Sunday, March 09, 2008

Oppositions in crisis

Since late November 2007 every major government in Australia has been in the hands of Labor. Across the country the conservative coalition, Liberal and National parties or variations on that theme, have been in disarray.

In NSW, where Labor have been entrenched for some years, the result of an ineffective opposition has been dismal at both state and federal representative level. NSW has always had a reputation for high level corruption, a sore which festers seriously with a weak opposition. The state Liberal Partie's extreme right wing adventurism has ensured a dysfunctional opposition

The Nationals in NSW simply lack leadership and direction, having adopted personal pragmatism over any thought of rendering a public service. Former federal leader Mark Vaile is a shining example of lack of purpose beyond his own.

Vaile’s federal coalition colleagues have recognised for some years that he is a dead weight. He proved it on returning from his recent Middle Eastern moonlighting jaunt by telling the country he will retire when it suits him; that he is just waiting for the right opportunity.

Putting Vaile aside, and the sooner the better, the coalition in NSW have a brilliant opportunity now to stake a claim to government. Their absence from the fight has allowed the ruling Labor government to become so self serving as to start losing their own party supporters.

Politics is about cycles and the current cycle is repudiating the old dogmas, the rights and lefts. It is a different sort of pragmatism, people simply want solutions to the many social and economic problems stacking up against them. When government delivers the odd lapse is easily overlooked, but no party is delivering at the moment.

The sad part is NSW Liberals, the whole coalition, have the ideal leader for the times. Like Labor's Rudd federally state Liberal leader Barry O’Farrell avoids grandstanding, is self-effacing and apparently intent on delivering results rather than serving dogma.

O’Farrell, in his non-blustering way, seems naturally directed to filling that vast middle of the road void left behind by a greedy, rapacious state government. The big hope is that O’Farrell is as tough as he is moderate. Apart from Rudd the country seems to be sadly lacking in real leadership.

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