Home > Oz Politics > Keneally in partial denial

Keneally in partial denial

March 27th, 2012

My wife alerted me to this piece by Kristina Keneally at the Drum, and so I ran out a quick response.

Shorter JQ: Keneally is right that voter backlash against privatisation caused NSW and Queensland losses, wrong that the policy was sound and even wronger that Labor (at least in Qld) didn’t try hard enough to sell the idea.

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  1. Sam
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:25 | #1

    While it’s great to see someone attacking the terrible neo-liberal policy decisions by QLD Labor, I’m not convinced privatisation was the political reason for such a devastating loss. I’m open to the idea of it being true, and I wish it were, but when I talk to people on the street about why they voted LNP (often for the first time), none of them mention asset sales, or are even aware of the issue at all. They usually talk about the kind of trivialities you dismiss at the beginning of your piece. If they don’t know about the issue, how can it have been a deciding factor? Admittedly, my own amateur polling is highly unscientific; I’d like to see this issue tested with a larger sample.

  2. John Quiggin
    March 27th, 2012 at 11:44 | #2

    There was plenty of poll evidence at the time of the announcement. The govts popularity plummeted and never recovered (except briefly just after the floods).

    The government was counting on people forgetting and to some extent they did. By last Saturday they knew they hated the government but not exactly why.

  3. Sam
    March 27th, 2012 at 12:05 | #3

    But I should emphasize how much I agree with you on the more substantive policy point. When Labor were the established political insiders, they used their position to dismiss all criticism from outside as coming from cranks and economic illiterates. After all, who are these upstart 20 economists? Oh I see, they include a range of highly respected ARC fellows with thousands of citations in high impact journals? Oh, they have a range of individual views on the merits of privatization itself, but are united in their belief that Labor’s specific rationale is bogus? Well, if they don’t have Very Serious views on the virtues of all the asset sales some 30 year old commerce graduate is ramming through, they can’t be Very Serious People.

    Well, now all the VSPs don’t officially have a parliamentary party anymore. All indications are, no one has learned anything from the experience. If there is any silver lining to this cloud though, it is this; Labor can no longer use it’s incumbency to sneer at economic critics. If John Quiggin started a political party, it would have zero seats in this parliament, not many fewer than Labor. We are all cranks now.

  4. Sam
    March 27th, 2012 at 12:39 | #4

    I’m aware I’m starting to flood the thread here, so this will be my last for a while.

    I see parallels between this case, and the US Democrat’s decision to first undershoot it’s stimulus package, and then to prematurely “pivot” to the deficit. Both decisions were wrong economically, and in both cases un-Serious economists (Krugman in the US, Quiggin in Queensland) clearly pointed out why. Both administrations were full of much more Serious, but far less capable political economy wonks who used their establishment position to scorn outside criticism of their decisions.

    In both cases they were wrong about the economics, they were also disastrously wrong on the politics (odd, since that was their whole job). Krugman concisely explained why stimulus was a one shot type thing, you can’t go back for more if the first round is seen to have “failed.” Quiggin explained very well why the asset sales were bad economically, he was also correct on how it would play politically (though I’m personally unsure of the scale of the political problems it caused).

    The economic and political advice by both men was ignored, and worse, sneered at.

    Remember this State of the Union address (enough to make first year macro lecturers at non-freshwater schools tear their hair out)?

    “…families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I’m proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.”

    And then the 2010 mid terms happened. So I guess the question remaining is, why are people who are wrong about everything, so influential in politics? Why are the people who are right always on the outer?

  5. Alan
    March 27th, 2012 at 13:09 | #5

    Oligarchies always get to the point where they privilege loyalty so much that they are selecting for stupidity. The labor apparatchiks have fashioned themselves into such an oligarchy. Barry Jones makes the point today that candidates like Gough Whitlam, Gareth Evans, John Button, Neal Blewett, Don Dunstan or Geoff Gallop just could not get preselected without faction tickets.

    The labor oligarchs have essentially the same problem as the US Republicans. The GOP had given the US people like Lincoln, Grant and the first Roosevelt. That list compares somewhat favorably with the current crop fop Republican presidential contenders.

    What is really bizarre is that party oligarchies have proved again and again that they cannot function in the real world, yet Labor has chosen to adopt exactly this structure.

  6. TerjeP
    March 27th, 2012 at 13:31 | #6

    I think the assets sales issue, at least in NSW, wasn’t so much a root cause of the governments unpopularity as a force for destabilisation within the labour movement. The war between the executive arm of the government and the executive arm of the ALP (Sussex street) spilled out into the open. It was the subsequent infighting more than the policy itself that made the government so deeply unpopular and undermined the support base.

  7. may
    March 27th, 2012 at 13:33 | #7

    after saying no more privatatisations(corporatisation)

    is announcing after two days the sale of the rest of QR some kind of a record?

    Australia has no independent news and information industry.
    and that includes the ABC, the elimination of a religious discussion program that included all denominations and the science program is a pure evangelistic world view.
    scott,in the fin gossip section the other day,has said that the ABC is subsidised like the australian newspaper.
    y’what?
    saying in another place that the ABC is “battling seamless distribution and endless content”
    the ABC is for broadcasting content in the public interest that the market ignores.
    as a training ground for the broadcasting industry it hasn’t done too badly either.
    the ABC is not subsidised.
    the ABC is funded from the public purse and is not a commerce driven market entity.

    it looks like a mass manipulation excercise using behavioral psychology and specialising in absence of information and concocted outrage.

    there is no public debate–there is only relentless sidelining of public debate.

    the information industry features the witholding of the information concerning the policies of the current conservative parties that is so blatant it is normal.
    how can one consider the ramifications of and comparison with the other parties in just a couple of days?
    the information industry relates a Qantas top seatwarmer as saying it needs a “pre-eminent and indisputable right to run itself”.
    does that mean the pre-eminent and indisputable right to run Qantas into the ground?
    Qantas is not just another airline,the on-call emergency function of this entity for the benefit of the Australian people is in no business plan.
    the actions of the management as servants of the company ignores the fact that other company servants are the reason Qantas is(was?)the best.
    then there is the fully funded compensation scheme in Vic that is being eyed off as a nice raidable budget extender.
    Vic seems to be suffering from voters remorse—promises?what promises?

    i clearly remember the phrase”Azaria means sacrifice in the desert” and i still come across people who think that is true.
    the power of pictures and words is being used against the well being of us all.
    the information industry is whinging in a very large voice that the idea of their own code of ethics(the figleaf of convenience)being administered by a body outside current government control,in the same way as the judiciary and the reserve bank is the death of “free speech” and the end of the world.

    but the upholding of free speech,the right of reply that doesn’t need mega bucks for full page ads and ‘truth in reporting’ would go a long way to obviating the kind of contempt shown by those who can do the full page ads while piously claiming their equality with the “little people”in the eyes of the law.

    then there was that full page ad in the fin with a generic used car salesman(by the look of it) saying the stimulus was money given away.
    talk about class warfare.
    what struck me most about that episode was the ugly resentment of the extremly well off people who didn’t get it.
    i mean why waste money just before Christmas on the little people whe it could have been put the better use by those who are used to having money.that could have bought a halfway decent carton of whine.

    yair right. we might be equal in the eyes of the law but we are sure as not equal in the eyes of the lawyers.
    see the local arm of hooston,tayxas entity mcdermott.the poor old judge hit with what he called “forest loads and bulldozer loads of affadavit material.

    i’m ranting.
    i’ll stop.
    (about bloody time.)

    and so on

  8. may
    March 27th, 2012 at 13:50 | #8

    John Quiggin :There was plenty of poll evidence at the time of the announcement. The govts popularity plummeted and never recovered (except briefly just after the floods).
    The government was counting on people forgetting and to some extent they did. By last Saturday they knew they hated the government but not exactly why.

    the effect of really big disasters on the electoral prospects of the govt of the day?

    they get turfed out.

    i read that recently,i’ll try to hunt it out and say where and by whom.

  9. socrates
    March 27th, 2012 at 14:59 | #9

    I don’t live in Qld or get all the local news but I think people would need to distinguish between:
    - people opposed to privatisations on principle
    - people opposed to the way particular ones are handled, that might result in the State not getting the $ it deserves
    - people oppoesd to the backflip of first promising not to privatise then doing so.

    IMO in this case the last explanation was more damaging than the others for Qld Labor. I do object to privatisation for grounds of expediency or ideology, but I accept by now that most voters don’t care. Obviously, Labor’s problems in Qld were more than this one issue.

  10. Ikonoclast
    March 27th, 2012 at 16:02 | #10

    I think the bottom line is this. Most families in Australia are now hurting financially. Forget all this bulldust about how well the economy is going, that only applies to the top 10%. The bottom 90% are hurting and slowly going backwards. Why is this so?

    Essentially, wages have failed to keep pace with inflation in real terms, the official inflation rate is falsified (to be lower than reality) and privatisations have, almost without exception, led to higher prices. Families are struggling to pay the very steep rises (often of the order of 8% p.a.) in power, water, insurance, medical and education costs. Fuel and transport costs are also escalating rapidly. Many families are heavily in debt and paying high mortgages. Pensioners, unemployed persons and single parents are struggling ever harder.

    This economic stress translates into volatility in the voting booth and will eventually translate into volatility in the streets. People believe (falsely) that changing from one major neoliberal party (Labor) to another major ultra-neoliberal party (LNP) will improve matters. After a term or two of Can-Do-U-Over (Newman) and Will-Do-U-Over (Abbott) the public will realise that these bozos are even worse than Labor. Then they will rush back to Labor. But unless Labor have a total intellectual revolution they will still be useless also.

    Very tough economic times are coming. Resource shortages will strangle the economy and send it into a continuous depression (by historical standards). However, this depression and endless decline will become the new norm. Neoliberal economics, if persisted with, will make this difficult process much worse. Only with Green politics and dirigisme socialisation of the economy do we stand any chance of even a half soft landing.

    But then after that, all the built in global warming is waiting in the wings… so “it’s mathematical after all” as General Longstreet says in the movie.

  11. Ernestine Gross
    March 27th, 2012 at 16:37 | #11

    1. “…there’s no better way to raise the value of the Labor brand than to consistently deliver on Labor’s core promise: we are the party that delivers the policies and services to improve the lives of working people…” (Kristina Keneally)

    Think about it.

    “Labor brand” – this is corporatist talk – see brand management literature.
    “lives of working people” – this excludes students of voting age, pensioners of voting age, the sick of voting age, the unemployed of voting age, and all those who work but have not benefitted from the policies and services delivered.

    2. JQ reiterates his often stated position on public asset sales and he reiterates that his position is supported by mainstream economics (ie there is no simple ideological position; it depends…).

    JQ further says:
    “The only rationale offered to the public was the claim that money tied up in government business enterprises could instead be invested in schools and hospitals. This is ludicrous nonsense,…”

    Yes, it is ludicrous and every actual business person – other than brand managers – with a rudimentary understanding of financial decision making knows that too. And the public includes business people. So this segment of the voting population can be added to the list given in 1 above.

    Who is left?

  12. SJ
    March 27th, 2012 at 17:13 | #12

    Agree with Ernestine.

    Plus, there’s another reasonably large class of “working people”, that belong on the list. I.e. people who actually work for the government, and who are mightily offended at the idea of pay rises smaller than the inflation rate.

  13. Jason
    March 27th, 2012 at 18:41 | #13

    It is interesting that Kenneally gives no specific reasons for her support for privatisation. Kenneally suggests something vague along the lines of “mproving the lives of working people”. This may be a general problem for those who support privatisation – they do not explain why on public policy grounds.

    This of course leaves them open to your assertion that “market liberals argue that privatisation is needed to increase productivity (that is, harder work by fewer employees)”. This is obviously a pretty artless rationale for privatisation.

    Privatisation of even monopoly businesses may be a good idea if Government’s can’t stop themselves from meddling in the businesses and pursuing costly political objectives (eg, pork barreling in marginal electorates) and if, despite its inevitable imperfections, regulation of private
    owners can do better.

    These are obviously complex issues which will depend on the circumstances. I am not sure that either side are really up to a proper debate on privatisation.

  14. Alan
    March 27th, 2012 at 18:58 | #14

    Recently the Asia Times quoted a paper on the benefits of public banking:

    We suggest that politicians may actually prefer banks not to be in the public sector. … Conditions of weak corporate governance in banks provide fertile ground for quick enrichment for both bankers and politicians – at the expense ultimately of the taxpayer. In such circumstances politicians can offer bankers a system of weak regulation in exchange for party political contributions, positions on the boards of banks or lucrative consultancies.

    Of course this is not borne out in Australia where there is absolutely no sign of a revolving door where you work for Macquarie Bank one day and be named foreign minister the next. Or that banks could be making huge revenues from privatisations that otherwise seem to be against the interests of Labor politicians.

  15. Ernestine Gross
    March 27th, 2012 at 18:59 | #15

    Taking JS’s point @12 into account the question becomes: Why did 5 seats (hope I am right on the number) survive?

  16. Tim Macknay
    March 27th, 2012 at 19:03 | #16

    Very tough economic times are coming. Resource shortages will strangle the economy and send it into a continuous depression (by historical standards). However, this depression and endless decline will become the new norm.

    Now where have I heard this before? Oh, that’s right: every other Ikonoclast comment. I mean, what could be more obvious than a segue from the Queensland election result to The Inevitable Doom of All Humanity in the Immediate Future ?

    But then, of course, you go one better and add a complete non sequitur:

    Only with Green politics and dirigisme socialisation of the economy do we stand any chance of even a half soft landing.

    If the future is to be “depression and endless decline”, followed by climate-change induced population die-off (I assume that’s what you were getting at the with Longstreet quote), how will “Green politics” be even possible, let alone allow a “soft landing”? And in what way will dirigisme help? And since when did “Green politics” become compatible with “dirigisme socialisation of the economy”? I realise the Greens have attracted a few old Trots like Fran Barlow lately, but last time I checked they were still social democratic environmentalists, not Marxist-Leninists.

  17. Ernestine Gross
    March 27th, 2012 at 19:05 | #17

    One way of looking at privatisation as a policy objective per se (fad) is to see it as the public sector mirror image of the merger and acquisition policy per se (fad) of publicly listed companies. Both end in proverbial tears. Each time it is the public who pays the bill – whether the affected individuals in the public are called tax payers or shareholders.

  18. Tim Macknay
    March 27th, 2012 at 19:06 | #18

    Methinks the the true cause of the Inevitable Collapse of All Civilisation will be a misplaced emphasis tag.

  19. Alan
    March 27th, 2012 at 19:12 | #19

    Perhaps PrQ could put a Pit of Doom next to the Sandpit and Ikonoklast could just link to his serial chiliasms as appropriate.

  20. Sam
    March 27th, 2012 at 19:31 | #20

    Adding to what’s been said here, wouldn’t a net exporter of food and minerals (like Australia) do quite well in a resource crunch?

  21. SJ
    March 27th, 2012 at 20:40 | #21

    mirror image of the merger and acquisition policy per se (fad) of publicly listed companies

    This is sorta out of date. A lot of M&A stuff in the 80s and 90s was done to benefit management at the expense of shareholders, true. But that’s just a run-of-the-mill agency type problem. And it’s not always a bust for the shareholders – the tech companies of the current decade, and even the dinosaur Microsoft were able to do it properly.

    A better analogy would be with leveraged buy outs. The existing shareholders come out OK, the buyers make out like bandits, the lenders suffer theoretical losses, but get bailed out by government (can’t let the banking system fail), and the only losers are the employees and the taxpayers.

    The rules as they are currently written allow theft from taxpayers, and they allow corruption in government. Want to go from being premier of NSW to a well paying job at Mac Bank like Carr did? No worries. Want to be an ex-PM and advocate privatisation, while being paid by Lazard Capital, the advisor to the NSW govt on privatisation, like Keating did? That’s probably what Keaneally is hooking for too. Who wouldn’t?

  22. SJ
    March 27th, 2012 at 20:41 | #22

    Well, that formatting didn’t work out well. Sigh.

  23. Tim Macknay
    March 27th, 2012 at 22:36 | #23

    I commiserate, SJ.

  24. Freelander
    March 27th, 2012 at 23:02 | #24

    Nothing like levering your concern for the plight of the working class into a nice well paid job where you can trod on those unfortunates even more. No wonder they don’t care about the Labor party. Who cares what happens to the stepping stone once they have no further use for it?

  25. Jill Rush
    March 27th, 2012 at 23:55 | #25

    Well put Ernestine. I think you have outlined where Labor is failing. Tony Abbott talks about the Labor Brand all the time and it seems that this has stupidly been picked up by Labor itself.

    However the Labor brand should include Labor values which should translate into the establishment of essential commercial infrastructure which is not extortionate in nature. Electricity companies which are about delivering power at affordable prices are an example – an issue which cost the Olsen government power in SA over 10 years ago when the electricity company was sold off by the Liberals who had not mentioned it before the election.
    Now of course electricity prices have skyrocketed in SA but the Liberals are still struggling. Perhaps the Queensland Labor Party should have looked at that precedent first. SA’s longest serving premier was the one who socialised the electricity in the first place. It was socialised because of the problems caused by multiple generating companies.

    A further example is the public transport system which doesn’t seem to have resulted in better services for commuters at a time when faster and better services are what is required.

    Federal Labor could do a lot worse than set up a people’s bank to operate through the Post Office – or if that is too unpalatable or impossible because the Post Office has been franchised, through Centrelink. That would probably go a long way towards restoring the “brand” as it could provide an alternative to the usury which is such a fundamental part of the current system. It wouldn’t be all that hard to achieve either as there are plenty of unemployed bank staff who would be glad to have a job and would have the knowledge required. However it would require Labor to look beyond branding and create something of value to the people who vote.

  26. Freelander
    March 28th, 2012 at 01:20 | #26

    To revive the brand they should refer to themselves, when in government, as the Labor government rather than as the Rudd, Gillard, Bligh, Keannelly, whatever government. This would be a recognition that there is or was a brand. But would their egos let them?

    There is too much cult of personality nowadays.

  27. paul walter
    March 28th, 2012 at 02:44 | #27

    Ian Macauley, who specialises in public sector economics at Uni of Canberra, delivers a similar verdict to Quiggin at New Matilda.
    In addition, he quotes another high profile economist, Tim Soutphommasane on another reason given for Bligh’s ousting, mentioned by some, including at this thread, that privatisation was necessary because the battlers were falling behind, a claim emphatically denied in McCauley’s article. Apart from the weather, Qld’ers, like other Aussies, have done quite well- what’s really gone wrong is that they are well off enough now to fret, in case the good times end…
    Fortunately McaCauley is repared to go a bit further even than Quiggin in getting at the underlying reason privatisations are beloved of politicians. My take is, this involves politicians and big business cozying up behind closed doors to remove union protections for workers for big business, making utilities more attractive as purchases. In return politicians get good publicity from the tabloid press, extra money for other pet projects, and probably, most importantly large election fund donations, by hook or crook.
    This obviated ALP reliance on its traditional sources, until it was solely reliant on big business and likely facing destruction once the unions had gone- by this time the politicians would have fled south with their super and whatever else picked upon the way.
    Given that everyone else looked to be set for some sort of benefit from the mining and attendant infrastructure boom, it must have riled retrenched workers and people put on welfare, generally the same people who have supported Labor for a century, to have the dagger delivered between their shoulder blades when no firm economic reason existed for it.
    So, Isuppose our politicians and others believe in privatisation because of its purported strict abstract value rather than for any self serving motives?
    And the public?
    No mean-spiritedness, the poor things are so poverty stricken they make the millions in the slums of Bombay (yes, Bombay!!) look like Ferrari owners, by comparison.

  28. rog
    March 28th, 2012 at 04:52 | #28

    @Alan
    There was an economist/scientist called Soddy who also argued that banks should only act as transaction agents, not creators of money.

    At the time Soddy had a raft of controversial proposals incl dropping the gold standard. These were greeted with derision however only his suggestion re banks remains to be enacted.

  29. Ikonoclast
    March 28th, 2012 at 06:40 | #29

    @Tim Macknay

    Yeah sorry Tim, I was wrong. How foolish of me to consider the big picture. How foolish of me to doubt that endless growth capitalism and all its wonders won’t live for ever. How foolish of me to actually think that endless growth can’t occur on a finite planet. In future I will attempt to live like a happy fool (i.e. like you) and believe in the Capitalist Cornucopia. Two cars good, four cars better, two cars good, four cars better.

  30. Chris Warren
    March 28th, 2012 at 10:28 | #30

    @Tim Macknay

    Socialism is not based on Marxism-Leninism. Socialism long pre-existed Marxism-Leninism which usually emerges in fuedal society (Tsarist Russia, regions of India and etc).

    Your comment shows you do not know much about:

    - the Greens
    - Socialism, or
    - Marxism-Leninism.

  31. Tim Macknay
    March 28th, 2012 at 11:54 | #31

    @Ikonoclast
    Ikonoclast, how predictable that you’d pull out the expression “Cornucopia”, a standard thought-stopper used to block out any contrary information. Believing that there are only two possible positions, i.e. inevitable die-off on the one hand, and ‘Capitalist cornucopia’ on the other, is the mark of a dogmatic cultist.

    Obviously endless growth can’t occur on a finite planet. Only a fool would deny it, and I certainly do not. I have never said anything to suggest that I believe in endless growth, or even that I’m particularly optimistic, and the fact that you conclude that I do on the basis of my disagreement with your attitude is a mark of your own closed mind.

    @ Chris Warren

    Socialism is not based on Marxism-Leninism. Socialism long pre-existed Marxism-Leninism which usually emerges in fuedal society (Tsarist Russia, regions of India and etc).

    Your comment shows you do not know much about:

    - the Greens
    - Socialism, or
    - Marxism-Leninism.

    And your comment shows you have difficulty comprehending what you read. I neither said nor implied that I thought socialism had anything to do with Marxism-Leninism, nor did I even use the word ‘socialism’.

    As far as I am aware, there is nothing in the Greens policy platform to suggest that they advocate ‘dirigisme socialisation of the economy’. If you disagree with this, perhaps you could point me to the policy positions that indicate they do advocate it.

    The conditions under which Marxist-Leninists achieve power (or Marxist theory in general) hardly seems relevant to anything I said. To spell it out, since you apparently have difficulty with comprehension, my point was that in practice, Marxists-Leninists have generally pursued ‘dirigiste socialisation of the economy’ in one form or another, which the Greens don’t do. Given your comprehension problems, I suppose I should also spell out for you that I don’t necessarily think that the Greens are formally or theoretically social democrats, just that their policy positions closely resemble those of social democracts in many respects.

    Perhaps if you tried using actual thought in place of your usual recitation of Marxist doctrine, you’d find it easier to understand what you read and would come across a little less like a left wing version of Terje.

  32. Tim Macknay
    March 28th, 2012 at 12:05 | #32

    Actually, I think my last comment was unfair to Terje. Although Terje has a tendency to recite Libertarian doctrine in place of thinking, he is generally civil.

  33. Chris Warren
    March 28th, 2012 at 12:42 | #33

    @Tim Macknay

    Your posts seems a bit schizophrenic …. maybe you could explain your comment:

    And since when did “Green politics” become compatible with “dirigisme socialisation of the economy”? I realise the Greens have attracted a few old Trots like Fran Barlow lately, but last time I checked they were still social democratic environmentalists, not Marxist-Leninists.

    Why would anyone say this if they then wanted to claim….

    I neither said nor implied that I thought socialism had anything to do with Marxism-Leninism,

    Please note: no-one has said you “used the word” socialism. So what are you trying to say here ????

    Why raise Marxism-Leninism at all ????

    Who has said that the Green’s are Marxist-Leninists or support socialism (of any type).

    Green politics cannot be seen as or restricted to the Greens Party. But this is what you have done.

    Are you objecting to Green politics? or just Green politics combined with socialism?

    There is no reason why Green politics would be incompatible with socialism – non whatsoever.

    Which bit of Marxist doctrine are you referring to?

  34. Tim Macknay
    March 28th, 2012 at 13:50 | #34

    Why raise Marxism-Leninism at all ????

    Because I felt like it. And because they have tended to advocate ‘dirigiste socialisation of the economy’ (clarification for drongoes: obviously, one doesn’t have to be a Marxist-Leninist to prefer dirigisme).

    Who has said that the Green’s are Marxist-Leninists or support socialism (of any type).

    Oh, I see. You equate ‘socialism’ with ‘dirigiste socialisation of the economy’. That’s why you keep coming back to socialism even though I didn’t say or imply anything about it. You think socialism necessarily implies dirigisme, do you?

    Green politics cannot be seen as or restricted to the Greens Party.

    Yes it can. Of course the term is capable of a broader construction, but what of it? If Ikonoclast meant something else, he is free to clarify.

    Are you objecting to Green politics? or just Green politics combined with socialism?

    Neither. There’s ‘socialism’ again. I didn’t say or imply anything about it.

    There is no reason why Green politics would be incompatible with socialism – non[e] whatsoever.

    Yes, I agree. See my remarks above re your repeated insertion of socialism into my comments.

    And I see that your confusion in part arises from my use of the word ‘compatible’. I only meant to say that I saw no evidence that the Greens advocate dirigisme. Obviously, the Greens might hypothetically advocate it in the future, and some forms of ‘dirigisme socialisation of the economy’ might be theoretically compatible with some forms of ‘Green politics’, broadly defined. But that wasn’t my concern.

    Which bit of Marxist doctrine are you referring to?

    All of it, or alternatively, no part of it in particular. I said it hardly seems relevant to anything I said. It was a pretty straightforward statement, really.

    Anyway, this is getting a long way away from the topic of the thread, so I’ll say no more on it.

  35. may
    March 28th, 2012 at 17:23 | #35

    Freelander :To revive the brand they should refer to themselves, when in government, as the Labor government rather than as the Rudd, Gillard, Bligh, Keannelly, whatever government. This would be a recognition that there is or was a brand. But would their egos let them?
    There is too much cult of personality nowadays.

    hear. hear.

    personalisation gets in the way of policy and policy elucidation.

    see Qld where people didn’t have time to know what they were voting for.
    also.
    it would have been interesting to know a bit more about the business history of the tunnel called “Clem”.
    that was a privatisation excercise wasn’t it?

  36. SJ
  37. Jill Rush
    March 29th, 2012 at 09:41 | #37

    Interesting that socialism is used as a term of abuse by Tim Macknay but that voters have reacted angrily when public utilities have been sold into the private sector creating long term losses for taxpayers and consumers ie almost everyone. It seems that people like the concept even if the word is rejected. It has become apparent that the promised efficiencies of privatisation have been revealed as little more than ideology and self interest for the 1 per cent. There is the example of Medibank Private which offers a commercial product as a non profit govt owned entity. While governments have been busy getting out of service delivery in recent years and into contract management there have been more managers added who have little understanding of the real world, making government policy. No wonder that governments are failing to connect to the populace as the separation of policy from delivery creates the gap.

  38. Tim Macknay
    March 29th, 2012 at 10:48 | #38

    Interesting that socialism is used as a term of abuse by Tim Macknay but that voters have reacted angrily when public utilities have been sold into the private sector creating long term losses for taxpayers and consumers ie almost everyone.

    Incredibly dishonest! I did not use the term socialism as a term of abuse, nor would I. My political views are more-or-less social democratic, if you want to insist on an ideological category. In fact, I didn’t use any political expression as term of abuse in that comment, although you could probably pick up that I’m not a particular fan of Marxism-Leninism. Whatever their views on privatisation of public assets, I rather doubt most Queensland voters would have much time for Marxism-Leninism either.

  39. Jill Rush
    March 29th, 2012 at 17:13 | #39

    Tim Macknay, if you make points which are obscure but which imply criticism it is not others being dishonest if they fail to understand your true position which appears to be one of outrage at life in general. My point is that people like socialism even if they don’t like the word. Your response however is one of abuse and self justification.

  40. Tim Macknay
    March 29th, 2012 at 18:17 | #40

    Jill Rush, show me where I used socialism as a term of abuse and I’ll retract the allegation of dishonesty.

    they fail to understand your true position which appears to be one of outrage at life in general.

    Now you’re confusing me with Ikonoclast.

  41. Fran Barlow
    March 29th, 2012 at 18:36 | #41

    @Tim Macknay

    I rather doubt most Queensland voters would have much time for Marxism-Leninism either.

    FWIW, I rather doubt most Queensland voters could speak for 90 seconds on the subject without saying something ridiculous.

  42. David C
    March 29th, 2012 at 18:39 | #42

    I think that assets sales were just one of several issues that voters have with Labor. Labor is sending to the electorate inconsisent messages. For example, on the one hand Labor is promoting progressive climate change policies through the carbon tax at the federal level and the climate smart initiative at the state level, while on the other hand it is also promoting increased carbon polution elsewhere by ramping up the export of coal.

    The average voter would be inclined to think that Labor wasn’t serious about climate change at all. And if the progressive side of politics cannot take the issue seriously, then how can they.

  43. Alan
    March 29th, 2012 at 19:22 | #43

    @Fran

    I am not completely sure that telling most Queensland voters they are ridiculous if they don’t understand you is a persuasive political programme.

  44. paul walter
    March 29th, 2012 at 19:39 | #44

    That long Fran, your optimism seems boundless.
    On the other hand the QLD voters did spot the neolib lies emanating from gutless Labor. They didn’t spot the Tory lies though, or more rightly didn’t WANT to, wouldn’t or couldn’t, spot them.
    David C’s comment covered that.
    “Venal superstitious peasant”, is the default mode for humanity.
    No real sense, at least from Treasurer Duck’s intonations on the budget, that the message has been heard at Bullshit Castle, Canberra, either.
    Btw, a couple of weeks the question of the Pacific Free Trade Treaty negotiations was raised.
    Googling, it seems impossible to find information on any thing past March 15 on these apparently secret negotiations.
    Are they continuing or have they been completed? What was decided and why are we seemingly not allowed to know about it?

  45. paul walter
    March 29th, 2012 at 19:41 | #45

    Any reason why I’m suddenly on auto mods here. What is my sin??

  46. Chris O’Neill
    March 29th, 2012 at 19:42 | #46

    @David C

    Labor is sending to the electorate inconsisent messages. For example, on the one hand Labor is promoting progressive climate change policies through the carbon tax at the federal level and the climate smart initiative at the state level, while on the other hand it is also promoting increased carbon polution elsewhere by ramping up the export of coal.

    This assumes that we have the right to tell people that we export coal to that they should be burning far less coal per person than we do in this country, because with few exceptions they do burn far less coal per person than we do. Opinion may vary but I don’t believe we have the right to do this. We should worry about the planks in our own eyes before worrying about the specks in our exportees’ eyes.

  47. Fran Barlow
    March 29th, 2012 at 20:19 | #47

    @Alan

    I am not completely sure that telling most Queensland voters they are ridiculous if they don’t understand you is a persuasive political programme.

    1. I wasn’t saying that most Queensland voters were ridiculous. I was saying that most would not be well-placed to evaluate Marxism-Leninism and so whether they fancied it or not was neither here nor there. I suspect that asking them their opinions on the pre-Rafaelites and finding that many weren’t interested in it might be about as useful.
    2. I’m not running for office. I’m making an observation
    3. The results of the last election (and the pattern of voting in QLD in the Federal sphere in 2010) doesn’t recommend them as being, on the whole, people of penetrating insight. If polls are anything to go by, the rest of the country can’t boast much more acumen, though perhaps the rest of the country as fewer religious fundies per 1000. Whether that would be a popular thing to say in QLD or anywhere else, it’s hard to avoid drawing that conclusion.

    There are reasons for this of course — so I’m not blaming people. Stockholm Syndrome, capitalist control, the venality of the ALP etc … but there’s no point going pollyanna …

  48. David C
    March 29th, 2012 at 22:27 | #48

    @Chris O’Neill
    We should be reducing our consumption. It isn’t going to help the poor in the third world if they have electricity but thier crops are failing and livestock dying because of climate change induced drought.

  49. Alan
    March 29th, 2012 at 22:34 | #49

    @Fran

    I was being half-serious. The whole failure of the ALP is taking their electors’ concerns seriously while they drive towards more privatisation, more service cuts, more out-sourcing, more wars, dumping more risk on the individual, you name it. How many times has some ALP campaign genius posted on a blog that the progressive vote has nowhere else to go? The sad reality from both NSW 2011 and Queensland 2012 is that once people are determined to sack a government you get the phenomenon of lifelong ALP voters supporting the Coalition to ensure a change of government.

    The really nasty question is if the cohort of voters who have just gone Coalition will come back to Labor will come back any time soon. Testing the competence of citizens against their knowledge of the Pre-Raphaelites or Marxism-Leninism is really very close the ALP apparatchik’s habit of testing it against their willingness to embrace ever greater neoliberalism.

  50. March 29th, 2012 at 23:54 | #50

    @Alan, a sad fact is that Qldrs will probably find the “CanDo” to be roughly the same as the last mob and will not, accordingly, hurl them out at the first chance.

    I imagine we’ll have a network of bankrupt underground toll tunnels from Charleville to Bamaga via Cairns and Southport – but as long as it doesn’t actually appear to have a direct impact on we poor voters, nobody will care.

    Heard the new Opposition leader, (I had wrongly predicted that it would be Andrew Fraser a few months ago) being pointlessly negative about Dollar Sweetie’s appointment as “auditor” today.

    Idiots. That one act confirmed that there was nothing wrong with ditching that mob. The new mob will eventually get turfed and we’ll get a re-run of the old mob, again. And we invade other countries to “bring” this system to them? We’re obviously collectively insane.

  51. Freelander
    March 30th, 2012 at 00:09 | #51

    Some party, and of course neither Labor or the coalition could try this,should try to get elected on a platform of cleaning up corruption.

    Be nice to see. Should get plenty of voted if anyone believed them.

  52. Alan
    March 30th, 2012 at 00:24 | #52

    A simple law that former ministers and their advisers cannot, for 5 years after leaving office, work in industries they have official dealings with would go a very long way to destroying the hegemony of Cavalier’s political class over the ALP. Changing the ALP rules so that members of affiliated unions vote as individuals rather than through their union leadership would do a lot as well. The unions were central to the founding of the ALP but they did not, initially, have any formal role in the party’s decision-making. Unionists turned up to their local branch like everyone else.

  53. Tim Macknay
    March 30th, 2012 at 10:46 | #53

    @Fran Barlow

    FWIW, I rather doubt most Queensland voters could speak for 90 seconds on the subject without saying something ridiculous.

    Oh, yes. I’m sure most Queensland voters are quite ignorant on the subject. Nonetheless, I doubt a greater familiarity would incline them towards it. :)

  54. Fran Barlow
    March 30th, 2012 at 10:56 | #54

    @Alan

    Testing the competence of citizens against their knowledge of the Pre-Raphaelites or Marxism-Leninism is really very close the ALP apparatchik’s habit of testing it against their willingness to embrace ever greater neoliberalism.

    The ALP apparatchik has long been aided by the willingness of the progressive vote to hold its nose and vote ALP, typically on some entirely frivolous basis. The ‘left’ along it seems with women aged 40-50 voted for Anna Bligh in 2009. All that happened was that Bligh fancied she could do what official conservatives dared not — privatise public assets.

    People who vote ALP even though they object to what they are doing are merely enablers — in the same way that people who stay in abusive relationships hoping for better just end up, at best, getting resentful and bitter.

    It’s a pity that so many went to the LNP. Newman cast himself as a palatable and credible alternative which Springborg was not. Regrettably, few saw the Greens as like to be pertinent in a new parliament dominated by the LNP.

  55. Fran Barlow
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:05 | #55

    @Tim Macknay

    I’m sure most Queensland voters are quite ignorant on the subject. Nonetheless, I doubt a greater familiarity would incline them towards it.

    I’m not a supporter of Leninism these days either, but I’d feel a lot happier if I thought that even a substantial minority of Queensland voters knew enough about the subject to know why they thought it wasn’t apt. It would imply that on the whole, they had put a lot more work into considering the world and its usages than it occurs to me they have.

  56. Tim Macknay
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:14 | #56

    @Fran Barlow
    Yes, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if people were generally better informed about politics (among other things!), including its theoretical and philosphical aspects. Sadly, t’aint gonna happen though.

  57. John Quiggin
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:31 | #57

    @Alan
    My preferred 5-year rule would be that any ALP candidate should have spent at least 5 years in a non-political job (I’d let that include “unemployed, looking for work” or “raising kids”, but not “political advisor” or “official for a union in an industry where I’ve never actually worked”

  58. Freelander
    March 30th, 2012 at 11:42 | #58

    Very good point!

    Things were much better when more politicians were less completely career politicians.

  59. Paul Norton
    March 30th, 2012 at 12:59 | #59

    Let’s also be clear on the distinction between Leninism/Leninist and Marxism-Leninism/Marxist/Leninist. The latter is the self-descriptor of the ideology of Stalinist (including Maoist) and neo-Stalinist parties. The former is the term for the ideology of the Bolsheviks and the preferred self-descriptor for Trotskyist parties and parties deriving from that tradition.

  60. Alan
    March 30th, 2012 at 16:03 | #60

    @John

    All 3 rules would be good, although the ban on employment after leaving office would need legislation rather than a party rule. The thing is the ALP nomenklatura has constructed a system where your faction employs you full-time (although formally you may work for a union or an MP’s staff) until you get a seat and when you leave parliament you go work for MacBank or someone similar. It’s hard to think of a system that could be less self-serving, less corrupt or less guaranteed to produce bad policy.

  61. Alan
    March 30th, 2012 at 17:43 | #61

    oops, all those lesses should be mores.

  62. March 30th, 2012 at 20:16 | #62

    In WA if you want to be a Labor MP you need the support of Dave Kelly (United Voice) or Joe Bullock (SDA). You have to be a mate or a mate of a mate, or select yourselves for safe seats or your spouse (Bullock’s wife is an MLC).

    It is not factions, ideology dried up long ago, it is just fiefdoms. The problem is that they have little sense of why they are there other than some generalised vague notion of doing right by working families.

    Keneally and Bligh and co think selling public assets and PPPs are marvellous because it gives them the money to spend on the working families whose jobs they have just privatised.

  63. Alan
    March 30th, 2012 at 20:25 | #63

    It is frankly weird that one way of looking at politics inside the ALP is that you have a clutch of competing dynasties like the Fergusons in Western Sydney or the hereditary leaderships in some of the affiliated unions. Fourteenth century politics say ‘Hello’ to the modern labor party. I am not completely sure that people like Curtin and Dunstan would recognise this mess as the ALP they knew.

  64. Peter Kirsop
    March 30th, 2012 at 20:26 | #64

    Ms Rush its interesting that you should refer to “South Australia’s longest serving Premier” and note that he nationalised (or should that be ‘statised it was a state not a national purchase). Sir Thomas Playford was old school Country Party for all that he was a Liberal Country League premier. Under his government South Australia advanced from being the poorest per capita state to being the 2nd richest. He was a merchantilist, just like (though on a much larger scale) the Chinese are today. And like most merchantilists he got the rewards that policy offers, higher economic growth, more widely distributed among all social classes. WE need more people like him and Sir Albert Dunstan or on a national level like Sir John McEwan

  65. Graeme Bird
    March 31st, 2012 at 15:31 | #65

    At the ABC they’ve taken to closing down the debate very quickly on each thread. So if you had a mind to go and try and further explain how appalling our privatisations have become, by the time you get to the thread, the debates over.

  66. Chris O’Neill
    April 3rd, 2012 at 00:07 | #66

    @David C

    It isn’t going to help the poor in the third world if they have electricity but thier crops are failing and livestock dying because of climate change induced drought.

    Yes, it will go down real well when we tell them that we won’t export coal to them for their own good. Paternalism works so well. As I said before, we should worry about the planks in our own eyes before worrying about the specks in our exportees’ eyes. Why is it so hard for people to understand this?

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