Hope our presence here won’t jinx it

Although Victoria installed them in government a few months ago, not everywhere in Australia is run by the Liberal Party.

Just a few hundred kilometres to the north is the state of New South Wales, where this morning I woke up under a Labor government.

I could get used to this. Maybe we’ll stay here an extra couple of days to really soak up the being-governed-by-Labor feeling.

UPDATE: Oh, NSW. We’re so sorry.


30 responses to “Hope our presence here won’t jinx it

  1. It’ll be a sad day for NSW today. The Labor party probably deserves to lose, and tomorrow it will be business as usual for some, under the Liberals.

    The part that will amaze me, as it has in all the past elections I can remember, a percentage of my fellow working class stiffs will be making the decision to install a government that could really give a flying f*&% about them. As soon as the Liberal party goes to see the G.G. to be sworn in, the plotting will start on the best way to screw over the people they despise with a passion.

    Oh the irony. The Liberals will form a government with the help of the very people that they despise, and in most cases despise them. Yep, those poor f&^%ers on main street who are struggling with the mortgage and other burdens on their lives, will be thinking. Lets give the Liberals one more chance, after all they can’t be worse than the present government. Or can they? Yep past history of Liberal party governments will be lost on most, and the ones that do remember, well, they’ll be looking for a different result this time of course.

    Yep off they will go today and vote for a mob of shysters, with their whole raisin d’etra to screw over the working class and poor, and to enrich the lives of the already well heeled people, who they really do like and support.

    Go figure! Because I have never been able to.

  2. And it looks like the Greens are possibly not going to get one seat! If you are a progressive party and can’t pick up *any* of the ruins in this election why are you even there? Yes I will pre-empt the defence that proportional representation would mean a different story. The ‘game’ is what it is now, and if you can’t win seats in this, you are stuffed. As I basically said on twitter:

    “Can we *please* have a progressive party in this country that isn’t shithouse?”

    I really don’t know where to go politically as a progressive in this country.

  3. @Chris. The problem is not only a lack of proportional representation but I believe since it’s only optional preferential that many people do not understand the importance of preferencing to make sure the tories could not win the seat.

    The Greens can come across as holier than thou on occasions. They didn’t preference in lower house seats (well the ones I am aware of) giving ALP candidates no incentive to preference them. And yes, I know how-to-vote cards are only a guide but too many people out there simply don’t understand that basic point.

  4. No, I don’t get it either. The Greens ought to be able to pick up some of the ruins as Chris Mayer said. And yes, of course there is the electoral system against them, the media against them…but virtually no progress at all? They did terribly in the Victorian election too, although they won’t admit it.

    So what is it? If their policies are good why don’t more people vote for them?

  5. “So what is it? If their policies are good why don’t more people vote for them?”

    For mine, your average Joe who is in debt up to his eyeballs just wont take the punt to change the status quo. Joe believes laizzez faire capitalism is the only game in town. On one side you have a Labor party that has not yet, but in the course of losing its social conscience, formed out of the long lost irrelevant union movement. Corrupt and rotten to its very core. The other, a mob of silver tailed shysters who could care less about anyone or anything, except money.Also corrupt and rotten to its very core. Not much of a choice I guess but people are reluctant to change. For mine, I think change will come, we just haven’t all quite suffered enough yet. When the stark reality of the state of the planet economically and environmentally is realised, just maybe then.

  6. jordanrastrick

    The Greens policies aren’t good. Some are.

    But they pander, to take one example, to the worst of NIMBYism on planning issues – give power to local residents to block any development in their area! Yeah, local residents!

    But local residents are rent-seekers. “I was here first, and now no other people shall come and live in my beautiful suburb.” Labor’s alternative was obviously bad, but if you give all your major planning decisions to local residents, nothing will get built. Which means 1) massive housing affordability problems, which is something the Greens supposedly care about, and 2) low-density cities, which is terrible for the viability of public transport vs road, terrible for energy efficiency in the fight against carbon, etc. Going back to the bad old ways of small local councils (elected only by the cranky types who can be bothered to vote) being in charge of everything is an atrociously bad idea, and in direct contradiction with major Greens’ policy goals. But, its “democratic” and “preserves the urban environment” and “stops the evil developers”, so it must be good, right?

    That kind of short-sightedness and incoherence is typical, especially at the state level where they don’t have the same range of talented candidates, campaign managers etc that they have Federally.

    I voted 1 Greens upper house in the hopes of stopping a Liberal/Shooters/Fred Nile romp of conservative douchebaggery. But if the ALP had run anyone other than Eric Roozendal as number 1 on the ticket, I would have voted for them.

    Likewise in the lower house, I thought I was voting in Vaucluse, and the choice was ALP/Fred Nile/Liberal/Greens. I was going to vote Greens. But it turns out my seat is over the border in Sydney, so I voted for Clover Moore. Even though I *know* for a fact she’s crazy. She’s at least just crazy in her own idiosyncratic ways, instead of a bunch of awesome smart people fatally encumbered by a bunch of crazy fools with conflicting crazy ideas, which is pretty much what the Greens are at the State level in particular.

  7. jordanrastrick

    Oh and since everyone will pile on here for a chance to defend the Greens, calling the ALP and Libs corrupt and evil and Full of Spin, and the Greens pure-hearted and innocent and above the ways of major party politics.

    Take a look at the following case of Greens spin-doctoring. Fiona Byrne was the best position candidate to take a lower house seat, but she failed (as she deserved to, since she’s an idiot) after saying she would introduce a motion to boycott Israel into state parliament, then lying and saying she hadn’t and that the story was a newspaper fabrication, and then doing a pissweak job trying to make the story go away when the Australian produced hard evidence of its claims. Please note whatever you think of the Murdoch papers (which are biased), the facts in this case are no longer under dispute.


    The Greens line on this issue – given for example by the candidate for Vaucluse to my dad who is a constituent there – now seems to be “we have no plans to introduce such a boycott” and more or less saying Fiona is an out-of-control lunatic who you should ignore, without actually saying it. Amazing that the candidate in a seat with many Jewish voters, and the candidate in a seat where Socialist Alliance posters calling for an end to the Israeli Apartheid are everywhere, would seemingly be trying to give their constituents such wildly divergent views of the Greens policy towards Israel. Is that called dog-whistling?

    This episode is of course hugely dishonest spin doctoring and massive infighting and all that other shit that plagues the majors. Its just the Greens are less professional at it.

  8. Actually jordan, the Greens have plenty of good policies. Most are good. You’re conflating their policies with jumping on NIMBY causes, which I will agree the Greens will do at times. It’s a pet peeve of mine, mainly because I like to think bigger.

    I agree planning laws need to take the bigger picture into account but I think the Greens don’t want it just being rich developers calling all the shots.

  9. Chris, I agree with you, that if the Greens are so good why can’t they win a seat, and on where truly progressive voters go now.

    At the 2007 Federal election I volunteered for GetUp! because I really coudn’t physically commit to Labor, though I did vote for them, as I have done all my life. With this NSW election, I volunteered for the Greens, as well as voted for the Greens in both houses. I did this because I couldn’t give NSW Labor a second of my time because of the part being a basket-case, but also because the Greens best represent my views.

    Regrettably, despite the Greens becoming a better and better political machine, it’s still a David and Goliath scenario, and Australia, being conservative at heart, just won’t/can’t take the risk, even though having the Greens on the cross-bench is very good for democracy.

    What do the Greens have to do?

    Continue to lose the hippy tag, as well as lose the NIMBY tag (as others have already pointed out), and perhaps come in a little from the far left by ditching some of what’s easily misinterpreted as ‘wacky policies’ (even though I’m personally far left) . They just have to move closer to the centre and be a credible, professional political outfit.

    Frankly, and slightly ironically, GetUp! appears more credible and professional, and they’re probably more left than the Greens.

  10. jordan,

    The Oz article you link to doesn’t quite lay out the case you make on the Greens spin.

    All I know of this isue is what you’ve said and what the Oz wrote, and the Oz pulls a few journalistic sleight-of-hands in this one. The Oz conflates (deliberately I presume) an alleged plan to introduce a motion into the NSW state parliament with a planned speech at a rally about a boycott.

    Then we are told that Byrne denied that she ever planned to speak at the rally, the evidence for this being that a Greens spokeperson said that she wouldn’t be speaking at the rally. A bit too cute.
    (I can’t remember the past time the Oz managed to write anything even vaguely sensible about the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even things that tangentially touch on it, such as this story)

    I don’t think that the Greens portray themselves as pure and innocent.They aren’t, they’re a political party.
    Do they portray themsleves as better than the majors? Yes, and for the most part they are, but being small is always an advantage in this.

  11. Hang on … they haven’t finished counting all the seats in NSW, right? Maybe Keneally might still have a chance …?

    Pfft. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  12. How sad that such a position (re Israel) is seen these days as “extremist”. To the extent that politicians have to dodge even being seen as interested in things such as the “day of action” described in the link. It’s just appalling – and even worse when you consider that plenty of Australian Jewish voters are also angered by many of Israel’s policies and actions. Many of the Jewish and Zionist organisations here are similar to the Australian Christian Lobby, which claims to speak on behalf of all Christians.

    And: Don’t tell me Marrickville Council has had a Greens Mayor?!?!11!!?// OMG the town halls gunna fall in them guys r like poison!111!!!!! Git em out git em out!

  13. Splatterbottom

    This election was about dumping an incompetent scandal-ridden government. As such most of the massive swing went to the alternative that looked like it might be able to provide a better administration. The Greens missed out badly as far as getting a piece of the action went. This is probably due to their lack of credentials although, as Jordan rightly noted, the unbelievable stupidity of Fiona Byrne trying to involve her local council in foreign relations and then lying about her position probably cost her a lower house seat and did not do the Greens any favours in the credibility stakes either.

    It is interesting to watch the evolution of the Greens into a more formidable force in Australian politics in recent years. As they grasp more and more power, at least federally, their rotten red innards become more pungent, and their leaders ape their major party rivals in their lying and hypocritical statements. As more people understand the Greens they realise that extreme leftism isn’t for them. They would rather have food on the table and a decent lifestyle than to go back to the stone age via “sustainable economics”. The target market for the Greens remains the guilt-ridden well-to-do who get on off on holier-than-thou moral flatulance.

    The message for the incoming government is that the voters want competent administration. They would be well advised to stay out of left/right controversies, play a straight bat on highly politicised issues and start cleaning up the mess that the ALP has left for them. The message for the Greens is to start behaving like grown-ups.

  14. ” The target market for the Greens remains the guilt-ridden well-to-do who get on off on holier-than-thou moral flatulance.”

    Haaaa Bullshit baffles brains so they say. So its! Back to the stone age via “sustainable economics ” No doubt about it, quote of the week. Shouted out as SB returns to his cave with his plate of filet mignon in one hand and club in tother. SB must be truly missing something me thinks, reality. Or maybe it’s? Never mind forget it.

  15. narcoticmusing

    Nevertheless, SB and others here have a good point: the election result was well deserved, not so much by the Liberals but the ALP. They deserved to get the boot – they have done a shocking job and one would hope that they take a really good look at themselves before coming back.

  16. There are a few things I’d say about the Greens’ result.

    1. Many, many voters do not understand preferences. They also do not understand parliament. They think that “a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor”, as if (a) they had no control over their preferences and (b) the situation where Labor was able to form government with the Greens would be substantially the same as a situation where Labor won a majority. As if a minority Labor government would be as corrupt and distant as the majority Labor government was.

    It’s not just the electoral system that makes it next to impossible for smaller parties to grow where they can realistically compete – it’s this general sense of inertia, of inevitability, of – it’s going to be one of the big parties, so I need to vote for the other one if I’m going to send Labor a message.

    2. The media coverage of the Greens was non-existent until there was the chance to beat up the Israel boycott mistake by a candidate – which she subsequently corrected. (It was never the state Greens’ policy to implement such a boycott on the State level, and the candidate simply mis-spoke and later corrected herself.) This is obviously par for the course and the Greens – and any other genuinely left party – can’t expect anything else from the commercial media. But it certainly has a lot to do with how slowly their support grows.

    3. Labor had the money from incumbency to concentrate on making sure that the Greens did not win seats from it. We’ll see how it goes in 2015 when this weekend’s result means the funding imbalance is substantially less.

    4. NSW is a very conservative state. Check out how far right its Labor party is.

    Basically, I don’t know anyone who seriously expected the Greens to do well at this election. And I don’t know any Greens who are particularly devastated by the result.

  17. as they grasp more and more power, at least federally, their rotten red innards become more pungent

    SB, how many Greens do you actually know personally? Very few I imagine. I am sick and tired of reading this bullocks of the Greens being a bunch of hard-core lefty/communists/socialists because it is bullshit propagated by the MSM, particularly the shit coming from The Australian and other Murdoch press.

    The Greens I have met throughout my years fall into many types – very few are hard left. They include Former Australian Democrats, peace movement activists, small-business owners who are small-l liberals, trade unionists and just generally those who care about the environment.

  18. Personally, I blame Jeremy’s presence in the State for the magnitude of the defeat. I’m channelling Andrew Dolt. 🙂

    The fascinating aspect to me is how the red neck right is attempting to link the defeat to the Carbon Tax. When, as Paul Howes said today, the ALP NSW primary vote had been tracking at about the mid twenties for over a year. Surely only Wackeman and Dolt would swallow that Carbon Tax related drivel?

  19. jordanrastrick

    Ok, here is the link to the article that just focuses on Fiona Byrne’s ideas about NSW joining the GBDS action:


    And for the record, I wouldn’t necessarily call diplomatic action against Israel extremist. Israel do have a seriously f***ed up relationship with the Palestinians and the rest of the world generally right now, especially given the right wing loons have taken over the asylum in the current term of the Knesset.

    But the kind of measures discussed are very serious. They imply a view of Israel as one of the most reprehensible nations on the planet, if they are supposed to be at all proportionate to the kinds of stances taken against other nations we have issues with.

    Where’s the call for a boycott of trade with china? Oh what’s that, the greens won’t put their name to such a thing because they know it would destroy our economy, even though morally the case has to be at least as strong?

    And in NSW it’s not just this farce and the nimbyism that’s a worry. The greens oppose the sale of public assets – in general, it seems. Once a government has built or bought something, it should keep it forever; that’s the message I’m getting from their campaign posters.

    Imagine a household or business run that way. “But it’s an asset I tell you, we can’t sell it!” For. Every. Single. Thing.

    The NSW greens don’t know what “opportunity cost” means. They should look it up.

  20. Splatterbottom

    The mooted appointment of union hack John Robertson will be another blow to Labor in NSW. In the prescient words of one of the great Labor Prime Ministers (sorry about the length of it but it is pure Keating gold:

    Dear John,

    I am writing on the occasion of your swearing in as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council.

    But this is not a letter of congratulations.

    You have replaced a man, who despite his idiosyncracies, had much to offer the people of New South Wales and the Labor Party. And indeed, someone who in troubled times, had an economic position and a framework to work in. Like his colleague, the former Premier, Morris Iemma, he sought to deal with the great and unfinished problem of New South Wales electricity and the provision of capital for new base load power.

    Your manipulation of the union base in New South Wales with the connivance and support of the Party President, Bernie Riordan, succeeded in destroying the political life of both men, and with them, probably the life of the Labor Government in New South Wales itself.

    When I came to see you about the Iemma Government’s electricity privatisation proposals in April 2008, you will remember me telling you that reckless indifference by you and Bernie Riordan to the Government’s fortunes, may see the Government destroyed and for which, you and Riordan would be held accountable.

    This letter is about that accountability.

    Notwithstanding the fact that a new and I believe good leader, has been elected to the Premiership, I think he will have an uphill battle in prosecuting the next election against a Liberal Party made resurgent, in the main, by yours and Riordan’s behaviour. And, if the Government goes down, the lethal tally of men and women who will have lost their lost seats will be to your account and that of the Party officers who were complicit in the melee; namely Riordan, Bitar and Foley.

    But Riordan, Bitar and Foley have not accommodated themselves with a Parliamentary seat at the public expense; you have. And a seat previously occupied by the person you had disparaged and targeted.

    When I met you and went through the history of the establishment of the east coast electricity market by the Government I led in the 1990s, and why the privatisation of the New South Wales power stations was consistent with the benefits of that market, you never offered one serious point in rebuttal. Not one cogent economic argument to thwart the logic. You batted the argument to one side, implying it would somehow be sorted out before the rupture arose.

    But instead, like a banshee on a rampage, you tore at the Government’s entrails until its viability was effectively compromised.

    Now I understand, you are thinking about a transition to the Legislative Assembly from the comfort stop you are currently occupying. And that that transition, in the medium term, is about the Party leadership and the Premiership.

    Let me tell you, if the Labor Party’s stocks ever get so low as to require your services in its Parliamentary leadership, it will itself, have no future. Not a skerrick of principle or restraint have you shown. You have behaved with reckless indifference to the longevity of the current Government and to the reasonable prospects of its re-election.

    It may be a novel concept for you, let me say that conscientious business of governance can never be founded in a soul so blackened by opportunism.
    The people of New South Wales may have their problems, but they would be way better rattling through than turning to someone like you in some hope of redemption.

    I am ashamed to share membership of the same party with you.

    PJ Keating

  21. The Greens didn’t do *that* badly. They actually increased their percentage of the vote from last election. Still a bit disappointed they didn’t win Marrickville (my electorate) though.

  22. Did you listen to our stream-of-consciousness podcast yesterday, SB? Dave was quoting from that letter directly.

  23. “Where’s the call for a boycott of trade with china? Oh what’s that, the greens won’t put their name to such a thing because they know it would destroy our economy, even though morally the case has to be at least as strong?”

    To be fair, it’s about trying to influence policy. Whatever influence Australia would have over Israel in terms of human rights, it’s certainly more than we do over China. That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face.

  24. Sorry, which party was it that originally was the ONLY one raising issues about human rights in China whilst the others were busy looking the other way? Starts with … with “G”, doesn’t it?!?

  25. That letter reads as though SB wrote it himself.

    Hang on … could SB in fact be … the one-time WGT himself?!?!?

  26. jordan,

    I think you’ll find that the Greens are pretty consistent, whether it’s on Israel-Palestine or China-Tibet.

    The last time I recall that the issue came up (last year), the Greens had introduced a motion in the Senate urging a peaceful resolution – it was voted down by a huge majority (Libs + Nats + Labor).

  27. The message for the incoming government is that the voters want competent administration.

    As a NSW voter I can categorically say that this was the main reason I chose the Liberals over the Greens.

    I don’t believe that the reasons Jeremy has proposed factored heavily in the NSW population’s decision to turn from labor to the Liberals (rather than from Labor to the Greens). People understand preferential voting, and they also understand what a minority Labor/Green government would look like (i.e. a hopeless basket case).

    In fact, Jeremy, I find your comments a tad patronising. You should stop trying to paint the election outcome, and the Greens’ poor showing in particular, as beaing a result of the voters’ inability to properly grasp how our democracy works.

    The truth is that NSW is sick and tired of being poorly administered as a state, and so we picked the team with the best chance of fixing up the mess. Choosing the Greens in this environment would have been utter madness – the last thing NSW needs after the mess left by Labor is a loose coalition of inexperienced ideologues chosen more for their social policy positions than on the basis of any relevant business or administrative experience.

    As a proud New South Welshman I can honestly say that I’m quite optimistic about the prospect of a new, competent and dynamic government with a real mandate for change.

  28. jordanrastrick

    I think there’s more inertia outside of the political system with “values” issues than with “adminstrative” ones.

    So while I think the CDP/Shooters/Right Wing Libs being the negotiators with O’Farrell to pass legislation will result in set backs on drug policy, gay rights, ethics classes etc, the tide of change in wider society on these fronts is hopefully strong enough that there will be no permanent damage.

    Also, Barry became leader by telling his factions to sit down and shut up. I believe he will have keenly learned the lesson that a malleable upper house can’t be used too much to appease the base without risking a big electoral snap back. So either he gives the worst of the right everything they want and faces a hostile upper house as potentially early as one term down the track; or he keeps a lid on them to secure the longevity of his government. Either way, I hope things don’t turn out as bad as I’ve feared.

    As far as getting things “working” again, Education is doing pretty well really, could be a lot better if the Teachers Federation get taken down a notch or two which seems like a prime fight for a Liberal Premier with a huge mandate. Health is also good despite the eternal hooplah.

    The disasters of the not-at-all-mourned ALP government were infrastructure investment in Energy – because of the stupid internal divisions Keating alluded to in his letter – and, most of all, Transport (with the flow on effects into Planning), where Carr just set a bad precedent of not having the courage to tough out the fights in the early days that meant of course the problems getting harder and harder to fix over time. Our roads are in good shape (the orbital system really is very impressive); we just need the public transport side to make things work: more train tracks, smarter buses, and e-ticketing.

    I expect O’Farrell to fix up both Energy and Transport without much hassle, since all he has to do is not screw up. Sell the retailers and the generators (properly, not Roozendal scorched Earth style), retain the distributors, pump money into the electorate to keep everyone happy, talk to the Feds about what the carbon price picture is going to look like and hence how private capital can be attracted once more into the sector.

    Keeping everything publically owned would be almost as good in the unfortunate current environment; so long as he picks one option and commits to it.

    Transport – start building what he promised ASAP. Getting hands on money (either by cutting elsewhere in the budget or even a small amount of tax increases) to build the other badly needed stuff would be a very nice bonus. But if he’s too pissweak for that, all he needs to do to outperform Labor is not keep starting and then cancelling projects.

  29. narcoticmusing

    I expect O’Farrell to fix up both Energy and Transport without much hassle, since all he has to do is not screw up
    Prepare to be disappointed. Energy and transport issues are not dissimilar to the housing crisis – too many parties that need to be pleased and none of those are the actual users/electorate.

    Liberals love to privatise everything not because they believe in the market, but for the same reason the ALP sold up and the same reason the Vic ALP govt, after 11 years, was too gutless to bring transport back into public hands despite AWFUL mis-management – outsourcing risk. It is about blaming someone else, which in NSW with its addiction to the media cycle, is very important.

    So I am very cynical that anything will change, you’ll just get new excuses, and new ppl to blame. Fingers crossed they prove me wrong… but you may just end up with more of the same plus a roll back of rights in favour of discrimination.

  30. jordanrastrick

    Outsourcing an existing State monopoly (natural or otherwise) to the private sector is always a terrible idea if there’s no opportunity for competitors to bring them to heel.

    E.g. Telstra is just getting its act together now, but the transition from being the owner of the government-built backbone to a genuine player amongst the retail telcos has been difficult and messy.

    Likewise privatising a city’s entire train system is just dumb. Where are the competitive pressures going to come from to get better performance than the public sector?

    As you said its about risk shifting, but it comes back to bite you in the end.

    However power generation should be private. Keating put the process in place to move us toward a single market in East Coast. The wires, and critically the market itself (to stop Enron-in-California style douchebaggery) are controlled by the government; the inputs (generators) and outputs (retail operators) can be in private hands, because anyone can plug a new power plant into the grid, or start a company that buys wholesale power and repackages it to consumers in a more efficient way. There’s no natural monopolies in these two sectors so no real good reason for government to maintain its direct control.

    Climate change makes the politics of this much more complex, because no one wants to invest serious dollars in a coal power plant while there’s a chance Gillard will price Carbon, or in an offshore wind plant while there’s a chance Abbott won’t. Traditional power plants are big capital investments, and most investors with lots of capital are timid about volatility; and there is no way for them to properly hedge the relevant risks, currently.

    Hope on this front comes from modular power – achieving economies of scale not by having one giant plant but having many tiny plants that are built cheaply at a factory, more or less. eSolar (CSP, backed by Google amongst others) has lots of promise in the solar sector in this regard. Land-based wind turbines are inherently modular, but there’s a limit to the number of viable locations to use before people start complaining loudly. Offshore is much nicer in most respects but sadly it doesn’t yet make sense to build only a little offshore platform.

    Gas is a decent stop gap, but good luck trying to get Greenpeace types to let you build the plants, or mine for the fuel. Still, at least the coal seam stuff and the bio-generated kind are close enough to more or less work on the same machinery I believe. In fact I remember seeing a TED talk postulating that they come from almost exactly the same source – bacteria breaking down heavier hydrocarbons…..

    Modular nuclear has made very exciting progress, but we’ll see if the world is mature enough to handle the idea in the post Fukushima world.

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