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Archive for June, 2009

The big issue in education at the moment is the push by State and Federal Governments to publish schools’ test results data – a move that could lead to the creation of league tables. League tables are a list of schools ranked in terms of their average numeracy and literacy test scores.

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The events of the last couple of days have highlighted some of the quirks of a proportional system of electing member’s of parliament, particularly when the threshold for election is particularly low, as it is in NSW.

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Now that the dust has settled on the events of yesterday morning let’s take a look at the aftermath.

It’s pretty clear that the impromptu suspension of Parliament wasn’t planned, and only occurred because the Government realised it was going to lose several key votes.

According to Minister Tony Kelly:

We had no choice; we had lost control of the house.

The Government clearly wasn’t expecting The Shooters to carry out their bluff and vote against the privatisation of NSW Lotteries, but after losing several votes and motions they weren’t taking any chances. They were worried that an inquiry would be set up – delaying the privatisation by up to a year. The Coalition is alleging that the real reason for the suspension was related to an upcoming motion forcing the Government to release documents relating to the case of the sacked minister Tony Stewart.

The Government isn’t wasting this opportunity and is already negotiating with The Shooters to get them back on side. There are suggestions that Labor will again do a deal with The Shooters, this time on their hunting bill, to ensure their support in the upper house. This ties in with my other post yesterday where I argued against the notion that Labor was shifting away from the Christian Democrats and The Shooters.

This was one case where I would have been happy to be proven wrong.

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Alex Mitchell in today’s Crikey was also reporting on the shenanigans in Parliament that I wrote about here. The interesting part of the article is towards the end, where Mitchell suggests a changing political dynamic in NSW.

Having spent the past 15 years relying on the votes of far right elements like Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats and the Shooters, Labor is undertaking a political realignment with the Greens who hold a power-broking four seats.

This change is both pragmatic and smart. It is the only way the Government can unfold its legislative program with any degree of certainty and it will create better conditions to reach a preference agreement with the Greens — currently polling a very healthy 14 per cent — for the next state election on March 26, 2011.

The nasty personal abuse of the Greens which became a feature of the upper house when Michael Costa was Treasurer has ended and so has Labor Ministers’ disgraceful tolerance of Fred Nile and his religious, ethnic and gender phobias.

Rees, Tebbutt and the premier’s chief of staff Graham Wedderburn are steering Labor in another political and electoral direction.

I disagree with a number of these points, mainly because I think the evidence contradicts Mitchell’s argument.

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Today was supposed to be the last sitting day before the winter break. There were quite a few bills that Labor was hoping would passed by the end of the week. While nothing revolutionary was on the table, a couple of bills remain controversial and were giving the Government a headache. Primary among those were the two pieces of legislation allowing for the creation of school league tables and the privatisation of NSW Lotteries.

But early this morning normal parliamentary operating procedures disintegrated.

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Call of the day

Labor MLC Amanda Fazio today in Parliament accusing The Greens and the Liberals of having “no idea” about public transport and planning was funny enough given Labor’s track record but she managed to outdo herself immediately afterwards.

During a debate over a motion calling on the Government to reinstate a bus service from Elizabeth Bay to Circular Quay, Fazio declared:

Anyone who can afford to buy a ticket to the Opera House can afford to get a taxi to Elizabeth Bay.

It’s been apparent that the Government has had this sort of medieval attitude towards public transport for a while, but it’s always nice to get confirmation.

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First up, an apology for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy and I got far too distracted by the “utegate” shenanigans. I have quite a few posts lined up and I’ll be getting to work on my history and background of NSW politics so be sure to visit often.

Now to the poll.

Published in The Australian today, Newspoll has Labor’s primary vote down two points to 31 per cent, the Coalition up one point to 41 per cent for a two party preferred figure of 55-45.

Nathan Rees’ satisfaction rating has dropped four points to 30 per cent and his dissatisfaction is up three to 49 per cent. Barry O’Farrell’s satisfaction and dissatisfaction are both on 34 per cent.

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