Monday, May 23, 2022

The 2022 Election

As we sit in the idle time between the excitement created by Saturday night and the accompanying electoral hangover of Sunday and the eventual return of the Writs and a return to the business of governing, every pundit has been out giving their explanation of the significance of the vote. Why should I be any different?

My first observation is that the ALP's 2022 campaign only looked like a small target campaign compared to the insanity of the 2019 campaign. A strong narrow focus on issues that mattered -- climate, Uluru, childcare, aged care, medicare, wages -- meanbt that the press gallery and the coalition couldn't find loose ideas  to distract Labor with. Even with the so-called 'stumbles' Labor never missed a beat on its narrative, nothing distracted from it.

This resulted in the rambling Morrison, the Morrison who tried to bully Albanese in debates one and two. The joy was watching Albanese get stronger by the day when dealing with the gallery. Letting a journalist who wants to keep interuptting the answer to their own question keep talking till they have revealed they had no question, only an answer they wanted to give. Today he went one further just telling a journalist that shouting wouldn't get them the call any earlier.

The second is the over-reach of the Teal independents and the Greens who have both started demanding that Labor increase its target for emissions reduction by 2030 to 60% not 43%. Both talk vaguely about the PMs need to reach an agreement with trhem on confidence and supply. But Albanese not only expects to have a majority in the House of Representatives, he announced today that he already has the agreement of the contiuing cross bench for support on confidence and supply.

And while Labor plans to legislate its target, they don't have to. So attempts to insist on 60% in legislation simply will result in Bills being withdrawn. And Albanes has already turned his focus to the great alliances - the bringing people together - that matters. That is internationally with the Quad meeting inconveniently organised by Morrison already, the jobs summit and the face to face meeting with Premiers and Chief Ministers.

I have suggestion on all four of these topics later. But in the midst of this triumphalism, it is important to realise that politics is changing in this country. Both major poltical parties (or groupings) have experienced a steady decline in their primary vote since the Second World War. 

This is not the place to discuss that trend - just to acknowledge it. I have heard some trying to suggest Labor's continuing decline was strategic votng by Labor voters to ensure that Labor finished behin the Teals and thus ensured Liberal defeat. It is a grand theory, and there is potentially evidence in large swings from Labor in Wentworth and Mackellar and poosibly Hughes and Hume. But swings in Fowler were two to three times bigger. Werriwa, Cunningham, Whitlam and Parramatta sizeable. And those swings to the Teals may just have been genuine swings - the progressive middle class finding something even better than Labor as a vehicle for their causes. 

But just as Labor needs to take stok, so must the Greens whose achievement of three new HoR seats (possibly) and Senators from each State leader Adam Bandt described as a 'mandate' for their agenda. We'll see your four seats Adam, and raise it by 72. 

Now to strategies and tactics. 


Albanese can and should immediately notify the UNFCCC that Australia has a new NDC of a target of  43% by 2030, and an ambition for 60%. That is we guarantee we will get to 43% and are in the process of wotrking on how to over achieve that. He then needs to recreate the machinery necessary for this by either refunding the Climate Change Authority or more radically embrace Stegall's Climate Change Authority. He needs to get the Premiers and Chief Ministers to agree to the inclusion of emissions reduction as an objective of the Australian Energy Market Agreement (it already partially is) and to change energy market governance. Submitting as the Network of Illawarra Consumers of Energy I made a case for new governance arrangements. 

Federation Reform

The biggest compliance cost to business of any size is the need to comply with different State laws and regulations where there is no need for these variations. Decades of faffing around with things like mutual recognition has had no effect, only clear simplification of the ability of the Commonwealth to take over responsility for activities will resolve anything.

National Security

What happened to China since the days when Tony Abbott invited President Xi to address the Parliament is Donald Trump. His aggressive anti-China stance, leading with tariffs but also concerted attempts to block their tech companies' growth, created a reaction in China. We need to restart the conversations tha Keating created with APEC. We need to acknowledge that the well-being of the citizens in South East Asia and the Pacific Island nations is a shared responsibility of the leading economies in the region. After all, the island nations will be facing serious threats under climate change. China can be welcomed as a strategic partner. 

At the same time someone needs to get each of the Government's in Beijing and Taipei to relinquish their idiotic claims that they are the Government of all of China. The partition has existed for over seventy years now. Eliminating wars based on disputed territory should be the UNs number one goal globally. 


We have a ridiculous situation of an official unemployment rate of 4% (3.9%) but an underutilisation rate of 10%. 6% of the Australian workforce is in receipt of JobSeeker payments. Yet the business community moans about a lack of 'skilled workers.' But when people want to tell me that cooks and waitstaff are skilled staff we need to bring in from overseas (because we traditionally have) my response is that we need to pay the workers more, and we need to train more. So in every sector where there is a demonstrated shortage of skilled staff provide a training subsidy to employers. 

To the extent that temporary immigrants are a solution the visa processing delays need to be alleviated immediately by adding more staff. But at the same time the visa system needs massive review to simplify it. 

But Labor's biggest idea here is Jobs and Skills Australia. Clearly Albanese is keen to get this and the summit underway, it is one of the reasons he swore in Richard Marles as employment minister today. (Yes I know the entire press gallery believes he wants to be Minister for Defence. Reality is almost no one ever progresses to greatness from that portfolio - if he wants a crack at being Albo's successor he needs to do employment well. It will cretainly have far more profile than Defence. 


Inflation can be a good thing for an economy. It provides an environment in which relative prices can change more rapidly. The trick is to ensure inflationary pressures are eased on the goods and services that are genuinely essential and have little discretionary aspect. Inflation can also erode the size of the ational debt in real terms.

Equally the idea of targeting 2-3% was never based in any science. So the Government can afford to set a revised target for the RBA to keep inflation within a 2-5% band. 


By all means continue with existing programs, but what is really required is old fashioned public housing and it needs to be available in every LGA. This is one of those things he needs to deal with the Premiers on. 


Apart from cutting the consulting budget and hiring more public servants, Albanese also needs to tell the public service that he expects them to provide advice to his Ministers about risks or vulnerabilities in a policy even though Ministers may not like to hear it. 

That is enough of a list to get on with. 

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans JWL

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