Sunday 28 August 2016
Before Tony Abbott came along Australia had never elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, so ill informed of science, so oblivious of the needs and aspirations of women, and so ideologically out of touch with a modern pluralist society.
Both his party and the electorate witnessed his dreadful leadership and concluded that it was fundamentally flawed. It was that appalling that his party decided to replace him. They knew that if they retained him they would have lost the 2016 election by the length of the Flemington straight.
Turnbull took over the reins and a win of gigantic proportion was forecast because of his alluring reputation for moderation and reason. That turned out to be an illusion.
It was only the remaining residue of a tarnished reputation that saved them from defeat. All that Australia has gained from governments lead by Turnbull/Abbott could be recorded on a postage stamp. They were wasted years. Nothing of consequence has been accomplished by Abbott or is likely to be by Turnbull.
Parliament starts again next week and the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, will outline the Government’s second term agenda. The joke doing the rounds of the conservative MPs offices is that the speech writer got writer’s block after the first paragraph.
In other words the agenda they are putting forward is the same one they took to the election. You could argue that they won but the more obvious argument is that in winning by such a small majority, the electorate well and truly told them what they thought of their policies.
Tony Abbott in a speech to the Victorian Master Builders Association continued to rebut any suggestion of criticism of his government’s achievements and urged the Prime Minister to pursue his policies.
I am at a loss to explain how a rejected PM so intently disliked, who led arguably Australia’s worst ever Government, who had he stayed in the job would have led his party to a calamitous defeat, could have the egotistical effrontery to declare that his successor should follow his achievements is beyond me.
Be that as it may, and discounting his continuing attempts to undermine the PM, the fact is that Turnbull is continuing to follow his policies. The Treasurer made that clear in his Tax speech. As Abbott made clear in his now infamous 2014 Budget. We expect the poor and less well-off to take the brunt of savings measures. Unfairness and social consequence is not a consideration. It’s called neoliberalism.
Abbott said “budget repair, national security and respect for values and institutions that have stood the test of time”.
“I’m sure the government will resist pressure to increase the renewable energy target”.
“I’m sure the government will strongly support the coal industry which will provide baseload power here and abroad for decades to come – and continue to employ tens of thousands of Australians”.
In Abbott-speak that was code for, “we will continue to support the haves so long as they support us, we should scare the hell out of the bastards as I was doing and the poofters can get stuffed. Coal is good and Climate Change is a Socialist plot”.
All of which has been rejected by those enlightened enough to exercise their cognitive logic.
Richard Dennis in an illuminating article for Fairfax yesterday pointed out that “a retired bank CEO with $10 million in his super pays zero tax each year. Nada. Zip. He wouldn’t even pay the Medicare levy. But I suspect that when Treasurer Scott Morrison talks about the “taxed and the taxed nots’ he wasn’t thinking about rich retired leaners. He probably wasn’t even talking about the fact that Chevron, who made $1.7 billion selling our oil and gas, paid no tax either”.
“Having lost the public debate about the need to give $50 billion in tax cuts to big business, it didn’t take Morrison long to dust off his predecessor’s playbook on attacking the poor. Given how badly Joe Hockey performed some might think that aping his approach was a strange choice for Morrison, but, as Hockey’s posting to Washington shows, the modern conservative party rewards rhetoric over results”.
Why are we not taking advantage of the once in a life time low-interest rates on offer?
Tony Abbott during his term as opposition leader made debt anathema in the public mind and in doing so painted all budgets without a surplus, as being tainted with incompetency. He made out that it was only Coalition Governments that were capable of delivering surpluses. It was of course stupid and made it more difficult to manage the economy.
All his talk about the need for budget surpluses doesn’t register with the historical facts.
Since 1945, significant budget surpluses have been achieved only rarely: once by Ben Chifley, three times by Bob Hawke, and eight times by John Howard, who shared another with Rudd, who was elected during the 2007-08 fiscal year. That is, the Menzies, Holt, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments managed only a few small surpluses. So much for the claim about the Coalition’s fiscal management.
Dennis goes on:
“Locking in record low-interest rates for 30 years makes building them now a bargain. But it seems the “great economic managers” in the Coalition would rather make pariahs of the poor than construct the cities we will need”.
“It’s not the budget that needs repair, it’s the way we think and talk about it. History and international experience tells us that economic benefits do not “trickle down” to the people who need them. But history does show that if we target our resources well, we can solve big problems”.
In asking Shorten to walk the sensible middle road to resolve the country’s problems Turnbull has to understand the anger Abbott caused when he deliberately trashed parliamentary conventions and institutions. To expect Labor to turn the other cheek now is unreasonable.
If he is serious about bipartisanship then he might just have to for once drop the alter ego born to rule mentality and shake hands.
As for Abbott I can only suggest that he go back to where he belongs. I’m not sure where he fits in the annals of time but Jesus comes to mind.
My thought for the day.
“We should never assume that an answer is revealed and then we seek evidence to support it. It is in fact the reverse”.