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Don't give Abbott mandate to inflict misery

For decades our elected leaders have used the hackneyed phrase 'governing for the country and not for opinion polls' as a way of excusing their autocratic decisions and impositions. Claiming to serve what they said was the "national interest," they have ignored public opinion and even election promises.

The implied justification is that only those at the levers of power with expert advice available to them can hope to understand the necessary choices to best serve the public interest. Ordinary members of the public, on the other hand, are supposedly incapable of arriving at the correct choices.

Elite view historically not in public interest

History shows that this elite view of political reality is wrong.

In fact in the last three decades, public opinion, as expressed through public opinion polls (as limited and imperfect as polling has been in general), has been far more correct about what is in the public interest than the opinions of the politicians who have ignored it. The most clear and obvious example is privatisation. Almost never has a government been elected because of its privatisation policies (Jeff Kennett's re-election in the 1990's in preference to the discredited Victorian Labor Party could arguably be held to be an exception to the rule). Never has any privatisation enjoyed majority public support and polls have usually shown emphatic opposition.

Every privatisation, without exception, has harmed the public interest. Yet governments, supposedly governing for the "national interest" continue to sell off publicly owned assets in defiance of public opinion.

Other unpopular policies purportedly in the national interest

Other unpopular policies implemented by governments "in the national interest" include slashing of public spending, deregulation of our finances, removal of protection of Australian manufacturing from slave-wage economies, the privatisation of retirement income, etc.

Will Abbott discover a Gillard Abyss like Howard discovered the Beazley Black Hole?

Upon the election of an Abbott Liberal Government it is almost guaranteed that Tony Abbott will 'discover' the national finances to be in a far worse state than he now claims he realises they are. An immediate Liberal precedent to this, was where, after his election in 1996, Liberal Prime Minister John Howard 'discovered' that the country's finances were in a far worse state than he claimed to have realised during the election.

Because of the so-called "Beazley Black hole" Howard assumed a right to massively cut social spending, never knowingly given to him by Australian electors in 1996.

Our best guarantee against such unmandated and harmful expenditure cuts being foisted upon us is the re-election of the current Labor Government, for all of its flaws.

At least this Government has the virtue of being led by a leader, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has stood up to the previous leader, Kevin Rudd. Rudd's policies, not Julia's, may have created excuses for an incoming Liberal Government to 'slash and burn' in the style of John Howard in 1996.

A Gillard return would be a Win-lose rather than a Lose-Lose

Looking at our less-than-perfect election choices pragmatically, it is far less likely that a re-elected Gillard Government will 'discover' a necessity to savagely cut Government spending than a newly elected Abbott government is likely to.

For this reason, if no other, Australians should vote Gillard back in.

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Letter was CC'd to me this morning. - JS

PM-wannabe Abbott is so eager to move into The Lodge that he misrepresents Saturday's election results.

Yes; Labor had a "savage swing" against it. If merely 2% is "savage" (two-party preferred).

Two-party preferred still shows Labor with a majority of 50.7% to Liberals mere 49.3%.

While it may be that "the public expect a change of government as a result of yesterday's result," the results show Australians do *NOT* want Liberals to form government.

First preferences indicate emphatically the public want a Green-er government, with Labor's loss of 4.9% going significantly - 3.6% - to the Greens, and a fractional-percent, 0.6%, to Liberals.

Australians elected a Green Senator from virtually every state and territory. In Victoria, the swing to the Greens was stunning: the Greens gained 4% and, historically, a seat in the House; Liberals lost 2%, almost double Labor's loss. In Queensland, the swing to the Greens was nearly twice the Liberals'. In Tasmania, the Greens collected the Liberals 5% loss; even Labor swung positive. In ACT, Liberal Senator Humphries didn't obtain a full quota on first preferences; a significant swing from Liberals, he'll need preferences before claiming his Senate seat.

Abbott's self-serving proclamation indicates that he doesn't have a clue that he and the Coalition "lost [their] legitimacy" to govern along with Labor.

Australians didn't vote "stable, predictable"; Australians voted Green-er.

Get your facts straight, Tony!

Judy Bamberger,
O'Connor ACT
(not a member of the Greens; just someone who knows how to read and interpret statistics)

Ed. This letter to the editor was cc'd to me by the author, Judy Bamberger, today. I am publishing it because it contains useful and original observations on the 2010 election.

Fielding's Failure

Family First Fielding's failure to be re-elected has invigorated him to derail Australia's future and throw us into another election.

Proclaiming that the voters gave Labor "a huge slap across the face," Victorian Fielding ignores Victoria's Senate results: Labor swing of -2.98%; Liberals/Nationals larger swing of -5.22%. Victorians voted NEARLY TWICE the amount of dissatisfaction with Liberal/National Senate candidates than Labor!

It's nonsensical that Fielding whinges about automatically voting against Labor-introduced bills, with the Liberals/Nationals copping a far more substantial beating!

The voters gave Fielding "a huge slap across the face" by defeating him soundly. The Australian Sex Party received nearly as many votes as did Family First!

The only one "not worthy of a second term" is Fielding himself and his petulant, vindictive attitude.

(Signed Judy Bamberger)

Copyright notice: Reproduction of this material is encouraged as long as the source is acknowledged.

The formation of the new Gillard Federal Government with Independent support is about the best possible outcome for democratic control of this country in the circumstances. As argued in my article, an Abbott-led coalition Government almost certainly would have 'discovered' a necessity to inflict all sorts of harmful policies, not discussed in the election, on the electorate as did John Howard after the 1996 elections.

It is also good that voters did not fall for the Murdoch-press led campaign to demonise Federal Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard for having ended the harmful, incompetent and dictatorial rule of her former leader former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

However, if there were good reasons why people should have voted against Tony Abbott there was one good reason to vote for him. That was his stated opposition to Mandatory Internet Filtering. Julia Gillard's Government is intent upon imposing this extreme form of control over the lives of ordinary people.

However, Julia Gillard is allowing public parliamentary hearings into Mandatory Internet Filtering to occur before the legislation is implemented. We should use this opportunity to make known the overwhelming and conclusive case as to why no accountable and democratic government, with the best interests of the people at heart, should have any desire or need to check, against a black-list, each and every one of the tens of millions of mouse-clicks or entered URL's which are sent from their personal computers by millions of Australian Internet users every day.

Paradoxically, as argued elsewhere, filtering won't stop the appalling abuses, that filtering's proponents claim that it will end. All it will do is stop less technically capable and less affluent Internet users from being able to access such material. More affluent and technically capable people will still be able to consume such material with little obstacle posed by the filters. Those in the Australian Government truly wishing to end such an outrage as child pornography should cooperate internationally with Governments similarly opposed to child pornography to outlaw such material and to put behind bars any adults guilty of participating in the production this material. Where Governments show themselves prepared to tolerate the production of such material on their sovereign territory, and refuse to cooperate with Governments trying to end child pornography, then a strong case could be made for the entire banning of such a country from the Internet. This could be easily accomplished without our Government needing to spy extensively on all of its citizens.

A better way to end, once and for all, the scourge of child pornography many, instead, be to publish lists of such sites, together with clinical explanations of the abuses depicted and to make it a crime to access such material. Although some monitoring of traffic to and from those sites will be necessary, It should still be possible to enforce such laws without spying extensively on all citizens.