The Kobayashi Maru was test used in the Star Trek universe where officer candidates at the Starfleet Academy were subjected to a no-win simulation designed to test character.
In the most recent Star Trek movie, James Tiberius Kirk (then candidate, later captain) failed his first two attempts at the Kobayashi Maru simulation, but for his third attempt, re-framed the challenge by reprogramming the simulation to allow him to win the otherwise no-win challenge.
Within the next 12-18 months, Australians will face their own Kobayashi Maru moment. And as for Starfleet Academy officer candidates, Australians will be faced with a no-win situation; to vote for a formal coalition of the Liberal and National Parties or to vote for an informal coalition of the Labor and Greens Parties. Whichever of these two coalitions win, Australians will almost certainly lose.
- Both coalitions will bring bi-partisanship to fiscal profligacy, they will just disagree on the margin where to pork barrel.
- Both coalitions will bring bi-partisanship to to energy policy, they will just disagree on the margin about whether Australia should have the most expensive electricity in the world or just the second most expensive.
- Both coalitions will bring bi-partisanship to the perpetual expansion of government, they will just disagree on whether to have a French size state or a Venezuelan size state.
The bipartisanship on policy but disagreement on degree of implementation will also cover education funding, health funding, industrial relations, foreign policy, parliamentary remuneration and benefits, increasing regulation, increasing taxes and general deindustrialization.
It is entirely unclear where the Liberal-National and Labor-Green coalitions will disagree on principle or policy at all.
Australians seem to recognize their coming Kobayashi Maru no-win choice as evidenced by the approval ratings of the parliamentary leaders. But given Australia’s preferential voting system that protects the “majors”, one of these groups is certain to win a majority of seats in the parliament and thus form government.
Will Australians re-frame the situation and “reprogram the simulation” so as to extract a win from an otherwise certain loss? Perhaps, but it will be a major challenge.
The Australian version of the Kobayashi Maru is very well programmed. In addition to and enabled by the preferential voting system, if the “majors” feel threatened, they will swap preferences to make sure that no other group can get the numbers to form government.
Will Australian’s be able to re-frame the game. Let’s hope so.
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