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Advocacy requires a plan so it’s back to slogans we go

Increasingly, Malcolm Turnbull’s judgement is being brought into question.

Up until last week he had foothered and dithered under the guise of having an “adult conversation” with “all things on the table.” And then he made his “bold move.”

Turnbull was to deliver “the most fundamental reform to the federation in generations”.

What we got was a very obvious marketing exercise with the slogans to accompany its inevitable failure all ready to go.

If they had truly been considering this move for months then where was the modelling to show the Premiers how much they would receive under this proposal? Where was the logistical plan on how it would be implemented?

There was nothing. Not one paragraph.

The government came to COAG knowing the most important item on the agenda was the looming shortfall in funding for schools and hospitals caused by the 2014 budget from hell. Instead of a credible plan for the future, they threw some crumbs to delay the hospital funding crisis for a few months but had no plan at all for education.

How to divert? I know, we’ll make it the states’ fault.

And out came the usual suspects spruiking the preprepared advertising strategy.

Morrison tells us that Turnbull has “called the states and territories’ bluff” – if they won’t raise taxes then they can’t expect us to.

The PM calls it a “moment of clarity” and resorts back to the Abbotism “they now have to live within their means”, a view repeated by Mathias Cormann who said “at least now we know where we stand. We know that all of us, state and federal governments, have got to live within our means.”

The suggestion that having the states fund public schools while the Commonwealth retained the responsibility for private schools was met with horror, with the NSW Education Minister saying it would create a two-tier system.

Cue Simon Birmingham who immediately brought out the old “class envy” chestnut.

Turnbull claimed Labor’s historic commitments to health and education made in the Gillard government’s 2013 budget were a “fantasy – the money was never there”.

Kelly O’Dwyer also slammed what she called the “fantasy figures” underpinning the former Labor Government’s education policy as did Morrison who told the ABC the Government would not be mimicking the “unfunded, fantasy promises of Julia Gillard” when it came to education funding.

Like a doll having its string pulled, Cormann said on Insiders, “the Gillard Government made unfunded, unaffordable, pie in the sky spending promises.”

In case you missed it, a minute later he said “we inherited from the previous government… unfunded, unsustainable, unaffordable pie in the sky spending promises.”

As Paul Bongiorno points out:

In budget forecasts the money is never there. It is based on assumptions. Those assumptions do become more problematic when they go beyond the budget four-year estimates out to a decade. But they are a statement of commitment.

The fact is, these projections are no more or less fanciful than the Turnbull government’s own promise to spend $195 billion over the next decade on defence.

If one looks at Swan’s 2013 budget, he identified savings over five years of $43 billion and took a lot of political heat to do so with $2.8 billion worth of cuts to the universities and self education in order to free up funds for its Gonski school reforms.

He also scrapped the baby bonus and froze indexation of Family Tax Benefit upper income cut-offs.

There were revenue measures like increasing the tobacco excise, cracking down on FBT for novated leases, and taxation changes for very high superannuation incomes.

Under a suite of changes headlined ”protecting the corporate tax base”, Labor proposed tightening the rules on profit shifting and removal of immediate deductibility for expenditure on exploration. These measures were estimated to collect nearly $4.2 billion for the budget over four years.

When Turnbull rolled Abbott over six months ago he promised a different style of leadership. “We need advocacy, not slogans. We need to respect the intelligence of the Australian people.”

Well all I am hearing is a bunch of tired old slogans and a reversion back to blame Labor. It’s hard to advocate for a plan when you don’t have one so it appears we will be stuck with the same old poll-driven, manipulative marketing.

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  1. Carol Taylor

    Kaye Lee, as someone pointed out, it took Howard and Costello two years to sell the GST whereas Turnbull expected to ‘sell’ aka offloading federal responsibility for public education in two weeks. Premier Andrews said that the first he found out about it was when he read it in the newspapers..and yet Turnbull expected everyone to sign on the dotted line without one iota of research/modelling having been considered. Just do it because I say so, seems to be Turnbull’s attitude.

  2. Klaus

    I wish there was a day when journalists (last night Leigh Sales with Kelly O’Dwyer) wouldn’t allow pollies to ramble on and on, blaming labors pie in the sky. Why not stopping her in her tracks and ask, sorry, enough of Labors failures, please outline exactly what you would be doing? Do I understand correctly you walk away from public school funding but continue funding private schools? Wouldn’t it be difficult for the majority of Auustralian households, the ones who pay your tax, you know, to send their kids to those schools? What exactly is it that you plan?
    Tell you what, you don’t have one and that’s why the polls look the way they look. You sit here complaining about labor but allow me to understand your plan. If you don’t know, send somebody who knows.
    I wish I could hear conversations like that.
    Thank you for being around Kaye. We need a way to more effectively disseminate the Aim to the mainstream people. I’am gonna go off and donate some money to you guys. You have my respect.

  3. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think he ever expected it to get through Carol or he would have done some work on it. It’s an exercise in blame shifting pure and simple. They were never going to have a plan for funding schools and hospitals so they had to have someone else to blame whether it was Labor or the States – just someone else.

    I do so wish they would stop issuing “talking points”. When five Ministers use the same phrase, the very same words, on the same day, aside from being very wearing, it indicates they are incapable of discussing the issues. Regardless of what you ask them, the same script is regurgitated. We don’t accept that from school kids. Why should we accept it from our government?

  4. Kaye Lee

    Thanks Klaus. It is a team effort to get the facts out there. Every contribution helps, whether it is by sharing articles and information, discussing issues with friends and family or other commenters, or a small financial contribution to help keep the site going.

    The aim is to find the truth, make suggestions, and demand better governance for ALL the people, not just the entrepreneurs and investors.

  5. Bob Rafto

    I have predicted ‘One term, Mal’ a few months ago and now I’m going to predict Shorten as PM and Abbott as opposition leader.

    Woe is us if my predictions unfolds.

  6. Kaye Lee

    Rumours are emerging that Turnbull wants to replace Morrison with Christian Porter after the election.

    If Abbott ever gets anywhere near leading a party again I am giving up and moving to NZ or maybe Canada.

  7. Otto von Heidelberg

    No Kaye, (with respect) the rumour is that Morrison wants to replace Turnbull after the election with Porter and make Kevin the Shadow Treasurer. NZ is a great idea because you’ll never lose in Rugby but you’ll always be looked down upon by Strayans. Canada is the best best as the Maple Syrup on pancakes is worth dying for, but there you might get swamped by Americans running away from their new trump card, but please tell us what it’s like when you get there!.

  8. Terry2

    In the 2014 Budget papers, Hockey the then Treasurer said that :

    “In this Budget the Government is adopting sensible indexation arrangements for schools from 2018, and hospitals from 2017-18, and removing funding guarantees for public hospitals. These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80 billion by 2024-25.”

    So, the supposedly unfunded Labor funding guarantees to the states were actually taken up as a saving by the Liberals and now, the “sensible indexation” for schools is morphing into a pipe dream.

    Kaye, thank you for keeping tabs on things as these guys are spinning like Dervishes.

  9. Möbius Ecko

    Yes Terry2. Twitter pointed out to Turnbull and Morrison’s hashtags along with a slew of RWNJs harping on about Labor’s unfunded policies. If they were unfunded then how on earth did Abbott/Hockey make cuts to them?

    And who cares if they were not funded or fully funded. If they weren’t then this was deficit spending for a long term return. Unlike this government’s deficit spending, which is for the gain of their wealthy donors and friends.

  10. Kyran

    In addition to Swan’s saving measures, there was a carbon levy which generated over $6bill pa in income. It was, reasonably, included in the income column and used as part of the overall funding.
    This income was removed by the current mob and replaced with a $2.5bill cost to pay polluters. Wouldn’t this effect the figures? Guess not, none of the MSM commentary referred to it.
    They had an MRRT which, admittedly, was not as successful as intended. But it was an income. No mention of it in MSM.
    There was an NBN plan that would have paid for itself over the course of its life. It also would have generated education and health outcomes otherwise unimaginable for rural and remote communities. It was replaced with a more expensive less workable system that will likely be privatised at a reduced rate due to it being unfit for purpose. No mention of it in MSM.
    “fantasy – the money was never there”.
    In my opinion we are, indeed, dealing with fantasy. The current PM, with delusions of grandeur, and the previous PM, with delusions of adequacy, can’t even get their slogans right.
    Mr Brisbane, in another article, referenced the table upon which everything had been placed and speculated that two legs were shorter than the others, leaving the table with a distinct lean to the right.
    I suspect they have since fitted the table with a ‘lazy Susan’, which achieves two things. Nothing can ever remain on the table due to the rate they rotate the device and its very title reflects the only characteristic of this mob – lazy (adjective: unwilling to work or use energy.)
    Thank you, Ms Lee. I’m off to get a canoe. Take care

  11. Klaus

    Kyran, 100% right.

  12. Ella

    Kay Lee, thank you for doing such a good job at keeping the B honest.
    I think we can add another couple of slogans to you list;

    “live within our means” is one.

    I can not believe the hide of our PM …. on the one hand he IS prepared to fund private education but NOT the public education.
    Is this the way he feels we will have a clever society? Shame on him. How blatant is his prejudice?
    So those who can afford private schools will be funded and the rest of our society can sing for their supper.
    Is this how we create an educate cohesive society?

    I think not. Neither is blackmail .

  13. Paolo Soprani

    Why on earth would anybody ever vote for The Coalition? What possible reason would anyone have for voting for this mendacious, hopeless, ideologically driven bunch of career politicians who do not give a tinker’s cuss about anybody but themselves and their wealthy mates, and who spend all day every day sprouting meaningless econobabble that is full of lies and obfuscation? But mainly they DO NOT CARE about YOU! And that is a very important consideration. They are the government of this country, they actually think Tony Abbott has parliamentary value and THEY DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU! Show me a scintilla of evidence that they care about the Australian people. Scary, isn’t it?

  14. RosemaryJ36

    Every article by Kaye, John (Lord and Kelly) and other AIMN stalwarts I post to Facebook and Twitter.
    It is well under 2 years since I opened a Twitter account and (at age 80!) I now have over 400 followers – who also have followers and (like fleas) ad infinitum! So the word is being spread!

    Thank you for your support, Rosemary.

  15. Möbius Ecko

    There just aren’t any positives.

    Newspoll down. Labor would win 67 seats to Libs 58.
    Trade deficit blow out.
    Consumer confidence down.
    Business confidence down.
    Standard of living regressing.
    More giving up looking for work.

    That’s since yesterday.

  16. ImagiNation

    Everyone knows Turnbull (Goldman Sachs) was only placed as PM to ensure the TPP (Goldman Sachs) is passed unopposed and Abbott will be reinstated before the next election. Mind you wouldn’t it be ironical if Shorten steals the cake from under their noses.

  17. John Kelly

    “Well all I am hearing is a bunch of tired old slogans and a reversion back to blame Labor. It’s hard to advocate for a plan when you don’t have one.”
    And that’s all we will hear from now on. Blame Labor. These pathetic little cowards who, before the election, promised tough measures with “everyone sharing the load” have abrogated their responsibilities, now content to weasel their way to another term.

  18. Buff McMenis

    Rumour has it right, Kaye Lee .. Porter only ever went Federal (or feral?) to become Treasurer! And don”t forget who was involved in Treasury in WA before the red-faced and sweating Buswell! Guess who forgot to ask the miners to pay their fair share when they were raking it in! And besides the miners there may be one or two other family connections whose needs must be met .. not Chilla’s son for nothing, you know! By the way, have I mentioned what a remarkable mob of intelligent and articulate lot you people are? For some strange reason you ll remarkably resemble my way of thinking!

  19. Kaye Lee


    Great article! I am astonished the Tele hasn’t taken it down. It must be too long for their editors to read.

    Turnbull wrote a letter to Honi Soit saying:

    “One doesn’t need to have much knowledge of the rise and fall of newspapers to realise that the recipe for success is a very crude mixture indeed. The Pulitzers, the Heartsts and the Murdochs made their names and fortunes out of sex and sin.

    If one, however, has little feeling for the low tastes of many of our contemporaries, is it then better to attempt to educate, or uplift the students by producing a quality paper dealing with more serious matters.”


    Bloody latte drinking tree hugging wanker!

  20. Steve Laing

    Excuse me Malcolm, whose money? It is not the states, nor the commonwealth, it is ours. The feds collect it on our behalf, and then give it out as required to the states. But all of it is for OUR use.

    You do have to hand it to them though. Those Libs have got the Big Lie theory well rehearsed. If you keep repeating a lie often enough at some point people will believe it. It is exactly why they ran the royal commission – in order to imply that Shorten is dodgy, and surprise, surprise the shit stuck.

  21. Shogan

    All last Friday’s performance by Turnbull at the COAG did was prove he is a first class farkwit for thinking a thought bubble could seriously pass for innovative policy.

    So much for continuity & change after the leaders swapped deck chairs on the sun deck of the Titanic, aka the Cabinet Room, looks for all the world to me like nothing has changed as he & the LNP continue to search for the elusive “Decisions 101” handbook.

    Who else could raise expectations with a thought bubble one day & two days later withdraw, or prick the bubble (your choice) & then come out on Monday claiming a victory over the premiers because they wouldn’t do his job for him??

    Then he has the audacity to lecture them about “living within their means” when for the last 2.5yrs the government has blown out the deficit like it’s a badge of honour “because they are better economic managers than Labor”??

    Judging by the concerted “living within your means” attack by TurnBull, Morrison & Ley towards Shorten on Monday arvo I think we can safely say “we’re in for a bit of austerity innovation” if they win the next election to teach us all a lesson about “living within our means” too.

    Trying to equate the federal budget with a household budget is a hollow argument as most households borrow money to achieve the financial security that owning your own home provides which proves debt is not a problem if you can successfully service it & that Mr Turnbull is “living within our means” or as you like to say when trying to be smart “living within the fiscal envelope.”

  22. Kaye Lee

    Scomo wants us all to “work, save, invest” but Mal tells us that no-one will invest if we restrict negative gearing concessions which can only be claimed if you are making a loss which means you are NOT living within your means (with that investment at least – the profitable ones are all in the Virgin Islands).

    This government wants me to be even dumber than any guy I was ever trying to attract.

  23. Carol Taylor

    Am I the only one who initially thought that when Hockey stated that the Age of Entitlement was over, that he meant upper class welfare? Naïve wasn’t I. This slightly newer living within one’s means meme seems to be the same..no difference. To me a strange statement coming from persons whose means are considerable just as Hockey’s own party’s sense of entitlement is likewise considerable.

  24. Kaye Lee

    “A rising tide will lift all boats” – those of you who don’t own a boat may be in trouble.

  25. Carol Taylor

    Kaye Lee, on ScoMo’s slogan..perhaps what he really meant was work and slave in yer vest. :mrgreen:

  26. Peter F

    You have to admit that they got the ‘continuity’ bit right. Continued lies, slogans, and wandering in the policy wilderness. A continuation of the destruction of our country which began in earnest when Abbott became ‘leader’ of the coalition.

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