Time To End The Annual Daylight Saving Farce

THE FARCICAL MISHMASH of four time zones for 24 million people resumes tomorrow; coming just hours after the AFL Grand Final and coinciding with the finale of the NRL season — marking, obliquely, a passage from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Australian sport moves on to horses and pretty girls in dresses — the inefficiency, waste and confusion caused by daylight saving is again upon us for six months. It’s time for the circus to end.

It’s a less “heavy” post from me this morning, and I begin with a familiar apology to readers on account of the dearth of time I have had for posting comment; whilst the heavy workload I’m under is manageable, the additional impost inflicted by the medical fright* I have obliquely alluded to over the past two months will shortly be resolved as well: and whilst I’ll still be busier than a swarm of bees, the time I have been carving out to attend to the latter is about to draw to a close, and this is probably the difference between the three articles I’ve been delivering each week and at least another couple, so do bear with me.

I’ve read the editorial from this morning’s Brisbane Courier Mail, and whilst it contains a couple of errors of fact — Queenslanders (including, then, me) voted in a Daylight Saving referendum in 1991, not in 1992 as stated — I have to say I couldn’t agree more.

When those north of the Tweed last had their say on the permanent adoption of Daylight Saving, I voted against it.

But I did so with the explicit rider that had I lived in Melbourne, I would have been unreservedly supportive; I have of course lived in Melbourne now for almost 18 years, and whilst I don’t like the “extra hour of afternoon heat” that comes with Daylight Saving during the most unpleasant excesses of summer, the fact it remains twilight until almost 10pm during the longest days of the year (and is light enough first thing in the morning) outweighs that concern.

When I lived in Brisbane, it was still dark by 7.30pm — even during the three-year trial of Daylight Saving introduced by the Ahern government in 1989.

But time, experience, and the passage of more of life’s journey can evolve perspectives, and it certainly has in my own case.

True to its reputation of being “different” — a euphemism if ever there was — some of the arguments advanced against Daylight Saving in the so-called Sunshine State back in those days were ridiculous; the birds at the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary on the Gold Coast, for example, were said to be disinclined to show up an hour early to be fed.

The same was said of country cows, who lacked comprehension of time zone changes, and would supposedly fail to arrive for milking at 4am…because they would still believe it to be 3am.

And my favourite was the effect Daylight Saving would have “on the curtains,” and watching Gerry Connolly’s Gerrymander Joh And The Last Crusade at Brisbane’s Twelfth Night Theatre in December 1989, audience members were treated to the disgusting spectacle of “Flo” hanging the most flatulently garish curtains at the Bjelke-Petersen ranch in Kingaroy, assuring the neighbour who had “popped in for a cuppa” not to worry about the hideous pattern on them because “they’ll be bleached white in no time with all this extra daylight we’re having.”

It is difficult to believe intelligent people could ever come up with this sort of rubbish. But the truly deleterious effects of Daylight Saving are no laughing matter.

In the almost quarter of a century that has passed since that ill-fated 1991 referendum, Brisbane has changed; no longer the archaic backwater that closes at 5pm and all weekend every weekend, the Brisbane lifestyle has evolved to make far more use of the daylight hours for recreational purposes than has ever been the case.

Businesses on the Gold Coast (which have traditionally driven any Daylight Saving push in Queensland) these days simply ignore the time change, and turn their clocks forward to synchronise them with their neighbours south of the Tweed River.

The cost in lost economic output and waste from the hotchpotch of time zones that exist for half the year has been estimated at $4 billion — a lot of money at the best of times, and inefficiency and waste that can scarcely be justified as the economic climate turns decidedly sour.

And the instrument of Daylight Saving itself seems to have become a de facto vehicle for state chauvinism and the persistence of States’ Rights that are becoming increasingly difficult to demarcate or even justify in a modern, integrated society such as Australia’s.

In theory, I spend a day each week commuting to Brisbane and back at present: and from this coming week onward, airline schedules become truly confusing, as flights to Brisbane take (on paper) one hour, whilst the return leg takes a little over three.

I am dependent on the latest departure possible on the return leg, on account of what I’m going for; to ensure flights arrive and depart in Melbourne at the same time all year round (and by extension, on other routes to the southern states) all of those departures become one hour earlier tomorrow — which scarcely helps business travellers requiring a full day interstate.

And having alluded to the little medical issue I have been working against of late, after the most recent incident Qantas barred me from flying until the condition was diagnosed and resolved (which will happen this week) — and I spent the following two days driving the length of the Newell Highway to get home: I raise this because Australia isn’t a series of petty fiefdoms, but a continuous, rolling plain that merely changes the further you go; there is no border checkpoint at Goondiwindi, or Tocumwal, or anywhere else. To arrange the country as if there were is fatuous, and a relic of a bygone era that belongs in the history books and not in the 21st century.

It’s only a few weeks since we last looked at Daylight Saving: through the lens of vacuous expediency and cheap political frippery deployed by South Australia’s Liberal Party to scuttle a move to permanently align that state’s time zone with New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania; filled with imbecilic righteousness and a sadly misguided sense of self-importance, serial embarrassment and senior Liberal Vickie Chapman spoke of a need to remain “in sync with northern trading partners” (in Darwin, of all places) and to avoid becoming “a western suburb of Sydney” as the Liberals’ brain-dead reasons for torpedoing what was objectively a pretty good idea.

The same sense of faux righteousness emanates out of Queensland irrespective of who is in office these days; the LNP claims to be defending the small business community by acting to preserve the status quo, whilst Labor simply claims there is no consensus on the issue despite its platform committing it to Daylight Saving for decades.

I understand there are parts of Queensland — its rural west and its far north, for instance — in which Daylight Saving really isn’t a fit; these are the areas that hardly depend on efficient or harmonious accord with what goes in in the southern states, and which can and indeed should probably be left to their own devices.

But the south-east — say, from Noosa and Coolum to the border, and west to take in Ipswich and perhaps the Warwick/Toowoomba arc, depending on local sentiment — really should be brought into line with the vast majority of the population that lies south of the Tweed, and as the Courier Mail correctly notes, majority support in the south-east for such a move existed even at the time of the 1991 referendum.

But there is a bigger issue here; does Australia remain a series of disparate former colonies that reluctantly tolerate each other’s existence, or is the country evolving toward being a united, single nation?

Some express surprise whenever, as an unabashed conservative, I express my view that the states are basically redundant; far from the mad centralism the likes of former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen would accuse anyone of if they dared suggest abolishing state government, I actually advocate the opposite: a federal government devolving responsibility wherever possible to a system of beefed-up local authorities, and getting rid of one tier of government in a ridiculously and indefensibly overgoverned country.

It’s an argument for another time, of course. But this internecine sniping over daylight saving is a symptom of national dysfunction, not some machismo expression of the bona fides of states’ rights.

If you look at any global map of time zones internationally, these are not crisp, clean, and do not run in straight vertical lines: there goes that theory, and debunks the cretinous argument of Vickie Chapman for good measure.

It’s high time someone took some leadership, moved South Australia and the Northern Territory onto the same time zone as the eastern states — ignoring mental midgets like Chapman and charlatans like everyone in the Queensland Parliament, it seems — and bring as much of the eastern half of the country into sync.

There are ample provisions in the Constitution to justify the Commonwealth instituting such a change, even if the charge of riding roughshod over “sovereign” states becomes the next irresponsible political fraud to be kicked around the place as a consequence.

Frankly, if an elected federal government using the mechanisms available to it to override the irresponsibility and posturing of hillbilly state politicians whose usefulness in the big scheme of things is a colonial relic ruffles a few feathers, then so be it.

AND ANOTHER THING: with the Grand Final set to begin in a few hours in Melbourne, my tip; with no disrespect to my old mates in Brisbane, I am not interested in what happens in the NRL  — having grown up a Carlton supporter many years before God invented the Brisbane Bears — but I wish those who love their rugby a great game tomorrow.

Obviously, with my beloved Blues not playing in finals this year, I don’t have anything invested in what transpires at the MCG this afternoon.

Yet by the same token — and this used to rankle friends when I lived in Brisbane and refused point-blank to abandon Carlton (or even find my way clear to make supportive utterances of the Bears when they sputtered into the competition in 1987) — I only ever support an interstate side when they play Collingwood and especially Essendon, which I utterly and absolutely despise (and would barrack for a freight train en route to the MCG against the Bombers if I thought there was some prospect it could prevent them winning).

Seriously, the present iteration of the Hawthorn Football Club is the best football side the national game has seen since the Brisbane Lions of 2001-03, and probably the Hawthorn and Carlton sides of 1979-1991 before them; that brown and gold outfit that has already won three flags from four Grand Finals over seven years has another opportunity today, and I am convinced Hawthorn will prevail.

The West Coast side they face is a seriously impressive unit, and cannot be dismissed out of hand today; there is the realistic prospect they will score a lucky strike this afternoon and will be worthy winners if they do.

But I see the Weagles as potentially next year’s champions rather than today’s, and faced with a battle-hardened opponent at its ruthless best almost every time the big occasion demands it — and especially when backed into a corner — it is impossible to believe Hawthorn won’t add to its legend as one of the best sides to ever play Australian football when it lines up against West Coast at the G this afternoon.

Hawthorn by 27 points.

*For those who’ve expressed concern in comments, I can assure them I am perfectly all right — perfectly all right — but the “stroke” symptoms that triggered a flight diversion to Sydney when I was returning home from Brisbane seven weeks ago have turned out to have been caused by one of the myriad of harmless (albeit unpleasant) afflictions that mimic a stroke but which have nothing to do with the brain or a stroke at all: I have the extremely rare condition baroparesis facialis which is believed drastically under-reported (I’m the 24th confirmed case worldwide) that is simply an ear problem in which pressure changes caused half my face to collapse at 37,000 feet — and would have righted itself upon return to sea level if unattended to.

Regrettably, confirming that diagnosis (at considerable expense) has had me spend some days in total with a raft of specialists and included a whole-day field trip down an MRI tunnel last week…the “cure,” at age 43 (which may or may not relieve the problem) is a grommet — the sort of thing I never had as a child — but then that should be that.

I’m lucky it was nothing sinister (and with excellent BP and blood numbers, it shouldn’t have been anyway) but it’s better for medicos to err on the scary side first and work backwards rather than the other way around…thanks for the concern people have shown too. Happily, it seems it has been a false alarm this time. 🙂

Overdue Rebuke As Hodgman Tells Greens: Get Stuffed

WASTING NO TIME after a big election victory, new Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman’s earliest activities — as promised — have included starting work on tearing up the controversial Tasmanian Forests Agreement entered into by his predecessor; Hodgman has excluded the Communist Party Greens from the process, refusing to meet with them. It’s a welcome, long-overdue marginalisation of the Greens that should be emulated across Australia.

If it drives the Left into paroxysms of rage, it’s probably a good thing; if it utterly eliminates the Greens from the loop of governance, so much the better.

So it is with Tasmania’s shiny new Liberal government, which has been elected with a thumping mandate to radically overhaul the way things are done on the Apple Isle, and Will Hodgman’s approach to the Greens in relation to forestry policy is one mainstream politicians of all stripes should emulate.

I read an article in The Australian early this morning which reported on the steps Hodgman is taking to implement his policies on forests, in keeping with the Liberals’ theme of breathing fresh life into Tasmania’s traditional industries, which the ALP/Greens junta either closed down or rendered moribund in the purported interests of sound environmental policy.

Hodgman and his party have been elected on a very explicit pro-business, pro-jobs, pro-family agenda that will, when implemented, sweep away most markers of the 16 years of Labor government that has just concluded, along with a great proportion of the symbolic concessions Labor made to the Greens to keep them sedated, and which have slowly strangulated Tasmanian industry in the process.

We have to be abundantly clear about the nature of the Liberal victory: Hodgman was elected with well over 50% of the primary vote, won (by Tasmanian standards) a thumping majority in Parliament, and achieved these markers on a platform that had been openly (and rather bluntly) presented to voters well in advance of last Saturday’s election.

In other words, the Greens can’t play their favourite semantic games about the Liberal Party not winning a majority of first preference support, or about the election result being in any way ambiguous, or about some “hidden agenda” now being readied for action; simply stated — impotent and diminished — the Greens are going to be forced to watch these policies spring into reality, an affront made worse for them by the fact this is precisely what the Tasmanian electorate has voted for.

The outgoing government was smashed, and the Greens smashed — proportionately — even harder than the ALP was.

It’s an important point.

I’m not going to bog down in detail over what “tearing up” the TFA entails; I think it’s commonly accepted this is a euphemism for re-opening sections of Tasmania’s forests to the timber industry, which in turn is one of the industries that traditionally underpinned the Tasmanian economy, but was decimated by the ideological fervour of the Green tail wagging the ALP dog.

(As an aside, comment by Greens’ leader Nick McKim that the Liberal Party wants to “rape” Tasmanian forests should be treated with the contempt it deserves).

Rather, I want to focus on the approach Hodgman has signalled he will take to the Greens in government. It is refreshing to see the party of the über-hard Left finally dealt with on the terms it deserves; the Greens have no place in or anywhere near government in this country, and it is to be hoped the uncompromising stand Hodgman has taken in relation to them on forests is not only maintained, but replicated across the country.

To be clear, the Greens are not an environmentally based party. Perhaps they once were; certainly, that time is long gone. It’s worth remembering that at their genesis, the Greens were started in Germany in the 1930s by the Nazi Party as an attempted foil to Communism, which even then was looking to advance through Europe and represented a threat to German ambitions to do the same. But as we’ve discussed before, the Greens didn’t simply fail to stop the progress of the red juggernaut — they were ingested by it.

Too many people for far too long have looked on the Greens as some benign party of harmless fruitcakes with whom it is safe to park “protest” votes. In turn, the Greens have used this bloc of votes to extract concessions from governments both Labor and Liberal; firstly on environmental issues, yes, but increasingly across a raft of issues that have nothing to do with the environment whatsoever.

As we have seen from the hapless experiment in co-governance with the Greens that was the Gillard government — and as Tasmanians have seen from a similar arrangement in their state over the past four years — the end consequence of this process is to cripple businesses, destroy jobs, inflict punitive financial imposts on families to the point many can no longer make ends meet, and to jeopardise economic activity altogether.

Not content with these successes — in the clear but unspoken aim of obliterating industry and traditional standards — the Greens, increasingly, have come to represent a flint-hard agenda of the Left that has nothing at all to do with the environment: the disgusting so-called “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” campaign it pursues with relish against Israel and Israeli interests is an excellent case in point. Their pursuit of openly socialist objectives in areas of social policy such as gay marriage, immigration and media censorship is another. There are plenty of others.

There are those who share these views, and those people are quite entitled to do so. The overwhelming majority of Australians, however, clearly and emphatically do not, and this fact has been reflected to varying degrees in the election of state and federal conservative governments across the country in the past few years and a corresponding collapse, in most cases, in Greens’ support at the ballot box.

For a party with so little popular support in the grander scheme of things, the Greens have too often and for too long yielded a disproportionate influence over both elected governments and the legislative programs they implement, and it’s high time somebody told them — to use the vernacular — to bugger off.

And this takes us back to Tasmania — the supposed “cradle” of the Greens in Australia — where 40% of their 2010 voters deserted them last Saturday.

Hodgman won last weekend’s election, in part, by promising to govern outright or not at all; cognisant of the fact any kind of Coalition with the Greens is an eventual and self-inflicted political death warrant — and of the fact relatively few Greens preferences leak to the Liberal Party anyway — it was a safe position to take that will probably be repeated in four years’ time.

As The Australian notes, it is quite possible the Greens in Tasmania will end up with fewer seats in Parliament than they need to qualify for party status, and should that occur Hodgman would be well within his rights to slash allocations of staff and other resources to them. In fact — given the toxic obstructionism they invariably utilise such resources to engage in — I would go so far as to suggest he would be culpable if he failed to do so.

There is a certain irony in the fact that Hodgman’s stand on locking the Greens out of negotiations on forestry policy is being made on what is an environmental issue as well as an industrial one. Still, one has to start somewhere, and Hodgman has certainly done that.

Even so, as Premier of Tasmania, he is under no obligation to involve the Greens in the processes of governance: they are a party of opposition, a fragment, and have no official stake or legal standing in matters of state in Tasmania.

I’m not interested in any arguments about “consultation” or “inclusion” — after all, these insidious justifications were how the Greens were able to worm their way into spheres of influence in Australia in the first place.

And it goes without saying that the Greens have absolutely nothing of merit, value or meaningful substance to contribute to political debate or policy in this country, or beyond for that matter. Those might be the words of a political conservative, but there is nothing to recommend such a dangerous band of ideologues on any level.

The shoe fits — and the Greens can wear it.

And with the exception of the tiny percentage of people who vote for the Greens’ socialist and communist policies, rather than from some misguided sense of environmentally centred protest, I don’t think people will disagree with that sentiment to any great extent.

Will Hodgman is to be congratulated: finally, someone in charge of a government has told the Greens, in no uncertain terms, to butt out. Their input is neither desired nor required. Nobody will be at a loss on account of the absence of their input — not even some of the hypocrites in their ranks who drive cars, fly on aeroplanes, or even switch on the lights at night with nary a pang of remorse.

Hodgman has thrown down the gauntlet. It is to be hoped others now follow his lead, and set about ensuring the permanent and total exclusion of the Greens from governance in this country once and for all.

Tasmania: Time For Lara Giddings To Quit Parliament

FRESH FROM LEADING Tasmanian Labor to a crushing electoral defeat (and the worst in its history), news that Lara Giddings wishes to contest the leadership of the ALP in opposition is a curious development. Premier-elect Will Hodgman richly deserves his thumping election victory, but for the graceless Giddings, the time to go — from the Premiership, the leadership of her party, and from Parliament — has now come.

Like countless thousands of Australians last night, I watched the 25-minute “concession” speech given by outgoing and beaten Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings with horror, and a gradually rising sense of disgust; the trend in recent times for defeated Labor leaders to treat such occasions as an opportunity to grandstand in the interests of their own self-vindication is inappropriate, and tasteless in the extreme.

Call me old-fashioned, but concession speeches should be precisely that: an acknowledgement that the voters have spoken, and an expression of good luck to the victorious party.

There is nothing wrong with showing a little grace in defeat, and it is yet another marker of the nasty brand of politics practised by the Labor Party of today, devoid of integrity or even decency, that Giddings’ speech last night is simply the latest given by a long line of Labor leaders who have been thrown out of office to highlight notions of humility and grace only by omission.

There is nothing wrong with even saying that they are proud of their record; there is nothing wrong with saying they believe they served the people well.

But in a state blighted by the highest unemployment rate in the country, with a budget haemhorrhaging money and public debt ballooning — contrary to Giddings’ assertion otherwise — there is no justification to spend 20-odd minutes rattling on about socialist pedagogy and a restatement in great detail of the policies that have just been emphatically and decisively rejected, as Giddings had the temerity to do.

In a particularly low act, she even landed a despicable barb on Hodgman, noting — to put it bluntly — that as his father (former state and federal Liberal stalwart Michael Hodgman) was dead, the younger Hodgman would be unable to share the joy of his triumph with his family as he would have liked.

It was a jab that registered and drew a slap-down response from Will Hodgman, who might have been excused from the eloquent tribute he nonetheless paid the graceless, offensive Giddings at the commencement of his victory speech.

Now, Giddings has expressed a desire to remain in the leadership of the Tasmanian ALP.

Whilst the exact breakdown of seats won will take a couple of weeks to finalise, courtesy of Tasmania’s Hare-Clark proportional electoral system, we can tell enough from last night’s result to know that for the ALP, the 2014 state election has been a singular and unmitigated disaster.

Of the 25 seats in the House of Assembly, Hodgman’s Liberals have won at least 14 of them, an increase of four seats from the 2010 poll; this is the figure I predicted on Friday, and as I noted at the time have thought for some time that the Liberals were likely to win that number of seats.

The general consensus — again, as foreshadowed in this column — is that the parties of the Left will end up with 11 seats; many other commentators are suggesting these will split 7-4 between the ALP and the Communist Party Greens, although even that is a fluid situation that could see the Greens reduced to a mere three seats (down from five last time).

As an aside, I would note that as gormless and odious as Giddings’ concession speech might have been, the one delivered by Greens leader Nick McKim — also 25 minutes of self-aggrandising claptrap — went very close to trumping it.

As expected, Clive Palmer’s outfit failed to win a single seat; far from winning the state election in its own right, the Palmer United Party’s leader, Kevin Morgan, couldn’t even muster half a quota in the seat he stood in. The result should be a reality check on the ego of Clive Palmer, and the steady march across Australia he seems to believe his party is making. But it won’t be. It just won’t be. Of course it won’t be.

And the Liberal tally of 14 seats could change, too: upwards. So comprehensive has Hodgman’s victory been that nobody foresaw the prospect of the Liberal Party taking four of the five seats in any of the five electorates.

Yet in the electorate of Braddon, in Tasmania’s north-west, that scenario is a distinct possibility, with Liberal candidates collectively sitting on better than 3.6 quotas and a real chance of taking four MPs into the new Parliament from Braddon when the final results are posted.

This election defeat has been the worst Labor has suffered in Tasmania in 100 years; it isn’t simply a loss, but a virtual annihilation, and were it not for the ubiquitous presence of the Greens to enable future governing coalitions to be formed, it is a shellacking Labor might otherwise take many years to recover from.

If we are going to talk about decency, and — in the political sense, responsibility — it is now incumbent on Lara Giddings to resign: both the ALP leadership, and her seat in Parliament.

Yesterday’s shattering election defeat is very much hers to own; having served as Premier for more than three of the four years of the parliamentary term that has now concluded, blame for the election loss lies squarely upon her shoulders.

I note she has made noises to the effect that whether she stays in the leadership or moves on, her (few) remaining colleagues will have the final say on it; rather than simply pay lip service to the possibility someone else might lead Tasmanian Labor, she should do the honourable thing and make certain of it.

I wonder — given both her “concession” speech and her exploration of continuing as Labor leader — whether Giddings even comprehends what the verdict of the Tasmanian electorate amounts to. Politics can be a cruel business, and the realities of that message are cruel indeed.

Tasmanians have rejected Giddings, her government, and the policies it stood for.

They have indicated they have no further use for her services.

They want a government led by someone different, and which will do things differently: things, indeed, that run counter to virtually every point Giddings raised in her ghastly speech last night.

Simply stated, the electorate has spoken: they don’t want her. It is time to go. And she should go now.

 

 

Liberals Win Tasmania With 15% Swing

EARLY COUNTING — less than two hours after polls closed — the Liberal Party has very clearly won government on the Apple Isle; there appears to have been a swing of some 15% to the Liberals on primary votes, with Liberals set to win three of the five seats in each of the five electorates and the ALP massacred.

This is a quick post; just after 7.30pm (AEDT) it is obviously very early in the evening so far as the counting of votes is concerned.

Even so, the trend and the outcome are already beyond doubt.

The result brings down the curtain on 16 years of Labor government, the last four years of them in lockstep with the Communist Party Greens, which — like Labor — now appears certain to lose some of its five seats.

I will continue to monitor developments both in Tasmania and South Australia (which, remember, is half an hour behind us here on the eastern seaboard); the SA result promises to be far closer than was apparent a few weeks ago, and so I think we will be here for a long night.

I will be back a little later in the evening.

 

Opinion Polls: Liberals Set To Storm Home In SA, Tasmania

NEW OPINION POLLS show the Liberal Party on track to romp home in imminent state elections in South Australia and Tasmania; both elections are to be held on 15 March, and this increasingly looms as a black day for the ALP with landslide defeats beckoning at each. After Labor’s feeble win in the Griffith by-election, the prospect of these elections signalling Labor continuing its national slide — despite otherwise conducive conditions — is very real.

It seems likely that in a little more than a month, the only major jurisdiction under ALP control anywhere in the country will be the ACT assembly: and even there, it holds government as a minority dependent on the Communist Party Greens.

There are two new opinion polls out today, and tonight’s post is really just to share the headline numbers and make a couple of comments. Whichever way you look at it, however, it seems the Coalition is about to record the clean sweep across the states enjoyed by Labor just six years ago — a potent reminder, were any required, that things can change at the shortest of notice.

In South Australia, it seems the ridiculous farce of Labor’s self-indulgent factional spat a week or two ago has backfired; unsurprisingly, a Galaxy poll released today finds Labor going backwards, with the electorate splitting 55-45 after preferences — a result which, if repeated on election day, would constitute a 3.4% swing to the Liberals and see leader Steven Marshall easily elected to the Premiership.

The Liberals need to make a nett gain of six seats to win 24 of South Australia’s 47 lower house seats, and government; Galaxy’s managing director David Briggs suggested today that his poll’s findings would see the Liberals win an extra 11 seats in and around Adelaide: this seems high to me, but if Galaxy’s research detects greater movement in the city than in rural areas it could well come to pass.

It seems that Labor’s woes in SA pale into insignificance, however, when compared to the belting apparently awaiting it in Tasmania.

The Latest EMRS poll released today finds the Liberal Party on track to score an even 50% of the primary vote in Tasmania, a level of support it has not recorded on the Apple Isle since the 1992 state election; if it materialises at the ballot box, 50% of the vote is enough to see the Liberal Party score at least 13 or 14 of Tasmania’s 25 lower house seats under the state’s Hare-Clark proportional electoral system.

EMRS also finds primary support for the ALP sitting at a dismal 23%, with the Greens hot on Labor’s heels on 17%; despite the fanfare and pompous suggestions of an outright win for his party, Clive Palmer’s outfit continues to languish on a lacklustre 5% of the vote — enough, as I have opined previously, for perhaps one seat in the Parliament depending on how and where his votes fall.

So much for turning Tasmania into a dinosaur park, or a set for a remake of the Titanic movie.

And EMRS has also conducted one of its peculiarly Tasmanian three-way “preferred Premier” questions; the results from this split 48% for Liberal leader Will Hodgman, compared with 21% for Premier Lara Giddings and 13% to the Greens’ Nick McKim.

It is relevant to point out that anecdotal evidence out of Tasmania — from what little polling is conducted there compared to the mainland states — is that the Liberal Party has now been on track to win this election almost from the day former Labor Premier David Bartlett reneged on a pledge not to form an alliance with the Greens after the 2010 election, proceeding to do exactly that.

The Liberal vote has been stuck at 50% — or within the proverbial bee’s diaphragm of it — for almost four years, and it seems that barring an unforeseen scandal of almost unimaginable dimensions, Tasmanians are resolute in their determination to elect a Liberal government.

There is a school of thought that suggests that with a Coalition government in office federally — and beginning to take precisely the tough and unpopular decisions it was elected to take, and to begin the colossal task of cleaning up after the ALP in office soiled the nation yet again with its incompetence — these two state elections would be much harder for the Liberals to win.

To date, there is no evidence to suggest this to be true.

The Liberals’ fortunes in South Australia, to be fair, appeared rosier in polling 12 months ago than today’s figures indicate. Even so, Labor has done its best to throw this election away, and it does bear remembering that South Australia — over the past 50 years — has actually been Labor’s best performed state at the state government level, with the party in office for 37 of those 50 years.

There has been a lot of noise emanating from ALP circles this week to suggest any comment that diagnoses Labor’s narrow retention of the federal seat of Griffith as “weak” amounts to nothing more than a case of “sore Tory losers;” I’ve been on the receiving end of it and would make the requisite observation about sticks and stones, but such bleating from ALP spivs misses the point.

Labor should have romped home in Griffith; in fact, it was expected to do just that, including by many seasoned observers on the conservative side of the political fence. It is incontestable that Labor underperformed at that by-election; call it weak, tepid, whatever — the ALP almost gifted Tony Abbott an additional seat that it should never have been in danger of losing.

Tough action and unpopular decisions starting to be taken by Abbott’s government should be a boon for the ALP which, in the proper political execution of its role as an opposition, should be streaking ahead of the conservatives in both published polling and at the ballot box.

Even given the decrepit state of the Labor regimes in SA and Tasmania, it’s reasonable to contend the party should be far more competitive than it is in those contests now the festering boil of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government — the primary driver of anti-Labor hostility around the country — has been lanced.

Recording a clear (albeit rapidly dwindling) lead over Abbott in the polls is one thing, but it doesn’t count for anything at all if Labor loses what matters most: actual elections.

If the maulings these state-based polls portend emerge at the hands of SA and Tasmanian voters in a few weeks — and there is no reason to think they won’t — Labor will have wasted three brilliant electoral opportunities to exert maximum pressure on the Liberals for the year to date, and when the votes at those elections are counted, the year will only be 10 weeks old.

All of this makes the state by-election in the Queensland seat of Redcliffe next weekend all the more significant; if the LNP retain that seat — even by a sliver of the vote — that will make four out of four failures for Labor for the year, and if that occurs, it will be impossible to draw any other conclusion than one of Labor continuing to lose ground from the position it recorded at the 7 September federal election.

The message for federal Labor “leader” Bill Shorten is clear. Beware the Ides of March.

 

An Idiotic Prediction: Clive Palmer To Win Tasmania Outright

CLIVE PALMER has made his first high-profile foray into the state election campaign in Tasmania; in an echo of his discredited prediction prior to last year’s federal election — that his eponymous party would win 100 seats, and that he would be Prime Minister — Palmer now claims to be sitting on polling showing his party poised to win the Tasmanian election outright. Who was polled is unclear, but this prediction is as idiotic as his last.

Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury is carrying a story this afternoon that beggars belief; indeed, I had to read it twice to be certain that federal MP for Fairfax and mining tycoon Clive Palmer has predicted his eponymous party is set to win 13 of the 25 seats in Tasmania’s Hose of Assembly at the 15 March election and with them, government in its own right.

Perhaps this prediction — like the one he made before last year’s federal election, at which he foresaw the Palmer United Party securing “100 seats” and himself the Prime Ministership — is some sort of tactic to make his party feel like a more comfortable entity to voters deciding who to support; I don’t know.

It certainly isn’t grounded in reality.

Palmer’s claim that his party undertook polling of “about 500 Tasmanians” begs questions of who and where they are or were; readers might recall that the basis for his wild predictions prior to 7 September last was “online polls” conducted by local news outlets on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. Such polls are easy to manipulate, and are not based on any scientific methodology.

Naturally, no details of Palmer’s internal polling have been released to substantiate his ridiculous claims.

Still, Palmer claims that his PUP “(has) the major parties running scared,” and that the Tasmanian leader of his party, Kevin Morgan (Kevin who?) “will be the next Premier of Tasmania.”

Presumably all of this is why the latest reputable polling out of Tasmania — research conducted by ReachTel, published yesterday — found the state’s Liberal Party on 48.8% of the primary vote, and the PUP sitting on just 4.8%.

Palmer, on those figures, would stand a reasonable prospect of picking up a single seat somewhere under Tasmania’s proportional Hare-Clark electoral system.

But ReachTel — whose findings of Liberal support usually understate the eventual Liberal vote — finding the Liberals on 48.8% identifies adequate support for the Liberal Party to pick up 13 of the 25 seats itself, and possibly one or two others, depending on preference flows and the distribution of votes across the five electorates.

Palmer’s story is laughable, and no more than the kind of fatuous huff and puff that has characterised most of what he has had to say ever since it first appeared he might have won his seat of Fairfax last year.

On balance, he should be ignored, and this column recommends that any Tasmanians contemplating voting for him really need to take a look at themselves.

 

ALP Headed For Richly Deserved Belting In Tasmania

TASMANIAN VOTERS will vote in an election on 15 March that is likely to terminate 16 years of Labor government and elect the first majority Liberal administration since 1992; in terms of economic indicators, Tasmania is Australia’s worst-performed state, and the circus that has been government in Tasmania for more than a decade — complete with clowns in the form of the Communist Party Greens — is about to meet an involuntary end.

Jumping into bed with the Greens — as Labor has now learned several times — initiates a tryst destined to end bitterly, and in tears; the smiles and bonhomie may have been plentiful yesterday, as Premier Lara Giddings sacked the two Greens ministers from her cabinet, but the petty brutality has merely been deferred by a couple of months.

In fact, the eight-week election campaign announced by Giddings yesterday is a potent indication of Labor’s expectations of the election result; any government that senses itself to be on course for re-election generally gets the act done as soon as possible, and the only real purpose for dragging the matter out is to hope the opposition slips up on the way through, and makes a hash of its campaign.

It’s the same strategy used by the Victorian ALP in 1992, when Joan Kirner — fully cognisant that a belting awaited Labor, as voters retaliated against the financial incompetence of the Cain years — drew out proceedings for so long, in the vain hope Liberal leader Jeff Kennett would commit one of his famous gaffes during the campaign, that the move backfired badly when Kennett executed a trouble-free, focused campaign that culminated in a landslide Coalition win.

Labor and the Coalition begin the campaign with 10 seats apiece in Tasmania’s 25-member House of Assembly, with the Greens holding the remaining five; this election is the first for Giddings — who replaced previous Premier David Bartlett in 2011 — whilst Liberal leader Will Hodgman and the Greens’ Nick McKim are both going around for the second consecutive time.

Labor’s stint in government in Tasmania — as so often seems to be the case — began with great promise; under the strong leadership of a popular, telegenic and articulate leader in Jim Bacon, Labor promised to restore stability to government after a disastrous minority Liberal government, in unholy alliance with the Greens, represented anything but.

Following Bacon’s resignation due to ill health in 2004 (he died of lung cancer soon after), Labor has since been through three Premiers — Paul Lennon, David Bartlett, and Giddings — in the ensuing ten years. A fourth change of leadership, widely rumoured but summarily squashed by Giddings’ election announcement yesterday, would have seen Tasmanian Labor eclipse the shocking record of its NSW counterpart in playing “musical chairs” with the Premiership of the state: self-consumed acts of introspection that show a cavalier degree of respect for the electorate at best.

Whichever way you cut it, Tasmania is not in good shape. Certainly, it is a beautiful part of the world and an ideal place to visit, but in terms of the legacy of its recent governance, the place is a shambles.

Underneath the showy surface glamour of tourist drawcards such as Constitution Dock and the Salamanca precinct lies a very different story: high unemployment, a shrinking manufacturing base, and the steady disappearance of traditional Tasmanian industries, such as the timber industry, which have provided a backbone for the state’s economy — and jobs for its citizens — for decades.

At the end of 16 years in office, Labor must take the blame for much of this; it long ago ceased to be a “new” regime, able to point to its Liberal predecessors in apportioning blame for all manner of ills, and has “owned” the actions of government in Tasmania for many years, and must now own the consequences of those actions.

Much of the damage that has been done in Tasmania derives from the ideological, rigidly doctrinaire influence of the Greens; the decline in areas such as the timber industry (and compounded by issues such as the fiasco over the proposed pulp mill on the Tamar Valley) derives either directly from Greens’ blackmail as participants in government, or from fear of losing votes to (and failing to win preferences from) the anti-business, anti-industry, anti-family and anti-jobs fruit cakes masquerading as a responsible environmentally-based political party.

This election should, once and for all, end the era of governing alliances between one of the major parties and the Greens — a practice initiated by the ALP in Tasmania in 1992, and perpetuated since to its cost.

The Tasmanian Liberals made the same mistake after a state election in 1996 robbed them of their majority; since then, Labor in Tasmania in 2010, federally in 2010 and in the ACT in 2012 have repeated the experiment.

That federal Labor government is now gone, the Tasmanian Liberals paid a heavy price after 1996, and Giddings will do so again in a couple of months’ time.

So-called “stable, functional” government — the rhetoric used to justify such unions — is no substitute for effective or productive government; there is a world of difference between the two. Most recently, federal Labor learned this to its cost. Soon, its Tasmanian cousin will do so as well.

Whilst the only poll that counts is the one held on the day, there seems little doubt about the outcome in Tasmania; the modest amount of opinion sampling conducted in the Apple Isle has been consistent, and conclusive, for most of this term of Parliament.

The latest EMRS poll put the Liberals in an election-winning position, with 49% of the primary vote; in the same survey Labor rated 22%, and the Greens 19%. Other polls have consistently found the Liberals to be on track to win more than 50% of the primary vote, and as recently as this week, unnamed Tasmanian Labor Party figures saw to it that fears the party would win just 6 of the 25 lower house seats — or less — were made public.

Liberal leader Will Hodgman has, as he did prior to the 2010 election, pledged to govern in majority, or not at all.

It seems the Tasmanian Liberals heeded the lesson of their folly in coming to terms with the Greens during the Premiership of Tony Rundle in the 1990s, and are determined not to repeat it: and it would be a brave observer indeed who did not expect to see Hodgman to lead the Liberals to victory this time.

Giddings, by contrast, yesterday sacked the two Greens ministers in her cabinet, in a cynical and unbelievable pantomime designed to con voters that Labor and the Greens are anything other than two ends of the same dog act.

Labor knows — through its misadventures in Tasmania, and from the disaster a similar arrangement turned the Gillard government into federally — that voters will not buy alliances with the Greens, even in a proportionally-elected bubble like the Tasmanian Parliament exists within.

The divorce proceedings between the two parties are little more than a charade; each knows the other will be needed if either is to sit in government in Tasmania again, and perhaps ever again.

In the wake of the inconclusive 2010 election, then-Premier David Bartlett famously declared that “a backroom deal with the Greens is a deal with the devil” and in words that haunted him until his departure from Parliament the following year claimed that “I am not going to sell my soul for the sake of remaining in power.”

Nonetheless, Bartlett remained Premier.

Today, Giddings has made it known that she is campaigning “to win a majority” for Labor; whilst this is rather obviously the electoral objective of the leader of any mainstream political party at an election, that objective, in this case, is a claim for trip on a hiding to nothing.

Expect Bartlett’s 2010 pledge — and those made by Giddings now — to feature prominently during the campaign.

The simple fact is that the Tasmanian ALP neither deserves to win re-election, nor boasts a record worthy of anything other than hiding it.

High unemployment, a stagnant economy, business failures, below-trend long term growth and a state in recession are the end results of 16 years of Labor government in Tasmania, and after a torrid and gruelling campaign lasting almost twice as long as it should, the ALP is set to be thrown from office in what, historically, has been its strongest state.

I will be following this campaign — excessive in length as it will be — along with the soon to be formalised campaign in South Australia; today’s post is really by way of overview.

But to illustrate just how far out of touch Tasmanian Labor has grown — and just how divorced from reality or sanity its leader is — I encourage readers to check out this article by Piers Akerman, dealing mostly as it does with the warped, almost perverse, attitude Giddings and her cohorts at the Greens have taken to the fraught issue of asylum seekers.

And for those readers who regularly accuse me of giving Piers oxygen because of some purported right wing plot, here is today’s editorial from Hobart’s newspaper, the Mercury, and here is the Mercury’s report on Giddings’ sacking of the Greens’ ministers — and her commissioning of two others, putting two extra ALP snouts into the taxpayer trough solely for the length of the caretaker period leading up to polling day.

For those that think otherwise, it’s not all a right wing conspiracy: sometimes governments are just this bad, and the most recent generation of Labor governments have proven, in the end, to be far worse than most.

Like its defeated counterparts elsewhere, Giddings’ government will not be missed when its tenure ends at the end of the election campaign that has now officially begun.