Airport Reading

Crikey Election Guide
Crikey Election Guide

For my recent trip north I bought two books at the airport; one going up and one going down. As I’m quite interested in politics, especially the electoral process, on the way up north I settled on “The Crikey Guide to the 2007 Election”. Although I found much of the book went through material I was already familiar with, there were two interesting sections: one dealing with the press gallery, the other focussing on who would or wouldn’t win the forthcoming election based on historical precedents.

I found the part about the press-gallery particularly interesting. Most memorable was the quote attributed to Walter Cronkite (I think it was) that Australia had “too many reporters and not enough news”. As the book was written by a number of people, with Christian Kerr the editor, I’m unsure who wrote the chapter about the gallery, but it was particularly scathing. I suspect it was probably Mungo McCallum who observed the most senior members of the gallery spend much of their time analysing and talking on radio and television to each other, leaving the more junior members of the gallery to actually ask the questions, and thereby abrogating both their responsibility and experience.

When the book was written (which I guess was about March-May), editor, Christian Kerr was of the firm belief the Liberal Party would be re-elected. History was on the side of the Government, he argued, for two reasons. First, when Australians change federal governments they usually do it in a convincing manner (49, 72, 75/77, 83 and 96). At the time of writing, the polls indicated the best Labor could hope for was getting “just over the line” which Kerr argued wouldn’t be enough, And second, history shows most Australians make up their minds several months before the election, with only a small number making their decision during the campaign or on polling day. Both, he argued were reasons why the Liberal Party would be re-elected, though several months down the track, it could be argued they’re precisely the reasons why the Labor Party could be elected before Christmas.

The other book I read up north was “Advance Australia Where?” by social commentator, Hugh Mackay. The main theme for this work was his theory to explain the level of disengagement from “the big picture” which has occured in Australia over the last decade or so. As “the big picture” became too complex to consider (or to find solutions), Mackay argues the nation retreated into home renovation and other similar “distractions”. Mackay argues there is evidence of a mood for change.

Perhaps both books were saying something similar?

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