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Why even bother ?

November 8th, 2017

Questioned about the obvious arithmetical impossibility of his promises to increase spending, cut taxes and greatly improve the budget balance, Queensland LNP leader Tim Nicholls had two responses.

First, he claimed that he could balance the books by not renewing some unspecified programs as they aspire and by cutting government advertising expenditure. This is laughable. The savings from discretionary programs expiring in any given year are going to be tiny in relation to the billions Nicholls needs to find annually. As for government advertising, not only are the sums involved relatively modest, but this is a promise routinely made and broken by Opposition parties in just about every election. Nicholls may not like government advertising when Labor does it, but, in office, he was happy to spend $70 million on the Strong Choices asset sales campaign.

More importantly, Nicholls stated that his campaign would release costings by an unnamed accounting firm on 23 November, two days before the election and after lots of people have cast early votes. This is stunning. It’s obvious that the date has been selected to ensure that the costings can’t possibly be checked in time to confront him with the errors it will undoubtedly contain.

He might as well have promised them five minutes before the polls close on election day. Why even bother with such a charade?

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  1. gmhendo
    November 8th, 2017 at 20:19 | #1

    Wasn’t Nicholls state treasurer for Newman? And he can’t see the impossibility of his campaign?
    That amounts to contempt of the electorate. Or such born-to-rule hubris that it beggars belief. Or both.

  2. Peter Chapman
    November 8th, 2017 at 21:14 | #2

    As Christine Keeler said of John Profumo’s denials: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”

  3. Henry Haszler
    November 8th, 2017 at 21:58 | #3

    The reason for the charade is that the punters have low expectations, are well enough off [remember the Romans and circuses] so it is all too much trouble. And in many cases the punters are uneducated mugs who can be sold almost any crap.

    Just consider how many times you may have told someone you are an economist and they immediately respond with 1) Economists never agree and /or 2) I made my million by doing what you economists said not to do.

  4. David Allen
    November 9th, 2017 at 06:13 | #4

    Elections in two tribe hell. Swinging voters are like a woman flitting between two abusive boyfriends. The rusted ons just cheer that “their” side won. Too stupid to vote in their best interests.

  5. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    November 9th, 2017 at 06:49 | #5

    costings ‘examined’ by an accounting firm. I am sure i have heard that before

  6. Clive Newton
    November 9th, 2017 at 06:55 | #6

    It has become one of the scandals of our elections. The “costings” nonsense and the release date days before the actual poll and long after many people have voted pre-poll. The ECs are making pre-poll voting easier and easier to suit their needs with little or no regard for the idea that the campaign process really is part of democracy and voting should take place after the campaign. As I recall, campaign launches with key policy announcements, etc are placed late in the campaign to keep slurping up taxpayer-funded campaigning.

  7. Hal9000
    November 9th, 2017 at 07:08 | #7

    @Peter Chapman
    It was Mandy Rice-Davies about Stephen Ward.

  8. Ikonoclast
    November 9th, 2017 at 08:33 | #8

    What J.Q. is saying, in effect, is that bourgeois representative democracy has become a joke. Perhaps it was always destined to be a joke.The capitalist system has forces existing and operating within it (intrinsic to its nature) which seek to limit democracy and to pervert, bribe and suborn democracy where they cannot limit it. The problem is that our society is not nearly democratic enough. It is comprised of token elections every three or four years to install, via a two-party one-ideology system, representatives who are bought by capitalist and corporate donations to further capitalist and corporate agendas.

    There is no democracy in our economy. Business owners, boards and CEOs are autocrats within their fiefdoms. Until we develop full workplace democracy we will not be a democracy as a whole. Democracy needs to be extended into all workplaces. Not only owners but also workers and local communities need a vote in how workplaces are run and in how both rewards and negative externalities are apportioned or dealt with. The approach to a better system in this regard would be a move to worker cooperatives.

    Instead of our law enshrining non-working ownership (of productive apparatus) it should enact working ownership. This probably needs to happen in increments rather than any big bang approach. Instead of our law enshrining the corporation in its current form(s) as a “person” and operative entity, it should enact the centrality of the workers’ cooperative to our economy. Again, this would likely need to happen progressively.

    Progressively and peacefully would be the way one would like to see this happen. However, the likely response from the reactionary capitalist forces would be harsh. Perhaps we do need to push back by tiny increments over time. This seems to be the J.Q. model. However, we cannot this time stop at the welfare state with an accommodation with capitalism. We tried that once and it was rolled back as soon as capitalism reached a crisis (stagnation and stagflation in the 1970s). Neoliberalism was the reactionary response to that crisis and the capitalists have been rolling back the welfare state and the public sector ever since.

    This time around we cannot stop at “the welfare state with an accommodation with capitalism”. We need to go much further. We need to remodel the state and society into an entirely new form which essentially obsoletes capitalism. While we persist with capitalism, the illusion and caricature of democracy which is baked into the essential nature of capitalism will be all that we get. We will not be able to extend democracy as far as is required for true democracy, without moving from capitalism to socialism.

  9. Smith
    November 9th, 2017 at 11:13 | #9

    “Why even bother with such a charade?”

    Just because. In any case, these costings are nothing more than checking than the individual items add up to the stated total, not whether they are achievable.

    The release of non-costing costings has been going on for years. Didn’t the Labor Party do the same thing at last year’s Federal election? Nobody notices and nobody cares.

  10. Smith
    November 9th, 2017 at 11:15 | #10

    @Hal9000

    This is a misquote. What she said was “He would, wouldn’t he?”

  11. Hal9000
    November 9th, 2017 at 11:42 | #11

    @Smith
    Indeed she did, but the misquote does not differ in meaning from the original, unlike, say, ‘Lead on Macduff’. I must own up to a second error here, since Ms Rice-Davies was referring to denials by Lord Astor, albeit at Ward’s trial. Her other notable line was that her life’s trajectory had been a ‘slow descent into respectability’.

  12. November 9th, 2017 at 20:37 | #12

    Expire. Actually the rhyme would make a great bumper sticker for the LNP, if Aussies have such things: “Aspire to expire”.

  13. Ikonoclast
    November 10th, 2017 at 07:31 | #13

    My choice of T-shirt slogan if I could get it.

    “Extinction: The Last Stage of Capitalism”.

  14. Jim
    November 10th, 2017 at 13:03 | #14

    Let us play spot the difference…..

    Accompanying the LNP costings there will be a 2-page statement from a 2nd or 3rd tier accounting firm more familiar with personal tax returns than government accounting conventions, that will effectively confirm that the expenditure and revenue columns of the LNP’s announced policies do in fact add up. It will be silent on whether the numbers are in fact credible and assumptions realistic because that is outside their brief. But the electorate will be hoodwinked once again.

    Accompanying the ALP costings there will be a 2-page statement from a 2nd or 3rd tier accounting firm more familiar with personal tax returns than government accounting conventions, that will effectively confirm that the expenditure and revenue columns of the ALP’s announced policies do in fact add up. It will be silent on whether the numbers are in fact credible and assumptions realistic because that is outside their brief. But the electorate will be hoodwinked once again.

  15. Smith
    November 10th, 2017 at 13:36 | #15

    @Jim

    Indeed. They used to go to the major accounting firms because that gave the costings an extra veneer of credibility but not even that is needed any more. Everybody knows the exercise is a joke.

  16. may
    November 10th, 2017 at 14:15 | #16

    Ikonoclast :
    My choice of T-shirt slogan if I could get it.
    “Extinction: The Last Stage of Capitalism”.

    sheesh icono.

    any old t shirt.

    you can use a bit of cardboard for a stencil.

    or carve up a spud for a stamp.

    the kids section for paint (good bright colours).

    my unrealised (on purpose) one is

    (sandgroper alert)

    (copyright)

    while faith might move mountains.

    haulpacs definitely do

  17. Troy Prideaux
    November 10th, 2017 at 14:21 | #17

    Jim :
    Let us play spot the difference…..

    There’s a vast difference… some just need an ideoloscope to spot it 🙂

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