The lead up to the NSW State election has gotten underway over the past few weeks. Lots of post from our local member and potential local member, none of which is inspiring or particularly interesting: John Dorahy at Corrimal Court; Ryan Park on the footpath; posters every where, some still without glasses and moustache; Kristina Keneally on the television; and Barry O’Farrell in the papers.
It will be a bloodbath for the NSW Labour Party. There are currently 93 members of the lower house and 49 of them are Labour. If Kristina Keneally manages to hang on to twenty of them she’ll have made a fair fist of it, but the likelihood must be that no more than 15 seats will remain in Labour hands. And that is probably optimistic.
As a lefty this provokes some horror for me, because the NSW Libs aren’t actually the kind of crowd I’d invite to my birthday party, especially that bunch aligned to David Clarke and the evil Bill Heffernan.
But Barry O’Farrell doesn’t seem to be that kind of Liberal, a bit more like a regional city Mayor who spends his whole time talking about supporting small business and getting the balance right. And he hasn’t systematically disrespected Aboriginal people, or gay people, or boat people, or Muslims, or drug users, or country folk or any of the usual targets. All of which makes him a good deal more electable than many of his colleagues, including Tony Abbott.
The issue is that the Labour Party has rejoiced in 16 years of government but has singly failed to develop, or innovate, or indeed keep pace with the demands of running the government. They look slightly worse than Barrie Unsworth’s team did in 1988, and it appears to me that since Bob Carr decided to be a travel agent nothing has been done unless it has been directly related to the prospects of re-election.
That is not government: that is a racket, a racket designed to produce a political return on a political investment. And like all forms of racketeering it is an empty system, designed on to profit only those who operate it. This is the ugliness that Tripodi, Eddie Obeid, Joe Scimone and others have brought to the government of NSW. The election will see the racket cast out and racketeers busted.
I don’t imagine that the NSW Libs will know how to fix the transport problems, or the unwieldy operation of the NSW bureaucracy, or cut waiting lists on hip replacements, or any of the things that actually need doing: rather we’ll get a government that is less obviously a racket and as a result a slightly less vulgar version of being governed. The spectacle of this NSW election will bring a number of pleasures but it is important to remember that it is just that, a spectacle, because as the cliché says: it doesn’t matter who you vote for the government always gets in.