The wonderful thing about Australian politics is the rarity of the third and fourth-term government. It is pretty much understood that, whilst it is usually pretty easy to grab that first and second term, without major changes (ie of leader, of cabinet, of direction, or of opposition), a third term is difficult — and a fourth practically impossible to achieve. This trend, however, has also made governments a little complacent about the consequences of their policies beyond about 8 years.
It is in this context that I sit — revelling in the imploding of the housing market bubble, the inevitability of the 7-year-business-cycle-that-has-somehow-been-avoided, the non-core promises, and, most of all, the whining of the mullet majority about how Honest John let them down. Shock horror surprise!
John “teflon” Howard inherited an economy that was destined for ‘boom’ after the infamous 90’s recession. Good wages, good investment in services, as well as a refocus into South East Asia meant that Australia was put into a good position by the Hawke/Keating government. Growth was inevitable. But, John Howard reaped the benefits, citing his cutbacks on Medicare, Higher Education and industrial deregulation as the cause. What he effectively did was erode the systems that are in place to protect people from the harshness of the business cycle.
Now, however, with a fourth term under way, and the economic realities of the Liberals’ cutbacks hitting middle Australia, I have to admit that I am feeling at least a little bit of “I told you so” coming on. The Liberals won a fourth term. The Senate has been rendered useless. The cutbacks and compromises are continuing, and yet I feel strangely optimistic. Not because Tony Abbott has egg on his face for the second time in a month, but because now, after stealing the ALP’s economic boom, and mollycoddling the market and preventing the inevitable for 5 years, we are going to see a recession.
And, with cutbacks to every possible area of public spending, and industrial deregulation (and no unions), more people will get fired than ever before, and they won’t be able to access any payments. And god forbid if they are unfairly dismissed — they’ll have no recourse. John Howard is going to have to lay in the pile of shit he has created — and he’ll have to take responsibility, because the ALP haven’t been in power for 9 years.