The Liberal Party are ahead in all polls that have been released in recent times. They are sounding pretty confident about actually winning Saturday's election.
So it seems weird that I received a pamphlet in the mail today titled "Our Contract With Australia".
These "contracts" have been used before, and are obviously gimmicks that really didn't achieve much traction in previous elections.
And when you look at the detail of this "contract" it looks just as gimmicky as all the previous ones.
Take side 1:
It starts with "Keep this card". Then - "My team and I are committed to delivering on our contract. Keep this contract to hold us to account". It is signed by Tony Abbott.
Hands up everyone that intends to keep this card for the life of this next government, and then refer to to it at the next election in order to determine how they vote.
Turn the card over. In big letter on the top it reads OUR CONTRACT WITH AUSTRALIA.
And what is this "contract"?
1. A Stronger, Diversified Economy - If they cannot achieve this over the the next three years, we'll have had one hell of a recession. Consider this one a done deal. Not a hard ask.
2. Carbon Tax Gone - Good luck getting that through the Senate. Nothing in this "contract" about reducing carbon emissions, though.
3. End the Waste and Debt - Hang on. End the waste, I get. Standard promise by an opposition party for every election I can remember. But end the debt? How are they intending to do this? Isn't there something like $400 billion in debt currently owed at Federal Government level (according to Liberal Party literature anyway). How are they intending to eliminate that debt over the next three years? How high must taxes go, how much will spending be cut and what assets will need to be sold in order to achieve this goal. And to what end? I'll call this one an impossible target. And a pointless one.
4. Build Modern Roads and Improve Services - Isn't road building one of the standard functions of government? If they don't build them, who does? Improve services for what? Does this mean I will no longer need to be on hold to Centrelink for 2 hours only to be cut off? Will the staff at the Australian Taxation Office actually be able to help me? And given that most services are actually provided by State Government or Local Councils, how are you intending to improve those services? Maybe give them more money (but wait, how does that work, if you are going to end the debt?).
5. Stop The Boats With Proven Policies - Is buying Indonesian boats a proven policy. Where has this occurred in the past? What are "proven policies" do you have? And isn't your focus here totally wrong? What about helping the asylum seekers (or refugees, as they once were known)?
6. Two Million New Jobs Within A Decade - The July 2013 employment figures per the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of people currently employed is about 11,653,200. This is out of a total population of about 23,171,500. So almost half the population is currently employed. ABS projections also indicate that population growth in Australia will mean we will have a population of 28,723,000 by 2026 (An increase of just over 5 and a half million). Given that the contract is for 2 million jobs in a decade I'll extrapolate this data to say that the population in 2023 is projected to increase by about 4.25 million people by the end of 2023. If the employment participation rate stays about the same (which it may not due to an aging population), there will need to be more than 2 million jobs created just to cater for the extra people looking for work. If the participation rates actually starts to decline as the aging population starts to retire (which is the expected scenario), there wont be enough people available to fill the 2 million extra jobs created.
Putting the numbers to one side, Tony Abbott will not be Prime Minister in 10 years time. It's easy to make a "contract" when you aren't there for the end of it.
Is this "contract" worth the card that it is printed on? Do I actually want them to deliver on this "contract"? And how much better off will the country be if this is all they are wanting to commit themselves to do?
Will we have any choice, after Saturday?