and at the least putting a price on carbon, ie an ETS. Yet the opposition Liberal government chose to block any attempt to honour a solid promise, one which had the backing of a clear majority of all voting Australians – basic arithmetic demonstrates that the majority included many Liberal voting Australians. If that wasn’t a mandate from the people then we don’t have mandates – ever!

    As for the Rudd government, it chose to adopt only the weakest of the various Garnaut positions from which to argue for significant reductions in greenhouse gase emissions. The Rudd government also chose to adopt the most recent year they could get away with using as the benchmark year in comparing emissions. After Copenhagen, instead of continuing to push for the CPRS as implementation of an ETS, and instead of being willing to call a Double Dissolution as a result of being blocked in the senate, the Rudd government gave the Australian electorate the third option which I doubt anyone saw coming – a delay of any consideration of an ETS until after the next electoral cycle, basically.

    No wonder the Greens received more primary votes. It is the only way to signal to both parties – doubt they’re listening, even now! – that Aussies still want to see more action on AGW than either major party is willing, or able, to supply. Irrespective of whether Labor or Liberal finally get up off the floor and start governing, both major parties have, each in their own ways, let us down. Reaping and sowing, reaping and sowing…

  23. August 23rd, 2010 at 12:39 | #23

    “The ordinary people are so fed up that any politician with the courage to openly tell corporate capital to take a hike would probably win an election by wide margin.”

    No, they’ll run a mile from anyone complaining about “corporate capital”, because to use that language marks one out as a radical, and radicals don’t get elected.

  24. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:43 | #24

    Jarrah – not so long ago the Greens were considered “radical” so why are people voting for them now? My suggestion is the word “radical” needs to be interpreted with a grain of salt and a cynical eye. If I was to describe “radicals” from my point of view – I might start with the divine creationists…
    What is radical? A view so different to yours that it seems weird to you on a personal level? Radical is subjective. Plenty of “radicals” have also been popularly elected in history I might also suggest.

  25. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:47 | #25

    Ikono says
    “Senator Penny Wong was talking nonsense on election night, bleating that the Greens were taking votes off Labor.

    The truth is that Labor abandoned the Green vote in the attempt to move to the right and take votes off the LNP. This is clearly a flawed strategy.”

    Absolutely. You see – its about “the party” and “votes” and not the people. Ms Wong let her inscrutable guard down with a petulant whinge like that one.

  26. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 12:52 | #26

    @Marginal Notes
    I heard a Coalition member (Pru Goward) describe Bob Katter as an “agrarian socialist”…
    Fancy that! So even an old McKewen type can be called a “socialist”.

    Jeez – this really gets silly. According to the L/NP if you “arent with us you must be a socialist”!
    There must be more than a few “agrarian socialists” in the Coalition now? Maybe they should be careful who they criticise less they turn green and leave.

  27. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 13:16 | #27

    The word radical is derived from the Latin word for “roots”. [radicis]. So radical reforms are those that go to the roots or foundations of an issue (cf radicals/roots in maths). They are paradigm changing. They need not be leftist of course. Religious fundamentalists are radicals too. (the word fundamentalism derives from the Latin for foundation or base fundamentum) hence the similarity.

    Of couese, not everything said to be radical really is radical. Like other words, it has become rather tainted by overuse. Just as the term “revolutionary” can apply to the most banal of things, “love” to trivial attachment, so too radical is typically adduce to scare those of weak mind into accepting the claims of the person throwing the term about.

  28. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 13:31 | #28

    the greens get elected by taking votes from labour. any leftwing party can do that under proportional representation with a decent bloc of support .

    groups such as hanson, fred nile and the shooters party can get into upper houses of parliament and even lower houses, so the bar is low.

  29. August 23rd, 2010 at 13:32 | #29

    “Radical is subjective.”

    Oh yes. I wasn’t singling out Ikonoclast with that comment.

    “not so long ago the Greens were considered “radical” so why are people voting for them now?”

    Because, as you say, radicalism is subjective (and relative). But it is also determined by the majority (by definition). As the accepted wisdom changes slowly, so does the conception of ‘radical’ in the majority consciousness. Ikonoclast’s assertion that employing rhetoric which is now considered to be radical would suffice to romp into office is wrong on the face of it.

  30. Ben
    August 23rd, 2010 at 13:58 | #30

    Alice :
    Jarrah – not so long ago the Greens were considered “radical” so why are people voting for them now? My suggestion is the word “radical” needs to be interpreted with a grain of salt and a cynical eye. If I was to describe “radicals” from my point of view – I might start with the divine creationists…

    One might also say that taking no effective action on global warming, despite a high probability of an adverse outcome, is radical. Extremely radical.

  31. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 13:58 | #31

    the success of abbott might offer some comfort for those who say go left labour, go left.

    abbott won not by going for the middle, he was running as a conservative. Is that in dispute?

    can Labour do the same – use a combination of traditional and wedge issues to build a majority out of disparte interests and conflicting values? Ignorant and unfit for public office Abbott has the political skills to do so in 8 months.

  32. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 14:15 | #32

    @Jim Rose

    Ignorant and unfit for public office Abbott has the political skills to do so in 8 months.

    No, he didn’t. He ran a campaign that traded decisively on the uinpopoularioty of two rightwing ALP state governments, and effectively defeated them. As they weren’t running, this wasn’t much of a win. All this shows is that it is possible to lie to people whose knowledge of politics and enagegement with it is modest and profit from the confusion. Had the NSW and QLD governments been seen as competent and reliable, it wouldn’t have worked. It went backwards in three states (Vic, TAs, SA) and made very little headway in WA.

    The one thing both the unpopular governments did to make themselves unpopular was to advocate privatisation of public services. This right wing measure was near universally unpopular in both states (70%+ opposed at one point), and yet in NSW the government pushed forward in a bloody minded attempt to force it through. Anna Bligh fell over the line promising NOT to sell off public assets and then reversed herself in office. The result was predictable.

    So it seems that the ALP is willing to take totally stupid risks if it involves hopping into bed with business interests, but is utterly unwilling to take even notional risks on its left.

    Had the Iemma government in 2007 immediately declared the Carr-Howard years over and acted accordingly there can be little doubt that NSW would have been in a better position today, and the Feds with it.

  33. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 14:24 | #33

    @Fran Barlow

    when did abbott even mention these state governments?

  34. paul walter
    August 23rd, 2010 at 14:29 | #34

    Fran Barlow, too true. The politicians know full well and remain in an utterly anal frame of mind despite everything that has happened recently.
    They are determined, almost all of them, to run this country against the interests of its people. The question, to me, is why?

  35. paul walter
    August 23rd, 2010 at 14:33 | #35

    Alice, better an “agrarian socialist” than an “agrarian fascist”, eh?
    It’s actually amazing, the criticism locales receive for daring to try and keep themselves sustainable, in the face of the economic rationalist “globalisation”mode.

  36. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 15:23 | #36

    @Jim Rose

    when did abbott even mention these state governments?

    On most days of the campaign. What was all that talk about transport? Hospitals? The BER? Home insulation (usu: "Pink Batts" as it was more insulting [sidebar: If I were the owner of the brand, I’d be seriously miffed])? Why did they run the clipping announcing the Epping-Parramatta rail link? Labor debt on a sign speaking of rising electricity and water prices? In all these cases, it was the state that had primary responsibility for service delivery and the ALP federally that copped the blowback.

    The ALP stupidly enabled this strategy, both in their sacking of Rudd and their campaigning for state level infrastructure, but this was something the Libs were never going to miss out on doing.

  37. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 15:25 | #37

    @Fran Barlow
    Has the left even manipulated the possibility that people whose knowledge of politics and engagement with it is modest and profited from that confusion?

    The Left never relies on anti-market, anti-foreign, make work, and pessimism biases?

    The class war rhetoric, the stoking of envy, the stirring up suspicion of foreign investment, and deception about the value of trade and that the sole purpose of exports is to earn foreign exchange to import.

  38. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 15:29 | #38

    @Fran Barlow
    well, it was the ALP who federalised state level infrastructure.

    it was the labour who opposed state income taxes.

    it was the ALP who repealed to law allowing states to impose surcharges and pay for discounts on the federal income tax when Greiner was going to offer a discount on income taxes paid by NSW residents in the late 1980s because his state’s finances were so good.

  39. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 15:56 | #39

    Jarrah misses the point. It is quite possible to “tell corporate capital to take a hike” without using the the phrase “corporate capital”.

    It’s easy enough to say;

    “A handful of rich mining bosses are trying to tell the government how to run the country. They are trying to tell the government what taxes it can and cannot levy. They are trying to tell the government it can tax minimum wage earners but it cant tax a few rich mining bosses. They are telling you that they run the country and you dont. That your 10 million votes are outweighed by their four or five votes. Well, that’s not a proposition we accept. We will go to the polls with this tax as policy and let you decide.”

    Unfortunately, Rudd and Gillard were too gutless to say this. I can easily imagine that the above is exactly what Hawke or Keating would have said. It is possible to beat the populist drum in a good way without frightening people with supposedly radical phrases.

  40. August 23rd, 2010 at 16:03 | #40

    “Unfortunately, Rudd and Gillard were too gutless to say this.”

    No, they were too politically astute. And possibly wouldn’t say it because it isn’t true, but that’s never stopped anyone (particularly politicians) before.

    “It is possible to beat the populist drum in a good way without frightening people with supposedly radical phrases.”

    Sure. But I think you’re conflating ‘populist’ with ‘radical’, and devaluing the word by implying that the mining tax was radical.

  41. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:10 | #41

    @paul walter
    Paul – you know have a read of this….its one of Katter’s quotes….

    “Sack ACCC chairman – Katter
    August 27, 2008 11:12am

    THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman should be sacked for failing to address the hold Woolworths and Coles have over grocery retailing, a federal MP says.
    Woolworths yesterday announced a 25.7 per cent lift in its annual profit to $1.63 billion.
    Outspoken Independent MP Bob Katter said the profits of the two supermarket giants had been achieved over the broken backs of farmers.

    ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel had failed to address the issue in his inquiry into grocery prices, he said.

    “I officially call today, and I will in the parliament … for the sacking of Mr Samuel,” he said.

    “He has brought out a report saying there is no problem in Australia, he absolutely knows that food retailing in Australia, 82 per cent of it, is held by two people (Coles and Woolworths).”

    “Mr Samuel has got to go.”

    Mr Katter also described as “useless” the government’s price watch website, GROCERYchoice.

    “Watching the grocery prices is the same as watching the fuel prices, it weill not bring the price down … it’s like watching the kettle boil.”

    Now is there a person in Australia bar the mad economic rationalist pro globalisation denialists who cannot see and wont look at what is really happening here and who is really getting the profits and where the profits of these behemoths are really going ie not here…but offshore.

    that wouldnt agree with this comment?

    “Agrarian socialist” my eye (Prue Goward called Katter that and what would she know except to mindlessly repeat the liberal lines??!). Just sensible. We are all being ripped off by Coles and Woolies but the farmers even more so.

  42. billie
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:11 | #42

    Actually Rudd started to sell his RSPT tax after Gina Reinhart got a megaphone at the Rolex Revolutionaries demo in Perth and bleated how hard the billionaires would be hit.

    I have been a Greens election day worker since 1983 and my major aim has always been to vote to stop big business steamrollering our environment.

    In 1978 I processed all of the country party subscriptions and although the country party collected [small] dues from every farming family, the money collected wouldn’t cover my salary, their big funds came from elsewhere. Think Monsanto, Bayer, superphosphate, Coles, Safeway etc

  43. billie
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:13 | #43

    How cunning of Bob Katter to bray for Samuel’s scalp. Samuel will go, Katter will look like a big man to whoever he has to impress. Truth is that Samuel is on the nose with the collapse of DFO, of which Samuel is a third owner through a blind trust

  44. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:14 | #44

    @Jim Rose
    JR – I remind you the Greens have twenty seats in the senate. To liken their getting in to the bar being set so low that groups like the shooters party or Fred Nile can get is is just a plain silly comment.

  45. Hermit
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:14 | #45

    Perhaps it’s time to increase the GST as NZ and the UK have done. Wilson Tuckey’s successor might think it is better to tax pensioners than mining barons.

  46. billie
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:18 | #46

    Actually Bob Katter has a point with prices received at farm gate and food security. Coles and Woolworths drive down the farm gate price forcing producers out of business. Food is imported. Every one but Australians are aware that the food stockpiles are gone and the world is not able to feed its population. Australia is rushing to turn productive agricultural land close to population centres into suburbs, when its highly likely that Australians will not be able to grow enough food to feed its population in 2050 and nor will it be able to import food.

  47. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:22 | #47


    Personally, while I accept your general point, I’m not sure the RSPT as Rudd had it was the best way to capture anomalous profits. It was a little too generous with risk. I’d have had a model where the rolling mean contract price for each commodity over 20-25 years was used as a baseline for “normal” profits. Anything above that mean would be subject to APT (Anomalous Profits Tax) at a progressive rate topping out at 60% when it was 30% above the mean.

    In the meantime of course, while waiting to get the architecture in place, I’d have removed the diesel fuel subsidy and other deductions for CO2-intensive energy. That would have raked back some serious cash which we could have used to pay for services and give low-middle income earners some further tax cuts or rebates. I’d have applied that generally though.

  48. billie
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:22 | #48

    Hermit why do we need to increase GST – it hits lower income earners harder than people on high incomes- as such its a regressive tax, not considered very desirable in Keynesian terms. GST type taxes might be popular in the Milton Friedman Chicago School of Economics a set of theories that are past their ‘Use By Date’.

  49. Marginal Notes
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:27 | #49

    Alice @41, the term “agrarian socialist” goes back a long way and was applied to Queensland-style agricultural protectionism, with state-sanctioned, producer-run marketing boards for everything from peanuts to navy beans, compulsory acquisition, guaranteed prices, subsidised inputs, subsidised irrigation projects, and so on. It’s not a recent put-down invented by Pru Goward. Katter’s “new paradigm” fits this old paradigm very well.

  50. Ikonoclast
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:28 | #50

    I second Alice’s post about the grocery duopoly although I would always be wary (not dismissive but certainly wary) when I found Mr Katter was an ally.

    Of equally great concern is the issue of water and electricity prices. Competition (or rather pseudo-competition) in these areas has seen price rises in the order of 10% to 20% per annum. I say pseudo-competition because water and electricity supply are essentially regional natural monopolies. The proof that they are natural monopolies is shown by the very fact of the empirical outcome that is is now more expensive to buy water and power from artificial competitors than from the previous natural monopoly.

    The annual rise in key and unavoidable household costs namely food, petrol, insurance, water, electricity, health and education costs is running at a rate well beyond wage increases. Basic logic tells us that this trend is unsustainable.

    But as always it seems that hardest thing for our ruling elites to understand is the concept of an unsustainable trend. So long as this year’s balance sheet is healthy apparently nothong else matters.

  51. Fran Barlow
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:31 | #51

    @Jim Rose

    Has the left even manipulated the possibility that people whose knowledge of politics and engagement with it is modest and profited from that confusion?

    Doubtless. One reads all manner of silliness on our side of politics. It is tempting, if one doesn’t control the cards, to play the cards one is dealt. Many think that if you are going to cop the disadvantages, you should at least trade on the advantages.

    I don’t share that view because I am interested quirte as much in empowering working people through good process as achieving good ends. Getting stuff done through chicanery is a recipe for having it reversed.

    That said, your laundry list is full of strawmen or wrong.

    @Jim Rose

    Even allowing that this were true, so what? We are talking about how Abbott got as close as he did to toppling Gillard, rather than who started doing what 18 years ago. His campaign was dishonest and no basis for a mandate (see above) and certainly not a rationale for concuding anything about what kinds of politics are acceptable.

  52. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:35 | #52

    @Jim Rose
    JR – when you say “the left” as you do fairly often ….do you mean the Green left, the labor left, the academic left, the public sector left, the agrarian socialist left in the Coalition party or just the left out?

    I amused at that large bucket you carry with you.

  53. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 16:46 | #53

    Billie – Katter is right. he says we are now importing more food than we are exporting. This is ridiculous. Its not as if we have a huge population to feed here. We are just sitting watching our stable food production over 200 years now just get ripped up by the likes of Coles and Woolies who are laughing all the way to the bank with the profitable (for them only) destruction they are reaping on country towns and farming families across Australia. Its a damn disgrace and the fact that these idiot city dwelling liberals sign up to globalisation and free trade and talk about “isnt it good how cheap DVD players are now”… really have completely lost the plot.

    In our last drought – watching farmers trying to sell their dwindling sheep and lamb stock (because they couldnt afford to feed them) at the stock yards while Mr Coles’s buyer and Mr Woolies buyer prowled the yards buying the stock for a pittance while slugging the consumers at outrageous prices made me want to see both their buyers summarily executed.

    Give me two boat people allowed in for every Coles and Woolies stock buying manager I can put back in that boat and turn it around… GDP would rise.

  54. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:02 | #54

    @Marginal Notes
    I get your point Marginal Notes but do you see much difference to the protection being afforded to Coles and Woolies now in the form of a truly hands off approach to regulation and our so called toothless ACCC and no tariffs than the protection once afforded to farmers by agricultural protection?

    The whole “no protection” argument is just a “protection shift” from the many who actually added productively to our GDP (farming communitioes) to a duopoly that has now become extraordinarily wealthy and doesnt add much relatively (preferring to sequester their profits elsewhere, minimise their tax responsibilities, play predatory pricing games with any competition, pay farmers peanuts, and pay kids kids wages run their stores).

    Marginal notes – if more of the damn profit stays here give the protection to our farmers. If it halts the decimation of our food industry and gives me lower prices that arent the result of price fixing and gouging by Coles and Woolies and if it helps the unemployment rate rise in country towns and sees job opportunities spread over a wider area than our congested cities…

    Then I dont care to protect Coles and Woolies any longer in the name of “no protection”.

  55. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:03 | #55

    sorry above should read “and if it helps the unemployment rate fall in country towns”

  56. August 23rd, 2010 at 17:05 | #56

    “he says we are now importing more food than we are exporting. This is ridiculous.”


    “made me want to see both their buyers summarily executed. ”

    Because they were buying cheap and selling dear? Your executioner is going to be busy, Alice Vissarionovich, after the workers’ and farmers’ revolution.

  57. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:12 | #57

    Looks like Terje Petersen has been able to convince 235 voters to vote for him. Not a bad effort considering his politics.

  58. Marginal Notes
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:14 | #58

    Alice @#2/2 – Now you are starting to rant like Bob Katter! Broadacre agricultural production continues to grow and to be largely export-oriented. If consumers also like imported foods in addition to the wheat, beef, and mutton we produce and export, what would you have governments do about that? The decline in smaller rural towns (and growth of regional towns) is part of a much larger process that anything buyers from Coles and Woolies could bring about.

  59. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:22 | #59

    @Marginal Notes
    I have always maintained that Alice is an ex-DLP voter.

  60. Marginal Notes
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:42 | #60

    Jim @ #9 – Bob Katter and Bob Santamaria have/had a lot in common!

  61. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 17:53 | #61

    the most important protection for Coles and Woolies is foreign investment rules that stop overseas new entrants buying and holding land in anticipation of building a supermarket chain a few years later when these local areas have enough population growth to support a store.

  62. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 18:03 | #62

    who are the left? the old left, new left and the left over left, many of whom are greens or self-described progressives.

  63. August 23rd, 2010 at 18:14 | #63

    “what would you have governments do about that?”

    She’d probably have the importers killed, going by previous comments.

  64. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 18:44 | #64

    jarrah says “Because they were buying cheap and selling dear? ”

    Thats woolies and Coles Jarrah is talking about in the drought down at the stockyards (buying dirt cheap from desperate farmers) and selling dear (to us – the consumers Woolies and Coles doesnt give a damn about because of their cosy duopoly).

    So Jarrah – Talk to me more about the miracle of competition from deregulated markets and how it makes our groceries cheaper from Mr Woolies and Mr Coles? Im still waiting but the prices have gone through the ceiling and now there are a lot more unemployed country people without farms here in Australia.

    Gee Jarrah – if I didnt look around me I could almost fall for your libertopian view of deregulated markets….but not quite. You see…its the prices Jarrah. They just arent behaving like you city liberals promised the rest of the country.

    What happens when a whole lot of people lose the faith Jarrah? Do they turn Green?

  65. Jill Rush
    August 23rd, 2010 at 18:56 | #65

    Alice #14 – the real crime about importing food is on several levels
    1. The energy required in transporting food from around the world and thus the impact on the CO2 levels.
    2. That the people from the exporting nation may be producing goods for export which leaves them hungry and their soils depleted producing luxury good like chocolate which was recently revealed as relying on slave labor.
    3. The lack of controls on hygiene
    4. The lack of controls over freshness
    5. The undermining of our own horticultural and agricultural sector
    6. The use of pesticides (although this can be worse in Australia)

    The trouble with deregulation is that the standard of the food can be quite low without consumers being any the wiser. The supermarkets currently push imported food to the detriment of our own producers and consumers. Personally I prefer IGA because of the range of local food that is available including fresh fruit and veg locally grown in season.
    It is interesting that Bob Katter could make this kind of argument a make or break for support in the parliament.

  66. August 23rd, 2010 at 19:00 | #66

    “Talk to me more about the miracle of competition from deregulated markets and how it makes our groceries cheaper from Mr Woolies and Mr Coles? Im still waiting but the prices have gone through the ceiling and now there are a lot more unemployed country people without farms here in Australia.”

    Competition in the supermarket sector isn’t cutthroat, but it does exist and is reasonably healthy. Methods of improving competition have been proposed, but you wouldn’t like them – they generally involve deregulation in other areas.

    The increase in prices is a global phenomenon, and has more to do with international factors than local ones. Remember, according to you we import more food than we export (and you still haven’t told us why that’s a bad thing).

    The facts don’t support your case, Alice. But then I suppose you’re used to that.

  67. Jill Rush
    August 23rd, 2010 at 19:01 | #67

    It is amazing that the election hasn’t been decided and yet it still has to sink into Coalition psyches that they didn’t win despite their heavily funded, negative campaign. All of the focus in the media has been on the Labor Party needing to do some soul searching – which is well worth it if they can avoid making it all very public (dirty linen is not something to share). There should be equal focus on how a cashed up campaign supported by the news media has not been accepted by a majority. Obviously money talks but not to everyone.

  68. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 19:54 | #68

    Jarrah you say with some authority

    “Competition in the supermarket sector isn’t cutthroat, but it does exist and is reasonably healthy. Methods of improving competition have been proposed, but you wouldn’t like them – they generally involve deregulation in other areas.The increase in prices is a global phenomenon, and has more to do with international factors than local ones…

    Ive heard all this before Jarrah and somehow I just cant bring myself to keep the faith in the freedoms of Coles and Woolies…at the expense of our farmers livelihoods who managed to live quite sustainably for a long time before Coles and Woolies grew so free.

    So its the “international factors and various global phenomenon” that have caused increased prices on the shelves in Coles and Woolies here in Australia…. and our farmers to commit suicide at rates unheard of before agrarian de-regulation (werent we all supposed to be better off?)…do you have a few examples of these international factors Jarrah?

  69. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 20:03 | #69

    @Jill Rush
    This election result is actually the best thing to happen for a long time in Australia….now both major parties have to deal with people they have been ignoring for decades. People like the Greens and the Nationals. There is a certain poetic justice in this hung parliament.

    If I was religious I would say it was an act of divine intervention. Hey its nice the right (both right majors) actually have to consult and consider the left who like public transport and governments who can build infrastructure like decent transport systems and provide services publicly like education, or the national broadband network, as well as consider all those agrarian socialists that live in the country and their needs for a sustainable life.

    If it makes the I, me, mine mindset look around more at who else lives here then that is a huge plus.

  70. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 20:16 | #70

    Still can’t count. Progressives pride themselves on their better knowledge and intellectual superiority, and calm attention to the facts, but can’t count past two.

    You say that there is a Coles and Woolies duopoly. A duopoly is a market with 2 sellers, 2 sellers! No more, no less. Just like a monopoly means one seller. One and no more!

    The two largest Australian chains account for about 80% of the market, so there are other sellers. To be precise:

    • Coles over 700 supermarkets (including BiLo)
    • Woolworths has around 780 (including Safeway)
    • ALDI has recently opened its 200th store and has announced plans to expand much further, up to 700 supermarkets in due course, which would put it on a par with Coles.
    • Costco is entering Australia with its first warehouse in Melbourne and plans to open more in NSW
    • Independents including IGA supermarkets, Franklins, Foodworks and Supabarn are also tough, and in some cases expanding, competitors

    The main constraint on competition is town planning. Foreign investment rule now allow new entrants to own land for 5 years in, for example, anticipation of building when the local population reaches the critical level.

    Your hypothesis is Costco and ALDi do not exist, nor do Independents including IGA supermarkets, Franklins, Foodworks and Supabarn!!!

    A market with a major new entrant with 200 new supermarkets cannot be a cosy Coles and Woolies duopoly.

    Foodworks is buying 45 supermarkets from Coles, and it too now has over 700 stores! Why would a duopolist sell stores to a smaller established rival that does not exist under your hyopothesis that there is is a duopoly?

    p.s. I assume you will answer with an ad hoc adjustment to your hypothesis to protect it from falsifaction by restated the allegation as dynamic limit pricing. they always do.

  71. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 20:28 | #71

    @Jim Rose
    Well what do you call our political party system Jim – a duopoly exists when two firms control the majority of the marketshare. So Aldi has 200 out of 1800 stores. Costco has one in planning and the independents like Aldi and the rest make up what JR – 15% or less?
    As far as I can see despite your promises its still a duopoly.

  72. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 20:31 | #72

    @Jim Rose
    JR also wants me to only look at level one on the company scale (the superficial store name). What about the parent companies JR?. Have a closer look at our grocery industry


  73. gerard
    August 23rd, 2010 at 20:54 | #73

    If Julia scrapes over the line Abbott and Murdoch-empire will spend the next 3 years bashing the “unelected government” illegitimately appointed by a corrupt Labor mother-in-law Governor General with a conflict of interest – the meme is already starting to spread

  74. August 23rd, 2010 at 21:02 | #74

    “do you have a few examples of these international factors Jarrah?”

    I don’t know where you picked up the creepy politician’s habit of constantly repeating the other person’s name, but I wish you’d stop. Also, you continually refer to “Coles and Woolies” when they only have 50% of the fresh produce market, haven’t increased their market share over the last decade, and it’s competitors like Foodworks and Aldi that are doing all the expansion.

    International factors? Try high demand, and increased costs of production (in particular those driven by higher input costs associated with fuel and fertilisers). And locally, there’s the rolling drought.

    “at the expense of our farmers livelihoods who managed to live quite sustainably for a long time before Coles and Woolies grew so free”

    You have to realise that the sustainability was a mirage based on constant subsidies by food consumers and urban taxpayers.

  75. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 21:13 | #75

    Jarrah – you need to hear the reality about your free trade and what its doing. Why arent the liberals listening to people like Bob Katter…its all gone a bridge too far here in Australia Jarrah especially when the agricultural sector in many other comparable countries enjoys subsidies equivalent to 49 cents in the dollar. We are now net importers of fruit and vegetables, fish, pork, sugar has been lost, dairy has been lost.

    We need to wake up. Agriculture is declining at a rapid rate. Manufacturing is dead. What else is it going to destroy here Jarrah?

    Not only that, the only reason, the liberals have enjoyed pushing this de-regulation to the extent they have is because of the dominance in government enjoyed by Howard.
    Never again I hope. Thats the problem when one group gets too much power Jarrah. We lose real democracy.

    Have a real listen to this Jarrah.

  76. Chris Warren
    August 23rd, 2010 at 21:13 | #76

    Michael of Summer Hill :Looks like Terje Petersen has been able to convince 235 voters to vote for him. Not a bad effort considering his politics.

    What was the informal vote in the same seat?

  77. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 21:22 | #77

    Excuse politicians habit – must have been watching too much election coverage on Murdoch lately.

  78. Alice
    August 23rd, 2010 at 21:24 | #78

    @Chris Warren
    Chris – how could you be so cruel?. We havent heard from Terje since the election.

  79. August 23rd, 2010 at 21:24 | #79

    Well, Alice, I shouldn’t be surprised that you have addressed precisely zero of my specific criticisms. I’ll go and listen to your YouTube link. Will you listen and respond to any remarks I have on it?

  80. Jim Rose
    August 23rd, 2010 at 23:23 | #80

    so the first Australian ALDI store opened in January 2001, 200 have been built more, and you still did not notice them them nor did ALDI stores collapse under the pressures of 9 long years of predatory pricing “to stamp out smaller independent retailers”.

    like all good progressives, you:
    1. claim to be able to tell a good monopoly from a bad monopoly; and
    2. wish to protect consumers from the scourge of lower prices.

  81. Donald Oats
    August 23rd, 2010 at 23:52 | #81

    @Chris Warren
    I laughed at your comment, but I do also appreciate that Terje gave it a shot which takes some guts. Whatever the politics.

    Reminds me of one election in university days, when a particular candidate received zero votes! Zilch, nada. Whether the candidate chose not to vote, or accidentally voted informally, who can say.

  82. Donald Oats
    August 23rd, 2010 at 23:56 | #82

    After listening to the various independents, I’m wondering whether a better title for this thread mightn’t be “The Mirage of Democracy.”

  83. Chris Warren
    August 24th, 2010 at 05:14 | #83

    I have run as an in elections twice as – Unemployed Workers Union (1978 – ACT House of Assembly) and Nuclear Disarmament Party.

    I always received a strong vote, – always enough to get my deposit back, because these campaigns were based on what the public wanted.

    Terje is running on what the public hates – anarco-capitalism.

  84. Alice
    August 24th, 2010 at 07:40 | #84

    @Jim Rose
    JR – Australia has gone further fown the privatisation road and further down the industry de-regulation road than many other countries. If we, with a population of 20 million are now net importers of fruit and vegetables – all I can see is we are fools…the free market Australia experiment.

    Lets give it another ten years shall we? Lets see whats left then? If you think Wesfarmers, Metcash and Woolworths having control of everything from groceries, to hardware supplies, to poker machines, to electronics, to service stations (and now they want pharmacies) as well as control of the actual brands on their shelves in store you are crazy. How many small businesses and farmers and small stores and independent service station owners in this country have they already wiped out? In hindsight its horrifying and we are not paying less. We are paying more. For all your groups claim free trade is a benefit – all I see is a whole lot of productive capacity just being destroyed so these large enterprises can reap huge profits (which they do).

    The thing that really worries me is that we have now reached the point where people cant recall busy country towns, where people cant recall lots of small shops, where people cant recall being busy and employed all week long, where people cant recall it any other way than the hopeless self destructive direction we are going in.

  85. Alice
    August 24th, 2010 at 07:41 | #85

    Oh and I forgot Wesfarmers, Woolworth and Metcash now have control of liquor shops. Is there anything left for them to control. Have they thought about hairdressers?

  86. Jim Rose
    August 24th, 2010 at 07:54 | #86

    political duopoly is word that conceals more than it reveals.

    are australia, the USA and the UK political duopolies?

    the UK always had several small parties that made close elections interesting wth minority goverments a possibility.

    governments rarely control the senate in australia.

    Gore lost to bush because nader’s margin was larger thna gore’s losing margin in several states. about half of nader’s voters would have still voted but for nader and about at a 2:1 ratio for Gore.

  87. Alice
    August 24th, 2010 at 07:57 | #87

    Seriously funny (no wonder Malcolm Turnbull kept his seat easily)

    Arbib being put on detention by Ms Gillard and not allowed to go on Q and A.

    Malcom Turnbull on Q and A making quacking movements with his hand over Mr Arbibs empty seat… saying “oh it was Blighs fault…it was the leaks…”

    Maybe the headmistress should really have expelled Arbib and Bitar.

  88. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 24th, 2010 at 08:50 | #88

    Chris Warren, the informal vote was rather high 5028 (5.8%). I hope it wasn’t because some drongo told voters he was going to leave his papers blank and others followed suit.

  89. paul walter
    August 24th, 2010 at 09:09 | #89

    Speaking of Bligh, the ABC says that she has had the arrogance to announce, a bare couple of days after the election, (after, that is) an intention to perservere with privatisation.
    I’ve seem some examples of ignorance, arrogance and bad faith lately, but this takes the cake!

  90. billie
    August 24th, 2010 at 09:46 | #90

    Boys, last time I looked Coles and Woolworths cornered 70% of the retail dollar, that was a few years ago and despite Aldi’s inroads Woolies has got into hardware, the retail liquor sector is now firmly in their hands.
    Costco melbourne, well its difficult to get to, in an area surrounded by single adult households, sells in bulk – not a serious contender.
    Interesting to note that Aldi, owned by German brothers, proudly states that 97% of produce is Australian, labels foods as vegan, vegetarian, has shorter supply chain, in English means food is fresher when it hits the shelves etc has been frozen out of shopping centres.
    There are no foreign ownership rules controlling the ownership of Australian farms. I believe that Bob Hussian of Indonesian forest burning fame is the largest landholder in the Northern Territory

  91. Jim Rose
    August 24th, 2010 at 10:32 | #91

    Make up your mind.

    Market power is about raising prices by restricting output. That is the welfare loss.

    Are Coles and woollies expanding their market share by cutting prices or putting them up?

    A good rule for assessing if complaints of monopolisation are false is whether they are made by competitors. If the complaints are from market rivals, the claims should be dismissed out of hand as anti-competetive rent-seeking.

    If the market leaders are able to profitably put their prices up, their smaller market rivals will quietly follow them up and profit from tacit collusion.

    If the market leaders are cutting their prices, their rivals run to the competition watchdog to ask it to protect consumers from the scourge of lower prices.

    p.s. if you can document an actual case of successful below-cost pricing – predatory pricing – priority publication in the top economic journals awaits you.

  92. Jim Rose
    August 24th, 2010 at 11:23 | #92

    one or two seats will be decided by a smallest of handfuls of votes.

    does anyone know how close the margin has to be before it falls inside the margin covered by the idioits who for reasons known only to the voices in their heads vote several times, and the usual errors in marking off the roll and recording of postal and other votes and so on?

    an election will be overturned in a court challenge if multiple votes and other recording errors exceed the winning margin

  93. Ken Fabos
    August 24th, 2010 at 11:52 | #93

    On the big supermarkets and their predatory practices; wasn’t there a fairly recent expose of this? (ABC?) They don’t so much sell below cost price because they demand the suppliers bear the below-production cost prices for the supermarket’s chosen ‘loss leaders’. If suppliers want longer term deals they have to comply. Suppliers were also advised to rise their prices to others in order to help the acceptance of the very low prices being paid to them – which artificially boosts the big buyer’s competitiveness both ways. For a lot of agricultural producers there is no choice but go along or plow their crops back in at even greater loss. I recall another expose that revealed a big supermarket rapidly dropping prices to beat any local, small retailers who dare to try and undercut them; bananas were the example and in short order each of a series of price cuts initiated by a small greengrocer were promptly undercut, way past the point of being below cost even for the big supermarkets, until the price was so low the big supermarket chose to remove bananas from sale rather than continue. These practices may temporarily give extremely low prices to consumers but at a high cost to our agriculture sector.

  94. may
    August 24th, 2010 at 12:56 | #94

    what is the National Party?

    used to be the agriculture/rural economic/social voice.

    and now two seperate voices.

    one loudly vociferous claiming mining privelege.

    one muted and fighting for it’s life against sell-the-farm economic rationalists

    they are going to have to make up their minds or divide .

  95. Warbo
    August 24th, 2010 at 13:57 | #95

    To get back to the original subject of this thread (“reasons to be cheerful”), I’ve been surprised at how little has been made of Wilson Tuckey’s demise. I know nothing of his replacement, but to be rid of that odious clown from the House of Representatives has to be a good thing, surely.

  96. August 24th, 2010 at 14:07 | #96

    I am sure that this may have been mentioned elsewhere. You may have seen this article in the Fairfax press yesterday by Paul Sheehan.


    This how the article starts:

    A great sucking force can be felt around Australia, siphoning resources southwards, down the hungry throat of Melbourne. Australia makes, Melbourne takes.

    ”Melbourne is a parasite economy,” says Bob Birrell, the doyen of immigration and population studies in Australia. ”Increasingly, the fiscal dividend from Australia’s mineral boom is having to be distributed to Victoria to pay for the needs of Melbourne’s population boom. That’s why the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, is constantly having to go cap-in-hand to the federal government for assistance.”

    The article states that the demand is driven by immigration, rather than production. As he states again: “in other words, Melbourne is growing for the sake of growing, racing towards a population of 5 million, using other people’s money.“.

    And he finishes:

    All of this poses the question, if Melbourne is going to become a city of 5 million people, but only by sucking resources from the rest of the country, what’s in it for the rest of the country?

    Nothing. It should not be surprise then, that on Saturday night Victoria, the state so reliant on big government and big immigration, went hard for Labor and a Melbourne Prime Minister.

    It wasn’t just parochialism, it was greed.

    I find this article a day after the election, where the electorate of Melbourne elected the first ever Green Member of Parliament, and where contrary to other parts of Australia Victoria has swung towards Labor interesting. The states that are ‘productive’ have voted for the coalition while the sucking parasite states that like immigration to boost have voted Labor or heavens above…Green.

  97. Andrew
    August 24th, 2010 at 14:49 | #97

    The most amazing thing about this election is the self-destruction of the ALP in the past 6 months and how close an ‘unelectable’ Tony Abbott came.

    Amazing when you consider that 3 years ago many punters were predicting the death of the liberal party and many years in opposition. Including our host –

  98. Michael of Summer Hill
    August 24th, 2010 at 15:04 | #98

    Andrew, a lot has happened since 2007 but to say JQ was wrong would be incorrect for most pundits were thinking along the same lines. As for the ALP imploding that is total bull. Had you said the L-NP were buying their way into power then I would have said you were wright.

  99. August 24th, 2010 at 15:37 | #99

    Unfortunately John I don’t think will get a Labor government now. The postal and absentee votes are trending away from the ALP.

  100. Andrew
    August 24th, 2010 at 15:40 | #100

    Michael that’s what I said – most pundits were thinking along the same lines. JQ was wrong but so were most pundits. That’s my point – amazing that Abbott got so close!

    ALP imploding ‘total bull’ – run that by me again!!!!!

    Australian politics today is a shambles. The Coalition should be an unelectable rabble, the make-up of a Coalition front bench makes me cringe. The ALP has been taken over by power-brokers who are only interested in power – the ALP has forgotten what it stands for. The Greens are a dysfunctional minority who’ll probably disintegrate back into their 3 separate groupings once Bob Brown moves on (disaffected ALP voters, true-believer environmentalists, marxists).

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