Time for the B team

I spoke yesterday at a Forum on the Bligh government’s privatisation program. I got a presentation ready (it’s over the fold) but spoke off the cuff instead.

As well as my oft-stated critique of the government’s case for privatisation, I took a look at the broader budget problems facing Queensland. Although the government has overstated these problems to promote the privatisation push, they are real enough.

The fundamental problem is that the government is committed both to high quality service and to keeping Queensland a low tax state. According to standard measures, Queensland’s tax effort is about 85 per cent of the Australian average, which amounts to a shortfall of around $1.5 billion, or pretty much the gap the government is trying to fill. In addition, Queensland provides more business subsidies and incentives than any other state, most notably the indefensible Investment Incentives Scheme. To the extent that these incentives actually attract new business to the state they increase the demands on infrastructure and thereby create even more problems. Mostly, though, they are just a waste of money.

The government has committed itself clearly and publicly to providing Queenslanders with services that are as good as those in other states. That can’t be done while also holding down tax revenue.

Looking at the political situation regarding the asset sales, it seems to me unlikely that they can be stopped while Bligh and Fraser are in charge, and unlikely that Labor will change leaders unless electoral defeat appears inevitable. I’ve therefore concluded that, in the absence of such a change, I’ll be giving the Greens my first preference and the LNP my second.

In a democracy, it’s important that parties should alternate in office to some extent, and it follows that it can’t be reasonable always to prefer one major party to the other. As a general rule this hasn’t had any practical implications for my vote – for most of my life, long-running Labor governments were a rarity. But Queensland Labor has been in for 20 years, with only a brief interruption under Borbidge, and it shows. It looks like it’s time to give the other side a go, unimpressive as they are.

Update More from Mark Bahnisch at LP

AssetSales1004 (PDF)

81 thoughts on “Time for the B team

  1. PQ, I normally agree with your posts and your analysis is usually first rate.

    Can’t agree this time – in a democracy just giving the vote to opposition parties, independent of the quality of their leaders or their policies (but just because the incumbents have been in power for some pre-defined time) does not enhance good government.

    It would imply that voting signals should reward those who “wait for their time”, rather than do the necessary grind required to develop attractive alternative policies. This is bad for good government – oppositions should ideally be a source of alternative analysis and solutions to pressing problems.

    Instead we have seen what the waiting game produces in NSW – the LNP is likely to be elected next time not because they have policies that will enhance the life of NSW residents, but just because they have waited long enough.

  2. Well I agree with John because having to overcome the ‘been in too long’ syndrome should make a government strive even harder, if they’re up to the job. I believe in a good ‘refresh’ once in a while because in my 35years as a voter I have seen a lot of new ideas and information presented and tested after a change of government.

    Mostly though I am pretty damned pleased to hear that John is going to vote Greens, even if we might lose him again down the track.

  3. Wait a tic… didn’t Queensland just have a state election in late 2009? As a result there won’t be any election until 2012? How long does it take to privatise things?

  4. The tragedy of Australian politics is that each of the major parties is functionally the same if not professedly the same. Once in government they function in pretty much the same way and with markedly similar policies. We can change governments but we cannot change policies. Why is this? A key factor is the extent to which governments have relinquished responsibilty for governing by giving excess defacto powers to “the market” to run things. Because of the structure of the modern market this means giving effective power to the large capitalist corporations to run our society.

    So called conscience issues like abortion or expression of sexual orientation are given a non-party-lines determined vote but issues of the economic superstructure which impinge on people just as powerfully are left to the market (i.e. the corporations) to determine. Until this political power to determine economic superstructure is taken back from the corporations and exercised by democratically elected governments we will continue to get policies of which this economically and socially irrational sell-off dogma is an example.

  5. Pr Q said:

    In a democracy, it’s important that parties should alternate in office to some extent, and it follows that it can’t be reasonable always to prefer one major party to the other. As a general rule this hasn’t had any practical implications for my vote – for most of my life, long-running Labor governments were a rarity. But Queensland Labor has been in for 20 years, with only a brief interruption under Borbidge, and it shows. It looks like it’s time to give the other side a go, unimpressive as they are.

    I agree. Following Schumpeter’s model, duopolistic electoral democracies should alternate governments every three terms or so. Unfortunately demographics are running strongly against the L/NP in general. And state governments have an ALP welfare statist bias in particular.

    This is encouraging the emergence of the ALP as the natural party of government at state levels. With the possible emergence of one-party state political machines, ala NSW.

    (With occasional L/NP goes at federal level when alien threats are perceived – internal cultural identity or external national security. The L/NP have now quite unfairly lost their lead as the party best suited to managing economic prosperity. No one to blame but themselves for this.)

    The demographics are not auspicious for the L/NP. The anti-L/NP NESB’s, single mothers, and aging “baby boomers” now are a larger and growing fraction of the electorate. That is compared to the pro-L/NP ESB’s, wive-less farmers and dying “geezer gloomers”*. This is entrenching ALP political dominance at federal level, at least until dog whistles are blown.

    And the state level of government also got a chronic pro-ALP bias as this tier acts as Santa Claus welfare state to a huge number of dependents and clients who will vote for the party that tends to hand out these goodies.

    I did not believe that the “Emerging Labor Majority” was really happening until Bligh defeated the perfectly electable L/NP in 2009, a result I incorrectly predicted. Now I routinely pick ALP governments, unless something absolutely horrendous occurs, such as NSW.

    The endless series of ALP governments continues with the elevation of the ALP to government status in TAS. It seems only WA is the outlier in this trend. The mining boom is making them a bit Right-wing, for some reason. I fully expect the ALP to be returned in VIC, perhaps slightly reduced majority.

    Perhaps voters will get sick of ALP dominance at federal and state level. But the continued degeneration in L/NP political talent does not offer much hope.

    So long as the ALP skillfully manages to dole out the surplus from the mining and realty booms it can probably keep running things until the PRC hits a speed bump.

    * Menzies generation that survived the Depression, fought the war and built the post-war nation.

  6. QLD Labor is too dazzled by dollars to strive for “the light on the hill”.

    They seem to be to be infatuated by their role as players, spruiking billion dollar privatisations, public works no matter how overpriced or wasteful, and cosying up to billion dollar sellouts even if the deal doesn’t exist (cf China First).

  7. John, would you also argue, in Game Theory terms, that bad Labor governments tend to play Chicken with people and constituencies who are usually their supporters, and that it then could become a rational option for those people and constituencies to respond by playing Superchicken?

  8. Like you, my vote, had I used it, would have made zero difference to anything. I’ve always lived in seats that were on such generous margins that it simply could not have made a difference. I live in Epping, Sydney. At state level, only an absolute disaster for the coalition could make this seat marginal. At Federal level, this was within John Howard’s seat and did become marginal by 2007 due to boundary changes, and Howard lost.

    That said, there’s simply no way I could cast a vote for the LNP. Like BOCONNOR, you can’t vote for change without having a clear idea of the kind of change you’d like and some confidence that the people who will get your support might be willing to try it. All a Greens 1 LNP 2 vote would mean was a vote for fetishising delivery of public goods by ostensibly private operators, outsourcing public sector work, tearing up the working conditions of people in the public sector, and giving extractive industry a free pass on acting as it pleased. It would be a vote for Barnaby Joyce’s vision of the role of the state, and for xenophobia in S E Queensland. That would be how people would explain leaking green preferences — as a vote for population control read: opposition to immigration.

    I know that your vision of tactical voting is popular, but I just don’t see the ALP moving to a more social-democratic vision if they think they are bleeding to the parochial Howard-Joyce right.

    If you have optional preferential, just vote Greens 1. If you don’t, then number Greens 1 LNP last and have it share the same number with the ALP candidate, Put anti-immigration or Christian dems just above them and independents who are unclear between them and The Greens. That way, the vote counts as formal, but won’t pass preferences to either party or anyone likely to get elected.

    Then you can write to the ALP candidate explaining why they didn’t get your vote, as I always do.

  9. Re Paul Norton,#7, just the situation here in SA, with the recent state election.
    what is with Labor, they feel this intense compulsion to antagonise their own, particularly when the dominant faction comes from the Right.

  10. For now, it makes a lot of sense to preference Greens 1; it gives them some power and guaranteed funding/status, and obviously sends a message to the major parties.

    Eventually, the Greens will need an influx of talent/better policy to be a party that could capably govern across all areas.

  11. The threat of punishment for those in power needs to be credible otherwise it is not a threat. Even with a bad B team, there comes a time when an incumbent needs to be punished. Without punishment a deteriorating incumbent is simply destined to become worse and worse.

  12. And they wonder why people get suspicious, as to their schemes.
    Trust Anna Bligh?
    Sure, after the despicable bad faith demonstrated in the breaking of an absolutely explicit “core” promise on privatisation made immediately prior to the election in the certain knowledge that the public would reject it at the polls, having, rightly, learned to despise this and the PPP subspecies of it.
    Just like NSW, to prove it wasn’t a fluke!

  13. Fran, a vote like that would not be formal federally, or in Victoria. It used to, but this was changed in 1997.

    More substantively, John, I too am pleased to hear you’re planning to vote 1 Green this far out. I know you’ve indicated an intention to vote Green before, but I’ve usually had an impression this was a later decision and more qualified.

    The reason I think the difference is important is that one of the major things that holds the Greens back is a perception of economic illiteracy. Whether or not this is justified the perception certainly exists. I don’t think there is anyone who is better placed to spend some time assisting the Greens on drafting economic policies, including taking things to a level of detail we’ve seldom attempted on the mainland. If you were to do this, and own the contribution publicly, I think it would be very useful come the campaign.

  14. Fran is right. Why bother voting 1 Greens and 2 LNP? That’s basically the same as voting 1 LNP. I can understand being fed up, but this is the party of Joh Bjelke-Peterson we’re talking about. Major collateral damage to a lot of innocent victims. Seriously cutting off the nose to spite the face. If you can’t bear to put the LNP below Labor, then vote 1 Greens, leave the rest blank.

    Labor Right doesn’t care about losing to the Tories – and the threat won’t make them change anything – but they HATE the Greens, almost as much as they hate Labor Left. And they don’t care about being in opposition, as long as they remain the majority faction in the Party. Which, under a QLD-style two-party dictatorship means that nothing has been achieved.

    There is ONE circumstance under which I’d vote LNP – that is if they promised to bring in Tassie style mixed-member representation.

  15. Just looking at the quick summary offered by Quiggin, at least as far as headings are concerned; you really get a sense of how ideologically-driven the government’s plans are.
    Someof their parents and grandparents must be turning in their graves. For some higher up, I think,
    “The handbags and the glad rags
    your poor ol’ grandad had to sweat to pay”?

  16. Jack, I am not sure if I agree with your claim that Labor is the natural party of state government. The reason is that the Liberal Party started to become more competitive in state and territory elections almost as soon as Labor won office federally.

    Labor’s dominance at the state level during the noughties was largely a function of two things. Voters having some preference for divided government between state and federal levels, and the strong economy making life easier for incumbent Labor governments to dispel concerns about economic management. Take away those two things and the equation changes markedly.

    At this stage, Labor will most likely lose Queensland, New South Wales South Australia and Tasmania next time they go to the polls. They should hold Victoria by a reduced majority.

  17. Jack, I agree in theory with your thinking that state politics should naturally favour Labor.

    State governments have less control over the economy, are responsible for less taxation, but perform a fair amount of service delivery, welfare state functions, and employing public servants. These are all areas that should be Labor’s natural home ground advantage.

    But for some reason, I don’t think it always works out that way.

  18. I also attended that talk.

    Of course I had a lot to say and only said a fraction of what I would have liked to have said.

    I dispute the accepted wisdom that privatisation cannot be defeated.

    If the Unions claiming to be solidly opposed to privatisation called meetings of members and asked them if they wanted to take industrial action to stop privatisation, I have little doubt that members of those unions would overwhelmingly support that action.

    And there is no doubt that the broader Queensland public, overwhelmingly opposed to privatisation (at least 79% against) would support that action. An online opinion poll taken by the Courier Mail when the Redbank Railway workers struck last November showed 66% would support industrial action.

    However, as far as I am aware, none of the Unions have ever offered their members that choice. Nowhere has a ballot been held or mass meetings called of the members of these unions so that the issue of taking industrial action could be considered.

    ETU President Peter Simpson’s justification for refusing to take industrial action seemed very unconvincing.

    Essentially the reason he gave the meeting was that if they took industrial action, he thought it likely that the Bligh Government would use punitive anti-union legislation, presumably inherited from the Howard Government to impose fines of 10’s of thousands of dollars on the unions and individual members.

    If this was the case, then why weren’t the workers from Redbank fined when they struck in December?

    Surely the fact that they were not shows that taking industrial action need not automatically lead unions being fined and union officials jailed.

    How could the Bligh Government possibly expect to get away with fining workers for taking industrial action against its privatisation program opposed by 79% of the Queensland public?

    I also think that members of these unions, and members of the public who have campaigned so hard to stop privatisation these past months are entitled to an explanation from the leaders of unions such as the ETU which purported to be strongly opposed to privatisation.

    The situation they now face, in which the unions now claim the Bligh Government’s privatisation plans have become too entrenched to stand any chance of being reversed was a predictable consequence of the Unions’ refusal to take strong industrial action before this situation came about. As I wrote in a leaflet which I wrote and distributed outside the Labor Party conference on the Queen’s Birthday weekend last year:

    A prolonged campaign …

    Clearly many are looking to the unions to act decisively against the privatisation threat, yet, instead, some union officials are talking of a drawn out industrial campaign that could last up to two years.

    This is insane!

    If the union movement cannot win public support now, then when can we ever hope to win?
    If decisive action is not taken early and, instead, the industrial campaign is drawn out, this will surely only make our fight harder.

    If the privatisation legislation is carried by Parliament and the the Government has entered contracts with private companies, financial advisers, investment brokers, banks, etc, are we more or less likely to change the Government’s mind with industrial action?

    And how are we expected to maintain our drive and enthusiasm for two years?

    … or decisive action now?

    In fact, it should be possible to win the fight against privatisation without a single union member needing to down a tool for even an hour.

    The Queensland Union movement could deliver to the Government a simple ultimatum:

    Either (A) withdraw completely the privatisation legislation or (B) agree to put the privatisation legislation to the people of Queensland through a referendum, or else face an immediate sustained campaign of industrial action and public protest until the legislation is withdrawn.
    The union movement should also demand that Fraser and Bligh justify privatisation in a televised debate before the Queensland public.

    Could any Government other than, possibly, the Burmese military junta dare proceed in the face of such an ultimatum?

    So, by their own admission the unions’ adopted strategy has failed as anyone with any nous should have been able to predict at the outset.

    I think that members of these unions should be entitled to know:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case;

    2. If they truly imagined that their feeble campaign would cause Bligh and Fraser to change their minds, when did it finally dawn on them that it would not;

    3. Why, at that point did they not give their members the choice of taking stronger action that stood a greater chance of succeeding?

    It was said by others at the meeting that they would not like to be in the shoes of the supposedly anti-privatisation unions at the moment.

    I would suggest that within the ranks of their unions, and, indeed, in the broader public there are probably thousands who would gladly step into their shoes in order to be able show the leadership necessary to stop the theft of our assets and I suspect that they would be perfectly happy to defy whatever anti-union laws the current union officials claim the Bligh Government would dare use against them.

    Many who wrote letters, stating that they were not normally sympathetic to unions, but who expressed their willingness to support the unions if they took industrial action against will now perceive the unions as only self-interested.

    A chance to broaden the appeal of unionism as well as to stop privatisation will have been needlessly lost.

  19. yes Daggett. Its tied up in documents like the AUSFTA which demand certain forms, or procedures, including ideas production, that may be actually quite inimicable for the average Australian, but quite fine for Wall St.
    Globalisation corrupted.

  20. Apologies, but the pasted buffer contained an earlier version of the document.

    One mistake is that the sentence:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case;

    Should have been:

    1. What ever led them to ever hope that occasional street protests, the collecting of signatures on petitions and their various efforts to ‘convince’ a public, already solidly on their side almost as soon as the fire sale was announced on 23 May last year, of their case, would cause Bligh and Fraser to change their minds;

  21. @Stephen L

    It is still the returning officer’s primary duty “to attempt to ascertain the intention of the voter”. In the last by-election in Bradfield (Federal), I scrutineered for the Greens. There the RO declared that if the ballot were formal up to the last two places, it would be counted to that point.

    Thus, there were 24 candidates on the ballot and iof the voter had numbered 1-22 accurately but had given two candidates 23 or 24 or any other number or mark, we counted the vote to 22 and exhausted.

  22. Sorry Fran, but that’s in contradiction to the electoral act and the way the AEC normally counts the votes. It may be that the RO made an exception because of the large number of candidates in Bradfield, but it would never stand up in court, and its certainly not the way they do things normally. The only thing allowed in the House (Senate rules are more flexible) is either every number filled consecutively, or every number filled consecutively with the last box left empty.

    I wish you were right, but ask Antony Green, or contact the AEC directly if you don’t believe me.

    Of course, Qld has optional preferential, so this is all moot for the state election.

  23. I agree with JQ. I usually preference Labor, and think the Federal government is doing very well. But I reached a similar conclusion with SA Labor here in the recent election. I wouldn’t vote for Qld or NSW state Labor either. I think people need to distinguish between supporting a party/principles and supporting a collection of individuals who may or may not live up to them. If they don’t then it does not serve those principles to have them re-elected. Politicians believing that certain constituencies will always vote fot them no matter what leads to their taking those constituents for granted. Blind loyalty is how US democrats who oppose health care get elected.

    Of course there are some exceptions – I would never vote for a Tony Abbott or a George W Bush type. But if the choice really has become Tweedle-Dumb or Tweedle Dumber, then you might as well change governments every two terms. At least it reduces entrenched corruption.

  24. @Socrates

    you might as well change governments every two terms. At least it reduces entrenched corruption.

    Corruption is a transaction cost like any other. Poor policy, poor process, churning and incompetence also have transaction costs. Unless you can quantify the transaction costs of institutional corruption as higher than those in the other categories it is not sound to adjudge the matter this way. It’s simply a form of psychologically comforting and moralising fiat.

    What needs to happen is the creation of a constituency for good policy and good process. Simply rearranging the deckchairs can’t deliver progress. I can’t imagine that the unmitigated disaster that Mr O Farrell would usher in would be one jot less perniocious than staying with the present mob. All this would do is lay the foundation for a new bunch of Liberal careerists to be parked at public expense for the Federal coalition.

    If through some miracle for the ALP, O’Farrell is defeated, it will be enormously demoralising for the coalition, and probably lead to their political collapse. That in turn could usher in a new political alignment around a more priogressive consenus. So as appalling as are NSW Labor, I can’t but think that in the longer run, it would be better if they survived. Ditto in Queensland.

    If that collapse occurred and we saw the emergence of a more liberal party in its place — something more like the LDP in the UK — as the opposition to the ALP, then I’d probably take a different view about “the B Team”.

  25. I agree that part of the privatisation push is aboout keeping Queensland a low tax state (and I for one am happy to pay higher taxes for infrastructure). Yet, given the LNP’s views on climate change and a variety of social issues, or even that the LNP might not make it to the next election (can you maintain a marriage between agrarian socialists and free market liberals?), I cannot agree with giving the LNP my vote simply as a protest against privatisation. It is still about 18 months out from the next Queensland election; and a lot can happen in 18 months.

  26. Fran 28

    I must disagree with you on this one. Corruption is not just a transaction cost. This is not just an economic problem; I am an engineer but do not pretend that technology solves all problems. Likewise I wish economists would remember that not all of the worlds problems revolve around economics and resource allocation. In my view political principles that underpinn the correct fucntioning of liberal democracies are MORE important than economic principles. The latter are dependent on the former. Corrupt governments need to go – period. Re-read Edmund Burke if you disagree.

    How do bad governments ever get reformed if they keep getting reelected? Obviously NSW Labor hasn’t reformed itself. Those deckchairs keep getting rearranged. It isn’t just about good policy and good process either. Sometimes you can have wonderful policies and proceses delivering terrible outcomes under corrupt or partisan decision makers. This was as true under John Howard as it is in Queensland Health. When that happens the voters are correct to dismiss the government at the next election.

  27. @Socrates

    Corruption is not just a transaction cost.

    Of course it is. Some of the costs (eg “trust in government”) are hard to quantify and for that reason ought to be deemed to be pretty high, especially if the corruption is institutional but you must surely know that not everything that is allegedly corrupt is corrupt. The word has strong emotive power and so it is used when people mean “sub-optimal” or simply as hyperbole when what has happened is some incompetence. Oppositions play these games all the time.

    In the end what one must weigh corruption against other transaction costs. Say for example you are delivering an aid program in Africa. I have actually been part of delivering an aid program in Africa in the 1980s. Here and there to get things done, you had to pay off people. This didn’t affect the programs which were quite successful, but if we hadn’t paid them off the programs could not in practice have been delivered or we’d have had to set up an expensive parallel infrastructure to do it at much greater expense, which was not our core business. And in the end even the bulk of the corruptly acquired resources ended up going largely to people we would have helped anyway, since the corruption typically involved where we sourced supplies or whom we employed on ancillary tasks, or lending people underutilised vehicles.

    Making swingeing moral judgements is easy — but often suffers when it butts heads with the reality of delivering policy. And really, I’m not great fan of the conservative Edmund Burke, who opposed the French Revolution. Here’s a guy who twice went to parliament from rotten boroughs (including once after he had been defeated in the seat he’d held). Mind you as there was no proper suffrage, one might well wonder at the standing of any “parliamentarian” then.

    How do bad governments ever get reformed if they keep getting reelected?

    Well in Tasmania, you can actually change the personel while re-electing the government, which is a start.

    It isn’t just about good policy and good process either. Sometimes you can have wonderful policies and proceses delivering terrible outcomes under corrupt or partisan decision makers.

    In which case the processes are deeply flawed rather than adequate, obviously.

  28. I have actually come around to the view that a LNP government would be a lesser evil than the current Bligh Government.

    What has brought me to this conclusion is the knowledge that only two state Labor members of Parliament, voted even in caucus to oppose privatisation. I think they would have been fully entitled to to vote on the floor of Parliement against privatisation, but within caucus, every MP is supposedly free to speak their mind and vote accordingly. However only Jo-Ann Miller and Evan Moorhead voted against privatisation.

    That can only mean that the rest of the caucus has no backbone or they actually agree with privatisation. So, for all their faults the current LNP members are actually far better Labor representatives than the Labor members.

    To the consternation of the Courier-Mail and journalists like Paul Williams, John-Paul Langbrook and the LNP have stood solidly against privatisation all these months.

    Of course what matters is what ultimately matters is what they do when they win office, but if they were to have been thanked by the trade union movement for what they have done, rather than ignored, then the prospects of them being held to their word would be far greater.

    Indeed there seems even an outside a chance that John-Paul Langbrook may actually prove to be an honest servant of the Queensland people, rather than another glove puppet of corporations, but of course we should not be counting on it. I am concerned that an LNP Government may allow the mining of Uranium and probbaly allow the destruction of many more pristine wilderness areas, but that doesn’t altere the fact the Bligh Government, itself, has to rate as one one the world’s biggest environmental vandals with its plans to dig or pump out of the groung the absolute maximum possible quanttity of coal or coal seam gas in the shortest possible time regardless of the consequences for our farm land, natural habitat, our water tables, and global warming.

    It has been obvious for years that Trade Unions are not being represented by the Labor Party. If trade union leaders believe that workers are not entitled to parliamentary representation, they should either fight to win control of the Labor Party back from the hands of the corporate glove puppets in control, or else leave the Labor Party and attempt to build a viable alternative.

    However, they have done neither except seemingly briefly, in 2008 ETU President Peter Simpson threatened to disaffiliate his union from the Labor Party but never carried through that threat.

    So, what are we to conclude other than that the ETU leadership together with the rest of Queensland trade union movement accept that workers (and, indeed, the 79% of Queenlanders opposed to privatisation) are not entitled to representation in Parliament?

  29. @daggett

    I have actually come around to the view that a LNP government would be a lesser evil than the current Bligh Government.

    Gosh … what a surprise … well they are xenophobic and parochial so there’s a start. And what is being in the pockets of extractive industry and the rural pork barrelers when you have something like that going for you?

  30. Thanks, Fran,

    Anyway, perhaps it may have been rash on my part to suggest that the LNP would be a lesser evil. In truth this time it is just not possible to know. In the past, I have always considered that most wretched Labor Government preferable to a conservative Government, but this time I am not sure.

    The problem is the way our electoral system practically gives any Government a blank cheque to do as they please upon winning office. Almost invariably they can concoct excuses almost out of thin air to do as they wish, such as the Beazley Black Hole and the Cain-Kirner Government having left the cupboard bare, etc.

    If it were possible to extract an iron-clad promise out of John-Paul Langbrook to halt privatisation as he says he will, to not embark on Greiner-style slash-and-burn budgets and to at least be no more environmentally vandalistic that the Bligh Government, then an LNP Government would definitely be preferable.

    Anyhow, discussion over which of the two major parties is the lesser evil is a diversion.

    The Labor Party is clearly unacceptable and the LNP most likely will be also, so we need a viable alternative to both big business parties.

    If the Greens could not become that alternative in 2009 after years of misrule by both Labor and the LNP they never will.

    As some may know I stood as an Independent in 2009, One reason I stood was to offer choices that no other candidates were prepared to. Incredibly, I happened to be the only one in all of Queensland who even explicitly raised privatisation. This is in spite of the fact that I personally asked Bob Brown, Ronan Lee on 22 February and a number of times since to oppose privatisation, but they refused.

    Whether or not that was their intention, the refusal by the Greens to raise privatisation cheated all but a few Queenslanders in the electorate of Mount Coot-tha out of having any say over this issue.

    In my view, if the ETU and other anti-privatisation unions had any depth of commitment to their stances against privatisation, they would surely, by now have begun at least the commencement of the process of creating an effective electoral alternative to both Labor and Liberal.

    They would either back candidates like me, or, alternatively, stand candidates of their own that people like me would be happy to throw their weight behind.

  31. On another matter, daggett has not been able to post to Larvatus Prodeo since 28 December 2009.

    I have e-mailed Mark Bahnish and his administratore several times about.

    On Saturday at the Forum on Privatisation I approached Mark Bahnish personally to see if it was his intention to maintain the ban.

    He assured me that it was not, and that if I e-mailed his administrator it would be lifted.

    I did e-mail Mark and his administrator, but I haven’t heard since.

    However, one post on their forum about privatisation vanished without trace.

    I posted a test message just now and instead of it vanishing, I got a message telling me it was awaiting moderation.

    If my post appears eventually that would be an improvement, I guess, but hardly satisfactory.

    If anyone here happens to agree with me that the quality of disucssion on LP would not be improved by my contributions being censored, or by my contributions being subject to moderation and the entailed delay, and is able to reach Mark Bahnisch, please let him know that.

  32. Don’t worry Daggett, they did the same to me.
    They dislike Greens and any one not from the rarefied world of academia, and will go some length to prevent people they have developed a personal dislike or set against from being allowed to express a point of view, in case it conflicts with or refutes their own prejudices ( “us…biased ??).
    They even accused me of being a”pro rape advocate”, the last time I conflicted with them: No right of reply, of course.
    It’s called “fascism” where I come from, altho it would be beyond their limited self reflexivity to identify the trait within themselves-they alone are beyond reproach- with more to do with them being a mouthpiece for the Queensland ALP Right.

  33. Fran, that was an appalling remark, #33.
    You often present really interesting stuff, but that was a low kick. You know full well he’s not right wing, and in the same tone as your own posts today, despairs of ever seeing the system fixed.

  34. @paul walter

    You know full well he’s not right wing, and in the same tone as your own posts today, despairs of ever seeing the system fixed.

    Anyone who wants the system “fixed” by the LNP is clearly adopting a right wing position. In D*gget’s case, he also has a bee in his bonnet about population. Especially in the context of QLD history, what inference might one draw? He’s a 9/11 “truther”. Hmmm

  35. You also know that was an expression, a metaphor he employed to express his despair.
    if the ALP has turned so far to the right that it is indistinguishable from its Tory rivals, is he so innacurate inhis coment, either.
    Am not sure about the “truther ” bit- maybe he speculates on the events of 11/9; fair enough.
    I dare say there is a “soft” “truther” line, perhaps to do with the Bush group’s relations with Arab oil sheiks , or related to the mistakes the Americans themselves made before hand, or failed to answer fully on afterwards, as well as the “hard” right conspiracy theories.
    As for population, like me, he is likely reacting to the ridiculous Big Pop nonsense plied by neolib/labs and their developer mates through tabloid media.
    You may not be aware of this Fran, but since the Kanakas there have been major changes to Australia and the world, most of all involving a raft of environmental sustainability issues that folk apparently dont want know, about that will ruin viability for all.
    Cornucopia is long gone and what’s needed is an end to facile consumerism, involving things like 1700 dollar spiked heels, four wheel drives and inefficient Macmansions in cities unable to cope with population increase and a leadership more interested in hobnobbing with developers to sabotage real reform, that deal with the sorts of reforms that could make BigPop a finally viable idea.

  36. btw, where is Alice?
    I need to hear her comment for today, altho its likely she’s waiting ’til late, since,according to her, she’s only allowed one per day,

  37. @paul walter

    Paul … perhaps you are unaware, but the “truthers” are a very murky bunch of folks who include without apology some on the extremely bigoted far right. I won’t repeat the litany here, because if I did I’d soil this blog.

    The fear of the other in this country also has a very long history, particularly in QLD. Again, I am going to stay clear of a detailed review because we don’t want to open the door to Strocchiverse, and in that context, the politics of population has a particular resonance, especially today with the asylum seeker angst still running. The Nationals and Liberals are particularly hot to trot on this.

    So one has to ask oneself when doing politics — in whose political company does one want to be? At the level of the parliament, the LMP reports to a very different constituency than does the ALP, which is why despite the apparent proximity of their policies, there remains a significant difference in what supporting each means. Taken wioth his other concerns, their is a consistent theme, which is absent from that of this blog’s host.

    The host’s position is an oddity when compared with the rest of what he says and can be read as symptomatic of the kinds of apolitical discussions that occur within small-liberal circles. D@ggett’s context is different and less flattering.

  38. @paul walter
    Im here Paul Walter…alas the debits and credits left me working late on a taxi company with a cashflow bordering on zero (up down up down – I keep wondering if and when we will be insolvent…??) Yet the state government, in its wisdon wants to issue more taxi plates just like that….State Labor has issued more plates, with themselves as beneficial owners….sit back do nothing (build no radio room, pay for no radio room and no staff – not cheap) and lazily collect lease fees from brand new taxi plates.

    Lets watch the NSW govt stuff the taxi industry…you heard it here first (because they want money for doing nothing). They would have been better off not privatising State lotteries but what can I say? Im just a humble taxi industry accountant and economics teacher in my spare time (because universities are stuffed too and only do contracts).

    Ah bugger…its a cheapskate world we live in!! I only just got home after processing everything for free just to make sure we look after cabbies and their operators….we need to pay for the radio room (not a radio room these days – thanks to legislation – a sophisticated highly expensive digital data transmission centre – not cheap).

    But NSW Labor wants a kick out of it…. with none of the costs. Move over private business – we will take your share…!!!!! (after Amex and Cabcharge they can line up and be in the business of getting the lion’s share of profit for nothing much).

    We talk about society in NSW?? – be prepared for State Labor to muscle in where it can…and rip business off and offer little help or genuine services because it just cant be bothered with stuff that matters. Be prepared for a state labor govt on the take. Im damn sure the same mindset exists in QLD. How can we make as much as possible for doing as little as possible (after we have privatised all)?

  39. Paul

    The whole privatisation game by State Govts is an utter sham. They privatise some public service, then they crow about the sale price, they ignore totally the revenue stream the public entity generated, then they go looking for some other private sectir enterprise they can rob for no effort at all.

    Privatisation = a sham. For everything they privatise… they will rip the heart out of some other private sector business (to which they contribute none of the costs which instead will be diverted to their super and their perks).

    State governments are rapidly becoming an impost we dont need. Inefficient in the extreme.

  40. Sorry Fran, as I’ve said several times during this conversation , in the wake of yet another egregious and callous example of Labor laissez faire illustrated in that 4 Corners show this week that no one else seems to have watched, that the difference you claim to exist betwen the Tories and Labor is now substantially as well as cosmetically non extant.
    Basically the same level of emotionless duplicity as the business with the refugees on the convict hulk “Merak”, which itself draws back to an equivalency with Howard earlier in the decade.
    I could then mention Anna Bligh’s astounding lies over privatisation and a raft of other duplicitous stufff involving Labor over recent years, but maybe its also to do with finally choking off oxygen for a REAL obstructionist Hansonist; Abbott, as Bernard Keane extrapolated at Criikey earlier in the week.
    I’d like to think Labor is better, coming from a rusted on Labor background, but, oh, am tired of them breaking my heart every time they gain government; they really are heartbreakers.
    Perhaps, if the last of the old reactionary wing of the Libs is at last mercifully dispatched next election, maybe, unemcumbered of Abbott’s obstructionism, Labor will finally feel free to move to a more “Labor” approach.
    I’ll wait, as you suggest, but hold little hope for the sort of zeitgeist change needed within Labor that we’d hope for, actually happening.

    Alice, that’s two posts.
    Prepare for an explosion of wrath from on high.
    ” There will be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth”.

  41. Prof Q, and everyone else, “Megan” at #29 was another person, not me.

    And I disagree with the sentiments of other Megan.

  42. Megan # 29 am releived to have been directed to your post. It at least offered a contribution and must say your grey-hued comment made plenty of sense.
    On the Asylum seekers, It occurred to me just how contemporary this situation is. The future is less certain, yet some how beckons and draws us toward it. The “Othering” thing is a phenomena, for sure. Are we taking hostages against the future in our hirthoe perhaps natural uncertainty as to it?
    That’s where Fran’s and earlier, Alice, et al, posters come in: it is a fearful thing to do if its chronic rather than a process of adjustment we are passing through.
    Whatever the politics, I’d agree there are big problems in prolonging for too long the uncertainty of the ‘seekers already directly involved with/ by us.
    The situation represented with the prison hulk”Merak” represents an obscenity.
    Maybe not an obscenity of the Seive X magnitude, but if something’s obscene, whichever way you may look at it, that’s it, like a skid mark on your underwear.
    It is grubby the way we buy off Indonesia and other places nearby to avoid coming to terms with the refugee issue and devising a more realistic solution, I remember someone writing somewhere. It’s so horribly true.
    For many it seems to have been “realistic “as well, certainly the discussions brought on across the community indicate a rift as with “Tampa” but not as severe this time and just as well, after a decade.
    But the time is coming when previous positions may be becoming as untenable as the situation is becoming apparently on board foetid “Merak”.
    Otherwise we will have gone back to Howard’s mid noughties and that can’t be good for the lives eventually lost, irrational delays (for Christ’s sake shut up, Abbott!) or the soul of us, or at least me personally, particularly if maybe it turns out we (I) should have known better this time.

  43. gerard@#17 said

    There is ONE circumstance under which I’d vote LNP – that is if they promised to bring in Tassie style mixed-member representation.

    Yes, the example of TAS governance is one which we mainlanders are all eager to follow. The TAS government operates at about 1/4 the political efficiency of mainland states.

    TAS has 25 MLAs for a population of 500,000. NSW has 93 MLAs for a population of 7,000,000. So TAS has 1 member per 20,000 versus NSW 1 member per 75,000.

    I think gerard that you would be better off if you carried on in your usual way and judged politics based on blind adherence to ideology. The moment you wander off the reservation you get into all sorts of strife.

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