Governments can afford no mistakes

In The Australian today
“The voice of the people, the Romans used to say, is the voice of the gods. And on Saturday, that voice decisively rejected Queensland’s LNP government and the policies it stood for. “

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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57 Responses to Governments can afford no mistakes

  1. Craig Mc

    Governments can only get away with mistakes – the kind of mistakes where you bankrupt the place giving away stuff.

  2. Alfonso

    Dunno, Allan Jones might be right. The details of the destruction of small people’s lives and assets by coal seam gas / coal mining is indeed shocking. That’s how you get 15-20% swings, not by some trivial form letter award to Phil.

  3. Craig Mc

    I’m sure they’re real worried about CSG in metro electorates.

  4. Tel

    How is that decisive? Ashgrove was decisive, but the election as a whole will come down to preferences and be very close.

  5. Entropy

    Who’s life has been destroyed by CSG! No one. Also note that where the CSG wells are the LNP were returned or won the seat from KAP. In Gladstone, the LNP vote rose, but it isn’t an LNP seat anyway. And asset sales because of the port.

  6. Rossini

    We have spent (wasted) the money .Just don’t expct us to repay any of it

  7. JohnA

    Then, the gods have grown old, weary, self-serving and petulant. All that remains is for them to be displaced by Thespis and his company of strolling players (with thanks to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan for their first, but lost, collaboration).

  8. The voice of the people, the Romans used to say, is the voice of the gods.

    Which Roman? Name one.
    The earliest attested use of the phrase Vox populi vox Dei—“The voice of the people is the voice of God”—was in 798 AD, when Alcuin wrote to Carolus Magnus (in Epistle 127) repudiating the notion: Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.—“They should not be heard who are wont to say ‘the voice of the people [is] the voice of God’ since the riotousness of the crowd is ever near to madness.”
    Francis Bacon (in Instauratio Magna, I, vi, 9) wrote Vox populi habet aliquid divinum—“The voice of the people has something divine”—but he was not quite a Roman.

  9. calli

    JohnA
    #1588377, posted on February 2, 2015 at 7:30 am
    Then, the gods have grown old, weary, self-serving and petulant. All that remains is for them to be displaced by Thespis and his company of strolling players (with thanks to Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan for their first, but lost, collaboration).

    Paul Keating would agree.

    Every now and then you have to flick the switch to vaudeville.

  10. Amused

    A decisive election leaves you with a change of government that is known on the night of the election.

    Queensland 2012 was decisive. Queensland 2015 is not.

  11. Entropy

    You know, I have realised that it isn’t Brisbane seats that did the damage. Most of those were always going to go back to ALP anyway, because they are normally ALP seats. It is FNQ. 3 Townsville seats, Cairns (although it too is normally ALP), Barron River and Cook, plus of course the two KAP electorates. I bet the PUP vote is much higher up there too.
    For some reason they always vote against their own interests up there, voting for colourful characters who stick it up ’em down in Brisbane/Canberra, because a Brisbane centric ALP is only too happy to sell them out for green votes in the leafy suburbs around Mt Cootha. And FNQ residents wonder why there is no development, their roads are crap, and people leave.

  12. lotocoti

    The details of the destruction of small people’s lives and assets by coal seam gas / coal mining is indeed shocking hyperbolic bullshit.

    Fixed that for you.
    Some of that ‘prime agricultural land’ Jones rabbits on about requires laser levelling to retain every drop of rain, otherwise it isn’t ‘prime agricultural land’.
    And that .01% of land which has a well, earns the land owner orders of magnitude more than the rest.
    Or those small people’s lives are ruined because pump motors run at sound levels equal to or lower than ambient levels.
    Or Environmental Compliance discovered they were running unregistered or illegal bores.
    Or that there were crops of an ‘interesting’ nature on adjacent state land.
    Or that ‘coal dust’ plaguing people’s lives was brake dust from the existing rail line.
    I could go on. And on.
    All those ‘woes’ courtesy of the previous labor government’s approvals.

  13. Pedro

    On the strong choices campaign, first, it was kind of annoying, choices are hard or easy, not strong. I guess they were trying to avoid saying hard choices. And that, I think, tells you something about the quality of the campaign. I wasn’t really plain talking. Second, when you are trying to sell the tough love, don’t complicate it with the rest of the Newman stupidity. Third, pretty clearly the “Gosh, we found a disaster!” line doesn’t work any more. If you say you won’t sack public servants then don’t. If you think you might need to, then don’t say it.

    Sounds a lot like Abbott doesn’t it.

  14. Token

    Third, pretty clearly the “Gosh, we found a disaster!” line doesn’t work any more. If you say you won’t sack public servants then don’t. If you think you might need to, then don’t say it.

    Don’t forget the endless dropping of messages to the electorates on how the supposedly small government low tax conservatives are looking to raise GST and other taxes.

    Why would people put their trust in such people?

  15. Token

    All those ‘woes’ courtesy of the previous labor government’s approvals.

    Jones will be dead in 10 years time when the rest of us pay for his self serving actions.

  16. Lem

    Queensland 2012 was decisive. Queensland 2015 is not.

    Exactly. What has happened is we have come back to the parity situation of years gone by where political parties must fight for every vote to fall over the line.

    The problem for Newman’s government, and many like it in recent years, is it allowed Newman to act in too autocratic a way and invested way too much political capital in one man, who was viewed as arrogant and rambunctious, notwithstanding the improved economic situation of the state. The electorate started to hate Newman, and so because his position was seen inextricably entwined with every member, they said no.

    The same thing is happening federally. Abbott cannot recover his position as preferred PM, it just will not happen. He did well pre-election because he was not the hopeless gaffe ridden Gillard, and he kept his mouth shut. Now in government with his mouth open he has bumbled from one error to another and revealed himself as out of touch to the electorate, at a time that the economy is faltering and people are anxious about job security. He stole at least a couple of percent from the Qld coalition, all the difference when it is line ball.

    Abbott acting as if he is some sort of President who was directly elected by the people is the most foolish thing I have heard him say (and only just yesterday, the man cannot cease to irritate conservative supporters), because (this may be news to him!) he was elected by his own electorate, not the nation, but if the voters get it in their heads that the only way to be rid of him is to be rid of the whole Coalition then that is what they will do, attempt to vote out every last member. Just like they did to Newman.

    So the only question for the Coalition is: Do we want to have a fighting chance in 2016, or are we prepared to die in the trenches fighting under the command of a Douglas Haig Like character?

  17. cynical1

    Queensland 2012 was decisive. Queensland 2015 is not.

    Nonsense.

    From a maxicab to 50/50ish.

    Puhleease…

  18. candy

    Conservative governments can barely touch welfare or the public service, that’s what I see. It’s perilous for them, one term governments and all and powerful union/Getup/left media to crucify them.

  19. Token

    …and all and powerful union/Getup/left media to crucify them.

    Note how the Labor-Lites refuse to enact electoral reform and still have not addressed the endless campaigning by those groups which are subsidised by the tax payers?

    They could use government to address the stacked political environment but choose not to.

    The Labor-Lites are detirmined to be in permanent opposition.

  20. jupes

    Do we want to have a fighting chance in 2016, or are we prepared to die in the trenches fighting under the command of a Douglas Haig Like character?

    Douglas Haig won the war.

  21. jupes

    Conservative governments can barely touch welfare or the public service, that’s what I see.

    Sad but true.

    Older generations voted for the party best able to run the economy.

    Our generation just votes for free stuff.

  22. lotocoti

    Queensland 2012 was decisive. Queensland 2015 is not.

    I’ve been saying this all weekend.
    2012 was an outlier. 2015 continues the slow decline of labor seats.
    The electorate I’m in was held by a labor stalwart for 27 years.
    The LNP guy is starting his second term.

  23. Lem

    Douglas Haig won the war.

    Douglas Haig pursued a battleground policy that now has thousands and thousands of graves scattered across the Somme in memory of him.

    Douglas Haig did not win the war. No one won WW1.

  24. Token

    Douglas Haig pursued a battleground policy that now has thousands and thousands of graves scattered across the Somme in memory of him.

    Douglas Haig won the war by consuming the British Empire.

    The victory was only achieved by an amazing consumption of lives and materials which for the short term gave the British & French global leadership but ultimately lead to the surrenders to totalitarians in the 1930s.

  25. .

    jupes will buy into any conservative revisionism, even that the last budget was voted for by “conservative” and not socialist Liberal Senators.

  26. .

    Alfonso
    #1588356, posted on February 2, 2015 at 6:29 am
    Dunno, Allan Jones might be right. The details of the destruction of small people’s lives and assets by coal seam gas / coal mining is indeed shocking. That’s how you get 15-20% swings, not by some trivial form letter award to Phil.

    No it isn’t. You believe in black helicopters like Alan Jones as well you pathetic nutjob.

    …and you vote LNP – quelle surprise!

  27. lotocoti

    Where were the Unicum Party LDP candidates?

  28. Grigory M

    How is that decisive? Ashgrove was decisive, but the election as a whole will come down to preferences and be very close.

    Huh? Losing 35-40 of your 80 seats in one term is decisive. The closeness of the final outcome is just incidental.

  29. Alfonso

    Ah, Liberts the new corporate Statists…..well, isn’t everyone these days.

  30. lotocoti

    The closeness of the final outcome is just incidental.

    FFS.
    Some people have the analytical skills of an antelope.

  31. Leo G

    Huh? Losing 35-40 of your 80 seats in one term is decisive. The closeness of the final outcome is just incidental.

    Not really- a decisive result is one that is indisputable and unreserved. The Ashgrove result was decisive for Campbell Newman- the overall Queensland election result does not at this stage appear to be a decisive victory for Labor.

  32. The details of the destruction of small people’s lives and assets by coal seam gas / coal mining is indeed shocking hyperbolic bullshit.

    Fixed that for you.
    Some of that ‘prime agricultural land’ Jones rabbits on about requires laser levelling to retain every drop of rain, otherwise it isn’t ‘prime agricultural land’.
    And that .01% of land which has a well, earns the land owner orders of magnitude more than the rest.
    Or those small people’s lives are ruined because pump motors run at sound levels equal to or lower than ambient levels.
    Or Environmental Compliance discovered they were running unregistered or illegal bores.
    Or that there were crops of an ‘interesting’ nature on adjacent state land.
    Or that ‘coal dust’ plaguing people’s lives was brake dust from the existing rail line.
    I could go on. And on.
    All those ‘woes’ courtesy of the previous labor government’s approvals.

    Let me guess, Locoti is not on the receiving end of CSG.
    None of the above Big Mining bullet points change the point. CSG makes money for Big Mining, and for the State govt. CSG is part of progress and is necessary.

    However, to say it does not have a negative impact, ranging to one helluva negative impact, upon the lives of small people on the receiving end, is arrogant Campbell Newman type bullshit.

    I can’t work out if Locoti is really Campbell Newman, or ALP head office, or works in Big Mining.

  33. .

    However, to say it does not have a negative impact, ranging to one helluva negative impact, upon the lives of small people on the receiving end, is arrogant Campbell Newman type bullshit.

    NAME THEM!

  34. .

    Alfonso
    #1588469, posted on February 2, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Ah, Liberts the new corporate Statists…..well, isn’t everyone these days.

    Alfonso takes payment from Gulf States as do Green activists to sledge CSG over oil mining.

    Idiot.

  35. Alfonso

    State direction suits Liberts well….as long as it’s Libert compatible.

  36. .

    You cannot name anyone who has been ruined by CSG, and you are parroting the words of the communist green left, at the behest of oil rich Gulf states.

    You are a complete and utter turkey Alfonse.

  37. Alfonso

    Liberts: the defenders of property right until they conflict with mining.

  38. Muddy Puppy

    Here’s a simple strategy that maybe even the Liberals can manage: Promise EVERYBODY EVERYTHING they want and then simply renege when you get into office. Then do EXACTLY the same thing for the following election. No-one has a memory or gives a stuff about five minutes ago. It’s all about ME NOW.

  39. .

    Alfonso
    #1588823, posted on February 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Liberts: the defenders of property right until they conflict with mining.

    You’re a shallow vapid fuckwit Alfonso.

    Name ONE landholder who has lost out to CSG. Just ONE or FUCK OFF!

  40. Muddy Puppy

    Oh, I forgot. The Propaganda Media. OK, scratch that last comment.

  41. Dot, please cease shilling for Big Gas.

    This is a libertarian blogsite, thus the narrative is:
    “Get your noxious weed infested exploration vehicle off my lawn!” *click *click * (noise of pump action shotgun slide)

  42. .

    NAME THE PROPERTY OWNERS WHO HAVE COPPED A LOSS AND NOT BEEN GENEROUSLY COMPENSATED!

    GO!!!

  43. Dot, in a previous life I had a reputation for shooting people who spake unto the world as you speak.
    I should have lived up to it.

    Then again, it’s never too late to restart…….

  44. .

    Fucking name them and stop crapping on about how many people you’ve shot.

    Just name them.

  45. Dot, you seem to be off your medication. Go & take a really good dose.

  46. Gordon Collis

    We are all experts after the fact. More people voted for the LNP than the other parties so not every person in QLD was anti Newman. Seats like Ipswich were never going to stay with the LNP, last election was an unusual occurrence and they returned to their comfort zone.What it really displays is that the”left” will only vote “right” when the economic situation gets dire then when the situation improves back to the hand out party. Disclaimer. I am not allowed to vote , just allowed to pay tax for the last 10 years living in this great State.

  47. .

    Name them you fuckwit.

    Name the farmers who have been shafted by CSG.

    You cannot even name one.

    You support Alan Jones and his high handed toff economic vandalism.

  48. Snoopy

    Dot, ABC Radio National found them the day before the election. Quelle surprise.

    You won’t believe it. Some farmers negotiate good deals. Others don’t. It’s a scandal.

  49. Snoopy

    day before the this Queensland election.

  50. .

    Right, you’ve found ONE.

    Sure, lock the gates!

    I’m sure the Greenies are going to help with live exports and agriculture in general.

    PS

    Real player, RN? FFs.

    Ag Force?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-06/grant-maudsley-to-take-the-reins-as-agforce-president/5793544

    Fuck those guys.

    New AgForce president calls for improved drought support measures

    How about selling up? Why have you got a right to an income if you cannot run your business?!

    The landowner you mention has 15 wells on his property. He’s doing well. He just wants more.

    ‘Wells please, but don’t use any infrastructure to extract it. Plus I’d like my cheque now”

  51. Dot, have you considered fucking up & dying? You’re acting like a deadshit.

  52. Leigh Lowe

    Not really- a decisive result is one that is indisputable and unreserved. The Ashgrove result was decisive for Campbell Newman- the overall Queensland election result does not at this stage appear to be a decisive victory for Labor.

    Was it you making that point yesterday LeoG?
    That does provide a good perspective.
    I suspect the 2012 result was overkill.
    Everyone new Blight would lose, they felt conned by Blight and Teflon Beattie and it ended up being a bit of a stacks-on.
    This time I think there was a decisive majority who thought the LNP would win, but didn’t like Newman’s personal style, and decided to give him a Kennet-style warning which ended up having a 5-10 seat overshoot.
    I’ll bet if the election was re-run next week sans Newman the LNP would end up with a small majority.

  53. Alfonso

    Ah, Libert property rights vs mining are identical to those available from Liberal or Labor.

    You’d think a Libert Champion might have the decency to be just a teensy bit ashamed in that company?
    Nah.
    Statists all.
    Quelle surprise.

  54. .

    Steve at the Pub
    #1589095, posted on February 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm
    Dot, have you considered fucking up & dying? You’re acting like a deadshit.

    No facts.

    The anti CSG campaign is groundless.

    You can fuck off, pal.

    Alfonso
    #1589126, posted on February 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm
    Ah, Libert property rights vs mining are identical to those available from Liberal or Labor.

    You fucking tool Alfonso. Land ownership should hold allodial title (if you know what that means you deadshit).

    Where were you, Liberal or Labor when Peter Spencer was being cheated out of his livelihood?

  55. Aussiepundit

    No facts.

    The anti CSG campaign is groundless.

    You are right, but Steve at the Pub is just trolling, so don’t bother arguing.

  56. srr

    .
    #1588917, posted on February 2, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    NAME THE PROPERTY OWNERS WHO HAVE COPPED A LOSS AND NOT BEEN GENEROUSLY COMPENSATED!

    GO!!!

    Enough Dot.

    You use a very widely read, influential blog, to regularly abuse people for your twisted verbals of their words, and then demand they Name Private Citizens, or ‘lose’ to your abusive rants.

    Experienced debaters on public forums of anonymous commentators know better than to fall for that sort of fishing for individuals to target in the real world, but some, on bad days, may not.

    Either identify your real self, or please, apologise for your too frequent, very low, ‘fishing’ techniques.

  57. .

    No, you shut up srr. No one has been verballed you oleagenous dickhead. If you are offended I have insulted Alan Jones, he should have thought about that before he laid in bed with the Gulf state funded Greenfilthers.

    Did Alan Jones ever think through his idea of interviewing that loon from QLD who reckons the gas companies sent black helicopters after her?

    My opposition has not proferred any facts other than telling me that he has shot people who have argued with him perviously.

    Just shut up you clown. I won’t be accused of verballing when the opposition have sided with lunatics, scum and have made such a poor argument.

    Find a landholder who has a genuine complaint about CSG, not some whinger who believes the gas companies should pay him more when he gets greedy for earning a return of $5000/hectare per year with no capital inputs.

    Apologise? You can kiss my arse, you greenscum kowtowing, black helicopters lunatic.

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