Tuesday, 7 September 2010

We have a Government...

After an afternoon of further drawn out drama, two of the Independents gave Julia Gillard the nod giving her a bare majority in the House of Representatives, and she has seen the Governor General and (we assume) officially been given the guernsey.

Both Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard, we gather, offered the Independents large barrels of pork for the regions to get them on side.  Labor's added up to $10b  - although most of that was a repriorisation of existing funds.  From the sound of it, the Coalition's wasn't any less in size.

In the end Messrs Windsor and Oakeshott seem to have chosen Labor as the more able to govern firstly because of their deal with the Greens (who will hold the balance of power in the Senate) and secondly because they have less incentive to knife the Independents in the back (ah political karma at work) and try for another poll (presumably the fear was a double dissolution in a year's time when the new Senate comes in).

So welcome to the regional/Green revolution! 

What the Independents bargained for

I'm not actually sure the redirection of priorities the Independents have managed to extract is a bad thing.  I think it is true that Australia has under-invested in regional infrastructure for a long time - and that's why everyone ends up in Sydney.  So directing new hospital and school funding to the regions for a year or two is not necessarily atrociously bad policy.  Although I think we can bet on Labor finding a way to funnel some funds to those marginals that matter still...

Similarly, they strongly endorsed Labor's broadband network over the Coalition's approach.  That's the right decision.  The Coalition proposal was second-rate, and the reliance on private sector funding for infrastructure projects is a demonstrably failed model. 

Even more importantly, they've won a commitment that prices will be the same wherever you live.  That will make a real difference to regional development, and I don't think we should be averse to cross-subsidisation for equity reasons.

And many will welcome the commitment to a genuine debate on the Henry Tax Reform package.
Can it work?

The test now will be to see if Labor will stick by their election and other commitments (including not to allow a conscience vote on same sex marriage), whether they can maintain party discipline (the answer is probably yes, they are generally better at this than the Coalition, but there is the Rudd factor to consider) and whether they can hold the whole thing together.

It is true that PM Gillard will have to work to keep the rag tag bunch of Independents and Greens on side. But she also has to look convincing to the wider public if she wants to be re-elected again.

Predictably some Catholic extremists on facebook fear that persecution is nigh because Ms Gillard is an atheist.  Because, it's obvious - Catholics have done so well (not) with Governments that are led by Christians and even Catholics - leaders like Christine Keneally in NSW who has just voted for homosexual adoptions for example. Or John Howard, under whose Government the Parliament voted to allow cloning.   Frankly, we have more to fear from some of our nominal friends than our enemies at the moment. 

In any case, time will tell.

But I really don't think you need to go off and form your underground resistance cells just yet....


R J said...

"Frankly, we have more to fear from some of our nominal friends than our enemies at the moment."

Hear, hear. And a very good point about cloning, in particular.

marcel said...

I agree the nominal friends are a problem.

But I think you can be in both camps; that is the Catholic 'extremist' one denouncing Gillard whilst also being sceptical of what the Coalition would have delivered as well.

We had a heretic versus an atheist on the ballot. I do not think any of us should be happy about this.

R J said...

Well said, Marcel!

Catholic Voter said...

Ah ! Classic Marcel !

Abbott not Catholic enough for you, hey ?