Political correspondent Christian Kerr writes:


Now for some housing policy alternatives?




There were plenty of chuckles yesterday after theTelegraphreported that Kim Beazley can’t afford to buy a Sydney home.

“Mr
Beazley said the experience of trying to find a property had left him
sympathetic towards Sydneysiders trying to enter the property market,”
the Telegraph reported. “I have a real understanding of how
difficult it is for people in Sydney in finding affordable
accommodation to rent or buy,” it quoted him as saying. “As Opposition
Leader, Mr Beazley earns $197,524 a year,” it also mentioned.

That’s
not a bad position to be in. What about everyone else? Given that
Beazley has first-hand experience of the housing squeeze, when are we
going to see some alternative policies? Beazley’s been very quiet over
the last week or so, but know we must surely be about to learn how
Labor is going to deal with the housing bubble. Or will details pop the
small target strategy?


Democracy comes to WA

One vote,
one value laws passed the Western Australian Parliament on Friday. Finally,
Sandgropers will have an electoral system where Lower House seats have similar
numbers of voters. Six seats will be removed from regional areas and eight added
to the city, but seven sparsely populated regional electorates will be
quarantined.

Electoral affairs minister Jim McGinty declared it a “truly
great day for democracy” in WA. “We’re now with the rest of Australia, with
every citizen having an equal say in electing their government,” he said. Sorta,
Jim. Sorta. It still seems that some Western Australians are more important than
others. The malapportionment cuts both ways, after all.

It seems to have
cut deeper into the conservative vote, however. The Coalition has consistently
derided the idea of one vote, one value as Chartist nonsense. Opposition
electoral affairs spokesman Norman Moore says country people will suffer under
the changes because the parties will now focus more on city areas. “The Liberal
Party now has to work out how it’s going to win more seats in the city, if it’s
ever going to win government again and the tragedy of that is it’s going to make
it more city-centric,” he said. “The country areas, which even now under the
current system don’t think they get a fair go are going to be even further
ignored.”

Er, Norm, mate, isn’t our system of government called
“representative democracy”? And your first comments are a little blunt. ““The
Liberal Party now has to work out how it’s going to win more seats in the city,
if it’s ever going to win government again.” Er, yes – because that’s where
people live. And that’s your problem.


Pollies’ cars – the final word

OK, so it’s
not in the essential swearing dictionary, Roger’s Profanisaurus, or in the OED, but we’ve been
referred to authorities
that convince us that Pajero does indeed have a double meaning, in Catalonian
dialect as well as Latin American slang. And lots of parliamentarians have been
nominated as Pajeros, not just Pajero drivers.

So here’s our final “what
does your politics say about the sort of car you’d drive” wrap:

• Howard:
Camry V6 – solid and reliable but a bit boring. It can be a bit expensive in
town running (or the lead-up to an election).

• Beazley: Falcon sedan –
solid and usually reliable, however at times it can be a lemon with not enough
homework involved in its building.

• The Nationals: Land Cruiser
travelling exclusively in the city – a bloody nuisance.

• The Greens:
Daihatsu Sirion travelling in the fast lane of a freeway – courting disaster as
well as being a bigger nuisance.

• The Democrats: Holden Kingswood about
to go to the wreckers, all clapped out and unwanted.

But before we end
this debate we’d better acknowledge this comment from a subscriber: “John Howard
doesn’t match any car. Isn’t that why he has to walk to shops every morning?”


God on their side

While the media has been full of Liberal leadership
speculation, there’s also been some interesting positioning on the opposition
benches. Family First Senator Steve Fielding takes his seat on 1 July, and a
number of Labor wannabes want to get God on their side.

Self-described
“Christian socialist” Kevin Rudd appeared on the ABC’s religious affairs program
Compasslast night, talking
up his credentials with Geraldine Doogue. And we’ve seen the single and
childless Julia Gillard at the National Press Club doing a tag team with
Virginia Haussegger on family issues. The former Slater and Gordon lawyer also
turned up on Compass, as did Labor’s Faith, Politics and Values working
group, which is trying to court Family First.

Are things really so bleak
for Labor that its next generation of leaders think their only chance of
reclaiming government is through divine intervention?

Peter Fray

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