The disillusioned going Green. The Labor Government in the Australian Capital Territory looks set later this month to take a similar thumping to its colleagues in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence about voter unhappiness with Chief Minister John Stanhope and his team but the Canberra Times at the weekend provided some more substantial evidence.

A poll of 1200 voters in the three electorates conducted by Patterson Market Research put the Labor vote in Ginninderra at 34% — down from 50.1% at the last election. The decline in Mololnglo was to 33% (from 45.3%) and in Brindabella to 37% (FROM 45.7%). The surprising finding was that the Liberal Party has not benefited from the decline with the Patterson assessment being that while it is up a marginal 1.6 per centage points to 34% in Ginninderra it has actually fallen 3.6 points to 29% in Molonglo and by 2.4 points to 38% in Brindabella.

Almost all Labor’s losses have gone to the ACT Greens who are now highly likely to hold at least three, probably four and perhaps even five of the 17 seats in the ACT Assembly. The best guess is that Labor will end up in some kind of coalition arrangement with the Greens.

The fragile Chinese salvation. It has become an article of faith for Australian politicians that those wonderful people the Chinese will be the ones to save us from the full horrors of the world’s financial meltdown. Which is what makes this story from the Indian daily Business Standard more than a little frightening:

The Indians are sensitive to this London Baltic Dry Index because of the country’s considerable involvement in the world’s bulk tanker trade. So if they are getting worried that China’s demand for commodities may be cooling then if I was the Australian Government I would be at least a little edgy.

Lock ’em up for longer. The New Zealand election campaign has begun in orthodox fashion, the first weekend of the campaign proper is all it took for the conservative National Party to emerge with a law-and-order policy which would make life sentences mean life and limiting the right to be released on bail.

The governing Labor Party is starting a long way in arrears. The TVNZ Colmar Poll puts the Nationals on 54% of the vote, Labor 33%, the Greens 7%, the Maori Party 2.5% and NZ First 2%.

The wrong kind of foreign policy crisis. Experience in international affairs was supposed to be the strong point for Republican candidate Senator John McCain, but the current upheaval in world affairs is hardly working to his advantage. Rupturing the economies of the world is making the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan look like mere minor inconveniences and the moral leadership of the United States is taking a huge battering. It is hard to conceive of the circumstances in which Americans would elect another representative of a Republican Party which has so mismanaged their country’s affairs but should they do so John McCain would find a downright hostile set of former allies.

The chances of that happening are looking more and more remote with the markets at Betfair and the Iowa University business school now both having Barack Obama as a 74% chance of winning.

Peter Fray

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