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Clive’s budget? The rise of anti-establishment politics

June 10, 2014

I’ve been a neglectful, lazy blogger.

But my readers, here for your political commentary pleasure (only one tardy week after it was first published on Overland) is a piece I co-wrote with Joel Pringle (you can find Joel’s blog here). It is our reflection on the aftermath of a disastrous Federal Budget and what this reveals about Clive, the Left and the continuing rise of anti-establishment politics.

Here’s an extract.


Perhaps the biggest winner in the recent federal budget was Clive Palmer. The billionaire seems to be the sole agent able to tap in to the popular opposition to a budget maligned not only by the communities hit by cuts, but also by the technocrats and business lobbies that the Coalition might have relied on for support.

As flawed economically and politically as this budget has been, it would be a mistake to assume that the space Palmer has managed to occupy was created by this government alone. Incompetence has certainly helped but the government’s inability to sell the budget stems from the same pressures that saw a leader as unpopular as Tony Abbott able to lead the Coalition to victory, and, at a state level, two first-term premiers and a chief minister deposed by colleagues over the last year.

The government’s short-term problem is the budget, but longer term it is relevance.

A weak budget from a weak polity

If the point of democracy is to give expression to the will of the people, and the goal of leadership to bring the community along when making unpopular but ultimately wise decisions, then this budget has spectacularly failed on both counts.

The budget represents overreach from a government still coming to terms with its own unpopularity and struggling to assert authority. As other countries struggle in the aftermath of austerity economics, the Abbott government has embarked on dismantling the welfare state but without even a semblance of the technocratic cover provided elsewhere.

You can read the rest of the article here. If you like this, I’ll try to write more in the coming weeks and months.

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