Our short terms for Australian governments remain short-sighted
Just when I was thinking that the election was becoming an idea-free zone, Marty the trainer said to me at 5.30am as the sun was rising, "I reckon we need a way of making them keep their promises". Marty has a way of getting things into shape so I was all ears.
"In their first year, they have to get at least 60 per cent of their promises up, otherwise there is no years two or three," he said. What an excellent idea.
Just like being at a good tough school - if you keep passing exams, you get to do the next year. If you fail, you have to repeat. And if you fail too many times, they kick you out.
"Zero tolerance for pollies," muses Louise. "I like that."
There is a lot invested in these election campaigns - not just campaign cash.
What about the metre-long postal voting form! Surely we have reached the point where we don't need this amount of deforestation to let people tick a box. We can check our electoral status online so why can't we vote the same way? Whatever brand of broadband we end up with after the election, someone in government needs to get the iVote app up and running.
But the really big investment this week has been in advertising and this election will set a record for campaign spending. Labor seems to have found another $10 million to $15 million from we know not where for an ads blitz.
Election campaign history has long shown us that people decide who they're going to vote for well before the campaign starts. Nevertheless, it's difficult to convince the leaders not to advertise all the way to the opening of the booths.
Once we get through the election and we have formalised the result that we have forecast, what will happen to business confidence? Conventional wisdom has it that a new prime minister and a lean, but now not so hungry, treasurer will give the commercial world a revived sense of optimism and the economy will take off.
Charlie, our resident wise man, has reanalysed the research produced by the NAB on business confidence going all the way back to September 1989. The figures look at the Hawke-Keating government followed by Howard-Costello and two recent terms of Labor: Rudd-Swan and Gillard-Swan.
The results are revealing. They show that while there is some volatility during each term of government, the overall level of business confidence throughout this entire period was largely unaffected by the government of the day. There was one exception - the brief period of the Gillard-Swan administration. It was a shocker and will be seen as one of the worst governments of the past 25 years.
Louise, who decided months ago to swing to the Liberal National Party in this election, had a moment of doubt when she was reminded of John Howard's false claim that interest rates are always lower with Coalition governments. Not true.
Like most of us, she knows that a true blue Coalition government will struggle to deliver on its promises, as the Labor Party would as well, because they are simply inducements for support and not a long-range foundation plan for our nation.
There's little doubt that the short term of office of our governments (almost always less than three years) is not in our interest. The sooner we give our governments a serious period, say four to five years, the stronger they will be.
The great economic miracles of our near neighbours, like Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, have proven this. Seems to me that the biggest benefit of Marty's 60 per cent rule, combined with longer terms, might be that there would be a lot less promising and a whole lot more leading and governing.
Harold Mitchell is an executive director of Aegis.