Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ten post-election thoughts

1.We are fortunate to see the end of a government that was mean-spirited, divisive, and dishonest.

2. Contrary to earlier signs, the green vote rather collapsed. Third-party votes tend to suffer at a change in government, simply because part of the electorate wants the change, and another part tries to shore up their end.

3. Australia will now sign Kyoto. It's symbolic, but an important symbolism.

4. I saw no portentiously statesmanlike speeches on the night. That's a shame. Paul Keating will be missed, in this respect.

5. The first reason John Howard lost was because of the reviled industrial relations laws - the so-called WorkChoices. After the 1994 election, he was surprised to find himself with a Senate majority, so didn't need to negotiate legislation through. He got cocky, and brought a raft of unfair laws. Early this year, when he smelled doom, he ameliorated some of the excesses - but it was too late, and the whole pile stank by then. Surprise, surprise, employers had had a field day, and there was a monstrous backlog of complaints that came nowhere close to clearing.

6. The second reason John Howard lost was because he dragged out the election campaign, and inevitably the Reserve Bank raised interest rates. The signs were clear; he could have had the campaign over with by then. The decision on campaign timing was a surprising mistake for such a wily politician.

7. The third reason Howard lost was because he didn't retire from the prime ministership earlier. This was NOT surprising: his sole desire had always been to be Prime Minister, and he wasn't going to give up without a fight.

8. It's likely Kevin Rudd will have at least two terms as Prime Minister. Australia doesn't turf out a government unless it makes mistakes. He's not likely to. His perceived faults are autocracy and brittleness, but these are not present in such measure as to strongly tip the balance. One can only hope all of the front bench grows in the job.

9. The Liberal party will improve in some respects. The two prime leadership aspirants, Costello and Turnbull, are far more progressive than Howard ever was. However, both Costello and Turnbull are not widely liked - at this point. Turnbull is far, far more autocratic than Rudd - not to mention arrogant - so if he succeeds, he could easily doom the Liberals to even longer in the wilderness.

10. Let it never be said that there's no difference between the two sides of politics. Although they have drifted closer together in recent years, there is an important humanity in the left that is lacking in the right, and those who couldn't see it coming in 1996 will have a better appreciation of that now.

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