Tuesday, 5 October 2010
There was not really much new in last night’s Four Corners on the independents’ dealings after the election. Especially not on revealing the major parties’ manoeuvring behind closed doors to win their votes in contrast to the more public way they had to get our votes. But it did at least confirm what was already reasonably evident at the time.
The program’s narrative spun it out as though a decision was being made over the course of the two weeks, but it probably wasn’t. Right at the beginning it was clear what the key determinant was for their decision, the one thing that united them all – the quest for stability. Naturally, if it was really about stability they could have forced another election where the odds would have been that the finely split balance of the current Parliament would not have been repeated, and one party or the other would have gained a clear, stable, majority.
No, what the independents mean, of course, is the stability of the current situation where they had maximum power and, as Tony Windsor said to Four Corners last night, that meant backing Labor who were most afraid of going to the polls anytime soon. The rest was really just political positioning to justify their eventual choice and it was presumably why Four Corners cameras were let in. Not out of transparency, we didn’t get too much of that, but a political presentation of what was basically some pretty ordinary horse-trading but with exceptionally weak major parties.
So we had Windsor and Oakeshott seen in meetings with Stern and Garnaut over climate change, unlikely to have been deciders given that both were already strong supporters of the climate change agenda – a fact often forgotten by those who prefer to see climate change purely in terms of left and right.
But neither, it seemed was even regional funding. Probably the most revealing, and new, bit of information from the program was that Abbott made a major financial pitch to the independents on regional funding that outstripped Labor’s offer. Not surprising given that the Coalition is hardly averse to rural pork-barrelling for political purposes. What was surprising, though, was the independents unhappiness about it. Both Oakeshott and Windsor made it clear that rather than being pleased at what their ‘negotiations’ had produced, they seemed to more regard it as making it harder to justify the decision they had already made. But, of course, it made no difference and fortunately, neither they, nor Labor, nor the Coalition, have had any real interest in publicising Abbott’s largesse, so it has slipped under the radar.
What was also interesting was to see the context of Katter’s decision-making process. It was only after Wilkie finally confirmed his endorsement for Labor, that Katter knew it was safe to side with the Coalition by coming out with his twenty ‘demands’ without threatening what they all wanted throughout; a Labor government by the narrowest of margins and the best way to keep both parties exactly where they wanted them.
Posted by The Piping Shrike on Tuesday, 5 October 2010.Filed under Tactics