The miracle of democracy?

There seems to be a significant chance that the election will produce a Labor government depending on Green votes in the Reps to provide a lead over the Coalition, and in the Senate to pass legislation. I find it hard to believe that the process we’ve just been through could produce such an outcome, not only matching my preferences but reflecting those expressed by the majority of voters, but that’s what some of the papers are saying is likely. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Election open forum

In place of the usual weekend reflections, here’s a forum to discuss the election. I’m feeling gloomy about the outcome, but I don’t claim any special insight and my gloom may just reflect the awfulness of the whole business.

Delusion and delay

Tony Abbott demonstrates yet again why he is utterly unqualified to be Prime Minister, pushing the absurd line that “global warming stopped in 1998” [1]. As John Cook points out, this silliness requires three separate cherrypicks, each worse than the last. And, as the same story shows, the rest of the Liberal Party is just as bad.

But is it any better to understand the science and do nothing about it as the Labor Party under Gillard is doing? The hacks and spin merchants who now control Labor policy are every bit as bad as Abbott. Delay is just as bad as delusion.

Truly this election is the most depressing I can recall in forty years. If there has been one in our history where both parties have so thoroughly dodged the issues, I’m not aware of it.

fn1. As previously stated, I’m not willing to debate the science of climate change on this blog, since there are plenty of better venues. But you don’t need much expertise in the statistics of time series to expose this line for the dishonest piece of cherrypicking it is. Anyone who espouses it is either a liar or a fool. If anyone wishes to put themselves into one or other of these categories in the comments thread they are welcome to do so.

Open letter on stimulus

Over Fifty Australian Economists Agree Fiscal Stimulus Prevented A Major Recession

Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz has stated publicly that the Australian Fiscal Stimulus was a well designed package that saved the Australian economy from a major recession that has hit almost all the other OECD economies. He argued that the Australian package was a model for other economies facing similar problems.

The attached letter was signed by over fifty academic economists. Several other academics and economists supported this view about the Fiscal Stimulus Package that prevented the Australian economy from a deep recession and prevented a massive increase in unemployment.

The Australian economy has come out of the Global Financial Crisis in surprisingly good shape thanks to this Stimulus Package.

The Australian unemployment rate is amongst the lowest of any of the OECD economies.

Unlike the US and Europe, we are not facing the possibility of a double dip recession.

The current level of government debt (the lowest in the OECD economies) is due to tax revenues falling during a slow-down in the economy, whilst social security payments increase. Most of the increase in the debt would have happened independently of the increased government expenditures associated with the Stimulus Package.

The Stimulus Package has led to an increase in infrastructure investment that would help the long-term development of the Australian Economy.

Labor’s Stimulus Package, 2010

The home straight

As we enter the final week of the campaign, all the indications are that Tony Abbott and the Coalition have fallen short in their improbably near-run attempt to limit Labor to one term. If this happens, there can be few losers of Australian elections who have more richly deserved their fate. Sadly, there can be few winners who have deserved it less than Labor, on the basis of its performance since the abandonment of the ETS and the axing of Kevin Rudd. (In the event of an upset, both judgements would still be true). The media, for whom horse-race metaphors like the one I’ve used to title this post, seem to be the best they can do, can share in the credit for this depressing business.

A few probably forlorn hopes: First, it will be some consolation if the Greens win some Lower House seats. The very unlikely event that they might hold the balance of power in both houses would be the just reward to the major parties for their appalling performance. Nothing is impossible, but the odds against are long.

Second, win or lose, the ALP needs to sack Karl Bitar and his crew, and intervene in the disastrous NSW branch. The combination of corruption, thuggery and incompetence displayed by this mob is breathtaking, and they are a huge millstone around the neck of the Labor party.

Third, given the general dishonesty of the campaign, I would be perfectly happy to see Julia Gillard dump her absurd idea of a citizen focus group, and proceed to implement the climate policies we all know to be necessary.

A final point. When the Coalition has looked like winning, various people have pointed to this mildly snarky post in which I predicted we would never see another Liberal government. My point was not that Labor would be in forever, but that the Libs and Nats would have to merge before they could win. That has in fact happened in Queensland, which makes the continued existence of a separate, but permanently coalitional, National Party in NSW and Victoria even more absurd. But obviously, I was expecting Labor to stay in for at least two terms. At this point, I’m willing to renew my prediction, though obviously it’s a matter of probability rather than certainty. To be clear, I expect the Libs and Nats to merge at a national level before they regain government.