The Australian election

Your web site is one of my very favorite sites and I would like to add something to your blog about our election result. One thing to keep in mind is that our MSM is very much like your MSM in that it is very biased towards one party, in our case, the Labor Party, therefore someone like Kevin Rudd, our incoming Prime Minister, can expect to go along without ever being seriously challenged. Indeed, he has made some serious gaffes, both before and during the election campaign, but the media could always be relied upon to cover up for him in a way they would never do for a Liberal like John Howard. In fact, I think it is worse for us because we have such a small population, and therefore we don't have the strength and variety of the alternate media that you have.

It is interesting to note that Mr Rudd has overcome Mr Howard by doing everything possible to appear as much like his opponent as he could, apart from such issues as industrial relations and climate change, so as to be able to gull enough voters into going for a change simply for the sake of it, because not much will change, even though this entailed several changes from his past positions, to the point that he copied many of his policies. However, I think a great deal will change for the worse if our industrial relations system does change, and with 70% of the incoming ministry being former union officials, there seems to be very little doubt that it will, because they have been most unhappy with the current system which has significantly reduced their influence.

Some commentators believe that he will be every bit as conservative as he claims he is because he might not survive the next election if he makes sweeping changes, but I think he'll have difficulty standing up to the union influence, given his readiness to change his position if the going gets a bit tough. For example, some weeks ago, Peter Garrett, his environment spokesman, said that, in post-Kyoto negotiations, he would not mind if not all the developing nations signed on to new agreements, and he backed him up, only to back down twelve hours later and send Mr Garrett out to say that countries such as China must sign on if Australia is to do so. Signing the current Kyoto agreement is only symbolic anyway, because Australia was already meeting its commitments, but I guess he promised that so that he would win Green preferences. It will be also very interesting to see how he will generate new ideas now that Mr Howard will not be around to provide him with them.

As to industrial relations, there was a great deal of union-generated anger which obscured the fact that, since Workchoices has been introduced early last year, 433,000 new jobs have been created and unemployment is at a 33-year low at 4.3%. Interest rates, though having risen 1.5% in three years, are still half the peak rate of 17% during the previous Labor administration and average inflation is less than half of what it was under that same administration. The Budget was in deficit in 1996, and ten out of twelve budgets delivered by the Treasurer were in surplus. The Howard Government was also left with a $96 billion debt which took ten years and tight financial management to pay off. Yet, none of that was enough to save the Howard Government from change for change's sake.

While it is sad in one sense to see him lose both Government and his seat, I believe many of us will respect him for sticking to his guns, even when most other politicians would back down under pressure. He always did what he believed was the right thing to do and not what some focus group told him to do. In no way does the manner of his departure alter the fact that I believe him to be our greatest Prime Minister of my lifetime (I'll be 57 in February) and that, unfortunately, we are highly unlikely to see his like again, now we know that sound and effective economic management is no longer enough to guarantee success in an election, to say nothing of being truthful about his plans to step down during the next term if he won, unlike certain state premiers, two of whom retired within twelve months of their re-elections, without telling the voters beforehand. I'm sure he would be profoundly disappointed in one respect, but I understand that his concession speech was very gracious. I did not see the election coverage because I would never have been able to stomach the obvious bias. He has always been able to put the good of the nation well and truly above his own good.

There has been some conjecture that the Coalition Government might have done better with Peter Costello at the helm. I beg to differ. I think that, had John Howard stepped aside or had been dumped, the media would have quickly whipped up a lot of sympathy for him and portrayed the government in deep division, which would have permitted Kevin Rudd to present himself exactly the same way as he did with far worse results.

No less an authority than Tim Gartrell, the Federal Labor Party Secretary, backs that one up.

As a Queenslander, I'm more than a little dumbfounded that so many of my fellow voters here have voted for a man responsible for major debacles in the state health system and water supply as chief bureaucrat in the Goss administration. I can only conclude that they have been taken in by his disguise as a younger John Howard. I have recently been a victim of our shocking public hospital system, courtesy of a badly broken left ankle.

I noted with interest what John B Dwyer had found out about him, and I call to your attention the fact that Mr Rudd had backed down on Friday on closing the off-shore refugee detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Given that his expected majority will be between eight and sixteen seats, which is not all that much, this might have swung vital votes in his direction as some people I know were very concerned that we might have open slather with the boat people under his administration.

We are in for an interesting time in the next few years. My husband and I are most grateful that we have no mortgage, he is retired (like your very own Ross Vaughan, he is a Vietnam Veteran and proud of it) and I have a small home-based business with myself as the sole employee, so neither of us are worrying about a job, which many people might have to worry about if radical changes are made to our industrial relations system. But I don't know whether to be sad for my fellow Australians or feel that, if they run into serious trouble, it serves them right for being sucked in by the hype.

Yours faithfully,

A Queensland Voter

(Mrs) Kathy Box
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