Amidst the industrial carnage wrought by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last week was a brief glimpse of what survival for the Gillard Government might look like.
It would start with a corporate leader arrogantly putting his commercial interests ahead of the national interest, to the cheers of his fellow CEOs.
It would move into a debate about whether loyal Australian workers had a right to expect any sort of say in the way their workplace was run; or whether they should be forced to cop whatever the latest management team cooked up.
It would give voice to the federal front bench, for once united on a matter of principle they truly believed in, providing a platform to speak up for the values of their movement.
And it would end with the Federal Opposition, stripped of any pretence of policy, in a tangle over the WorkChoices bogey, simply barracking for the big end of town because that is what they are conditioned to do.
Goldfish have a neat survival mechanism to prevent them ever getting bored – by the time they have swum around the bowl they have forgotten the previous lap. It makes them a lot like voters at election time.
This is why we are grateful when our failed candidates enter the fray to remind us of why we voted against them. And while Mark Latham has rightly been drawing attention, like onlookers to a car crash, another leader took centre stage over the weekend to take us back to meaner and trickier times.
As he moved in to give Tony Abbott a man-hug at the Liberal launch, John Howard reminded us of many of Australia’s most forgettable moments. Given that Abbott is running on a “re-elect the Howard Government” ticket it is worth dwelling on our former Prime Minister’s Ten Most Notable Contributions to the Nation.
Downward Envy – John Howard trained Australians to look down the chain when we were feeling low – welfare cheats, single mums, dole bludgers, these were the people making life hard for decent Australians. As profit levels soared and CEO wages sky-rocketed, we tut-tutted the Paxtons. Read more »
There is a wildcard hanging over the upcoming election, a factor outside the control of the any politician – it resembles an angry fish, and it is looking for someone to bite.
Question: Over the next 12 months do you think economic conditions in Australia will get better, get worse or stay much the same? Source: Essential Report
It is the long-term trend line on people’s economic confidence, and it shows that after we sounded a collective sigh of relief last year, we are beginning to fear the worst again, a sense of economy insecurity that can affect our work, our home lives – and the way we look at politics.
The story of the fish charts the highs and lows of first term Labor, it also offers some tantalising clues about what happens next. Why a fish? As the graph above shows, the competing stories of confidence and despondency have taken a wild journey over the past two years. With fear surging as the GFC hit, curtailing as stimulus stabilised the economy, but now rising again.
Kevin Rudd inherited a nation fearing the worst – the US sub-prime was not just a theory – big banks collapsed, homes were lost, mass lay-offs. As the word ‘contagion’ was bandied around – it emerged that many Australian local councils had unwittingly invested in the toxic loans to bad security risks. Economists warned us of our unsustainable levels of household debt. The notion of economic carnage in Australia was real.
Subscribe to the Unspun
- 6.30 with George Negus
- Canberra Report
- EMC International
- Essential Report
- Keep our Cops
- Network Ten
- Sky News
- social media
- The Drum
- The Punch
- Web and Design