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View From the West – Edition 5 – Are we as conservative as the stereotype says…

Posted by cegan on January 1, 2012

If you are a political junkie like me, you would have heard the often quoted statement “Western Australia and Queensland are the conservative states, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania the progressive states and NSW a mixture of both”. But is this correct of the great western land, well lets see where it is correct.

Social conservatism, nowhere else in the country has had such debates on culture. One of the leading debates on Western Australian culture has been Sunday Shopping and the importance of small business to not be forced to open on a Sunday and thus have a day of rest, so they did not have to compete with a large retail outlet that has competitive advantages during the weekdays.

Alhough the shopping hours debate mantra changed by the last referendum and it became more about it not being fair to make people work on a Sunday and the impact on the bottom line of small business. In some ways the change in debate reasoning on keeping shopping hours regulated has lessened the strength of its case to the Western Australian community that in 2011 we should deliver government intervention to maintain Sunday ‘as the day of rest and family.

What else is another strongly conservative based issue that may fit the stereotype? Well as I said on facebook – What is a more poisonous debate than the carbon Tax – WA’s Prostitution Laws. These laws create a conservatism force that creates total mayhem for any leader of either the Liberal or Labor Party, it is an excuse for widespread dissesion in the ranks. What makes it more interesting is that Western Australia can pass issues on gay parents being able to adopt before anywhere else in the country, but creating a regulated  sex industry – Well its time to stick the heels in and show to the rest of the country that the stereotype fits, we are basically hillbillies worried about those prostitutes festering in our safe, family friendly and non sunday shopping suburbs.

Research also shows that Perth is continuing the love affair of the block of land and house more than any other mainland capital.  We haven’t moved out of that traditional aussie mantle, even if our city is growing at a blistering rate.

But my argument goes today about why the stereotype does not fit, won’t fit and is further evidence of an ignorant media that does not understand the different dynamics running through WA politics.

Old Growth Forrest was an issue that overthrew the Court Government for a Premier/Academic who had a PHD in Philosophy. He would be a leader of the third way and became one of the states most popular premiers before depression stopped his stint. But lets look at this more carefully, Old Growth Forrests and the stopping of logging in Old Growth cost the conservative party government. Labor was prepared to ban it, the Conservative party wanted to conserve the traditional way of life of the loggers of the south west corner.

This is all the more remarkable when a liberal, progressive state such as Tasmania that these experts laud fiercely reject these reforms. The same reforms that the state demanded and would throw out a government that was not progressive enough on the issue and would cause significant division within  the Liberal Party( eg the setting up of the new “Liberals for Forrest”that has since been disbanded.

Progressive issues can be fought for here, euthanasia is widely supported by the West Australian community(and members bills to legalise it are constantly debated in parliament) at the same time as the last poll on capital punishment showed support for it here was the highest in the country.

Then you ask why did the Ruddfall of the 07 election stop in Western Australia? Why are their only 3 Labor held seats in Federal Parliament from Western Australia? Doesn’t this give an indication of a very conservative state who vote on conservative issues?

Perhaps, but then again do Sandgropers vote on Federal Issues far differently to State issues, did they vote Liberal and continue to vote Liberal based on conservative attitudes? Or was it based on the ‘who can deliver most/best for Western Australia”.

With no MRRT, a belief that the GST handouts would deliver more to WA households if the Liberals were in power and a significantly higher advertising war chess that flooded the West Australian market during the last two elections, I’d argue it does nothing to show how conservative we are, but the view out there that the Federal Liberal Party will listen to Western Australian demands, rather than ignore them which is an underlying theme of Federal Labor.

The current major debates in Western Australia are all in state politics, Federal Politics seemss to take a back seat. With Local Content issues, Electricity Prices being too high for the disadvantaged in our community and the brief brushes of the never-ending Prostitution Reform bill we will move from conservative to progressive based politics at a whim and depending on the issue. Western Australia also can be caught in an unpredictable hype on a particular issue eg Organ Transplants for Drug Users and whether Government should pay for it, became a huge issue overnight and the public wouldn’t let it die.

But a Conservative state naturally…

Well I think the last ten years and our present Liberal Party’s ideology would suggest that the wild west is not as ‘stuck in the times’ as those simplistic political analysis often declare.

Chris Egan

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WA Election poises a choice for the people of future or past

Posted by cegan on September 2, 2008

The West Australian State election will deliver a key choice for the people of the state. Will they elect to move further into the future or will it stop in the past. Liberal or Labor, right or left wing does not become the defining choice. In the end it will be the choices of future direction of the state. Will we continue to outlay a record infrastructure fund, promote the state internationally and look for a better capital, better state. Or will we revolve ourselves in the rhetoric of the 1950’s.

Will the people of Western Australia elect Barnett who will conserve political parties, introduce less government interaction into infastructure and deliver tax cuts we don’t know for.  Can we trust that Barnett will be looking after all Western Australians? Not really, previous elections have shown that he thought the people of Mandurah did not deserve the train line. Saying that population does not support it. Recently it was revealed in The West Australian that the Mandurah Train Line has 50,000 passengers a day, a figure not expected to be reached for several years. This is a triumph of the electoral decision of the Carpenter Government.

Indeed while people have issues with the Carpenter Government, look at it in the context of what they have achieved. They have successfully transformed WA from a ‘let’s build roads’ state to get elected to a ‘let’s build train lines’. Indeed it has been there re-alignment of the Mandurah Railway, the Thornlie, Clarkson extension and not to forget the rejuvenation of many train lines across the system.

Let us not forget the success of transit village style developments such as Wellard which are looking at developing polocies to challenge the car culture and challenge the statistic that sees more cars per capita per population than most of the rest of the world. This needs to change for any approach for greenhouse gas that the electorate demands action. A vote for Barnett delivers little, delivers nothing for what West Australian’s want.

On Saturday a vote for Carpenter will ensure the development of a better Western Australia that will be more in tune with future needs for this state. Not a government that will deliver 1950’s justice that does not work, education funds to help working families that he believe’s the WA public does not want but claims for himself and little to maintain the infrastructure program or offer a tax relief program of significance.

Barnett simply has not done enough to show that it is good enough to be the next government of Western Australia.

Chris Egan

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Barnett offers tax cuts, who are they for?

Posted by cegan on August 26, 2008

Ahoy Colin Barnett, who are those tax cuts you promised for? Are they for low income earners or big business like the billion dollar tax cuts from the United States. Who are they for? Why did you not let us know? Do you have that disrespect for the voters of Western Australia?

Why shall we live in society that does not have the respect to voters to give us the policy that you have announced. Are we all dumb political pundits who are not after policy outcomes. Judgments need to be made about whether you will vote for tax cuts that will not affect you. The economic benefits, the inflationary aspect. Classic Barnett policy to skip on policy detail.

As I predicted Barnett’s tax reform is being based on the content of neo-liberal policy, that is to offer little government spending and lower taxes. These are not in the interest of a state that has particular boom/bust periods where infrastructure needs to be built when the population can afford to have higher taxes to pay for infrastructure such as the railway to Mandurah. The 60,000 super stadium. Not just hospitals, education or justice reforms. We need continual infrastructure improvements from the disregard from previous generations when we had no money.

Our state’s future citizens do not need lower taxes, half baked infrastructure such as the traffic lights on the Kwinana Freeway. We need the billions of dollars that the state government will reinject into the states economy that will keep unemployment low and keep economic growth strong.

Plus is the tax cuts aimed at high society or battlers in Labor heartland?

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Barnett remains out of touch in Education and Justice.

Posted by cegan on August 24, 2008

Colin Barnett shows he is still stumbling in this state election. He has refused to do anything for parents battling rising costs of living despite claiming the $200 cheque himself. While then hopping into bed with every union he can lay his claws on to get into government. Where is the Liberal policies coming out? Where is this concerted program of trying to show us how Barnett will spend the boom more than what Carpenter will? What will his Gas pipeline do to facilitate the next visionary infrastructure program after O’Connor’s in the early 1900’s? Is it anything that will bring tangible benefits to the south west?

Barnett’s policy vision can be seen as stopping infrastructure, stopping spending and keeping Perth in a stationary state. Nothing to move into the 21st century, it will be like we stop the progress that has happened from the recent mining boom. Yes we he issues with Carpenter that he flouts his arrogance in selecting ministers while also having autocratic decision making processes for public infrastructure such as the 60,000 Multi-purpose stadium.

I am tipping that Barnett will return Western Australia to the Neo-liberalism role of government, little government expenditure on public infrastructure, low taxes and a conservative society that leaves little to rehabilitation of prisoners, more about the strategy of imprisoning people for longer periods of times. However this is proven in many studies including the study case of Texas, does little to address crime. In Texas they have an extremely tough justice system, yet it has done little to stop homocide, burglaries or create a safer society.

A Barnett government will ignore the problems and put it down to a justice system that is not tough enough. Yet in reality it is not toughness that is needed, it is investing in the social welfare system and providing stronger funding for education, especially those in impoverished or hard to teach high schools. Just today I had to calculate the sum of 125.70 – 50.00 for a girl who asked for a calculator. I was stunned, but it highlights the inadequacy of education in many of these undepriveleged area’s.

To end the Teachers shortage will be of priority of any government and to deliver extra incentive for teachers to teach in area’s with double wages of schools in higher socio economic area’s would deliver strong incentive to stop crime and to deliver our best teachers, to the area of the population that needs most help in bridging the gap between the poor and rich.

In a state that is in boom time, it is our job that every high school student can subtract 50 dollars from any amount that comes up on our screen. Barnett will do nothing to change this, just bring conservative policy to a state that wants to continue to boom.

Chris Egan

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Dr Hames highlights incompetency with government figures

Posted by cegan on August 17, 2008

Dr Kim Hames a senior member of the WA Liberal Party has highlighted the spin behind political facts in today’s News Limited Sunday Times. In quotes to the paper he claimed that every year there had been less surgery than the previous year and that the government had made it harder to get onto the waiting list, or forced people into private care. How can we trust Jim McGinty when he says waiting times have been reduced when the context is that this has been done with less surgery being undertaken every year since 2001.

While I have not checked up on the claims by Dr Hames, I have little to suggest that he would not have properly researched his claim. In the debate over Health Care it seems that the Liberals are winning the battle and rightly so. The WA Liberals have committed themselves to the Labor Government’s extensive building plan for hospitals, but have decided not to completely mothball Royal Perth Hospital, as much as what Labor has plans. A trauma unit in the inner city is a sensible decision, considering its proximity to the major nightgoing area of Perth, which has been noted for its violence (despite it often being overplayed), resulting in injuries that could be treated closeby.

This is how the Liberals are winning the hearts and minds of the health conscious Western Australians, its health plan is guranteeing the infrastructure of modern state of the art hospitals, but with the addition of challenging claims that the Labor Government is fixing health, or is implementing Political spin. It also is looking at Royal Perth and suggesting that it is an ideal location for a 400 bed trauma unit.

If you are voting on health issues alone at this election, a vote to the WA Liberal Party would be strongly advised as they have highlighted political spin in its analysis of the WA Government defending the status of health, while also implementing an infrastructure package that adds the icing on the cake.

Let’s hope the WA Liberal Party have some more bright idea’s up their sleeve.

Chris Egan

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Mandatory Sentencing for assault on police officers, puts at risk democracy

Posted by cegan on August 17, 2008

Are we in Singapore? This was the reaction while I was reading the News Limited Sunday Times article which suggests that Colin Barnett is going to introduce mandatory sentencing involving a prison term for every single citizen that will seriously assault a policemen.

The right wing sentiment running through Australia’s media and population has been confirmed. There has been little written on this policy launched by Barnett but would continue to ripple through the erosion of rights as citizens. I am not defending those who assault police officers, nor do I think most of them should not go to jail. But why do we need to legislate 100% of cases of serious assault has to involve a prison term?

This would go down the slippery slope of the defacto democracy of Singapore. Whose strong punishment for crime is often admired by many in society in Australia. Yet the case of Van Nguyen alters this perception in terms of capital punishment. He was convicted of the crime and on the spot he knew it would be a mandatory death penalty. Regardless of what happened at trial, the fact he was caught with drugs meant he would be hanged as termed in Singapore.

Is this the context we in Western Australia want to slide into? Legislation that will divulge on mandatory sentencing, regardless of the context and situation. Sure it is not like we are killing people, but in terms of eroding democracy we are telling the courts they can not do the job so we will do it for them.

Why should the Western Australian Government interfere by placing a mandatory placing on sentencing that suggests anyone found guilty must be put to jail. What if that person had been manhandled by police beforehand? But then found himself in a spur of anger that seriously injured a police officer? Bad luck?

This policy shows a slippery slope to eroding democratic rights, implemented by a party determined to stay out of touch with reality and putting a little bit of Singapore into Western Australia.

Chris Egan

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Fixed Political Terms?

Posted by cegan on August 16, 2008

This has come with a surprise that Colin Barnett wants to legislate fixed 4 year terms as legislation when he gets into power. Really this supersedes political tradition in Australia.

This legislation would guarantee that we would have an election every four years, is there not a case for the ability for unpredictability? The current State Election comes as a surprise, we have policies on the run and a haphazard caimpaign where nothing can go wrong – otherwise the other will be destined to doom.

Personally I do not think this is a bad thing, the entire system of politics should not be spun or concocted to sterile predictable four year terms that will add to the length of unofficial election caimpaigns, which is currently occupying the attention in America for a little to long.

Transfixing a nation state to political elections that are every four years, will actually dis service the public. We will have more ability for spin doctors to control our decisions, advertising and predictability is never good for elections. Its not good for a government and opposition to know exactly when the next election is.

For Colin Barnett to propose fixed election terms on government, shows his desire to concentrate on the political issues at present rather than plan the future. It may win him brownie points, but it does little to deliver confidence into the future plans for our state.

Indeed it will be scary the incompetence within the State Liberal Party and Labor Party if they were guaranteed 3 years of disseray before they got their act together.

It is in Western Australia’s interest to not have fixed political terms. It is also not a part of Australia’s political history.

Chris Egan

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Barnett still out of touch in the booming west

Posted by cegan on August 13, 2008

The start of the WA election caimpaign has started with all eyes on the Olympics. To start with we have just heard a negative caimpaign telling us that the state government have wasted the boom? Wasted the boom? Troy Buswell has to be shot for declaring that the WA Labor Party has wasted the boom. Let’s look at what the State Government has delivered.

1.8 Billion dollar train line from Perth – Mandurah.

Commitments to spend 5 billion dollars on Hospital

Delivering plans in the fields of sports and recreation, police, prostitution laws that will reshape the state.

Promising to finally activate the scene in the capital

All of these policies show a commitment to spending the boom to deliver infrastructure that will last after the boom – sane political planning.

Troy Buswell shows his inexperience to think this will stick.

But the condemnation has to be delivered to Colin Barnett. His failure to rule out the canal when he was elected leader showed how his ego was more important than what his future plans for WA was. Back to policies that have proven will not work.

Barnett also has a prostitution bill that will turn a blind eye to the problem. Illegalise it in the suburbs, shun it from communities and continue to think we live in a society to proper for prostitution.

Not only this he has shown the tradition of WA Liberals disdain for train infrastructure was confirmed when they said they would not extend the train line north to Butler. Carpenter has seized on this and has committed 147 million dollars for a 5km extension of the ever popular northern railway.

With Rudd also joining the bandwagon and declaring he could deliver federal support of the project, Carpenter continues to outwit his out of date competitor.

It will take a minor miracle for Barnett to become in touch with an electorate that does not want to be curtailed by a conservative government with old world ideologies.

Chris Egan

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