Thursday, August 05, 2010

Confusions about Australia's election

One of the truisms in Australian politics is that electors can distinguish between state and federal issues. I think that that's been true. However, things have changed.

I mention this because there was an on-line poll asking whether one's vote would be affected by state issues. I ignored it, then went back and for the first time clicked yes.

I am not saying that my Federal vote would necessarily be affected by poor performance by, say, a state Labor government. I am saying that the intervention by the Federal Government in what have traditionally been state affairs means that the dividing line between state and federal issues has become hopelessly blurred. From health to education to infrastructure, Australian Governments of both persuasions have used their financial muscle to attempt to assert control.

One can argue whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. However, now that the Commonwealth has asserting, or is attempting to assert, primacy in so many areas once the domain of the states, then we have to judge plans and performance on what are in fact state issues. This is actually not easy, because it raises all sorts of practical questions about the interface between state and federal jurisdictions. Here the track record of the Rudd Government was not encouraging.

Another issue that has been concerning me is just where the money is to come from to fund promises on both sides.

This is not the normally expressed concern about the size of Government or the deficit. Both Government and opposition have stated that their election promises will be funded by offsetting savings in other areas. So just which programs will be cut to find the money?

The opposition has provided details of its proposed budget savings. To my knowledge, the Government has not. I don't like to support a new thing when I don't know what I will have to give up to get it.       

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