Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Howard tries to buy votes instead of scaring them out of people...

The Howard government has changed its policy, previous elections they managed to come-up with some terrifying threats to our way of life - which only they can save us from, but all that seems to have changed, no more DIY WMD-kits in the hands of tyrannical dictators, no more hoards of filthy refugees in rusty boats coming to invade us, no longer are we encouraged to fear that every Arabic-looking guy with a beard is a terrorists... They seem to be going with the more conventional 'pork barrel' (so far).

In the last week we've had the populist promises of an overhaul to the ACCC to investigate petrol prices, and super-duper internet access for 98% of Australians. These are truly 'election year promises'. The chance of something real happening to improve petrol prices? ZERO. ... and you only had to see 'question time' in parliament where the opposition quizzed the government about the gap between 'theoretical speeds' for the internet technologies they plan to use, and the practical reality. No one living more than 3-4km from the phone exchange will get the internet connection that the government is promising, and what else is clear is that the government know this. It's currently a problem in suburban Australia, so the chance of these technologies working properly in a rural setting, where few people live under 5kms from the exchange, is again, ZERO.

Back in question time Senator Helen Coonan was sweating, as she tried to drag one after another embarrassing questions about the nature of the proposed internet infrastructure back to the findings of the carefully worded report that relied on 'theory', rather than the largely disappointing reality. The internet upgrade might have been something that the government would have been better keeping up their sleeve until a week or so before the election, as there's too much time for the public to get an explanation/understanding of why it won't work.

The petrol investigation powers for the ACCC is a far better hollow promise, it sounds like action, and maybe it will give the ACCC the power to prosecute rogues, but that won’t reduce the price of petrol. It is overwhelmingly composed of state and federal tax, and is set in parity with the price Singapore crude, regardless of whether is comes from Bass Strait or the middle-east. So the ACCC might bust a few independent service-station owners, up to no-good, and win a few votes for the federal government, from those who know no better, but not help the public with the burden of fuel costs in any way.

It’s a good thing Mr Howard’s going into ‘involuntary retirement’, later this year.

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