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An Issue Of Trust


People have to understand that this election outcome will not cripple a government that can sit down and talk. Not horse trade, but actual two-way dialogue. Question is who do the independents *TRUST* to do that. If the first week was any indication, then the Coalition did not do themselves any favors. Saying NO is not good negotiating policy especially now those you are dealing with understand that when you are forced to it, no really means yes. Anyone else remember the debates?

From what I saw and heard this week the situation is this. The independents sent a letter to both the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader. In this letter were several key points. Julia Gillard came back with a response to several key questions. But she did not fall to her knees and abject on every point. Far from it. She explained what she would like to happen, what she could make happen, and what she is making happen. She also was frank about her concerns.

In response to the same letter, Tony Abbott decided to show his version of negotiation: hardball. He agreed with the PM on her concerns and what she and he can and can not deliver under the protocol of caretaker government. However on the one issue that there were absolutely no constraints, that of costings, he refused. His press conference that afternoon turned on a dime as the journalists he was trying to explain his reasons to were far too educated in the workings of politics. In that first conference, he NEVER mentioned the Coalitions concern in regards to this ‘mysterious leaker’. Instead he replied that he was afraid that the Coalitions policies maybe ‘too complex’ for Treasury to understand. The howls of derision from the press including ‘What rubbish!’ and ‘Bullshit’ resulted in Tony Abbott retreating from the podium, tail between his legs.

You see, this is how government works in this country. On the morn after election, Treasury delivers to the party that forms government one of two books; one red for an ALP government and one blue for a Coalition government. In these books, Treasury outlines to the incoming government their assessment of the costs of the promises and the policies announced throughout the election. It does make it easier if the party submits its own costings figures ahead of time, but in their absence and based on the details of the announcement, all these figures are calculated and put in their respective books by Treasury.

Quite often the costings prepared by the government and released to the public is at odds with the figures assessed by Treasury. This is not in any way a problem or deception. Market figures change over time and what was announced and costed at the start of a campaign may no longer be accurate and more up to date figures needed. Because of the volatility of these figures, incoming governments do their best to try to hide these from the public.  The other important aspect is if an ALP government is elected, the blue book is destroyed and if a Coalition government is elected, the red book is destroyed. No nasty surprises.

The ALP believe they have done their homework on this issue and seemed to be unafraid that the Treasury assessment of their policies would match their own. However the Coalition is not so self-assured.  Howarths are NOT experts in costings budgets nor are aware or have any expertise in how to go about doing so. So they responded accordingly and denied the independents their request. The excuse touted that afternoon by Tony Abbott was seen as what it was, an excuse.

Saying that Treasury would find their policies too complex is moronic as it is the Treasury itself that will be implementing those policies! It was a bad move.

The next morning, the shift had moved from the too complex argument to the leak argument. Then to the defense of the Westminster system and then finally the next day to submission.

You see the one thing the Coalition is afraid of is who will get whiff of these figures? They definitely did not want their opponents to see it in case the outcome was damaging. But their greater fear was the public itself discovers the truth. Finally of course, both parties can not see the books if they do not form government. The independents have no such trouble as they will not be a part of a government in that they will not be voting with a tribe for no reason.

Appearing on television, Tony Abbott claimed victory and a win for the independents! He announced that he had forced the ALP to back down. He announced that neither his party or the ALP will receive the costings as neither had formed government and were not entitled to them.  The trick in this is, this is not in any way due to his doing as I already explained above. He also announced that he was asking for a briefing on the NBN and the mining tax. What is odd is why he did not ask for these BEFORE the election.

It seems his excuse to restrict the data from the ALP and ultimately the public was the major hurdle.  However, the Independents themselves can release the figures if they so wish and I assume the Coalition will do anything to prevent this. Anyone elses spider sense tingling?

This can not bode well. When a party firstly rebuffs the Independents request with a bold-faced lie originally,  then a convoluted pulp fiction spy story, and then finally outright accusations against the Department of Treasury itself, then how can it turn around and ask the Independents to trust it when it seems to not be able to trust itself?

A. Ghebranious

One Comment
  1. This entire saga frustrates me. Regardless of whether the coalition wins government or not, they must act with good faith and competence. For the sake of parliament, Australia requires this. This behaviour show neither.

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