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Day to Day Politics: Looking for a brawl.

Wednesday 24 August

The ‘adults’ – as they are want to call themselves – have been in government for a term, and are now a couple of months into a second. How do we assess their performance? What have they done that progresses our nation? What policies have they implemented that serve the common good?

No doubt everyone will have a view that will be influenced by many factors. Allegiance to a party, objective analysis, bias or even single policy issues like education, health and the economy will influence your opinion. I cannot think of anything.

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

Now our Prime Minister leads, in the main, a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the religious right; the corporatist deal-makers; those who resemble the American Tea Party; and the technological Luddites who deny science.

They are mainly a party of aging men with little practical work life experience and obscure views often deep-seated in neoconservative principles.

Conservative men who can speak at will about what they oppose but have difficulty articulating what it is they believe in, or when they do it is clouded in the hue of feral, often hysterical, extremist privileged morality.

The Prime Minister is governing yet he is not persuading. So far, as Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success a person of intellect, persuading the people with reasonableness mobilising opinion behind his causes.

But the forces arrayed against Turnbull, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the Prime Minister can muster.

Most Prime Ministers when they achieve Government set out to put in place policy initiatives that might define a legacy they will be remembered for. John Howard’s GST, Paul Keating’s Native Title and Bob Hawke’s sweeping changes to our monetary system come to mind. They all burnt up their political capital in the knowledge that it doesn’t last for ever. They all focused on big things. Large programmes that remain indelible in Australia’s historical political discourse.

Is it just a case of the planets not aligning? That a left-leaning leader was elected to lead a party in the process of migrating to the extreme right. It is obvious that he gave up much to become Prime Minister and now goes through this façade of being something he is not. I know there are some who would disagree with that but I give him the benefit of the doubt.

So it remains interesting as to how he will, now that he can claim an election win, handle the extremists of his party. Also like Rudd he can claim ‘containment’ in the win as Rudd did in his loss. They would have lost with Abbott.

What is alarming however is the ever-increasing confrontational vitriol coming from senior members of the government. Even before legislation has been presented to the parliament they are demanding like a government that has a thirty seat majority that it should be passed. It is shaping up to be same-old same-old political strategies that make them look like fools in the public eye.

The tone of recent murmurings has all the trademarks of a brawl. It looks as though the ever-present ‘right to rule’ mentality has bypassed serious negotiation and compromise. So the blame game will continue, good government forgotten, and who gives a shit about the country.

Three testing questions will decide whatever legacy Turnbull leaves. Firstly, is how he manages the Lower House, and secondly, how he manages the cross bench senators and thirdly, how well he manages the nutters in his own party.

My feeling is that at some time he will have a confrontation that will decide his fate. At that time we will find out who Malcolm really is.

My thought for the day.

“The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media, self-serving government and self-interest groups”.

 

34 comments

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  1. Terry2

    Labor are, quite reasonably in my view, asking that their own election budget savings – in particular negative gearing restrictions on existing housing stock and reeling in associated capital gains tax concessions – be included in the government’s Omnibus Bill and that the government agree to sit down with Labor to negotiate on the proposed budget savings rather than foghorn baiting through the media.

    According to this morning’s news the government’s savings total $6.5 billion over the forward estimates – next four years – and Labor’s savings come in at $8 billion. Not sure if there is any cross-over there.

    The ball is now in the government’s court to see if they will moderate their language and quietly sit down with the opposition and work through the budget savings that are best for the economy and in the interests of the Australian people.

    There is no doubt that if the Prime Minister and Treasurer sit down with their Labor counterparts they can potentially achieve much more than the silly name calling that Cormann indulged in at the Sydney Institute : there must be something funny in the soup at that venue !

  2. Dan

    It amazes me that so many people are still waiting for the REAL Malcom.
    Lets put this in some real life context :
    You hired someone with an outstanding resume,
    You brought something from a wonderfully glossy brochure,
    You went on a date because of an amazing profile,

    After nearly a year of let downs and failure to live up to any of the expectations or promises would you still be,
    Employing,
    Dating
    Using
    The simple answer is no.

  3. keerti

    “My feeling is that at some time he will have a confrontation that will decide his fate. At that time we will find out who Malcolm really is.”

    I seriously wonder if we will ever find out who turnpuke really is. I doubt that he knows himself.Turnpuke is a chameleon type of psychopath who has changed his colours so often that even he doesn’t know which ones are real. Psychologically he has so much invested in hiding the nasty little boy inside himself and seducing the world into believing the “nice,” resonable exterior. It’s a fairly convincing act which he would have started age 8 or so, but it relies for it’s success on self emasculation. Thus we have a “wishy washy wanker” masquerading as a Prime Minister. When he gets deposed, either by one of the abutt crew or the electorate, we might get to see the real turnpuke. That’ll be if he explodes in self righteous rage. We saw a little of it on election noght, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. If it happens we’ll likely be told that we’ll be sorry and we may be. Not because we don’t have turnpuke though! For some strange reson we are “treated” to a lot of upset little boys who “govern” out of their sickness which otherwise call themselves the liberal party.

  4. helvityni

    keerti, good assessment of our PM; he’s a hurt little boy, and the hurt is always bubbling there underneath, ready to pop out..

    I don’t see any real charm, but maybe somebody like Pauline does.

  5. pierre wilkinson

    “Now our Prime Minister leads, in the main, a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the religious right; the corporatist deal-makers; those who resemble the American Tea Party; and the technological Luddites who deny science…..”

    Regrettably, there are quite a few who can tick all these boxes.

  6. stephentardrew

    A goodie John. When a political movement forgets the people leaving them to their own devices while extracting every bit of wealth for themselves the outcome is predictable. Your kindness and tolerance shines through however we are dealing with the dogmatic and intolerant fully immersed in a magical, mythical realm of judgement, blame and retribution. The obvious facts are they simply get worse as Labor leans more and more right embracing Thatcher and Reagan’s dystopian neoliberal lies. We cannot event stand against absurd wars destroying the fabric of the world simply for greed and political hubris sanctimoniously labelled democracy. Democracy my arse.

    Unfortunately the rot is deep and to look to conservatives for meaningful change and stability is a total waste of time. No-liberalism is inherently unstable leading to endless cycles of boom and bust. Who may I ask is challenging this entrenched farce. Economics is not a science it is what the ruling elites can shape into a system of inequality with themselves way at the top. Labor seems to have learned well.

    Turnbull is Faust and beyond redemption because we, and in fact he, no longer know who the hell he is. One thing is certain he will surely sell his soul for power. Morel people make a stand. He is lost.

  7. Lyn Barrett Henderson

    Enjoy yor articles John

  8. Kronomex

    Malcolm thinking (I wonder if this pose looks as threatening as it did when I spent an hour practicing it in front of the mirror? Should I go “Grrr” as well? I like my “I’m angry, really angry” pose.) Malcolm unthinks.
    We already know what Malcolm is, he’s so desperate to remain Sub-Prime Minister that he let the right wing lunatics put his nuts in a choke collar and leash. I really don’t see him lasting the three years, in fact I’ll be surprised if he lasts twelve months.

  9. guest

    stephentardrew

    “…as Labor leans more and more right…”

    The difference in the policies of Labor against the Coalition at the 2016 election could not be more stark. I do not understand why you cannot see that. To link Labor policies with Thatcher and Reagan is ridiculous.

    If you are referring to Labor embracing Coalition immigration policies or following the US into war, those directions are demanded by a populace obsessed with the fear of being invaded by the invaded.

  10. helvityni

    Good post, Guest; Australia is an island country and obsessed with border security, and fears anything different (wild brown people ?)

    Finland has a border with the mighty Russia, yet they are not paranoid, they have diplomacy at their service..

  11. helvityni

    …also , do the Liberals care about the state of public education, medicare, pensions, public transport, homeless, mentally ill, affordability of tertiary education, about how major banks treat their customers, CC…

    I agree they have both behaved badly when it comes to asylum seekers, but even here the Liberals are more inhumane, overly harsh, unforgivable.

    I can still see major differences between the two parties.

  12. stephentardrew

    Guest until Labor makes a strong structural stand against neoliberalism nothing will change.

    Many very informed academics have been trying to get Labor and the Greens interested in Modern Monetary Theory which offers a viable alternative whose chief advocates in Australia are Professor Bill Mitchell, Steve Hail and AIMN with the many post by John B Kelley.

    The Labor right is unshakably neoliberal and have not offered a viable alternative to supply side trickle down economics. Shifting the deck chairs is no solution. The debt myth and balanced budget are a recipe for recession, shrinkage and boom/bust not growth.

    The empirical evidence is in however this investment in an economic theory that only increases inequality cannot bring about real change. The point is forty years of failure must be telling us something.

    We can have a job guarantee and literal zero unemployment which would provide the capital for aged pension, disabilities, homelessness etc. There would be huge savings for a job guarantee feeding jobs into the private sector as low income spending stimulates the economy and consumption. Whitlam would turn in his grave at the lack of innovation and viable revisionary social policy.

    Labor has been stuck for decades in a system of lies and until it breaks out all we will get is nominal improvements in some social sectors until the conservatives get back in and wipe them out. That is not structural change that is habituated thoughtless conformity.

    Labor party members can either rise to the challenge or pretend Labor’s minimal policy adjustments is any sort of real structural change. Time is running out for the low income, poor and marginalised while the architecture of the system remains locked into supply side stupidity.

  13. Michael Taylor

    I recall reading recently that Malcolm said that we are now seeing the real Malcolm Turnbull. An admission, me thinks, that the old Malcolm was a fake.

  14. stephentardrew

    Michael I think he is floundering trying to justify his lack of moral fortitude. He is in such a state of inner conflict and turmoil he has to roll out good old cognitive dissonance as pretence that this is the real Malcolm.

    I smell a rat otherwise called bullshit.

    There is definitely a subconscious cost for lying to your-self then attempting to change your reality.

    Sadly for him there are too many reminders floating around for him to successfully subjugate his personal external and internal hypocrisies.

    Turnbull is not a mentally well person you can see it in the flat effect when he feigns anger yet just looks washed out.

  15. David1

    news coming in…Federal Police are executing a search warrant on Parliament Buildings re the NBN disclosers. Unnamed persons have claimed parliamentary Privlege…Feds not releasing any more for now

  16. Kaye Lee

    FFS is that the most important thing on the police agenda? Surely we have every right to know what’s going on with a government business.

  17. townsvilleblog

    This nation under the tories has been stationary and stagnant they have trebled our deficit at the same time as robbing the poor of services it takes a superhuman effort to achieve both simultaneously but they have done it.

    Unemployment is much, much higher than the figure that we are presented with and underemployment is rampant, every second week we hear of a major industry closing and the tories have had no answers, it’s in their DNA they are not creative, they are conservative.

    Australians have just about had a gutful of the tories austerity policies for the poor, and if something does not happen soon to enable employment for people there will be a people’s revolt. The median Australia wage is $43,000 per annum, not a lot to raise a family on, as desperation leads people to realize that the tories are planning to give the 1% $48 Bn of our hard earned taxpayer money, that will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  18. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    The odd thing is that they’ve clearly made a collective decision that the best form of defence is attack. And to be fair, it is always a great strategy because it makes you look strong and that resonates with a certain section of the electorate. The same section that don’t want Chinese investment, that is happy to incarcerate genuine refugees indefinitely, that want us to bomb the shit out of ISIS (and if there is a bit of collateral damage, well no biggie, right?). Unfortunately, as any military strategist will tell you, attack requires you to have a sizeable numerical advantage to be sure of working.

    By identifying even more savings, Bill has very smartly upped the ante. The Coalition were expecting guerrilla war, but instead they’ve been outflanked. Oh dear.

  19. Harquebus

    Any government that pursues growth as a solution to our problems is going to fail. It’s as simple as that.

    “Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.” –- Albert Camus

  20. townsvilleblog

    stephentardrew I take your point but Labor has to use the current system better when they get to office than they have in the past. Make the rich and the corporations pay a fair share of tax, if they are registered in Australia their profits must be declared in Australia, all that takes is a few lines added to the corporate taxation legislation surely.

    Millions of Australians are living in poverty while the rich swan around on roads that “we” built, but now can’t afford to drive on. Labor must offer a big change to these tory austerity policies. It can be done, if there is a political will.

    If a new system is being produced the man to see is Chris Bowen, sadly Chris is in the conservative right wing of the ALP

    We must elect a government who will act independently of the ‘free market’ and look at buying the car manufacturing factories and look for Australian investors who would be interested in making an all Australian electric vehicle to compete with Tesla, we have the experience and the engineering know how, anything with a shread of progressive thought behind it, anything!

  21. Jaquix

    Good to see Bill Shorten “taking it up” to Malcolm, with his own package of bigger savings! Good move Bill. Keep them hopping from one foot to the other, wibbling and wobbling all over the place ….

  22. guest

    stephentardrew

    Bill Shorten has been speaking at the National Press Club today.

    As an economic illiterate, I do not understand Modern Monetary Theory because I have never seen anything of it expressed in a way understandable to people like me. It might be clear in the halls of academia, but unknown in the general community. So more explanation would be welcome.

    Meanwhile, I have been impressed by Bill’s attack today on Coalition policies, including “supply side trickle down economics”

    He also is aware of the employment problems arising from the development of technology, for example, and the rise of the middle class in Asia. So it is difficult to see how we might have a “job guarantee and literal zero unemployment”. Perhaps you could explain.

    Nor am I clear about the “system of lies” employed by Labor.

    And you can tell us more about “real structural change”.

    You raise more questions than you answer.

  23. Harquebus

    Guest
    The reason that you can not understand modern monetary theory is because it is rubbish and not meant to make sense. It is just econobabble from a bunch of wannabe respected pseudo scientist.
    The problem lies with the theory, not you.
    Cheers.

  24. phil

    Was listening to a 2015 Chomski lecture on a youtube video yesterday where he spoke about two internal memo reports produced in 2005 by analysts with the financial giant Citigroup. He referred to a term they used that I had not heard before this – plutonomy.

    Citigroup lawyers made herculean efforts to have the reports removed from public access – severe threats were bandied around and intense pressure brought to bear on some individuals with access – but too late – they are still accessible and extremely interesting. (Link at foot of post)

    It is rare for the peasants to have such forensic insight into the machinations, goals and thinking of extreme wealth i.e a look inside the mind of the plutonomy. The US, UK and Canada are seen as the greatest supporters of plutonomy because of their populations tolerance of rising inequality and their compliant governments. Australia gets mention as favouring plutonomy late in the second report.

    Discussing the four primary risks to plutonomy, the analysts conclude as less likely the following three: war/and or inflation, financial collapse (this was written before the GFC) and the end of the technology wave. The fourth risk is the one that they worry about – and its illuminating, quote:

    “We see the biggest threat to plutonomy as coming from a rise in political demands to reduce income equality, spread the wealth more evenly, and challenge forces such as globalisation which have benefitted wealth and growth” (Australia 2016?)

    Interesting also that the analysts cast egalitarian nations like much of Europe and Japan in negative light because they don’t favour the ever increasing inequality that plutonomy thrives on.

    Their conclusions are well worth reading, especially this one; “Our own view is that the rich are likely to keep getting even richer and enjoy an even greater share of the wealth pie over the coming years”

    Fascinating in hindsight to see that the risk of financial collapse was not considered great, but then two years later the GFC hit, and it was basically caused by the crimes of big finance in the US plutonomy, yet today in 2016, the plutonomy has emerged from the ashes virtually unscathed and inequality rises with it, as intended.

    I think these Citigroup memos deserve wide reading as they appear, to me anyway, to expose in detail the driving forces that are pushing our neoliberal government into such wide ranging political diversionary strategies such as race-baiting, austerity, et al in order to keep the lid firmly on the counter-forces demanding greater equality and wealth share.

    The document links for downloading are at the end of the attached article:

    The Plutonomy Reports: Download the Economic Analysis Citigroup Doesn’t Want You To See (links at bottom of post)

  25. Kaye Lee

    guest,

    I am no expert but I would describe MMT as a way to fund deficit spending. Instead of issuing bonds, the RBA just credits a government account (electronically creates the money). If there is unused capacity in the economy, as we have with underemployment, and we choose the right things to invest in (things that improve productivity like health, education, childcare and infrastructure), this will not be inflationary.

    Whilst I like the idea of a job guarantee, I agree it is problematic considering the rapid nature of change. I would like to see more information on what people would actually be doing because pointless employment can be more destructive than unemployment. Perhaps more could be done about adult education, skills training including life skills for those that need help etc.

  26. lawrencewinder

    The distraction of the Liarbril Federal Police, the distraction of the CFA politicization, the distraction of the plebiscite…. what have the Ruling Rabble got? Nothing! Well, nothing that they would not care to tell us about which is still the far right IPA agenda of asset stripping and social destruction….I suppose Mal Chicken-Thighs Brough is feeling safe though with the Feds following the party line and not dealing with his criminality….. what a shambles.

  27. Harquebus

    Many confuse currency with money. They are not the same thing.
    Just happened to come across this via zerohedge.

    “In essence, Nixon’s decision ended gold redemption and placed the U.S. and the rest of the world on a purely fiat paper standard for the first time in recorded time. By doing so, the U.S., in effect, became a deadbeat nation which no longer honored its obligations and was set on the road to its current banana republic status.”
    “Despite what is taught in social science courses, a true gold standard is a greater protector of individuals’ economic well being and, ultimately, their political liberty than any legislation or “rights” document ever penned. Hard money limits state power!”

    “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy:” President Nixon’s Decision to Abandon the Gold Standard

    This might also help.
    Hidden secrets of money.

  28. Jock Strap

    Hey Mike “I recall reading recently that Malcolm said that we are now seeing the real Malcolm Turnbull. An admission, me thinks, that the old Malcolm was a fake.”

    The new improved one has severe cracks in him as well.He’s the new Demtell man.He’d make a great cheesy used car salesman though.

    How about welcome to Mals Used Cars ?

  29. Kyran

    “The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me.”
    That’s you and me both.
    If you look at the threat assessment for Australia, as assessed by our very own frank and fearless public servants, it is currently rated as ‘probable’.
    “The new levels are “not expected”, “possible”, “probable”, “expected”, and “certain” — with the new regime featuring an extra tier.
    It has been initially set to “probable”, but the Government stressed the chance of attack in Australia had not changed.
    The threat was listed as “high” on the old four-tiered system, which was introduced in the early 2000s.”

    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjXt5WZuNnOAhWEW5QKHZ9RAZMQFggqMAM&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fnews%2F2015-11-26%2Fnew-terror-alert-system-comes-into-force%2F6976856&usg=AFQjCNFaNpIPEWl5lFh5lNsRqduj5kvIkw

    How can you possibly have a threat level of 3 out of 5 and expect Broader Farce to cope with that escalation whilst sacking them? Surely, the threat can’t be that real? The CPSU have a strike planned for the 9th September;
    “Because of the Government’s harsh and unworkable bargaining policy around 75% of Commonwealth public servants still do not have a new agreement and haven’t had a pay rise in more than two years. It is worth noting that politicians and senior management have received pay rises during this time.”
    http://www.cpsu.org.au/news/24-hour-strike-announced-9-september
    The frank and fearless AFP are, quite frankly, fearful. Their bi-partisan approach (NBN, Jackson, Ashby) needs neither apology or justification. Merely explanation.
    If you want a giggle;

    https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjXt5WZuNnOAhWEW5QKHZ9RAZMQFgggMAE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nationalsecurity.gov.au%2F&usg=AFQjCNHq2LSzQ8oCY39b8SLTb050WGb1cw

    That’s the national security web site. There is an axis of evil. IPA/Newscorpse/ACL. talcum is merely the new ‘front man’. By the way, the previous ‘front man’, tiny, went to hospital after his own surfboard attacked him. How long before talcum’s serf’s attack him?
    Thank you Mr Lord, and commenters. It seems we keep trying to explain the inexplicable. Take care

  30. guest

    Thanks, Matters Not and Kaye,

    re MMT, the New Yorker article discusses various aspects of putting money out into the community. It reminded me of Rudd’s $900 which was roundly criticised by the vocal Right (people, they said, spent the money on beer, cigarettes and gambling – such is the regard the Right has for the citizenry.)The Right would rather plunder the money in an austerity program. .

    The Japanese spent heavily on infrastructure, such as large bridges linking the major islands.

    Turnbull’s “trickle down” policy to pay industry by reducing taxes in order to stimulate the economy is widely criticised. How would industry use the money? And in an era of low interest rates, why not borrow?.

    The New Yorker article questions the idea that debt is a problem.

    No one seems to really know or is able to come to common agreement.

  31. win

    Nations and societies historically have gone through periods of mass insanity. The present western world and much of the rest appears to be suffering from various forms of it today. That of the Middle East is different from that of the English speaking nations but they are all self-destructive .

  32. Matters Not

    guest

    I am certainly not an expert on MMT but your words require a response:

    article questions the idea that debt is a problem.

    Perhaps sometimes it is and perhaps sometimes it isn’t? Perhaps some clarification is therefore in order. If I or you ‘borrow’ (let’s say) $100 000.00 then that ‘debt’ would be a problem because the person/institution/bank who lent it to me or you (the lender) would want to be repaid that $100 000.00 plus interest. That ‘borrowing’ would be of some concern to ‘households’, ‘businesses’, ‘local governments’, ‘State governments’ and the like because it would have to be repaid in Australian $$$s.

    But imagine the ‘lender’ was the ‘creator’ of the $100 000.00. (Like they ‘create/print/issue’ the $$$s). You know, the ‘lender’ actually had the power to do what you and I can’t do as individuals and neither can households, the local and state governments and the like. Further, then take into account, the notion that this ‘lender’ (the original) creator of the $$$s) also has the power to ‘destroy’ same. And also, on so doing, destroy the ‘debt’.

    Would you agree that the whole ‘dynamic’ then changes?

    Be interested in your response.

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