Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Should we change our government?

Even as a partisan in this debate I still feel it is worthwhile to ask a basic question. Would we be better-off with an experienced Howard Government or with a broadly similar, though less experienced, Rudd Labor Government? The arguments I have seen favouring Labor often seem negative – reasons for not voting for the Coalition rather than a strong preference for Rudd’s team.

Rudd is certainly trying hard not to offend and is offering a ‘small targets’ policy but why then throw out an experienced party. Will Labor provide better economic management? What will it do better?

Some of the criticisms of the Coalition are that it is a slow on implementing a reform agenda and that its age has made it run out of ideas. Despite WorkChoices I think there might be some point to this though it would be surprising to me if the mass of Australians saw the lack of a reform agenda as a reason to vote against the coalition.

By the way Labor’s last spell in office (13 years) was longer than John Howard’s current term. The age of John Howard himself (68 in two days) seems an irrelevancy.

There are also specific issues such as Australia’s involvement in the unpopular involvement in the war in Iraq and the claimed untrustworthiness of the Government (Tampa, AWB etc.). This issues are often discussed by the left but I am unsure if it is accurate or if it reflects general community attitudes. Would the electorate appreciate a repudiation of the American position in Iraq with all that that would imply?

The most disappointing aspect of Coalition policies to me has been the continued lack of emphasis on tertiary education and on producing a first-rate university system. At a time when investment in education is more important as it has ever been – we will never be competitive with countries like China in mass produced manufactured goods and we cannot operate purely as a rural and mineral products exporter - I think we are not showing foresight. It would be better to be marginally over-investing in education than under-investing as we are.
How will a Rudd government improve the Australian education system?

Finally, maybe there are no sensible reasons for change other than the view that a change once in a while is a good thing. While the long spell of economic progress that has been enjoyed by the Coalition should operate in its favour there might also be the feeling (as Paul Keating has remarked) that it is an inexpensive time to make a major political change. The economy is in good shape and we can afford a few adjustment costs.

What do you think? What is the main reason you will vote as you will? Will tou be voting for a different party this election?

Try to keep your response as free of polemics as possible.


Sir Henry said...

1. Yes.

2. No, we would not be better off with an "experienced Howard". What is he experiencedin anyway? Humbug? Political goal shifting? In any case, he can't stay there forever; so someone INexperienced will have to take over in any case. Furthermore, it is experts and advisers that make the government not a parvenu like Howard. He is a mediocrity intellectually anyhow and as a paragon of political morality - well, the view has already been exressed in private polling. Let's face it - Howard's longevity is mainly due to the ineptitude of the opposition rather than any eperience or wisdom which he has brought to the job.

3. Oh purleeze. The ALP was smart enough to change leaders during its tenure. The Liberal party wasn't. This is partly because Costello lacks backbone but also because Howard has sabotaged any healthy succession. This is a problem created as much by him as much as Jeanette Howard. Such monomania does the country no good. Look at the treatment the heir apparent is receiving and has received from Mrs Howard. What is this, Divine Right of PMs? Give us a break!

4. There is not enough room here to ennumerate this government's failings.

Howard's has been the worst government in Australia's history, the most venal and most self serving with no vision. Zero. In fact, less than zero.

You mention investment in education. Good point, even if you are not in any position to say so because you could be said to have a conflict of interest.

Certainly, we could fund more medical doctor places instead of importing them from Lower Urdu. That in itself is a disgrace. Such doctors ought not to be enticed by us from Third World countries, which subsidise such education and we shamelessly profit form it.

The whole notion of special visas for highly skilled workers and professionals is an outrage because of the damage it does to weaker economies by robbing them of their hard-won skills base. We can afford to train all our doctors and technicians and more.

Anonymous said...

Fuzzflash sez...

5. Yes, we should change govermnent, Harry. We deserve better than Ratty Smeagol, a bloke who would rather grasp and hold his "precious" power, than anything else.

I'm afraid he and his closest advisor are going to have to find new digs.

Appu said...

I was prepared to make a reasoned argument but having read your post Sir Henry, there is nothing left to say.

hc said...

Sir Henry, I have to inquire. Have you enjoyed a few too many ports this evening with your after-dinner cigar?

You have continued on with the Howard is a dummy line which is manifestly untrue. Then you say that this dummy only gets away with it because the opposition is so weak. Then why are you advocating a vote for them?

I always suggest a good bowel movement is advisory before an after dinner discussion of politics. It separates out the crap from the logic.

This is not the worst government in history. That title goes to the Whitlam fiasco. I know its true because John Stone said so in last month's Quadrant.

One point I agree is that I fdo have a conflict of interest with respect to education - you can feel the tug of my efforts on your purse strings it is true. But still I think I am being honest.

Your observations about the brain drain depend on how you calibrate welfare. If some brainy doctor from Upper BongoBongo Land lands in Australia and practises medicine in Wagga Wagga then the welfare of the Wagga Waggerians increases and that of residents of Bongo Bongo goes down. But if the latter if calculated inclusive of the doctor who has made his or her escape then it rises too.

But I agree a reasonable cresponse cwould be to give the AMA a kick in the rear end and encourage more of our bright lads and lassies to study medicine here.

The decisive role of groups like the AMA has nil to do with JWH - it was fostered by the ALP as well.

Spiros said...

Let's see.

We should not elect the Labor Party because they have no experience of government, and it's important to have experienced people in government.

Therefore, the Government should always be re-electedl forever more.



Sir Henry said...

Just a half bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial chilled at 6 degrees. At 12% alcohol I find it sharpens my intellect rather than dull it, as port (a Tories' drink) does. The cigar was a Dominican Fonseca hand-rolled.

It's not true that Whitlam's was the worst government. It was flawed but pioneering and rather exciting. I know you once thought so. Anyhow, the succeeding one, Fraser's was objectively worse. McMahon's was also much worse.

I am not a fan of the Ruddster but the Liberal Party needs a good rogering because it has become arrogant and dull.

If that unlovely Queensland crew of Swan, Kaiser and Rudd get up my nose, I could live with Cossie if in the wilderness years he got rid of the dead wood like Downer, Ruddock, the Bishop twins, Andrews and Joe Hockey. Where does the Liberal Party get these freaks from? Central Casting? These people are barely human. They are grotesque.

Hopefully, most of them will be gone, swept away by the coming maelstrom, anyway.

Abbott is an intelligent man but has conflicts of interest in health and education. Ageing or sport would be good portfolios for him next time but if you are reading this Tip - No Iceberg - ambassadorship to the Holy See would be best.

To sum up. I am not saying that Howard is a dummy. Far from it. He has shown a rare survival cunning seen in atom bomb resistant cockroaches and the long-lived Rattus norvegicus.

Sadly, his is not statesmanship nor wisdom that can be applied to governing.

Samuel Johnson's aphorism about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel is a case in point. So what do you reckon about Mr Howard's choice of jogging attire?

Sir Henry said...

Oh I forgot. The reason why Howard was so successful because the opposition let him rope-a-dope them: this is in PREVIOUS ELECTIONS.

You are trying to find an illogicality in my calling for a change in government now.

There is nothing inconsistent in what I said. Think about it.

Yobbo said...

lol@you Harry.

You really expect to get a rational answer?

Hatred for Howard is just fever pitch and has been for a couple of years now.

If you ever read any lefty blogs you'd know that already. Howard is worse than Bush, Hitler, Satan and The Grinch who stole Christmas all put together.

Sir Henry said...

Wardie, maaaate, maaate, I have heard you trot this one out so many times it sounds like that radio jingle selling cheap land in Busselton. Stick to playing Wolfenstein or Gears of War or whatever on your playstation and don't you worry your pretty little head about politics - that's for grown ups.

I reckon Howard has the mad cow disease. All the symptoms are there: memory loss, flights of irrational fancy, flecks of foam at the corner of the mouth, the twitches and the rictus and now falling over. He is about to retire for "health reasons". In the next few weeks expect this press conference:

"It was my intention to lead my party to the next election. But it would not be fair to my fellow Australians for me to continue unless I am 100 per cent," he will say.

"I have consulted medical advice and I cannot say I have been given a clean bill of health. Therefore, I have decided to hand over to my successor, Mr Costello, so he can have a clean shot at the election and be elected by the Australian people to continue the Liberal Party's program for Australia.

"I must put the Australian people first, I've always said that. This is what democracy is all about. Thank you ladies and gentlemen."

hc said...

Yobbo, I was interested in the response I would get by asking a dumb straightforward question.

You are correct - the left get so enraged and irrational about Howard they forget why they dislike him. Moreover, most can't put two words together to say why they prefer Rudd.

Does Rudd have better education policies? Better defence policies or will he run the economy better? Will he manage defence better or improve the social welfare system?

A lot of the leftists need someone to hate because that's what they are - negative people who will always tell you the glass is half empty.

Or is it just Iraq and WorkChoices? These nits don't want an active economic reform agenda that's for sure.

If Rudd wins watch this lot reposition themselves around the greens or other ridiculous positions. Rudd will quickly become the traitor who soild out - he is already being treated this way over at LP.

Sir Henry by the way is pulling your leg. He sleeps with a John Howard teddy bear and suffers from insomnia whenever another opinion poll comes out confirming the poor chances of the Coalition.

Anonymous said...


Who's policies do you prefer on climate change?

Nick Innes

Yobbo said...

Or is it just Iraq and WorkChoices? These nits don't want an active economic reform agenda that's for sure.

We both know that the left hated Howard way before either of these things became an issue.

hc said...


Labor's stance on climate change has selected specific cutback targets. The Coalition's stance is the trading scheme with emphasis on not doing damage to the economy but without predefined targets.

My guess is that actual policies as they unfold will not differ much.

I guess slight preference for Labor on this one. I would prefer Australia to ratify Kyoto and Labor offers this. Also the Coalition have dragged their feet and there is a greater sense of urgency from Labor.

What's your view?

Anonymous said...

I concur with your comments Harry.


Bring Back CL's blog said...

The government is old tired and run out of ideas. IR is a prime example.
The have added a lot of regulation merely to rid themselves of unions rather than deregulating the market.

We also need a change because the structural side of the budget needs treasury to work on it and this needs a change.

Lastly I do love people rabbiting on about howard haters.
Obviously never around in 95/6 when there were Keating haters by the bucket load

There are plenty of potential good ministers to do reforming work ( Smith, Emerson, Tanner, Gillard) so like 96 we need a change of government.

Sir Henry is an impostor.

He should be smoking a churchill Havana whilst drinking some cognac

hc said...


Sir Henry is real. He was the 'new boy' at my school.

I agree there was a lot of venom poured on Keating. He infuriated me but did many valuable things in relation to the economy.

Maybe we should all (yes, I include myself) grow up and stop personalising politics.

Its wrong to hate these guys. Not only wrong but stupid because we stop looking at important things -policies.

It will be one of my New Year's Resolutions but I'll start today.

Sir Henry said...

Bring back Cl's:

If you must know, currently in my humidor are:
Cohiba, Bolivar No. 2, full corona Dunhill from the West Indies, Sancho Panza, Puro Placer handmade. One for every occasion.

Fortified wines are for winos.

There was plenty of vitriol aimed at Latham and Whitlam, personally by the Tories' shills in the media.

But funnily enough, it was Whitlam's government that first attacked the tariff wall. Biggest supporters of the tariffs and protection has been the most right wing formation in Australian politics - the Country Party. And you, Harry, would find more in common with Latham's economics than with Howard's. Be honest.

Latham and Keating have had actual ideas and policies. Whereas Howard has had little if any.

But that is not a mystery. The bloke is an economic illiterate and was a terrible treasurer, as Cossie rightly points out.

Howard's raison d'etre has always been to get himself elected and to stay in power at all costs. Even if it meant distorting the housing market to buggary and being partially responsible for the flight of capital to it via infantile first home buyers schemes and other tax dodges. I mean, it's bloody dogs breakfast now, isn't it?

This leftist, rightist stuff is all bullshit. I am talking Fukuyama and Bloom here Harry.

Howard's xenophobic populist plays are straight out of old Labor songbook. At least the ALP had an ostensible reason in not wanting to affect the wages and conditions of sugar cane cutters.

You're right, I hate Rudd already.

Harry, the Latham Diaries is worth a read even for a charcter appraisal of Rudd. I picked up a copy for $10 recently and will send it to you if you want. I'm just about finished.

Anonymous said...

The most disappointing aspect of Coalition policies to me has been the continued lack of emphasis on tertiary education and on producing a first-rate university system.

Why don't you guys do it yourselves, Harry. Why do you need the government to help create another Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Cornell to name but a few?

hc said...

Jack, I've read the Latham Diaries. I liked a lot of Latham's economics (& politics) but a difficult man to be PM. He hated almost everyone in his own party. Keating was one of his few pin up boys.

Anonymous, Harvard has a $10b endowment fund quite apart from its real estate and a collection of the world's top academics. I work at Bundoora and have to save for 6 months to take a trip to St Kilda to buy a cheesecake.

Setting up a private institution easy if you don't need libraries and infrastructure - but that is not an education.

Anonymous said...

"He hated almost everyone in his own party."

That's because they are easy to hate.

Swan is particularly unlovely. Ditto Smith and Conroy. Bleagh!

Sir Henry said...

I said the above BTW. Didn't mean to be anonymous.