20 August 2010

A plague a’ both their houses

The choice that faces the Australian electorate tomorrow is a dire one: neither of the major parties deserves to win government. We are offered a choice between

(1)     A man who thinks of himself as prepared to take tough decisions but runs away from most of them and is a classic political weathervane, who has a short attention span and lacks the basic general knowledge about economics, critical technologies, foreign affairs and defence to even know what questions to ask, and

(2)    A woman who has a touching faith in the redemptive power of her own personal narrative and thinks that running for the highest political office in the land is a matter of running 150 local government elections at the same time.

The best outcome that we can hope for is a hung House of Representatives controlled by the Independents and a Senate in which the Greens have the balance of power. The more people that whoever forms government is obliged to negotiate with the better off we will all be, and we cannot afford to have either party emerge from the low-rent campaign of the last five weeks feeling vindicated.

Look in more detail at the offering:

-  The main points of agreement are that we should treat asylum seekers harshly, that we should give reflexive obedience to the wishes of Israel, and that we should all share in the cost of redeveloping the AFL stadium in Geelong.

-  Julia Gillard mischievously conflated the asylum seeker question with the propositions that the Western suburbs of Sydney are overcrowded and that therefore the whole country should suffer a reduced migration intake. Tony Abbott matched this squalid line of argument, so we have a commitment to reduce immigration without any thought for the long-term consequences.

-  Julia Gillard has dotted the landscape (or at least the marginal electorates thereof) with nice little bribes about sports and other community facilities – promises which the outcome of the case which University of New England academic Bryan Pape took to the High Court suggests might be unconstitutional in the absence of a head of Commonwealth power.

-  Tony Abbott is not much better.

-  Tony Abbott confects huge alarm about the nation, in response to the GFC, running up the lowest net public debt in the OECD.

-  With the exception of the National Broadband Network – one of the few clear reasons to back Labor – neither party has anything to say about productivity improving microeconomic reform.

-  Neither party will take effective or timely action on climate change. What action they do take will give minimal results at high cost.

-  Ditto for the Murray Darling Basin.

-  Both parties would maintain the nation’s longstanding chronic under-investment in tertiary education, research and development and infrastructure, all of which they regard as a cost rather than an investment.

-  Both are utterly committed to middle-class welfare, neither has anything to offer the genuinely poor.

-  Neither side has anything sensible to say about what we are doing in Afghanistan or what we should do about it in the future. As far as one can tell Labor might withdraw without giving the matter much thought, Tony Abbott might put more troops in at American request without giving the matter much thought.

-  Both are so domestically focused one would hardly know that there is a great big world out there, and a not particularly reassuring one.

These people insult our intelligence. Neither of them deserves to be taken seriously.

I shall vote Green.

1 comment:

Darryl Snow said...

You won! Congratulations