On voter sentiment

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Poll Bludger: Aussie public takes Left turn as US voters polarise“, yesterday. William Bowe made an interesting commentary on perceived partisanism in the US versus Australia, or may have been drawing a long bow? Pew does good work surveying and analysing opinion around the world and is often cited in The Economist, Time etc. The partisanism in the US is becoming more marked on both sides. The changes in congressmen’s voting patterns has become much more predictable and polarised. Obama as a Senator in Washington and Illinois for example had a near 100% voting the party line for example, which undermines his claims of moderation in a US setting.

William’s reference to changed tax attitudes using two point of 1993 and 2013 seems to miss a major explanation for the difference. Of late you may have noticed the very overblown reaction to a less than one cent a litre increase in fuel excise. Imagine if this was about 10-12 cents a litre in one hit? Well in 1993 Keating had promised tax cuts and no increases in indirect taxes and increased spending on other things. Well the subsequent budget that year involved the infamous scrapping of the “LAW” tax cuts, increases in all rates of Wholesale Sales Tax, cuts to various programs and to cap it off, a one-off five cents a litre increase in fuel excise (on top of the usual six monthly indexation of excise introduced by Keating as treasurer in 1983). That five cents amounts to about 12 cents a litre now for perspective. In addition there were no meaningful tax cuts or reductions in the previous decade.

The large 56-17 in favour of lower tax in 1993 is hardly surprising. Keating reached his nadir of public approval around then too. He had the worst negative net approval of any PM, -57% (18% approval, and 75% disapproval). People were very angry, and the figures indicate that many Labor voters were very angry too.

Judges of Hazzard

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Jobs for mates? Not quite” (yesterday). Your tip on judicial appointments in NSW is wide of the mark. Liberal Attorney-General Brad Hazzard’s appointment of his Labor predecessor, John Hatzistergos, didn’t come out of the blue. Back in June, the Baird government commissioned Hatzistergos to review the Bail Act. As for Greg Keating being reappointed President of the Workers Compensation Commission, his credentials are impeccable. The fact that he is Paul Keating’s brother doesn’t make him a “former political foe”. In any case, if Hazzard really didn’t have the support of his colleagues, he’d be dumped.

The real plum jobs are diplomatic posts, but they’re not necessary jobs for ruling party girls and boys. Kevin Rudd handed out ambassadorships to former opponents, Amanda Vanstone, Tim Fischer, and Brendan Nelson. Abbott has renewed Kim Beazley’s Washington posting. Cynics might say this is in hope the other side will return the favour. Regardless, it is definitely a current practice. The eyebrows raised in Sydney legal circles can relax. The judges of Hazzard have created no new precedent.

Why cinemas should take their cue from airlines

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Discount tickets won’t save Aussie cinema — try innovation” (yesterday). Discount film tickets might not be the saviour of Aussie films at the cinema, but using price creatively could result in cinemas being full more often. Yield management of airline tickets has resulted in planes being full, prices cheaper for consumers and (before the capacity war) better profits for airlines. The same could be true of cinemas. Why not show a less known film at a less popular time at a cheaper price?

Doing the maths to save the Palais

Rob Gerrand writes: Re. “Tex Perkins belongs on your iTunes, not your ballot” (Tuesday). The Palais is the responsibility of the City of Port Phillip, and it has decided to contribute $7.5 million of the estimated $32.5 million required to restore it. Why doesn’t the council borrow the remaining $25 million? Simple maths show that, at 5%, the interest on such a loan would be $1.25 million a year, which is about $25,000 a week.

The interest bill would work out at roughly $3 a ticket for three shows a week (there are 2700 seats). So a way to pay for the restoration is to levy an extra $3 a ticket for all shows.  What patron wouldn’t be willing to pay that, to ensure the beauty of the Palais is fully restored?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey