Monday, October 15, 2007

Election 2007.

PM Howard has been to see the Governor-General. Writs for the election have been issued, and Australia goes to the polls on November 24th for a federal general election (including, as is normal, only half the Senate).

Over at Samizdata, Paul Marks asks:

"In Australia there is a budget surplus, unlike most nations. Taxation, in total, is lower than almost all other Western nations. Unemployment is about 4% of the workforce - the lowest it has been for decades. Both industrial output and GDP are growing at more than 4% (higher than almost all nations in the Western world), and this growth has been going for years.

And everyone tells me that Mr Howard is going to lose the general election.

Why? Someone explain this please.

"It is Iraq" - but Australia has had virtually no casualties in Iraq. I can not believe that the nation that suffered the mass murder of its citizens in Bali is going to submit to the will of Al Qaeda (which is what running away from Iraq would be).

"It is Kyoto" - but this agreement did not even limit India or China (the latter the biggest producer of C02 emissions), even the Democrats in the American Senate were not interested in ratifying such an absurdly biased agreement. Why should Australians wish to do so?

No I do not understand. Why should Australians wish to throw away their economy? All their prospects for prosperity tossed away on unlimited power for the unions and endless government Welfare State spending. I do not deny that most Australians are going to do this (I can not argue with a nine month opinion poll lead), but I do not understand why they are acting in this self-destructive way."
There were/are many replies, many along the same lines as mine, which was;

"I'm an Aussie voter. I also have a strong view on one particular issue, which influences my vote - but I'll leave that to last.

Firstly, the Australian electorate doesn't see one party being better than the other on economic management. The foundations of deregulation, floating the dollar, et al, were Hawke/Keating Labor reforms NOT coalition ones.
Some of us remember Howard as the treasurer in the Fraser gov - and that gov was not a shining star of economic management or ideas (Keating/Hawke in contrast were far better).
And, last election, a big issue was (mostly mortgage) interest rates, and the coalition line was they would stay low under them, 5 rises in a row has somewhat put paid to that argument, and in large part their credibility.

Second. 'Workchoices', which a significant portion of the workforce feel very uneasy about - if not for themselves, for their children, unskilled spouse, etc. Reform is good, but it perhaps went too far too fast.

Third. Howard is seen as a 'my way or the highway' sort of operator. Party discipline is iron-clad (unlike, say, US representative votes on issues).

Personally, I would usually be a coalition voter. But that one particular issue I mentioned is the '96 Howard gun laws. I'm a 'sporting shooter'. At least one factor that is not on the radar, but still very much out there is that alienating ~1.5 million voters is not going to help you, sooner or later.".

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