05/06/2007 - 22:00

The gloves are off

05/06/2007 - 22:00


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The looming federal election is dominating the mass media these days, and for good reason.

The looming federal election is dominating the mass media these days, and for good reason.

For the first time in a while, voters look like they are going to be presented with two clear choices.

On the key issues of climate change and industrial relations, Kevin Rudd’s Labor and John Howard’s government are poles apart, though less so than they were a few weeks ago.

Mr Howard is trying to narrow that gap as much as possible by launching a climate change policy and re-engineering his IR laws to make them more palatable.

Only time will tell if such moves have any effect on the ultimate poll, but there is a sense that these belated attempts to head off Mr Rudd are too little, too late.

By shifting ground on two key issues, the federal Liberal government may have given legitimacy to Mr Rudd’s appeal as a leader.

In both cases, there is an argument that the government could have done more some time ago to avoid this situation.

The IR legislation could have been softer in its original form and, like the GST, come with a tougher regulatory framework to ensure no-one abused it.

And climate change has been on the agenda for at least a decade. While the pace of change may be debated, few would have argued that something was going to have to give, in a practical and political sense, at some stage.

Normally, incumbency is a distinct advantage.

But when it comes to big issues like these, it can work against those in power.

Governments have massive resources at their disposal and, therefore, they ought to be able to read the tea leaves on an issue – not just polls, but scientific and geo-political data too – to allow them to make judicious decisions.

When they don’t make good decisions by either under reacting or overreacting to any set of circumstances then they risk being seen as bad leaders.

Of course, good leadership can also be about correcting a course of action when it is recognised as failing.

Whether the electorate will see recent policy changes by Mr Howard as responsive decision-making or desperate back-peddling is yet to be known.

Whatever the case, it promises to be a fascinating six months for political aficionados.


Don't diss the P76

It’s always interesting what little details attract attention.

My reference to the Leyland P76 elicited several comments, in jest of course. For those readers who took any offence (feigned or not) at my comparison of that particular vehicle with a sports stadium proposal, all I can say is that the market doomed the P76, not me.


Bypassed by the boom

It’s not often I select a small company to focus my attentions on but a recent change of director’s interest note drew my attention to something I wrote almost three years ago.

In late 2004, I made mention of a float of Australis Mining Corporation Ltd, noting the track record of some of the colourful people involved in the company, notably Elias Christianos.

Because the company was based in Sydney, I have to admit it’s been off my radar. But a recent director’s interest notice from Christianos-linked lawyer, Ted Tzovaras, briefly drew my gaze back to it.

I was not that surprised to see the company is something of a basket case, having been put in the hands of administrators in late 2005. Its shares have not traded for almost two years.  With the boom in progress, no doubt there’ll be more of these.


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