Neil Lawrence, the man behind Kevin Rudd’s Kevin07 advertising campaign died this week. It certainly was an effective campaign. Every day when I cycle to work I’m reminded of it by this bit of concrete graffiti in the footpath on the corner of Hubbard St and Maitland Rd in Islington NSW.
The coalition’s federal budget last week is provoking all sorts of reactions, most of them negative. In my view the budget is a real mish-mash of ideas, from the eminently sensible (re-introducing indexation of the fuel excise) through to the plain daft (slashing foreign aid in order to spend the money building roads that will be congested in a few years.)
Some people’s reaction to the budget is somewhat questionable though. In regard to pensions the Abbott government is proposing to increase the pension age from 67 to 70, and change the indexation arrangement so that pensions are linked to CPI rather than average male earnings. There will be various views as to whether this is a good or bad idea, but for the International Youth & Students for Social Equality to assert in the pamphlet they handed to me at the shops this morning, that this amounts to a “complete dismantling of what remains of the age pension” … well that’s just laughable.
So a little tip to the IYSSE, and for life in general … if you want to be taken seriously, don’t say ridiculous things.
I’ve been thinking over the last few days about the fact that Tony Abbott’s “infrastructure” spending is 98.4% on roads (I’m not making that up – that’s the actual percentage), it suddenly occurred me that all those times I’d heard that Tony Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar, it turns out that he was actually a Roads Scholar. How foolish of me.
I’ve just voted, and despite the temptation to take the easy way of voting above the line in the Senate, I resisted, because I really don’t want to allow my preferences to be decided by the political party I vote for above the line – so I struggled on and filled in all 110 boxes under the line.
At one point as I was sliding the ballot paper side-to-side in the narrow voting booth, the paper nearly slipped down the crack at the side of the booth and disappeared – I rescued it just in time. Additionally by the time I got to number 110, the pencil I was using was in serious need of re-sharpening – there is a non-trivial possibility that some people voting below the line will cast informal votes because of blunt pencils.
It’s pretty clear that the current system is broken and needs to be reformed in one or more of the following ways:
- Tighter rules for nominating candidates/parties, to restrict the number of candidates to a sensible level.
- Allow preferential voting above the line. i.e. allow numbering the parties (not candidates) in order of preference.
- Have a minimum allowable number of votes below the line to cast a formal vote. e.g. like in NSW where as long as you’ve numbered 1 to 15 (or more) then the vote is valid.
It’s decision time tomorrow, and in my final pre-poll blog posting I’m going to lay out why I could never vote for a party led by Tony Abbott. The problems I see in him are pretty much exemplified in the story from last year, when Tony was banging on in parliament about how a poor pensioner’s electricity bill had more than doubled as a result of the carbon tax. Subsequent enquiries established that the power bill had doubled because the pensioner’s electricity usage had doubled!
I can only see three reasons why Tony Abbott could end up quoting this power bill in a political attack in parliament:
- He is foolish. Someone passed the story on to him, and he just started using it without checking the veracity or validity of the argument – he just foolishly and rashly rushed in without stopping to think about it.
- He is stupid. Perhaps he is too mentally incapacitated to understand how power bills work, that the cost is proportional to energy used.
- He is deceitful. He knew that the story didn’t stack up and had no validity, but to gain political points and publicity he deliberately told untruths, saying that the massive bill increase was due to the carbon tax, when it simply was not true.
So which is he? Foolish, stupid or deceitful? Or some amalgam of all three?
Whatever the proportions, he ought not to be leading this country.
The coalition has just announced that if elected it will cut 4.6 billion dollars from Australia’s foreign aid budget, and divert the money into “infrastructure” projects in Australia, where “infrastructure” is code for more roads! In the Infrastructure section of their policy costings document there is 11.5 billion dollars across 31 line items – 30 road/bridge projects, and just one rail project (and funding for 5 rail projects abolished). Oh, and they also want to spend 1.8 billion dollars propping up the car industry by reversing recent fringe benefits tax changes.
I’m sure the millions of people in developing countries lacking clean drinking water and basic sanitation, subject to the vicissitudes of climate change will understand the need for Australians to drive on new 6 lane expressways in new cars bought from a government subsidised local car industry, burning fossil fuels in a carbon tax free economy, within an automotive friendly fringe benefits tax regime. Surely they’ll understand that we must do that? Surely?
Moments before the coalition release their policy costings, supposedly “well before the election” and “in good time” for the Australian public to scrutinise, the AEC confirms that 2.25 million people have already voted. Talk about evasion. If ever earth is threatened by a rogue meteor, don’t send Bruce Willis – send Tony Abbott, the master of evasion.
Tony Abbott has spent much of this year and the election campaign crowing about how the coalition’s policy costings will be out “well before election day” and that the Australian public will have plenty of time to scrutinise the details.
As it turns out that “well before election day” means sometime on the Thursday before the election, less than 48 hours before polling places open, and well after some 1.2 million people have already cast their vote by pre-poll voting.
I’m not sure what I find most disturbing about this, that Tony Abbott is engaging in such brazen chicanery(*), or that apparently 53% of the Australian public are prepared to support such a charlatan.
(*) Chicanery = “trickery or deception by quibbling or sophistry”