The Last Liberal

For once, my electoral predictions haven’t turned out too badly, so I’ll offer one more before we get back to policy: The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.

This isn’t a prediction of unending Labor rule, rather an observation that the Liberal and National parties are in such dire straits that they can’t continue as they are. They haven’t got enough support, parliamentary representation or ideas for one party, let alone two.

The obvious option is a merger, but there may be other, more radical realignments in the wings. With no incumbent governments, there’s no real obstacle to a merger, except for entrenched interests in the party machines. But, in many ways, it would be better for the conservatives to start a completely new party, leaving their toxic existing structures to collapse.

I’d welcome this. Governments need to be kept in check. That requires an effective opposition, and a serious prospect of losing office. We’re already feeling the lack of this at the state level.

Update Apparently, Peter Costello agrees.

Further update Some commenters have objected that this is too strong a call to make on the basis of one 53-47 election. But of course that’s only part of it. The picture at the State level is far worse. The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best. Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments. But if they don’t, it’s hard to see the Libs getting back in anywhere before the next NSW election due in 2011, and that depends on the most dysfunctional party organisation in the country getting its act together.

85 thoughts on “The Last Liberal

  1. That would require a whole new pholosophy, JQ, and the only strong alterantive philosphies that I can see floating around out there are even more extreme than the libnats (we can give them lower case now) were.

  2. An after thought, it is interesting that the nats have incresed their percentage within the remnant shell of the coalition. Maybe that could be the focus of a revival.

  3. I vaguely remember reading some months ago a comparison of the total number of coalition MPs in all parliaments in Australia on the day JWH became Prime Minister.

    Can someone dredge that out of their archives?

    The number has steadily dropped over the last 11-1/2 years and I guess it is now down by about 35% compared to 1996.

  4. I was going to say that the nationals are not in all that bad shape (after all they didn’t loose as many seats on percentage as the liberals), then I checked out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Party_of_Australia
    which shows that the nationals have been on a slow decline since the 90’s.
    OTOH the nationals now have more power in the coalition, so they might be able to get a better deal if the parties did merge.
    OTOH the type of policies that the Nationals might want is prolly not what the wider electorate wants, which would make a merger less likely, and a split more likely.

  5. It’s possible the Liberals will fracture between their socially conservative and socially liberal wings but it is unlikely. The single electorate voting system is the glue that holds parties together. Now if Rudd introduced a proportional representation voting system, that would destroy the Liberals. Trouble is, the Labor Party would fracture too.

    The Liberals will be back one day. The wheel always turns in politics. Who would have thought after the Latham debacle three years ago that today would bw what it is? Who would have thought it after the Beazley stupor of 2005 and 2006?

    This said, the Liberals will be out of office for a long time. The evidence from the last time they were in opposition federally and their performance in the states currently is that if there’s one thing the Liberal parrty does really, really badly, it is opposition.

  6. Every political party has its obituary written after virtually every electoral loss. Admittedly, having Brisbane lord Mayor Campbell Newman as the most powerful elected official in a major national party is pretty worrying.

    Nevertheless, I expect the Liberals to survive and probably be back in power in two or three terms.

    For the sake of speculation though, what are the likely alternatives?

    Other than the merger scenario, the other major possibility is that Labour continues its drift to the centre-right and marginalises the Liberals.

    Eventually that strategy will backfire and you’ll see the emergence of a new major left-wing party, probably based on the Greens at which point Labour will probably implode dramatically as its squeezed from both sides..

  7. I cant figure if the Greens are far left or far right; they tend to be ultra conservative.

    All the pundits are today drawing big pictures but the ALP win might all be down to Jackie Kelly, last minute polling saw massive shifts in ethnic seats after her escapade.

  8. It will be interesting to see what changes occur, as looking at who is left, it seems like they are still stuck with the people who helped make them generally dislikeable, like Kevin Andrews, Peter Costello, Tony Abbott and Philip Ruddock. I wonder how they can get rid of them. Even their less dislikeable members like Malcom Turnbull are hardly going to be a great hit with younger voters.

  9. Thoughts on ‘the loss of Mal Brough’, anyone?

    I was particularly impressed with his concession speech, and the plea from both Brough and Howard that the intervention work started in the NT continue.

  10. I’ve argued JQ’s line for some time.

    During WWII the UAP fractured and its rump lost connection with Australians’ aspirations and with the statist demands of total war.

    Menzies remade conservativism by accepting a large measure of Labor’s statism. He offered the property owning classes access to the benefits of statism while at the same time flattering their sense of independence and respectability. These were the bases of the Menzian consensus.

    Howard pulled a similar trick by identifying his “battlers” as a group who could be bribed and flattered away from their previous associations with the ALP.

    Menzies’ success was a symptom of the Bretton Woods system. He could subsidise and featherbed throughout his ascendency without immediate or short-term consequences. Therefore, tariffs could go up, interest rates could be pegged, business could live with a central wage-fixing regime and so could Menzies.

    In relative terms, post-Bretton Woods, the scope for successful bribery and featherbedding is much more limited. Howard took the Menzian road to the absolute limit. At the end of the road he found to be nigh absolute the contradictions between wage restraint, materialism, outsourced financial management and rising expectations.

    There is now little scope for a conservative party that bases its appeal to the voters on the Menzian consensus.

    Yet there will be nostaligics who will continue to seek to do just that. The will find themselves locked in mortal combat with the IPA-style libertarians for control of the Liberal Party.

    Neither side will be happy with this open breach. It is possible that one side or the other will move off to form a new party.

    This will be final comfirmation of the end of the Menzian consensus whose limits were discovered, to his enormous cost, by Howard.

  11. I tend to agree. Comparisons with previous occasions when one party or the other has been written off are not valid. The latest development is unprecedented because the Liberals have no forum anywhere to maintain the illusion of relevance.

    Oppositions in the past have always been able to gain some traction through their influence in the Senate and/or in state governments. Come next July, all these avenues will be denied to the Libs. Their situation federally will be like that of the Queensland Libs … they’ll get as much exposure as the media feels like giving them. Given the hyena-like preferences of the media, that attention is likely to be for all the wrong reasons over the next few years.

    I anticipate that the Libs will resort to ever more desperate gimmicks and tricks to try to get a bit of public attention … hopefully not to the extent of Peter Costello going around in speedos á lá Peter Debnam. Their main problem will be that the other serious opposition to Labor will be the Greens, with whom any kind of alliance is unthinkable.

    Rather than a new, effective opposition emerging any time soon, I think it’s more likely that Labor itself will begin to splinter. The supporters who have been clinging to the hope that Rudd-in-office will be a very different animal to Rudd-in-opposition may well become quite feral once they realise they’ve been dudded.

    A messier political scene in which people were more inclined to look at issues on their merits amidst a diversity of party opinions would be a welcome improvement compared to the GO MY TEAM footie game approach to politics that we have descended into over the last 20 years.

  12. mmm.. what most are not considering is that the Nats have always had much greater power than their numbers, this being true historically as well as in different levels of gov.

    As for the political reality in the medium to very short term, not much will change. In NSW the greenies have lost Kerry Nettle, which is a huge blow to their local capabilities, while the ACT “failed” to deliver the supposed early green senator. That kind of publicity was their huge hope, now totally gone.

    Even if (and these are huge “ifs”) the greenies manage to get something out of SA after Mister X, plus one senator between Vic or Qld, all this only strengthens FF and Mister X.

    Rudd, can easily pick and choose, between that weird mix and even count on a few deals with the Nats to get most things thru the senate. While the ALP will still blame all those above (and the Libs) for the few token things blocked by the new senate.

    The coalition as it existed is now totally gone. The good professor is almost right but the libs may just survive as a small “l” party if Turnbull and a few other can manage to reign in the nutcases: Downer, Abbott, et al.

    Otherwise the good professor might be spot on! 😉

  13. That is a very strong claim that the Liberal party will never again win the Federal election. I think it is more likely than not that the Liberals win win a Federal election some time in the future. The dominance of the Liberal party in NSW by wingnuts could seriously damage the party however.

    It seems likely that the Coalition will be able to block legislation in the senate. Unless the greens pick up the last senate spot in NSW, Vic or the ACT, the senate will probably be 37 libnats, 1 family first, 32 labour, 5 greens, and 1 Nick Xenophon.

    So there are chances of a double dissolution or of Barnaby Joyce voting with Labor in order for them to pass legislation. Neither of these possibilities look good for the libnats.

  14. In the short term, it may well be that Rudd and the Labor Right will be quite pleased about not having control of the Senate. That gives them an excuse to do nothing serious about Workchoices except some cosmetic “fairness” modifications which could be negotiated.

    More strategically, I would guess that Labor will move to the right in office, in order to head off an Opposition lurch to the right as predicted by BilB. We’ll be seeing a lot more libertarian and religious politicking as the Liberals/Nationals try to mount a resurgence based on redneck issues like class hatred, racism and sex (sex meaning things like gay marriage, abortion and foetal stem cell research – don’t forget sex sells). We’re going to get a Republican party, in other words.

    Meanwhile the economy will get more and more dependent on iron and coal as rural exports are decimated by global-warming-caused droughts and manufacturing continues to decline. The Nationals’ constituency will fade away, and the Liberals will become more and more the representatives of foreign-owned mining companies, a role they already have largely taken over. Labor will find itself with no option but to compete with the Liberals for miners’ support, and the miners will be able to play one off against the other to get whatever they want. Labor might be tempted to offer them Special Economic Zones which would amount to a dispensation from industrial relations, tax, OSH, Heritage and planning laws and regulations, but over time such zones would swallow up the whole country, so it would be a superficially attractive but ultimately disastrous option – and therefore almost certain to be adopted!

    What Kevin ’07 ought to do, of course, is get hold of an old copy of “Australia Reconstructed” and the more recent NIEIR report
    “The State of Australian Manufacturing” (.pdf). What are the chances?

  15. It’s interesting that the Nats have been quite decimated. They’ve lost a minimum of 20% of their seats, if you include Windsor and Katter in their previous total, a quarter if you don’t. They only get 5% of the vote anyway and survive on a gerrymander that is increasingly eroded as the country becomes more urbanised. Even if they do have an increased proportion of coalition seats, I don’t see how this can possibly give them more influence.

    The Greens have really consolidated their position as the third largest party vote-wise and Labor got in on their preferences, so that will make for some interesting politics down the track. Interesting that twice now they have almost pushed the Libs into third place in Melbourne.

    The usual pattern is for opposition parties to tear themselves apart and go through a string of leaders before they manage a comeback. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull will end up as their David Cameron?

  16. “The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election.”

    Hah! Like the coalition parties, the Labor party is made of a mixture well-meaning pragmatists, idealists and self-serving opportunists. Like the members of the coalition parties, they will eventually be seduced and corrupted by power and will be condemned for hubris.

    Don’t believe me? It already happened in the campaign. As a personal favour and to demonstrate his power, a Labor Party apparatchik helicoptered an airhead candidate into Boothby. As a result, the ALP went backwards versus a state average swing to Labor of 7.2%.

  17. Well this is not a new situation as one pundit called it. Apparently the Coalition has enjoyed wall to wall status for 9 months in the past and look at them now. As John points out it’s a question of how far back now and how soon. We could roughly divide the answers in two, the broader overarching issues and the specific policy issues. With regards the former, the Coalition, despite some loss of key talent, still has a formidable experience at govt and knows the ins and outs first hand, whereas Labor has almost none on its team now. This will be a steep learn curve for them with the inevitable mistakes and an opposition ready to pounce. The latter will be aided and abetted in that by a generally increasing attack dog media, who will no doubt assume an elevated role in keeping the bastards honest. Tall poppy syndrome alive and well in Oz no doubt. As a consequence of being under seige generally, the Coalition won’t have much time for witch hunts and navel gazing either and I expect a quick circling of the wagons mentality. OTOH Labor faces the double edged sword of nowhere to hide from policy shortcomings and problems, both nationally and statewise, now their spoiler bogeyman has gone. Bogeymen do have their uses from time to time. That’s where I anticipate a very short honeymoon period for Rudd Labor, just as I would if the boot were on the other foot. It will quickly degenerate into- Gotta problem? Blame Labor! Then there’s always the risk of hubris for the winners.

    Then we turn to the specific policy differences. Perhaps the result was really all about interest rates, but conventional wisdom says it’s draconian Workchoices and Howard dragging his feet on GW. Well Workchoices is easily fixed, if not before the Senate majority goes then right after, although you’d expect the Coalition to broadly accept the mandate early on. Whether more labour protection can work in a globalised economy will obviously be sorely tested in any recession. Otherwise the boot’s on the employees foot, supply wise. The biggy is of course GW and Kyoto with rising expectations already surfacing here-
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22817609-1702,00.html
    That’s the big problem for Labor in delivering, given the results to date and also the backflip on China/India coming on board. A promise of 20% reductions by 2020 is easily reducible to 4.6% over their first term and the standard by which they’ll be aptly measured and it makes no allowance for immigration and natural population increase. If mortage interest rates, housing affordability, food prices, etc were the big sleepers in this campaign, then higher priced carbon by whatever policy route, may mean interesting times for that 4.6% reduction promise to fully play out. If that’s a big mouthful, fixing health and hospitals cooperatively is just as big, but Rudd will wisely leave hospitals takeover for the next election campaign. With meetoo fiscal conservatism and general economic policy, that leaves the good war/bad war schizophrenia as a major headache, given their respective states of play and casualty rates. As if that’s not enough there’s always the old perennial problem
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22818224-29277,00.html
    A short honeymoon and getting shorter I suspect.

  18. Clearly the political centre is shifting left. If Rudd turns out to be not radical enough for some then (as in Britain) Labor could become the de jure small-c conservatives. I guess the Greens will be then become the cutting edge party. This shift could be what made the Democrats drop off the edge.

    It won’t take much for radicalisation to happen; interest rate rises, $150 oil, spiralling food prices, a US led recession. By 2010 a sizeable group could be yearning for a Lib comeback and a similar group calling for someone more radical than Rudd.

  19. … the Coalition as we know it is dead, Peter Costello just voted by giving up; my guess is after watching Rudd’s victory speech, he saw the natural leader of the Liberal party, of social democrat conservatives and was dismayed.
    With the election of Rudd the transformation of the ALP is complete, and Australian politics can move past the early Cretaceous period at last. A trivial thing which was begun before Keating; before Hawke; before Wran, or even Gough, a thing which began in 1942 with Menzie’s forgotten people is finally over; The Little Enders have won the Battle for the Middle ground and the distraction of economic policy debate can finally be put back where it belongs, there on the shelf just above sports tribalism and below religion.
    The transient riches of the greatest economic boom in history have obliterated whatever was left of Socialist philosophy long after it’s stinking carcass was cast aside by the worst monsters in human history. While they once have laid claims to the lofty ideals of Socialism or Communism; Stalin; Mao; Pol Pot; Kim Il Sung and Ne Win, all gained power the same as Hitler; appealing to the disenfranchised, the unemployed and the ignorant, stirring prejudice and hatred over trifles then cementing their power through secrecy, fear and brutality.
    Free Trade has long since won over Protectionism and Territorial conquest, with the free traders leaving everyone in their wake. The argument of which economic system works best is over, the argument on how to stop this destroying our world has begun.
    Politics can and must move to the new era, where philosophy and conscious take a place; where the health of the earth is no longer taken for granted. So here at the beginning of the 22nd Century, at the beginning of the “War for the World” may Australia lead the way, with the first battle – the Battle for the Environment.

  20. Howard lost Bennelong because he took immigrants(Asian) for granted and they delivered a death blow to him.

    Australia has long way to go before becoming an equal society. Many writer’s(including academic) in this blog seem to think that Rudd would be much different than Howard and he would be more inclusive.

    But I think he alone will not be able to do much. Significant amount of discrimination still exist in various Australian institutions.

    For example, while I was browsing though University of Queensland’s economics department(which employs John), I came accross the publication of two researcher’s. One was Dr. Mehta(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pme192.html) and the other was Dr. John Foster(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pfo33.html). While the later is Professor, the former is still an Associate Professor. Even Australia’s so called “top intellectual institutions” are not free from discrimination.

  21. Indigenous leaders welcome Howard defeat
    November 25, 2007 – 1:49PM

    Some indigenous leaders have welcomed the end of the Howard government and expressed relief that Mal Brough has been forced out of parliament.

    Mr Brough – the outgoing minister for indigenous affairs – lost his Queensland seat of Longman to Labor candidate Jon Sullivan after suffering a swing of more than 10 per cent.

    With the likely exception of outgoing prime minister John Howard himself, Mr Brough was the most high-profile coalition MP to be unseated.

    Mr Brough, the architect of the government’s dramatic and controversial intervention into Northern Territory indigenous communities, was a divisive figure.

    His approach was supported by such high-profile Aboriginal leaders as Noel Pearson and Galarrwuy Yunupingu, but others deemed it racist, draconian and unworkable.

    Mr Brough has called on Labor to continue the NT intervention, to which it gave bipartisan support earlier this year, but it will almost certainly be watered-down.

    Indigenous affairs more generally also will undergo change.

    etc
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Indigenous-leaders-welcome-Howard-defeat/2007/11/25/1195947543958.html

  22. I see the conservatives on this blog are doing their best to rain on Rudd’s victory parade, with their talk of a very short honeymoon indeed.

    In similar spirit, can I mention that those pushing Joe Hockey’s claims for a leading role in the ‘Liberal renewal’ should be aware of a neat contradiction between his recent promise to resign from the Ministry if Workchoices was ever diluted, and his attempts to distance himself from Workchoices last night while commentating on Prime – firstly acknowledging that Workchoices had done the Government electoral damage, and then saying that Workchoices was a policy that he inherited from Cabinet (ie Howard), to which he did not belong at the time….

  23. “A messier political scene in which people were more inclined to look at issues on their merits amidst a diversity of party opinions would be a welcome improvement compared to the GO MY TEAM footie game approach to politics that we have descended into over the last 20 years.”

    Voting the 2 houses in reverse would clearly achieve that Ken. I note that the Greens received 7.6% of the overall vote in the Reps and that would entitle them to around 11 seats in a proportional 150 seat house. Now I’m no Greens policy fan, but the fact they end up with no seats in the Reps is a democratic disgrace, when you compare the Nats vote of 5.5% nationally and their members.

  24. ‘A visibly upset Ms Chijoff did say she would be discussing the controversy with her husband today.

    He was among several Liberal members caught distributing pamphlets from a fake Islamic group, which thanked the ALP for backing the Bali bombers.

    The husband of the retiring Liberal MP Jackie Kelly was also seen distributing the flyer just days before the election.’
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/25/2100398.htm?section=australia

    i’d like to be a fly on that wall!

  25. Anna K: “I was particularly impressed with his concession speech, and the plea from both Brough and Howard that the intervention work started in the NT continue.”

    The intervention is a nice idea which everyone supports in principle.

    It has two principal problems:

    1. The resources provided are grossly inadequate for the purported objective.

    2. Some of the provisions, such as the removal of some of the powers of community councils, are ill-conceived and likely to make the situation worse rather than better.

    I would like Rudd to acknowledge Brough’s good intent and to see him pick up Howard’s proposal for a new Constitutional preamble.

    I’d also like more resources put into policing and health services in Aboriginal communities.

  26. brian, and observa: what’s going on here is, you live in a parliamentary monarchy. this has many consequences, perhaps the worst of which is, you are continually referring to the splendor of the emperor’s latest ensemble.

  27. Brian: the Nationals got only around 5.5% of the vote versus around 7.5% or so fro the Greens.

    But the National vote was concentrated in the small number of seats they actually contested and in those seats was sufficient for them to win a good number of those seats.

    The Greens ran in every seat, mostly because they know that doing so helps to increase their Senate vote.

    The Greens will pick up 5 Senate seats.

    Contrary to what Al says this has nothing to do with us beign a constitutonal monarchy.

  28. I preface this by saying I’m not an Economist so maybe I’m being mislead, however …

    A few weeks back I finished reading Naomi Klein’s new book, “The Shock Doctrine”. For those unfamiliar with her writing, she wrote the book “No Logo” which described why the whole anti-globalisation movement occurred. No Logo was a book that was published before the Seattle riots occurred in 1999, so when leaders started asking why, she already had the explanation at hand. The Shock Doctrine analises the role of Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics Experiments in wreaking havoc around the world over the last 30+ years. From South America, to Russia, to Asia, to Iraq, she documents their involvement in bringing about the economic collapse of all these places when the Washington Consensus was implemented. And their inability to connect the relationship between their economic policies and the human rights abuses that occurred on their watch.

    She then goes onto look at the emerging backlash. Most notably in South America where a counter to Chicago School Boys is forming.

    I don’t have sufficient economic skills to be able to critique her hypothesis, but in reading the book I found her arguments (backed up by a very impressive bibliography!) very convincing.

    Having read this during the election campaign I found myself looking at the various policy announcements, etc. through the prism of Friedmanite policies being on their way out and (putting it simplistically) a more Keynesian approach being again in ascendance.

    This would validate the comments made above at 21 and suggests that 22’s comment that “Free Trade has won” maybe premature.

    Workchoices can be easily explained by again the failure to connect the economy with human rights.

    I would encourage others to grab a copy to read.

  29. A shirt addendum to my last comment: New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy like Australia but under the New Zealand voting system (mixed multi-member proportional?), they would have won around 8% of the seats in Parliament.

  30. Ian,

    How is more policing going to help, apart from sticking more people in jail? Surely the money would be better spent on education, employment and health, rather than draconian solutions bound to fail and cause more problems than they are supposed to fix.

  31. JQ, you could be right, but not for reasons internal to the Liberal Party.

    As long as the ALP are guaranteed access to Green preferences, they have no reason to move to the left on any policy, and every reason to move to the right whenever they can poach votes from the Liberals. So if the current situation continues, the right factions of the ALP will continue to court big business and other elements of the Liberal base, as they have done in every state under Labor power, and the Liberals will have nowhere left to go other than to argue they would manage things better than Labor, which isn’t a particularly strong selling point.

  32. The exact same thing was being said about Labor about two years ago. They’ll be back

    Let’s hope they bring a few decent human beings next time around.

  33. Very perceptive Anon.The liberals almost need a similar right wing party to get preferences from. Very unlikely.
    We do have a democracy but it has some serios flaws.

  34. It is hard to imagine anyone under 25 voting for the liberals.Scare tactics regarding unions, inflation or interest rates would have sailed right over their heads. And they were being asked to vote for someone who looked like their grandpa.

  35. Al Loomis, living in a parliamentary monarchy has nothing to do with it. New Zealanders live in parliamentary monarchy, and at the last election, the Greens polled a paltry five percent and picked up six seats in the hundred-and-twenty seat parliament.

    What does it is the fact that firstly we need more representatives and secondly the fact that our House of Representatives is unrepresentative swill. The Greens would also benefit from the necessary increase in the size of the Senate.

    (An additional two senators per state (i.e. 88 senators, 170 MPs) would give us about 80 000 people per MP and get rid of these silly unhelpful 3/3 splits in the Senate; an additional four senators per state (i.e. ~100 Senators, 197 MPs) would give us about 70 000 people per MP and get rid of the relative over-representative of both Tasmania and the Northern Territory, but we’d have unhelpful 4/4 splits instead.)

  36. I don’t think Turnbull will allow the Libs to sink so thoroughly.

    Wonder if he’ll now push Rudd hard on climate change response?

  37. There will be recriminations in the State branches of the Liberal party who for years have had their collective heads pulled in by John Howard’s Federal machine. Now that there is no Federal machine watch out for the fireworks. This as well as a lack of largesse which accompanies incumbency means that someone is going to have to do some extremely hard yards – too hard for Peter Costello who has jumped ship presumably to resume his war on Trade unions aka Dollar Sweets in the 1980’s.

    The Libral’s folly was to believe that their excrement didn’t stink. They became hostage to right wing groups such as the IPA, the Sydney Institute and the HR Nicholls society and whilst the Liberals lurched to the ultra right the ALP captured the right or what will now be called the centre vote with the left and centre vote sadly being insignificant. Labor has become a conservative party whilst the Liberals had become an ultra right party and the punters punished them for doing so. This was not a win for the true believers of the ALP who will in the coming months find out that the ALP stands for Another Liberal Party and Rudd will go down in history as the Leader labor had to have to despatch Howard to the political boundary.

  38. The Liberals may get back if they realise that one of the reasons they lost was their inclination to believe that they always know best and that other people owe them a living.

    The other basic character flaw is that they expect others to be abject whilst they kick heads.

    The reason that there weren’t baseball bats in waiting for them was because there were millions of pencils. In trying to destroy the unions ie the financial base of the Labor Party they made fundamental mistakes about how it would be received and how the unions and Labor would react.

    What they ensured was that workers focussed on getting rid of them for two years – they had numbers and provided financial resources as well. If instead of making everyone in unions and the workforce an enemy they had recognised the electoral force it may have been different. Unfortunately the Liberals lack intellectual power as seen by the fact that despite the evidence global warming is still being denied by many.

    If the Liberals are to resurface as a force they have to admit to their unlovely natures and work to improve that as well as starting to make policy based on evidence rather than belief. This is a big ask and may mean that the Liberals may indeed find it difficult to be reborn in a human form.

  39. Conrad: “How is more policing going to help, apart from sticking more people in jail? Surely the money would be better spent on education, employment and health, rather than draconian solutions bound to fail and cause more problems than they are supposed to fix.”

    Per head of population, most Aboriginal communities have fewer police than the average Australian township. At the same time, they have much higher rates of serious criminal offences.

    Rape, assault and murder are no less odious because the perpetrator is Aboriginal.

    Yes we need to address the root causes – but the violence is itself one of the root causes.

    Kids who’re physically and sexually abused and neglected and whose teenage mother is herself being physically and sexually abused are unlikely to grow up to be model citizens.

    At the same time, the methods of policing, especially here in Queensland need to change radically. Increasing police resources may actually be one way to bring about such change by getting rid of the siege mentality many police officers in such communities have.

    You can’t exactly engage in community outreach when you’ve got four officers for a community of a couple of thousand people and at any given time one of those officers is off testifying in a criminal prosecution.

  40. ian, chrisl, and all the rest of you:

    why do you not refer to oz as a monarchy? have you never read the constitution?

    if you lived in a democracy, you would be voting for policies presented as referenda, not for parties.

    democracy means rule ‘by the people’, a fact scandalously ignored by media, academe, and hobby chatterati. oz is so far from democracy the electorate commonly don’t know what policy is, much less participate in forming it.

    i have no quarrel with rule by a self selected elite, but there are labels for such societies, ‘westminster society’ if you feel approval, oligarchy if you don’t. there are others, but democracy is not one.

    i strongly feel that democracy is the best structure for human society. this view is so widely shared that not only do westminster societies use it, so too does north korea. both are stealing what they have not earned. this theft is partly impelled by shame, but a more sinister component is diseducation, a conscious attempt to disarm the public by the techniques made famous in ‘1984’.

  41. Actually, Al, we know Australia is a monarchy, that’s why I for one used the term monarchy to describe Australia.

    “if you lived in a democracy, you would be voting for policies presented as referenda, not for parties.”

    This definition excludes every single current nation and about 99% of all political entities that have ever described themselves as democracies.

    What you are describing would more accurately be referred to as an isocracy.

    Your views on how we’re all mindless brainwashed sheep have been noted – it would be difficult to avoid doing so since you voice them at every opportunity.

    In this particular iteration though you added a specific claim – that the fact that Australia was a monarchy was responsible for the Greens not winning any lower house seats. This is a testable hypothesis.

    I and others tested it by pointing to examples of monarchies which have voting systems which would have resulted in the Greens winning lower house seats.

    If you like I can also provide examples of monarchies with direct election of public officials and with citizen-initiated referenda.

    Now as it happens I’m a Republican and I agree with you that the monarchical structure in Australia permits the executive to wield undue power.

    But that doesn’t mean your specific claims about the Greens are simply factually wrong.

  42. Peter @ 23,

    You say “For example, while I was browsing through University of Queensland’s economics department(which employs John), I came across the publication of two researcher’s. One was Dr. Mehta(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pme192.html) and the other was Dr. John Foster(http://ideas.repec.org/e/pfo33.html). While the later is Professor, the former is still an Associate Professor. Even Australia’s so called “top intellectual institutionsâ€? are not free from discrimination”.

    I find this claim a bit confusing. Are you suggesting that the reason that Foster is referred to as a Professor and Mehta is not (i.e. Associate Prof) results from discrimination?? This is a very serious accusation. I am really not sure how you’ve come to this conclusion without knowing both people, reviewing their publication history, teaching work etc etc. I can only assume that you don’t understand the academic system.

    Just so you know, these titles describe the positions held by Foster and Mehta (e.g. CEO vs. CFO). Just because one person occupies a more senior position than another, who happens to have a non-anglo name, does not mean this is because of discrimination. “Professor” is the highest academic position at a university, one does not earn it by publishing one article, but through many years of hard work (take a look at Prof. Q’s CV!). I am not familiar with Mehta’s work, but I am with Foster’s and it is world class. This is why he is a Professor. Not because UQ has descriminated in his favour.

    Hope this clears it up for you.

  43. #23 I wouldn’t want to claim any institution as perfect, but you might at least have noted that the current list of full professors at UQ Economics includes Jie Zhang, Prasada Rao, Rabee Tourky and Flavio Menezes, none of whom could be described as Anglo.

  44. Getting back to the head thread, JQ, I tend to think that the Liberal Party is likely to split, in a history-repeats-itself-as-a-farce replay of the 50s ALP-DLP schism, with centre left “liberal” Liberals, probably led by Mal Turnbull, who has strong wet and republican credentials, to join with Petro Georgiou and others in Victoria; and the far right elements, currently vying for control of the NSW Liberal Party.

    Howard and Costello were the unifying force between those two disparate elements, funnily enough. The Libs lurched to the right after the first battle the casualty of which was Ian McPhee, the seocnd was the buying of the Hansonite franchise. It worked pretty well, until the spectacular betrayal of Howard’s battlers with WorkChoices, thus breaking the franchise contract.

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