Step By Step, Australia is limping towards its next election

Tony Abbott's negativism could work against him PHOTO: INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA

Tony Abbott’s negativism could work against him PHOTO:  INDEPENDENT AUSTRALIA

By Mehroz Siraj

Since the start of 2012, the ALP has stumbled upon from one crisis to the other. 

Since the last federal election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is heading a government which has been accused of serious socio-economic mismanagement and supporting corrupt politicians of a low character.

The Gillard government’s fool-proof support of embattled parliamentarian and former Health Services Union (HSU) chief, Craig Thomson,  has certainly cost the government and the party dearly.

According to a report last month in Melbourne’s The Age newspaper, the ALP in New South Wales (NSW) allegedly spent  close to half a million dollars on the embattled Mr Thomson trying to defend his 150 or so allegations of abuse of power and corruption till May 2012, the time when he was officially suspended from the party.

From the outset of the case, the ALP should have understood that 150 allegations that detail about Mr Thomson’s official abuse of power and misuse of public funds during his days at the helm of the HSU’s NSW branch, were not all about conspiracy and misogyny—they have some truth to it and that needs to be settled in the courts.

The Gillard administration needed him and his equally slippery colleague of loose ambitions, parliament speaker Peter Slipper to maintain its thin majority in the houses. Therefore, the government went gung-ho and all out to support these two members who have been at the centre of a media trial and rampant abuse of authority related investigations in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

Prime Minister Gillard’s support of the embattled parliamentarian has added new fuel to the allegations of the opposition which has throughout maintained that as this government continues to support inept and corrupt individuals in parliament while failing to govern, it has lost its right to rule the country.

Labor’s problems do not however stop with Mr Thomson. The mismanaged economy too has been the federal government’s Achilles heel that will be an important issue at election time.

At the last federal election, the Prime Minister and her Treasurer, Wayne Swan took a broadly two point economic agenda to the Australian electorate. The first point was to deliver a budget surplus every financial year and the second was about not having the much feared carbon tax, as actually promised by the Prime Minister herself.

Three years later, both these points have been publicly overturned and refuted by the same Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, in full glare of the Australian public.

Economic times have been tough, tax revenues have been declining mainly because of reduced consumer spending and confidence and managing the government’s depleting coffers was already becoming a tough job, amidst which the Treasury had to announce far reaching funding cuts.

These deep cuts meant that critically important areas such as health care, education and public infrastructure lost access to much of the required funding that was necessary in order for the economy to continue providing important services to the people.

The federal government’s reluctance to provide this funding and its inability to fulfill its GST revenue releasing obligations to Western Australia turned the average voter against it. This led to the build up of pressure on Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard that ultimately resulted in the government deserting the surplus bogeyman by planning a national disability pension scheme and other welfare projects aimed at providing relief to struggling Australians.

The other about-face was the government’s decision to step back from its promise of not imposing a carbon tax.  Conservative radio-shock jocks ran riot on the nation’s airwaves when the government finally put into execution a plan to tax carbon emissions from Australia’s big polluters.

However the anti- carbon tax lobbying from the business groups, the political opposition and the media has drilled home this message that this new tax will push up the costs of living and make the purchase of food, petrol and other essential out of the common man’s reach.

The fact that this legislation was framed with the aim of taxing Australia’s multi-national mining and infrastructure businesses to raise revenue that would be spent on other sections of the economy and society, has been completely ignored by an electorate that generally relies on conservative talk-back radio shows and tabloid newspapers for its daily information needs.

 However,  in the last few months of 2012, as the carbon tax payments and new pension incomes made their ways into people’s bank accounts, the government’s standing in the polls improved.

This jump was to be short lived, as just a day after the Prime Minister announced the federal election for September 14 this year, Australians woke up to see that the government’s long held trump card, the embattled Craig Thomson was arrested again and federal ministers Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans resigned from their respective ministries.

The story of Julia Gillard as Prime Minister, has been one that has been riddled with scandals upon scandals. The economy is not doing good and ordinary Australians feel frustrated and let down by a government they believe is corrupt and inefficient and is headed by a lady who assumed top leadership through an internal caucus coup and not by gaining an undeniable mandate from the Australian people.

As the platform for the election is being prepared, the road ahead for the Gillard government would be tough as a nut. For a scandals ridden government like this one, a pathway towards real governance is the only way a complete election rout can be avoided. That however, does not seem to be happening.

The Writer is The Editor of the Upcoming Political Magazine, Australian Affairs. Email: mehrozsiraj@yahoo.com.au

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5 comments

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  2. […] Step By Step, Australia is limping towards its next election. […]

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