They do not by and large like politicians – I suppose that, by and large, they do not really like anyone much – but they have a certain respect for them, the same way they might have for a horse or a gun dog. There is of course a lot of Texan among this strata of billionaire. A lot of them are sort of high class John Wayne’s – enormously rich John Wayne’s who don’t feel it necessary to do their own bar room brawling. — John Hepworth on International Capitalists.
Government ministers and their Directors General do not like hung parliaments and what they spawn – minority governments at the mercy of independents. It makes it that much harder for them to do the bidding of big coal shipping companies when they want to dredge the barrier reef. It is so inconvenient to have to include an independent member of parliament in these decisions. Firstly, from the directors general’s point of view these independents know so little of what real government is all about. As Sir Humphrey said:
- Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
- Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.
In a word, Public Service Directors General think independents are ‘looney tunes’.
From the relevant Ministers point of view they are ‘loose cannons’ capable of insisting on anything.
No, Prime Minister!
Take, for example, in 2010 when Bob Katter became one of ‘the big three’ independents who would determine which party formed government a round of negotiations led to demands by Bob that government do more for rural areas. In a private telephone conversation Abbott asked Bob to back the coalition. Bob said he wouldn’t because the LNP had sold out the bush. So Abbott turned on Bob shouting down the phone line:
“ I am going to fuck you, you are fucked Bob, fucked, fucked, fucked!”
To which Bob replied:
“ No Tony in this case I am the fucker and it is you who is the fuckee!”
and hung up the phone.
It’s all about power.
Ironically Bob did not end up helping Julia to power, that juicy job was left to the member for New England, Tony Windsor and the member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott who wanted modest reforms like a Speaker of the parliament free from party rules, a deputy Speaker from the Opposition party and time limits on questions and answers in Parliament. Julia delivered and formed minority government until Rudd ruined it all in 2013 and the country got Abbott at the next election.
After selling Queensland Rail, it’s a long way back for Labor…
In the case of the January 2015 election in Queensland there will not be a hung parliament unless the Labor Party with the help of the Greens wins enough seats. This will not be easy, as the ALP holds only 8 seats in a parliament of 89 seats after Anna Bligh pulled the plug and sold Queensland Rail in the previous parliament. To do this Labor needs a swing of 12% across the state for Labor to win. This is known and worked out by party hacks and pundits alike. Swings are rarely uniform. Metropolitan seats may change hands but what of country seats.
When Bjelke-Petersen banned democratic rights like street marches, the right to organise in unions and the right to free speech in 1977, there was a 10% swing against the government in the metropolitan area but not in the bush. And One Nation still lurks out there, with its strange mixture of racism, protectionism and opposition to sale of public assets. Clive Palmer is in the wings. Alan Jones who grew up on the Darling Downs is talking up ditching Campbell because Newman is suing the pants of Jonesie and 4BC for sticking up for the farmers of Acland and opposing the New Hope mine expansion. A bit like the falling out between Bob and Tony, Abbott that is – townies and farmers versus mining when Campbell is big capital’s gun dog.
Very few of the issues that affect people ever surface in the street fighting of electoral politics. Rising youth unemployment, the gap between rich and poor, the terrible plight of Aboriginal people with youth suicide and another stolen generation. Government sell-off of public and affordable housing, the rising cost of living, overcrowding in our cities, the demise of country towns.
The major parties have sold off nearly all public assets that the private sector want and have done so at bargain prices. The shift of wealth from workers to capitalists increases. The electricity grid is losing its value because coal-fired power is in decline. Roof top power is now the size f a pretty big powerhouse and it comes online every afternoon at a time that coal fired power makes big profits as household demand goes up. The whole pricing structure of electricity is thrown out of whack. Private retailers are in dismay as PV arrays soak up the extra demand that used to make big bucks. Owners of coal fired power stations are biting their nails as their assets that take billions to build and years to construct look like being lemons as they lose access to big profits. But capitalism will work out a way of making big profits out of solar.
All this goes over the heads of Campbell and Annastacia – they have been told to balance the budget (code for ‘make workers pay through austerity’) and, this, in a world of virtual money, is hard to do. Selling real assets can’t stop the crisis in finance. $37B from the leasing of the power grid won’t stop the financial crisis. Campbell is facing carnage at the grass roots. Take Algester where the first aboriginal woman to be elected in Queensland parliament is bookies favourite at $1.40. And you know who Leeanne Enoch, a proud Nunukul/Nughi woman from North Stradbroke Island, will be looking out for. Well it won’t be Campbell Newman’s favourite mining company, Sibelco. One Nation won’t like Leanne getting up either, but that is politics.
Straddie may sink Campbell
At this stage it is all speculation cos Campbell is struggling to win his own seat which he won with Sibelco’s help last time. If Campbell does lose in Ashgrove then I predict a minority ALP government with the backing of independents. Who they’ll be we will have to see. If Julia could do it why can’t Annastacia?
But Annastacia had better keep saying that she learnt a big lesson from Anna Bligh, don’t sell the farm!
And for the rest of us ordinary people … only one choice really: live to fight, fight to live!
Queensland does not have representative government
What will the Greens do if there is a hung parliament? Well, not much, because it is unlikely the Greens will win a seat in the parliament; but if they did win a seat, the Greens would back Labor after insisting on some principles beforehand e.g. don’t dredge the reef, don’t sell public assets … but only after insisting that ministerial leather be conferred on the person who won the seat. Why? Labor can only win government with Green preferences.
It is a weird system, not really democracy, aye? Where the Greens with 8% of the vote across the state can’t win a single seat in an 89 seat parliament and yet Katter’s Australia Party can get two seats with less than 2% of the vote. Voters can be urged by one of the major parties to ignore the preferential system and cast their vote for one party alone. The European system permits minor parties some representation because they have proportional representation system like the Hare-Clarke system that exists in the Australian Senate and in the ACT.
Well, you can blame the Goss Labor government for the undemocratic nature of the Qld parliament and Peter Beattie’s campaign slogan to “just vote 1″ when he won with that slogan and by calling an early election in 2004. Of course the parliament was rigged by Bjelke-Petersen government using a gerrymander.
26 Jan 2015