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Day to Day Politics: Don’t be fooled by the “Commie” claims

Monday 11 September 2017

The argument goes that you only do these things when you’re in trouble, experiencing panic, staring defeat in the face or simply doing your job badly. The latter being the most obvious.

Contrary to the old adage that conservatives have a built-in aversion to change, they are actually playing around with it.

Yes, although conservatives are not saying it and they continue to describe Bill Shorten as a Neo Communist, they are, believe it or not, saying that Neo Liberalism is dead. Different people describe Neo Liberalism as different things. What follows is my interpretation.

It was once simply called “economic rationalism”. It is a belief that it’s better to let the market sort things out, let it rip, and government should keep their noses out of it. It doesn’t need government intervention and the poor will be looked after by the drip-down effect from the rich.

Socialism on the other hand believes in government intervention in order to ensure there is a more equitable share of the country’s wealth.

Australian voters have always almost equally divided themselves into right and left, with a floating 10% changing their minds every election. It would now seem that the left and right have broken rank and decided that ideology is unimportant. They want governments to make fair decisions for the common good. And to a point, governments seem to accept it.

This can be evidenced in recent decisions by the Coalition. Take the Gonski reforms for example. It was totally unheard of for a conservative government to foster so much equality. Now they are talking about building or buying coal-fired powered stations. Bordering on socialism, I should think.

Turnbull still talks up company tax cuts, but the big ones he doesn’t make such a song and dance about anymore is the middle of Australian politics shifting, You would have to ask if all this full-on Soviet Socialist talk from the government about Labor might not equally be applied to it.

Trying to paint your opponents as a throwback to old-fashioned socialism while at the same time proposing the same ideology that was once anathema to you, is a bit rich.

Yes, the centre of Australian politics is shifting and the 10% of voters who once flip-flopped about who to vote for has widened exponentially. It might even be 30% as disenchantment with the two major parties has set in.

The debate about whether the Liddell mine should remain open was really a multi-faceted one. One that incorporated climate change, blackouts and whatever future coal had.

When one casts one’s mind back over the past ten years of Australian governance and we focus particularly on climate change and mining you get a glimpse – no, your eyes are opened – to what amounts to a gigantic policy f#@kup. The conservatives in their denial of climate change under a crass opportunistic former Prime Minister in Tony Abbott have done this country a monumental disservice.

On the other hand, Labor under Kevin Rudd (“greatest moral challenge”) never had the courage of his conviction to take it to the people. Abbott, the great “opposer” of Australian politics is responsible not only for the decline in interest on the subject but also the deterioration in respect for the body politic. But no one can dispute that fact that Labor and the Greens did instigate a price on carbon and the conservatives were responsible for destroying it.

These subtle but significant ideological changes allow Turnbull to be seen as promoting coal. Saying it is viable, to some degree, will satisfy the lovers of clean coal (no such thing) in the Turnbull camp, but in the long-term allow for the shift to renewables to continue unabated.

The Luddites in the government at some point will have to come to terms with the fact that business sees coal as a bad investment.

However, this subtle change in ideology doesn’t only apply to the Coalition. Labor, if Mark Butler is to be believed, is saying that coal needs to be part of the mix at least for now, even if it never eventuates. If that sounds silly, it’s true. With the experience of Brexit and Trump still burning in the labyrinth of political ears, both parties have decided that voters cannot be treated as gullible idiots anymore.

Both are serving up a sort of middle road pragmatic caring attitude that they are sympathetic to rising energy costs and stretched family budgets.

When you think back to Abbott’s attack on a price on carbon as being a tax (since admitted by his then Chief of Staff as being purely for political reasons and having nothing to do with climate change), the truth of his great deception, in light of the current crisis, hits home.

Whilst the current debate involves a lot of name calling (now we have “Blackout Bill”) and huff and puff interviews as witnessed on ABC Insiders yesterday when Scott Morisson ranted and raved, only making sense to himself.

Barnaby Joyce earlier added his dismissive “it’s everyone else’s fault”voice to the debate as only he can.

An observation

“We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.”

So there seems to be a consensus building that recognises the fact that Abbott’s repeal of carbon pricing is responsible for most of the chaos and crisis with climate change and how it interacts with energy policy.

Voters know that we don’t live in a black and white world. They have experienced and seen through Abbott’s lies and the sort of politics he promoted. They have had enough and want him to go away. They want politicians (if they haven’t turned of completely) to explain to them in clear, precise and truthful terms just what it is the nation faces. They want to put aside the bullshit of philosophy and have governments deliver for the common good.

Whether this move to the centre is temporary or permanent, only the future knows but we can be certain that the old politics of philosophical absolutism is problematical. Having fixed positions in a rapidly changing technological world is highly questionable.

An observation

We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”‘Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability.”

One thing however, is certain. Neo Liberalism is under enormous threat. No longer can business dictate terms to government. A few years back the mining industry decided how much tax it should pay with a ferocious attack on the mining tax proposed by Labor.

More recently, both parties refused to be dictated to by the Catholic Church over school fees.

We might ask if the isms of left and right have gone past their used by dates. Many questions arise. Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there a possibility that a new politic could emerge from a society deeply entrenched in political negativity and malaise, yet still retain the essential ingredients of a vigorous democracy where a wide-ranging common good test would be applied to all policy? Have left and right so fused into each other that they no longer form a demarcation of ideas? Could the ideologies of the two somehow come together to form this commongoodism? Who would decide the common good? How could one define it? Could capitalism embrace the common good if it were more astutely regulated?

A move to more common-sense politics would be welcome. It remains to be seen just how many people will participate in the marriage equality debate. Whatever way it goes, we will be able to read into it just what Australians are thinking about their democracy.

My thought for the day

“When our voices are silent against unfair,deceitful and dishonest government we get what we deserve.”



  1. lawrencewinder

    The Lying Nasty Papists will still win through …. there’s too much propaganda propping up their vote!

  2. Terry2

    The divisions between the National and their senior coalition partner are becoming stark and energy is at the heart of it with the Nationals nailing their colours to the mast of the minerals industry.

    Over the weekend, Joyce warned of a summer of blackouts unless politicians embrace coal power solutions. In his normal fashion he over-egged his argument by saying that somewhere between floor 13 and 14 the lift will stop with you in it – an uncomfortable experience if you need to go to the bathroom.

    Reminiscent of the scare campaign he mounted from opposition in 2010 over debt and deficit : we’re going into hock to our eyeballs to people overseas. And you’ve got to ask the question how far in debt do you want to go? We are getting to a point where we can’t repay it.

    Joyce has been supported by the Minister for Energy in waiting, Matt Canavan, who told the National’s
    weekend conference that renewables were a “short-term sugar hit

    This was then orchestrated into a motion passed by Nationals at their weekend federal conference calling for subsidies for renewables to be phased out within five years.

    The Minerals Council are delighted and the Nationals will undoubtedly receive their forty-shillings in election gifting but will anybody be left in regional Australia who will be prepared to vote for this party gone rogue ?

  3. wam

    The polls, Lord, show that bill has reverted to little billy in the minds of those driven by the government’s agenda making suitable copy to the media. Communist has been a winning word for many years and is topical. It is fun to ask what it means? In my open facebook the dr adrian rogers popped up again If it has slipped your memory have a look at:

    (if you don’t have facebook friends who are rabbottians then set up an alternative facebook eg afllords look up billy moir and I’ll befriend you and you can see what ‘truth’ is to one section of Australia.)
    disingenuous of the abc with a set of 3 scenes with joyce in front of photos of men, a young woman then a room full of men. What was the relevance of a single photo insert in a section on the nationals?
    Then to let that idiot get away with ‘you have one vote I have one vote’ that prick has two votes and regardless of our vote he will say NO NO shows why a kerry obrien wouldn’t get a job on the current abc
    beauty jagger the dixxxbransimkims need to apologise for their 2009 brainsnap and get behind labor to lift climate change out of joyce’s rabbottian sewer and back on the agenda???

  4. king1394

    The right have always worked on privatising the successful publicly owned assets but socialising the market failures, usually by making sure that struggling businesses such as coal mining and coal based power generation are subsidised and assisted in every way.

  5. Tristan Ewins

    ‘Left and Right coming together’ might either mean political/social authoritarianism , but with more social welfare and economic intervention ; or otherwise ‘free markets and social libertarianism’. Neither provides us with an answer ; though there are potential divisions the Left can take advantage of to shift the terms of debate. Certain we should be in dialogue with right-wing forces to moderate their policy outlook as much as we can manage. On the other hand ‘a shift of the relative economic centre’ to the Left is possible. Remember even Menzies once supported more steep progressive income taxes than we have today ; and a stronger public sector. If a ‘consensus’ forms that neo-liberalism is past its usefulness this creates room for Labor to substantially revise its policies. I for one would like to see Labor bring Australia to the OECD average in terms of taxation and expenditure as a proportion of GDP. That could provide scope for welfare reform, public-financed infrastructure, national aged care insurance, a big investment in public housing, cutting waiting lists and improving mental health services (with policies to ‘close the gap’ in terms of mental health related life expectancy) , more money for schools and universities – emphasising personal growth also – and not only ‘labour market demands’. There’s much more – but you probably get the picture. We need to have internal conversations – but we need to ‘reach out’ as well. We need to contest society’s ‘common sense’.

  6. Harquebus

    “We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.”
    We are liable for the cost of a healthy planet. We just haven’t paid it yet.

    Energy will be the main focus of federal politics this week. At last. Not that our politicians will accomplish anything. The ineptitude of the political classes will once again be clear for all to see.

    “As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.” — Noam Chomsky

  7. diannaart

    If regulations as so restrictive why not carte blanche for everything?

    Responsible people are self-regulating right?

    Imagine our footy finals rules free. Or little Jenny & Johnnie’s birthday games, cricket might even get interesting, ice-hockey?, on-line dating… any type of dating…

  8. Kronomex

    What’s the bet that Rupert (all hail the Murdoch) will have his lobbyists out in force in Canberra in the halls of the LNP to to try and destroy the CBS bid. Gasp! Allow some foreign company to buy a TV network? Only Murdoch (all hail the Rupert) can be allowed to do that. How dare that upstart CBS try and “muscle” in on his divine given turf!


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