Saturday 6 May 2017
1 At this time last year Leigh Sales got it right when she asked the Treasurer; “What was the point of your three years in office?” On the eve of an election it was a relevant question to ask a government who in order to gain office accused the Government of the day of absolute carnage in terms of running the economy. And then proceeded to double the debt of the Government it so condemned.
On the eve of the 2017/18 budget the question by Leigh Sales remains unanswered. Most governments of whatever persuasion can name at least one policy area where they have made the life of the folk they govern, better.
Gillard can lay claim to introducing the NDIS which although still in its infancy will, in the future, be looked on as an international masterpiece of progressive legislation for those with disabilities.
Abbott and Turnbull cannot lay claim to a single major policy that has contributed to the economic advancement or social fabric of the nation.
Having said that, is it possible that the Coalition, or more particularly the Prime Minister, has finally seen the light and is making a tectonic shift by recognizing fairness, equity and equality. Or is it just a ruse?
“All of us were driven by a sense of fairness and wanting to make sure that there’s an equitable degree of opportunity for all students regardless of their background. Yes, that’s fundamental to me … but I can’t say that it was me alone driving the fairness equation. It was one that certainly Malcolm shared and ultimately the cabinet was driven by too.’’
These are the words used by the Education Minister when introducing his government’s education policy. I have no doubt that his words are sincere and deliberate. He is after all from a public school background.
However the last seven words of his statement worry me: “ultimately the cabinet was driven by too.”
It well may be that Birmingham and Turnbull know that the word ‘unfairness’ is a word that spells danger to them.
Now I’m not privy to cabinet discussions but I find it difficult to believe that all the Catholic Ministers would be pleased with a policy that takes away the right to choose the school your kids attend or indeed in reducing funding to schools of which your core supporters attend.
Already the troops are gathering for an almighty fight on this one and there are many Catholics willing to lay down their cross in a fight to the end. And they will be ably led by former PM Tony Abbott.
All the pre-budget announcements so far, from the reinstatement of Legal Aid Services to Gonski to good and bad debt to probably lifting the Medicare rebate and protecting Australian jobs are all designed to change the ‘unfairness’ image the electorate has of the Coalition. That it unfairly goes after the poor, the sick, the old and the young. It is out of touch, elitist and protects its mates in big business.
As Kristina Keneally puts it in a piece for The Guardian:
“If all this keeps up, Turnbull could go down in history as the biggest spending, biggest taxing, most socialist prime minister in modern times. Or maybe in all of federation. (I’m getting carried away with the headiness of it all.)”
I suspect there might be a revolt of sorts from the more conservative Catholic backbench MPs who will be absolutely horrified at all this socialist stuff that the PM is talking about.
2 Enter Tony Abbott giving yet another lecture on how he saw his party. In a speech to the WA Branch of the party he spoke about Labor being captured by identity politics. By individuals identifying with singular issues.
He said his party needed to be less a party of management and more a party of values if it wanted to appeal to disaffected voters.
The point here is that they have always been a managerial party but never one of values and most certainly never one of ideas.
“When it’s not making excuses for militant unions or welfarism, Labor is consumed by the Green left’s theology of climate change and identity,” Abbott said.
One might respond by saying that a leader who wanted to destroy the internet and called cimate change “crap” without the slightest idea of what it was about, really isn’t qualified to opine.
He said it was good “the government is not further funding the insidious and corrupting so-called Safe Schools program which is social-engineering masquerading as anti-bullying.”
Yet it was a program he and his cabinet passed with the full knowledge of its contents. Honestly, he still lies as he always has.
Earlier in the day, during a public outing, he warned that the Government’s Gonski funding reforms would face a vigorous debate in the party room. At least he is right about that. There will have to come a time when Turnbull confronts him. There isn’t enough room in the party for both of them.
3 The story of the boy on Manus Island continues to grow legs with the ABC’s Barry Cassidy unearthing an as yet unnamed informant who suggests that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has misrepresented the facts around a shooting at the Manus Island detention center for political advantage, and has alleged that Border Force staff are being asked to “become politically biased”. You can see a video on the ABC Facebook page.
I’m still suggesting he will get off scot free.
My thought for the day.
“We experience happiness so that we might better understand sorrow and we experience sorrow so that we might better comprehend joy.”
PS: As I finish writing my attention is drawn to the fact that our Prime Minister has formerly congratulated the President of the United Stated for taking the first step of seeing 25 million low-paid workers have their health care taken from them and the money transferred to the rich.
He ain’t the man we thought he was. Beware of Turnbull spruiking bullshit.
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