Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Unofficial bipartisanship in Australian politics

Ever since the Hawke/Keating Labor government of the mid-80s pulled a volte-face by turning to Reagan/Thatcher-nomics for inspiration, it has been trite to observe that there is now little difference between Australia’s two main political parties.

What is new – well, sort of – is that the political process somehow continues on regardless, as if it matters which party is going to win the upcoming election. Is it just me, or does it seem that the media are already way too worked-up over a mere shadowplay (and I’m not referring to the fact that the election is yet to be officially called)?

If you don’t believe me that just about every major policy issue is, or will be, bi-partisan, here’s some food for thought:

Unemployment – both parties agree on 5% being a dream target unemployment rate (despite this figure corresponding to about six jobless persons for every vacancy).

Housing affordability – neither party (nor the CIS’s Peter Saunders) sees this as an issue of winners and losers.

Oversize four-wheel-drive cars in regular suburban use – in early 2001, there were some glimmerings that Labor would differentiate itself from Liberal policy here*. Since Mark Latham’s elevation to the leadership, however, such a prospect has gone from unknown-but-unlikely to hell-would-freeze-over-first (but still guessing), and finally, to today’s all-but-official confirmation.

“[T]here are no votes in” taxing 4WDs off the road, writes Gabriella Coslovich. Quite – I see no point in voting at all, when an important issue is electorally blanketly off-limits. And when – as this year – all the important issues appear to be off the agenda, courtesy of unofficial bipartisan arrangements, the smell of democracy in the air has never been sweeter, yeah?

Wiser minds, however, might reflect that a polished and agreeable democracy can only mean a sham facade, behind which rests a can of dangerously-disenfranchised worms.

* Alastair Doak, “'Toorak tractors' in Labor's sights” Age 3 February 2001

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?