Next Week Parliament begins back in earnest and there will be a number of issues that we are aware of to consider, as well as those of which are are blissfully unaware.
There are a number of issues on the Economic front that will be on the table. The Global Economic situation is quite serious, the European meltdown does not seem to have diminished especially nor does it appear that it is about to do so. Most people expect Europe to stumble on, until it stumbles upon a road out, which of course may take six months or six years. The United State of America is ever positive, (such is their nature) however economically they are pushing uphill, and the election will be a distraction as well as possibly it’s own stimulus package. While the economies of Europe and the USA appear to be circling the porcelain bowel, one wonders why the Australian Dollar has not done better, and that seems to rest on the question of China. Our economic well being to some extend relies on the prosperity of the Chinese economy, and it too appears to have gone off the boil. A slow down in the US, is a slow down in demand for Chinese products, and in turn this is a slow down in the demand for Australian resources. Most of the Chinese population is not excessively wealthy by western standards, and a Chinese Economy on decline will be a massive social problem.
The promise of the Budget Surplus, which will again the week be the promise of a renewed commitment, however most Australians don’t get what this is about or why it matters, basically it sounds positive, however the history of the Labor movement is one of social change rather than economic conservatism, so I believe it will always be a struggle for a Labor Government to return a budget to surplus, and kind of against their very nature.
Boat People and Border Security
The issue of Boat People – Asylum Seekers – arriving on our shores without papers seems destined not to go away any time soon. Julia Gillard – The Prime Minister – has had several attempts to address this including announcements re East Timor, Manaus Island, Nauru and Malaysia, a High Court Challenge, Failed Legislation in the Parliament, and a very strong attempt to make it Tony Abbott’s problem. The problem is the boats keep coming, and seemingly at an increasing rate. One wonders if the Indonesian Administration is only paying lip service to resolving the issue.
Changing the Constitution
There is a bi-partisan agreement to work towards a change in the constitution which will recognise the Aboriginal People formerly and properly. This needs to happen, however there can be little doubt that spelling out the detail of this is likely to be arduous and difficult, and whatever happens they will need to be able to sell it to an electorate that has historically be very slow in giving any mandate to such changes. The problem lies in the balance between too much and not enough.
The Rudd Factor and Popularity Politics
Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister and the man who Julia Gillard constantly told us was the best person to run Australia, until …. seems to be doing a very good job of Foreign Minister and Foreign Policy and by and large the things he has been involved with have relatively smooth sailing. There is constant media speculation about a leadership challenge, and no real evidence to suggest that Rudd has done anything to challenge or even shore up support for a challenge. It is fairly clear that Julia does not like him, however he is fairly much un-sackable while he does a reasonable job and her own position is not that strong.
The Green Allegance
There is a natural affinity between the Greens and the Labor Party, however it does not have the strength of the Liberal and National Party Coalition. The Greens did not get seats in cabinet, and though Bob Brown often looks like the Deputy PM, and often seems to have a great hold on policy, they clearly will do their own thing, as was evidenced by the decision not to support the Malaysia deal on Boat People. This relationship is going to limit many areas of where Labor can go in meeting it’s objectives. There is no doubt that Julia’s very strong commitment pre-election to ‘no carbon tax under a government I lead’ became on a heartbeat ‘A carbon tax =is the right approach and represents the most significatn social and economic reform ever undertaken’ as soon as Bob laid out the plan.
Poker Machines and Andrew Wilkie
This was another promise made to ensure the vote of Andrew Wilkie (now disappointed) and recanting on the promise has allowed Andrew Wilkie to indicate that his vote can no longer be assumed by the Labor Government. Rightly or wrongly this will not go away, and whilst the coalition would be unlikely to enjoy his favour, he now has the capacity to alter outcomes.
The Office of Fair Work Australia has been investigating this issue for an inordinate length of time and does leave one wondering if the investigation would have taken this long if the Government was not relying on his vote to stay in office. The is generally thought the the seat would be unlikely to return to the Labor Part in the event of a bi-election. The Victorian Police have also become involved in the investigation of late, and one does not hear anyone (save for Craig Thompson) suggesting that there is not something to investigate. Having gone on so long most people now assume that something is wrong.
The Slipper is on the other Foot Now
In a stroke hailed by many as being genuinely clever Peter Slipper became the Speaker of the House of Representatives at the end of last year, and he has been full of many surprises over the years, and ther may well be a few to come.
I am sure this is not all, however there are some signs of there being enough to keep the papers going this year.