Shedding no tears

Barring a miracle, the Queensland Labor government will suffer a defeat tomorrow, comparable in its severity to the Joh-era election of the 1970s, when the caucus was reduced to the size of a cricket team. The great majority of Labor MPs are likely to lose their seats. While I regret the fact that matters have come to this, and like and respect quite a few of those MPs (including, for that matter, Anna Bligh[1]), I will be shedding no tears over this outcome.

Minor update I found a report listing Paul Hoolihan, Jo-Ann Millar, Amanda Johnstone Dean Wells and Lindy Nelson-Carr as members of caucus who opposed the sales. I have met and been impressed by the last two, and I’m sorry that most of this group seem likely to be swept away along with the rest.

Labor would probably have lost anyway, given the general tendency of governments to wear out their welcome, but the reason for the impending catastrophe is simple – the government went to the last election promising not to sell off public assets then turned around and announced they would sell after all. To the extent they had a pretext for this, it was that the likely impact of the GFC on Queensland looked worse in May 2009 than it had in March 2009. As the Rudd government’s stimulus took effect, this excuse evaporated. Nevertheless, the government pushed ahead, with scarcely a murmur of dissent from the backbench.

Voters rightly object to being tricked in this way, and it is entirely appropriate that all those responsible should pay the price.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to two or more terms of a Newman government, but in a two-party system, that is the price we pay when one side reneges on its oblgations. In reality, I doubt that the difference will be all that great, given the constraints on state governments, the lack of any obvious ideological differences, and the fact the Newman’s fondness for the kind of project that produces hard hat photo opportunities can scarcely exceed Bligh’s. My main regret relates to the civil partnerships bill passed late last year, which may be repealed. However, Newman made it clear that he would not repeal the bill if it had actually taken effect, so if the government had wanted to lock it in (rather than making it a hostage for the election) they could easily have done so.

For the record, I’ll be voting Green in Indooroopilly, and not allocating any further preferences. The local candidate, Charles Worringham(sp?) seems pretty good, and I suppose there is a tiny chance that he might get up on the preferences of the Labor candidate, whose name I don’t even know (that in itself tells you something about this election, in an electorate Labor held until quite recently).

fn1. Though certainly not Andrew Fraser, the prime architect of Labor’s defeat. While he will doubtless go on to a well-rewarded career (most probably in the financial sector) I’m hopeful that this is the last we will see of him in Australian politics.

28 thoughts on “Shedding no tears

  1. Broadening the outlook a bit – what accounts for the zeitgeist? Why would Menzies (or Macmillan or Eisenhower) look “socialist” now, and why do Labor governments feel compelled to follow economically right -wing agendas? There’s some sort of underlying dynamic of mass feeling or opinion at work here, but damned if know how it operates – we can only see the results.

  2. To go back to the great privatisation betrayal: the Fraser/Bligh decision has done Campbell’s work for him, he’d have privatised in a heartbeat on 25 March if they hadn’t got in before him. Reactionaries in Queensland Treasury are probably the original villains in the privatisation saga. They appear to regard public finance as equivalent to private finance, where non-financial, usually external, costs and benefits are ignored, and where balance sheets are seen as the only true measure of soundness, and a high internal rate of return shortens time horizons. Their hold over slack-brained politicians will probably remain strong. Expect LNP spending on infrastructure to be as minimal as politically possible.

    There is, however, one quite major unintended consequence of the privatisation debacle, the splitting of the old QR, and the potential revitalisation of Citytrain, if only Translink (which has been hobbled by cash-flow, ignore externalities, Treasury) would allow it. No longer do senior execs refer to passengers as self-loading freight. No longer do investment decisions within QR include the much more profitable coal carrying business, with urban passenger services offered as politically necessary and starved of investment.

    Privatisation wasn’t required to split the businesses, but it may never have happened without it.

  3. @Chris Warren
    “Huh? Do you read the Syd. Morning Herald. Barry O’Farrell is turning Sydney into a commercialised, carbon emitting, growth mania, megalopolis including savage attacks on Clover Moore. O’Farrell wants easier business visas to engorge Sydney with people living on top of people, and wants a greater share of other visa temporary residents.”

    As far as I am aware none of this has actually happened – or even been started – and I speak as a Sydneysider. Rumours of Clover Moore’s demise seem exaggerated at best. As far as I can see Barry O’ Farrell is committed to keeping the lowest possible profile imaginable.

    “An awful rightwing ALP government is always preferable to a detestable Tory regime.”

    Certainly agree with that!

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