Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"The Australian" Editorial 23/11/07

"The Australian" Editorial
Friday 23 November 2007

It's (not just marking) time!

A decisive win on Saturday is essential for the health of Australian politics. The Australian Labor Party may need 52% to gain a majority. The Coalition parties could scrape home with less than 50%, perhaps even less than 49%. Our democracy would be severely damaged by such a result.

The disillusionment amongst younger voters would be profound. Their interest in politics has revived recently with the desire for positive change and the belief that it can be achieved. It is not just changing the government but reinvigorating our whole approach to politics. Climate change and broadband are more than policy issues for the decision-makers of the coming decades. They are iconic. Symbols of new ways of shaping the future.

Many of those who are turning against the Howard government believe that his team are politically and morally bankrupt. Some of the more glaring examples include: Iraq, the AWB bribes scandal, the shoddy treatment of Australian citizens such as Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alvarez Solon, the political manipulation of the Hicks, Habib and Haneef cases, the orgy of taxpayer-funded propaganda, blatant pork barrelling, the expedient about-faces on global warming and reconciliation, and the cynical introduction of Work Choices. The vilification of refugees and the abuse of basic human rights have reached new lows. The first ever joint John Howard/Peter Costello interview smacked of the kind of hypocrisy that young people reject.

The government’s strength has been the economy but Kevin Rudd has presented a convincing case that Labor will be effective economic managers. The debate has become more complex than three years ago. It's not just interest rates or a booming mining sector. Uncontrolled growth, poor productivity and skills shortages have brought financial stress to both the business community and individuals. Mortgage stress and housing affordability are not just catch phrases. Growing personal debt and unfettered balance of trade deficits present challenges that neither side has yet to face. The exchange rate cannot be sustained at such high levels without major ramifications for whole sectors of the economy, especially exporters.

The Liberal party seem to have run out of steam. They are increasingly out of touch and tainted by political expediency and self-preservation. The treasurer has had ample opportunity to present his vision and plans for Australia’s future. He has failed this challenge. He has been a very poor alternative leader of the opposition.

Leadership is about creative ideas and renewal. It is not just marking time. We urge the Australian voters to elect a Rudd Labor government with a clear mandate for the revitalisation that we urgently need.

(Rupert Murdoch's election editorials are always so predictable. I thought I'd write my own. If you have your own or would like to make additions, please use comments below.)

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listohan said...

"The government’s strength has been the economy" Has it? Or is it just another bit of the propaganda too easily swallowed? With Howard throwing money around as if it had no value and Costello saying the Reserve Bank would not put interest rates up in November?

Kevin Rennie said...

Perhaps I should have qualified this even more. It is certainly their perceived strength. Cheap money feed the housing boom and the housing affordability problems. Howard has used Keynesian spending splurges to kick start the economy on more than one occasion. The long term consequences of Costello economics will not be apparent for some time.

Geoffrey said...

Please spare a thought for Labor Candidate for Wentworth George Newhouse who has been enduring a hideous smear campaign regarding the legality of his candidacy in the media.

The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph have been banging the same old drum day in, day out here in Sydney.

Ean Higgins and Caroline Overington in The Oz turned the issues here in Wentworth into some kind of vouyeristic perve festival and I was, frankly, embarrassed for them and their Master. These two displayed, not only a disrespectful regard for the critical election issues here in Wentworth, but also degraded their masthead's standing to a previously unimaginable low.

More than anything else throughout this campaign, I have learned that the parlous state of the media in this country is something that should, by rights, demand our attention.

listohan said...

As Treasurer, Costello has watched the expediture side more carefully than than Howard. We don't know if his focus will change if he gets the top job. Sadly, the Liberal Party has not put him forward so we can try to find out.

And the media has not insisted on founding out for us.

hugh manatee said...

Hi Kevin - thanks for your comments at the GetUp blog. I've just posted this summary after Kerry O'Brien's scorching interview of Howard on the ABC last night. I've captioned a few pictures which you might get a chuckle out of if you wander round the site as well. Have a good one! (especially on Saturday night... fingers crossed)

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