Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Equally Disappointing: What Should We Take From The Australian Election?

Sitting Pretty: Even if Australia's incumbent Liberal Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, somehow manages to scrape together a ramshackle government, Bill Shorten has almost certainly done enough to keep his ALP colleagues’ daggers in their sheaths. Labor’s voters are especially delighted that Turnbull’s discomfiture is the result of Shorten turning the Liberals’ own weapons against them.
BILL SHORTEN’S FOREWARNINGS may yet ensure a rich electoral harvest for the Australian Labor Party. His prediction that Medicare, Australia’s public health system, would be at risk if Malcolm Turnbull and his Liberal-National Coalition were returned to office certainly focused the minds of Australia’s poor. Fear of losing Gough Whitlam’s greatest legacy to the Australian people, combined with Compulsory Voting (which ensures that poor Australians actually vote) may yet be enough to make Shorten Australia’s next prime minister.
Even if Turnbull somehow manages to scrape together a ramshackle government, Shorten has almost certainly done enough to keep his ALP colleagues’ daggers in their sheaths. Labor’s voters are especially delighted that Turnbull’s discomfiture is the result of Shorten turning the Liberals’ own weapons against them.
Election after election, the Liberals and their right-wing media allies have employed scare tactics against Labor. This time, however, it was Labor doing the scarifying. What’s more, those scare tactics contained a sizeable kernel of truth. The Liberals would relish the privatisation of Medicare. Why? Because it’s an article of ideological faith among Australia’s “economic rationalists” that the private sector is better at supplying services than the state. To claim, as Turnbull did – repeatedly and with growing exasperation – that his party harboured no such intentions raised disingenuousness to new heights.
Shorten’s tactics recall those employed by Helen Clark in the New Zealand general election of 2005. On that occasion the warning issued was about housing and the likely consequences for state house tenants of a Don Brash/National Party win. It was enough to see the large South Auckland polling booths tip the balance in Labour’s favour.
Twelve years on, and Labour’s 2005 warnings concerning housing and the fate of state house tenants are being vindicated almost daily. That it has taken so long is because National’s ideological antagonism towards state housing, which Don Brash displayed openly and honestly, has been camouflaged and concealed by John Key’s government.
It has been National’s intention, ever since winning power in 2008, to eliminate the state as New Zealand’s default housing provider. According to the economist, and author of “Generation Rent”, Shamubeel Eaqub, New Zealand’s stock of state houses – proportional to its population – is at levels not seen since 1949. At the core of National’s housing policy is the all-too-familiar neoliberal negation of the state’s capacity to respond to social need. In terms of practical policy, this is expressed by facilitating the entrenchment of the private sector as the only legitimate provider of housing – even for the poor.
The radicalism of this new policy regime is only slowly being recognised. Much easier to spot has been the sudden emergence into public view of the consequences of the state abdicating its role as housing provider of last resort. The grim spectacle of families living in their cars has stimulated public outrage and forced the National Government’s hand.
At the National Party’s 80th annual conference, held in Christchurch over the weekend, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a billion-dollar Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to kick start what is intended to be a local government-administered housing construction programme. This latter effort seems likely to become the responsibility of a new legal entity – the Urban Development Authority (UDA). The first cities to receive a UDA will be those currently experiencing the fastest population growth: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Christchurch and Queenstown. The HIF will not, however, be empowered to issue genuine grants to these cities, only loans, and the funds expended are to facilitate the plans of private property developers exclusively.
Dismissed by Labour Leader, Andrew Little, as “a rushed, piecemeal policy that hasn’t been thought through”, Key will, nevertheless, be hoping that voters receive these announcements as evidence that his Government is, at last, “doing something”. It is nowhere near enough, but unless Labour executes a radical overhaul of its own, very similar, housing policies, Key’s latest efforts will be compared not unfavourably with his opponents’.
The extraordinarily close finish in the Australian general election is, in part, a reflection of the extremely drab selection of colours in which both the Left and the Right were content to paint their country’s future. What most Australians experienced was an overlong campaign characterised by limitation, negation and fear. Without the enforced participation of Compulsory Voting, Turnbull’s Liberal-National Coalition would have been returned handily. The self-interest of the “Haves” would have seen to that.
To ensure the participation of the “Have Nots” in 2017, New Zealand Labour will have to offer much more than Shorten-style scare-tactics. To compensate for the lack of compulsory voting, Little needs to devise a campaign that is expansive, affirmative and chock-full of hope.
If a broad programme of state house construction does not lie at the heart of that campaign, then a hung parliament will be the most that Labour deserves.
This essay was originally published in The Press of Tuesday, 5 July 2016.


Anonymous said...

Roughly 15 months out from the 2017 election, Little should be ready to put down 3 policy planks that should be his 'mantra' on the election campaign trail.

It should include classic Labour policy ie Housing, Health, & Education.

For labour the 'ground game' is all important for 2017 to maximise turnout.

Of course, in the previous few election campaigns I''ve discussed all this to sitting MP's, LEC's, a General Secretary & anyone else who could be bothered to listen...but Labour seem intent on repeating error after error (read electoral defeat after electoral defeat).

jh said...

Gareth Morgan
Labour's Third World Solution [now of line]

"Ireland’s economic miracle was driven by Germany. Under Labour, ours is being gifted by Communist China. The Germans sent money, the Chinese are sending people.
That impetus has come from getting immigration up to record levels, notwithstanding the squeals from Winston Peters’ constituency. Just as Ireland found a sugar daddy to give its economy a boost in the 1980’s, Miss Clark has discovered the dividend from unfettered people inflows.

"New Zealand’s population growth, having languished at rates of below 0.5% per annum over the last few years, is now running close to 1.5% pa thanks to net migration contributing around 1% per annum. And there is no sign of the migration abating, nor any sign that the government wants it to. Indeed the response of Prime Minister Clark to suggestions that her government’s population policy is “too liberal” on migration is to say that “most Western countries face problems replacing their populations due to a lowering of birth rates so that immigration is vital if economic health is to be maintained”.
Miss Clark’s perspective confirms that her government does see a link between higher net immigration and higher per capita incomes, a link that certainly Winston Peters denies and on which many economists are ambivalent."

No wonder we have a state housing problem. Thanks Helen, you utopian socialist you!.

Whitlam was the architect of "we celebrate difference" (moral acts don't have negative consequences: the health system will cope).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

National doesn't even pretend it has anything other than ideological reasons for doing what it does anymore. Not much anyway. Listen to the Prime Minister when asked why they don't build more houses. Listen to him outright lie about the 90 day trial period for jobs. It wasn't intended to create more jobs. And yet, national radio – about the only bastion of freedom in this crap media climate :) – found several quotes with him and others saying just that. They just don't care. Hill, at the very least he should have had the judgement not to lie about something that was so easy to prove untrue.
But they've managed to 'social engineer' the country to a point where people think it's okay. Hopefully the arrogance will bugger them at the next election, but I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

A very insightful piece on the Australian election, your summary on the forthcoming NZ election is merited inasmuch that you have once again in an article pointed out a much needed major "point of difference' between National and Labour, this given Nationals aversion to state housing.
If LabGreens were to pick up a massive state housing program as policy for 2017 then they must come out with costings and tax policies and not leave that for the National party to do it for them.
Labour fluffed the basic wage concept by not costing the concept and then screamed blue murder when National adherents did it for them.
I blame Grant Robertson and Rob Salmond for that stuff up. I have doubts that they learned anything from it, though like most people who take an interest in the politics of NZ lets sincerely hope I am wrong.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
Parallel with the loan announcement was a suggestion about invoking the public works act to wrest land from land bankers, and hand it on to property developers. If thats as far as they go , the developers will build top of the market houses because how can you justify low value houses on land at current prices , and sell them to speculators who will leave them empty, " house banking " them . Why would you let your investment for 2% -3% less costs taxable return ,taking the newness off it and so devaluing it, and at the risk of someone smoking or even cooking meth in it , when you're going to make 15% tax free capital gain with no risk by leaving it empty ? Someone pointed out here a couple of weeks ago that at the 2013 census there were 20000+ empty houses in A K . I bet there are twice as many now. So the govt robs speculator Peter to pay speculator Paul providing not one single house for people who really need one.
What Andrew little should say is yes, we approve thus using the public works act , but we will do so for a public work; we will requisition the land and build public housing on it ourselves , ensuring that the state interference results in a public service, providing housing for the people who need it.
Cheers David J S

greywarbler said...

Do you consider compulsory voting to be in the main advantageous for keeping all close to the coalface of democracy Chris? I now think that it is a responsibility that we all should bear. Leaving it to others to decide for us all is one of the reasons we have lost so much of our hardly won services and wellbeing.

I think that quite a small fine such as $20 for not voting would be a suitable reminder to take it seriously but this should be followed up and collected where possible and not carried forward to become a weight on the shoulders of a voter with other problems.

jh said...

Is this true Chris?
billmurray (438 comments) says:
July 6th, 2016 at 8:28 am
The Labour party is again waxing and having fits about the housing crisis in Auckland,
What Labour does not tell us that it was Labour that caused the present crisis when they signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008 which gave Chinese people the right to buy property in New Zealand WHETHER OR NOT THEY RESIDED IN NEW ZEALAND.
It was the Helen Clark government and Phil Goff was the lead negotiator, this agreement was endorsed by all political parties and the CTU also not only endorsed it but sent representatives to the signing in China.
We now have humbug and lies about this situation with Labour ranting about John Key and National causing this situation when the architects are the Labour government of 2008.

Anonymous said...

jh, I understand that China/ NZ free trade agreement was signed by the Labour government on the 7 April 2008, articles 138 and 141 basically allows for Chinese investors wanting to buy residential real estate in NZ are not to be treated less favourably than local NZ investors and it is a breach of the agreement to stop them.

I do not believe that the Chinese would ever re-negotiate those terms, why should they?, I say that because Labour folk argue that National should have negated that those clauses in subsequent years.

It was Labour that has sold our sovereignty.

greywarbler said...

I can see Guerilla Surgeons point about you jh and immigration matters - too much already!

The problem with housing is that state housing numbers were not added to in a reasonable way to form a baseline that kept private rentals with a floor price. When there is a recession and jobs and costs go down, that is a good time to put some state housing infrastructure up. The result of not applying good economic principles like this, is a large cause of our present disaster.

That goes way back before the Chinese immigration story was invented! It was not the FTA with China that was the main cause of our housing crisis. It was having no base level for the rental market with enough rent being paid to cover maintenance and management, the housing cost being written off not constantly revalued as private property.

Then there was the business of subsidising private landlords with the accommodation supplement. I thought that subsidising business was bad, farming was not to have the treatment, so why landlords? That pushed up house prices. Anyone with a modicum of sense could have told government that. What do we pay these pollies and their advisors for?

When the NACTS, or whatever their persona was at the time, put housing up to market rents then Labour was trying to make a fuss and rouse the voters against it. As usual the voters were damp about housing provision and failed to light. Perhaps by then Labour was viewed as damp also.

Then there is the need to keep money circulating in retail, consumerism is one of our big business sectors, creating churn in the economy till the money gets siphoned off to buy overseas goods or to overseas owners. Savings is something to pay lip-service to, and the slightest interest paid attracts immediate taxation even to one cent. Soon as too many people save, it starts a recession, we can't afford that. A regular savings regime would be proof of a good honest determined couple who could get a concessionary loan to build a house. But this type of good NZer is not the chosen one by NATS today, it's the money, spending and creditworthiness in citizens that makes RW pollies eyes sparkle.

To protect us against foreign housing and other speculators and absentee owners, there should be good laws. In the case of the Chinese FTA and any other foreign treaty, we are left with no flak jacket on to protect against any treaties we make. I don't know who educates these bland blancmanges that conduct treaty talks for us, and those who appoint and annoint them. They certainly don't seem to have enough grit to ensure that important matters close to our heart and health are safe-guarded.

pat said...

@GS 13.29

White is the new black

nonesuch said...

The HIF is blatant nonsense. I have this on the authority of Mr Hooton on Natrad this week. Matthew pointed out if I recall correctly that Watercare has a 10 year infrastructure budget of $4 billion. This makes one billy across five cities pocket money. Hoots also seems to think to think that Nick Smith is a deranged idiot. Hard to disagree.

The UDA is a worry. Presumably more rule by decree in favour of people like us who like us? See water on the Mainland.

The missing million are the key electorally. But good luck getting them to the booths. There is no enforcement of 'compulsory' registration on the electoral rolls as far as I am aware. And many of the underclass couldn't give a rat's arse about the hocus pocus of so-called democracy and are often of no fixed abode.

As for the current regime they increasingly tend to spout utter bollocks with a straight face knowing their fanbase will lap it up and who cares about the unworthy others. Why only a few days ago I heard the Minister of Finance testifying that so deep was his concern for the plight of the poor (he even knew some of them well) that the govt had increased the minimum wage to $15.25. The regime was also rapidly moving to provide housing for all, apparently by creating utter chaos in state housing provision, and letting the bubble expand unabated.

Don't get me started on the smirking weasel. Is this the most worthless individual ever as Prime Minister? He must be a runner for the title.

Nick R said...

jh - No, it isn't. There was no law prohibiting Chinese citizens from buying residential housing in New Zealand before 2008 and there is none now.

jh said...

Nick R said...
jh - No, it isn't. There was no law prohibiting Chinese citizens from buying residential housing in New Zealand before 2008 and there is none now.
"They speak the language, they know the culture and have the connections. They are a ready-made package."

"He said the number one reason migrants chose New Zealand was lifestyle." Professor Spoonley

"Ireland’s economic miracle was driven by Germany. Under Labour, ours is being gifted by Communist China. The Germans sent money, the Chinese are sending people"
Gareth Morgan

"Any city made up of more than 25 per cent ethnic migrants is known as ‘superdiverse’. Now at 40 per cent, Auckland is more diverse than Sydney, London or Los Angeles. The only city in the OECD with a higher proportion is Toronto.
The dominant driver of that diversity has been migration from Asia. In 1991, about five per cent of Aucklanders were Asian. Today, it’s 23 per cent. By the 2o2os, Spoonley believes, it will be 27 or 28 per cent.
That rapid influx has resulted in geogaphical distortions too. ‘Ethnoburbs’ or ‘ethnic precincts’ have arisen on Auckland’s North Shore and in East Auckland, where Asians are the dominant ethnic group.
“When you look at the size and rapidity of the change,” says Spoonley, “it’s very, very unusual.” But at the same time, it has happened relatively harmoniously. After an initial backlash in the 1990s, led by the publication of newspaper articles headlined ‘Inv-Asian’, and much political posturing, New Zealanders’ attitudes towards the Asian community have been generally and increasingly positive. "
NZ Geographic

Asian people are responsible for rising house prices: Auckland 58%
Percentage of New Zealanders who say each of the factors below will have a positive impact on New Zealand in the next 10 to 20 years: immigration 48%

New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples 2015 Annual Survey
Colmar Brunton for *non-partisan* Asia New Zealand Foundation

Richard McGrath said...

There is huge media bias to the left in Australia, which has to be seen to be believed. The taxpayer funded ABC is a flagbearer for left-wing ideas, stacking audiences and panels in its 'Q & A' TV show to bury any small-government liberal sentiment under the mandatory political correctness and multiculturalism. When Abbott was PM, the ABC's unrelenting visceral hatred for an essentially decent man was sickening to watch.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Here we go again. Truthiness. The ABC is politically biased – well, 79% of Australians don't believe that. And if we look at the actual figures, it allocates almost identical amounts of time to right and left-wing parties. On the other hand, according to actual scientific research the rest of the Australian media is biased towards the right.
Political correctness – insofar as it restricts your ability to say racist and sexist things, tough. Seems to be remarkable nostalgia for being able to do that amongst a certain group of people. Anyway, if political correctness is your only argument – you don't have one.

Anonymous said...

Richard McGrath, you are really worth an Irish name. This 1 second of plenty in the 'journey'.'Decency' is the imagination needed to feel what the weakest of us are going through.
100 years on of Labour I'm just not interested. You know, after the last third of that. The Greens talk about poverty and climate change, truths. If you can appeal to the fat guts of complacence that decide elections recently , brilliance. I don't have the imagination for it.

Anonymous said...

You know how people pile into a party with growth potentail Chris?

paul scott (82 comments) says:
July 8th, 2016 at 2:31 pm
Souvlaki [2:07]
“” From where I sit…in Epsom…with colleagues at pub, all with post grad degrees& not ” short of a bob”…word is Key is unfortunately likely to be toast next election.He & National are seriously misreading their support base !.People are honestly considering Peters…abhorent though that may sound! For Gods sake wake up National & smell the roses!! “”
Expect better from NZF soon. NZF also needs its backside kicked . NZF needs some modifying influence on public policy. At present they are talking gibberish about building homes , confiscating property, same blab as vile Smith. I am in full frontal attack mode over this on their facebook site, and I am being read. They need someone competent to run the home office. Same with Seymour. He is rabbiting on about kids on the street in Greenlane. Go sort him out Souvlaki.

jh said...

Blogger Richard McGrath said...

There is huge media bias to the left in Australia,
Frank Slater agree:
"In the October issue I reviewed elements of the quality media, mainly the Sydney Morning Herald and intermittently the ABC and SBS, for one year, from mid-September 2011 to August 2012. These media outlets represent the apogee of respectable, mainstream Left-liberal ideology in Australia, ostensibly the heart of sophisticated cosmopolitanism, what the elite read and watch. I found confused understandings of ethnic behaviour, numerous incidents of baiting and defamation of Anglo and white Australians, but no chauvinism directed at minority ethnic groups. The search was not exhaustive but the trend is unlikely to be altered by a few missed cases running in the opposite direction. Neither is the trend altered by articles that report unpleasant facts about minorities in a dispassionate manner. An example is a 2010 article by conservative columnist Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald-Sun, a Murdoch-owned newspaper.[1] Bolt criticised the Victoria Police for suppressing information on the ethnicity of criminals and presented some statistics showing high rates of imprisonment for some immigrant groups. He did not use terms of abuse such as those directed at Anglos and whites in the Sydney Morning Herald."

nonesuch said...

About Tony Abbott, some may call him 'essentially decent'. Others might say he is a semi-fascist quasi-Christian halfwit who is a danger to humanity and all other species on this fragile planet. And a reet eejit to boot. Away with him!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

JH. Do you think you could expend just a tad more energy on spelling Frank Salter correctly. Not just because it took me five minutes to figure out who the hell you are talking about, but also because it is his name and no matter who he is he deserves to have it spelt (and said) correctly. All you have to do is copy and paste the damned thing into your comment.
And perhaps you could try making some distinction in your mind between someone who writes for a magazine which admits to taking a "conservative position" on social and political issues and someone who is an academic and trying to get at the truth even though they might have their own biases. Not to mention the quadrant is essentially a literary and cultural journal.
I guess basically what I'm saying is I don't care what Frank Salter thinks. He hasn't done any proper research. He hasn't been peer-reviewed – probably because it's not worth it. He hasn't defined his terms in any proper way. He was actually looking for what he found. And so of course he found it.

Robert M said...

In terms of Abbott, he is intelligent and more impressive than Costello in Howards team. The basic Australian view of Abbott was to fight to maintain a National Health service and to establish a very generous paternity leave so women from solo mothers gets the same generous financial support as the average Aus battler and a female lawyer married or single on $100,000. In the different egalitarianism of Australia hot 18 year solo mums are regarded as having a right to an absolute sex life with as many men as they want in their years of maximum sexual capability and enjoyment and the quibbling about paternity leave is whether rich lawyers wives should also be entitled. Everybody has a right to hot sex to get on the piss all night, watch the cricket and hate the wowsers, Arabs and do gooders.
In Australia education is a much lower priority and good education since World War Two has largely and increasingly been the preserve of those able to pay for private fees, there was a slight reversal of this during the Whitlam years to the extent rather state aid went to catholic schools to ensure at least some basic education. But NZ level serious education in Government schools was always restricted to the highly intelligent and those both intelligent and good sporting potential, nothing mattering more to the Australian ordinary people. But for three quarters of those forced to rely on state education there was never much interest in even educating to our old School Certificate level. The really bright, the top 5% the Gillard's and Lantham's did get a world class education from the state 30 years ago, but even that has gone now. When Abbott failed to get the much higher tertiary fees, which I think 24 out of 25 Chancellors and Boards of the credible top Australian varsities supported, Abbott basically cut the state secondary education budget in half, and secondary education in History and Geography was removed from the syllabus in many states and state education is really now only in English, Maths, PC and Sex education. Half the state secondary teachers in Australia will have barely achieved the equivalent of SC English and Maths. To some extent this simply reflects the global reality, NCEA is only as good as a school and for a girl employment is about good looks and an ability to count and talk to intelligent men, rather than any serious knowledge of Science or Maths. Most of all one needs an adequate shit detector, to reject 90% of NZ style PC as crap and against human interest, ie Were not equal, the Chinese, Japs and Arabs are not the same as us, the Gays are yesterday and 30 years out of date the Trans Gender bullshit is garbage and gutless feminist right wing reaction, more appropriate for fascist Iran.
In terms of New Zealand over the last 3o years half the government and council budget has simply been wasted. The point of the Rogernomics and Roger Kerr reforms was not a neo liberal agenda to empower and free the rich with the reduction of inheritance tax and scrapping import protection but rather to reduce the burden of excessive and outdated state expenditure on transport, hospitals and council housing. Surely we could have a more effective urban transport system in Auckland and Wellington for half the cost, with much less expansion and maintenance of heavy electric rail on inappropriate routes, reintroduction of modern old style Melbourne Trams say down the middle of the road to Mt Eden, Three Kings, Dominion Road and Mt Albert. Using lots of diesel railcars to Hamilton, Masterton and Paraparamu rather than excessive expansion of electrification and lots of cheap low cost diesel buses at $1 fares like in America for up to 3 miles out of city centres which is often how its done in America. The assets will be blown up , privatised and a third run by independent non profit, rent financed housing associatons like its done in Camerson and Theresa Mays UK

jh said...

On Mediawatch

Is a 'post-truth' era upon us?
Andrea vance says:
"if you consider that the job of a political reporter is to help the public make sense of the mad myth and the chaos and the spin doctors and the complex policies; it's not to actually add to it".

I don't think that is the job of the political reporter at all. The job of the political reporter is to remain objective and present all the relevant view points and let the public decide.
The fact is where academics disagree you can pick which news outfit favours which (of only one side) academic (eg Mike Hosking and Professor Paul Spoonley decide it is not practical to reduce immigration numbers (nothing to see - move on)

Andrea Vance:
Peters' ill-founded hysteria and anti-Asian agenda, are a regular feature of election campaigns.

"However, our poll suggests voters aren't blaming migrants for the current housing crisis. They also have a strong handle on the true picture - with most able to correctly pick how many migrants make up the population.

Even Peters own voters aren't convinced by this old trick - 92 per cent of his supporters don't rate immigration as a problem.

Unsurprisingly, 84 percent of NZ First voters want immigration restricted. Sixty-eight percent of Labour voters agree, along with 58 percent of Green Party voters.

Anonymous said...

You know how people pile into a party with growth potential Chris?
I heard rumblings from Winston this morning about the RMA (Parliament -RNZ). Building industry in - building industry out?

Unknown said...

Others might say he is a semi-fascist quasi-Christian halfwit who is a danger to humanity and all other species on this fragile planet
that's what frank Salter was talking about.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Half the state secondary teachers in Australia will have barely achieved the equivalent of SC English and Maths. "

This hardly seems to fit in with the required qualifications for secondary teaching, at least as expounded by the State government of Victoria. So could we have a citation please?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"if you consider that the job of a political reporter is to help the public make sense of the mad myth and the chaos and the spin doctors and the complex policies; it's not to actually add to it".

"The job of the political reporter is to remain objective and present all the relevant view points and let the public decide."

Not necessarily mutually exclusive, and in fact these two statements quite possibly mean the same thing.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

So there is going to be no citation about the teacher qualifications? Why am I not surprised.