Monday, October 20, 2008

Another election down

Even for a political junkie the constant election trail over the past year or so gets wearing. On Saturday there were four state by-elections, including my home electorate of Port Macquarie.

While the governing Labor Party were flogged in three contests the Port Mac contest was between the Nationals (conservative) candidate and a raft of independents, including a former Labor candidate.

The stand out independent and former Oakeshott assistant, Peter Besseling had what the local conservative paper called ‘a close win’. A 10% split doesn’t seem too close to me. Despite the headline the local report went on:

“Besseling declared victory in the state by-election less than two hours after polls closed on Saturday, surprising pundits who had tipped a closer tussle.”

A spiritual experience
Obviously there is something deeply compelling, for me, with election campaigns. To a great extent I try to focus methodologies of electoral systems and campaigns, but generally fail to remain dispassionate. What I notice is an almost spiritual emotion when voting time comes.

I was a little ambivalent this time out, and even considered an informal vote on the basis that none of the campaigns managed to inspire. What I discovered is that I am incapable of ignoring the call of a valid vote.

While I’m pleased Peter won there is still a feeling I can’t shake, that he is too strongly a parliamentary insider, to the detriment of a local constituency. I hope I’m wrong about that, and regardless, I know Pete and he is not a National Party conservative. Though he might well be a Liberal, but probably of the pragmatic variety.

So, there is just one more election to run in this current series, and it seems McCain has worked extra hard for an early result. Not in his favour of course, but Nov 4 is looking increasingly an anti climax. Now we just have a global crisis to deal with.


lindsaylobe said...

An interesting but presumably predictable result.
I notice long term liberal Senator Bill Heffernan and Ken Dodd threw their weight behind Peter Besseling during the campaign which may be a matter of future coalition party room concern? Despite the swing it seems to me that Port prefers independents and the Nationals must lack both the vision and local relevance. Can one assume a liberal party candidate would have garnished so few votes it was not worth being exposed to the embarrassment?
Global crisis.
Notwithstanding the current crisis's absorption with immediate steps to ameliorate future misery I remain hesitantly positive in the long term capitalism will recognize the need for sustainable choices.
The current storm and misery highlight how the old model is not viable because of its reluctant link to environmental stewardship social wellbeing and sustainability. Hence I think future profit, job creation, energy conservation, pollutant reduction, labor standards and community impact are all inextricably linked to business sustainability. This is a leap in faith, to assume we will be unselfish enough to impose a cost on our carbon imprint to be borne over the next 50 years so the next period afterwards survives. E.g. The use of resources in a sustainable manner whereby its use doesn’t ruin the future chances to keep using those resources in perpetuity; to live off the income whilst preserving our capital. Those that do that will survive, whilst many dinosaurs unable to adapt quickly will not.
It is already upon us in the form of sustainability accounting and the emissions trading scheme e.g. CO3 at either $20 a tonne or $ 50? with trading soon to begin.

Best wishes

Cart said...

You can throw Alby Schultz into the list of Liberal luminaries supporting Peter. The Liberal and Labor brands have never sold here, but the demographic is changing from semi rural with increasing influx from Sydney and Melbourne. That growth has been essentially retirement relocation but now included more families who can’t survive in the cities.
The older folks would probably still be happy to be called lower middle class – small (micro) business or low level public service, the younger group are much the same. Perhaps independent is a mid-step to Liberal, a natural home for LMC it seems. Past Lib efforts have been extremely embarrassing. Certainly the National’s rural brand is no longer relevant.
Global crisis.
It is unsettling to note Australian household debt had reached 177 per cent of gross domestic product, almost a world record. Normally, as an exporting economy, we could rejoice in a low Aussie dollar. The brief high dollar had no inverse impact on exports, but a low dollar must be a threat to servicing debt, with most of it relying on offshore money.
Nearly everyone around me with a high level of personal debt are now likely to default. That is a fairly new cultural change, with no apparent stigma attached to defaulters. But the country, or someone, will have to pay and the same dynamic seems to exist elsewhere. The loss of that personal responsibility just adds another concern for the future.

Praguetwin said...

I voted by mail recently and found it quite spiritual as well. I think of that lovely manila colored envelope making its way to Mono county in California and being counted by some nice old lady.

There is, however a lot of eggs currently being called chickens, and I don't think the rotund woman has even begun to warm her vocal cords.

But you know me....always pessimistic and usually wrong ;)

Cart said...

I voted by mail recently and found it quite spiritual as well.
Thanks PT, I thought it a strange revelation on my part, but good to know it might also be relevant. Ever the optimist, I’m predicting a win for BO by 100 ECVs. Not universally popular perhaps but the alternative is not pleasant to contemplate.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi Cart

If we can become more of a country of savers by increasing savings deposits, there will be far less reliance on overseas wholesale funding by those big banks.

But already for the big banks a large portion of deposits (additional funds are currently pouring in) come from local deposits, with the balance made up of a mix of both local and international wholesale money markets and long term 3 year funding deals.

What’s the extra cost?

Maybe it was between .25% and even .50% (half a percent)additional for some but inter bank funding reduced 10% recently and is bound to fall much more very soon.

The NAB recently cancelled a proposed capital rising of 2 billion because of easing in conditions, which made it unnecessary; our banks remain the strongest in the world.

Because house prices are now very expensive by world standards there is likelihood there will be softening in prices for some time to come.

If this occurs in an orderly manner, say over the next 10 years, combined with reductions in the rate of interest I think we can successfully disengage from its perils.

However should there be sudden reduction in house prices, say of the order of 20% or more than the position would become very ugly indeed,particularly as security for some mortgages becomes deficient.

The best possible outcome would be for 1-2 % soft decline in house prices to culminate in a real reduction of say 50% (after allowing for inflation) over the next 10years.

Best wishes

Cart said...

Lindsay, I guess I'm less concerned about the banks and more about the enomous sundry debt. That takes in telcos, autos and a whole range of discretionary spending which is being pushed aside.
I expect banks carry some of it, but finance outfits like GE are enormously exposed. It all goes into the debt pot.