Saturday, March 17, 2007

NSW 2007 - a very strange election

Photo: Stranded Sydney rail passengers walk along a tunnel on their way out.

This - the current NSW election - has to be the strangest election I have ever seen.

We have a Government that everybody agrees is on the nose.

We have an election where just a week before the poll major failures in service delivery including a meltdown in Sydney public transport - Sydney is 70 per cent of the electorate - that left thousands of commuters stranded on trains brought both Sydney daily newspapers out against the Government. And yet Opposition Leader Peter Debnam admits that he is staring electoral failure in the face.

Photo: Sydney rail commuters walk up the track to Milson's Point railway station.

As I see it, the core of the problem is captured in Mr Debnam's statement to the media. Here Mr Debnam said he had laid out a clear agenda to the electorate. He went on:

"There is no Opposition that has laid out more policy than this Opposition."

"We have laid out a platform for NSW, it will turn this state around, it will fix the problems, that includes transport."

I am sure that Mr Debnam believes this. Therein lies the problem.

As I argued in my post Politics, the Media and the Immiseration of Public Policy, this election has really been a policy free zone with both parties confusing costed promises and activity statements - the supermarket or Key Performance Indicator approach to politics - with real policy.

Unlike other countries, Australia has compulsory voting. This makes the public opinion polls a more accurate reflector of outcomes than elsewhere. Yet I find it hard to believe that in fact the Government will be returned in the way the poll indicates. If so, it will be one of the most undeserved outcomes in Australian history, with the Opposition plucking defeat from the jaws of victory.

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