I was up this morning with the sun and was soon pounding the pavements of Tuross for a gentle 12.5km trot. There are several benefits to running apart from those relating to health. The runner’s high is not to be missed and, for the time one is running, the events of the rest of the world are as far away as you want. Which means a long way away …
I returned to find that the silliness continues. Or at least the silliness is threatening to continue. Two great events of significance have happened. The first, that is closer to home, is that there is to be a Federal election on 18 May 2019. And the second, which is further from home and arguably does not affect me (much), is that the date of Brexit has been pushed back to perhaps 31 October 2019. This is apparently enough time, I saw it pointed out, to hold a referendum (or presumably a general election). It also means that the UK has to participate in the coming European elections. This is by any measure a defeat for Theresa May who is a woman who is more like a robot that is driven by a tape that is on repeat than a human who has a capability for rational thought and reasoned argument.
But the question of rational thought and reasonable argument is one that might apply equally to that class of living beings that calls itself, and that we are pleased to refer to, as politicians. It is just possible that advancing age enables one to call out more readily some of the ridiculous assertions that our politicians make. One example relates to electric cars. In my long and chequered career as a management consultant I learned that there are two words that one should never use: one is “always” and the other is “never”. Having said that it is clear to anyone with more than one brain cell that the days of the fossil fuel powered vehicle are numbered. We will be driving electric vehicles (or EVs as they are now called) or hydrogen powered vehicles … or something else. But we will not be driving fossil fuel powered cars. That change, in my view, will reach some sort of cusp in about 2030 when we will also see a significant number of autonomous, i.e. driverless, cars. One way or another we will be changing the ways in which we get from A to B and, as with many things (and electricity supply is a good example) these things are likely to require some sort of constructive policy.
In their own sweet ways both the Coalition and Labor have made statements about EVs. Those statements are pretty similar yet the Coalition has decided that Labor’s approach will amount to a tax on utes. This is, to use a British expression, utter bollocks. Scott Morrison, was reported as saying in reference to the whole car thing, that Australians liked cars “with a bit of grunt”. In saying this he is demonstrating that he knows next to nothing about the potential for particular fuels to deliver “grunt”. An electric motor can deliver torque like you wouldn’t believe. Just upgrade your Tesla to Ludicrous mode and you can do 0 – 100kph in 2.5 seconds. That’s grunt … it’s just quiet grunt. I am not particularly picking on the Coalition here. They will not have a monopoly on silliness in the forthcoming election campaign.
What I do know is that the race will be tight and interesting; and it will be interesting because it will be tight. The Labor party is perhaps a racing certainty but the polls show that people don’t like Shorten. We could argue that you don’t need to like your Prime Minister, that you just need to be comfortable with their leadership qualities. On the other hand the Coalition has struggled to formulate a consistent policy on almost anything and, as a result, is now squirming on climate change. Politics and the way people express their desires in elections is changing all over what we like to call the free world. Populism is a reflection of the lack of trust we have in our politicians and a two-party system that hasn’t really served anyone very well, except perhaps the power-brokers in each party. Brexit is an example of a political question that has fractured both major parties in the UK, Conservatives and Labour alike. How each will recover, and indeed whether they will, is an open question. We should not suppose that we are immune from a Brexit-like conundrum. Perhaps ours is climate change where the trade-off between preventing the horrors of the Menindee fish kill on the one hand and the creation of jobs is a wicked problem that is almost certainly not capable of resolution through entrenched party-political argument.
One result of the failure of the major parties to represent people effectively, if at all, is the potential rise of the independents and smaller parties on the left, the right and the centre. I suspect that we shall see some interesting changes in voting where there is a strong independent candidate. The successes of the unfortunately named Shooter, Fishers and Farmers in the recent NSW election provides an example. I expect that Dutton will lose his seat, it’s a good possibility that Abbott will lose out to Zali Steggal and even Frydenberg looks like he may be in trouble. But there are a few weeks to go in which anything can happen and it’s certainly possible that Labor will squander their current lead in the polls. But it’s going to be painful as they all struggle to be all things to all people.