||Issue No. 318||03 August 2006|
Don't Bank on Costello's Oil Shocker
Interview: A Life And Death Matter
Unions: Fighting Back
Industrial: What Cowra Means
Environment: Scrambling for Energy Security
Politics: Page Turner
Economics: The State of Labour
International: Workers Blood For Oil
History: Liberty in Spain
Review: Go Roys, Make A Noise
The Locker Room
What Was He On About?
Belly On Balance
Don't Bank on Costello's Oil Shocker
That's the question John Howard and his sometime ally, Peter Costello, are asking the electorate after their core 2004 promise, to keep interest rates low, took a third strike this week.
The essence of their argument, of course, is the get out line of deceivers down the generations - well yes, but it wasn't our fault.
Essentially, the Prime Minister and his Treasurer argue, the latest interest rates jump was sparked by a Queensland hurricane and international demand for oil - occurrences outside the control of mere mortals, or even them.
Anyone that swallows the banana line is a monkey. Shoppers could tell you it's not just tropical fruit stretching the family budget - meat, fish, vegetables and milk have been heading north at a rate of knots for years.
And, you've got to wonder if our pollies have tried to rent accommodation lately.
Besides all that, the federal government looks after its northern National constituency by refusing to allow bananas to be imported, even at times of hurricane-induced shortages.
Then there's the matter of oil. Yes it has gone up, and significantly, but for Costello to compare this situation to 1973, when OPEC increased prices by 400 percent, is a nonsense.
International prices for benchmark "light sweet crude" have increased by 40-45 percent in the five years since 2001.
And who is to blame for that? George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and their Coalition of the Killing can take a fair share.
Their illegal invasion of Iraq slashed oil production by between one and two million barrels a day.
Clearly, this government has a problem. It's called credibility.
They've been caught out in the porky department before. The difference is that the latest round - WorkChoices, inflation etc - go directly to the hip pocket of middle Australia.
That doesn't, however, mean it will lose the next federal election.
Whatever you might say about this Coalition Government, it is perceived as consistent. Consistently awful, maybe, but consistent, nevertheless.
The Right tells us we live in a post-ideological world but that's the biggest con job of the lot. Howard's perception of consistency comes from a thorough-going ideology that casts wealth, privilege and power as model Australian virtues.
Think of most any issue - the workplace, human rights, immigration, media policy, or war in the Middle East and you know exactly where he will stand before he opens his mouth.
That's where there is an urgent need for Kim Beazley and his Labor sidekicks to fill in a few blank spaces.
Ripping up WorkChoices is a good start but it is not nearly enough. Labor, and any other alternative government, needs a coherent set of alternatives that stem from a recognisable set of values.
Frankly, when your next public utterance seems to throw open the doors to greater uranium expoitation and the nuclear proliferation that goes with it, a lot of people will question your coherence.
The ALP cannot afford to enter next year's election with a bunch one-off policies, tailored to meet specific electoral demands.
It needs to nut out a cogent alternative strategy based on social democratic values and then sell it.
If it can't do that, it won't win an election. The Liberals might still lose but the distinction is important because we would have gone from a democracy to occasional ballots for a chief executive.
- Jim Marr
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