This has to go down as one of the most amazing elections in Australian history.
In it neither of the alternative Prime Ministers have said anything remotely bold – until today. Julia Gillard said that she would stop following the script and be herself. Does that mean that she might say something exciting or memorable? I can't imagine it. I think that both Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard are competing with each other to be more conservative in every way – stay the distance in the war in Afghanistan, promise more health care, do something about climate change when the climate changes…. Where is the vision thing? Nowhere to be seen on the Australian political landscape it appears.
The issue of course is that both the major parties are totally pre-occupied with winning power, and all the minor parties are concerned with the direction that the country is heading. (Even the radical loonies from the far left and far right are really more interested in the vision thing than in power, because their view is that if they even get close to getting someone in either assembly, they will have achieved their aim – the ability to influence without having to take responsibility for the big ticket management items like the economy).
The thing that is happening now though, is that the short termism of the major parties is not playing to their benefit. What is happening is that the people are starting to get pretty unhappy about the promises that are made on the hustings which all go to water when the party gets elected. We all know the excuses: “we looked at the real costings for the project and realized that the previous guys had spent all the money, so now we are going to have to tighten fiscal policy and pay down debt, so all that good stuff that we promised – sorry – can't be done”.
It will be interesting to see whether Julia Gillard in her new guise as Wonder Woman, unleashed from the bonds of the media minders and advisors, will actually tell people the truth: “We can't have more hospitals unless someone pays. We can't deal with climate change by introducing renewable power across the country unless someone pays. We can't deal with aged care unless someone pays. That someone is either all of us through increased taxes, or it is major industries such as the resources sector through increased taxes, which turns into reduced dividends for shareholders, many of which are ordinary mums and dads who are invested in the resources sector via their superannuation funds.”
The one difference in that who pays question though, is that most of the superannuation funds suck all the profits that are made from the investments made to pay to the people who manage the money. So if a small increase in tax to the resources sector equates to reduced dividends it only means that a few money managers actually get to siphon off slightly less than they would do otherwise. So the Australian people who are concerned about resources taxes hitting the mining industry should realize that it actually is more about the way that people get commissioned than it is about the tax.
We all have to start looking through the incredible amount of media noise and misinformation and try to find “signal”.