Monday, February 08, 2010

This week in politics

Politics across Australia have got very interesting, not least due to the number of impending State elections, and of course a forthcoming Federal election.

While some of the news has been about the way the conservatives (both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary) have clawed back territory on the climate change debate, I personally see it as transitory at best. The success is based on two things. The first is the damage being done to the "science", which I've noted before comes more from people over-stating the case for "science proves" rather than "the more convincing scientific argument is".
The second is the transitory appeal of spending our way out of the problem rather than putting a price on carbon (which is sold as a great new tax).

Eventually the public will understand the difference between a Government action that changes price relativities and an actual tax. More importantly the Government will eventually successfully explain that the benefit of an ETS is that you can eventually do international trades on emission rights. It was, after all, the conservatives who promoted the idea that unilateral action was pointless (we only have one atmosphere) - yet they are the ones with the most unilateral policy!

But far more interesting is what is going on inside the Liberal Party. Glen Milne reports that following the leadership change in the Liberals there are now two groups prortraying themselves as "the right", those who organised the coup and another group whose claim stems from their christian conservative values. This divide marries up with the brawl in NSW in which Abbott is reported to have defended David Clarke.

We are offered the tantalizing view that the Liberals have got over their right v moderates fight only to have a right v right battle.

In the midst of this we are told the ALP is targeting leading Liberal moderate Chris Pyne's Sturt as a winnable seat in the election. And we have Tony Abbott trying to defend Barnaby Joyce by telling us that Barnaby could be a new Black Jack McEwen.

The latter news shoul terrify all his Liberal colleagues as McEwen is the individual most credited with holding back the Australian economy from domestic and inernational competition in the 60s and 70s. The inclusion of Doug Anthony in the list does little to make one feel better, as he totally continued the traditio in the late 70s and early 80s.

It is, of course, really what parties in opposition need to do. They need to have a near Darwiniam fight within themselves to determine their policies and leadership. But all too often it is reduced to fighting over the spolis of opposition (such as entitlement to promotion as a shadow), false claims of some kind of group structure (non-factions) instead of the truly hard yards of what you stand for.

It is hard to get any senseyet of what the new conservaive face of the coalition stands for. They are clearly going to keep targeting the deficit, and interest rate rises if they can. But the average Australian does understand that we dodged a bullet - through the combination of thirty years of exceptional Government and early and decussive action in this particular case.

It will be interesting to see if Estimates results in any better targeted attacks.

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