NB This post makes extensive use of the footnote plugin. The footnote numbers are very small, but they are hyperlinks so you can jump to them by clicking.
NBB The fact that I argue below that a major reason for the demise of the Newman government was the standard template opposition strategy that I outline/discuss does not mean that I personally approve of LNP policies or performance (or those of Tony Abbott for that matter). In fact I think the LNP richly deserved to be booted out (anti-bike laws, politicisation of judiciary etc). However, I don’t think the ALP would have gone within a bull’s roar of winning in the absence of OGS101, nor is it obvious to me that Labor will be a significantly better government. After all, they’re not even promising to repeal the VLAD (anti-bikie) laws, just to “review” them (in itself a classic example of OGS101 in operation).
Yesterday’s seeming electoral triumph of Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor rump in Queensland after a single term of LNP government underlines the extent to which the secrets of successful continuous campaigning for an Opposition party have come to be reduced to an almost foolproof formula that almost guarantees successful undermining of all but the most wily or dead lucky incumbent government, even by a telephone booth-sized Opposition with very little visible talent or experience.
The formula largely accounts for the results of the last 3 federal elections and at least the last 2 Victorian and Queensland state elections. It is found in a political spin doctor’s playbook called Opposition to Government Strategy 101 (OGS101). The formula is well known to spin doctors on both sides of politics but has been kept secret from the general public until now. Fortunately I have now obtained a leaked copy and reproduce the Executive Summary over the fold:
Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine announces a “plan” to spend $20 million upgrading Junction Oval at St Kilda to accommodate the AFL team named after the suburb, even though it hasn’t played or trained there for decades. The plan appears not to have been checked with the local council or the AFL, and would apparently need another $37 million in infrastructure funding from the Abbott government. At first glance it looks to be a complete waste of money with few if any redeeming features.
The Melbourne East West Link tunnel is a vastly more expensive but equally dubious project in cost-benefit terms that Napthine has rammed through despite very widespread opposition, including from the ALP which has said it won’t build it under any circumstances if elected.
The announcement by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the ABC’s budget will be cut by $50 million per year for the next five years has generated predictable kerfuffle in mainstream and social media circles. Whether it will have any real effect on the broader voting public is much more questionable, but it’s still worth talking about in policy terms.
The predictable line by left-leaning commentators is that Tony Abbott has broken a promise, or even “lied” when he said before the election that ABC and SBS funding (along with health, education etc) would not be cut. In a tit-for-tat sense I guess that’s fair enough, because it’s exactly the same accusation that Abbott successfully prosecuted against Julia Gillard in relation to her backflip on carbon pricing.
But maybe it doesn’t matter …
Hardly anyone seemed to notice at last weekend’s G20 meeting in Brisbane that the Climate Emperor had no clothes. Nor did I hear anyone remark on the obvious contradiction involved in issuing a communiqué which simultaneously committed participant nations, at least in principle, to taking effective action on climate change while also committing to achieving an additional 2.1% in world economic growth over the next few years. That sort of extra growth would make it more rather than less difficult to achieve any useful global carbon emissions reduction target in the near future.
Some commentators (although not many in the left-leaning sectors of the Australian media) did at least note that Friday’s climate change agreement between the United States and China had some elements of a “smoke and mirrors” or “pea and thimble” trick. China isn’t agreeing to cap its carbon emissions for another 16 years and in that time aims at explosive economic growth which will continue to spew more and more CO2 into the atmosphere, even if they do gradually move from building coal-fired power stations to less polluting energy sources. By that stage there is a high probability that the world will have already passed a tipping point where catastrophic atmospheric temperature increases will be unavoidable.
The legal misadventures of some colourful Darwin characters in A Territory Testamentary Tale at Parish McCulloch website.
The NIMBY Brigade is a blight on urban civil society. These people have never seen a new development that they don’t oppose, unless it’s a community vegetable garden or possibly a Montessori preschool built from mud bricks (although only if they’re very quiet middle class kiddies whose
mothers parents drop them off on foot).
Their opposition to any new development is always couched in impressive-sounding terms: residential amenity, excessive noise and traffic density, streetscapes and shadowing. But the real unspoken reason is always that they have an irrational fear that the development will damage their property values.
In fact, most studies of urban consolidation/densification have shown that it’s a positive for property values, as long as the new buildings are not complete slums and attention is paid by planning authorities to transport, social and environmental factors.
I had all this in mind a few days ago when I penned a brief but indignant letter to the local Northern Territory News. It was published today:
For some time I have been posting specifically legal articles/posts over at the bloggy part of the Parish McCulloch, Barristers & Solicitors website. I cross-post some of them here at Club Troppo.
I have just posted quite a long article there which discusses yesterday’s High Court decision Minister for Immigration and Border Protection v SZSCA in the context of current moves by the Abbott government to reshape radically the Migration Act provisions concerning asylum seekers and refugees. I don’t think I’ll cross-post it here because it’s fairly technical. Nevertheless some Troppo readers may well find it interesting.
Tony Abbott might well be the last bloke on earth who could plausibly demand a “mature debate” on tax reform. But that doesn’t deny the crying need for such a debate in Australia.
Nor does the fact that it’s the antithesis of what Abbott did in Opposition mean that Bill Shorten should necessarily emulate Tony’s tactics himself. What won the last war won’t necessarily win this one. Abbott didn’t win the 2013 election only because he relentlessly opposed everything Labor tried to do. That tactic worked because Julia Gillard had mortally wounded herself by the manner in which she seized the prime ministership, because that inevitably resulted in ongoing destructive disunity orchestrated by an embittered Kevin Rudd, and because her government consistently exhibited appalling administrative and policy implementation skills despite some excellent policy ideas. Without those self-inflicted wounds, Abbott’s “one trick pony” knee-jerk obstructionism might have failed.
Despite the fact that opinion polls have looked quite respectable for Shorten for some time, Abbott in government isn’t burdened by any of the handicaps that ensured Gillard/Rudd’s doom. Moreover, he now has the additional benefit of wrapping himself in khaki, which John Howard exploited with such great success in 2001 and 2004.
My father died early this year at the age of 90, after a long but slow slide into dementia. The discussion on another thread about euthanasia and mental capacity has led me to decide to post the eulogy I delivered at his funeral.
My dad was still relatively compos mentis at the time of his death (at least a fair part of the time), but he also had almost no blood circulation in his lower legs. That resulted relatively frequently in bits of his feet becoming gangrenous and needing to be chopped off. It was that which eventually killed him; moreover his life wasn’t very pleasant for a couple of years before that. Often his legs were too painful to let him sleep, and he would just sit up all night in his recliner chair covered by a blanket.
Although he had been a highly intelligent, well-read and curious man throughout his life, my dad was unable to muster the concentration either to read or even watch TV for any significant period of time. His world had shrunk to the dimensions of a disabled recliner chair.. He was just waiting … Hence my own interest in euthanasia options. Anyway, the eulogy is over the page. I apologise if you find it self-indulgent. I hope some of you might find it worth reading.