Saturday, November 24, 2007

Aussie takes a step sideways

So it's Rudd. 6.3% swing to Labor, meaning Australia was sick of Howard and despite prosperity it was looking for something more. So what'll he do?
He'll take Australian troops out of Iraq - but then, Iraq seems to be improving in any case. No doubt this wont help Australia-US relations on trade of course.
He'll soften labour laws, increasing unemployment and reducing growth - but well Labor Parties typically don't represent working people, rather trade unionists.
He'll sign Kyoto, but not much will change. After all, Australia's per capita contribution of CO2 is largely because it has very energy intensive mining industries, and the transport costs across a vast low density country are high. Peter Garrett as environment minister ought to frighten a few though.
On the bright side, the loose wheel third party of Australian politics - the Democrats - have vanished from the Senate, though largely replaced by the Greens. However, even with the Greens and renegade independent Senator Xenophon, it is still a hung Senate between that lot, and the Liberal/National coalition, with a single Family First Senator. It wont be easy to force much change through the Senate.
So a slight swing to the left, and the new Labor cabinet will learn a lot from officials in the next few weeks - about what they can't really do, or about delaying things. No doubt Helen Clark will be cheering, although Rudd is probably more conservative than John Key!
Australians voted for a new Prime Minister, but they really didn't vote for new policies. So unless Rudd has some tricks up his sleeve, it's business as usual, by and large.

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