I have an article in Online Opinion on Labor’s post-election prospects although my comments applicable to the entire left including the Greens. One topic I touch is the implications of slower economic growth for politics. In recent weeks we have seen a revival of the ‘secular stagnation’ thesis that due to a shortage of investment opportunities capitalist economies have entered a phase of sluggish growth. The thesis goes back to the radical Keynesians of the 1940s and also Paul Sweezy. Continue reading
Celebrity photographer and nightclub owner Darren Lyons is en route for the a victory in the Geelong Mayoral by-election with about 30%, ahead of his nearest rival Stephanie Asher with 12%. It is a compulsory preferential ballot but with 16 candidates it would be extremely unlikely for Lyons to lose from here. The City of Greater Geelong is large local government area with a population of over 211,000 in 2011. It is not much smaller in population than the Northern Territory. It is larger in population than the Cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It is a highly social diverse city that includes affluent middle-class suburbs and northern zone with high levels of poverty and social exclusion. Continue reading
I wrote recently that Australians don’t revere past politicians. But evidence against this, at least for elites, is the popularity of long-form interviews with politicians past. The most recent installment is the ABC series on Paul Keating. As a historian I consider that the value of open-form interviews with past politicians, who have had plenty of time to get their stories clear is of limited value (the official description for Keating promises ‘inside stories’). It is the case even for more contemporary analysis. It is persistent belief that if only you can talk to the ‘insiders’ you can explain why things happen. Interviews can be valuable but they need to be part of an overall research project. Paul Keating’s continuing appeal is as spokesperson for a particular generation of policy makers. His time in office as Treasurer and Prime Minister saw both the highpoint and the effective dismantling of incomes policy. Keating seemed in control but his variant positions suggest this was not the case. This is the old problem of the role of the individual in history (on which see me here). Why are past public servants never interviewed? When Tony Cole was appointed to the Abbott government’s Commission of Audit did anyone in the media even mention his past role in Treasury during the Keating era? Continue reading
I have an article in The Conversation about Kevin Rudd’s legacy. In the next Overland I will have a longer article on Rudd and Gillard. I don’t find Rudd particularly interesting. Even his parliamentary supporters such as Richard Marles can only tell us he was a nice bloke, at least some of the time. The attempt to define Rudd as exemplifying some ‘anti-politics’ seems far fetched, especially when it is undertaken by Marxists. Marxism is no more than an anti-politics than it is an anti-capitalism (but more on that another day). Continue reading
For last year my online commentary focus has been The Conversation. I am relaunching this blog. Today I have a review of former Labor leader Mark Latham’s recent book Not Dead Yet at The Conversation. With seven respondents to Latham’s opening essay it is difficult to cover.
Some additional points. The popular Labor party reform idea of the moment is primaries; this is despite the fact that Australian experiments have mostly seen low turnout and disappointing electoral outcomes for candidates selected in this manner. Latham supports primaries but wants the eligibility of candidates to contest a primary to be determined by a panel comprising ‘party elders’, local branch office-bearers, union and state ALP branch representatives. Prospective candidates will have to demonstrate record of community engagement, public speaking Continue reading
- Using the Australian Election Survey and logistic regression to estimate impact of becoming self-employed on the votes of male manual workers. I have also included deunionisation (a likely consequence of self-employment). This chart shows predicted Labor vote 1993-2010. Summary self-employment has a negative impact on Labor vote but this impact has actually declined slightly since 1993. Labor has a workers’ problem not a self-employment problem.
Writing a paper about small business in Australia. An extract on the attitudes of Australian conservatives to trade unions from : Continue reading
Why is Labor’s era in Queensland coming to an end? The short answer is that Queensland is a naturally conservative state. I argue that different states may have a natural propensity to support Labor or the Coalition, levels of unionization, manufacturing employment, educational levels and ethnic diversity are significant here. However this does not imply that the natural minority party will never win an election. Queensland is a notable example Labor has dominated state politics for two decades but at the federal level Labor has only twice secured a majority of the two-party vote in this period. Continue reading
In the 1980s Australian unions pursued a retirement income strategy that centered on the inclusion of superannuation in agreements with employers. Continue reading