Australia Labour Defeat

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Hamiltonian
Australia Labour Defeat

Looking for comments & analysis. Australians elected Lib Coalition on the platform of bringing in surplus budgets (aka cut social spending) and stop the boat people. Goes to show that economy is still number one issue.

Geoff

I heard a representative of the ALP speak at the NDP Convention last April.  He didn't sound like a flaming leftist to me.  I'm sure there are some differences between them and the conservative Party, but I would be surprised to see any fundamental shifts in policy.   The ALP is more like the LPC than the NDP - different coloured tie, but that's about it.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Well it looks like same-sex marriage rights aren't coming to Oz any time soon. Newly elected PM Abbott is apparently opposed to allowing even a so-called "conscience" vote on the matter. Labor (and the Ozzies spell it that way) leader Rudd had promised a vote on the matter within 100 days of the election, obviously that won't be happening now (of course the opportunity for a successful vote for equality under the previous Labor mandate was pretty much scuppered by the personal opposition of then leader Julia Gillard - with friends like that who needs enemies?).

janfromthebruce

also I read that people voted out the labor govt because of all the infighting within the party and the fagility of the coalition. It wasn't that they liked the choice and it wasn't until the last two leader polls that things changed:

Abbott beat Rudd as preferred prime minister since Newspoll first began comparing the two leaders in 2010.

Australia’s conservatives sweep to power

Aristotleded24

How significant is it that the Coalition does not have a majority in the Senate?

rakedover rakedover's picture

You have totally missed their energy, mining and the carbon tax rollback. this is a government by Big Coal and minerals. their economy is tied to the Chinese and Indian economies through those mines. strapped to the mast in a typhoon. Australia is already frontlines for climate change: their mines flooded last year and decimated their economy. and now they're going to try a little austerity for the poor and helpless. everybody gets a boat , and as economists know , when the tide rolls-out your exernalities are gone.

the real danger is they start dumping coal and the tax drop enables more and quicker stripping of coal to fill indonesia and asia's power demand. all wealth comes from cheap energy at source. the Aussies and Shady Steve hold the future of climate change in their well-varnished claws. hell would be a burning cloud of methane rolling down from the north as a blazing tornado, i wonder if Harper ever dreams of the apocalypse. 

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

On digital freedom issues the ALP is just as bad or worse than the Harper Tories.

This is how Electronic Frontiers Australia scored the parties in the Australian election.

The ALP also largely kept John Howard's anti-worker policies intact during their term in office.

 

Ken Burch

Aristotleded24 wrote:

How significant is it that the Coalition does not have a majority in the Senate?

Not at all, really.  The governing party in Australia never has a majority in the Senate...it's elected under a pr system and only half the Senate is elected at any one time, so it's almost impossible to get into majority territory in that chamber.

Ken Burch

As to why Labor lost, well...it deserved to. 

The party no longer represents working people, the poor, the dispossesed or anyone looking to transform life into something better, freer, fairer and gentler. 

The Australian Labor Party is simply the party of the status quo that happens to wear red ties.

And, by the end. the ALP couldn't even run the status quo properly.

If that party is to win again, is to be in any way relevant to the lives of Australians, it will have to completely reinvent itself...it's going to spend a long time out of power if it continues to reduce its appeal to voters to "we can do it better".

Centrist

Geoff wrote:
The ALP is more like the LPC than the NDP - different coloured tie, but that's about it.

Agreed. And you can say basically the same about the German SPD. Both seem to have long wandered from their progressive roots.

DistinguishedFlyer

Centrist wrote:

Geoff wrote:
The ALP is more like the LPC than the NDP - different coloured tie, but that's about it.

Agreed. And you can say basically the same about the German SPD. Both seem to have long wandered from their progressive roots.

 

I'd go even farther than that - the ALP is more like the US Democrats (or even Canada's Tories) than the Liberals, while the LPA-NPA coalition is like the Republicans. When Kevin Rudd first won in 2007 he frequently stressed that he was "an economic conservative"; the chief disagreements he had with then-PM John Howard were over Kyoto and Iraq. There are a number of ALP politicians that use old-style-socialist or anti-US rhetoric, but they tend not to hold much real power over government policy. Kevin Rudd also likes to remind people that the ANZUS alliance was formed under an ALP Government rather than a Liberal one.

(Keep in mind also that in both Australia & New Zealand in the 1980s it was ALP/Labour governments under Bob Hawke and David Lange that enacted the conservative economic reforms.)

mark_alfred

I don't know much about Australia's politics.  I've read the posts here, and noticed that the senate is often mentioned as an issue.  Is there another house that's appointed that obstructs actions of the elected house?  Or is it another elected house that serves to stymie potential progress (similar to the US)?  Could this be an argument for the NDP's position of abolishing our own senate?

mark_alfred

Thanks for the answer.  A tad too complicated and redundant for my tastes.

DistinguishedFlyer

mark_alfred wrote:

I don't know much about Australia's politics.  I've read the posts here, and noticed that the senate is often mentioned as an issue.  Is there another house that's appointed that obstructs actions of the elected house?  Or is it another elected house that serves to stymie potential progress (similar to the US)?  Could this be an argument for the NDP's position of abolishing our own senate?

 

Every three years half of the Senate is up for election; the method used is STV so there's a degree of proportionality involved. It's very rare for a government to have a Senate majority, but it is possible.

Unlike Canada, Australian governments generally do well (electorally speaking) in every state, so that tends to translate to a good showing in the Senate too. The only exceptions are when there's a change of government - because only half of the Senate is up for election a new government is unlikely to pick up enough seats there in one general election.

As for obstruction, Australia did have a constitutional crisis similar to what we had in the 1920s, only with a very different outcome. Gough Whitlam, the Labor PM, passed a large number of reforms (such as health care), but some were held up in the Senate because he didn't quite hold a majority.

Their Constitution foresaw such a problem, and it allows for a double dissolution (the entire Senate up for re-election at once) if a government bill is blocked there. If the Senate still won't pass the bills (which they didn't) then a joint session of Parliament can be called. Whitlam did so, and since his House majority just barely exceeded his Senate minority he was able to get his agenda through.

So far so good, but a year later the Senate blocked the government's budget. Enough time had passed that Whitlam would have to hold a new election rather than another joint session if the government ran out of money, which - since he was way down in the polls - he didn't want to do. Instead, while trying to get it passed, a number of secret and not-exactly-legal loans were arranged so the government could continue to function and buy some time. Unfortunately for him, these didn't stay secret for long and hurt his standing even more.

Finally (and this is where the Canadian comparison finally can be seen) the Governor General said he either had to call an election or resign. He didn't want to do either one, so the GG acted on his own and installed the Leader of the Opposition as PM, who promptly asked for an election. Like Mackenzie King in 1926, Gough Whitlam campaigned mostly against the GG's actions more than anything else. Unlike King, he wasn't successful and was defeated.

So, to answer your question (in a very roundabout way), it doesn't really act as a block because governments tend to hold pluralities (if not majorities) there anyway. In Canada it may be different, since governments here tend to get elected based on massive popularity in a few big provinces. Pierre Trudeau, for instance, would probably have faced a Tory-dominated Senate for most of his tenure.

Even if the two houses did have differing majorities, there are the provisions for double dissolution and joint sessions. The only time there was ever gridlock was the incident I described above, and that was more to do with the PM not wanting an election than anything else.

I rather favor such a Senate existing here, as it would make things much easier for a government with appeal across the country, rather than heavy levels of support in just a couple of large provinces. Perhaps that's just my suspicious Maritimer nature talking, though . . .