|Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison|
The middle-aged, middle-class guy at right, replaces the middle-aged middle-class (but rich) guy at left. Scott Morrison (aka "ScoMo") replaces Malcolm Turnbull (not aka “MaTu”) as Australia's Prime Minister, as of yesterday afternoon. Both are of the same Party: it was an internal spill, a night of the long knives, Canberra style. (ScoMo says he's the "new generation" of LNP. Hardly....).
Will it make any difference? In a word, No.
Not just within the Liberal-National Party coalition they both represent. Little in policy will change.
But even as between the LNP and their opposition the Labor Party there's little difference.
Because the LNP is Centre Right and the Labor Party is Centre Left.
The key there is "Centre".
A Venn diagram of LNP and Labor has a BIG bit in the Centre. The common area between them is very large indeed, much more so than the common areas between Republican and Democrat in America or Conservative and Labour in the U.K.
Even in the economy, the area that most voters care most about, the record between the two is remarkably similar.
I've looked at post-War economic performance. There's little to separate them. The LNP is slightly in front with an average GNP growth of 3.5%, with Labor's average performance is 3.1%. That's the overall percentage GNP growth they have achieved in all their times in office.
|Spot the difference? 1961- 2016 annual GDP average growth. World Bank|
|No matter how you cut it, Australia's economic performance post-war is|
pretty much a wash as between the LNP and Labor. We can compare against the World,
OECD or the US, they all show that we tend to follow world trends. World Bank figures
Subsections of economic growth are also close: in workforce policies, employment outcomes, taxation, monetary policies; in all of these areas the post-war performance of the two parties is almost indistinguishable.
So what of other areas, such as social,
Medical, educational, climate change?
The differences are more in nuance than real substance. Even in the most contentious area of all — climate change policies, which arguably are what precipitated the latest leadership spill — the differences are the speed with which each plans to handle a shift to renewables. It's no longer about whether or not climate change is real. And I'd argue that even the speed doesn't matter. Because Australia's absolute emissions are tiny in the world context (high per capita, but only 1.5% of world total), which means that even if the more aggressive goals of the Labor party are reached the effect in world climate — and hence Australia — will be insignificant.
Education, Health Care, taxation: all these areas generate a lot of heat in the moment. But stand back and see that it's all sound and fury signifying very little difference.
And let's not forget that the most recent "progressive" social policy, same sex marriage, was passed by the conservative side of politics: Malcolm's LNP, just this year. And other key policies have been promoted or opposed at various times, only to be accepted when in power. Examples include Medicare, the GSP and recent tax cuts (which Labor won't scrap, despite furious objection to them when they were debated). We can see that the robust to and fro leads to policies that are often better balanced and acceptable to all concerned, rather than being foisted on the populace from one or another party.
To be celebrated
This is not something to be ashamed about. It's more to be celebrated. It shows that Australians by and large share a lot more than they differ on.
A country doesn't perform as well as Australia has done post-war, with a peaceful, peaceable, diverse population, unless it's got a lot of the settings right. And unless it has working civil and government organisations that proceed no matter who's at the top.