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Goodbye to all that

Nick Feik nails it:

When you change the government, said Paul Keating, you change the country. Australians are preparing to change the country on a scale similar to 1996, when Keating was thrashed by Howard.

Australia has just experienced the hottest year in its recorded history, yet the nation will elect a man whose great mission as leader has been to reject the government’s effort to address climate change.

The Australian economy has seen steady economic growth through a global recession, has an unemployment rate the envy of the world, has rising wages, low interest rates, low inflation and low government debt. Yet voters will most likely vote out the government because of its apparent mishandling of the economy.

The Coalition has spent the past few years criticising government ‘debt and deficit,’ yet has put forward a policy program that makes almost no effort to address this (which is not to say that it won’t make radical changes when in government).

The Coalition claims to be the economically responsible party, but when it finally released its ‘costings’ these consisted of a mere 8-page list of one-line policy costs, with no explanations or details. The press conference where the Coalition was to lay out the full extent of its economic plan lasted 22 minutes and was the most shameful spectacle of the campaign.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand why voters have deserted Labor. Australians elect leaders who can communicate a sense of stability, consistency and straightforward competence. Neither the Gillard nor Rudd government was able to project these things coherently, despite their substantial achievements.

It is clear, too, that Australians are voting to end the toxic politics of the past few years – even if the sense of chaos belonged as much to the efforts of the Opposition leader and the Murdoch press as it did to Labor.

Those voting for change will get it. The nature of that change may not be what they expect, but then again, it never is.

Buckle up, it’s going to be a rough ride.