I have long been a fan of Cyril Pearl's book The Wild Men of Sydney.
Writing on The Punch today David Penberthy says:
To this day, it captures the language of Sydney, the culture of government and business, the sense of entitlement which colours the conduct of so many MPs in this State. ...
It’s a culture which revolves around a strong sense of mateship formalised through a robust factional system, the profanity-laden denunciation of opponents internal and external, covert deal-making with threats to ostracise or destroy anyone who challenges or exposes the deal. ...
Little has been done over the years to change the political culture of Sydney. ...
Come Saturday week Barry O’Farrell will be Premier and my tip, based on the culture of this State and, particularly, city, is that we’re in for four years of pea-hearted inertia.
There is nothing remotely brave about Barry O’Farrell. ... Some of the most senior members of his team are the most long-serving and this doesn’t reflect a reassuring depth of talent and experience, rather an inability to recruit.
The factions are still run by old stagers such as the small-l liberal Michael Photios, and the vitriol which emanates from the capital-c conservatives over religious hardliners such as David Clarke suggests that, in government, O’Farrell will struggle to maintain discipline.
Right now though every member of the Liberal Party knows that all they have to do is keep their heads down and they will romp it in. The magnitude of their victory will be amplified by the fact that they should have won in 2007 but didn’t, for the simple reason that they were a rabble with no policies. They look less of a rabble now. Policy-wise they remain a mystery as O’Farrell has made himself such a small target that he has avoided big ideas.
A crueller analyst would say he’s ignored big ideas because he doesn’t have any. If he does, he is keeping them to himself. I don’t know anyone who could identify the one big thing an O’Farrell Government would do, other than not be a NSW Labor Government.
And there you have it in a nutshell.
Let's go through it in more detail. Labor is "on the nose" because of some very low level corruption that it has dealt with, and the fact that it seems to have personal scandals extruding from it like sweat from a triathlete.
Let's look at the claims in the "real change for NSW" ad.
1. Cut taxes and provide more help for families with the cost of living.
2. We'll provide more beds and more nurses.
3. We'll fast-track public transport and road projects.
4. Our jobs action plan will create 100,000 new jobs.
5. We'll hire 900 extra teachers across the State.
There is precious little explanation of how this miracle of cutting taxes and increasing services will be achieved. The coalition's Jobs Action Plan doesn't appear as a separate policy on their website. The downloadable copy of their Action Plan seems to suggest the full extent of the Jobs Action Plan is to cut payroll tax on jobs added by an employer.
The finance detail seems to be entirely built on a premise that the coalition can and will increase the growth rate of the State economy, hence creating increased government revenue and hence increasing services.
If this sounds familiar it is because it is - it had a name in the 1980s - Reaganomics.
IT DOESN'T WORK!
The 2011 election really should be like the 2007 election. Neither option is particularly good, but maybe the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.
(Note: A good deal more of the economic mumbo-jumbo in the O'Farrell plan is about a "decade of decentralisation" and the "regional kick-start package" - the latter is about paying people $7,000 to relocate to regional NSW and spend 30% of infrastructure funds in regional areas. You know a power station to provide power to Sydney is infrastructure in a regional area!
For good measure the market oriented Liberals are vowing to introduce "Industry Action Plans" for "high performance and high potential industries". As if that's not been tried before.)
Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est