There’s an interesting discussion going on the Howardian power grab vis-a-vis the states over at Catallaxy sparked off by the resident representative of the Carlton-living, latte right Federalist faction of the Liberal Party, that is to say, Andrew Norton. Atypically for recent Catallaxy comments threads, it involves little discussion of Princess Mary or Karl Popper. Dave Ricardo made a good point – why aren’t the State Liberal oppositions screaming? After all, if any of them get back into government (and the NSW Libs’ chances would have to be rated – the rest seem very remote from power) they’ll be reduced to branch managers or local councillors.
What occurred to me, as well, is the silence of the Nats. In Queensland, at least, parochialism and states rights stuff has always played very well regardless of the government’s political complexion. Peter Beattie, consciously modelling himself on Sir Joh, is a master. State election campaigns always feature ads by the Labor Party denouncing the evils of Canberra, and the Nats squirm. Given that the Queensland Nats have always fancied themselves as a somewhat contrary mob, and have made noises about Telstra, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of the Howardians’ centralist moves are checkmated in the Senate by Ron Boswell and his mates. After all, the Queensland Nats – agrarian socialists one and all – have always opposed privatisation at state level, (rightly) recognising the disincentives for the private provision of services in an extremely large and decentralised state. It seems to me that the same arguments could easily be mounted federally. It’ll be interesting.