Government’s future bleak

THE Federal and WA coalition governments face a very real threat of losing office in the next round of elections, says Curtin University professor David Black.

Professor Black told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia 2000 Overview the Federal, State and Territory governments could all boast relatively good economies.

“Australia came through the Asian meltdown extraordinarily well. All figures, bar the current account deficit, are good.

“There is a good flow of revenue for the national government and in WA the prospects look extra good.

“Yet the Federal Government is miles behind in the polls.

“There are tough times ahead for Australian governments as they try to correlate what the economy is doing with what the electorate might do.

“The signs are not easy for political parties to read. Every government going to the polls will be holding its breath.

“The Court Government has real problems because WA Inc. is no longer an issue.”

Professor Black said 1999 had been an extraordinary year politically.

“We had the Republican sideshow which showed there is a whole electorate out there that responds negatively to change,” he said.

“There are three key words that will affect what is to come – economy, taxation and privatisation.

“In terms of the economy what is treated as good news and what as bad news is tangled together.

“But the state of the economy does not have a clear relation

to who wins the election. The economic realities stand firm no matter who’s in government.”

Professor Black said any further privatisation by State and Federal governments needed a lot of thought and care.

He pointed to the role that privatisation played in the fall of the Kennett Government in the recent Victorian state election.

“There is a clear message from the electorate. Every party pushing privatisation has lost,” Professor Black said.

“The difficult thing is that governments need the money from privatisation.

“I think the Court Government is playing a fine game by extolling the benefits of selling AlintaGas while assuring everyone it won’t sell much else.”

Professor Black said the WA election could be very dangerous for the Court Government.

He said Labor needed a ten seat swing which was looking more possible than previously.

“My suspicion is the Rural Forestry Agreement will bite in both South West and urban seats,” Professor Black said.

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