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Monday, October 11, 2004

Towards 2007

Harry Hindsight speaks. The right define leftist elitism as the view that "we know best", that "people are stupid" and that this leads to policies that are out of touch. However the number one tag line for the election came from Howard - "Interest rates will always be lower under the coalition". Despite all major economists disagreeing with this, and a wealth of historical data to show this was false, Howard knew that voters would not check out the facts, and would tag along for the ride. On the other hand, Labor did nothing to counteract this spurious statement, perhaps relying on the media and voter's intelligence to see it was hogwash. So who thought who was stupid? The question is, do labor adopt this tactic in the future? Do they come up with a scare, that cannot be dissolved in a five second soundbite, and assume that people are dumb enough to swallow it? Would that make the ALP as "bad" as the coalition? Perhaps the policies just need to be simpler and on message. The handling of the tax policy with its weekly and annual tables was arcane. A simple tax cut for people earning less than $52,000 would have sufficed for the time being. Message: "Howard forgot you, we wont". Add to that a rejigging of Centrlink handling to reduce the family debt problem and you would have a simple policy that ensured everyone was better off. No income splitting, no retrieving the $600 Harvey Norman vouchers (which according to labor will disappear with indexation anyway), no complicated tables, and it would have costed roughly the same. On childcare, Howard's 30% rebate on expenses was a very easy pill to swallow. Compare that to Latham's one day free from 3-4 year olds plus a few books and some extra places - message lost. How about a 30% rebate and an increase in places to satisfy demand and say that without the extra places, the cost of childcare will simply rise. On education, they should have publicised and mailed the private schools that stood to make gains under the ALP. Get the teachers and parents on your side. The ALPs policies were not a small target this campaign, they were "noodle nation" on steroids. I could go on, but that would be insulting your intelligence.

Meanwhile, Howard takes the humble approach, dampening suggestions of a coalition controlled Senate. This new found humility will have to be watched as it might just be a front for some strong legislation from July next year. I would suggest to the ALP that they start passing the blocked legislation straight way. These coalition bills need a good three years in action to take their negative effect on the population. Blocking until the second half of next year may well hand the government another term come 2007. Surely the ALP would have made more ground this time had they passed the 30% PBS increase, hence "allowing the government to do its job" while promising to scrap it if elected to government.

These bills include:

Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (Disability Reform) Bill (No. 2) 2002 [No. 2] - scrapping disability payments for those who can work over 15 hours a week (currently the threshold is 30 hours)
National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits—Budget Measures) Bill 2002 [No. 2]- the 30% increase in PBS pharmaceuticals. A bill that the ALP should never have condoned, but should have passed straight away.
Trade Practices Amendment (Small Business Protection) Bill 2002 [No. 2] - an ongoing 25 year tussle over secondary boycotts and remedies.
Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Dismissal) Bill 2002 [No. 2]- scrapping unfair dismissal laws for small businesses, thus giving workers unequal rights depending on their employer.
Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2002 [No. 2]- handing the media to Packer and Murdoch. OK, maybe hold off on passing this one.

For a starting point to research other blocked bills take a look at the Daily Bills list and go from there to the Bills Digests for the appropriate year. Let the bills flow!

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