Monday, August 26, 2013

Election 2013: Day 22 (or, I guess the mandate is written between the lines)

Over the weekend the Liberal Party launched their campaign and Kevin Rudd denied Julia Gillard had a mandate to introduces the carbon tax.

Let start with Kevin Rudd.

So there he was on Insiders, and Barrie Cassidy asks him a pretty softball question. The, why should we re-elect you question.Insiders - 25-08-2013- Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joins Insiders - Insiders - ABC

BARRIE CASSIDY: OK we'll turn our attention to the campaign now. Why do you say you deserve to be re-elected?

Whew. Time to flick the switch to auto pilot and bring out those great lines that shows just how great life under Labor will be for the next three years:

KEVIN RUDD: I'm the first one to admit at having returned to the prime ministership, in the past, the Government has got a number of things wrong. All governments do. I seek, however, to admit it. For example, I don't think our actions on the carbon tax were right. That's why I changed it and moved towards a floating price ...

Or you could just sh*t on your predecessor.

So Rudd is asked “Why do you say you deserve to be re-elected” and his first response is to say “the Government has got a number of things wrong”. 

Really? That’s your opening gambit?

Let’s at this point stop wondering why the ALP is paying about $10 to win the election. Even Cassidy was surprised:

BARRIE CASSIDY: What was wrong with that?

KEVIN RUDD: Well, to begin with we didn't have a mandate for it. And furthermore a floating price is the best response to changing international markets. So I have changed that.

Well gee, Kev. Top work. Well done agreeing to what Tony Abbott has been saying every days for the past 3 years.

Rudd once was a very good politician – an excellent one in fact. He spent all of 2007 toying with John Howard. Admittedly Howard’s best years were behind him, but that still took some doing. Best of all though was that he wasn’t political. He didn’t come across like a politician and thus he appeals to those who had had enough of the political class and all of its carefully focus-group prepared lines.

To watch Rudd now is dispiriting. He lacks any energy, or an ability to provide any reason for listening to him. He sounds like a politician – a boring one. At times he can be Warren Truss boring.

This was his response on ABC Radio this morning when asked about the LNP’s black hole of funding, and that while the Government's $70b figure is exaggerated Saul Eslake had found a $30b hole:

HOST: Saul Eslake has found $30 billion - that’s an independent assessment.

PM: Well, Mr Eslake’s figure looks at one element of it, which is, he says that that $30 billion relates to a number concerning certain categories, but I don’t wish to enter into a debate about which element is covered and which is not covered, what I’m saying is that Mr Abbott and – sorry, Mr Hockey’s and Mr Robb’s figures are $70 billion, and he could happily for your benefit, for all your listeners benefit, simply put out under the Charter of Budget Honesty, his full reconciliation table and his budget bottom line of what he’s going to cut, and what he’s going to spend. He refuses to do that.

It sounded as riveting as it reads.

Cripes. A barrel is rarely so full of fish to shoot.

How about laughing at the scenario? Here we have a situation where Saul Eslake is saying the Libs aren’t short $70b, but $30b.

Thirty Billion Dollars!

Who cares about the $70b line? Why not instead laugh and say “Well gee, 2 years ago it was $70b. It’s good they’ve done some work, now they’re only $30b short. Thirty billion dollars is more than the annual defence budget, it’s more than we spend each year on education, it’s almost the exact amount spent each year on family benefits. So yeah, they’re doing great, all Tony Abbott has to do is not spend anything on education and he’ll be set!”

Instead: “Mr Eslake’s figure looks at one element of it, which is, he says that that $30 billion relates to a number concerning certain categories, but I don’t wish to enter into a debate about which element is covered and which is not covered…”

It’s rare you see a long hop played so meekly back to the bowler. 


Election 2013- Labor and Kevin Rudd show slight gains in poll - politics live blog - as it happened - World news - theguardian.comIn his speech on Sunday Mr Abbott announced one policy that has some worth – the interest free loans for apprentices (I’ll be covering this in my Drum piece on Wednesday).

He also gave a sop to self-funded retirees, no doubt to overcome their annoyance at finding out that Abbott expects them to pick up part of the tab of his Paid Parental Leave scheme.

There were a few interesting lines though.


By the end of a Coalition government’s first term, the budget will be on-track to a believable surplus.

So much for the budget emergency.

If all that is wrong with the budget is the ALP’s waste, then cutting the waste should be damn easy to do. That Abbott is now putting off a return to surplus until at least 4 years time shows that there is not much easy fruit to pick. He might talk of $100,000 studies for ergonomic chairs, but if they really had something bigger they’d be able to name it.

Problem is Abbott isn’t actually trying to cut the budget during this election. He might be cutting some programs of the ALP, but he’s spending the savings. And if Saul Eslake is to be believed, he’s doing a bit more than that as well.

But just because he’s not all that boastful about getting  back to a surplus, don’t think that doesn’t mean he won’t cut. The budget emergency is still in his head, the problem for us is he won’t say how he is going to fix it until after the election. 

This was shown in the second interesting thing from the speech:

“… and the true state of Labor’s books will be revealed.”

Actually the true state of the books was revealed in the PEFO. Abbott is letting you know that Treasury figures will quickly be found to have some errors of assumptions etc and lo and behold there’ll be a black hole that requires urgent cuts.

He, like Campbell Newman, will do this through an audit. We know he’ll find a need for cuts because no one ever holds an audit just to discover that the Treasury figures were right all along.

It’s a good thing Abbott wants some natural attrition of the public service, because the way morale at Treasury will be with Hockey as its Minister, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more than a few smart economists looking to jump into the private sector.

My favourite response today has been from Liberal Party supporters who see nothing wrong with this approach. They, of course, love the fact that Abbott is going to cut government spending, but they see nothing wrong with not telling us now what he is going to cut.

I also like how the many tabloid newspapers largely ignored this little snippet. I cannot wait for all the hacks to take to Twitter after the election whenever a semi-critical article on Tony Abbott is run. Look! We’re holding him to account! We’re not biased!!

(Excuse me while I bolt that door and observe the horses running away)

The third interesting line was this:

Within a decade, the budget surplus will be 1 per cent of GDP, defence spending will be 2 per cent of GDP, the private health insurance rebate will be fully restored, and each year, government will be a smaller percentage of our economy.

Yes boys and girls, we’ll have a surplus while also having increased defence spending, and less tax revenue.

Defence spending at the moment is at 1.53% of GDP. To get it to 2% in ten years would, The Australian reports, require it to grow “at an annual rate of 5.3 per cent plus inflation for 10 years, or more than double the current rate.”

Do the maths.

More defence spending plus less revenue does not equal a surplus unless a whole lot of something else in the budget is cut. And remember there’s a lot of new spending that will occur in that time for things like the full NDIS and proposed education reforms.

There’s a hell of a lot of holes there for a bloke talking about a “trust deficit”.


Today Kevin Rudd announced more funding for the setup of the “High Speed Rail Authority”. The $52m will go towards:

  • Finalise the track alignment and station locations in consultation with the governments of Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT.

Excellent. Those three states always work well together.

  • Work with Infrastructure Australia to develop a detailed business case.

Good luck with that.

  • Conduct market testing to refine capital cost estimates, construction timetables and to identify opportunities for private sector involvement.

OK, look I am being very cynical. And it’s hard not to be when you’re talking getting the HSR done by 2035.

Rudd did have one nice line though when he stated that the cost of building this by 2035 would actually be less than the amount spent under Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave in the same period of time.

I like High Speed Rail. I like the idea of it. I’m just yet to be convinced there is a business case for it. And I think while voters do like big infrastructure projects – like the NBN – they’re less enamoured with ones they won’t be able to use for 20 years.


Tony Abbott late this afternoon went to the Gold Coast and announced he would:

Immediately suspend and review the flawed Management Plans for Marine Protected Areas imposed without fair or adequate consultation.

Now to suggest there was not fair or adequate consultation done by the Government before it imposed the latest Marine Protect Areas is complete horsesh*t consumed by a bull and excreted onto a pile of bollocks. 

Consultation for the development of the new marine reserves went from May 2011 to February 2012.

There were 245 meetings attended by 1,953 people.

There were 566,377 submissions. “The highest number of submissions (487,435) was received in response to the release of the Commonwealth marine reserve proposal for the Coral Sea Region”.

But most of those submissions were campaign ones – pro-forma stuff that gets tossed on the pile by the public servants.

Where I used to work we’d occasionally get a stack of “postcard campaigns” They were noted, and basically ignored. You really think mass sending a photocopy of a letter is going convince anyone?

(If you do, let me put you right – it doesn't, and you’re wasting you time. Write a real letter and it will get read and answered) 

So that left a still very sizeable 1,496 submissions that would have actually been read and considered.

Of those real submission 41% came from the general community, 27% were from the conservation sector, 10% from commercial fishing and 8% from recreational fishers.

And here is what the Government in response came up with

“Recreational fishing will be allowed in all zones in the marine reserves except in highly protected Marine National Park (IUCN II) zones which are coloured green on the available regional maps. Recreational fishing is permitted in Multiple Use (IUCN VI) zones, Special Purpose (IUCN VI) zones, Habitat Protection (IUCN IV) zones and Recreational Use (IUCN IV) zones. These zones are used extensively over the continental shelf and shelf edge where most recreational fishing occurs.

“The marine reserves are in Commonwealth waters, which start 3 nautical miles (5.5 km) from shore. They do not include beaches, bays, estuaries or coastal waters.”

(The white bits are where you can’t fish)”

map-national-recfishing.jpg (1200×723)

Then came the Management Plans for Marine Protected Areas. The consultation for them occurred in this manner:

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), six draft management plans were released for public comment - the South-east Network draft plan in July 2012, followed by draft plans for the South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East Networks and the Coral Sea Reserve in January 2013.

How many submissions? Oh about 65,000.

These plans go for 10 years and set out how the reserves are to be managed. The management plan for the South-east Network came into effect on 1 July 2013 with the remaining five management plans coming into effect on 1 July 2014.

Tony Abbott today said that:

“There is almost none of us, almost none of us who hasn't dangled a line off a wharf, dangled a line off a tinnie, got an old rod out of the shed and cast out on a beach.”

He should have added “and none of that will change under the current Marine Parks Plane and so I won’t be pandering to a bunch of Liberal and National Party rusted on voters who drive around with “I Fish and I Vote” bumper stickers, by lying to them and say that they won’t be able to go fishing with their grandson anymore.”

But alas he didn’t.

Back in June Tony Burke in response to a question in Parliament noted a protest in Torquay. He said of the protest:

…. if you wanted to go from that rally to an area where you are not allowed to fish, you would have to go out, turn left, go across the Bass Strait and, after 460 kilometres, you would get to the first place where you could not fish, a place where the no-fishing zone was put in place in 2007 when the member for Wentworth was the minister for the environment.

The nearest restriction on recreational fishing was put in place by the Howard government when they were in charge.”

Rather oddly, Tony Abbott didn’t mention that today.


On the front page of today’s Australian there was a story about Noel Pearson saying constitutional change needed a conservative. He said this because "I've always been of the view that on this issue of (a) constitutional recognition referendum, Nixon’s got to go to China," Mr Pearson told The Australian.”

The Nixon went to China line is easily the dimmest analogy trotted out by political figures around the world. It is stupid when said in any country, but more than any other it is so when said by someone in Australia.

Because in Australia the conservatives didn’t go to China, Gough Whitlam did. And he went before Nixon.

The other reason the line is crap is because it gives conservatives a free pass and suggests they are the only ones capable of bringing the country together on contentious issues. It ignores that the main reason this is the case is because on most contentious issues the conservative side goes batsh*t insane when they are put forward by a progressive party.

If conservatives can’t be the ones bringing in some “reform” then they want to take the bat and ball and not just go home, but destroy the grandstand on the way out of the ground.

Take the price on carbon. So happy to campaign on it in 2007. But Rudd gets to bring it in? Why hell it’ll do nothing less than destroy the nation!

Pearson said, “The most conservative end of Australia, rural and regional Australia, needs to trust the change and only a highly conservative leader can carry a referendum.”

There is no reason that could not happen if it were introduced by the ALP. All it would need is the leader of the Liberal and National Parties to show leadership and not sulk in their usual way and let it be known that while they kind of support it, they don’t really care all that much and well maybe it would be better to wait for “evolutionary change” (ie change that I the conservative can take credit for).

Howard was able to bring in gun laws with full and complete support from the ALP and Kim Beazley. I have no doubt at all that were it Beazley who was PM at the time, the support from the LNP would have been decidedly muted.

And we would have been told Nixon’s got to go to China.

Grow up, I say.


Penny said...

Looks like KRudd is in 2010 mode - saying unintelligible things that sweat on some obscure point of detail that only he gives a shit about.

That said, although I think mandate is crock, consider this:

Is it worse to have a mandate you completely fail to fulfill (Rudd on the greatest moral challenge of climate change circa 2007-2010)?
Or, is it worse to achieve something comparable to your original mandate but modified to reflect political reality (Gillard, pricing carbon)?

Personally I think the former is worse for a politician.

Art of the possible, not the pure.

Anonymous said...

It was a strange interview with Rudd. Where is the energy that he had when challenging to become leader. Maybe the polls are getting to him

Anonymous said... gives you an idea of where the fishing issues come from. But the arguments are supposition on possibilities as to potential affects of policy.

Am I getting old when I think about a campaign between Keating and Turnbull. Or Hawke and Turnbull. That might actually make me care.

Of course, Keating and Abbott would be a slaughter.

Moir's cartoon (number 7 here ) hits the target.

VoterBentleigh said...

A mandate is the support given by the electorate to each and every candidate who is successfully elected to the Parliament, to present their policies to the Parliament so that they may be voted upon by all the Parliament. The politicians have no idea of the specific reasons individual voters put them first on the ballot paper; according to the Opposition, it could be due to their sex appeal. It's unlikely that any voter even agrees one hundred per cent with the policies of the candidate to whom they gave their first preference. When a party gains a majority, they have the support of the major part of the electorate to form a government and take their policies and formulate legislation which is then taken to the parliament to be voted upon. Being elected does not give the government an automatic right to introduce policies without the consent of the parliament. What any of the elected representatives, from whichever parties they come, have a right to do, is present legislation to the parliament and using their numbers, get it through the two Houses. Naturally, a party with a majority support will have the numbers for much of their policy. Those who do not have the numbers have no hope of getting legislation passed, whilst those that can gain the numbers do. Their policy platform is mainly a means to get elected. In practice, political representatives can do whatever they like once they get into power, provided that they have the numbers to pass the legislation in both Houses of Parliament. The only problem is that if the electorate do not like the legislation or if they promise certain things and don't deliver, then they can be held to account at the next election. When politicians talk of mandates as justification for their actions, I know that they have a low opinion of the voters' intelligence.

VoterBentleigh said...

On the marine parks, Abbott invokes the need for the "right" science. Message to Tony: it's either scientific or it isn't. Yet he'll immediately suspend the marine park based upon no science at all. Afterwards, the Coalition will review the parks, presumably on the basis of what Tony considers true science - should be interesting.