||Issue No. 244||29 October 2004|
Raking Over The Tea Leaves
Interview: The Last Bastian
Unions: High and Dry
Security: Liquid Borders
Industrial: No Bully For You
History: Radical Brisbane
International: No Vacancies
Economics: Life After Capitalism
Technology: Cyber Winners
Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Locker Room
Nothing To Stand On
It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Dear Mark letter
Letters to the Editor
It’s The End Of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
I invariably make incorrect predictions (or perhaps that should be "hopes" about the outcome of federal elections.
But this year I was expecting one of three possible scenarios:
The government returned with a smaller majority;
A hung parliament, which would require one or other of the major parties to form a coalition with a minor party;
A landslide victory for Labor.
Alas, as usual, I was way off the mark. But I daresay no one was more
surprised at the outcome than John Howard himself. He could have called a double dissolution election at any time in the past 12 months, with several of his pet policies having been rejected at least twice by the senate.
I was figuring that he was not confident of winning such an election, and so deferred the poll to the latest practicable time. It had to before the US election, because if Bush loses that, then this would go against Howard.
That said, I would guess that no one in the federal parliamentary Labor
Party, from Latham down, nor committed Labor voters could have anticipated such a disastrous result.
But how disastrous is it?
Well of course it means that Labor will have to wait at least three years or even six to stand a chance of forming a government again.
But in terms of what is favourable for Australia and Australians, perhaps another three years of Howard government may not be the terrifying prospect which dedicated Labor members and supporters feel it inevitably will be.
And why do I say this? Because the bulk of Howard‚s policies have been borrowed from Labor in the first place. As I see it, this started about 18 months ago with the leaking to the media of a personal memo from Liberal President Senator Stone, to John Howard, suggesting to him that the electorate perceived him as: „mean, sneaky and out of touch.‰
Howard responded immediately by introducing legislation after legislation that was specifically geared to appease any disquiet from that section of the populace that was drifting away from him.
And where did he get these policies? More than likely from the Labor party‚s website, as they were typical Labor type policies.
Well he was pretty safe for some time after that, because of Simon Crean‚s abysmal performance as leader of the opposition. Crean introduced no new legislation, and confined himself to harping about the "deficiencies" of the government.
Well that factor was factored out of the equation almost a year ago when
Mark Latham won leadership of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party by a margin of one vote.
Well of course I don‚t know whether Latham was self-seeking or sincere in his ongoing support of Crean up to that time. But if he HADN‚T backed Crean, he most likely would never have made it to the front bench in so short a time, which proved to be his springboard to leadership of the party.
And then began the election campaign to end all election campaigns, as for all practical purposes it commenced from the day Latham became leader of the opposition. In the first two weeks he did more than Simon had done in two years, which of course resolved any doubts in the minds of anyone who had actually believed that Crean was a competent leader.
So Latham started to unravel his policies, which were radical and original.
And from that time right up to a day or so before the election, Howard played catch-up with Latham, mirroring his policies or trying to outdo Latham on some of them.
Suddenly Medicare, which the Liberal party had been trying to dismantle from the day Fraser replaced Whitlam in 1975, became a priority for Howard and Tony Abbott -- trying hard to rebuild Medicare and make the system even more tempting than the original ingenious concept introduced by Gough Whitlam.
And so it was with every policy that Latham announced -- Howard set out to match it, or present a more appealing alternative.
So, if Howard sticks with his election promises, most of his legislation will be quite similar to that which Labor would have introduced had it won the election. And what about those policies that are quite dissimilar to Latham‚s, like industrial relations? Well Howard‚s policy on these issues may well turn out to be more productive than Labor‚s.
But what we can be assured of is that Howard will lose all interest in old growth forests and Kyoto, and will most likely water down his election promises, giving the excuse that changes in world economy have meant that he must be more frugal with his giant surplus budget, which he squandered recklessly in his obsession to win that fourth term and make his place in history.
It can also be taken for granted that he will continue to be subservient to America, no doubt at great expense to the welfare of Australia, as was his insane determination to follow his buddy, George Bush, into that illegal and stupid invasion of Iraq.
Time alone will tell, but reflecting on the issues I have mentioned, he may not actually totally destroy Australian society as most Labor supporters feel that he will.
Now this is not to say that I like the bugger -- the compulsive, unrepentant liar who is far more concerned with his own obsession for recognition and power than with what may be best for Australia and Australians.
However, if -- and that‚s a big if -- he actually does fulfil most of his election promises, Australia may actually survive and even prosper.
And there STILL may be some really good news when the counting of votes for the senate is completed (possibly before this letter is published.)
On the last count the Greens looked like picking up that critical balance-of-power seat in the Senate.
But it might be even better if Family First wins the crucial seat. Visit their website and you will see that this fledgling party has policies covering all issues, and many if not most of these policies are NOT in accord with Howard's.
[If you have enjoyed my comments, you may care to visit my website www.julianchancock.com from time to time for the most important news items and comment -- and if you do, please click on the "E-Mail" tab on the Contents menu and send me your feedback.]
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