Thursday, October 1, 2015

Different but Still Family



Watching Australian Politics Is Fascinating in large part because it is almost a laboratory watching rats behaviour and trying to relate it to what could happen down the road.

It is so different on this island with its vast moat 1200 miles from the neighbouring Continent, that has its States, three of which are bigger entities than NZ by population and four exceed the NZ GDP, all having significant self rule functions that are intrinsically tied to the Federal Parliament.
Then add in a Federal Senate with  members made up from fixed state ratios plus another bunch from the territories serving six year terms as opposed to the three year, as we have, in the lower house.

It is rare that the strongest party in the House of reps and forms the government, also has control of the Senate and that is what the current Liberal Country coalition has to endure at present.

The lower house members are elected by electorates under a single transferable vote system that can leave a candidate on high forties of first preferences watching an opponent with a lower primary vote, overtake  to a successful majority when lowest candidates preferentials are distributed.

The Senate candidates are elected by a  much more convoluted system that has a State ticket of six  of twelve facing the voters at the triennial house poll,  decided in a mind boggling formulae that has the sixth  candidate succeeding from an initial first preference of the vote as low as 2%. A system that sends some rare examples of nonentities to sit in Canberra with enormous ability to thwart the wishes of the biggest party in the House of representatives,  as is currently the situation.

Eight years ago Kevin Rudd the quintessential poster boy with an uncanny resemblance to the Milky Bar Kid from NZ TV adverts many moons ago, sent the long serving Howard Government to oblivion, even ending John Howards hold on his electorate seat of  Bennelong in the NW of Sydney after holding it for over 30 years.
The overwhelming win by Rudd then become likely to deliver a rarity In Aus Federal history, a one term party government and Rudd's Labor party, in a state of panic replaced him with the First female Federal PM Julia Gillard in the run up to the 2010 election, who went on to win in a tied poll but with enough cross bench support she staggered through an almost full term only to be shafted by a scheming Kevin Rudd back for a last Hurrah of weeks.
Those ALP governments were notable for a destructive series of budgets that promised much and delivered nothing except for entrenched deficits that were destined to hamstring the Abbott Government that swept the ALP from the treasury benches in a landslide barely two years ago.

In 2007Abbott had defeated a man very similar to Rudd, independently wealthy, urbane, lazy and telegenic with a delivery that was in some contrast to the deliberate, pedestrian, punctuated with many repeated sentences of Abbott. Turnbull a man who was increasingly seen as too weak to ever bring the Coalition to government from opposition
Malcolm Turnbull was almost ineffective in opposition and the Liberals turned to Abbot in a one vote majority in a spill motion, to lead them to Victory.
He did by staying on message and conducting a focussed opposition to the so often dysfunctional ALP.
Abbot was only just denied by Gillard  in 2010 who managed a precarious coalition of turncoat liberals and independents with crucial support from the Greens in the Senate.

In 2013 Abbott prevailed, in a task Turnbull could only dream about but the successful opposition leader never managed to convert his undoubted success of opposition  to  Government, facing a very challenging set of economics with embedded deficits complicated by collapsing world mineral markets.
Coal fell from a world price of  $130 a tonne to  fifty, international Iron ore prices halving, leaving an economy in trouble to become even  bleaker.

Abbott however was never seen as popular,  with Turnbull scheming and plotting enjoying overt support from a concerted effort by large sections of the media who were never going to give Tony Abbott  an even break.
The death of a popular Liberal in West Australia triggered a byelection in the seat of Canning and Abbotts poor polling gave Turnbull an opportunity to strike to regain the dream Abbott had shattered seven years earlier and with the support of people who may never have reached the treasury benches under Turnbull,  he ended another Prime Minister's term, to be installed,  the man who arguably might never have delivered the success of Abbott in 2013.

What will Malcolm Turnbull deliver to Australia, polling suggests in his honeymoon the biggest loser after Tony Abbott, is  present ALP leader Bill Shorten who has problems with the revelations from the Heyden Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption still to be faced.
Shorten's polling has dived since the Turnbull Coup

It is indeed a fascinating ongoing drama and as our near neighbour  is central to our fortunes on this side of the Tasman Moat, well worth watching. The ruling Coalition is now being led by a man so conflicted he spent years in pursuit of power, first in many forays to become an ALP candidate that were always doomed as In Australia such power is only conferred by a union rump that makes the pathetic but still essential impeding systems presently in operation in the NZLP look decidedly tame.
An independently wealthy ex merchant banker was never going to be successful in the hands of battle hardened Union leaders who are never far from violence, criminal activity and the blatant use of muscle to attain a leadership position that Turnbull sought so he moved onto the Liberal Party to seek the top job and that has come to pass.
Many to the far right of NZ politics have serious doubts as to John Key's commitment to the old National traditions but when studying Malcolm Turnbull, he is far nearer to being  Labor lite than our current PM.

Another twist in this fascinating evolving exercise in democracy lies in a little known fact that the Senate of the Federal Government has space and facilities for New Zealand's  Twelve Senators in place should we ever become a State of the Commonwealth as was seen a likely outcome as Colonial Australasia was being set up by Westminster in the 19th century. We were for a time a colony of New South Wales.

That would stop the repatriation of our bad bastards who are being deported back here at the end of their Australian incarceration.

1 comment:

The Veteran said...

Luv that 'milky bar kid' analogy.