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Election 2013: the campaign that never ended

It’s an exquisitely portentous cliché, the one that is always trotted out at each Australian election: this is the most important election in a generation, or since World War Two, or the advent of television…

Kevin Rudd is fighting another election. Just like the other elections, this is the most important since the last one. AAP/Alan Porritt

It’s an exquisitely portentous cliché, the one that is always trotted out at each Australian election: this is the most important election in a generation, or since World War Two, or the advent of television, or the fall of communism, or whatever.

In truth, each election is merely the most important election since the last one. What else could it be, given how short our election cycle is? We have so many elections in Australia and it seems politics now is little more than an endless campaign.

We can frame the 2013 election as a personal battle between leaders, in which case we can say that is three-and-a-half years late: the belated contest with Tony Abbott that Kevin Rudd shied away from in the late summer of 2010, setting off a cascade of events that led to Julia Gillard’s rise, her ill-judged rush to the polls in August 2010 and the hung parliament.

But this election will be about much more than the leaders. They will be central to the campaign, of course. Indeed, with an easily distracted and discomfited national electorate, a fractious media that’s seeing its established ways of reporting and making profits collapsing, and only a laughably minuscule proportion of voters belonging to the parties, increased levels of personalisation seem to be inevitable. After all, it’s the easiest way to understand the choice that we’ll have to make on September 7.

But something bigger than the careers of two ambitious men will be at stake when the people cast their votes. The Australian political system itself is as much a candidate at this election as anybody whose name will be on the ballot paper. The system is under very heavy strain. The 2010 election campaign was a dreadful experience. The Labor government had shocked itself and the community with its defenestration of Rudd. Was Gillard running against the memory of Rudd as well as Abbott? At times the whole thing seemed absurd. Gillard and Abbott voluntarily placed themselves in rhetorical straitjackets all the way to election day.

Faced with superficial lines, tricked up public appearances, advertising that would insult the intelligence of an eight-year old and wild deviations by both sides on what was then a central issue - how to deal with climate change - they responded in kind. They refused to reward either Labor or the Coalition with a lower house majority. In turn, many voters very quickly became appalled at their handiwork. Having created a hung parliament, they almost reflexively despised the very concept of a minority government.

Perhaps reflecting the very human trait of optimism, the 2010 contest has been seen as an outlier, a glitch, an extreme example of political dysfunction that will lead to a sensible recalibration by the leaders, their advisers, the parties, the big pressure groups and the media.

In other words, we’ll all wake up to ourselves and do it right this time. Well, maybe.

Tony Abbott has found great success in opposition with negative politics. But can this approach sustain an election campaign? AAP/Lukas Coch

The parties’ focus group research turns up a strong desire among many voters for a better politics. Clearly, Rudd has sought to play to this sensibility with his calls for Abbott to desert his “relentlessly negative, personalised approach”. But focus groups produce a plethora of responses and sentiments, including a desire among a substantial proportion of voters to draw a line under the Labor government of 2007-2013, to be done with the whole soap opera, and for the nation to start anew. Armed with this knowledge, Abbott has not dropped his hard negativity at all. He does not feel that he needs to. It has been his engine ever since he took over as leader in December 2009.

This election campaign begins with the public knowing little more about the Coalition’s policy plans than it did three years ago. Many of its key policy planks are built around what it won’t do. It used to oppose the National Broadband Network but now it will accept it, just not in the expansive form Labor intends. It will support the Fair Work system, with some tweaks, but it won’t reintroduce WorkChoices. Having for months derided Labor’s schools spending plan as a con, it decided late last week that it would not overturn Labor’s funding agreements with the states.

The entire thrust of the Coalition’s approach is that it is the safe pair of hands because that’s how a majority of voters came to see the Howard government. It is a message less of hope than of comfort, not so much a harnessing of the imagination than a retreat to a more stable time.

This is a powerful message in a system that has so few Australians directly engaged in political activity. The national electorate appears to be highly suggestible. For much of the time that Gillard faced off against Abbott, opinion polls regularly showed that voters would prefer to have Rudd opposing Malcolm Turnbull.

But in 2008-09, that’s what they had until they turned first on Turnbull over his misjudgement in the Utegate affair and then, in the first half of 2010, against Rudd over his decision to defer an emissions trading scheme. Having helped to dispatch both leaders, voters switched to wanting them back.

Another example: A majority of voters favoured action on climate change for a considerable period, but once the hard work of fashioning a policy in the parliament got difficult, support fell away. As we know, the carbon price was the policy arsenic that ultimately killed Gillard’s standing with voters.

How can this happen? In a relatively short period, a range of supporting mechanisms within our system have started to dissolve. Party membership is, increasingly, an unappealing prospect. The mass media no longer sees the explanation of policies and ideas as a central part of its charter. As it finds itself having to chase eyeballs in order to keep its financial head above water, it becomes more sensational, more attracted to portraying conflict and dealing with what public figures say rather than what they believe or do. The parties go along with this new model by ramping up the hyperbole.

At the same time, what we now call “stakeholders” are finding it easier to assert greater direct influence on political outcomes and the public mind. The ACTU’s Your Rights At Work campaign against WorkChoices in 2006-07 was one example. The big mining companies’ mid-2010 attack on Labor’s resource rent tax was another. That advertising campaign was so effective that it helped to end Rudd’s first prime ministership and cruelled any chance Gillard had of fashioning an effective policy. Both of these campaigns attracted considerable public sympathy, if not outright support.

This is politics in contemporary Australia – a system that values announcements and pronouncements, denunciation and stark oppositionism, eschewing almost entirely sensible discussion and consideration of ideas on their merits.

It is in this environment that the 2013 election, definitely the most important election until the next one, is being contested.

Join the conversation

82 Comments sorted by

  1. Graeme Smith

    Citizen

    "The parties go along with this new model by ramping up the hyperbole."

    The parties? Surely that's limited to the duopoly only. As indeed the electoral system model is meant to be. Bring on another hung parliament, and vote Langer-style in the Senate.

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    1. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Graeme,"'limited to the duopoly only. As indeed the electoral system model is meant to be"

      Really? Parties are an artefact of the model, and voting along party lines is definitely outside the spirit of the Constitution.

      The most democratic system with Parties is a many party situation, with the ebb and flow of issues .

      The duopoly model has not served us well, especially when the Government Party has the senate as well. And now we have an emergency developing, with Climate Change. And they are still talking about more coal exports, when everyone should be divesting investments in companies that mine coal and extend loans to it.

      We have about 590 Gigatons of CO2 to be released before we hit 2 degrees rise in basal average temperature and we have seen the effect of 1 degree by way of Superstorms Bigger fires, melting ice s
      etc etc etc.

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    2. Steven Waters

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      so what do we replace the coal with right now when economies need tons of the stuff to run their industries.

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    3. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      David, perhaps a misunderstanding here as it seems to me we're likely in close agreement . I don't believe parties are an artefact other than that the Constitution by default allows them. The Constitution says very little about almost 99% of how the electoral system should work. What is said is poorly worded and almost impossible to ever change by referendum. Apart from allowing everyone a vote every three years or so the Constitution leaves the electoral system to the Parliament (and Court). Members…

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      There is nothing mystically significant or ordained in the two party system ... says more about demographics than values ... (to quibble we have three anyway - at least on paper).

      But it is efficiency of the campaigning apparatus that sees us we get herded into choosing the least awful option ... but that is not to say any truly reflects our views or interests.

      Rather, just by marshalling one's forces into two contending armies we have the most efficient model of a choice... the best chance…

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    5. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      You are a dribbler Peter ... Russ Hinze and the milking industry?
      A nation of idiots? Indeed, if they capitulate to the likes of Abbott cut down, dig and destroy exercise in power ...

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    6. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      "There is nothing mystically significant or ordained in the two party system ... says more about demographics than values ... (to quibble we have three anyway - at least on paper). "

      Rather it says more about duopoly control over what is provided for in the constitution, electoral act, and regs. It's certainly niether mystical, nor ordained. An illusion of significant demographics arise from legislative design values - duopoly designs on exclusive power.

      "But it is efficiency of the campaigning apparatus that sees us we get herded into choosing the least awful option ... but that is not to say any truly reflects our views or interests."

      No, it's down to the electoral act as designed by and for the duopoly.

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    7. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      I live in SA and renewables are supplying a large proportion of the power here, probably about 1/2. It varies, of course, as wind energy has produced 85% or so ( a record, but sometimes makes none ).
      There is therefore scope to produce close to 100% as more renewables come on line.
      There is the hot rocks at various places that can produce massive amounts of energy, the star is at Innaminka where the top 10 metres to drop 10 degrees would yield enough to power Australia for 90 years. Geodynamics are the company doing this and they are up to setting up a power station, then there is the wires.
      It will take that long to wind down coal.

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    8. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Ok fair enough, and good on you. It is rather like the "Leaders Debate" they just have Bib and Bub

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    9. David Maddern

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Perhaps you are right about a rabble not of a whole lot of Tony Windsors though, you would have a lot of different personalities.
      Duopoly is the major model in our food system, (where the Trade Practices Act works )Thankfully the Farmers Markets are getting a lift, as just picked fruit is a lot healthier.
      Duopoly is in our lower houses Federally and State wise.

      However the contemporary system is adversarial. Consensus would be breath of fresh air in such a system. In that system the evidence is shared and effort to explain positions are the system.

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    1. Gordon Comisari

      Resort Manager

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      Said most of what I had in mind. Thanks.

      Democracy only works if citizens are informed. That is not the case in Australia.
      The Murdoch/Rinehart duopoly is setting the agenda and everyone follows.
      Handing over control to the MSM/IPA/LNP/ABC?
      No way!
      Murdochcracy or Democracy that is the choice!
      Simple question to the public:
      Have Murdoch and his mates made up your mind how to vote?

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    2. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      It seems simple enough. It's a choice between the "big end of town"
      and the Unions and ordinary citizens. We don't see yet an agenda for the LNP but what we see supports the moneyed class; lower taxes on business, less ecological accountability, etc. Yet with less tax income the cuts will affect very little related to big business. The rest of can pay.
      Apparently John Howard's tax cuts have led to a $40b turnaround in revenues, which would have been a welcome boost today.
      All the noise about trust and dysfunction is just that - noise.

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    3. Judith Olney

      Ms

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      Well said Deb, I will not be voting for cruelty to asylum seekers, or continued punishment of the unemployed and poor, I will not be voting for throwing tax payers dollars at big corporations, and no meaningful action on climate change. I will not be voting for greed and corruption to continue in government. I will not be voting for continuing mud slinging, and sexism in the parliament. I will not be voting for liars. I will not be voting for continued discrimination against people who simply want to get married.

      So, I wont be voting for either Labor or Liberal. I cannot in all conscience bring myself to do this. If I vote formally, it will be below the line, no giving oxygen to either Lib/Lab with my preferences either.

      We need some fresh air in our parliament, to get rid of the nasty stink, and this is not going to happen if the same flatulent stinkers gain power.

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    4. Deb Campbell

      local historian

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      Judith, thanks and for 'flatulent stinkers' that has a certain ring to it or should that be odour - both major parties are in very bad odour with me - bring back Tony Windsor and more like him...

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    5. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      Agree, Deb. I cannot get my head around the idea that what is good for Rupert Murdoch or Gina Rinehart or Clive Palmer must be good for me. It fits in the same category as trickle-down economics, and has as much basis in reality.

      Unfortunately, there is a large slice of the Australian public that will happily vote how they are told.

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    6. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      "First Shaun there is no comment here about the relentless campaign by Tony's old friend, employer since adolescence and kingmaker [but not queen maker] Rupert, and his little mate Chris."
      Oh Deb, you mean the very same kingmaker who employs our friend here, Shaun Carney?

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    7. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      "Murdochcracy or Democracy that is the choice!"
      Gordon, so you're cancelling your subscription to TC?

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    8. Steven Waters

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      you need to give the voter more credit we are not so easily lead. your making out that we are devoid of any thought. there are 101 other media outlets to educate yourself on what is happening here in politics even overseas opinion s online and social media. there will be some that are easily lead but i think there are a lot of think about their vote like the swing voter who wont be so easily fooled.

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      I think you're right there Steven. I certainly hope you are right.

      One of the most offensive aspects of Australian political life of the last decade or so is the arrogant simplification of "messages" ... the lowest common denominator, canned laughter soundtrack of a business politics has become.

      They - near all of them in the two big parties - treat the electorate like dills, incapable of real understanding, incapable of making complex decisions, of remembering. Soundbites, slogans, and…

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    10. Steven Waters

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Deb Campbell

      hopefully social media can give the average person some say now and political parties are starting to use them more. it has got to the point where people are turning off to the meaningless words that politicians mumble over and over again about what they have done and can do for us. its falling on deaf ears, we don't believe them anymore. in fact the more they go on the more people start to dislike them. trust is the big issue and pollies have to earn that trust back. the system needs to be changed so that there is more accountability and we the voters opinion matters a whole lot more pretty sad when the choice is bad and not so bad.

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  2. Brenton Wright

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Deb Campbell is right. This is a contest to produce the 'least worst' outcome.

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  3. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Interesting - and disturbing - piece.... specially this bit: "This is politics in contemporary Australia – a system that values announcements and pronouncements, denunciation and stark oppositionism, eschewing almost entirely sensible discussion and consideration of ideas on their merits."

    It has become theatre our political life ... a sort of puppetry.... set piece routines, melodrama, tag lines, slogans, incessant carping criticism and personality squares.

    And all the while the appalling…

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "Gillard went to the polls because she believed she should. We are now going to the polls because business wanted it sooner rather than later."

      Yet Mr Carney believes Ms Gillard's attempt to 'clear the decks' was "ill advised". When should Ms Gillard have called an election? I do not believe there was any 'right time'.

      Despite hung government, she prevailed to establish a workable coalition. Can only try to imagine what the past 3 years may have been without a vengeful, self-privileged former PM sniping from the sidelines.

      Now we, the people, must live with the consequences of our leaders. No wonder so many have turned off the idea of voting for either major party.

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Discourages one from voting at all actually Ms A.... the last few years have degraded both politicians and political institutions alike.... the media, the government, the opposition, the polls ... the entire business of government has become a fetid swamp of self-interest.

      Longer term the Greens show some promise - but they need to work harder and smarter than just clamber up the nearest moral pinnacle and condemn. Less outrage and politicking - more spade work. More time spent changing society and building alliances, less time spent losing arguments.

      But as for the rest of them ... erk.

      Voting is an abuse of writing and choice.

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    3. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The Greens have their work cut out for them, being the target of ridicule and disparagement from all sides of politics - but then may be the final tempering of this once single issue party.

      Hope is abundant.

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  4. Tiffany Meek

    Graphic designer, psychology student

    From my point of view, the Australian media made a catastrophic faux pas when it fell to using social media sites and youtube for its gathering of newsworthy 'data', as well as reporting superficially on political matters (just the he said, she said). Why pay for a media service that delivers the obvious and the easily sourced? The Australian media has basically done themselves out of a job.
    To my mind the future of media is exactly what 'The Conversation' delivers. The public will, over time, be…

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  5. Rory Cunningham

    Test Analyst

    A very apt analysis of today's politics and I can only see it getting worse with Rudd calling in those american spin doctors who will no doubt jump onto the negative politics that is rampart in american politics.

    Hopefully within my lifetime we will see a cap on political donations so it can at least help the situation of lobbyists getting in the way of democracy

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  6. Tony Simons

    Director at Bedlam Bay Pty Ltd

    Abbott's totally scripted messages and false propaganda are sickening and treating the voters with contempt (as did Gillard). In contrast Rudd shows leadership, vision and hope. The media has never held Abbott with his half truths and exaggeration to account.

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  7. Doug Pollard

    logged in via Facebook

    Public funding of parties according to the number of votes garnered also skews party priorities. It ought to be calculated according to numbers of individual party members.

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  8. Stephen H

    In a contemplative fashion...

    Many of us think the minority government has worked just fine, thank you very much. It has got a hell of a lot done, while being unable to do too many self-rewarding things. While the opposition bleats about economic management, Australia has avoided recession. If we had gone with the Abbott view of the world (cut spending to the bone), we would be in recession now and there would still be a deficit. Whatever they might say, the opposition cannot change reality - proper fiscal management is not…

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    1. James Walker

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen H

      *IF* Keynes is right, then Rudd was correct to spend our way out of recession. If Hayek is right, he wasn't.
      Irrespective of which economic system is correct, Howard was right to save during the good times.
      Irrespective of which economic system is correct, Gillard was wrong to splurge when we were better of than the rest of the world.
      Now we are at the end of the mining boom, with nothing in the bank. Utter incompetence.

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    2. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Stephen H

      James, Howard would have been right to save during the good times. Unfortunately, he didn't. He took a leaf out of Ronald Reagan's book, and spent everything he could get his hands on so that when the other side got in there wouldn't be anything left for them to spend on their priorities.

      And you seem to have missed the point - the rest of the world is struggling, and large parts of it are in recession. That Australia is not has been largely down to the Commonwealth's largesse. That we are…

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  9. Ron Bowden

    Entropy tragic

    I agree with (almost) all that's been said here - particularly Deb Campbell – and a vote for the least bad seems to be only course open. This to me means voting below the line for Green 1, Labor 2, which excludes the Coalition while ultimately voting for Labor but sending the message: “not happy Kev...”.

    However, I would vote for the drover's bandicoot in preference to seeing Abbott in the chair. Just saying.

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  10. Geoffrey Henley

    Research Associate

    Rudd trying to rebrand himself as being 'being Mr. positive' is surely just another confidence trick. Just watch, when the election campaign gets under way, Rudd, Labor and the unions will continue to wage a campaign that is as just negative as ever.

    Rudd is nothing more than a hypocrite. He dismantled the highly effective pacific solution and switched on the green light for people smugglers. Now he wants to rush through legislation that is in some ways even more harsh only to try and clean up…

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    1. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Here we go with the usual furphies. Australia does not have a "massive debt". Plenty of people have provided the evidence for this at this site; go look it up. Same goes for the effect of the carbon tax.

      As to re-branding, I believe Abbott re-branded himself as "a builder" on the weekend!

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    2. Tiffany Meek

      Graphic designer, psychology student

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      $10 on not one single photo of any politician enjoying fish and chips on the foreshore with an asylum seeker! LOL! :P

      Either way, I think our money is safe! :)

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    3. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      He'll be installing some fatality-inducing pink batts to prevent too much damage from the fire that he'll start so he can come to the rescue with his fire brigade buddies, prior to cycling off to the nearest manufacturing plant to tell them that the carbon tax is preventing him from arriving in his Australian car that is clearly subsidised too much, draining taxpayer funds that are needed to pay for the Navy to turn back the boats (not the Navy's boats; those other ones).

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      As part of Labor's new commitment to crowd sourcing its leadership via democratic ballots and the like, I reckon we should all be able to nominate scenes we'd like to see... get to vote on the ads - select the proposed spin - after all that's what counts isn't it? They could do an i-phone app ... we could "like it" or not facebookally (no - it's mine!)

      So we could all tweet in and suggest to Kev that a beachside session on the flathead and chips with Ahmed would be nice. And being the authentic…

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    5. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      "Plenty of people have provided the evidence for this at this site; go look it up. "

      No thanks. I'd prefer a site with far more credibility and objectivity than the Conversation which is dominated by left-wing academia. Even looking at the articles on this site, not one provides any credible evidence that a carbon tax will make any measurable difference to global temperatures.

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    6. Tiffany Meek

      Graphic designer, psychology student

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      yes yes... i like where you're headed! especially the facebookally bit because that would be democraticatorially appropriate!

      oh! we could run a 'reality series' whereby rudd and abbott jump in a tinnie together and personally tow a boatload of asylum seekers back to indonesian waters...

      rip roaring entertainment to say the least! :)

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    7. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Is the OECD credible and objective enough for you then? How about a few Nobel Prize-winning economists? Use your research skills.

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    8. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Having a broader range of topics than just the economy, politics and the economy, does not immediately cast a web-site as being dominated by the left, surely?

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Course it does. Ms A.

      Where's the footy section and the TV guide? Where's that nice clean-cut young fella Andrew Blot? What happened to Miranda Devine?

      This whole place is infested with ideas Ms A ... this may have slipped your attention, being a woman of a distant view, but, trust me - they are in here - creeping about behind the furniture, leaving little nests and deposits ... contending, proposing, debunking ... ganging up in the shadows, to form paradigms and conceptual frameworks like some sort of metaphysical Circus Oz.

      There should be a spray.

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    10. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Are they the elusive shadows I see from the corner of my eyes? Think I'll just have to go and vacuum, excuse me.

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    11. Tiffany Meek

      Graphic designer, psychology student

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      Mr Ormonde sir... you crack me up! *Walks away chuckling to herself*

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    12. Geoffrey Henley

      Research Associate

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      What about this?

      http://www.news.com.au/national-news/federal-election/australia-facing-fiscal-debt-crisis-by-christmas-after-economic-statement-released-by-government/story-fnho52ip-1226690444799

      AUSTRALIA is facing a fiscal cliff debt crisis by Christmas with yesterday's economic statement confirming the $300 billion ceiling is likely to need lifting before December.

      Interest repayments on debt accrued by the Rudd and Gillard governments will reach more than $11.5 billion for 12 months…

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    13. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      An unsubstantiated opinion piece from the Murdoch stable, referring to unnamed "business sources".

      Opinion is not data. Esepcially when it comes from people that are determined to bring down the government. You point to some factual information from a credible independent source, and you might have a point.

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    14. Eric Thacker

      Viticultural Contractor

      In reply to Geoffrey Henley

      To show how progressive they are, they could break with centuries of nautical tradition and dispense with the ship's cat, taking a poodle instead.

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  11. Fred Moore

    Builder

    This is a pedestrian election in terms of our future.

    There are two real issues AND they are being SPUN into the background because neither is in the interests of GOOD ECONOMICS and EASY STREET governance.

    Yes. That's right. This election is about the parties and NOT the people of Australia.

    The issues are:

    1. Social Stability

    2. Stopping profligate spending by sheer Liberal MEANNESS cloaked as economic rationalism.

    The TRUTH?

    1. Social instability IS Good Economics. People…

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  12. rachel polanskis

    Antifascist

    One thing to be made clear. Although Mr Abbott insists that "workchoices is dead, buried & cremated", his intention to restore the Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) negates any of this statement, as the ABCC is the centrepiece of Workchoices ideology. No other industry, union or organisation has such constraints placed upon it and indeed its very existence proves that similar commissions can be be created on a whim of the government, leading to destruction of organised labour unions and similar.
    The ABCC is an unfair organisation and provocative in its intent. The Coalition might not tag their IR reform "Workchoices" but it shares the same ideological
    vision and motives. Do not trust an Abbott Coalition on IR reform.

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    1. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      I hope and trust that Abbott will live up to his Liberal roots and kick seven shades of poo from the unions and adopt a strong employer freindly IR policy.
      Ive watched while employers have become so reticent about taking on permernant employees that even during the boom the mining industry was like a closed shop.
      HR depts shied away from employing permernants on the basis that if they proved unreliable or superfluous to needs in a highly fluctuating market they are next to imposible to get rid of. Consequently getting into the industry became nearly impossible and moving between jobs for those with experience a nightmare.
      We are uncompetitive on the world market, why a raft of reasons and one major reason is the unsustainable expectation that once obtained both job and conditions are for life.

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      Too right Steve.

      Woolibuddha here is chockers with perfectly able 8 - 12 year olds hanging around on street corners looking for trouble ... wasting their time at school learnin nuffink... They should be put do doing sumfink useful.

      Sadly almost all the underground pits have closed over the last 50 years or more... might still be workable though - depends on how much the schools would charge us to rent a busload of year 7s for the day.. You might want kids that have their swimming medallions…

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    3. David Thompson

      Marketing Research

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      "I hope and trust that Abbott will live up to his Liberal roots and kick seven shades of poo from the unions and adopt a strong employer freindly IR policy."
      Steve, Abbott's roots are pure DLP. Don't forget that Abbott voted AGAINST Workchoices in the Coalition party room.

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      Nah ... they don't make pills to undo economics... sadly.

      The point I'm trying to make in my clumsy facetious fashion is that attempting to compete globally on wage sensitive commodities is a hiding to nothing. There will always be someone willing and able to go lower - if not China, Indonesia, Brazil ... it's a race to the bottom. As Gina noted - miners get $2 a day in Africa.

      The key is productivity and product innovation... live by our wits rather than just flogging what we find lying…

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    5. Steve Phillips

      Nurse Practitioner

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      No that doesnt wash, people do want to make things but it costs too much.
      Prior to entering uni as a mature age student I worked in both mining and manufacturing and the wring was on the wall then. High wages, inflexible IR rules and union interference made small maufacturing near as dammit uneconomic. Plain and simple.
      For a while I welded agricultural equipement but we were put to the wall by imported Canadian gear that despite the long trip and relatively high wages in Nth America were better priced.
      Later they were forced out by Chinese and Taiwanese made gear.
      This cost the town 20 jobs including 2 apprenticeships.
      The same story for my best friend who had a light industrial engineering workshop. He was priced out of business through high wages.

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to rachel polanskis

      No Steve he was priced out of business by lower wages ... and by factories built with the latest technology on a scale we can barely comprehend.

      Don't make the mistakes the yanks did when they started worrying about all their jobs disappearing to China in the mid 80s. They had this notion of sweatshops - filled with tiny busy fingers working feverishly in the dark... Maybe once but no more.

      China's new factories look like operating theatres... gadgetry everywhere, vast scales barely comprehensible, robots, lasers, extreme precision ... wages are the least of their worries. And getting less important every minute.

      We've just got too used to making excuses and selling them.

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  13. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    add to that the social media. more and more people in mass are having their say and politicians are seeing the importance of it. it also allows us the voters to have a say and have some influence to this system now.
    i don't think it matters to much whether Abbott comes out with to many policies like you said he is adopting them from labor and changing the big one that matters the carbon tax. that's enough to get him over the line. people just cant trust labor anymore with the corruption in NSW…

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  14. Venise Alstergren
    Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

    photographer, blogger.

    SHAUN CARNEY: During the past three years we have achieved more under a hung parliament, than would be normally achieved in a majority parliament.

    It is hardly Einsteinian to predict another hung parliament as Rupert Murdoch and the Mineocracy dictate their
    absurdly right wing views on the mini minds of the average voter. With one candidate cordially loathed by the electorate, and the other candidate riding a much bruised and befuddled horse, it is more than likely to be a close call.

    The only possible joy I would get from another hung parliament would be the sight of Tony Abbott wishing to Christ he hadn't stated that he would never lead his Party in this situation.

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      "The only possible joy I would get from another hung parliament would be the sight of Tony Abbott wishing to Christ he hadn't stated that he would never lead his Party in this situation"

      I can taste the schadenfreude already, may Abbott's fear be his karma.

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Venise Alstergren

      As I recall it Tony was offering all sorts of incentives - OK bribes then - when trying to stitch up a deal with the independents after 2010 ... hospitals, truckloads of cash ...

      Nice to see he's had a damascus-like conversion over recent years and will not be found near the Parliamentary Dining Room after the vague vote, accosting strangers and offering to perform lewd acts in return for political support.

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  15. BJ Futter

    Business

    what if there was a cure for Cancer
    what if there was a solution to unemployment
    what if there was a fix for the economy

    HEMP
    its what you don't know

    Hello to all

    As the federal election fast approaches, and the political circus in full swing, we at the Australian Hemp Party remain steadfast in our sole mission - HEMP FREEDOM. The re-education and re-legalisation of Cannabis!

    Why is ‘Re-Education’ so important? Due to the current legal status of this PLANT, sadly most in our western…

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    1. Venise Alstergren
      Venise Alstergren is a Friend of The Conversation.

      photographer, blogger.

      In reply to BJ Futter

      You will get no argument from me.

      I just thought to give you a bit more background. Hemp products were much appreciated-I'm taking bags, and wearing apparel here-AND the first and greatest coup de grace against hemp was delivered by Dupont-surprise, surprise! Dupont wanted to launch plastic onto the community and were prepared to call the product a drug in a nasty bit of PR. I'll leave the rest of this history to you.

      I wonder which is the greatest danger to the community cigarettes or hemp?

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  16. Chris Reynolds

    Education Consultant

    It seems to me that politics in this country has become a process of attrition. While Gillard was in the leadership role it had an added and malodorous dimension of misogyny

    During this period as a head-kicker par excellence Tony Abbott has been a remarkably effective Leader of the Opposition; that is if we accept his definition that this means holding the government to account. However, a large slice of hyperbole has been the hallmark of this period. We recall the storm of chicken little type…

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  17. Daniel Boon

    logged in via LinkedIn

    In school yards across Australia, there are bullies; as people age, the physicality of bullying is less pronounced however the sycophant styled manipulation becomes the norm ... no wishing this response to drag out, my hypothesis of Rudd and Abbott is simply ... Rudd is a more refined manipulator whereas Abbott is a 'coarse' manipulator with the implied physicality if people are not compliant ... (there would be many menfolk who would be happy to give him a smack) ...

    Abbot and Rudd are where…

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  18. BJ Futter

    Business

    There is a method of replacing the crazy coal and petroleum and CSG raping of our PLANET .. please Re-educate yourselves on the amazing Gift from Creation called HEMP..
    what if we had a cure for cancer and most human ills..
    what if we had a fix for the economy..
    what if we had a solution to un-employment ..
    what if we had an answer to our energy crisis ..
    what if we had another fix for the Co2 dilemma ..

    HEMP

    its what we don't know ...

    BJ Futter
    NSW Senate Candidate for the Australian HEMP Party

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    1. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to BJ Futter

      The number of protectionist regulations in Australia is mind-boggling ... as an example - given the majority of the people live near the ocean - the insistence of steel reinforcing that (by its very nature, starts decomposing immediately) where basalt reinforcing rods have none of the issues (yes we have an abundance of basalt in Australia) ...

      Corporate sponsors of political parties have willing contenders to sell out their own people .. ins't that right Abbott?

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  19. EVERALD COMPTON

    COMPANY DIRECTOR at COMPTON AUSTRALIA PTY LTD

    All elections are important but this one is difficult. Most voters dislike the choice they must make between Rudd and Abbott to the extent that they have switched off. They will have to click back in on the day before the Election unless they have decided to vote informal. It will be an unhappy time for most Australians

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    1. Daniel Boon

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to EVERALD COMPTON

      Everald ... Voters don't have to choose Rudd or Abbott ... if the height of their political intelligence to remediate the problem is to vote informal, then they deserve what they get ... and their stupidity will impact us all ...

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