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Day to Day Politics: An election like all the others.

Wednesday April 6 2014

1 In my naivety, after so much damage had been done by Tony Abbott to our democratic institutions, I like many others thought that with the advent of Malcolm Turnbull, that a new era of politics might be possible, one in which civility prevailed over crass debate. I had hoped that this election might somehow be the contest of ideas that Bill Shorten had talked about.

I was of course wrong. After watching the debacle last week that cumulated in the states knocking back Turnbull’s states tax proposal I am convinced that this election will follow all others before it with the same quantity of rusted on bullshit that attaches itself to those who seek power over leadership and governance for the common good. It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises designed to either gain or retain office.

2 Yesterday’s Newspoll 51/49 to Labor result got everyone excited at the possibility of a Labor victory. No one seemed to notice that the Morgan Poll released the same day had the Coalition well ahead on 52.5 to Labor 47.5. Morgan suggested, if you believe them, that this was because Turnbull was showing leadership. You can add to the mix Tuesday’s Essential Poll which had the two parties on 50/50.

Polls only ever reflect what people are thinking at the time. They are not a ‘who will win’ barometer this far out. One would need to look at seat by seat polling to get a feel for that. However, Labor has to be pleased with the trend towards it.

The fact is, that the government is in very bad shape with a leader who seems to be in very poor form. His Government is riddled with disunity. Even the mouth that roared, Chrissy Pyne agreed after hearing the Newspoll result on Q&A. Nobody feigns indignation better than the fixer.

Abbott is in the background being who he is. Conservative senator Cory Bernardi is registering his own Donald Trump-style political party and Morrison isn’t talking with the boss, but both he and Mathias Cormann are. They pop up here there and everywhere talking and talking and talking like the proverbial broken record. Rarely do they actually say anything.

Andrews would even challenge with half a chance. Turnbull puts things on the table and takes them off before people have had a chance to peruse the menu.

His ‘last big idea’ that was presented to the Premiers, a tiered tax system together with segregated education system, lasted three days. The process Turnbull used to present his ideas was simply deplorable. If a manager presented a plan such as this, on a sheet of A4 to the board of a major company they would laugh him out of the boardroom. We deserve better than this sort of crap. Pardon my Tonyism.

Somehow the Murdoch press managed to spin it as Turnbull confronting the states. Can you believe it?

Now if you believe Turnbull, Morrison and Cormann that the only problem we have is one of spending too much, then the budget is a disaster waiting to happen, then the next budget will have to be the most draconian in recent history. The question arises will they do the right thing for the country or will they present a survival budget with an eye on doing the dirty work in a second term if the win?

3 Turnbull faces many problems as the election approaches. The two that stand out are ones of comparative fairness. It was he after all who said that the government had to apply a fairness test to its proposals. He wants to give business a tax break in the midst of raging controversy over corporations and wealthy individuals not paying any. Stories of the prevalence of tax evasion are everywhere, on TV, the radio and news programs. The super-rich and the privileged don’t have to pay. Why should we?

The Panama Papers have revealed some 800 Australians people being investigated by the ATO. People see the unfairness. PAYG taxpayers must think the government is just using them to cook the books.

Only last month the Tax Office admitted that 321 companies with earnings over $200 million didn’t pay any tax in 2013-2014. The Melbourne Institute which shows the top 1 per cent of Australian earners had amassed 9 per cent of Australian income in 2013, more than double the rate of wealth concentration than was the case in the 1980s.

I mean fair suck of the sav as someone once said.

4 They want the ABCC legislation passed and won’t even consider structuring an authority to oversee corruption in big business and government. People see the unfairness. It looks like and sounds like a vendetta against Unions for no other reason than political gain.

So to repeat myself.

It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises, all designed to either gain or retain office. Nothing more, nothing less.

5 Quoting Peter Hartcher.

Australia had a bipartisan consensus on climate change under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. The consensus was that climate change was real and that pricing carbon through an emissions trading scheme was the best way for Australia to respond.

Abbott shattered the consensus. He rode to power on a conservative reaction against climate change action. He used it to destroy Turnbull’s leadership and then Rudd’s and, finally, Julia Gillard’s. The bleaching of the Barrier Reef.

In the first week of the news breaking, it ranked as the ninth most reported subject, according to the media monitoring specialists at iSentia. The most reported topics of that week in Australia were tax reform, the Twenty20 World Cup, the Socceroos, the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Egyptian airline hijacking.

In the second week, as more evidence of yet more extensive mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef emerged, the topic dropped to number 10.

Similarly, there was relatively little reporting of the record-breaking heatwaves of February, says iSentia’s Patrick Baume.

Why? “It’s only a hypothesis, but I think there’s been a peaking of interest or concern” in matters related to climate change.

“It’s seen as something a bit from the past, as if getting rid of the carbon tax meant we’d got rid of climate change. It’s a funny one.”

My thought for the day.

‘If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, what’s the point?



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  1. lawrencewinder

    “….Even the mouth that roared…” …..Mouth that “whyned”? He gave me the impression on QandA on Monday night that he had almost given up “fixing” things….it was now all beyond repair.

  2. stephentardrew

    John I must say I repeatedly warned of the deviousness of the Turnbull snake oil salesman and pointed out he was more dangerous than Abbot’s overt idiocy simply because of that deviousness and self-serving, seeming, reasonableness. He sold out his ideals so many times as to be laughable. That there was any hope of reprieve was misguided naiveté. Now is the winter of our fallen hopes and misguided wishes an desire that things would get better under any L-NP sycophant. Changing the skin does not remake the snake.

  3. Salstarat

    So true, lawrencewinder … the “Fixer” finally realised that there is no Elixir for the catastrophic mess created by the Abbott regime who stomped through our economy and environment like the Grim Reaper leaving destruction and chaos in its wake, not to mention an embarrassing legacy that left Australia as one of the most condemned nations on earth for its savage inhumanity against vulnerable asylum seekers! Sadly, the spinelessly weak Turncoat doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the bible thumping lunatic fringe of Abbott’s Flat Earth Society who go on sniping, griping and whining in the background like a pack of puerile, spoilt brats. The ONLY things in which Abbott proved competency is his ignominious ability to be a pathological, compulsive LIAR, cheat and rorter. Abbott may have the sly, conniving cunning of a fox but he is known, throughout the world, as one of the most moronic, crass bogans to have EVER led a once admired, compassionate western country into oblivion. The USA papers have recently stated what we all know, ie Abbott is one of the most despised and scorned politicians in the world! Nothing, not even the arrogant, ineffective Pyne can EVER fix what Abbott/Turnbull have done to damage everything we once loved about this nation! The only remedy is a resounding LOSS to the most hated government in Australia’s history at the next election.

  4. Carol Taylor

    John, you know what..I cannot imagine one single solitary thing which the Turnbull Libs want to do which would remotely come under the category of ‘fairness’. I believe that they are really struggling with this one and for the very reason which you so neatly summarise as: Turnbull puts things on the table and takes them off before people have had a chance to peruse the menu. Perhaps because everything which Turnbull presents is ultimately unpalatable to someone/somewhere. Goodbye to tacking negative gearing, goodbye to just about everything the moment that there is a whiff of opposition. Turnbull would be the epitome of the description that nobody knows what he stands for.

  5. Möbius Ecko

    One thing this government is doing right. They are not doing it because it’s the right thing, but because they have no choice.

    The Federal Government is preparing to write off billions of dollars of higher education loans as the number of bad debts soar.

    Also note the abject failure of their vocational education sector where Abbott gave millions to mates and allowed other dodgy education organisations to open and operate.

    Yet this government still plans on their university cuts and deregulation. They just don’t learn and even when their ideology completely fails they still stick to it.

  6. Ken McGrath

    Hi John love your work :).
    The thing I don’t understand is, if all these rich individuals and companies are legally going offshore to avoid tax why doesn’t everyone do it? All Australian businesses and contractors could do the same thing and then the government would get none of the taxes they collect now which would force them to act at last. Here is a link to a town in Wales that has proposed exactly that!

    If where I live on the Gold Coast, Qld. was to set up an offshore haven and all the businesses here set up shell companies they could legally shift their profits offshore! I wish someone would do it here and then see the government scream blue murder even though they are champions of unfettered capitalism and profit before people/society.

    And why has no one linked Turnbulls Caymen Islands accounts to what has been revealed by the ‘Panama papers’? I know he is not in the documents seen but that is only because he obviously uses a different front company as there are many such in operation but the question still should be asked, why does he have his money there and not in Australia? Does he not think his own country of which he is the PM worth investing in? labor should be hammering this point and demanding he reveal all in the public interest, he is NOT a private citizen he is our PM and answerable to the people!

    Cheers, Ken.

  7. margcal

    All so true and yet, and yet ….
    50-52.5% of voters “still” favour the LNP.
    How do we get around that problem?

  8. Darrell

    So how do we rid ourselves of this inept pack of cretins? As fast as we see the end of one moron, another pops up to replace them. Is our country really devoid of talented individuals who care for the greater good of all our citizens and not solely about stuffing their own self-serving idealogies down our throats?

  9. Zathras

    Many see little difference between tax avoidance and tax minimisation where both use methods unavailable to the general public.
    There’s one rule and opportunities for the wealthy and another for the rest.

    With the smell of political blood in the water, the sharks may yet revisit Malcolm’s Cayman Island situation.

  10. Matthew Oborne

    The Libs get in we know we get cuts to services, that is well understood, this far right remake is something new though and it is very disturbing, Watching Q&A and listening to the statement that the money was never there then Labor points out why was it counted as a savings measure? if the money didnt exist or wasnt going to then the budget wouldnt be better off by scrapping the education and health funding for gonski and our baby boomer situation.

    How are we going to pay for this health issue, Defence has been dramatically increased yet threats to state budgets loom, our premier in south australia started planning immediately pensioner rates cut on services was one of the measures but he had to start to address the issue because the worst of those costs are some years away but getting caught out when you know what is coming is not an option.

    Australia cant afford it seems to be the answer, The health of the baby boomers is in decline we are facing large increases to pay for their health and we have to, we cant just argue lesser services, The problem was treated as some sort of game by our Prime rump, and that was offensive, yes Turnbull has his health costs covered we all know that but we have to cover the health costs of these people and it isnt being addressed like somehow it will go away or the states will have to realise when to stop saving lives.

    Gonski is a big issue, but it wont bankrupt the states, the health issue has that potential, Sheridan called the states economic vandals, we live in those states states provide the services so are services vandalism?

    Labor has to point out we face real increases in costs that the Liberal party are not addressing cost blowouts that will massively damage our health care system if they are not addressed, are the Libs hoping not addressing this will destroy our health care for them and they can then say you all need to go private for own sakes?

    Finland seems to have found an answer to education as was mentioned again on Q&A, end private schools, better outcomes for less money, a country trying hard to pay off its budget has to put everything on the table, not protect privilege.

    The Prime Rump has shown beyond all doubt he is a dud, only two weeks after some journalists described him as a genius, history repeating itself, Abbott was described as a genius by Laurie Oakes.

  11. Lee

    Strewth u paint a very gloomy picture John Lord, for heaven sake give labor party a chance to alter the landscape instead of putting them in same category as the liberals whose mantra is lies and obfuscation.

  12. gee

    for me it’s not a case of “climate change” is less real, i’ve just given up on the whole species. we deserve our doom. we have already killed most of the life here, even if it is still twitching.

  13. Peter O'Connor

    Can’t disagree with your analysis overall, John, except for one fundamental angle. Unfortunately there is an underlying assumption, which to me is a deliberate MSM strategy but in your case maybe just a symptom of frustration, that all politicians are the same, they all suck, etc, etc. The current Opposition has done an incredible amount of policy work (73 I think at last count) and attached revenue raising initiatives and figures to them. They are in the public domain awaiting debate and there is rich talent on that side of the House available to join and dominate such debate against the straw people currently in power. Shorten may not be Bob Hawke but he has built and led unchallenged a united and purposeful team. And as for the other current and upcoming Labor talent – you’d have to run a sweep rather than a book on future PMs among that lot – my Qld and local bias would cause me to put $20 on the electorate of Griffith producing another PM (but this one would be a Champion!! unlike the previous dud). But the MSM script remains that all politicians are the same, Turnbull is a disappointment but safer than the alternative, the Tories are the safe economic managers (don’t get me started FFS!). It is past time to take a serious, careful and critical look at what the alternative government has to offer!

  14. Glenn K

    totally agree with you Peter. We have the opposition benches producing policy and the government producing thought bubble brain farts. LNP are scared to have a public debate about policy. When Turnbull states, as he did yesterday, that under the ALP the government would have to borrow more money – then he is clearly lying or very stupid about how our financial system works. I suspect he is lying.

  15. Terry2

    I have to admit – once again – that this government confuses me or maybe I’m just not keeping up.

    This morning Fran Kelly quizzed Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter on a number of matters but in particular the government’s desire to stop mums from double dipping – they don’t use that term any more – for Paid Parental Leave. Evidently their intended legislative changes are on the back shelf until after the election : worried about adverse fall out I’m guessing.

    It seems that the statutory entitlement of 18 weeks payment at the minimum wage (about $11000 in total) as introduced by Labor will be staying even though it was roundly condemned as being an insult to new mums by Tony Abbott when he was doing something other than surfing at Noosa and Bondi and pedalling his bike everywhere else.

    The next bit I’m not too sure of : we know that some employers top-up the statutory PPL to the level of normal income and we know that some employers actually pay full salary for periods of 26 weeks and beyond. This latter seems to be what the government now don’t like and sometimes call double-dipping (but not when an election is in the air) – they don’t like the idea that a new mum can actually receive more when on parental leave than when working full time and it seems that they want to stop this when they get a mandate at the next election.

    What exactly is going on, if there is a statutory entitlement of 18 weeks at the minimum wage what is wrong if an employer throws some extra dollars to a new mum while she’s off on parental leave : am I missing something ?

    All advice gratefully received !

  16. johnlord2013

    Lee and Peter. When writing a daily piece one suffers from an inability to develop continuity. In other words views that have previously been expressed.

  17. Backyard Bob

    ‘If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, what’s the point?

    I know it’s probably not exactly whet you meant, but we are not “stewards” of the environment. At best we are stewards of our own impact upon the environment, and sometimes not even in that sense.

  18. ImagiNation

    Repeated post…

    We begin today in Washington where a damning report on the US housing crash has just been released, and it points the finger squarely at the global investment bank Goldman Sachs, accusing the banking giant of misleading markets and manipulating clients in the lead-up to the meltdown.
    A powerful US Senate committee says Goldman Sachs made huge profits as the US mortgage market began to crash in 2007. The committee has also condemned a culture of greed, conflicts of interest and weak regulation throughout the financial system.

    …and the firm operated as Turnbull & Partners Ltd from then until 1997, when Turnbull moved to become a managing director and later a partner of Goldman Sachs.

    And you actually expect us to trust this un-elected bankster?

  19. margcal

    This morning, the ladies at after-gym coffee in the seat of Kooyong were opining that Turnbull wasn’t very good at all.
    The solution?
    Bring back John Howard, such a statesman.
    When I said “Heaven help us” it was taken as “Yes, we need Howard because Turnbull isn’t doing well”
    And that’s how Frydenberg gets elected.

    BTW, heard from Josh yesterday … ANZAC Day, that reason for more Liberal advertisng, is just around the corner so he delivers his Liberal ANZAC Day bumph once again. Disgusting.

  20. Paolo Soprani

    Why on earth would anyone vote for The Coalition? What is it about them that is either appealing or compelling? Can anyone name one good thing they have done since the 2013 election that has been of benefit to the country? I can’t. Can anyone help me? Oh, sorry, apart from getting rid of the worst Prime Minister in Australia’s history, one Tony Abbott. Can anyone help me out there?

  21. ImagiNation

    They got rid of Abbott?

  22. Alan Baird

    I say bring back Tone. Democracy in Oz feels so miserable we need some comic relief. Give him one more chance to confer a duchy on the queen. I’m sure she’d be chuffed. The giggles would be an improvement on what passes nowadays for fair assessment of things like tax reform for one. As John says above, it’s not a good pairing, suggesting tax cuts for business while they concurrently avoid it. When I see politicians offering this as actually being FAIR with an infuriating faux statesmanlike air I feel an Elvis “shoot the tele” moment coming on. The quality of debate on the GST increase recently for example was risible, the ABC leading the bleating about bracket creep and cheering for a GST increase, ignoring the fact that the masses who have NOT had a decent pay rise need have NO concerns about bracket creep! So apparently the poor are WELL OFF with no pay rise (oh the irony!) and the wealthy will be left feeling envious because they HAVE more money and bracket creep! Of course! It’s so obvious! Why didn’t I see that? It’s “the politics of inverted envy”, a new phenomenon. The average Joe will still cop it from the GST, and no genuine trade off like the folks that salivate at the thought of their pay rises leaving GST increases far behind. As we watch, a flat tax is getting closer and closer. Remember, it is hoi polloi that keep your index of inflation down low for you to enjoy while the “bracket creeps” weep crocodile tears all the way the the Cayman Islands.

  23. wam

    don’t blame the rabbott for number 6 lord the loonies drove the anticlimate agenda as a 2009 chrissie present to the boys in minchin’s camp (were they miffed by turnball – wong?) and they may have a winter solstice preference surprise for bill.
    Still your piece engenders some hope if bill can counter the no-slogan turnball’s parroting ‘living within our means’ but I am not holding my breath.
    As for ‘the thought’ we failed our new generation as shown by the rabbott, cash pyne et al and can only hope their new generation can correct our failures.

  24. totaram

    Matthew Osborne: ” a country trying hard to pay off its budget…”

    Please. Let us not fall for that spin. The important thing is for govt. spending (investment in education, infrastructure and health) to increase, so that we get more growth and jobs. You don’t get “jobs and growth” by cutting spending like these ideologues would like us to believe. Once we have more growth and jobs, many other things will fall into place. Of course we also need to fix taxation, for a variety of reasons. Learn more. at:

    Fiscal policy is a potent instrument for productivity growth

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