Pollies feeling the heat in Queensland

The Queensland election offers the spectacle of a conservative government headed by a deeply unpopular leader facing off with a still-shellshocked Labor headed by an almost invisible opposition leader.  It makes perfect sense to view these proceedings as a possible forbearer of the federal election to come. Weekly article for The Hoopla.

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Gerry Harvey: How did it all go so wrong?

How did it all go so wrong? Perhaps that’s what Gerry Harvey is thinking right now. And so he should. In the space of a day, the canny retailer has succeeded in turning his own reputation from a positive to a negative. Earlier this week Harvey was the home-grown success story, the eccentric billionaire with a canny ability to predict and tap into the psyche of everyday Australians. Today he is the public face of a badly crafted campaign to force and shame Australians into curbing their online shopping behaviour. Harvey is now perceived as an arrogant capitalist, interested only in lining his own pockets with the limited cash earned by hard-working Australians. How did it all go so wrong? To an interested observer it is quite clear. The campaign by the Australian retail industry is flawed no matter which way you look at it. Politically, there are no votes in it. It pays to remember that it took three politicians to attempt bringing in a GST (Keating, Hewson, Howard) before it was successfully introduced by Howard in 1998. Even then it was a high-risk strategy and it would take a brave politician to extend the GST’s scope even now. At a policy level, the imposition of GST on online purchases increases rather than lightens the regulatory load, with no discernable public benefit delivered as a result. No modern government would interfere in a market by increasing regulation without being […]

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Tastings from the 2010 political buffet

At the end of this week, just before the official start of summer, the Australian Parliament will rise, politicians will head home to their electorates and voters will focus on how many meats to serve on Christmas Day or the quickest route to the beach. For many, the summer break is for relaxation; yet for others it evokes reflection about the year just passed. Given the political year we’ve just had, the reflective folk will have much food for thought. From my perspective, the two leadership challenges, two state elections and the federal poll have challenged conventional wisdom and rewritten election playbooks, but also confirmed some political trusims. I don’t pretend to be a psephologist or political pundit, but I’m hopelessly attracted to the world of politics. I can’t help but look for patterns and cause-effect relationships and wonder how these might alter the path of political endeavour in the future. With that caveat, I offer up for your degustation these observations from the political buffet of 2010. Appetiser: Australian voters want their politicians to be genuine At times during the federal election, it was hard to distinguish a 7.30 Report interview from the latest instalment of Kath and Kim, such was the broadness of Aussie accent on display. Both Gillard and Abbott went to great lengths to prove they were genuine and in touch with real Australians – particularly compared to their predecessors, the densely verbose Rudd and the […]

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