“Homes under hammer to clear backlog” reports Kevin Andrusiak for The Oz. It seems Melburnians were more focused on buying and selling real estate than fulfilling their democratic duty.

“The last weekend of spring saw a rush to clean up the home auction backlog across the country with about 1000 homes going under the hammer.

“Weekend auction clearance rates nationwide came in at 61%, with the best results recorded in the flat Melbourne market, according to Australian Property Monitors statistics”. Gold members may access Henry’s popular property page here.

We congratulate Steve Bracks and his team for a fine win in the Victorian election. Former Liberal leader Robert Doyle said on election night it might not be 2010 but rather 2014 before the Libs are back in power in Victoria. (Or was it just “having a realistic chance to win”?)

Why is Labor so dominant in the states but so weak in Federal politics? This is a subject we tackled earlier this year.

Our conclusions were as follows:

Australia is a small place and there are plenty of exciting jobs in business, medicine, the law, academia, even the public service. Henry’s hypothesis is that there are a strictly limited number of talented women and men who are prepared to go into politics. It requires a team of talented candidates to win elections. Any party that captures the high ground of Federal or State politics does so only when it assembles such a team, including a highly talented leader.

“While the dominant hierarchy remains vital, Opposition looks unpromising and men and women of talent tend to look for other opportunities. If the Coalition looks dominant Federally, the best Labor people gravitate to the State Parliaments, and vice versa. This tendency will be greatly exaggerated if, as in Australia at present, Federal Labor operates a closed shop of former union mates and members of the great Labor families.

Over time, however, any dominant hierarchy tends to recruit more and more in its own image and what eventually follows is the Law of Diminishing Disciples. Think Menzies, Holt, Gorton and, finally, McMahon. When the dominant hierarchy begins to crumble, Opposition looks increasingly promising and able people will switch their focus until, finally, there is a change of government.

I see this process occurring in opposite ways in both Federal and State Parliaments in Australia, creating what might be called “the great political seesaw”, after the title of the book by Geoffrey Blainey. No doubt somewhere out there is a researcher who has already promulgated this law or soon will do so. We’d certainly encourage Australia’s political scientists to let us know where they stand on this one.

More reading at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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