Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bungles and voters downunder

I’m still slightly stunned by the actual voter turnout for the US mid-terms. Voter unrest is one things but voter motivation is an anomaly. No doubt it also surprised the White House, who given the polls still expected apathy to rule the day.

Back in Australia I’m witnessing similar political undercurrents to those in the US; an arrogant federal government and general electoral unease.

Even after the collapse of the Bush agenda our John Howard is out with all guns blazing support of this bankrupt offensive. His aim is to sell the rightness of a continuation of the conflict and to tell Australia’s 20 something million that the US’s 300 million got it wrong.

An allied issue, the corruption inquiry into the UN ‘Oil for Food’ scandal has fond no evidence of government wrongdoing in the affair. Howard is again out telling the country that the Cole Inquiry has vindicated his government.

On the main Iraq issue Howard and Co are now arguing against former officers of the country’s elite SAS regiment. Bear in mind, this regiment has been the dominant Australian presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. More importantly, they have recorded not one casualty in these combat actions, despite often being the leading edge in the military assaults in the region.

So these highly trained, extremely dangerous soldiers are now telling the Australian government that - Australia had been blindly led by the US and poor planning had helped Iraq become a terrorist "training ground"; former major Peter Tinley who was deputy commander of a special forces taskforce in Iraq in 2003.

“But Prime Minister John Howard said Mr Tinley's comments merely illustrated that there were divided opinions on Iraq within the Australian Defence Force, as there were in the general community. "I respect his view, I don't denigrate it, I disagree with it."

On the Oil for Food scandal, even Blind Freddie can see that the government was either implicated or negligent. In the corporate world directors would pay the price either way, not strut like roosters claiming vindication.

Howard’s American style HR laws should also present a major problem for the government as workers rights and incomes are increasingly eroded.

Howard faces voters next year, and as yet there are no clear signs that his government is in danger. In this country it is not an issue of turnout, that is compulsory, it is a matter of how much voters will take before they pull the plug.

The opposition do have the numbers in most polls, except for preferred Prime Minister, where Howard still stands out. Generally the preferred PM numbers are a good indicator of election outcomes here.

I guess in the end, despite the glaring inadequacies of the Howard government, the people still generally respond electorally to one issue alone; basic economics. If they are fairly comfortable it’s business as usual, if the hip pocket nerve is playing up the government will be punished. So I guess I’d better start looking at those economic indicators.

But it is toy town in the end. To be stranded here while the main game proceeds in the US is one of life’s little frustrations.


Kvatch said...

Mr. Howard seems to be experiencing the same kind of trouble with an 'uppity military' that Bu$hCo, and specifically Rumsfeld, experienced in the waning days.

So here's the question. Well Australia experience an 'American-style' 2004, as your reference to the polls favoring the opposition but with the 'preferred PM' favoring Howard? Or will Australia experience a 2006?

Cartledge said...

Unless the basic economics decree otherwise, that is the average voter feels hard done by, Howard will be returned.
The main problem is a credible opposition, but that only seems to come into play with economic hardship.

Praguetwin said...

The economic indicators are finally starting to give way. I know I have been saying this for a long time, but growth forecasts were revised down by the White House army of economists a while back and today the OECD lowered forcasts for all of the member countries including Australia.

By 2008 the expect things to be pretty good in Australia, but they warned that growth in 2007 will be held back by the draught.

Does that sound right?

Cartledge said...

PT, the drought will have an effect, but I think the root cause is monetarism.
This form of economics doesn't recognize the middle and lower income voters. Its now into the electoral danger zone in those sectors.

Praguetwin said...

In fact the real root cause is a global slowdown in growth, but god-forbid anyone be so candid in their assesment.

Explain, please, what you mean my monetarism and how that affects growth.

Cartledge said...

PT monetarism is the root economic philosophy of neo-liberalisn, reaganism, rational economics of any of the other labels adopted to disguise the devotees of the 17 th century proto-economist Adam Smith.
As opposed to fiscal policies, which include a social element, monetarism is purely about market strength of the kind you have been describing.
Generally monetarism is about wealth generation of the few, and was a first response to the shift from feudalism to the industrial revolution. I guess Smith was describing the imperative of those in control retaining control. God forbid the wealth should be share, equity is only for the exclusive.
I guess the cause factor in the growth retardation is the steady erosion of incentive, under this system.

Praguetwin said...