The trouble with politicians is that they think like footballers. The premiership is the goal. Occasionally, it’s absurd to think that you’ll succeed in a given year but, whether realistic or not, at the start of every season the dream is to win. And, of course, when it comes down to that final day, players throw everything at it with no thought of next week, because there is no next week. There is, of course, a next season but it’s worth risking injury or suspension because the whole aim is to win no that day.
And so it is with politicians: The aim is to win the election. Don’t worry if you have to – like Tony Abbott did – promise to abolish taxes, not cut spending AND eliminate the deficit. Once you’re elected, you can just do your victory lap and make a few apologies and/or blame everything on someone else. By the time the next contest comes around, you can use the same tactic and rely on the fact that most people will be more concerned about the future so that your total inability to deliver even half the things you promised won’t matter.
“The elimination of the carbon tax will reduce your power bills by $500.”
“The elimination of support for renewable energy will reduce your power bill by $100.”
Wow, awesome, putting the two together and looking at my bills from 2013, that’d mean that the power companies would be paying me money!
Anyway, today Malcolm Turnbull has broken with standard practice for his government and actually made a decision. We’re not going to have a Clean Energy Target. Instead we’re going to get a National Energy Guarantee. I haven’t been able to discover what’s being guaranteed yet. Nor have I been able to ascertain what happens if what’s being guaranteed doesn’t actually happen the way we were promised. I mean, if the toaster is faulty, you either get your money back or a new toaster. If the National Energy Guarantee doesn’t work, do we get our money back or just a new guarantee?
Whatever, I feel that the Liberals are doing all this not with regard to the long term, but because they feel that they need to do something or they’ll lose the next premiership… Sorry, election. And they don’t need to worry about next week. Or next season.
However, politics isn’t exactly like football. There’s a real difference. I know that may be a surprise to some in Canberra, but, while football teams get their names in the record books and don’t have to worry about anything except trying to win again next year, the winner of an election actually has to govern. Which means that people will hold you responsible for telling everyone that you were the better team and that you were the one who’d keep on kicking goals. In other words, they’ll expect you to be capable of actually running the country.
So, while Malcolm and the Muddlers are intending to use the demon of high energy prices to position themselves to win the next election, I wonder if they’ve actually thought beyond that glorious night when they hold the cup aloft and make speeches about what a great team they are.
Let’s fast forward to 2020 and imagine the unthinkable. Malcolm actually wins the next election and he’s still in power. (Actually I know that this is pretty far-fetched because everyone knows that they’ll hold out for as long as they can, then dump him for Peter Dutton. Or Scott Morrison, if Peter actually says something so offensive that even his cheer squad in the media have to abandon him. Come to think of it, he’s already done that. Anyway…) Malcolm appears on ABC where Andrew Bolt, the new presenter of the 7:30 Report – which is screened at 11:30 – interviews him.
Bolt: Good evening, Mr Prime Minister.
Turnbull: Good evening, Andrew.
Bolt: Now, in 2017 you promised to get rid of all those pesky renewables that were pushing prices up, yet we still haven’t seen any reduction in price.
Turnbull: I’m glad you asked that, Andrew…
Bolt: I didn’t ask anything, it was a statement.
Turnbull: Anyway, power bills are certainly a lot lower than if we’d done nothing. And certainly, we now have an efficient, reliable energy supply that works pretty much most days of the week. The guarantees that we’ve given mean that – when the new coal-fired power stations come into effect in 2023 – we’ll hardly have any blackouts.
Bolt: But what about now? I mean, shouldn’t we have been building new power stations years ago.
Turnbull: Well, of course, Labor had plenty of opportunity to do just that when they were in power, but they were too concerned with ideological ideas like “saving the planet” and as you well know, there’s only one planet worth saving and that’s planet Economy because without planet Economy we can’t have an environment to save.
Bolt: Yes, but there are still all those activists trying to shut down free speech by advocating for renewable energy. Can’t you implement Tony Abbott’s plan and use ASIO’s detention powers to arrest them.
Turnbull: Now, in a democracy everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Bolt: Yes, but should they be allowed to express it, if it’s going to risk our security like that?
Turnbull: I do understand where you’re coming from, but we don’t plan to make any change to our free speech policy until Mr Abbott makes a speech in London telling us to.
Bolt: Ok, what are you planning to do about all those people who still have solar panels on their roof? Is there any plan to compel them to turn them into coal fired power?
Turnbull: Not at this stage, but all options are on the table.
Bolt: And just finally, those illegal immigrants still on Nauru, when are you going to stop the dreadful waste of money? After all, we’ve been paying for their food and accommodation for over seven years now. If they’re going to stay there, can’t they be compelled to do something useful. I mean, your government is examining a “Work for the Age Pension” plan for Australians. Shouldn’t foreigners have to do something similar?
Turnbull: I was on the phone to President Trump just the other day and he assures me that many of these people will be resettled in the USA just as soon as vetting has been completed. We can’t rush these things, you know.
Bolt: Thank you, Mr Turnbull.
Turnbull: A pleasure, Andrew.
Ok, it may not happen quite like that…
However, when you read it these days, my piece on what it’d be like with Donald Trump becoming POTUS does seem more like an accurate portrayal than satire, so you never know.
I just wonder why the Liberals can’t see that most of their policies are just kicking the can down the road. If they’d voted on marriage equality, instead of using the idea of a plebiscite to delay it, their pain would be over. Instead, Malcolm’s going to have to contend with all the subterfuge when (if?) the Yes vote gets up. I can hear it now: “Ah, but if you look at the numbers who didn’t vote, then only a minority voted “Yes” so we shouldn’t make a drastic change without overwhelming support” and “Yes, we need to have a Parliamentary vote, but not until we’ve put in place laws to protect religious freedoms while ensuring that those relgious freedoms don’t extend to religions that we don’t like!”
Similarly, the whole energy situation needs to something that takes everything and all stakeholders into consideration, and not just used as a political football. We’re treated to the spectacle of Liberal politicians expressing horror about rising power prices, yet rising education or health costs are things we’re expected to just accept.
I wonder why that is…