One opinion of the 2013 political landscape

If you haven’t noticed by now, this year heralds a federal election year. For the next few months we will see the first rounds of the election shadow boxing before the election date is finally announced. There are some screaming for the government to go to an early election while others want the government to go the full distance. Given the most recent polling results it seems the government is on its way back from total oblivion. However politics is a strange beast and anything can change between now and whenever the election is called. Under our federal electoral system, only the Prime Minister truly knows the dates for issuing the writs for an election to be held (after the Governor-General has given their consent).

However after the last couple of years of significant negativity in our national politics, the political landscape in 2013 looks very interesting, to say the least. The often repeated statements by the Coalition that the minority government has failed Australia are at odds with reality. The Coalition’s commentary has been the usual negative critique of the government that had, until more recently, been repeated by the mainstream media is likely to continue this year. There are many successes this government has had with the support of the Australian Greens. And at the same time some of the worst this government has come up with has been done in concert with the Coalition, like the return to the worst policies for assisting asylum seekers.

However, while the government is in some serious trouble, it seems to me that the Opposition is in even bigger trouble in reality.

In Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP) went from exacting a huge electoral win to now being highly unpopular. Queensland’s conservative premier is suffering from delusions of grandeur as he continues to slash and burn essential services, attacking hospitals, schools and emergency services. The Premier continues to ignore the massive contribution that tourism makes to the state, preferring to rely on mining revenue. The conservative government is very keen to destroy sensitive environs, including the Great Barrier Reef. It has gotten so bad for the LNP in Queensland that the conservative government launched a desperate distraction about compulsory voting over the festive season.

In Victoria, the Liberal National coalition is also deeply unpopular. Since pledging to do so much for the state, the Baillieu conservative government have spent the last couple of years sitting on their hands. There has been little development of the state’s economy and in fact there have been active efforts to damage the economy and undermine industries associated with renewable energy production and distribution. The government continues to back a Member of Parliament caught using public funds for his private business with a new round of allegations of a Liberal MP meddling in local government matters. And then there have been the changes to Melbourne’s green wedge to enable further development and expansion of the city, despite the lack of controls on such developments. However the Planning Minister is to give himself more powers to allow him to fast track developments, enabling the Minister to work around environmental protections and planning laws. For the most part this conservative government has been busy doing very little; they’re certainly not rolling out its so-called election agenda.

In Western Australia the conservative government is facing its first real challenge at the polls with the election happening in March this year. The conservatives have done little to improve their position. Despite the efforts of the loose coalition of conservative parties there is little harmony. The state government continues to pour money into the metropolitan regions, neglecting regional centres. There continues the acquiescence to the mining and gas lobby as the state government threatens local communities of forced, compulsory acquisition of land; and removes environmental protection standards. There continue to be problems for senior members of Colin Barnet’s front bench, especially for Troy Buswell, the state’s Treasurer and then there is the souring relationship between the major conservative parties.

In New South Wales, the conservative Premier, Barry O’Farrell, started out swinging but found it hard going not having out-right majorities like his colleagues to the north, south and west. While he hasn’t been as out-rightly vicious as Queensland’s conservative government, he has steadily and systematically been attacking the public service, and especially essential public services like public hospitals, schools and the fire-fighters. There has been little development of the state’s economy and there remains little being done about the pressing infrastructure needs of New South Wales, especially existing and future growth areas.

The Northern Territory conservatives are still busy dealing with being in government after a long time in opposition. It’s clear that there are some internal issues given the website still notes the conservatives being in opposition. While in South Australia the conservatives are completely incapable of making any inroads electorally with regular public spats about whether or not the current leadership is capable of winning an election. However despite the apparent problems, leadership spills have returned the existing leadership; though you have to wonder how well things are going for the conservatives when the leader that is regularly and openly bagged is continually returned as leader after each spill.

At a national level there are even more problems for the conservatives.

The popularity of the leader is perhaps the biggest problem for the conservatives at a national level. For two years the conservatives have maintained a relentless war of negativity against policy proposals before properly considering them, something the greater public has woken up to. However it seems to be very hard for the Leader of the Opposition to back away from his negativity and attacks. Every attempt by Tony Abbott to present a more positive front fails and he quickly resorts to being negative. There are, as already mentioned, problems with the policy platform.

There has been an endless stream of thought bubbles presented as policy and numerous contradictions between Tony Abbott and his shadow cabinet about what is or isn’t Coalition policy. For the last two years we’ve often heard the Coalition talk about their policies yet claim they’ll only be released before the election; it’s surely evident to most observers that the Coalition is extremely light on policy details to be continuing to use this tired line.

More recently they have run into trouble over the Slipper-Ashby case. The calls for a proper investigation have become louder, though the conservatives were probably hoping the festive season would make people forget this affair. There are many, many elements about this case that warrant further investigation, especially given the implications of who may be involved from the leadership of the conservatives.

Unfortunately if the summer is anything to go by, we still have a media environment that spends more time copying and pasting media releases than doing some real work to file stories. You only need to think of the ANZ hoax earlier this year to see that our media is cutting and pasting rather than doing some real work – simply put – such a hoax would not have happened if journalists did their jobs and media companies stopped sacking journalists. We have a media environment that insists on covering the trivial and fluff while ignoring the more substantive issues facing the nation.

Our media will likely fail to cover the important issues leaving most Australian voters poorly informed about the policies and positions of the various political parties and independent candidates.

Let us make the effort to maintain the pressure on all politicians and political parties to be up-front about their policies and positions on the key issues and not accept attacks as legitimate electioneering. And let us keep the pressure on our mainstream media outlets to provide us with information not fluff.

NOTE: This was first published on Alex Schlotzer’s personal blog

37 comments on “One opinion of the 2013 political landscape

  1. I’m so hoping the Ashby/Slipper case blows open and if social media had anything to do with it, it would. But I’m afraid at the moment the waning MSM still rules the roost, and the worst of the lot Aunty, are not interested in holding this opposition to account for anything in their zeal to see this government fall.

  2. I think the fact that the blogosphere and Twitterverse continue to make it an issue and the growing number of voices from all political persuasions wanting more answers on this matter means it won’t be so easy for MSM to continue to ignore it.

  3. What you have said here has been well put. Thanks for putting it up.
    The msm will surely continue to take the lazy blinkered route without questioning a thing. Disappointingly, the ABC is part of this (with a couple of exceptions). And the inquisitional style employed by a couple of AM reporters has to stop. Plus some of the local (state) news directors has got to behave themselves and not be so ‘tabloid’. Where’s the objectivity here? The can’t all be taking their cues from Rupert’s mob … can they?
    I think it’ll be very much up to people such as yourselves and your blog/twitter/facebook feeds to make sure there’s some balance here.
    By the way my money’s on another minority government – if not a two or three seat win. Hopefully it won’t be the Great Reflector, I’m mindful of his statement that this election will be very nasty…

  4. Alex, excellent post. Most people look at what is happening in their State with perhaps just a glimpse or two at others. I have never seen the whole scenario collated into one article previously, this is such excellent research on your part.

  5. Thanks vfmarky. It is disappointing the ABC continues to follow the commercial stations with reporting fluff and allowing their shows like The Drum to be utterly dominated by a minority conservative view point.

    I’m excited about this year’s election and will be an interesting outcome. I’m not yet sure myself about the final outcome though I can’t see the conservatives winning.

  6. Meanwhile Gillard is deeply unpopular because she simply cannot tell the truth…

    Now you know why Abbott’s popularity is in the gutter, a whole deep cut mine below Gillard’s. Abbott is the greatest (admitted) bullshit and stunt artist this country has seen bar none.

    That’s saying something considering Howard’s decade long stint of lies and deceptions.

  7. vfmarky – ..They can’t all be taking their cues from Rupert’s mob … can they?

    I used to say that to myself too – but now I think the answer is, they can! Or they have been persuaded that it’s in their interest to appear to think like that.

    When you consider the billions at stake for Murdoch and News Corp, apart from its impact on other media interests, then it’s worth making sure no stone has been left unturned i.e no potentially bendable media participant left unbullied or unbribed.

  8. Anyway, vfmarky, since 70% of newspapers printed in Oz, are owned by Rupert Murdoch and News Ltd, (to say nothing of other media interests), how can the average Aussie be blamed for believing what he ‘reads in the papers?’ So, whenever there’s talk of bias, guess what?

    News Ltd Defends Its Proprietor

    What’s this talk of media bias?
    We at News are honest, pious,
    We meet our readership’s desires.
    Yes, some are climate change deniers.
    That’s why Greenies, fans of Gaia’s,
    Sneer as if we were pariahs!
    Pacifists who promote ceasefires
    Say we collude with arms suppliers.

    We can always claim ‘ultra vires’
    If a politician enquires
    Into why this or that transpires.
    Anyway they’re just leftie liars.
    We just report, as Rupert requires.
    ‘Cos we know he’s the man who hires
    Only journos whom he admires.
    We also know of those he fires
    On each new paper he acquires.

    Don’t hope for this to change when he expires.
    We will survive. Just look how well he ‘sires’
    And know, this man we’ve helped build these empires
    Plans to be the first whom not even death retires.

    http://polliepomes.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/news-ltd-defends-its-proprietor/

  9. Meanwhile Gillard is deeply unpopular because she simply cannot tell the truth…

    About anything in particular, or is this just one of those unsubstantiated rumours which the right seem to run on a boringly regular basis.. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge..did you hear the one about, and BTW Julia LIES. OMG, what about? Buggered if I know, but some wanker on some blog said that she does and so it must be da trooof.

  10. I just watched a snippet about Abbott’s new campaign on 9 news. I’d tuned in because I thought I’d detected a reference to his being at the press club today. Weird I know but there you are..
    Anyway 9 seemed not to be trying too hard to take it seriously, mentioning its “American” flavor, which it sure seemed to be, showing pictures of what looked like a laughing Turnbull & Hockey trying to look capable as he mouthed some gibberish about taking back the country. Cut to John Hewson saying it’s all rubbish.
    Might come back to watch 2 & see if they’re a bit more supplicative.

  11. Bob, I just heard that Abbott is about to start his election campaign..what again! 😯

    Even Howard knew not to start the campaign too early or risk boring people..guess what…I’m bored already…

  12. BSA Bob Channel 7 were not kind to Abbott even mentioning Bernardi and the question on him asked of Abbott who, no surprise to anyone here even the right wingers, ran away at great pace.

    A little be different this time though 7 made a point of Abbott running away and not answering.

    Methinks Abbott won’t be happy with the mostly negative, except for the ABC, press he’s getting on his election campaign launch.

    I will repeat that I believe that Abbott launching an election campaign this far out means internal Liberal party polling is showing they are in trouble or are likely to go further backwards. This was borne out when a TV news report stated the Liberals are concentrating their campaign on selected NSW seats.

  13. I read the above comments folks, & reckon they’re spot on. Min mentions being bored already & that seems to be pretty much it. In fairness to the ABC after my little swipe, their reporting was of a dutiful & impartial kind, not getting carried away, & even showing Abbott doing his traditional walk past inappropriate questioners.
    Plus a lengthy piece about Bernardi.
    I missed the gist of some of this but I gather he’s been caught out on a matter concerning a committee he’s on & is now obliged to report himself to himself. Anyone know more about this?

  14. Yes BSA and the worse that the ABC is refusing to ask about it or even bring it up whilst still throwing in innuendo over a cleared matter for Nova Peris.

    At least two commercial TV channels have raised it even if half heartedly.

  15. Mobius
    I’d been aware of a lot of the stuff in those articles without putting it all together. Cory’s a scary person. But fortunately for him & unlike Nova Peris, he’s not associated with the ALP & is therefore exempt from most questioning.

  16. Alex, a great summary of the current state of politics, state and federal, 2013.

    It will certainly be interesting to see how the WA elections go in March. I was unaware that Colin Barnett’s government was as heavy handed as your post reveals.

    I know there were people who weren’t too happy that he couldn’t be arsed cutting his Italian holiday short when WA was in the grip of bushfires in 2010-2011.

    Meanwhile, despite being aware of the appalling record of the Liars governments in Victoria, NSW and Qld, SA could be silly enough to elect a Liars government. Even worse, the local Liars could be preparing to parachute that corrupt barrel of lard Lord Downer into the leadership.

    Makes me feel like vomiting. Just another Rodent @rse wipe; a rotten politician and a rotten Foreign Minister. A very nasty piece of work like Prissy and that execrable pile of excrement Cory Bernardi.

    The Liars Party is populated by such creatures and always has been

  17. Truth Seeker – Recycled stuff, I’m afraid. Wrist is much improved though so I’m hoping this damned plaster will be off within ten days. Creative juices not flowing too well these days so having a backlog going back a few years is handy. Some issues just keep on coming back, don’t they!

    Mind you, I get tempted. Could anyone have anticipated this Mini Campaign this far out from the election? Surely anyone with political nous would know that Abbott is already a laughing stock and that this could finish him off? Though I hope not. I’d hate to seeTurnbull with a honeymoon period just before an election.

  18. Thanks jane. I’ve been following the rumours and conjecture about the shenanigans in South Australia. I’m amazed that Downer is being touted as a possible replacement for Redmond though will they follow the same model as the one used in Queensland – have the leader outside the parliament and find them a safe seat.

    It’s harrowing to think that Bernardi is involved.

    Thanks again jane

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