by Geoffrey Churchman

“Tax, borrow, spend and hope” has been the traditional NZ Labour Party strategy in times of economic trouble (often in normal times too) and it’s much the same with its counterpart in Australia although the party’s spending plans announced if it wins the election tomorrow are more modest than the recklessness of the Jacinda regime.

Labor Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Shadow Finance Minister Katy Gallagher announced the final costings of Labor’s intentions in Canberra, following which leader Anthony Albanese (Albo) was pressed on how spending $8.4 billion more than the Liberal/National Coalition reflected responsible economic management as the nation approaches $1 trillion in debt.

“What we will do is get rid of the waste and the rorts from the budget,” he said. Hmm. That’s not what Labour or Labor as they spell their name in Oz is noted for, and in NZ they are one of the things that has characterised the Jacinda regime along with its racism, incompetence and authoritarianism.

Mr Chalmers was asked whether he really believed “a couple of billion dollars” over the forward estimates wasn’t a big deal – in reference to a comment he made in previous days. “I believe it is absolutely crucial to growing the economy the right way,” he said. “We don’t take these decisions lightly.”

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) disagreed. “I think Australians think $7.4 billion is a lot of money, I really do,” he told reporters. “What does all that do? Labor borrowing more, spending more, it puts pressure on interest rates, it puts pressure on inflation, it drives up the cost of living.”

Actually, in the Australian economy that isn’t much and it’s chicken feed compared to the $100 billion the Jacinda government has wasted in the last two years on Covidiocy.

Contrary to what the opinion polls predicted, the last Federal election in May 2019 saw the Coalition achieve a small victory, winning 77 seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives, a three-seat majority, against 68 seats for Labor.

Although the House is composed of single member constituencies, the preferential voting system means it’s not too hard for minor parties to win seats when they are in second place. In 2019 six seats were won by others; one each to the Greens, Centre Alliance, Katter’s Australian Party and the remaining three by independents.

In the 76-seat Senate it’s even easier for any party to win seats. In 2019 the Coalition made modest gains in most states and increased their seats to 35 while Labor kept 26. The Greens kept 9, One Nation and Centre Alliance went down to 2 each, and Jacqui Lambie and Cory Bernardi’s minor parties with 1 seat each. This meant the Coalition needed four additional votes to pass legislation.

Unlike in NZ where both the NZ Herald and Stuff are strongly pro-Labour, Australian media is mixed: for example, Nine Entertainment supports Labor while Newscorp supports the Coalition so voters get a reasonably balanced analysis of the implications of policies unlike in Jacindaland.

The most recent opinion poll shows Labor and the Coalition level on 35% each, so a fair chunk of the electorate is unenthusiastic about either. Greenies (as wacky as they are in NZ) have 13%, One Nation and United Australia Party 6% and 4% respectively. Others represent 7%.

The two-party preferred vote, however, shows a big advantage for Labor.

As voting is compulsory in Australia, turnouts are usually 95%+, but it’s likely many will consider it like Simon and Garfunkel in the song “Mrs Robinson”:

Going to the candidates debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at this, you lose