Crikey just keeps on receiving anti-Natasha material from disaffected Dems and they certainly do make some good points.

The ADEN (Adult Democrat Email Network) has been fairly quiet in recent weeks with most comment about the Dems low – very low – media profile. ADENers are not the only concerned ones. This little bit sneaked across, apparently, from ADnet. (The ADnet, in case you’ve forgotten, is a forum for the intellectually stunted, the bitter and twisted, the politically ambitious and the monumentally naive.)

The ADnet railed long and hard to instal Stott Despoja but even these gentlefolk are beginning to see the light. I cut and paste one such comment below:

“Is it just me or has anyone else noted that when the television media is looking for a comment outside the big two parties, it is increasingly Bob Brown’s face that appears?

Where is Natasha or anyone else from the Democrats? Does Bob have a secret media deal, particularly with the ABC? How do we get one for Natasha?

No wonder the Greens are more prominent in the public mind – they are far more prominant in the public eye! We already have to deal with the fact that some sections of the public are uncomfortable with our relatively young, female, blonde leader – but obviously even good looks can’t get her a gig on the news!

As the “third force” in Australian politics, NSD should be quoted on every news story – do we have a media department?”

Stott Despoja has been away from Parliament on sick leave according to the Canberra ADENers. They have been told it’s the flu but some others are not so sure that it is the flu. Others again are saying that with Stott Despoja away it’s the best week the party room has had since the leadership change – even though the party has had zero media attention.

Stott Despoja was elected by the members on the basis that she would attract vast amounts of media attention but it’s not happening. There has been much grizzling on the ADEN that the Democrats don’t even rate a one-line mention in the stories of the day – GG, Heffernan, economics etc etc. One of the Canberra ADENERS reminded us that when Lees was leader with the Treasury portfolio and John Cherry was economics adviser, the Dems had something to say on every economic issue. The capacity and the willingness to deal with the hard issues, like economics and IR, gained the Dems great credibility in the Parliament and out in the business community. Now, it’s all gone. Some wit suggested that Cherry was much more effective as a key staffer than as a senator.

Apparently the (snail-mail) petition to spill the leadership is still doing the rounds. I still haven’t seen it.

The following is a piece which appeared on the ADEN just now taken from Meg Lees’ newsletter to members. It talks about the GST and Lees defends her actions. as you might expect. The really interesting bit is the last paragraph – as are some of the comments of the Labor Premiers who, in keeping with the ALP tradition, are the masters of hypocrisy regarding tax reform. Della Bosca, come home. All is forgive.

“Tax Reform

As we approach the second anniversary of tax reform and the party faces an important strategic review process, some comments from outside the party on the GST are appropriate. Due to the major role I played in Tax Reform I have been following its progress.

A report released by the National Audit Office in March showed that tax reform will drag in even more money from the black economy than the $3.5 billion originally estimated. The report showed an increase in revenue of 20% over the previous year, which was 5% higher than the Tax Office expected, and that ABN registrations were at 3.5 million by 2001 – 1.4 million more than expected. In other words we have seen 1.4 million more businesses register for tax purposes than the tax office knew about, or expected to find.

In addition, state premiers have started detailing how they will invest their GST revenue. We recommended at the time of our negotiations with the Government that the extra revenue should be spent on services and this is what announcements so far indicate they will do.

Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, announced in March that “The growth funding returning to the State Government as a result of the GST will be largely invested in the education of our children and young people.” He went on to say “I have committed extra money to Information and Communication Technologies in schools – beginning with $23 million in 2002-03 and rising to $35 million on an on-going annual basis from 2003-04 onwards. Our trial of a full time prep year in 50 locations over two years will cost $12.5 million, and we have budgeted for this. If the trial succeeds, 05we would be looking at an investment of about $100 million.”

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has also stated he will be spending the GST revenue on health, education and police. He said in an interview “, 05a growth tax based on consumption will give us the ability to match our services with a revenue base which is growing also.”

As I have regularly said, Australia needed tax reform. The old system was holding back our economy by taxing our exports and it had proved incapable of adequately funding basic services that people demand, such as education and health. The shortage of money could no longer be covered with asset sales (we have almost sold everything off!) or by running up more debts.

The package we signed off on also ensured an increase of $1 billion per year in environment programs, with tough new fuel emission standards, incentives for renewable and cleaner fuels and grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Democrats are interested in solutions and in the future – particularly for people on low incomes and our environment. Highlighting problems and blaming someone else for them might attract votes in the short term, but nothing will ever replace the hard and often thankless work of finding real solutions and implementing them.”

Meg Lees

CRIKEY: Now we are no Meg Lees fans here at Crikey, it appears that her supporters just like sending material through to us. If any Natasha fan wants to dump all over Meg’s record and talk up the leader then we’ll happily give it a run.

Peter Fray

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