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Putting their worst foot forward

January 22nd, 2014

I don’t usually watch much TV, which doubtless hampers me in keeping in touch with the mood of the Australian electorate, most of whom still get much of their political news from this source. But, over the summer break, I tend to take things easier which means watching more TV, and taking less interest in politics. So, I don’t think the following observations are way out of line with general public reactions

* When it limped into the end of its first session, the talk coming out of the Abbott government’s media cheer squad was that they would let us watch the cricket in the hope that we’d forget the fiascos of their first few months. Instead, they’ve generated more and worse political coverage than I can ever remember for this time of year, floating trial balloons, rerunning culture wars and so on

* As I remember them from Opposition a fair few of our new rulers are reasonably personable types. But the government’s media strategy has been to keep them all in the background, and to push the most appalling thugs and fools (Pyne, Morrison, Bernardi, Newman (Campbell and Maurice), Andrews) to the forefront. Or maybe there is no strategy, and they are just letting everyone do what comes naturally

But perhaps there is a brilliant plan here, and I’m missing it. Any thoughts?

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  1. Tim Macknay
    January 23rd, 2014 at 17:08 | #1

    Sorry about the double moniker. These typo’s are getting a bit too frequent…

  2. Tim Macknay
    January 23rd, 2014 at 17:29 | #2

    And by “fact value”, I meant “face value”. Arrgh.

  3. Megan
    January 23rd, 2014 at 19:24 | #3

    @Tim Macknay

    Obviously I don’t accept this:

    I’m inclined to think that you’re basing your views on vague general impressions, rather than any real analysis of the policies.

    But I think we may be missing the point. I’m not a PUP cheerleader/booster/rusted-on-die-hard who thinks they can do no wrong and that we must all always vote for them for the good of the country. My point is that an awful lot of ALP supporters hold that view of the ALP (applies to LNP too). And, that such blind loyalty actually deprives this country of the best features of a functioning democracy.

    Two things about the ALP climate change policy: It would have seen emissions continue to rise for the near future rather than stabilise or fall, and, it looks like they will be completely undone by about mid-year anyway.

    A big change (such as the GST) might be heavily opposed and cause much noise but (like the GST) once in place it seems very hard to remove and becomes accepted. I remember well the “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” meme doing the rounds when we were all supposed to be waving pom-poms for the ALP on climate change. In my view that didn’t really work out.

  4. Tim Macknay
    January 23rd, 2014 at 20:02 | #4

    @Megan

    My point is that an awful lot of ALP supporters hold that view of the ALP (applies to LNP too). And, that such blind loyalty actually deprives this country of the best features of a functioning democracy.

    Obviously that is true of some supporters of every political party. However there are also many people who hold the view that, while none of the options on offer are satisfactory, there is enough of a difference to make one option less worse than the other. I think there are plenty of commenters on this blog who would take that view with respect to the ALP and the LNP, and to conflate that view with “blind loyalty” (which is what you appear to be doing) is mistaken.

    If you’re saying that conditions would improve if the ALP/LNP political duopoly were broken, then in general I’m in agreement with you. However, I’m rather dubious that protesting against the policies of the main parties by voting for demagogues on the make brings out the best in democracy, either.

    Two things about the ALP climate change policy: It would have seen emissions continue to rise for the near future rather than stabilise or fall, and, it looks like they will be completely undone by about mid-year anyway.

    Presumably the first point makes the policy unacceptable to you. However, it seems pretty clear to me from the political carnage wrought by the attempt to put a very modest carbon pricing policy in place (it is implicated in the demise of two prime ministers, or three if you include Howard, plus one leader of the opposition) that a more ambitious policy could not have been implemented in the political climate prevailing over the last few years. The denialists have been very effective in their campaign, particularly in converting the conservative side of politics. That probably reflects poorly on the nation, but there it is.

    On the second point, yes it’s true that, unless derailed by the probable Senate re-election in WA, the Abbott government will repeal the policy. But that is no reflection at all on the merits of the policy – it merely reflects the reactionary stance of the government on the issue.

    A big change (such as the GST) might be heavily opposed and cause much noise but (like the GST) once in place it seems very hard to remove and becomes accepted.

    I’m not sure what your reference to the GST signifies. In one sense it is similar to the carbon price policy in that it is a good idea that is easy to attack with scare campaigns. In another sense it is completely different, in that instead of bipartisan acceptance following implementation we have a reactionary approach being taken. What of it?

    I remember well the “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” meme doing the rounds when we were all supposed to be waving pom-poms for the ALP on climate change. In my view that didn’t really work out.

    Again, I’m not really clear on your point. We currently have a reasonably good climate change policy framework in place, which has the potential to being driving down emissions (and on the evidence, is already doing so to some degree)and can be ramped up as circumstances permit/require. If Abbott obtains the numbers in the Senate come July, the most probable outcome is that we will have no policy at all, as well as a progressive dismantling of many other environmental protection policies.

    So in one sense it certainly “didn’t work out” in the sense that most of our national environmental policies will be worse than they were before. But what that has to do with “not making the perfect the enemy of the good”, I don’t know. “Perfect” is nowhere to be seen.

    You’re entitled to your view that the current ALP/Greens originated policy is not worth preserving, of course, however I think it’s worth pointing out that virtually no-one who works in climate change policy would agree with you.

  5. Tim Macknay
    January 23rd, 2014 at 20:03 | #5

    Stuffed up the blockquotes. Blurgh. It’s really not my day for formatting…

  6. Megan
    January 23rd, 2014 at 20:40 | #6

    @Tim Macknay

    You are being slippery in attributing to me the “view that the current ALP/Greens originated policy is not worth preserving”.

    You describe it as: “…a reasonably good climate change policy framework in place, which has the potential to being driving down emissions (and on the evidence, is already doing so to some degree)and can be ramped up as circumstances permit/require.”

    My view is that the policy is a bit like deciding to drive a motorbike into a wall at 95kph when the other mob want to keep doing 100kph. “Reasonably good” isn’t anywhere near good enough, is the point.

    My analogy to GST was simply to make the point that some BIG changes have been implemented over the years and despite all the howls they proved relatively difficult to undo rapidly later (other examples might include metric system, medicare, suffrage, dropping the draft).

  7. January 23rd, 2014 at 22:41 | #7

    Basically, when looking at PUP policy, just look at how it would benefit Clive. More refugees = cheap labour. Sugar to ethanol = pork barrelling my mates.

    To me the ALP might sometimes be wrong or ineffective, but they aren’t a party with a leader who looks at the world and thinks how he can change things to enrich himself more.

  8. Megan
    January 23rd, 2014 at 23:41 | #8

    @John Brookes

    We’re in agreement on this:

    the ALP might sometimes be wrong or ineffective, but they aren’t a party with a leader who looks at the world and thinks how he can change things to enrich himself more.

    Exactly! “Change” is the farthest thing from his mind (and all ALP leaders for that matter).

    BAU is their mantra.

  9. J-D
    January 24th, 2014 at 10:25 | #9

    @Vegetarian
    I too am curious to know which are the ones (on the Coalition frontbench) that Professor Quiggin perceives (or perceived) as ‘reasonably personable types’. I have never paid enough attention to them to form individual views about them (well, maybe two or three).

  10. Tim Macknay
    January 24th, 2014 at 19:48 | #10

    @Megan

    You’re being slippery

    No, I don’t accept that. I stated what appears to me to be the straightforward implication of your comments. You haven’t been particularly clear as to precisely what you do think would be an adequate global warming policy, so if I got it wrong, it’s not altogether surprising.

  11. January 24th, 2014 at 23:00 | #11

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  13. Collin Street
    January 24th, 2014 at 23:37 | #13

    Basically, when looking at PUP policy, just look at how it would benefit Clive.

    See, PUP policy is guaranteed to make at least one person better off, whereas the coalition can’t even manage that. Clive’s the clear winner in strict utility terms.

  14. Megan
    January 25th, 2014 at 00:30 | #14

    Maybe I’m just strange, but I find it funny that I regularly get threatened with bans for responding to defamatory attacks or misrepresentation of things I have said; I can no longer link my website to my name when posting comments – but stuff like this:

    We are Helping All Australians, with a all out Assistance in helping them in there Home Loans Canberra, Car loans, or even Wealth creation

    not only slides through the eternal moderation the years long regulars are subjected to, but manages not to be banned.

    Pays someone’s wages, I suppose – but if anyone thinks they’re going to get a single cent from a reader of this site I’ve obviously overestimated the intellectual quotient around here.

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