We have begun what looks like being the most stupid election campaign in many decades so it is worth remembering there is some good news.
Recently there was an excellent Dick Smith narrated documentary on energy shown on ABC TV. After simply but clearly spelling out the problems and most of the options for the future it had the courage to say we, as citizens of Australia, would have to make some hard choices. It did not hide from the importance of the nuclear option.
Dick Smith has provided substantial funding for the Stable Population Party, and as far as I know he still does. Now he is across the energy issues. Maybe when the dust of this election clears he will contribute to a more broadly based realist party prepared to show leadership across range of serious issues confronting us. There will hopefully be other informed and able people ready to move beyond the old left and right wing structures.
Meanwhile there will be some progress whoever wins in September. The NBN will be built, at least to the node, and be available for those who want it. Future governments will have the option of expansion.
Either party will act to solve the problem of uninvited migration to Australia. Without government action the number of people coming to Australia will be limited only by the number of boats available as more problems erupt in the grossly overpopulated nations of south and west Asia and Africa. It is now clear to everyone but The Greens that the Australian people want our government to decide who and how many people come to live here, not people smugglers.
The power of union officials will again recede, more dramatically under the Coalition but even under Rudd. Australia already has more self-employed workers than union members. Liberal dominance of State Governments, the loss of Gillard's Prime Ministerial patronage and the continued diversification of employment will see union membership decline towards 10% of the workforce.
Now that the boom in mine development is over there will be increased pressure on any government to adapt to reality rather than just throw money at swinging voters. Both sides talk about making transitions without understanding the scale or scope of the shifts that are required but at least they are getting into the right mindset. "Reform" is over. "Transition" is what its all about for the next few decades.
Unlike most of the rest of the world Australia will have enough money to maintain living standards while making serious changes to the economy, society and the role of government. If population growth is slowed so we don't have to fund expansion while funding transition it will all be even easier.
Both sides are now committed to increased funding of primary and secondary education. The actual result will be less than optimal but at least we can move beyond the delusion that setting up a web site comparing school performances is a 'reform'. Encouraging parents to abuse teachers as the key to improving their performance was beyond silly.
There is less hope for increased university funding but at least there are moves to reduce the numbers of inappropriate people wasting theirs, taxpayers and other students' time and money. Hopefully either party will stop people pretending to study for a degree before dropping out with nothing to show for key years in their lives but a HECS debt.
The quality of debate may even improve as the fading of mass media and growth of access to realist information creates new political pressures for change. This includes the huge number of well-researched books that are produced, with the key points quickly and widely disseminated by commentators and bloggers.
In a different vein there is a lot of entertainment to look forward to after the election. If Kevin wins the ALP will have to figure put how to contain his god-like genius. If he loses they will have to decide what to do with him. Could they really stand him through three years of opposition?
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