With Morris Iemma looking good – or at least likely to win this Saturday – and Kevin Rudd soaring in the polls, will every Australian government be from just the one party for the first time since 1969 by the end of the year?
George Megalogenis does some thinking out aloud about the prospect in The Australian today:
Howard has two cards left to play: the economy and the risk of a Labor hegemony. But Rudd will seek to counter this by campaigning as a federalist. Wall-to-wall Labor governments, he will argue, are the nation’s best chance in a century to address the policies that fall between the federal and state spheres – health, education and the environment.
Well, we discussed the federalist angles – and how Rudd might also turn them into an economic plus – last week.
And Mega doesn’t mention an audacious third trick Howard can play, how he could place the Labor hegemony and economic cards on the table at the same time.
We all remember how the GST almost cost John Howard government in 1998. We all remember what it did for the Democrats after they passed it into law in 1999. But we seem to have forgotten what would be needed to raise its rate.
The GST current stands at 10%. To increase that, it would need the support of the Commonwealth, every state and every territory government. All of them could be Labor by the year’s end, and all of them could… well, you get the drift.
The Government’s already laid the ground for such an attack. The feds lay into the states all the time for crying poor while they’re flush with GST funds. The feds accuse the states of not doing their bit for economic management and failing to fund health, education, and infrastructure properly.
Could John Howard really turn the GST against Labor? Well, they don’t can’t him the Rodent for nothing.