Liberal strategy

Phillip Coorey has an interesting piece in the AFR today setting out Liberal options.

  • Dump the paid parental scheme
  • Split the mining tax repeal legislation
  • Bring down a mini-budget (even if it isn’t called a mini-budget)

But it was this bit that caught my eye:

The soonest this government would call a double dissolution would be late next year. And not before it had achieved three things: demonstrate clearly that the Senate was making the country ungovernable; pass the laws – which Labor and the Greens will support – to stop the likes of Muir and other micro-parties gaming the Senate system ever again; and restore its fortunes in the polls so as not to ensure its own demise by sending everyone back to the ballot box.

I don’t disagree with the analysis – but I think the government faces two problems:

  • Right now I don’t think that they have made the case that the Senate is making the country ungovernable. To be sure the Senate has been holding up legislation, but that has been legislation the broader community doesn’t understand and of what it does understand, it doesn’t like.
  • The government needs to work very hard at restoring its fortunes. This means that people other than Scott Morrison have to step up. Right now he (and I do like Bronwyn Bishop) is the only solid performer. Niki Savva had some words of wisdom on this point on Thursday:

Hockey is talented and a good parliamentary performer but he doesn’t think strategically and fails to grasp that his words have consequences. Each one matters, whether it’s to journalists or to his colleagues, who complain about his general crankiness, his sensitivity to criticism and his propensity to surround himself with backslappers.

He is the Treasurer, not Jacqui Lambie. He has to be well-briefed and measured in everything he says or does.

Yes – Joe Hockey needs to step up a notch and stay up at that level. He has potential to be a great Treasurer – but on his current form people will think of him in the same terms as Wayne Swan and not in the same terms as Peter Costello.

Then there is the third point: Playing silly-buggers with the Senate voting system to “to stop the likes of Muir and other micro-parties gaming the Senate system ever again”. Well what does that mean? Who are these “micro-parties” that annoy so much? Well I count PUP, LDP, FF, AMEP and Xenophon as being the ‘micro-parties” while the ALP, the Coalition and The Greens as being the majors.

So what happened at the last election (including the WA re-run)? So I did some quick and dirty number analysis (yes I know Senators are voted in on a State basis etc) looking at the overall national vote.

First Preference Senators Votes/Senator
Labor 4,038,591 12         336,549
Liberal/National 5,057,218 17         297,483
Greens 1,159,588 4         289,897
PUP 658,976 3         219,659
FF 149,306 1         149,306
LDP 523,831 1         523,831
Xenophon 258,376 1         258,376
AMEP 67,560 1           67,560

Sources here and here.

The LDP had to get over 500,000 votes to get one Senator, the ALP over 300,000 per Senator. PUP just over 200,000 per Senator. Okay those are national figures and so on, but it does give some indication of national support for the various parties – it isn’t clear that “reform” to make it difficult for micro-parties to gain representation would be entirely legitimate.

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that ALP-Greens vote was down by about 9.5% on the 2010 election – but the Liberals didn’t pick up those votes. They went elsewhere – why is that? The message is that the Liberals (and the Coalition more generally) need to lift their game.

Here in Victoria a Labor-lite Liberal government is about to lose office after just one term, the NSW Coalition government, also Labor-lite, is likely to survive. So far the federal Coalition government has been tough on rhetoric, tough on asylum seekers, but soft on the actual debt and deficit and entirely slack in explaining what they are up to, and why they should remain in office. They should learn from the Victorian experience.

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82 Responses to Liberal strategy

  1. ar

    Bronwyn Bishop? Julie, maybe…

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    No Bronwyn – the speaker.

  3. Rich

    Bear in mind that Muir only received 17,000 direct votes – his quota was effectively achieved via a tangled web of preference flows from 23 ‘parties’ – it was basically a lottery

    I don’t necessarily agree with the big parties’ view, which is essentially to gerrymander the senate, but I do think that the system that elected him is a joke – limiting the ballot paper and providing for optional preferences would ensure that people can cast their vote rather than hand it over to political operators

    I’m not entirely opposed to a full lottery senate , though

  4. ar

    Bishop could perform better as Speaker. She hasn’t booted anywhere near enough of the rabble…

  5. Alfonso

    Liberal Strategy ?…geeez, that’d be unconscious Monty Python…
    The Liberal conservative socialists calculate the non Labor leftoids have nowhere else to go.

    So Tone can run PPL, Their ABC untouched, mass 3rd world muslim immigration, every arsehole who self describes as an arteest, a massive, indolent, pretend mission public service, CAGWarming believing, all embracing micro control politics….. on my tax dollars…….and if you don’t vote Labor you have nowhere to go.

    Tone is correct.

  6. Overall national vote is irrelevant to the senate. Situation as it stands is actually a bit screwed up, even if it did result in a few individuals ending up in the senate that we will appreciate.

    Doesn’t mean that whatever system they concoct next — sounds as though it will be a basic lift from the NSW upper house — will be better.

  7. Fisky

    “Senate reform” is nothing more than a euphemism for “We need to elect more Left-wing senators and fewer non-Left senators”.

    That’s all.

  8. Joe

    Senate reform – Give the senate back to the states as intended by the initial WA concession.
    Abolish the senate as it currently is and have legislation passed by the majority of the states via ratification in state parliament by passage of affirmative or negative bill of parliament.
    If the states collectively vote down the same bill twice, this automatically triggers a full federal election.
    NO exemptions for money bills. NO way for the senate to initiate legislation.

  9. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    The LNP need to do more work ensuring people see the Senate as dysfunctional. Ordinary voters don’t seem too disenchanted with it at the moment – because they don’t like the Budget and they will cheer on nay-sayers and disrupters and see ‘amendments’ as a Good Thing, regardless of how destructive they are to the aims of the Budget.

  10. Fisky

    The Senate is not dysfunctional. It’s working much better than the Senate Howard was faced with from 1999-2004. Even after 2004, you hard Senator Barnaby doing his best Tony Windsor routine (which has been consigned to the forgettory) and threatening to veto government legislation to the applause of the Love Media.

  11. Mayan

    The trouble with Senate ‘reform’ is that the LNP are just as much a bunch of centralist control freaks as the ALP/Green alliance.

    Barring some miracle, I’ll just take overseas trips at all future elections. There’s no one worth the vote. The current, inappropriately named, Liberal government is just new faces on the same junta.

  12. Ivan Denisovich

    I suspect the Abbott Govt will mimic the Harper Govt, as described by James Allan:

    http://quadrant.org.au/opinion/qed/2013/12/dont-go-canadian-mr-abbott/

  13. Fisky

    Harper has done OK in terms of art-of-the-possible governance. He managed to get rid of Canada’s federal hate-speech law.

  14. Fisky

    Also, keep in mind that it isn’t really a wise strategy to be shooting-for-the-moon on issue after issue in government. You only have to go down once in that kind of fight for your government to lose all its authority. Maybe there are two or three “red lines” in the life of a single government that absolutely must be fought for, such as when Thatcher took on the Argentines, took on the mining unions, and took on Europe. But then she doubled down on a stupid tax hike, got clobbered, and was out the door.

    The best hope is incremental reform for the most part, with two or three show-downs that are gamed in your favour, while sniffing around for ways to completely change the demographic profile of the electorate, as Thatcher did when she privatised council homes.

  15. H B Bear

    The best thing Abbott could do is fall over the line in 2016, hand over to Morrison after 12 months, who then appoints Cormann as Treasurer, Christian Porter to Finance, clears out Hunt, Lord Turnbull, Kevin Andrews, Peter Dutton and the rest of the Howard dead wood. Bring in a young bunch of genuine Liberal drys and start hacking away at government at all levels.

    Abbott suffers from wanting to be liked by the Left. Morrison doesn’t give a rats arse. I know which I prefer.

  16. Fisky

    I think Morrison has fantastic balance. He has absolutely no concern for his opponents, while always avoiding over-reach. A very rare mix of talents.

  17. srr

    Abbott’s parental leave scheme deferred
    Prime Minster, Tony Abbott
    Latika Bourke 12:15am
    Legislation for Tony Abbott’s prized $5.5 billion paid parental leave scheme has been quietly shelved

  18. wreckage

    PPL shelved? Good.

    By the way, the NSW LNP aren’t nearly as Labor-Lite as the Vics. At least they WEREN’T; they were quietly chipping away at the massive amount of superfluous and useless legislation, and making inroads into the abominably anti-scientific and fascist Native Vegetation laws. The new guy opened with a large land release, which was great, then immediately promised to waste fuck-tonnes of money on solar panels for government office roofs. Damned shame.

  19. John

    Why do we need Senate?!?!?!

  20. Blogstrop

    Why they should remain in office?

    Don’t be ridiculous. If for no other reason than you’d have to have rocks in your head to contemplate any other party or coalition of idiots in their place – and your LDP are a fond wish not a reality. Instead of giving comfort to the enemy and blaming the poliies for their weakness, look at why they are shit scared of being pilloried for doing the tougher stuff re the economy. Fix that and you fix the problem.

  21. Blogstrop

    “they were quietly chipping away at the massive amount of superfluous and useless legislation, and making inroads into the abominably anti-scientific and fascist Native Vegetation laws.”

    I hope you are right there, but suspect it’s not yet done. It should be reported gleefully every time they chip a bit off. We have so many national parks and so many hilly areas which are absolutely smothered in native vegetation that you have to conclude that greenies and swampies have no upper limit on it. For even regrowth to be sacrosanct is the most ridiculous thing ever imposed on farmers.

    Shade trees and lots of wind breaks are a good thing on ag land, but they don’t have to be native, and most native trees don’t make neat windbreaks. They can be good shade trees.

    If ever there was a deserving cause for a revolt against governemt, that is it. Instead, we get farmers duped into opposing CSG by the usual suspects, and a government unable to argue the case for an important resource – unless they strike an alternative pose and simply say it’s all the way with king coal, so there!

  22. MartinG

    H B Bear
    #1402574, posted on August 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    The best thing Abbott could do is fall over the line in 2016, hand over to Morrison.

    Abbott has to go shortly before the next election. He’s a piss weak embarisment.

  23. MartinG

    H B Bear
    #1402574, posted on August 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    The best thing Abbott could do is fall over the line in 2016, hand over to Morrison.

    Abbott has to go shortly before the next election. He’s a piss weak embarrassment. You have to win back the core conservative heartland with someone who they can feel confident will have the balls to get things done.

  24. Yohan

    We have to be careful about Senate reform. Of course I would like LNP to have balance of power to actually get things done. But its a fact that the 3 major parties, LNP, LAB and GREENS all get more Senate seats, as a %, than they get votes as a %. The minor parties are actually under represented on Senate seats.

    In the long run it may be better to lets micro parties in, because this means when the pendulum swings left next time, the Greens and LAB block will not have a senate majority ever again.

  25. 2dogs

    DD? There is another option – a referendum, which the house can insist on without the senate’s approval.

    A new senate could be elected under new rules, leaving the current house intact.

  26. MartinG

    srr
    #1402639, posted on August 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Abbott’s parental leave scheme deferred

    It should be cremated and the prick who thought of it locked up in rubber room.

    Apparently senator Cory Bernardi threatened to cross the floor if it ever came to a vote. Bernardi is a good man. The left hate him. :)

  27. johno

    Another way to cut those numbers is to note that the small Parties got one more Senator than the big three compared with their share of the first preference vote. Hardly an undemocratic scandal!
    (Small parties combined received 14% of the vote, but got 18% of the Senators. 14% of the Senators of the 40 Senators is 6, whereas the small Parties combined got 7 Senators.)

    The more important question is why do we have a Senate. Our Senate was based on the US Senate, which was based on a modified version the UK House of Lords – democratically elected rather than hereditary and representing States, rather than the people. The US Constitution was written before the rise of the modern day political parties and the Australian Constitution was written around the time that our party system was just starting to be established. The party system undermines the rational for State based representation in the Senate. Any State based concerns are normally dealt with within the Party Room before the issues hit the floor of Parliament.

    Can anyone provide a clear reason why we need the Senate? Preferably one that isn’t a narrow partisan justification, but has a clear national interest.

  28. hzhousewife

    I think Morrison has fantastic balance. He has absolutely no concern for his opponents, while always avoiding over-reach. A very rare mix of talents.

    Yes, I’m hoping other Libs emulate him. I have found Abbott and Hockey disappointing,
    and apart from the Bishops, the rest of the Libs are not inspiring either

    The Senate should represent ordinary Aussies, and Ricky Muir is ordinary.
    He just has to avoid being led around by the nose by vested interests.

  29. entropy

    The senate is supposed to be a house of review. Operating as such, it prevents the more intemperate laws from being enacted.

    Qld doesn’t have a senate, so we end up with a sham of an estimates process, bikie specific laws, and Beattie passing a law making it OK to lie to parliament.

    I don’t know what the solution to the current senate problem is though, which is essentially smaller states getting more representation than big states. Halving the total number would be a good start, but might have constitutional issues.

  30. Token

    The more important question is why do we have a Senate. Our Senate was based on the US Senate, which was based on a modified version the UK House of Lords – democratically elected rather than hereditary and representing States, rather than the people.

    The US senate only provides 2 senators per state which avoids limits the ability of chancers and no hopers like Sarah Heartless-Hypocrit being about to get enough votes to get a seat.

    It is time to halve the # of senate seats so the reach of the snakes in Tasmania which are determined to bring the rest of the country down to their level is reduced.

  31. Boambee John

    Coorey is no friend of the Coalition; if he recommends it, take the George Costanza approach – do the opposite!

  32. .Dr.Sir Fred Lenin

    Of course we need a senate,where else would all these useless unemployable aparatchiks get a high paying sinecure?the place was set up because the “founding fathers” couldnt all get jobs in the Reps some Yank suggested a senate ,so they all got on the gravy train,problem solved! The parties the grasped the concept with both hands,what a great place to send pollies who got in the way of other ambitious maaates,ir reward someone fir not exposing where the bodies are buried. i mean are you going to expose corruption and lose this cushy number? The “independents” are merely an adjunct of the Real Purpose of this ” August Body”.

  33. Boambee John

    “limiting the ballot paper and providing for optional preferences would ensure that people can cast their vote rather than hand it over to political operators”

    Optional preferences (requiring only as many selections as seats to be filled) and no “Above the Line” voting will sort out most of the issues.

  34. Tel

    Qld doesn’t have a senate, so we end up with a sham of an estimates process, bikie specific laws, and Beattie passing a law making it OK to lie to parliament.

    http://www.despair.com/mistakes.html

  35. Token

    Coorey is no friend of the Coalition; if he recommends it, take the George Costanza approach – do the opposite!

    There are many in the Turnbull faction who would see Coorey as more of a friend to them than the people who voted for them.

  36. duncanm

    Morrison has exactly the right level of disdain for the usual suspects in the media.

    The whole coalition needs to go to a media workshop guided by his principles.

  37. Ivan Denisovich

    Harper has done OK in terms of art-of-the-possible governance.

    I don’t know enough about the record of the Harper Govt to comment definitively but this suggests otherwise:

    Did Mr. Harper take on the Canadian top judges, who are amongst the world’s most activist in over-ruling the elected legislature? Did he appoint a single Supreme Court of Canada judge who was interpretively conservative or who saw the written constitution as anything other than a ‘living tree’ whose meaning could be changed by judicial fiat at any point in time the judges thought fit? No, not a single one. In fact all of the Supreme Court of Canada appointments made by Harper since he took office, all of them, could have been made by the left-of-centre Liberal Party.

    Appointments to the judiciary is one of the 3 key battlegrounds in the culture wars, imo (along with education & media).

    The best hope is incremental reform for the most part

    Abbott wasted a golden opportunity to make real gains in the culture wars by squibbing it at the last election and ruling so many things out. Given the budget position, it was the perfect time to argue for the privatisation of the ABC, for example. I think the Coalition would be better off being more agressive towards the ABC by highlighting its bias at every opportunity. Such an approach would at least somewhat de-legitimise criticisms of the Coalition. The ABC would be presented with the dilemma of its attacks being seen as verification of Coalition accusations of bias. Voters in 2013 had the choice of accepting Coalition policies or return a hated government. It was the time to be bold. Instead, Abbott offered timidity. You have to be prepared to argue your case and persuade.

  38. Tim

    We don’t need senate reform. We need Clive Palmer to go to prison for embezzlement, and in the process turn loose his senators to fend for themselves.

  39. MemoryVault

    LIBERAL STRATEGY????

    If indeed there is such a thing, then surely it goes something like this . . . .

  40. incoherent rambler

    Tony Nonuts will not do anything that risks offence.
    Over and out.

  41. Tel

    It was the time to be bold. Instead, Abbott offered timidity. You have to be prepared to argue your case and persuade.

    You are presuming that Abbott’s objective was to push his case… just possibly what he wanted was to be Prime Minister.

  42. Des Deskperson

    ‘It should be cremated and the prick who thought of it locked up in rubber room’

    I’ve always understood the PPL scheme to be Abbott’s long time personal obsession.

  43. MemoryVault

    Why Do We Have A Senate?

    The House of Representatives is supposed to represent the will of the Australian people to the Australian Government, in a democratic manner – one person, one vote. The HoR still manages to do this (to a certain extent) despite the machinations of the political parties.

    The Senate is supposed to represent the will of the Australian states to the Australian Government, in a democratic manner – one state, one vote. The Senate no longer manages to do this because of the machinations of the political parties.

    The answer is simple, and Joe gave it to you above. For those of you who missed it:

    Senate reform – Give the senate back to the states as intended by the initial WA concession.
    Abolish the senate as it currently is and have legislation passed by the majority of the states via ratification in state parliament by passage of affirmative or negative bill of parliament.
    If the states collectively vote down the same bill twice, this automatically triggers a full federal election.
    NO exemptions for money bills. NO way for the senate to initiate legislation.

  44. incoherent rambler

    The Liberal Strategy is based on a biblical reference and they are aiming higher than you might think!

    Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

  45. Demosthenes

    I don’t know what the solution to the current senate problem is though, which is essentially smaller states getting more representation than big states.

    That’s a feature, not a bug. Senates are a bulwark against majoritarianism.

  46. incoherent rambler

    Like many things the senate voting would not be a problem if we revoked the recent changes.
    Revert to 10 senators per state. Territories get no senators.
    I would also add that votes should only be allocated for the number of senate positions available. e.g. If 5 senate spots are available, then only the first 5 votes on the ticket would be relevant.

  47. Senile Old Guy

    Territories get no senators.

    People in the NT don’t get the same rights as others?

  48. incoherent rambler

    People in the NT don’t get the same rights as others?

    People in NT are part of the State of South Australia. Tis how it has always been, and is.
    Just as people in ACT are part of NSW.

  49. MemoryVault

    Like many things the senate voting would not be a problem if we revoked the recent changes.
    Revert to 10 senators per state. Territories get no senators.

    While I agree it would be an improvement, Rambler, it doesn’t address the issue of the Senate voting on federal political party lines, rather than representing the will of the individual states.

  50. incoherent rambler

    The designated number (36) in the original constitution would be a vast improvement.

    from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Senate#Size

    The size of the Senate has changed over the years. The Constitution originally provided for 6 senators for each state, resulting in a total of 36 senators. The Constitution permits the Parliament to increase the number of senators, provided that equal numbers of senators from each original state are maintained. Accordingly, in 1948, Senate representation was increased to 10 senators for each state, increasing the total to 60.

    In 1975, the two territories, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, were given an entitlement to elect two senators each for the first time, bringing the number to 64.[5] The senators from the Northern Territory also represent constituents from Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories (Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands), while the senators from the Australian Capital Territory also represent voters from the Jervis Bay Territory.

    The latest expansion in Senate numbers took place in 1984, when the number of senators from each state was increased to 12, resulting in a total of 76 senators.[6]

  51. MartinG

    Des Deskperson
    #1402819, posted on August 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

    ‘It should be cremated and the prick who thought of it locked up in rubber room’

    I’ve always understood the PPL scheme to be Abbott’s long time personal obsession.

    Indeed.

  52. incoherent rambler

    it doesn’t address the issue of the Senate voting on federal political party lines, rather than representing the will of the individual states.

    One suggestion I have seen suggests that half-senate elections should be replaced with appointments from the states. i.e. the state governments appoint half of the senators.

    (Note the cost savings in reducing the number of senators and skipping half senate elections)

  53. Tel

    People in NT are part of the State of South Australia. Tis how it has always been, and is.
    Just as people in ACT are part of NSW.

    NT should be upgraded to full statehood, there’s absolutely no reason why we should adopt a “North is South” attitude and join it to South Australia.

    The purpose of the ACT is completely different and unrelated. It is intended to be a neutral territory not controlled by any state, but it has sort of become a public service haven, so I think a completely different approach needs to be taken there.

  54. Tel

    Why Do We Have A Senate?

    The lower house works on a winner take all principle, the upper house is proportional representation. In order for a law to be considered a good law, it must satisfy both criteria. The benefit of the doubt goes to “don’t mess with what ain’t broken”. There is informally a third house of Parliament in Australia which is the public service… essentially all policy gets filtered through the bureaucrats, both at the drafting stage and the implementation stage.

  55. Ivan Denisovich

    You are presuming that Abbott’s objective was to push his case…

    I haven’t presumed that at all.

    just possibly what he wanted was to be Prime Minister.

    Yep. That was Allan’s criticism of Harper. Power without (much) achievement.

  56. Simple answer to the senate problem … optional voting in the senate while still having compulsory attendance in the reps.

  57. Token

    The designated number (36) in the original constitution would be a vast improvement.

    This is the best path, plus give the territories representation like it is today.

    That way leads to the least chance of people being disenfranchised (which is dumb politice as it is ugly looking and great fodder for a scare campaign).

  58. Token

    Simple answer to the senate problem … optional voting in the senate while still having compulsory attendance in the reps.

    Make all voting optional preferences and tell people clearly they can spoil their vote if they want none of the above.

    This also addresses scare campaigns & reflects what is happening now in terms of spoilage in western Sydney.

  59. blogstrop

    Proportional representation is a dud. Forget about it, scrap it. Look what it’s done for the Tasmaniacs and the Australian Communards Territory, not to mention the Senate.
    Some here might argue that it’s a brake on majoritarianism or some similar rubbish. If that’s your line you can forget whinging about Tony Abbott being too timid. You made it so.

  60. incoherent rambler

    Proportional representation is a dud.

    All the kids get a medal. Twelth place gets a seat.

  61. Oh come on

    Blogstrop, I assume you consider yourself a conservative or a libertarian or something similar. If so, I don’t understand why you want to make it much easier for governments to pass laws. Don’t forget the coalition isn’t always in power.

    Anyway, Abbott was timid before the Senate began deconstructing his crappy budget. From what I can see, the Senate is fixing to shield us from the expensive luvvie sops in the coalition agenda, which has got to be worth two cheers.

  62. MemoryVault

    Oh come on
    #1402997, posted on August 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    +1 +1 +1 . . . .

    I too am having difficulty understanding why a senate that refuses to pass bad legislation,
    is considered somehow “dysfunctional”.

  63. blogstrop

    If you guys think this senate is passing sensible judgement on legislation, I might as well leave you to it. Further, if you are convinced that a harsher budget was going to create anything but more sturm und drang from the 80% of the media that is leftist, again I have to move on and spend some time doing something more constructive.
    To read people here wanting another change of government already is pretty dispiriting. You give comfort to the people who cheerlead for the people who created the god-awful mess.

  64. Wolfman

    If you guys think this senate is passing sensible judgement on legislation, I might as well leave you to it. Further, if you are convinced that a harsher budget was going to create anything but more sturm und drang from the 80% of the media that is leftist, again I have to move on and spend some time doing something more constructive.
    To read people here wanting another change of government already is pretty dispiriting. You give comfort to the people who cheerlead for the people who created the god-awful mess.

    Well said sir !

  65. Normal Norman

    It does appear now to be clear that the problem is the PM. He has no strategy for his policy delivery. I fact his most prominent policy piece (PPL) is itself highlighting the lack of policy in the budget construct. In addition, he appears to have no real leadership skill. His ministers are flying blind and lack a coherent message.
    It does appear rather likely that on the current trend he will be displaced before the next election. Most likely by Bishop I would think.
    Certainly we need a leader who can attract sufficient voter support to end this nonsense with the Senate and cross-bench splinters.

  66. Diogenes

    “they were quietly chipping away at the massive amount of superfluous and useless legislation, and making inroads into the abominably anti-scientific and fascist Native Vegetation laws.”

    And they then stupidily want to replace a perfectly functioning railway that has more than paid for itself (the original coal wharves & staithes at Queens Wharf + junctions for the lines out of the Burwood Estate around Merwether) ) with light rail in Newcastle at a cost of $350million + . And this at a time when Hunter mayors want to see more commuter trains up as far as Scone, opening the SMR for passenger service to Cessnock, and reopening part of the Richmond Vale Line to service Minmi and all the new estates going in around it (this last one could be included in the much talked about Newcastle freight bypass).

  67. Diogenes

    NSW Labor Light …

    “they were quietly chipping away at the massive amount of superfluous and useless legislation, and making inroads into the abominably anti-scientific and fascist Native Vegetation laws.”

    And they then stupidily want to replace a perfectly functioning railway that has more than paid for itself (the original coal wharves & staithes at Queens Wharf + junctions for the lines out of the Burwood Estate around Merwether) ) with light rail in Newcastle at a cost of $350million + . And this at a time when Hunter mayors want to see more commuter trains up as far as Scone, opening the SMR for passenger service to Cessnock, and reopening part of the Richmond Vale Line to service Minmi and all the new estates going in around it (this last one could be included in the much talked about Newcastle freight bypass).

  68. blogstrop

    He has no strategy for his policy delivery.

    Give us the plan, Norman. If you can.

  69. Hugh

    @norman: totally agree.
    @blogstrop: the lack of a plan is the point. This is chaos, and our PM is at the centre.

  70. egg_

    It does appear rather likely that on the current trend he will be displaced before the next election.

    Likely already fractious behind the scenes and increasingly so; Hockey’s pathetic self-promotion being a case in point and of course “the Prime Minister has my full support” c/- Yes Minister.

  71. blogstrop

    Or should that be Alain Egg?

  72. Hugh

    @blogstrop: my plan is to have a plan. That is, to reconcile policy and politics and to establish effective grounds that allow policy to be delivered.
    For example: on a budget predicated on deficit and debt reduction I would not permit ridiculous and patently dubious spending (example: 250 million to put religion into schools). I would not have a totally untested and unsupported spending item hanging over a tough budget (PPL). I would go hard on middle class welfare as a saleable and supportable budget essential (superannuation tax incentives, negative gearing, various programs of recent vintage).
    Above all , I would make sure the reductions were effective.
    I would also be looking at the many dodgy old policies in the way of future investment and growth (IR, stake tariffs, port and transport monopolies) and get them out of the way.
    Of course, these things are totally obvious. The pity is that they are absent.

  73. Alfonso

    Tone does welfare (sic) policy like Catholic Charity guilt being restrained by Peter Walsh.
    Disastrous.

  74. candy

    I would also be looking at the many dodgy old policies in the way of future investment and growth (IR, stake tariffs, port and transport monopolies)

    Hugh, I would say that we’d be looking at massive union strikes when you mention IR and anything to do with transport and ports. Also, I don’t know what various programs of recent vintage are?

    Tony Abbott is committed to PPL to keep women in the workforce into the future and at the same time have that special bonding time with their babies until they are six months old. It’s a family policy, Hugh, and usually Labor like that sort of thing?

  75. Hugh

    @candy: if course unions don’t like change. So what? By recent middle class welfare I mean pretty much all of the handouts added to policy in the last two decades that has no means test. As for PPL: you have to be kidding.

  76. Robert O.

    If we went back to first past the post voting, and optional too boot, we would overcome the many impediments that we have at the moment. As it is voters seem to have two goes, if their first candidate doesn’t make it, they get another vote. Take the seat of Griffith , Dr. Glasson topped the polls twice and lost out because Green voters had two votes, one for their candidate and a de facto second vote. However, I cannot see it happening as the minor parties would lose out. For the senate just a randomised list and voters mark six boxes with a tick, those six with the most ticks become elected. As the greens have only one member in the lower house, the senate may reflect something similar.

  77. Squirrel

    “Right now I don’t think that they have made the case that the Senate is making the country ungovernable” – exactly – the Government has not done nearly enough to get through the message that Australia faces serious fiscal and economic challenges. They need to be unrelenting in conveying and explaining this message, and in explaining and exposing the folly of the “she’ll be right” rhetoric from Labor and its fellow-travellers.

    It would be much better if the PM formerly dropped the PPL scheme and presented this as a virtue – a sacrifice (made after much soul searching etc. etc.) in recognition of just how pressing the fiscal situation is. With that weakness disposed of, it would be so much harder for Labor to pretend that federal finances would be just fine, but for the PM’s “rolled gold” parental leave scheme.

    Whether it’s in a mini-Budget, or just further negotations with the Senate, the Government should drop the no-dole for 6 months proposal, reduce the Medicare co-payment to a neat five bucks and quietly shelve the mega medical research fund, and say that all the co-payment funds will go to the repairing the Budget.

    Beyond that, they should stand their ground, keep hammering away at Labor’s magic pudding fantasies, and just get on with the day-to-day tasks of governing. Forget a double dissolution – the punters aren’t interested, they just want the pollies to get on with it and leave them alone.

  78. Blogstrop

    Squirrel, The government did plenty to get thatmessage across in parliament. We all know, be cause we don’t just swallow the mass media, which has had a lot less to say about it. You won’t cure the problems unless you find a way to communicate effectively with the masses which doesn’t get so much interference from theleft segment,mwhich is large.
    Oh, yes, let’s by all means have a plan, and it should have strict budgetary measures and IR reform as its core. But wait, didn’t the voters get talked into throwing out the coalition, the ones who had things running along the more or less right lines? Why was that? First, a huge beatup and millions spent to demonise Work Choices. Second, the mistaken feeling that everything could be done, money spent, without ruining the surplus. Third, the quite deliberate misrepresentation of Rudd as conservative lite.
    The litany of lies worked, and it,s no wonder the coalition are so gun shy now. You’ll have to fix the media beforemyou can fix the nation.

  79. Squirrel

    “Blogstrop

    #1403632, posted on August 4, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Squirrel, The government did plenty to get thatmessage across in parliament. We all know, be cause we don’t just swallow the mass media, which has had a lot less to say about it. You won’t cure the problems unless you find a way to communicate effectively with the masses which doesn’t get so much interference from theleft segment,mwhich is large.
    Oh, yes, let’s by all means have a plan, and it should have strict budgetary measures and IR reform as its core. But wait, didn’t the voters get talked into throwing out the coalition, the ones who had things running along the more or less right lines? Why was that? First, a huge beatup and millions spent to demonise Work Choices. Second, the mistaken feeling that everything could be done, money spent, without ruining the surplus. Third, the quite deliberate misrepresentation of Rudd as conservative lite.
    The litany of lies worked, and it,s no wonder the coalition are so gun shy now. You’ll have to fix the media beforemyou can fix the nation.”

    Quite right (about fixing the media) – but most unlikely – private sector media want happy, cashed-up consumers and the public media wants big government – so we’ll have to wait for the international bond markets to dish out some nasty medicine. Then we can look forward to the European option of swapping governments every election, until enough punters come to realise that changing the backsides on the government benches in parliament does not change the economic facts of life.

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