Majority against minority 

POLITICIANS are a bit like sport stars at Christmas - they like to go into the festive season with a bit of momentum for the new year.

But momentum is all about perception. Is someone in form or just out of luck.

The federal and state elections in 2013 and 2014 will be won and lost largely on the perception of voters.

It was interesting to listen to Greens leader Nick McKim wax lyrical about the benefits of a minority government and how well it was working in Tasmania.

Perception shouldn't be confused with delusion.

The most annoying claim is that Tasmanians voted for minority government. No they didn't.

More than 80 per cent of Tasmanians voted for either the Labor or Liberal party candidates who unanimously promised that they would not do a power-grabbing deal with the Greens.

The Liberals kept that promise and Labor jumped under the doona.

The rhetoric from Premier Lara Giddings has been far different recently. She now talks about potentially shaping a government with whoever is elected by the voters, which is a far more honest position to take to the ballot box.

However, minority government is on the nose both in Tasmania and nationally. This week's Newspoll shows that only 13 per cent of voters think a minority government has been "better" for Australia and 47 per cent think it has been worse.

Effectively that would be the Greens vote, which has now slumped to 10 per cent nationally under Christine Milne, and a few others.

In Tasmania the figure would probably be similar despite the leaders involved talking it up at every chance.

That's because there is a clear perception that minority governments are mired in green tape and the evidence is clear.

Australia wasn't going to have a carbon tax under Julia Gillard until she relied on the Greens for electoral survival.

Our asylum seeker policy was mired in compromises that encouraged people smugglers.

Mind you, we can't blame the Greens for Wayne Swan's disappearing surplus - Mr Swan and Ms Gillard did that all by themselves.

Mr Swan has now delivered five budget deficits in a row. During the Keating- Hawke era, Labor delivered 10 deficit budgets out of 13.

There is a clear perception in Australia that Labor can't manage the economy - there is cold, hard evidence too.

Mr Swan has been aware of this financial mess for weeks and somehow thinks that by sneaking the news out under the veil of Christmas it won't register with voters.

Delusion can be contagious.

On April 14, 2011, Ms Gillard trumpeted: "You can't run this country if you can't manage its budget."

In Tasmania Labor is still trying to lock away forests to please the Greens and spends hours of parliamentary debate on same-sex marriage while the state grinds to a halt under the worst council planning laws in the country.

Perceptions are everything and both these Labor minority governments should be extremely nervous.


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