Fixing NSW by putting in place people even more committed to everything NSW Labor did wrong

NSW voters have made some very strange decisions over the last few years – giving parliament four year terms so voters don’t get to make decisions very often being just one of them – and it looks like they’re about to make another: electing a Liberal state government that hasn’t promised anything, and won’t be bound to anything, and will be able to do whatever the hell it likes until they invent hoverboards and flying cars (2015).

This strikes me as somewhat strange.

If the problem you have is with a NSW government privatising electricity, why would you put in place a party even more committed to privatisation? If the problem is a NSW government that treats public transport with contempt, why would you replace it with a party even more indifferent to the subject?

Maybe, being a Victorian, I just don’t understand.

Please – enlighten me. What things have been done wrong by NSW Labor that the NSW Liberals have promised to do differently? And that you believe they’ll do differently? On what specific issues are you considering switching your vote from Labor to Liberal?

The thing is, if you don’t like either of the big parties, why vote for either? If you don’t like the two-party state, and the paucity of your choice, why use your vote to continue it?

Seriously, four years. Four years of a Liberal government with no checks and balances. If I were in NSW, I’d be praying for a “hung” parliament.

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36 responses to “Fixing NSW by putting in place people even more committed to everything NSW Labor did wrong

  1. Hee hee – Jeremy’s praying!

  2. It has to be a protest vote. People have just had a complete gutful of NSW Labor. And I think they’re buying into the war that both major Sydney newspapers (but more the Daily Tele) have been waging against the ALP for about seven years.

  3. I’ve never quite got the “protest vote” thing. Why wouldn’t you vote for the party that advocates policies with which you agree? I suppose if that party is one that has been incompetent to an extent that you can stomach putting another party ahead of it, wouldn’t you choose one as close to your views as possible?

    The problem here isn’t Liberal voters; it’s ALP voters voting Liberal because they think that’s their only alternative.

  4. jordanrastrick

    1) The major alternatives are worse. For instance the state branch of the Greens are like exaggerated versions of their Federal alternatives. Some really good ideas and some awful ones. Given I think we’re doing pretty well, I think mediocrity is a safer bet.

    2) I didn’t oppose significant policy planks of the State Labor government until recently. The main problem is they got in to a really vicious cycle of:

    Announcing a worthwhile policy
    Media attacks the policy as a bad idea
    Government withdraws it
    Media attacks government for not following through
    Governments future policies become more timid and less worthwhile.

    It was both the government and the media’s fault. There was also a bad feedback loop going on between Treasury and the rest of Cabinet, too many MPs treating the job like a sinecure, etc.

    So essentially the problem is not the kinds of policies an “ideal” Labor government would implement, per se. Its that the dysfunctional relationship between the government and media (and hence public) has made them incapable of actually implementing policy. So they just waste public money instead, by starting to build things like train lines and then stopping halfway through.

    3) O’Farrell aint that bad. He’s visionless and uninspiring, which is a massive wasted opportunity in that he could do bold things and still get elected. Maybe his plan is to get shit happening and then try and win the next election proposing bold ideas, once his team has a bit more experience.

    If he can keep the nutbag religious right in his party under control (again, fundamentally government + media’s fault) and not repeal the injecting room, ethics classes, gay adoption etc, I’ll be happy.

    4) Having said all that, I really don’t know who I’m going to vote for. The whole experience promises to be very disheartening.

    I have to do a bit of research into the actual local candidates – Greens, Labor, Liberal and Independent. I could easily see myself voting for any of the four. I don’t really want to endorse anyone for government, so anyone who looks like they might inject a decent perspective into the parliament has a chance to win my vote.

    I am probably not a typical NSW voter.

  5. “The problem here isn’t Liberal voters; it’s ALP voters voting Liberal because they think that’s their only alternative.”

    And has been so since federation.

    The predicted rout of the left will not be as bad as pundits believe. The liberals have been in power before in NSW and as per usual like Labor, they’ll f*ck it up.The only thing I’ll be interested in is the Green vote and the percentage increase. This may be a barometer on the carbon tax?

  6. Doubt it – sounds like people are going to vote straight Liberal because they think the Greens will put Labor in… because these voters don’t understand what a multi-party government actually is, and why whoever calls themselves “premier”, it’s not the same as if their party was in power.

    Jordan – if I thought the Greens were worse than Labor, I’d be starting a new progressive party. As far as I can see, though, the main things that are wrong with the Greens are what’d be wrong with any growing party, and will be fixed when they get a bit bigger.

  7. I will vote Green, without any preference between Labor and the Coalition. I voted Labor in 2007 partly because Iemma promised not to privatise electricity. I got my first privatised electricity bill today. The problem with NSW Labor is that there are no real policy differences with the Coalition and the level of incompetence is staggering. Those differences which do exist would be persuasive if there were any chance NSW Labor would not abandon them as soon as it is re-elected,

    The only path to a progressive government in NSW is for Labor to spend some time in opposition, and hopefully the NSW defeat will also send a message to the federal government that progressive parties cannot govern by forum group and announceable. There is no way to achieve a progressive government at this election. We can only hope that Greens and progressive independents have enough votes in the legislative council to block any wild ideas by the Coalition.

  8. Splatterbottom

    It was the Libs that prevented the privatization of electricity generation a couple of times before Labor found a way to give it away without going to parliament. Also the Libs are committed to building more infr

    But seriously we don’t want a hung parliament. We’ve seen that federally and it isn’t pretty. Puppet PM Gillard is so tangled in puppet-master Brown’s strings that soon we will have a hung PM as well.

    You are probably right about the Libs, though. Sadly O’Farrell doesn’t look that promising. The shadow treasurer, Baird, has had some decent experience and might be the best of the bunch.

  9. jordanrastrick

    “Jordan – if I thought the Greens were worse than Labor, I’d be starting a new progressive party.”

    And if I still thought politics was a productive arena for trying to use creative ideas for progressive change, I’d be starting such a party myself.

    As it is at this point it looks like even the politics wiki I promised my nerd friends to set up is going to be stillborn….

  10. I’ve had a hard time deciding whether to let my preferences exhaust before going to Labor for the last few state elections. I’ve even been tempted to preference Liberal. The degree to which the Labor party in NSW is in the pockets of developers and other major donors is almost unbelievable. I hope a term out of office (which is bound to happen this time round) will do some good. My local Labor member is actually one who’s been lobbying hard for a number of issues I believe in, so he will get my preference this time round (after the Greens).

    I find myself horrified that I almost want the Coalition to get a majority in their own right in the upper house – that would be preferable to them having to deal with the Shooters Party and CDP.

  11. I live in Victoria, and usually vote straight Green/pref Labor, but even from this distance it is obvious that NSW Labor desperately need to be punished and punished severely. If they get back in again it is basically a big fat tick of approval for all the bullshit they’ve been pulling lo these many years. Put a broom through the whole rotten place and start over.

    I wasn’t all that fussed when Brumby got turfed, for much the same reason, because Vic Labor also need some time in opposition. And they weren’t within a country mile of how fucked NSW Labor are. On the whole I have to say that so far Baillieu hasn’t been *that* bad… (he’s certainly no Abbott)

  12. Unless you live in NSW and closely follow the politics it’s difficult to understand the issue.

    But the bottom line is that the State Labor government is comprehensively corrupt. It is controlled by a handful of powerful families, some inside the party (e.g. the Obeids and Tripodis) and some from the outside through effective ownership of government ministers and functionaries. Ours is a government that rules for the vested interests of those that control it, and not for the people.

    It doesn’t matter what policies Labor puts forward given that they are so incompetent, corrupt and untrustworthy that no-one has any confidence that they will stick to any of them. This is a unique election in that regard – policy promises become utterly irrelevant when the party making those promises has zero credibility .

    Labor has to go, and the idea that the NSW Greens could administer the most powerful State economy in Australia is laughable.

    It has to be the Liberals – we simply have no other palatable choice.

  13. “Labor has to go, and the idea that the NSW Greens could administer the most powerful State economy in Australia is laughable.”

    They’re hardly likely to go from one or two seats to controlling parliament. And the only way for them to grow to become a more professional party is for you to vote for them – the alternative to the Libs and Labor has to come from somewhere.

    You’d want to have a principled progressive party representing you, surely. The alternative is the Libs having absolute power – and on their recent form, I can’t say I’d be too comfortable with that.

  14. “Labor has to go, and the idea that the NSW Greens could administer the most powerful State economy in Australia is laughable.

    Which isn’t sayimg much, I mean the incumbent haven’t done very well and at least the Greens, unlike the ALP and the Coalition actually understand the concept of sustainability. 😉

    ” we simply have no other palatable choice.”

    Palatable? Liberals? Necessary evil or best of an utterly crap bunch might be more fitting.

  15. Splatterbottom

    At the moment we have two major parties competing for the centre. They aim to most closely approximate what voters want. It follows that the one of them that achieves this will get the majority of votes.

    The Greens are more principled than ordinary voters who are generally more pragmatic. It follows that the Greens are always going to be in a minority unless their principles become more widely accepted.

    However, you have to admire the Greens recent federal tactics where a principled cadre has dominated a weak-minded and confused ALP who are accustomed to compromising whatever principles they once held. The ALP believes that spin will get them out of any corner so they lie with impunity, introduce a tax that cannot possibly achieve its stated purpose and set the country on a course to ruin. Meanwhile the Greens celebrate their coup even as a new dark age dawns on Australia.

  16. You’d want to have a principled progressive party representing you, surely.

    On a Federal level, yes.

    However on a State level the issue of administrative ability plays a much weightier role in my voting decisions. I like my Greens in the Senate, not in the House.

    Getting rid of the current Labor govt is my #1 election issue, and voting Liberal is the most sure-fire way of achieving it.

  17. jordanrastrick

    But the bottom line is that the State Labor government is comprehensively corrupt.

    This is the popular perception. But its not true, at least not in the sense most people would understand the phrase “coprehensively corrupt”. There’s nepotism born of years in power which sometimes strays toward genuine corruption. There’s a few genuinely bad eggs. There’s a dysfunctional internal culture that spans not just the parliamentary MPs but also the Labor party administrative apparatus, the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, and most of the mainstream media. And it needs to be burned to the ground and built again if we are to have competent government in this state.

    But its not the endemic “Here minister take this shiny new yacht to let me build my illegal brothel” kind of corruption that plagues most nations in the world outside of Australia. Its more subtle.

  18. And it needs to be burned to the ground and built again if we are to have competent government in this state.

    My sentiments exactly. I’d like an effective and trustworthy Labor alternative but the current government is so compromised that a scorched earth policy is required before I’ll go anywhere near them.

  19. If you seriously think Labor is even worse than the Liberals, then presumably you’ll preference accordingly.

    But please tell me you’re not actually planning on giving your first preference to the Liberals.

  20. jordanrastrick

    Can’t speak for Mondo. But I’m seriously considering a first preference for any of the Greens, the Liberals, the ALP, or even Other.

    But mainly I just want to weep for our civil and democratic institutions, which can’t seem to keep up with the pace of change in the world.

    Or maybe just try to do something entertaining for the scrutineers on the ballot paper.

  21. Sorry I cannot work out the formating on these sites so you will have to make do with unformatted text.

    Ours is a government that rules for the vested interests of those that control it, and not for the people.

    That has always been the case. The problem is that it is the same vested interests that control both major parties.

    At the moment we have two major parties competing for the centre.

    ????? What convoluted geometrical design are we talking about here? If it is a simple Left vs Right straight line, neither of them would able to even see the centre with a telescope. Bob Menzies is probably so far to their Left as to be out of sight and he was definitely right of centre

  22. New Matilda has an interesting piece on some planning implications relating to the election.

    http://newmatilda.com/2011/03/18/planning-development-investigation

  23. jordanrastrick

    The New Matilda piece is interesting.

    But planning is an example of where the Greens and Libs both want to encourage rent-seekers as much as possible, to the detriment of the public interest. The donations from developers is the part of political fundraising that most needs reform; and Part 3A should go. But councils should not regain their former powers. There has to be a compromise where resident greed does not trump community need. NIMBYs are no less self-interested than developers are.

    Taking Catherine Hill Bay, Sartor’s original approval was a lot better than Kelly’s current one, especially if the article has it right. Hopefully the Libs can do a lot better, and give us an outcome that preserves most of what’s special about the place, while still allowing some development of the area outside the town in the surrounding underutilised land.

  24. But please tell me you’re not actually planning on giving your first preference to the Liberals.

    Perhaps not first preference, but I can pretty much guarantee that I will prerference so that my vote ends up with the Liberal candidate (since I do not want either the ALP or Greens getting up in my electorate which, incidentally, is Kristina’s electorate).

  25. You’d rather a Lib local MP to a Green? Is your local Green candidate a homicidal maniac or something?

  26. Hardly, but then neither is my local Liberal candidate.

    As I said above I don’t like the idea of Greens in the lower house. They’re a great party for curbing the excesses of the majors in the Senate, but not really suitable for actually proposing and administering government policy.

    The Greens are not what NSW needs at the moment IMO.

  27. “but not really suitable for actually proposing and administering government policy. ”

    Serious question, why not? Are the major parties suitable? Evidently NSW Labor aren’t but I don’t see why that makes the Liberals automatically better.

  28. “As I said above I don’t like the idea of Greens in the lower house. They’re a great party for curbing the excesses of the majors in the Senate, but not really suitable for actually proposing and administering government policy. “

    Serious question – how do you see the duopoly ever changing if you won’t vote for anyone but the duopoly in the lower house?

  29. Oh, I like my new avatar…Thanks.

  30. Serious question, why not? Are the major parties suitable?

    My perception is that the Greens tend to be single issue activist politicians with little to no practical business or administrative experience. That sort of politician is useful as a handbrake on major party policy but not so great when it comes to administering government.

    Administering a State economy of the size of NSW requires acumen that I just don’t believe is particularly widespread within the various Green parties. Perhaps I’m wrong, but the Greens don’t exactly go out of their way to demonstrate this.

    how do you see the duopoly ever changing if you won’t vote for anyone but the duopoly in the lower house?

    I expect the duopoly to change when a competent, comprehensive and administratively capable party puts their name on the ballot. I don’t subscribe to this meme you’re pushing whereby we should all vote for the Greens so that they’ll get better at administering government. In fact my view is the opposite: they need to get better first and then I’ll vote for them.

  31. Splatterbottom

    Agreed Mondo. Putting the Greens in charge of the economy would be like putting a necrophiliac in charge of the cemetery.

  32. There are a couple of things about that that bother me.

    1. Practically no minister has experience doing anything like running a department until they get their first ministry. It’s the bureaucrats in the public service who “administer the economy”.

    The MPs are there to make big picture decisions on what matters to prioritise over others; what things to develop etc.

    I see no reason why a Greens MP is less capable of doing that than a major party MP.

    2. How do you determine someone’s going to be good at “administering government”? You won’t vote for a party that hasn’t “administered government” thereby making it impossible for any party to challenge the duopoly. Catch-22.

    3. Since when are Greens single-issue politicians? The party has a consistent platform covering all areas – unlike, say, the sex party.

    I don’t see what’s been so great about the administration by the big party MPs. At least the Greens, in coalition with a big party, would hold it to account whenever it tried to do something corrupt.

    The real threat to competent, non-corrupt government is major party control of the parliament, where there’s no check on their behaviour at all. (Particularly with NSW’s ridiculous four year terms.)

  33. narcoticmusing

    Agreed Jeremy – we have here an example of what most of the populous believes. They think the people they vote for actually sit there late at night crunching numbers to balance the budget. At best, the party politicians and political advisors come up with the (often ridiculous and harmful) election promises (ridiculous in that they are often logistically impossible, harmful because they haven’t fully accounted for implications/risks/unintended consequences). Often a party will not do an election promise because, low and behold, the department has pointed out how utterly stupid it was in the first place. Departments are the ones that do all the research, all the work, all the everything. Do you think politicians write laws? Departments do (with the help of parliamentary counsel for the actual drafting itself).

    So people talking about parties being good or bad at administering government, including people who worry about a party being responsible or irresponsible with the public purse (based on whatever your definition of that is, I personally believe guaranteeing a surplus is irresponsible but I digress…) None of that matters. If you agree with the parties general principles/policies than the Departments will deal with the rest – all you’ll get is the vibe.

    In summary, departments are the administrators, not politicians. What do you think happens during ‘caretaker’ periods (the month before an election where parliament is now dissolved)? Do you honestly think the world stops? Do government services stop during this period? Does the budget suddenly break? There are NO politicians during caretaker period.

    It is like a business – there is a board who sit up in a lofty office and who meet (occasionally) and make important decisions. Then there is the executive headed by a CEO – the departments are the CEO/executive.

  34. “Administering a State economy of the size of NSW requires acumen that I just don’t believe is particularly widespread within the various Green parties.”

    Like I say, evidently the NSW ALP didn’t have the acumen required but I reckon the Liberals, acumen or not will be even more beholden to big business lobby groups than the ALP, not an accusation anyone could seriously point at the Greens.

    Some may think I’m naive when it comes to matters political, they might be right but I call it how I see it. This is how I see it, the major parties are chasing the same votes, middle Australia, the mortgage belt, they wont want to offend the rich and powerful (who donate and lobby) so the poor get it in the arse. This wont change as long as everybody keeps voting for the duopoly.

    Also Mondo, before you write off the Greens think of some of the idiots that have represented the Libs/coalition federally, Wilson Tuckey, Bronwyn Bishop, Barnaby Joyce, Kevin Andrews… I could go on (and on and on….), but you get my point, the major parties have plenty of incompetents within their ranks.

  35. Is there nothing that alerts you that there are posts awaiting moderation?

  36. I guess there’s no point now in approving my 23 March, 7:21 am post. Nobody else has bothered with this thread since 22 March. 😦

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