I’m travelling, which explains the total absence of recent activity. I hope to resume posting soon, but probably on a limited basis for some time. In the meantime, please keep it civil and constructive.

58 thoughts on “Travel

  1. OK, I’ll try again:

    I predict that the LNP will win the next federal election under Tony Abbott.

    This will be because the ALP is so infiltrated and controlled by gormless neo-con rightists and grafters that their “strategy” will be so small target as to be not only invisible (see Shorten? I mean, really – can you see him?) but indistinguishable from the LNP.

    Eventually, after several years, the ALP will probably regain power but only because the electorate finally decides that punishing the LNP is called for, not because the ALP will be any different or is better.

    This is the ALP strategy for NSW & Qld and it is predictably leading to very bad governance.

    AT the federal level, it is worth noting that neither ALP or LNP made any gains in the senate at the last election. I predict that will continue and will also spread to the house of reps and into state legislatures.

    Since the ALP has decided to become Woolies to the LNP’s Coles, that can only be a good thing.

  2. If anyone else has trouble posting, try “change” in the bit above the comment box next to “Welcome back…”

  3. Well I’ll see how this goes …

    I’m not going to get involved in the argument in the Piketty thread because with Yuri and JD and Midrash it’s all gone a bit silly.

    But just as a general response to this whole high incomes are a reward for merit, etc etc argument, I really wish these people had the ability to understand what sort of world they’re talking about. There would be no parents in their world, no children, no old people, no sick people, no people with disabilities. The population would be composed of adult able-bodied high income earners, predominantly male, concentrated largely in finance and technology. It would be the shortest loved civilization in history.

  4. In reply to @Megan, I live in the banana state, I take a bit of interest in Victorian politics, being an ex-mexican.

    The current opposition leader is trying to expel an elected member of that parliament who has not been found guilty of any criminal or civil offence, and not even been reprimanded by the parliament’s own privileges committee, although he was censured by the minority report. The fact that the member in question may have odious politics to many on this blog does not change the underlying principals at play.

    Listening to said opposition leader weasel his way into this moral quagmire was a lesson in all that is wrong with Labor’s scripted catch-phrase politics, and no, he did not come out smelling like daisies. Instead, while saying he just wanted to get on with good government for the state, he was actually dog-whistling cynicism, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and, more than anything else, contempt for the electorate to the furthest extent of the back paddock. What should be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel for the alternative government looks like becoming a whole messy foot-shooting disaster.

    Alternative government? No alternative to bad politics.

  5. @James

    I have also been looking at the Vic situation (from Qld, too) but maybe not as closely.

    Am I right to understand that Shaw (balance of power) indicated he would support a vote of no confidence in the premier? Unless I’m misunderstanding, I thought the opposition might take that opportunity – and the result would be an election (?), but instead the ALP are trying to “win” government by getting just a by-election (which they must think the will win).

    A pox on the lot of them.

  6. @Megan

    The image that comes to mind is of a circle with each of the players holding a knife to the back of the succeeding member, waiting for someone to blink.

    Labor’s headline proposal for the coming election (in November) is a royal commission into family violence. This is a worthy cause in itself that should be dealt with competently from within the (formerly) very good and proactive VicHealth. But at royal commission level it can only feed the politics of moral panic.

    And all this while allowing the ravages of neo-liberalism and business-as-usual to alienate and disenfranchise poorer Victorians.

    That is, on the economic front there is no alternative.

  7. Labor dont want to be seen siding with Shaw .They want a by-election in his seat to prove the swing to them in this election year -or have Shaw hang around and continue to humiliate the Napthine govt until the scheduled election. It raises the question of how did someone like that get pre-selected ? He is just back from the US where he met with right wing nut bags and seems to have been emboldened by the experience. He called ex collegues ‘gutless’ because they wont help him wind back abortion laws. All this just degrades the image of politicians even further. Im not sure if that is a good or a bad thing -depends whether you think current problems can be fixed from within the existing framework or not.

  8. @Megan
    In Australian elections to date, governments have been re-elected significantly more often than not. In Australia to date, every previous Coalition government has eventually been replaced by a Labor one. In Australia to date, incumbent Prime Ministers have seldom been removed from the leadership, particularly incumbent Coalition Prime Ministers.

    So essentially what you are predicting is that events will continue to follow their most usual past pattern.

  9. @Megan
    I said nothing about your prediction that in future Federal and State elections there will be no seat gains for the Coalition and no seat gains for Labor, so let’s take a look at that.

    There have already been two State elections since the most recent Federal election, in South Australia and in Tasmania. In both there were seat gains for the Liberals, although none for Labor. The next elections due will be the Victorian election before the end of this year, the New South Wales election due in March, and the Queensland election probably some time after that. That will give us some tests of your prediction. I predict that the results will go against your prediction, with Labor gaining seats in at least some and perhaps all of those three elections. I hope to be able to compare notes with you here about our respective predictions in a year’s time.

  10. No, the “no gain” is net – for

    both parts

    of the ALP/LNP duopoly.

    See you in a year.

  11. Fumble, “both parts” was supposed to be in “bold” not “quotes”.

    And, since I’ve got your attention, what is the evidence upon which you based this assertion of fact (previous thread):

    the inaccurate reporting of important details was not deliberately concerted by the government for propaganda purposes

    You might admit that it was a bit sweeping and you have no evidence.

    That’s OK. Nothing to be ashamed of.

  12. @Megan
    I gave you my response on that previous thread. You didn’t like my response. You don’t have to.

    If you want me to expand on my earlier response, I’m prepared to do that, as I indicated at the time, but you may not like my expanded response any better than the original one.

  13. @Megan
    Thank you for your correction of my misunderstanding of your prediction. That warrants a different analysis.

    At the 2014 Tasmanian election, the Liberals and Labor between them won 22 of the 25 seats (88%) in the House of Assembly, two more than at the preceding election.

    At the 2014 South Australian election, the Liberals and Labor between them won 45 out of the 47 seats (95.7%) in the House of Assembly, one more than at the preceding election.

    At the 2013 Federal election, the Coalition and Labor between them won 145 out of the 150 seats (96.7%) in the House of Representatives, one more than at the preceding election.

    At the 2013 Western Australian election, the Coalition and Labor between them won 59 out of the 59 seats (100%) in the Legislative Assembly, three more than at the preceding election.

    At the 2012 Queensland election, the LNP and Labor between them won 85 out of the 89 seats (95.5%) in the Legislative Assembly, the same number as at the preceding election.

    At the 2011 New South Wales election, the Coalition and Labor between them won 89 out of the 93 seats (95.7%) in the Legislative Assembly, two more than at the preceding election.

    At the 2010 Victorian election, the Coalition and Labor between them won 88 out of the 88 seats (100%) in the Legislative Assembly, one more than at the preceding election.

    The recent movement has been in the opposite direction to the one you’re predicting. It hasn’t left much room for further movement in the same direction, and I’m not predicting any. I’m definitely not predicting that the combined total of seats held by Labor and the Coalition will go over 100% in the Victorian Legislative Assembly or the Western Australian Legislative Assembly–or anywhere else, but for those two cases a prediction of no aggregate gain is a certainty. Those two figures can’t possibly go up at all, and the others can’t go up much. How much are you expecting them to go down?

  14. @Megan
    Ordinarily I’d agreed wholeheartedly with you, historically that’s what will happen. The only thing that brings doubt into my mind is the presence of Abbott, he managed to save the ALP from being the first one term govt. since WW2. I still think that you’re right but I hold out a modicum of hope. I realise that you probably think, ‘Idiot, the ALP are just as bad’ however I would rather have a party in power that has the potential to implement some sort of progressive agenda rather than one that is aggressively committed to ignoring a range of pressing, present problems and serves the wealthy elites. And Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones.

  15. @patrickb

    I don’t think you’re an idiot. And, the fact that the ALP are “just as bad” was my point.

    By rights, Abbott’s LNP should be a “one term” show. But I don’t think it will happen, as I said:

    This will be because the ALP is so infiltrated and controlled by gormless neo-con rightists and grafters…

  16. At the 2013 Federal election the “one” seat picked up by the ALP/LNP in the House of Representatives was the WA seat the Liberals won from the WA Nationals.

    Rather than disproving my analysis, that tends to reinforce it.

    In a federal election that was billed as a landslide win for the LNP they picked up one seat in both houses from the 13 non-ALP seats (notwithstanding it was only a half-senate election).

  17. @Megan
    Can you give me some colourful adjectives for LNP members then? I mean, given that the ALP is better, admittedly a pretty low threshold, and those descriptors are what I would use for the LNP, I’d be interested in you choice of epithets for the collection of empty headed, sewer-dwelling, jackbooted bully boy numpties that are currently in charge?

  18. @Megan
    And I don’t think you can blame the ALP for the total failure of political will. The public has some part in that.

  19. @Patrickb

    Those ones for the LNP are probably OK!

    And, I do blame the ALP for their failure of political will. The establishment media carries some blame (remembering that since Hawke/Keating/Howard it has become even more concentrated in even fewer hands – and the ABC has become a branch office of News Ltd).

    Blaming the public is wrong IMHO.

    Around Christmas last year, maybe it was boxing day, I was driving in the country. I was getting very hungry and just wanted something simple to eat – maybe a pie shop or good old aussie take-away.

    After driving through a few towns with literally nothing open food-wise (other than macca’s or KFC), I got to a town that had red rooster.

    Just because I ate some red rooster chips and a sad looking piece of corn doesn’t mean I was “voting” for crappy, mass marketed, factory farmed, tasteless fast food.

    The analogy holds for the ALP, I think. I demand they do better than simply be ‘less worse’ than the LNP.

  20. @Megan
    Yes but, with the LNP you will end up eating Soylent Green (it’s people you know). I agree completely that the ALP is not the party it used to be a long time ago, times have definitely changed but that’s a medium term historical shift which has influenced all the players. If the trend continues then things probably won’t get better for the bulk of humanity. The parties slightly left of centre will probably provide minor buffering to the ill effects whereas the right, and there is not much of a centre right remaining despite Tony and Stephen Harper’s bromance, will tear down the dam walls and spike the sandbags. At least the ALP and it’s ilk may give us time to detect that the water is getting hotter. Sorry mixed metaphors.

  21. @Patrickb

    Unless I’m misunderstanding you – and I guess this applies to most “ALP Supporters” – it doesn’t matter how bad the ALP is because they will always be less bad than the LNP so we should vote ALP (?).

    I can’t accept that, and I can’t even tacitly support an ALP that is neo-con, inhumane to refugees, pro-US imperialism, pro-war, anti-environment & pro-Wall St.

  22. @Megan
    If you make a demand of the ALP — that it ‘do better than simply be “less worse” than’ the Coalition — do you make any demand of the Coalition? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

    Is there supposed to be some analogy between the food outlets in your story — McDonalds, KFC, Red Rooster, the ‘pie shop or good old Aussie takeaway’ — and Labor and the Coalition? Which one stands for Labor and which for the Coalition?

    Do you see any analogy between eating something because you have to eat and voting for somebody because somebody’s going to be voted in?

  23. @Megan
    I already pointed out that the figures support your analysis (once I understood correctly what it was), in this way: there is little chance of the aggregate number of lower house seats held by Labor and the Coalition rising at the expense of any other grouping because there are already so very few lower house seats held by any other grouping. An appropriate analysis of the performance of groups other than Labor and the Coalition in winning lower house seats is that you can’t fall off the floor — at least, in the case of Victoria and Western Australia this is unambiguously true.

  24. @Megan
    I wouldn’t suggest that anyone vote for the ALP. From my perspective I would agree though that supporting the ALP because they are better than the LNP is a pragmatic, if less than optimal, position. And this is not an uncommon choice. I was reading a book on Nixon, Gary Wills I think, and he mentioned that at the end of the 60s there wasn’t a party that was supporting an end to the Vietnam war util McGovern (and look how that turned out, I would have supported him BTW). This despite the fact that significant numbers wanted out right away. The Stones had it right … you get what you need.

  25. @J-D

    Are you really that obtuse? Or do your just bung it on as part of your persona management job description?

  26. @Patrickb

    Median voter theorem (based on Harold Hotelling’s 1933 economics paper) explains why there is a policy convergence in a duopoly political structure. Less relevant if equal votes of equal value not operative as was the case pre-1970, especially at state level. Arguably post-modern cultural fragmentation has changed the rules at the margins.

  27. @Patrickb

    I wouldn’t suggest that anyone vote for the ALP. From my perspective I would agree though that supporting the ALP because they are better than the LNP is a pragmatic, if less than optimal, position.

    I think that is where I differ from you, and apparently just about everyone else here.

    I don’t get how anyone could fundamentally disagree with their core policies while still advocate “supporting the ALP because they are better than the LNP”.

    It simply doesn’t make sense. That is the equivalent of saying: “I totally disagree with your policies and I demand that you change them, but I’ll give you 100% support regardless of what you do”.

    It’s more of a cult than a political party. It certainly hasn’t been a political “movement” for several decades.

    We’re getting back to my original point. People are going elsewhere, PUP for example, because they can’t support a duopoly party that has as its core values those things I listed earlier (and that applies to the LNP as well, hence the failure of either of them to make inroads into the non-duopoly seats).

  28. This argument of “less evilism” only seems to cut one way.

    I’ve never come across it applied as “the LNP is bad, but the ALP is worse – so we’d better support the LNP”.

    The reason for that is, I argue, that “they” are running and winning our political discourse.

    I’m interested in sticking a spanner in those works and getting back our democracy.

  29. @Megan

    I don’t know whether I’m a good judge of how obtuse I am. I can tell you that the opinions other people have expressed to me about my intellectual capacity generally rate it highly, but I don’t know how much that proves. I don’t understand what you mean by my ‘persona management job description’, although I can tell you that at the moment I don’t have a job description in the official sense.

    Here’s some more hard data I’ve compiled. This is about the composition of the Senate, dating from when its membership was first increased to the current figure of 76. Out of those 76 Senators, the aggregate figure for Labor and the Coalition has stood at the following after each election:

    1984 67
    1987 66
    1990 66
    1993 66
    1996 66
    1998 64
    2001 64
    2004 67
    2007 69
    2010 65
    2013 58

    Whether the dramatic fall following the most recent election will be a one-off or the beginning of a trend remains to be seen. There’s been a good deal of talk about changing the Senate electoral system. As we don’t know yet whether there will be a change or what precise form the change will take if there is one, predictions of future Senate election results are premature.

  30. @Megan
    I actually voted for the Greens in the WA half-senate election because I had lost patience with the ALP’s corporatism and two-clever by half political strategies. That said I did so safe in the knowledge that should the need arise my preference would be allocated to the ALP. To me the current government validates my ‘least worst option’ strategy, and looking at the level of outrage I suspect some people which they’d adopted a similar approach. What we have now is far worse than what we had across a range of policy domains. I agree that both the ALP and LNP are appalling on asylum seekers however the LNP, against my expectations (I thought they’d do nothing) are in fact willing to implement a hard right wish list. Add to that their paranoid view of an ‘us and them’ world, a world of enemies and friends and you have a pretty toxic mix. Policy driven by revenge and medieval superstitions. I believe that the ALP are capable of reform, I don’t think that it is foreseeable that the LNP are.

  31. I regard it as unlikely Abbott will lead the LNP to the next election or even be leading the party 9 months from now.

    I also regard it as more likely than not that the ALP will win the next election.

    Today, in Australia, voters are less rusted on than was the case even a couple of decades ago, and are ready to toss out first term regimes, if they are seen to have messed up. They nearly did it in 1998 when the winning regime won despite losing both the 2PP and the primary, and but for Tampa and 911 might have done it in 2001. The Howard regime was far less incompetent than this one.

    This regime has nosedived in popularity amongst those that raised it to office — and managed this in record time. In just 9 months it has gone from 53-47 ahead to 55-45 against.

    I can’t recall a Commonwealth regime doing that before, or anything like it.

    Their state colleagues have also all retreated (with the exception of Tasmania).

    Plainly, this won’t make a difference to the ethics of the ruling regime, but it’s an interesting footnote.

  32. Fran

    Abbott can easily win swinging voters by playing them for fools.

    In a budget just before an election he can give Xmas bonus to all pensioners, free dental checks for primary school children, tax cuts targeted at swinging voters, and promise to investigate prices increases (or some other similar list of media-friendly policies).

    All the media will cheer about what a “bonanza” Abbott has given to the old, young and families and in the absence of any other major factor – he will be reelected with a reduced majority.

    After the election such programs can be cut back.

  33. @J-D

    The fall in the number of senators for the major parties is interesting. It was pretty low in 1998 and 2001, which I would put down to people being wary of the Howard government. The GST not applying to food was the result of minor parties having the balance of power in the senate. I think this was a case of democracy working rather well.

    However the current plunge I see as a result of Abbott’s attempt to destroy the image of politicians. The endless obstructionism and constant harping on lying, and the pursuit of Slipper and that other bloke – it was an attempt by Abbott to hurt the ALP, but I think it hurt the image of both major parties, and our confidence in politicians.

    This tactic is from the US right, “Gee them politicians are awful, but ah am not like them, so vote for me”.

  34. @Fran Barlow
    Surprise surprise… Abbott and co campaigned every single frig’n day during ALPs last term about that big new tax, that big broken promise, the reassurance there’ll be no such surprises under an LNP gov and here we are. I think the only chance they have for another term is by dramatically lowering energy prices and we all know such an achievement is only possible with ridiculous volumes of gov subsidies to the fossil fuel and energy distribution industries. Implementing such ACTIONS would DIRECTLY elevate their electoral popularity enough to render their chances as credible for the next federal election. Now… the name they might give to scheme is anyone’s guess…

  35. @Fran Barlow
    If it’s true that the electorate is becoming more volatile, that cuts both ways. It would increase the chances of the government being voted out again after one term, but it would also increase the chances of the recent sharp downturn in the government’s opinion poll results being suddenly reversed.

    Obviously for whatever they’re worth the current opinion poll results have to be treated as unfavourable for an estimate of the government’s chances of re-election (or, equivalently, favourable for the chance of an opposition victory), but I’m not sure they’re worth very much. I wouldn’t want to have to bet either way at this point.

  36. Abbott in Canada sounds like a man under siege or perhaps out of step, as though he needs to assure himself that he’s not isolated. His use of the term ‘centre right government’ is quite bizarre as though he’s trying desperately to belong to something. I don’t think that we’ve heard other world leaders using such overtly partisan terms, Obama hasn’t used the term ‘centre left’ to include other like minded leaders, he would be wary of using the term ‘progressive’. And yet our Tony seems blind to the fact that he’s using the divisive tactics learned during his time of opposition leader to conduct international relations. Of course it may be a deliberate strategy, which is more strange. What could he hope to gain other than ingratiating himself with the like of Jones and Bolt?

  37. JQ, we will let you know if the miracle happens.

    Re Patrickb’s comment, Nigel No Friends appears to more intent on joining a planned ideological crusade against Osama, eh Obama, with fellow medievalists than actually doing the job the Australian public are paying him to do, that is, deal with real world issues in appropriate ways.

    The Tea Party wombats will greet his arrival in the US with delirious enthusiasm, particularly with House (and Gubernatorial?) elections due soon, then a Presidential election in a couple of years.

    Remember, if the Democrats do win the Presidency again, the corrupt puppet Gerontocracy at the US Supreme Court surely will begin falling off their perches, as they have perversely failed to do during Obama’s hamstrung Presidency, to be replaced by adults.

  38. @paul walter
    At the same time as the 2014 mid-term elections for the House of Representatives, there will also be elections for 33 of the 100 Senators, for the Governors of 36 of the 50 States (including the nine largest), and for various other State and local offices.

    Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy were both born in 1936. They’ll both be 80 by the time of the next Presidential election. Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts are younger. Obviously they will all have to be replaced at some point, but it’s well within the bounds of possibility that they’ll all stay on the Supreme Court bench throughout the next Presidential term, and even the one after that. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

  39. Ay, I know..

    The likes of Thomas, Alito and Scalia will hang on, out of sheer perversity.

  40. JD

    If it’s true that the electorate is becoming more volatile, that cuts both ways. It would increase the chances of the government being voted out again after one term, but it would also increase the chances of the recent sharp downturn in the government’s opinion poll results being suddenly reversed.

    If volatility were merely a random variable, then yes. I’m saying the volatility reflects a weakening of traditional attachments to parties, with the consequence that factors that would not some time back have moved decisive numbers for or against a party in practice, now can.

    If you’re going to posit equal chances of a swing back in favour of the regime, then you should point to plausible scenarios over the next few months that could neutralise the current anti-regime sentiment and re-establish a coherent support base for it on the right. National John Williams has come out against Abbott’s PPL, with a less generous but more ubiquitous proposal, why Palmer has winked at. TheNationals may cross the floor handing the regime a defeat unlike anything a ruling regime has ever suffered in this country since WW2.

    What can get better enough for the regime to change this narrative?

  41. @Fran Barlow
    I’m not talking about equal chances of the opinion polls swinging back again at some point before the next election, I’m talking about incalculable chances of the opinion polls swinging back. The weaker people’s attachments and the less it takes to move them, the harder it is to estimate how likely that is.

  42. @J-D

    Not so sure about your reasoning here. In theory, if people’s attachments are weak then our attempt to calculate must consider the weight and disposition of predisposing variables excluding party loyalty, which we’ve lightened.

    The word “weak” here refers only to this variable without telling us anything of the strength of a sentiment or its disposition resulting from apparently incontestable ideas about the acumen, ethics or identity of parties or the meaning of this or that act. I don’t doubt at all the power, for example, of affirmation bias.

  43. The royal commission into trade unions #turc has the potential to blow the unions up, along with the ALP. Well played by Abbott, making the opposition unelectable.

  44. @Fran Barlow
    The factual observation from which you started was that polls since the last election have shifted a long way in a short time, which you suggested was unprecedented.

    The slower something moves around, the more reliable its last observed position is as an estimate of its future position. The faster it moves around, the less reliable its last observed position is as an estimate of its future position. If you have some more sophisticated model in mind, I’m not grasping it. I don’t grasp, for example, what ‘apparently incontestable ideas about the acumen, ethics or identity of parties’ you’re referring to, or why.

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