Friday, June 11, 2004

aus politics

Tim Blair has rightly pointed out that it is risible to suggest that a fifty-one year old, eighties rock star is likely to attract the youth vote.

If the ALP are really after the youth vote perhaps they should endorse Paris Hilton. At least my eighteen year old knows who Paris Hilton is. Let’s face it, all the young blokes will have seen the video, and the young chicks will have read about her in Who Weekly. Of course Paris is not enrolled to vote.

No the comrades are more hardnosed than that. The theory, as I understand it, is that they want Garrett because they believe that many if not most of the marginal Federal seats have developed a greenish tinge. E.g Richmond in northern NSW, the sugar seats, regional NSW, SA.

The idea is that they will be more likely to win coastal and regional seats, particularly in NSW and QLD, with Garrett on board. Mmm. Personally, I reckon that even those seats will be won by battling it out in the middle. The green vote has nowhere else to go two-party, and the party who wins the middle tends to win in Australian elections.

So who do I think will win the next Federal election.

First, my tip is for a mid-October election. It is not in John Howard’s nature to go early. He will work his way towards the election, attempting to placate any unhappy parts of the electorate one by one, spending the surplus as he goes.

Howard would have to be favourite. The economy, with some geographical, meteorological and structural adjustment exceptions, is going gangbusters. This is pretty generally a golden age, and electors don’t generally toss out governments in such good times.

There are of course exceptions to that rule, but the government is reasonably competent, not excessively accident prone and Howard has not turned into Captain Wacky.

Against that. Well a sizeable minority hate Howard. Importantly, the level of trust in him is gradually being worn down. A lot of people are intrigued by Latham. They like the third way messages he sends, although there is no general groundswell for change yet. And I suspect Iraq has given the ALP a lift short term.

Can Iraq carry Labor over the line. No. I have thought all along that Iraq may cost the ALP an election and I still think so.

Iraq is a limited success, and eventually that message will come across. It has gone about two-thirds as well as it could have, which is still well worth it. I suspect that notwithstanding that there will be further violence it will keep getting better and importantly it will be seen to be getting better.

Besides. George W holds the best card in the deck.


My guess is that about October 1, or at any event after the Olympics, he will stick Saddam on trial.

It will be toenail curling stuff. Having spent much of the last ten years reading the relevant reports, and indeed having taken evidence from real political prisoners from the Middle East, I can safely say that when the trials of the Baathists starts, Lyndee England and her mates will become footnotes in history.

The Americans and the Iraqis will be able to call weeks and weeks of revelations of real torture, note, not sexual humiliation but real torture, castration, death, rape, the knock on the door, the grabbing off the street, the disappearances, the killing of children, life under real tyranny, etc.

Bush and Howard will then invite the opponents of the war to ‘remind me again, why we should have left this bloke in power’.


Blogger Walter said...

"...electors don’t generally toss out governments in such good times."

Jeff Kennett wouldn't agree.

14 June 2004 at 9:14 am  
Blogger TFK said...

Walter - don't make the mistake of confusing state and federal politics. The dynamics driving voters - and why they might throw out a government, in particular - are very different.

I think "Jack" is right. Although the electorate is getting very tired of the Howard Government, it is unlikely to be thrown out of office until it stuffs up badly. Instead, we have low unemployment with low inflation, low interest rates, strong economic growth and strong growth in personal wealth. All of this economic good news together is virtually unprecedented since federation. I put these following comments on my own blog yesterday:

Over recent weeks, I have clarified my thinking about who is most likely to win the federal election in Australia later this year. Latham has been looking good (as a bet - not as an alternative Prime Minister!) for several months now but I am starting to think that a change of government is not on the cards.

Strangely enough, this line of thinking started to crystalise for me while I was giving a presentation to work colleagues about the unemployment rate (and other labour force indicators) over the last 25 years. Basically, Australians don't change their Federal Government unless the economy is going seriously pear-shaped and/or the government itself is in crisis and falling apart.

Thinking back over the last 40 years of our political history - in other words, while I have been paying some attention to it - a clear pattern emerges, which I first wrote about in comments dropped at Gary Sauer-Thompson's squishy-left blog (slightly amended here):
As you say, "Their [US Government figures, including President Bush] interventions can be interpreted as gross interference in our domestic politics". Yes, they could be - if you see the world in terms of Australian domestic politics. Every Australian with half a brain surely knows already that George Bush would prefer for Howard to win the next election in Australia. Nothing new here.

He'll probably get his way, too. I have watched every election in Australia closely for the last 40 years. Changes of Government never happen unless the economy is spinning out of control (1975, 1983, 1993/6) or the Government is in absolute crisis and falling apart under incompetent leadership (1972, 1975 - again). The only anomaly here is, in fact, 1993 when the economy was still reeling from the "recession we had to have" - but voters deferred Keating's punishment for three years because Hewson handled his GST policy so ineptly that Labor's scare campaign worked.

The pundits are right - "governments lose elections". These things do not apply in the present environment. Dream as much as you like or get all excited about opinion polls, Howard is going to win at the end of 2004 when voters are actually called upon to cast their ballot. Better get used to the idea of another 3 years of Liberal Party government now.

Of course, this does not mean that I believe that the election of a Latham Labor Government cannot occur later this year. Just that, if it does, a pattern established in Australian federal politics for 40 years will be broken. The more I think about it, the more likely it is that Australians will not risk the flakey Mr Latham when they have a perfectly servicable and experienced Coalition Government that is still stable and doing a good job on the economy - even if they are a little tired of it.

Interest rates, in particular, are working in the Government's favour at a time when our personal indebtedness has never been higher. Anyone over 30 with a memory will recall 17% home mortgage rates under Labor with a shudder. But that's what you get when you run big budget deficits while trying to control spiralling inflation through monetary policy, a la Paul Keating.
Like the blog, Jack. I think October 1 might be a bit late to get the best out of Saddam, though - what is the chance of seeing him put on trial a bit earlier?

14 June 2004 at 1:24 pm  
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