Sunday, June 12, 2016

An inexplicable double dissolution election in the longest campaign

Why did Malcolm Turnbull call for an election campaign of 8 weeks (the longest in modern Australia, if not ever)?

By doing so, he gave the Opposition a lot more air time in the media than they would have had otherwise as equal time has to be allocated, by law, to both major parties. He didn't have to do this.

By doing so, he effectively relinquished the right to govern and to make any government decisions as a result of the care taking conventions.

By doing so, he gave up the right to set the agenda that the incumbent administration always does using the levelers of office.

By doing so, in the middle of winter, he draws attention to themselves at a time the polls were turning against the Coalition without any realistic chance of turning the tides.

It is a decision which I find incomprehensible from a political perspective. It feels like politics on the run, without any strategic focus. If the Government has had one, Turnbull would have called for an early election by the end of summer, still riding high in the polls.

Why did he call for a Double Dissolution Election?

The reason to call for a double dissolution election was to ensure that we would have a more cooperative Senate. Yet, what were the real chances of that happening? The reality is that now the quota for some 'independent' or rogue non-aligned nobody to get elected to the Senate is lower than in a normal election.

So again, it smacks of improvisation, politics on the run. It is difficult to understand from someone who is clearly intelligent but more used to being corporate warrior than cunning political operative.

To make things even more ridiculous, the excuse given for the double dissolution was the rejection by the Senate of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation which most people in the electorate have no idea what it says. Further, it has no impact at all on their lives. To add to the absurdity of this situation, now even deep into the election campaign Turnbull does not even mention, let alone explain, what the ABCC is or was about. He does not even remind the electorate why we are here, in this campaign, at all.

If you asked the average punter in the street what the ABCC is about, they wouldn't have a clue.

It doesn't augur well. I think Turnbull will win the election despite not being a professional politician and being a weak campaigner perceived as aloof by most voters according to the polls. Yet a narrow victory will leave him with a weak mandate, a reduce majority and deep unrest within the Liberal Party's ranks. It is not a good recipe for stable, sensible government.

And it is not  a good picture when Australia's economy is not going well, large budget deficits are going up exponentially, and the almost certainty that within a few months Australia's AAA credit rating will be a thing of the past.

Australia is the lucky country, but it is about time it starts making its own luck.

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