Not enough votes = broken promise? (Update: as it turns out, yes)

Update With brilliant timing, I wrote this post the day before Gillard announced that she was in fact breaking her promise, and would not bring the legislation to a vote. Presumably she had already signalled this to the media, which was why the accusations of a broken promise were being made, accurately if a little prematurely. Yet again, Gillard has lived down to my lowest expectations, while Abbott has (of course) been even worse End Update

Regular readers will know that I’m no fan of our current PM and a strong supporter of legislation to limit the damage caused by pokies and other forms of gambling that rely primarily on problem gamblers for their viability. And, having been overseas for much of last year, there may be some political nuances I’m missing.[1]

Still, I can’t see how Gillard can be accused of breaking a promise to Andrew Wilkie on pokies on the basis that she has failed to get the numbers for it. On that basis, for example, Rudd broke his promise on an ETS, not when he dropped the idea under pressure from Gillard and the NSW right, but when the Senate rejected the legislation. And every government in recent history has made election promises then had their proposals rejected in the Senate (the silly idea of a mandate, supposed to require the Senate to acquiesce in government legislation, never had any effect on this). Occasionally, such rejections lead to the PM being criticised for lacking negotiation skills. But I’ve never before seen such a case treated as a broken promise.

fn1. Most obviously, it might be that the government is secretly encouraging other independents to oppose the law. I haven’t seen any suggestion to this effect, but it’s about the only thing that would make sense of the “broken promise” claim.

52 thoughts on “Not enough votes = broken promise? (Update: as it turns out, yes)

  1. Chris Warren @ #42 said:

    You did not answer the question, and you have not understood the previous posts in this thread…You are turning this thread into a circus.

    Says you who uncritically swallows partisan hack apologetics for common or garden political lies, first on carbon tax and now pokie reforms. Fool you once, shame on politicians. Fool you twice, shame on you.

    Whether Gillard lied, depends entirely on the final position of Oakeshott, Crook and Windsor. If they clearly line-up against pre-committment, then Gillard cannot be excoriated for supposedly lying.

    First, you need to relearn basic political arithmetic. The ALP needs only 75 votes to get the bill through HoR, given the ratting of Slipper. It has (72 + Wilkie & Bandt =) 74 in the bag. All she needed to get the policy passed into law was one (not all three) rural independent to “clearly line-up [for] pre-committment”. A piece of cake for a politician of her undoubted negotiating skills.

    Even on your own terms this apologetics fail to pass the laugh test. The fact that she is not wiling to even try to twist an independents arm means she was always looking for a way out. She was never sincere about pokie reform, since it is a second-order policy issue with exorbitant political costs.

    The real reason why the pokie policy “lacked the numbers” has nothing to do with the numbers of rural independents willing to come on board and everything to do with the numbers of ALP back-benchers sitting in marginal outer-metro Sydney seats who are incredibly vulnerable to a clubs-based campaign. It is passingly strange how naive commenters are about this self-evident fact.

    More generally, understanding the PM’s political MO means predicting her moves or at least tactical disposition. Back in MAY 2012 I predicted Gillard would “pull more Machiavellian rabbits out of her hat”. The Slipper switch exceeded my wildest expectations. I suppose there are people on Earth who believe that breath-taking piece of political skull duggery had nothing, nothing at all to do with tossing Wilkies poker reform over the side. When you put the glass to your blind eye it’s amazing how difficult it is to connect even the closest dots.

    Of course when we look to Gillard’s apologists on the lying question we see no confirmed predictions at all, only an endless series of episodes of Lucy swiping the football from a clueless Charlie Brown.

  2. Jack, I think you’ve probably got it mostly right but you mistakenly inserted ‘voters’ between the powerful lobbies (pokies/clubs in this case) and the pollies.

    It’s a direct line, no ‘voters’ are even considered in the games Gillard/Arbib/Shorten/Abbott are playing here. The ‘voters’ are simply a formality to be dealt with after the substantive deal is done.

    “Occupy” seeks to change all that.

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