It's been an odd couple of weeks of campaigning, with the elephant in the corner of the room that is logging of old growth forests remaining uncommented upon... until now. Both major parties were keen to wait for the other to go first in the launch of their policy on logging and old growth forests, and it was the ALP which went first with their announcement on Monday. Gut instinct says that the policy is a good one, reasonably balanced between the interests of all stakeholders and in the national interest. Of course, given that it was good POLICY, it was unfornuately poor POLITICS.

Latham copped a battering from all sides over the policy:
- The greenies (small g) were critical that the policy, arguing that it was not absolute and immediate in its ending of the logging of old growth forests.
- The unionists were critical that jobs would be lost and that workers would be the losers. The CFMEU even came out and suggested that its members vote Liberal to protect forestry jobs. Good work lads.
- The Murdoch pressed caned it, with the major papers critical of Latham's supposed cave in to the green lobby. Given the anti-Latham feeling within the Murdoch papers, Latham was on a hiding to nothing with this one.
- The Tassie state government are fuming that its interests have been sold out for those damn greenie mainlanders.

Politically, the policy will cost Latham seats. The Tasmanian seats of Bass (marginal) and Braddon (not so marginal) are looking very precarious and will probably fall to the Liberals if it opts for a more industry-friendly forestry policy. On the mainland, where the move is supposed to sure up Labor seats which were supposedly in danger of falling to the Greens, it may shift a few primary votes from the Greens to the ALP, but given that these votes would have flowed to Labor after preferences anyhow, the political gain is an illusion. Not one extra seat will be won by Labor because of the policy, but two (in Tassie) will probably be lost.

Mr Howard, time to come to the crease. These pace at one end, swing bowling at the other, and plenty of spin from both.


Anonymous said…
Yes, there are many things wrong with this picture:
- The CFMEU chumming up to the Coalition.
- The Tasmanian Labor premier and a Tasmanian federal Labor candidate campaigning against the Labor party (hardly risking their own seats of course).
- Mark Latham trying to win votes from the Greens (perhaps he’s trying to grab those rare Greens-1st, Liberals-2nd voters? Are there any?).
- Howard breaking a campaign promise within the same campaign.
- Murdoch papers...well...you know...in general.

Polly said…
Maybe Latham wants to dent the Greens primary votes in
Sydney and Melbourne so the come third instead of second, which will stop them getting up in these seats on Liberal preferences.

About the policy, though - it's not tactically smart.
I also don't see why they ened to allocate $800 million dollars to it - we're only talking about a couple of thousand jobs here. It may say sound harsh, but it just looks like more pork-barelling for Tasmania, I'm sure they don't need to spend anywhere near that much to stop old-growth logging, but maybe their hoping if they can gold-plate some of the roads down in Tassie (they've already got a telephone booth on top of Cradle Mountain), they'll keep their seats.

It doesn't do anything to address concerns about logging old-growth forests in East Gippsland either.

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