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Day to Day Politics: The downfall of a super ego

Australia has suffered yet another poor week of governance. The Government who told us that our MPs didn’t have the intellectual skills to pass legislation that, over time, we had on many occasions, said we wanted, sent us a question. Then they passed legislation that got overwhelming support to introduce without even need of a vote draconian legislation to stop the hate speech it knew would ensue. If you work that out, will you please contact me?

The week started and ended with no Energy Policy and because of the internal bitter battles going on within the Coalition, we are unlikely to have one. They even publicly tried to bully an energy company to keep open beyond its used-by date to make amends for its own lack of foresight.

Incredibly, Turnbull says that Shorten is the most left-wing Labor leader in decades, while at the same time he presents himself as being the most interventionist leader since Labor’s Ben Chifley wanted to nationalise the banks.

On top of that yet another scandal has erupted with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s appointment of the now former head of the building industry watchdog:

Labor’s employments spokesman Brendan O’Connor says Senator Cash’s position has become “untenable.”

“It would be a fundamental breach of ministerial responsibility not to disclose legal proceedings.”

But as “Nurses1968” said on my post yesterday; “The scary thing about all this is no matter how bad this lot of miscreants are performing, 7,211,263 voters out there are ready to give them another 4 years.”

This week marked Malcolm Turnbull’s two-year anniversary of seizing the Liberal Party leadership from Tony Abbott. It’s therefore time to pause and think about how he got here and what has transpired since. Prime Ministers like to leave a legacy. Keating – Mabo and economic reform. Howard – GST. Rudd – the apology. Hawke – economic reform. Gillard – the “carbon tax” which Abbott repealed and will be remembered for.

Sean Kelly in his Monthly Today newsletter 14 September summed up where Malcolm Turnbull might end up:

“A little over two and a half weeks ago, Leigh Sales asked Malcolm Turnbull a very pointed question: “You have been prime minister now for nearly two years. How is it possible that, in all of that time, you’ve not yet managed to have a signature achievement?”

Turnbull, obviously taken aback, began by nominating changes to schools funding. Sales parried, saying that was initiated by Labor. Turnbull said, what about restoring the Building and Construction Commission? Then he added reducing company taxes, and reforming childcare. He added Snowy Hydro (Sales pointed out it was only a feasibility study so far). He listed a strong economy, and keeping Australians safe from terrorism.

At one point in the midst of this, Sales said, “But do you really want historians to look back and when they look for your signature achievement they go, ‘Oh, well, it was the continuation of a Labor policy, it was the company tax, it was the ABCC’?”
No prime minister likes to be called a minnow, which was effectively what was happening, and you can see why Turnbull was frustrated: some of the items he listed are not small achievements. But to say so demands that I add the following, for completeness: most of them are not, either, what you could call large achievements.”

Tony Abbott came to the Prime Ministership with a mixture of negative malevolence, callous misogyny, lying, cheating and creating crisis when none existed. With the support of Rupert Murdoch he successfully deceived the Australian public into believing that the country would be better in his hands. The evidence of his unconscionable leadership is open for all to see.

Since that time he has been on a mission of unabashed destruction even to the point of being willing to bring down his party if he gets Turnbulls back at the same time.

Conversely, Malcolm Turnbull, attained the office with a calculated mixture of personal charm, reasonableness, and consummate diplomacy. He presents a façade of calm confidence and understanding in stark contrast to Abbott who showed all of the traits of a man who had lost control of his emotions.

Since that time we have learn’t that it was all but a facade. He has proven to be just another politician willing to sell his soul to the highest bidder. He has been a monumental failure even to those on the left who had dared think that he at least might bring a modicum of decorum to the politics of the day.

In December 2014 The Saturday Paper said this of Turnbull:

“He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humour; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation.”

It seemed inevitable that one will replace the other. I for one, like many on the left, didn’t subscribe to the theory that Abbott in power gives Labor the greatest chance of winning the next election. It may be true to some extent but the current state of our democracy demanded that the tempestuous buffoon Abbott be removed and the matter was urgent. At the time I thought nothing could be worse.

We wondered what might be different under Turnbull:

Climate Change. Remember these words?:

“As we are being blunt, the fact is that Tony and the people who put him in his job do not want to do anything about climate change. They do not believe in human caused global warming. As Tony observed on one occasion “climate change is crap” or if you consider his mentor, Senator Minchin, the world is not warming, it’s cooling and the climate change issue is part of a vast left-wing conspiracy to deindustrialise the world.”

“Many Liberals are rightly dismayed that on this vital issue of climate change we are not simply without a policy, without any prospect of having a credible policy but we are now without integrity. We have given our opponents the irrefutable, undeniable evidence that we cannot be trusted.”

If ever words have come back to haunt a political party … it is those.

There exists in the Coalition Party Room at least 50% of its members who are fervent climate deniers. They will have nothing to do with the science.

Turnbull originally hung his hat on a firm belief that it is real and that the party’s current policy of Direct Action is nothing more than a joke. He has completely sold out any support for renewable energy, emissions targets and investment.

His hypocrisy will be difficult to overcome now that he has caved into the National Party. If anything he has demonstrated to the Australian people just how far politicians are willing to go in the pursuit of power. Even if you have to pay a cool couple of million.

One of Turnbull’s first problems was, as an intelligent individual, to form a balanced (I mean women) front bench. He should have disposed of the likes of Pyne, who he detests, and others like Dutton who are publicly disliked and who have passed their used by date.

He should not have reinstated into the Ministry all of the untalented disoriented, characterless and anachronistic group we have now and his credibility has suffered because of it.

He is a Liberal amongst neo conservatives and a sprinkling of Tea Party nutters.

As an outspoken supporter of gay rights it would naturally be expected that he would allow a conscience vote on the matter of marriage equality. But no, he was confronted by a huge number of homophobic Bernardie type personalities who demanded a plebiscite. He again caved in and again faced charges of hypocrisy.

As I see it the major challenges Turnbull faces are firstly his own ego which he depends on far too much, secondly the public’s perception of his party as untrustworthy ideologues, thirdly the Abbott factor. If he can’t be rid of him then Abbott will get rid of Turnbull. And fourthly if he cannot control and bring the party back to the centre from the extremity of the far right he is gone.

As a party with a born to rule mentality together with an obsessiveness’ towards telling people what’s best for them they will find it hard to listen to people of constraint and reason.

For a party now so infiltrated with political nutters it might be a bridge too far, or at least a bridge over very troubled waters.

What’s manifestly best for Australia should have been Turnbull’s first consideration but Malcolm has always been Malcolm’s first thought.

He has never been tough enough to stand up to the extremists in his party and that’s what is needed to make these words a reality:

“ … it is vitally important, both as a matter of social justice and political reality, that structural changes are seen as being fair across the board”

“That means not only must tough decisions be justified, but that the burden of adjustment is not borne disproportionately by one part of the community.”

My thought for the day

We all have to make important decisions in our lives. None more important than the rejection of those things that tempt us into being somebody we are not.

PS: Vote YES.


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  1. Möbius Ecko

    Jaw dropping gobsmacked, I heard a political presenter on ABC TV say Turnbull had a good week.

    If that’s what Murdoch’s ABC considers a good week, then Turnbull has been an utter disaster up until now. Then again his terrible media policy got through, making his master Rupert very happy, meaning it was a good week for the rich and powerful yet again.

  2. bearbrooke

    In 1970 Alvin Toffler published the book Future Shock. To understand the plights of politicians like Turnbull, Trump, May, perhaps we should consider the thesis of this book — that we live in an age of anxiety and in era of constant and rapid social and technological change. We, and our politicians, are the victims of a technological, sociological and environmental transformation.

    “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation induced in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time,” Toffler wrote.

    The accelerating changes Toffler predicted included the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities “swiftly fabricated and ruthlessly destroyed,” and the end of blue-collar “second-wave” manufacturing, to be replaced by a “third wave” of knowledge workers. Toffler touched on the problems created by globalisation.

    Any judgement of a political leader which does not include these issues is inadequate. The emergence of a leader such as Malcolm Turnbull is symptomatic of a widespread societal malaise, a self-induced psychological and emotional trauma which has reduced our (human) behaviour to fugue-like powerlessness. Turnbull, Trump, May are as weak and dysfunctional as we have made them.

    The tone of your essay John Lord is merely descriptive, monotonously so because you have said it all before. You are capable of deeper insights. When I was a working journalist yours was the kind of essay we described belittlingly as a ‘filler’, a piece that filled otherwise empty space.

  3. johno

    Bearbrooke, I remember reading Future Shock back in the 70’s. Affluenza by Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss is a more recent/ but similar take on our wayward consumption.

  4. Kronomex

    To paraphrase an old saying about the Turnbull gummint (they don’t deserve the proper word): The country is now like a head with the chicken cut off.

  5. wam

    There are no votes in climate change, Lord and the no adverts show lying is truth to those who believe.

    The NOs on my page are buoyed by the ‘vicious’ attacks of the yes.

    In exactly the same way as the believer who never watches the ABC can truthfully say the ABC is left wing. They can avoid fair discussion by quoting extreme action.
    With apologies to Toffler)

    The illiterate of Australia are not those who can’t read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn.

    The tragedy of the no is that belief that cannot be questioned makes lies truth immutable.

    All that is needed is a bit of fear and change is dead even when the change will make no difference to their lives belief that it will is truth.

    ps is ‘labor hates coal’ is it the next slogan?

  6. nurses1968

    Wam September 16, 2017 at 9:02 am “There are no votes in climate change” and it seems not much support for many issues dealt with by progressive media by the general public
    A Roy Morgan Survey
    “What do you think is the most important problem facing the World today?” and then “What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?”

    38% of Australians believe Economic Issues are the most important set of problems facing Australia

    This is up 4% since October 2015;

    Terrorism,wars, security,safety 30.8%

    Religion, Immigration and Human Rights issues were mentioned by just over 13% of Australians;

    Government, Politics and Leadership issues were mentioned by a further 12%; and

    Environmental issues were mentioned by 10% of Australians.

    A world view

    Religion/ Immigration/ Human Rights are mentioned as being the World’s biggest problem by 8% (down 7%).
    These problems include Refugees & Asylum seeker problems 5% (down 4%) and Religion/ Religious fundamentalism 2% (down 1%)
    Politics/Political system/Leadership is mentioned by 3% (up 1%).

  7. helvityni

    “He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humour; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation.”

    WOW ! Who wrote this?

    I read it to hubby, wanting to find out if he knew the man in article. His reply, hmm, wait, it’s the big boy…Hickey, no, Hockey…yes Joe….is he dieting…?

    I thought, maybe Whitlam, then the little leather jacket gave it away….

  8. wam

    good one nurses 1968 sadly terror is in the lnp treasure box but labor is still avoiding the economic reality that this government has been wasteful to double the debt and still blame labor for the debt. Why not at least explain about the stimulus and use the personal vindictive actions the money wasted on the pink batts royal commission, show the lies about debt crisis and say despite doubling the debt we have AAA don’t just lie back and think of england then ask
    ‘what do we have to show from the borrowed money??

    ps the environmental issues well well don’t the dixxxbransimkims attract 10%???

  9. nurses1968

    wam “ps the environmental issues well well don’t the dixxxbransimkims attract 10%???”

    rarely , in the big league

  10. jim

    The NBN wrecked by these LNP incompetents, eg, optic fiber = speed of light, copper wire = speed of the electrons (in the wire) copper wire shorts out when wet or corroded or flooded NBN street boxes ,
    optic fiber does not, optic fiber way way way, out lasts copper wire also, there is the impedment of stepping down from fiber to copper wire instead of going straight to your house. but hey this is what the murdoch/ipa/lnp wanted a wrecked NBN.
    I think the LNP really want it wrecked the most as they know murdoch would lose audiences thereby losing the ability to sway Austraila’s democratic elections.
    We must, repeat we must, get media corporations out of our elections how do you think the LNP has stayed in government for around 30 years longer than any other party .I think above all we all hate liars big time.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Agree with you 101%, Jim.

  12. Kaye Lee

    One thing they don’t tell you is that, if you have FttN technology thrust upon you, when it goes down it takes out your land line with it even if you are in the middle of a call. Mine goes out pretty much every day, usually only for a few minutes, sometimes for an hour or two, and occasionally for the whole day. Telstra NBN has admitted there is a problem and they gave me a fifty dollar credit on my next bill at the same time as saying there is nothing they can do about the outages – the technology doesn’t work.

  13. Harquebus

    Been on the NBN for about a month now. HFC. Works great and did from day 1. I have not had one problem with it.

    That said, they could have done it a lot better. There was no need to abandon my home ADSL nor rewire my home. Bridging ADSL to fiber at the node instead of ethernet to HFC in my lounge room would have been so much simpler. Why didn’t they do it that way? Because it is designed to be a business that they can flog off and not as a public service.

    There was nothing wrong with the copper network. Yes the ends suffer corrosion and the pits needed upgrading but, that was all. All this talk of corroded copper cables is B.S. Some of it was a 100 years old and still in good condition.

    The NBN was designed badly from the start. Blame Conroy for that and Alston before him. Turnbull did what Turnbull does; completely stuff the stuff up.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Gee Harquebus,

    Every single technician who is actually involved in the roll out that I have dealt with, and let me tell you, between home and work, that is a lot, vehemently disagree with you. But of course, you may know better than the guys who are actually installing these things every day.

  15. Michael Taylor

    One day – hopefully not too far in the future – someone will come up with something that makes even FTTP seem antiquated.

    But having had both Conroy’s FTTP and Turnbull’s FTTN I can tell you which one is the best: Conroy’s by an astronomical unit (92,000,000 country miles).

    In Canberra – where we had the Conroy plan – Carol and I enjoyed download speeds of 98.5 mps. Move to Victoria – and back to ADSL2 they dropped to 4.5. Finally get Turnbull’s NBN and they’re between 2.9 and 3.5. And on top of that it cost $30 a month more than we paid for Conroy’s.

    Everybody – EVERYBODY – says that Turnbull sent us backwards. Every expert on the issue in the country has condemned Turnbull for what he has done.

    But even with the most obvious of failures, there’ll always be one person who is happy with it. ⬆️

  16. crypt0

    Call me a cynic, but I suspect that trumble IS leading a party that is as committed to effective action on climate change as he is.
    Which is to say … only in theory.

  17. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    My information came from Telstra technicians during our networking studies which, get this, included cabling. Maintenance did become an issue after the privatization of Telstra. Another big mistake. As long as copper is not exposed to the atmosphere, it is fine. This is why only the ends corrode.

    Michael Taylor
    Copper can carry a signal over a few hundred meters to a node a lot better than it can over kilometers to an exchange.
    It could have been that, none of us need do anything and internet speeds would have magically increased greatly.

  18. Kaye Lee

    November 14, 2003

    Telstra will replace its century-old copper wire phone network with new technology within the next 15 years, saying the ageing lines are now at “five minutes to midnight”.

    Telstra’s manager of regulatory strategy, Tony Warren, gave the Senate broadband inquiry details of the company’s problems with its ageing copper network.

    He said ADSL, the high-speed internet service that runs over copper wires, was the bridging broadband technology Telstra was using until it replaced the network.

    He described ADSL as the “last sweat” of revenue Telstra could wring out of the 100-year-old copper wire network.

    Ten years later, along come Tony and Malcolm to let Telstra “sweat” more profit out of aging technology. Shades of coal-fired power stations.

  19. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    ‘Manager of regulatory strategy.’ Yeah, right. And you, unsurprisingly, believe him.
    Copper is not the best medium but, it was adequate for most purposes. We have been incumbered with expense and complexity that was not necessary. There was nothing stopping FTTP for those that needed it.
    Another example of the failure of politics.

  20. Kaye Lee

    An independent source then?

    Alan Kohler, 2003

    “in world terms, Telstra is flogging a sick horse, if not quite a dead one, and the world is rapidly moving towards FTTH – including in Australia. TransACT has laid fibre to the home in Canberra; Western Power subsidiary Bright Telecommunications is doing it in Perth.

    Telstra’s spin is that it doesn’t know what the future holds. Warren again (to the Senate committee): “I think it is fair to say that everyone is thinking, ‘What’s the next network?’ and a lot of parties are trying to put down bets. Telstra is obviously asking: ‘Which bet do we put down? Is it wireless? Is it satellite? Is it fibre to the home? Is it whatever?’ ”

    It’s fibre to the home, Tony. You know it, I know it and Ziggy knows it. But it’ll cost $15 billion to cover Australia, and a third of that will never be economic because of the long distances of fibre with no one connected in between.”

  21. Kaye Lee

    The first significant quote comes from the April 1998 edition of Australian Communications. At the time, Telstra wanted to build a Fibre-to-the-Node network as a competition blocker and get rid of ADSL-based internet. Telstra’s Group Manager of Corporate Affairs, Martin Ratia, said: “We are not going to keep archaic technology going just for a couple of service providers who do not want to upgrade… We cannot keep a copper network in this country for half a dozen ISPs who want to make a quid.” Around that time, Telstra CEO, Frank Blount, forecast that the customer network would be all Fibre by 2010.

    In 2004 a spokesperson said, “Telstra is not interested in pursuing VDSL. We are not trialling VDSL. We see fibre to the premises as the most likely technology to support very high speed access services of the future.”

    In 2012 Telstra submitted to the ACCC that it refused to offer a Naked ADSL service (internet without phone line) on account of (as ITNews puts it) “increased fault rates” from “corrosion” caused by “moist air” and “actual water ingress” to the cables which make up its infrastructure,” making the practice unworkable.

    Read the whole sorry tale here

  22. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Alan Kohler! You’re going from bad to worse.

    I could trade links with you but, will provide just one to demonstrate that your assertions are contestable.

    “The copper has been going well for a hundred years. I think it will keep going for another hundred. It’s perfectly OK. There is some copper that is a lot older than others, but copper does not ­decompose.”

    Telstra’s Copper Network Is Good For The Next Century Says David Thodey

    I will say this again; it would have been much simpler and cheaper to bridge the local copper networks to fiber at the node rather than implement fiber to every household. The improvement would have been more than adequate for most and because the ADSL protocol could still have been used at the local level, most of us would not have had to change a thing.

    The transition to the NBN should have occurred without any of us having to do anything.

    Also, if I could have had my way, every phone line would have had free limited, e.g. 256kbps, internet. Every household, as long as a phone line was connected, would have had the internet. Good enough for email and student research.

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