The independents are going with:

September 7, 2010

Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter announced he was supporting the Liberal-led coalition  earlier today making it 74-all for the two main parties.

Jack the Insider, live blogger for the Australian, says Tony Windsor has given his support to Labor.

That makes it 75-74 to Labor.

Windsor is taking questions then the other independent, Rob Oakeshott will make his announcement soon.

UPDATE :

From Jack’s live blog:

3:17
RO says neither party has a mandate
3:18
Oakeshott talking about the new parliament and how it will function but still no decision
3:20
Oakeshott – a hard decision , line ball judgment decision. “Could not get any closer”.
3:20
Oakeshott hinting he will support Labor
3:21
On now and still not confirming which way he will go.
3:23
RO certainly likes to create suspense
3:26
I’m going to call this. Oakeshott supports Labor
3:31
Labor. RO supports Labor on rural education.
3:31
Both Windsor and Oakeshott will support the government

Tuesday September 7, 2010 3:31 
3:31
Gillard can now form minority government
3:32
LABOR WINS
3:35
Labor wins. 76 – 74

The ABC reports:

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia’s political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.

After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.

Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.

Mr Oakeshott’s and Mr Windsor’s decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.

Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.

It is a fragile majority and it will take a lot of skill to hold it together for the parliamentary term.

 When Jenny Shipley was leading a minority government here she said she used to wake up each day and do the numbers, and she knew she couldn’t always rely on her own team. Julia Gillard will be in a very similar position.


A start to closing NZ-Aust wage gap

August 25, 2010

New Zealanders’ after-tax average earnings have increased faster than those in Australia in the last couple of years.

Finance Minister Bill English said that was because Australia has had higher inflation and smaller tax cuts than we’ve had on this side of the Tasman.

“As a result, the wage gap between the two countries has actually narrowed slightly.

“We are not getting too excited about that, because we are such a long way behind Australia to begin with. But it’s a good start.”

It’s also a welcome reversal from the widening gap which happened under Labour.

Since September 2008, real after-tax wages in New Zealand have increased by 8.7 per cent. Using a comparable series, Australia’s real after-tax wages have increased by 4.8 per cent in the same period.

“By comparison, New Zealand wage growth significantly lagged Australia’s in the nine years to September 2008. Over that entire period, New Zealand’s real after tax wage growth was a paltry 3 per cent, compared with 19 per cent growth in Australia.

“Put another way, when Labour was in office, real after tax wages in Australia increased over six times faster than wages in New Zealand. No wonder the wage gap blew out under Labour’s watch.”

 The outcome of the Australian election will influence the gap – if Labor wins taxes are likely to increase more or decrease more slowly.

However, for the good of both countries we need the gap to continue to close because of progress in New Zealand not regression in Australia.

That means more policies which promote economic growth and continued reversal of the tax and spend policies which put us into recession long before the rest of the world.


Climate change debate distorted by dogma

July 20, 2008

University of Otago geographer, Professor Geoffrey Kearsley, says that while human activity is changing the climate there is an increasing body of science that says the sun may have a greater role than previously thought.

It is now pretty much taken for granted that global warming is ongoing, that climate change is being driven by human activity and that it is critically important that extraordinary changes be made in fundamental aspects of our economy and way of life.

On the small scale, people plant trees, examine food miles, purchase carbon offsets and modify their travel behaviour.

Cities and even countries vie with one another to become carbon neutral; as a nation, we are contemplating emission controls, taxes and carbon-trading schemes that will have a profound effect on individual households and the national economy alike.

When linked with the other great crisis of our times – peak oil – it has become not only socially desirable to embrace all of this, but sustainability has achieved the status of a higher morality.

It has become politically unacceptable to doubt any of the current dogma.

So politics not science is driving the debate.

Not to subscribe wholeheartedly to the sustainability ethos is to be labelled not just a sceptic but a denier, with overtones of Holocaust denial and a wilful, unreasonable immorality.

It is said that we are now beyond the science and that the science of global warming has been finalised or determined and that all scientists agree.

Sceptics and deniers are simply cynical pawns in the pockets of the big oil companies.

And no one points out the vested interests in what has become the climate change industry.

This is unfortunate, to say the least.

Science is rarely determined or finalised; science evolves and the huge complexity of climate science will certainly continue to evolve in the light of new facts, new experiences and new understandings. Read the rest of this entry »


Style vs Substance

June 25, 2008

If it wasn’t for the gender of the Prime Minister  this could be about New Zealand:

To a visitor from outer space, it would be hard to distinguish the job description of prime minister today from that of a talk show or game show host. The PM is a regular fixture on radio and television, where no topic is too small for him to discuss. He offers cash prizes to listeners and he sweats on the weekly ratings.

Sounds very familiar.

The lines between celebrity and politics blurred some time ago. Our leaders are more needy because their handlers have convinced them that if they miss a single news bulletin the public will soon forget them. But voters can just as easily project wisdom on to politicians who are silent as those who blather sweet platitudes about Australian values and the noble struggle of the working family.

This too could be about politics on this side of the Tasman.

Although it is tempting to see Rudd as merely the sum of his past lives as a Queensland bureaucrat and diplomat to China, his approach to federal office is, in a way, no different from Howard’s.

“The moment you start campaigning for the next election is today,” Howard told his partyroom at the first meeting after the Coalition’s 2004 election win.  I’m a great believer in perpetual campaigning.”

And this explains one of the problems with the many unexplaiend consequences of the Electoral Finance Act: it’s impossible to separate the role of an MP from campaigning because under the Act’s very broad definition so much of what an MP does could also be deemed to be campaigning.

This happens to be a worldwide trend. Tony Blair noted last June, just after leaving office, that a large part of his time as a British prime minister was spent “coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity”. Blair measured the compression of the news cycle by the number of topics he ran a day: “When I fought the 1997 election we took an issue a day. In 2005, we had to have one for the morning, another for the afternoon and by the evening that agenda had already moved on.”

Thankfully, the Australian market is still small enough to keep Rudd to three issues a week rather than three a day.

It was not always thus. Remember when sit-down press conferences took precedence over the door stop and parliament was the place to announce big policies? The last government to practise politics the old-fashioned way was the Hawke-Keating regime between 1983 and 1996. To be fair, Howard’s administration began as Paul Keating’s ended, with a sense that the public was intelligent enough to handle a detailed policy debate over months and years, not hours and days.

The GST was Australia’s last old-school reform. Howard needed four years, from 1997 to 2001, to discuss, draft, amend and bed down the new tax system.

When was the last time the electorate was treated intelligently with prolonged discussion, drafting, amending and bedding down of policy here?

Under Rudd, Labor operates on the delusion that the electorate can absorb two or three earth-shattering announcements a week. Darting from topic to topic, like a shock jock or newspaper columnist, is why Howard lost the plot in his final year in office.

Has Rudd forgotten Howard’s increasingly hysterical public conversation of 2007: the Murray-Darling takeover, tax cuts, the Northern Territory intervention, a federal rescue of one hospital in a marginal seat in Tasmania and more tax cuts?

What really binds Nelson and Rudd is their mistaken belief in the 24/7 media cycle as an end in itself. The reason Blair and Bill Clinton have such dismal legacies in the deeper ponds of British and US politics is that they wasted too much time thinking of the next line instead of honing policy.

This is not a curse of either the Left or the Right. US Republican President George W. Bush followed the Democrat Clinton by devoting more time to crafting the headline for invading Iraq – weapons of mass destruction – than worrying about securing the peace afterwards.

The media has reduced politicians into thinking by the minute.

Or is it that politicians only think by the minute and so that’s all that’s left to report?

Think about the issues on which Rudd hopes to build a new reform consensus, from climate change to the Federation to the tax, welfare and retirement incomes systems. Rudd can’t win any of these debates by press release alone. He has to patiently explain himself again and again, one big idea at a time.

Patiently, explaining one big idea at a time? Could any of our politicians try that here – and if they did, would we do them the courtesy of listening to them and really thinking about what they were saying? Because if didn’t we would indeed get the politicians we deserve.


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