NEWS AND VIEWS
Monday, November 26, 2007
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Stand By for Moderate Common Sense
I have the impression with Kevin Rudd that he actually is what he seems to be: an intelligent and thinking analyst of problems who will try and find sensible solutions. Those in the Labor Party who are hoping that Peter Garrett's flippant remark about abandoning the cautious promises after victory turns out to be true are likely to be disappointed. This Prime Minister is unlikely to be a great risk taker.
Uppermost in Mr Rudd's mind is sure to be the knowledge that an economic climate in which interest rates are rising presents the one problem with the potential to make his a oncer of a government. His first task will be to identify if it is indeed possible to keep the me-too promises on things like income tax cuts without forcing the Reserve Bank to act harshly.
Get ready for a variation on the common theme of new administrations that on examination of the books it has found that things are much worse than the defeated government had revealed and that therefore some promises will have to be abandoned and others postponed.
A statement something like: we believed the assurances of Messrs John Howard and Peter Costello that their spending proposals could be afforded without being inflationary. They, after all, were the ones privy to the advice of Treasury officials although we prudently kept our own spending plans many billions of dollars below theirs. The Secretary of the Treasury has now informed us that they in fact gave no such advice and that tax cuts and spending on the scale envisaged would result in monetary policy throttling home buyers and the economy in general. Therefore it is with deep regret, but with the best interests of the nation at heart, that ….
Perhaps the Small "l's" Provide a Clue
As the Parliamentary Liberal Party contemplates its leadership future, members should perhaps give more than a passing glance to what happened in the Victorian seats of McMillan and Kooyong.
McMillan is one of those quintessential swinging seats where the Liberal member Russell Broadbent has become accustomed to political swings and round-abouts. He first entered the House of Representatives as the member for Corinella in 1990 but was defeated at the general election of 1993. When that seat was abolished in a redistribution, Broadbent was back again trying for McMillan in 1996, won the seat only to be defeated again in 1998.
A lesser man would have called it quits but Russell Broadbent kept trying. He failed in 2001 but returned as the member for McMillan in 2004.
Over the last three years of the Howard era, Broadbent proved that for him politics was about principles more than pragmatism. With courage rare for backbenchers he dared to confront his Prime Minister over the treatment of asylum seekers. For good measure he was one of those Liberals prepared to take on the religious activists and vote for changes to legislation covering stem cell research.
On Saturday his constituents rewarded him for his courage. While all around him Liberal members suffered big swings against them, McMillan stayed rock solid for its liberal Liberal. The swing against Broadbent was but 0.62% compared with the Victorian swing of 5.8%.
In Kooyong Petro Georgiou similarly withstood the anti-Liberal tide. The former adviser to Malcolm Fraser and former State Secretary of the Liberal Party lost just 0.7% of his vote. It was a wonderful endorsement of his courage in standing up to Howard's bullying over refugee and multi-cultural policy.
Hopefully the new leader of the Liberal Party will use Petro's considerable talents instead of leaving him on the backbench.
Parlous State of the Coalition
It tells us something about the state of the modern Liberal Party when you realise that Saturday's election gave the Party its best share of the vote in its last nine election appearances. There might be nothing flash about a return of 36.1% but it beats the performance at the eight State and Territory elections which preceded it.
Comparison of he two party preferred vote is not as flattering to last Saturday's effort. The 46.7% being shown last night on the Australian Electoral Commission website is less than the 47.7% share which the Coalition recorded at the last New South Wales and West Australian state elections.
In the closing hours of the Federal campaign, John Howard was musing about why the people of NSW would be contemplating a vote for Labor with the evidence before them of just how bad the State Labor administration of Maurice Iemma was at running things like public hospitals. The response of the voters of NSW was to give the Howard led Coalition a two party preferred share of the vote of 45.5% compared to the 47.7% gained by the State Liberal/National Coalition back in March.
For the Record – the Last Daily Verdict
The tumult and the shouting is over but tidiness dictates that we complete the Owl's Daily Verdict on the election campaign because the final result suggests that we got the verdict right over the 41 days (from day zero on Sunday 14 October to day 40 last Friday) we rated. Labor clearly won the campaign and snuffed out any chance that John Howard had of snatching a last minutes victory.
Treasurer Peter Costello put it correctly at his press conference yesterday announcing that he would not become Liberal Party Leader when he said the last hope of victory for the Coalition was snuffed out by coverage of the racist pamphlet distributed in Lindsay blocking out the final Coalition message of the dangers of voting Labor. The last night of television could hardly have been better for Labor if they had produced it themselves.
The final points tally of The Daily Verdict for the whole of the campaign was:
The Collective Wisdom
Far from being a mob of raving lefties, readers of the Owl, Crikey and Glug showed they are quite a conservative lot with their entries in our 2007 Federal Election Competition and quite good judges to boot. The collective wisdom of the 400 entrants was that the Coalition would get a primary vote of 42.9% - higher than the 41.5% shown last night on the Australian Electoral Commission website but the final figure after postal and absentee votes will probably see the Coalition figure creep upwards. Not a bad margin of error by anyone's reckoning.
When it came to the main event of predicting how many seats each party would win in each state in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the performance was again creditable. The median of the entries was 84 seats for Labor, 64 for the Coalition and two independents. A slight understatement of the likely Labor total but, as I wrote, our readers are a conservative lot! They were, though, a little optimistic about the expected performance of the Greens in the Senate so perhaps I should change the description of the readership to conservatives with a Green tinge.