Bill Shorten can smell blood and is becoming bolder by the week. His announcement last week that the cash payments tied to the dividend imputation scheme would end, was just the beginning.
He is becoming more prime ministerial in his approach, made easier by a government in disarray. The 29th Newspoll showing an increase in primary support for Labor must have sent a chill down the backs of several Coalition members.
Shorten’s boldness was reaffirmed this week, firstly by announcing a tweak to the dividend imputation policy, exempting full and part pensioners. It wasn’t necessary, but it blunts any scare campaign that might be aimed at it.
Then, he announced Labor’s intention to repeal any legislation that gives our corporations a tax reduction. Another bold move, but one clearly consistent with Labor’s continued opposition to the legislation.
Whether this initiative influenced two cross-bench senators not to support the legislation thus far, is difficult to say. But the prospect of the tax cuts being included in this year’s budget looks unlikely.
It is hard to reconcile what the conservatives were thinking, given the severity of spending cuts that have hit hard at individuals and community groups who have lost their funding for social programs and health groups no longer able to extend vital community support assistance.
The government will try to paint Labor as anti-business but as far as the electorate is concerned, that train left the station months ago, as people began to absorb the reality that most of our major corporations don’t even pay tax.
With the polls showing the two-party preferred vote 53% to 47% in Labor’s favour, Malcolm Turnbull will want to delay the next election for as long as he can.
That would mean May 2019 as the date, but if he chooses that option, there are three significant roadblocks to manage; the Victorian State election in November this year, the NSW state election in March next year and the 2019 May budget.
It means that any budget sweeteners planned this year will be long forgotten, with no time to prepare for next year. All of which points to an August/September 2018 election.
Whether Labor planned an election strategy on the grassy knoll of inequality or not, that’s what will take place. A clear “us versus them” battle line.
Malcolm Turnbull can continue to boast 400,000+ jobs created this year, but the unemployment level both in percentages and raw numbers is the same as it was in 2013.
Those new job have done no more than keep pace with population growth, a natural occurrence in any economy. All of which means that in five years of government, their jobs and growth mantra is as hollow as their concern for equality.
Those who remember the months leading up to the 1972 election that saw Gough Whitlam become prime minister might see some similarities emerging. A stagnant economy, a government bleeding from within and an expectation that their time was over.