Sunday, July 08, 2007

Government in meltdown?

So I am fascinated with potential election outcome predictors and struggling with my preferred economic model given the paucity of data. But another of my favourites is the incumbent government falling apart internally.

Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson recently alluded to the fact that the Iraq war was about oil. I’m not sure why he even raised an issue which is all but dead here, but there you go.

As a result John Howard was forced to claim it was not so, the war was in fact about installing democracy in the region. Given his democratic credentials rival those of his Bush buddy the electorate rolled their eyes and emitted a collective groan. Logically it should have ended there, but…

A day after John Howard’s denial, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said allowing al-Qaeda to prevail would affect Iraq's oil industry and cripple the country economically. Downer said the challenge "is to make sure, first and foremost, al-Qaeda is defeated in Iraq", but this could not be separated from the issue of oil.
Downer admits safety of oil key to Iraq war

The Howard government has been in lock step for so long now it is curious to watch these ‘accidental’ or perhaps even deliberate deviations. Nelson is perhaps the most na├»ve of Howard’s ministers, speaking truth as he knows it without thinking of the political ramifications. Not so Downer, who simply doesn’t deviate from the party line.

Well, one crocus doesn’t make a springtime, but these slips are starting to mount up, with a few months still to go before the election. I will be watching eagerly for more electoral signs and wonders.

6 comments:

abi said...

I don't know anything about the guys you mention. But based on your descriptions, I wonder if Downer wasn't just trying to spin Nelson's comments in a slightly more positive context, by taking some of the curse off of Nelson's pretty bald statement equating the war with oil.

Then again, as you suggest, maybe there are some cracks appearing in the facade.

Cartledge said...

And the parade continues, with treasurer Costello coming out to rebut Downer. There is something very odd going on here.

Kvatch said...

Well, one crocus doesn’t make a springtime, but these slips are starting to mount up...

Sort of resembles the defection of Republicans Senators from the 'amen chorus' on the war over here in the states. But...are some of these ministers from the other party? (That does happen, doesn't it?)

Cartledge said...

"That does happen, doesn't it?" Not in Australia. Party defection and cross floor voting is not a common event. In fact each minister comes from Howard's own Liberal Party.

Praguetwin said...

And the parade continues...

The Iraq invasion being equated with oil is the modern-day emperor's new clothes. I believe it was during a parade when the small child noticed that Iraq was about oi...er, I mean that the emperor had no clothes.

Cartledge said...

Now there is a discussion closer PT ;)