July 10, 2004 | Graham

Another shocking foreign incursion into domestic politics.

If I hadn’t been so busy sleeping and had instead read the Fin Review rather than relying on the ABC on my clock radio, I would have had an alternate source of irritation this morning to Richard Armitage.
Can I say how sick and disappointed I am that Paul Keating did not give a clip to another foreign potentate who stuck their schnoz into Australian politics yesterday? This person also ratted on private meetings with Australian politicians, simultaneously venting personal spleen and attempting to influence our next election under the guise of off-the-cuff friendly remarks to journalists.
I refer of course to Helen Clark. In an article which the AFR apparently didn’t find important enough to even put in its online edition, Helen Clark revealed that John Howard had blocked a joint US and NZ joint approach to the US over a Free Trade Agreement. Quelle horreur. What an unprecedented attack on another sovereign nation in the midst of a faux election (pronounce it with a French inflection if you prefer) campaign!
Yet there was no official, unofficial or sans cullotte reaction. Nothing. Not even a “non”. I’m not surprised. Helen Clark is hardly a bogey person with which to conjure elector recoil. And her remarks could be interpreted as a swipe at the local ALP who still haven’t worked out whether they support an FTA or not. (Note to John Howard – could be worth exploring). And Australians have never really cared what New Zealanders think.
I couldn’t help noticing though, that the same article had New Zealand with the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the OECD. John Quiggin frequently points out how badly the New Zealand economy does compared to Australia. He puts this as proof that the more stringent version of the classical economical caster oil they took than we did, hasn’t worked. Is this the first sign that we should have had a stronger dousing. The OECD puts New Zealand on a Standardised Unemployment Rate of 4.3% versus 5.6% in Australia. That gives them not just more people working to improve their economy, but the opportunity to provide higher services whilst lowering taxes off the back of the savings in unemployment benefits.
One has to wonder whether Mark Latham’s 5% job target is part of helping Labor to raise services whilst lowering taxes. It’s an idea I bowled up to Kim Beazley, but which he ignored! We know Mark reads OLO, so it’s possible he picked up on the idea. A decrease of 1.3 percentage points in the unemployment rate (the difference between NZ and Aus) would deliver a huge windfall to the budget (about $1.3 B). Latham would still have to find another $6.7 B to get to his $8 B savings, but it’s a start.
You also have to ask yourself about Australia’s journalists. Why is it that as far as I know no-one has put Clark’s comments to either Latham or Howard today? In most other areas of life, professionals are being forced to be more professional, but journalists just keep on retailing gossip. I shouldn’t complain. that’s why people read blogs.

Posted by Graham at 12:10 am | Comments Off on Another shocking foreign incursion into domestic politics. |
Filed under: Australian Politics

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.