Wednesday 13 July 2016
So now that the dust has settled and we have a new government, as a nation, how have we advanced? Has it cleared the air? Well some Australians spoke with a very clear voice that should have shaken the government to the core. However, the majority still voted to re-elect a government that had wasted three years of the nation’s life.
It’s true that some expressed the view that they were unhappy with the Government’s work but the majority said that they were quite happy for the Government to continue in the manner in which it had.
Whilst there was some superficial acknowledgement that some sections of the community were justifiably displeased, Coalition members have shown no contrition, remorse, or the slightest hint of apology. It seems that despite a big fright it will be business as usual.
What’s the wash up then? Well the Government, in spite of the scare they got, is acting like the win was in accordance with their right to rule. The “just trust us” attitude still prevails and they intend implementing their “jobs and growth” plan. There might be some adjustments here and there but overall everything remains the same. Listening to post election comments by senior Cabinet ministers and officials last week one is left with the impression that it hasn’t occurred to them that they almost lost.
But of course it’s somewhat more complicated than that.
If their governance was so appalling for the last three years how on earth will it improve with a Prime Minister whose reputation has been ravaged, a slim majority, a divided Government and a Senate more shambolic than the last.
At a time when it is beyond doubt that the world is in need of a new innovative (dare I use the word) approach to policy-making, progressive politics has missed out. Undoubtedly old ways of doing things have been superseded by new ways of looking at economics and social issues that affect inequality. But has it passed us by?
It seems like we are stuck with traditional conservative thinking like the “drip down effect”.
Let’s go through some of the issues, starting with leadership.
The Prime Minister came to the job canvassing a new politic. One that included transparency and honesty. He was quickly found to be a hypocrite when he sold out his principles to the extremists of his party. Some people saw through his deceit and he will be forever tainted for it.
I’m talking about Malcolm’s early declaration that he would be honest, transparent and accountable. It seems though that the Nationals will have none of that and want a secret deal with the Liberals. Both parties are very fond of secrecy when it suits them.
Will we be left wondering what further policies the Prime Minister has caved in on to secure his job? It is said that Joyce will demand a down grading for Renewable Energy.
Speaking in Melbourne on Monday, Shorten said:
“Australians are entitled to know what deals are being done to constitute the government of Australia”.
“Not only should there not be a secret agreement, there shouldn’t be secret deals full stop”.
There have been some murmurings that health will have to be given a higher priority because it nearly cost them the election but Morrison is indicating otherwise.
In fact he is suggesting that the budget will be presented in its entirety. Wishful thinking there. The business tax cuts haven’t a hope in hell of being passed by the Senate. The Government may actually welcome this because the growth projections to pay for them were also wishful thinking.
Superannuation, a great fountain of contention within the Party will again take center stage because it directly effects their wealthy constituents. It is one of the areas where big savings can be made. If not, there it has to be from health, social services or education.
The fact remains, however, that superannuation tax concessions for the rich and privileged will shortly cost as much as the aged pension. It cannot continue. The word ‘fairness’ comes to mind.
The Guardian put it this way:
“The Australia Institute estimates that $A100bn worth of spending cuts and revenue measures may be open to negotiation in the Senate following the federal election. These include the Coalition’s plan to progressively reduce the company tax rate and changes to family allowances. The Coalition may need the support of crossbenchers for key policies if they are rejected by the Opposition and the Greens”.
Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos says the Coalition has a mandate for its Budget measures, which of course puts a new meaning to the word ‘bullshit’.
Now let’s move onto the very reason we were having an election, the ABCC. Hardly mentioned during the campaign the fact that he won’t have the numbers for a double dissolution will be a source of great embarrassment.
Then of course we have the $150 million dollar plebiscite on marriage equality. One of those things that is sure to cause, despite Turnbull’s assurances, great dissent in the community with the potential to get out of hand. It could of course all be avoided if the PM showed some intestinal fortitude and leadership. I’m tipping an ugly debate when the likes of the Australian Christian Lobby and Cory Bernardi cut loose.
We don’t finish there of course. Pauline Hanson knows more about global warming than the world’s best scientific institutions and 95% of the world’s climate scientists, and her price to pass budget measures might well be the abolition of renewable energy targets. One Nation opposes such targets and wants renewable energy subsidies to be abolished. Really, what does one say?
The problems of a second rate NBN will have to be addressed sooner or later. The copper system we are building now will decline and it will not cope with an increase in population.
What are Turnbull’s plans for an Australian Republic if the Queen passes away during his term in office?
What plans does he have to address growing inequality? A dilemma that economists identify as one of the major challenges facing the world. Drip down economics has never worked and never will.
What now happens to universities and the Gonski reforms? Will equality of opportunity in education be relegated to the Dark Ages of conservative thinking in which conservative politicians want to remain?
And at the summit of all our problems and perhaps the one that needs to be attended to first, is the crisis in our democracy. Our institutions are badly in need of repair and reform from the passing of time and the Abbott years. It is like a motor vehicle that has been neglected and badly in need of a tune up.
The same can be said of our two major major parties.
The highest educated group of politicians ever elected, with degrees from the best learning institutions in the world couldn’t run the show for the last three years. What gives you confidence that they can for the next three?
What do you think? If you didn’t understand Turnbull’s plan for jobs and growth do you know what his second-term agenda is?
My thought for the day.
“Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it”.
PS. I forgot to mention that someone who hungers for seconds still lingers at the door of the parliamentary dining room.