Friday, September 6, 2013

Election 2013: Day 33 (or, Wow it seems like only 33 days ago this all started)

This last day of the campaign saw Kevin Rudd start off early by attacking the Liberal Party over its release of its child care policy last night.

Yep, child care. No one cares about, so of course you would release it without any fan fair…

So what was in it? Mostly it was about getting rid of the requirement to have child care centres move to 1:4 staff child ratio; remove the requirement for centres to have half of all staff with a diploma level qualification or working towards it, and the other half having, or be working toward, a Certificate III level qualification by 1 January 2014.

Similarly removing the need for Centres with 25 or more children will be required to have at least one qualified early childhood teacher.


“We will seek the cooperation of the States and Territories to pause the
requirement that all staff should be qualified until the Australian Children’s Education Quality and Care Authority has undertaken a full review of early childhood qualifications.”

As a result they are also axing the Early Years Quality Fund, which was $300m to provided directly to eligible child care providers to improve quality outcomes for children by supplementing wage increases of $3.00 per hour for Certificate III qualified educators.

It hides this in a bullshit statement:

“The Coalition will undertake a ministerial review of the EYQF establishment process and its operation. The review will examine the EYQF implementation process; in particular, allegations about the fund being established as a vehicle to boost union membership.”

A ministerial review? Yeah that’ll be thorough.

One small blessing: “If elected, the Coalition will honour funds contracted from the EYQF but no further expenditure will be approved.”

So in effect the move of the child care industry towards a more professional sector is pretty much undone. Coalition's legal aid cuts a 'slap in the face' for Indigenous communities - World news -

Now sure, they can do that. It’s a typical right-wing move done under the guise of “reducing red tape” but given how big an issue child care is, that they put it out at such a late stage is a pretty dodgy way of operating.

Similarly they announced they would be cutting $42m in legal aid. This was done in the costings under the innocent line of “Reprioritise Indigenous Policy Reform Program” Let’s just say indigenous groups are rather shirty about finding this out. Especially as it had not been foreshadowed.

It also highlights what I was saying yesterday about not being provided any assumptions or details in their costings document.

For a party that has been well ahead in the polls, they don’t show much courage.


Today Kevin Rudd was in the seats of Dobell and Robertson. I’m surprised he was there, I thought those seats might be already gone to the Libs. so I guess it either means the ALP thinks they’re a a chance, or that all the other seats are so far gone that these are the only one’s left with any hope!

Three years ago Tony Abbott was going on a mad 26 hours straight finals campaign. This time round he’s off to bed early. Rudd has had the better last week, but I think both sides know it hasn’t been good enough.

The big failure for the ALP has been to get people engaged. I seriously doubt many actual uncommitted voters have given much thought or care to the goings on of the past 5 weeks. And when you are the party coming from behind, you need to make them care.


At his doorstop this morning Tony Abbott was asked a very good question:

QUESTION: Mr Abbott, on radio this morning, Andrew Robb said that the low-income super contribution which you're going to cut is the political pain that you have to take in order to live within your means. Why is it that low-income earners are taking the political pain and can you give me an example of one of your policies where high-income earners are taking that pain?

So there we go – all he needs to come up with is ONE policy that hurts high-income earners.

I won’t even bother relating you his first attempt. He spent a lot of blather on how the Liberal Party are really great with superannuation. Fortunately the journalist didn’t let up:

QUESTION: But on high-income earners, where are they taking the political pain?

OK. All he needs is to come up with one example. Let’s see how he goes

TONY ABBOTT: Well, it's very important that we try to strengthen our economy. It’s very important to strengthen our economy, and if you look at our paid parental leave policy, for instance, it’s capped at $150,000 a year, 80 per cent of the people who will benefit from our paid parental leave policy are earning less than $65,000. So it is a policy to enable Australians to move forward together, not to play the class war card, not to play the politics of envy which I absolutely reject.

Yep. The one policy he came up with as an example of high-income earners being hurt is his paid parental leave because it is capped at $150,000!

Oh to be hurt like that.


Yesterday the Libs announced that their budget bottom line would be $6 billion better off. So it was rather surprising to listen to Channel 7 Sydney news tonight and hear Tony Abbott say it would be $9 billion. Cripes money is easy to come by nowadays. (He didn’t get pulled up on it though.)

I also noticed that both Channel 9 and 7 used the exact same stock footage of kids looking at things on the internet while reporting on the Libs aborted net filter plan.

(This is possibly not the most incisive thing I’ve noticed this campaign).


And so tomorrow we get to have a sausage and vote. But mostly we get to have a sausage. I would have voted early, but I didn’t want to miss out on the sausage sizzle. I have been known on occasion to go to a Bunnings on the weekend not to buy any hardware but just because I know there’ll be a sausage sizzle on.

For me in the ACT seat of Fraser, the lower house is a non-event. Andrew Leigh will get home. The only choice is how many will give him their first preference and how many will give him their second preference.

But the Senate contest is more interesting. I doubt the Green’s Simon Sheik will get up and beat the Lib’s Zed Seselja, but it would be nice to see. Mostly it would be nice to see because it might at least give the Liberal Party some pause before it goes through its standard policy of thinking all they need to do is cut the public service and everything will be great.

The main seats I’ll be watching are

  • Melbourne – to see if Adam Bandt gets back in. It would be a fair effort, but I think it unlikely
  • Griffith – mostly because I think the individual seat polling of the seat were crap and I think Rudd will get back with a bit of a swing against him, but no real danger
  • Longman – I heard early on the polling wasn’t good for Wyatt Roy, so it’ll be interesting to see if that holds.
  • All of QLD and NSW. Under Gillard the ALP was likely to only have one seat north of Sydney Harbour. So let’s see how they do with Rudd.
  • Indi. I’d wager if you told lefty political tragics that the result would be Abbott wins the election but Mirabella loses her seat, that a fair few would say they could live with that. Her losing would be an absolute net-win for the parliament.
  • WA Senate. Partly because I know him (he launched my book), but mostly because he is one of the smartest people in Parliament I hope Scott Ludlum gets up in the WA Senate race. In a better world he would be Australia’s Communication Minister. The Senate needs people like him – especially when you look at the LNP and ALP Senate benches and you such light weight space fillers who have the job purely because of factional deals.
    Do the right thing WA – and especially don’t be so dumb as to vote Wikileaks and end up giving your preference to the Nationals.
  • NSW Senate. The LNP ticket has Arthur Sinodinos third, which could mean he gets the last Senate vacancy. If something stupid happens someone like Pauline Hanson could get that spot. Again, the Senate would be poorer if that were the case.


This election campaign has been a rather different one for me than the last one. In some ways I have felt less connected with it. One of the things about working in the APS is you know the result will determine who is your boss. Whatever happens tomorrow, I’ll still be writing away my posts next week hopefully finding interesting things in economic data that provides people with some knowledge they didn’t have before.

This blog has also felt a bit less vital to me – probably because I spend more time trying to think up interesting things to write for Guardian Aus and The Drum.

I wasn’t sure how I would cover the election, but I quite like that my two most read Guardian blog posts were both yesterday on the Libs and Greens costings. I also like that my post slapping down the Libs boat buyback scheme got some good coverage. On The Drum my post that got the most discussion was the one suggesting that Rudd had a lot of thought bubbles, but not much of a sense of being in government with developed policies.

Last time round I was a pretty small voice mostly trying to find things not being mentioned, but perhaps too often complaining about things not being mentioned. This time I tried not so much to write about the coverage but to try and be a bit of the solution.

The experience of having to write on the election as a job is rather different. But to be honest it gives me no sympathy for those others who do it, because it is an incredibly privileged thing to be able to write for large audiences, and being paid to write is about as good as it gets.

It does make me perhaps more admiring of those who do it well. In the economics field this means people like Tim Colebatch, Laura Tingle, Ross Gittins, Stephen Long and David Crowe (when he is not forced to have his name attached to shite with Adam Creighton or David Uren).

I should have written more on the Greens policies, though. They were far and away the most honest with voters with their spends and cuts. Anyone looking for the party at this election that tried to bluff their way through with vague announcements and polices pushed out at the last minute will have to look elsewhere.

And I also think this election would have been better if Christine Milne was allowed to participate in the leaders debates. At the very least she would have knocked Abbott and Rudd off their talking points a bit.

But overall for me, it has been good to get back into some real blogging – as opposed to just using this site to post graphs.

I’ll probably however, drop the posts again (they are actually a bit of an effort – especially when like yesterday I also wrote about 2000 other words for the Guardian), but I do plan to write some more stuff on movies and sport and assorted things.

Writing about politics and economics is great, but it has (largely by accident) become my job and this blog was always my hobby, so I’m going to see if I can make it a bit more of that.

Of course it’ll also still be home to all my graphs – couldn’t stop that!


Paul Montgomery said...

Much appreciated, thanks Greg.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear for Christine Milne getting a look-in. I dearly hope that the end of two-party politics is very soon.

Anonymous said...

I have boycotted the entire thing. Both major parties have campaigned on who can be the cruellest, the most inhuman, degrading and lawless over the plight of the most desperate people on earth.

Anonymous said...

Just like last time, the first stop in trying to make sense of a deliberately confusing campaign from both major parties. A heartfelt thank you for the effort in bringing clarity and common sense to the daily announcements. Looking forward to review from you on the result!...

T_mu said...

Appreciate these blogs Grog, especially given they'd hard yakka. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the sausage sizzle tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Grog. Very much enjoyed and appreciated your commentary and insight.

Peter Hill said...

Thanks Greg. I've enjoyed your pieces for the Drum and the Guardian. It's good to see that you're away from the carnage that may cut through the APS in coming years.

One bone to pick though: you were depressingly cynical on the Drum (TV) last week about Rudd's mention of a Minister of Cities if/when he gets re-elected. Maybe you'd had a hard week.

Yes he should have fleshed out the idea more. But some hard thinking is going to be needed about our cities, especially about how we live in them, what shape they are going to be in the future and how we are going to get around them. All of the anxieties about population growth (and many of the anxieties about asylum seekers too), congestion and resource use can be approached through some good joined-up thinking about our cities. Some guidance could come from a Commonwealth Minister for Cities that seems beyond state governments and local governments. And our state governments seem beholden to a business-as-usual model that suits project-home developers on the edges of cities.

I suppose it will have to wait for the next labor government – the incoming government doesn't seem to have a clue about very much at all. Nothing they want to tell us about anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh that I had the funds to be able to be hurt in such a manner. I'm currently on the dole and likely to stay there - I'm over forty, apparently too female for the IT work I have the most recent experience in, too unfit to clean, too intelligent to work checkouts, too cynical to do sales (which is required for bank tellers these days), and not qualified for anything else. So yeah, low income super payout would have been nice. Actually, any kind of relief, even a commitment to more public housing, would have been a nice change.

But then, I'm getting used to it. I'm sure I'll be facing a lot more in the weeks to come.

And now it's time to get off depressing subjects, and onto a much more interesting competition. Who're you picking to win in the AFL finals round this week? I'm hoping the Dockers win against Geelong - it'd be nice for them to have a chance to win a premiership after so long.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg

Needless to say I'm going to miss your posts - not a day passes without checking and appreciating your rational and logical comments, and picking up what the media does not care to report. Or more importantly reporting the facts the media does not care to report and asking the questions the media does not care to ask and the politicians do not care to answer.

Can I ask a favour? It's not always easy to find your Guardian and Drum (and any other) pieces because the websites are forever being updated and stuff moves on. Do you reckon you could post links to other places where your stuff appears, so I can have a central connection point rather than having to try to find it?

Finally a comment on three things that would ease today's frustration - already the Dockers win means my Magpies get all their finals (hopefully four) at the MCG. That's one good result for the day.

The other would be seeing the vile Sophie Panopoulos Mirabella in the Centrelink queue. If it happens, whats' the betting she is appointed Ambassador to Rome or Athens?

And the lightweight pretend Minister, the MP for Flinders, is set to become the Minister for Invisible Substances, effectively in charge of a policy that he doesn't believe in on an issue his party doesn't believe in. Abbott has condemned him to Minister for Irrelevance.


Greg Jericho said...

Hi DF. My Guardian blog is here. As a rule a post gets put up Monday and Thursdays.

My Drum posts are here. They go up every Wednesday morning (and you'll be able to get them by just going to the Drum page).

(Oh and commmiserations about the Magpies)

Greg Jericho said...

Hi DF. My Guardian blog is here. As a rule a post gets put up Monday and Thursdays.

My Drum posts are here. They go up every Wednesday morning (and you'll be able to get them by just going to the Drum page).

(Oh and commmiserations about the Magpies)

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg

Thanks - links are saved.

cheers and good luck


Anonymous said...

Your mate Scott late of the Senate is now an unemployed green and the balance of power is over. The whole of the green legislative program imposed on us is now going to get repealed and all the programs terminated or defended. The majority rules once again.
And by the way the ABC is going to have a significant review one imagines.