Sunday, April 03, 2011

Roll Out the O'Barrell

Tony Abbott's got it wrong, and not for the first time, when he states that the landslide victory (only the third such in our democratic history) is a rejection of Carbon Tax. That's giving this carbon tax too much credit(s). 

The people of New South Wales were fed up with the state Labor Party for a number of reasons (if you were unkind, you'd stretch that to multitude of reasons). There's been plenty of talk about the way they had drifted from their own constituency - even from the departing  Premier Kristina Keneally - and of long term Labor-ites angry enough to vote their political adversaries in instead. 

At the end of the day, a government of whichever stripe is going to be booted out if it doesn't govern well. Here are the 306* more valid reasons than a federal carbon tax for why a government of sixteen years lost power:

  • They're a government that's been in for several years and warded off every challenger during that time. That breeds the kind of inefficiencies and distractions that plague a political party that feels entitled and complacent.
  • They weren't a real worker's party any more. Mick Young was a shearer and Bob Hawke was a drover's dog but the generations of NSW Labor driven by Carr were branch officials, with unions becoming recruiting grounds for a seat of one's own. If new Labor Party leader, John Robertson, follows through from his job as an electrician and as an empassioned union boss opposing the privatisation of electricity, then he could have the credentials for returning the party to its roots.
  • Whenever a party rapidly changes leaders - and it's not the only party to do so - it appears unstable, which does nothing to engender confidence. When you get stately state leaders/statesmen like Neville Wran or Sir Charles Court or able premiers like Bob Carr, the voting public feel reassured. A series of wild cards being flicked across the table would more describe the last government once Carr retired. Iemma looked like a rabbit in the spotlight most of the time and was as tiresome with his slogans as Abbott's support base. Nathan Rees gave it a red hot go but then got rolled by factions.
  • Ah yes, factions, and behind the scenes powerbrokers. That's what makes politicians as a profession so unpalatable to the common (wo)man; the whole needling and manouevring that is hidden from view.
  •  The T Card, which rivals the Tea Party for monumental folly to a t. Why is it not possible for a government, or one of its many agencies, to put out a contract as applicable as any commercial undertaking?  If you quote low, make sure you can get it in in under budget, and if you claim to be the most able to implement the project, please have the courtesy to prove it and recoup the investment. Here the bottom line is: you have the successful tender, make sure you make it work or you don't get paid. That's eleven million dollars down the drain. Makes a wildly overbudget swimming pool at local govt level look like a trifle.
  • Splendour: remember that episode of Tony Abbott being rebuffed by Andrew Wilkie for having offered too much? Fiscal responsibility on the part of government is the best way to convince the populace through any blip in the market. And we really just want to know that the appropriate amount was spent to get the most productive outcome. Anything else is fluff.
  • the Premier State was in bed with developers; its ministers movers and shakers, often with odious personalities that added to a volatile fuel.
  • Barangaroo deserves its own special column for getting taken for a row. A project for which there was widespread and vocal, not to mention high profile, opposition to, being shoved through without consultation in the dying days of a government on the way out. Here's the symbol of all that arrogance, all that manipulating of planning laws, all in the one gaudy monstrosity. More of a fuck you than a thank you from the party that had been given so many years in power.
  • Public transport. Sydney had a great transport system when the 2000 Olympics were on. That proved it could be done. It's been a sad and sorry saga since then, with promises of new lines, new trains, new safety mechanisms, and none met. I worked at Rail Access Corporation and it seemed to be just a thing to show on the whiteboard the different kinds of driver error occurring each month, without a plan to prevent it.
  • The road network hasn't been much better. It's fascinatingly horrible to hear of tunnels not getting usage and of other networks jamming up.
*I don't have time to list them all

Essentially the voter looks at a government's performance on the ground, they care considerably less for gimmicky issues that concern the Opposition of the day. Barry O'Farrell didn't have to be flash, or running with weirdo protest groups, to make an impact. He just had to promise better government, and getting things back on track.


At 8:20 am , Blogger Iain said...

Good summary.

I think TA's duty bound to blame every Labor loss on the carbon tax though - I mean, why start paying attention to the facts now?

At 9:00 am , Blogger Berko Wills said...

True that. And I didn't even mention the sell-off of the power grid: another move that was always wildly unpopular.
Or the sale of the Lotteries Commission, which is almost literally killing the goose that layed the golden egg.

Thanks for your comment :-)


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