Tuesday 20 February 2018
‘As one year merges its way into the next and one day bleeds into another,’ I hear my fellow citizens say with typical Aussie laconic abruptness. We are like that.
And look where we are now. The great rustic malaise of ignorance is eating away at our democracy, and most are blissfully unaware.
In a way it’s sad how for so many years we rode along on the sheep’s back and then what seemed to be a never-ending minerals boom. Of course, it all had to come to an end sometime, but our politicians didn’t want to tell us. They would rather have us confined in a vacuum of their creation than face reality.
Take yesterday’s Newspoll results for example. One would have thought that given the Barnaby Joyce scandal that lasted a full week a greater movement than 53/47 might have occurred. A margin of ten percentage points seems more appropriate given the dreadful governance of the Abbott/Turnbull governments.
But that is not the case. A good percentage of voters are sticking fast to the Coalition regardless. It’s as if the Joyce affair never happened. It could not have been any worse for a government than last week and with Labor’s National ICAC announcement it should be streets ahead. Is this the new norm, one might ask?
A move of a couple of points is normal at any time, but when you have a Deputy Prime Minister committing adultery with a baby on the way you would think there would be some community reaction. Not even a whiff of premature nappies. The Poll Bludger tells us that:
“Malcolm Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister is down from 45-31 to 40-33. All we have in terms of leadership approval at this stage are that Malcolm Turnbull’s net rating has weakened from minus 13% to minus 18%. Also featured is a finding that 65% of respondents believe Barnaby Joyce should resign as leader of the Nationals”
It looks to me that even had Joyce resigned – or the Nats gave him the flick – their vote might have remained around the same. It will be very interesting to see the Essential Poll today given it gave Labor a healthy lead a fortnight ago of 8 points.
Opinion polls in Australia are, generally speaking, fairly accurate because our compulsory voting system makes it easier. Newspoll is the poll the political media obsess about most, but they don’t call mobile phones, so their accuracy is questionable.
I’m trying not to be negative in my thoughts, but circumstance gives me no reason to be optimistic about our future. We seem rudderless waiting for the impending storm. Labor could very well lose based on these figures.
Good government is usually married to good leadership and we thought, even if it was just a mirage, that we had it in Malcolm Turnbull, however the evidence thus far would suggest that he has been worse than his predecessor. If that were at all possible!
He has morphed from calm and thoughtful Malcolm to angry Malcolm in a matter of months. Now he is self-obsessed and consumed by the Prime Ministership. So much so that he is prepared to countenance anyone’s demands to retain it.
Now this pandering to extremists within his party might help him retain his job until the next election but it will not help him get re-elected. The policies are out of sync with community expectations.
There are a great many people on the extreme right who feel the party is out of touch with society and the voters but the reality is that it may be they who are out of touch.
It has to be said though that if the polls continue to be overly negative then those in marginal seats will become anxious and we might see a scenario similar to that when Rudd replaced Gillard and Turnbull replaced Abbott. Although that might be the same as committing suicide.
However, all that said, unless something like a major balls-up happens then we will see Turnbull fumble along, taking further orders from the highly-educated but brain-dead of his party until the next election, where I cannot be sure that Australians will have woken to the fact that so many years have been spent in mediocrity of governance.
Years that have not served them well. How conditioned to it we have become? Those I described as occupying ”the great rustic malaise of ignorance” have little or no interest in policy or how it’s formulated. All they do is gain impressions of policy and people through their larger than life television sets.
Then they draw conclusions on character based on whether the fellow is a good bloke or not. Fact checking they have no time for but they do look for the liar and in Turnbull they don’t have to look far.
They have no credible policy on renewable energy and climate change. Decisions seem to be put off while they find another reason to blame Labor. The banks are making record profits and the Government wants to give them more of our hard-earned cash and other companies who don’t pay tax will also be given some more. It’s a Government having no desire for equality who will take from the poorest to pay for these taxes. We are fortunate that the Senate plans to block the legislation.
I shall finish by quoting from a speech given by Ross Gittens, of the SMH to the Australian Business Economists Annual Forecasting Conference Sydney, February 15, 2017:
‘’Let me finish by saying that the area of economic reform where the government’s performance has been most egregious is on policy to ease our transition to a low-carbon economy and honour our commitments at the Paris conference. Leaving aside Abbott’s role in our policy regression, Turnbull’s disservice to the nation was to swear off introducing a carbon intensity scheme the moment his hard Right party members, led by the now departed Cory Bernardi, expressed their disapproval. This scheme had been carefully worked up by people of goodwill hoping to provide Turnbull with a face-saving way of returning to a form of carbon pricing, which would help ease the transition from coal power to renewables and do it with only a small increase in retail electricity prices. Since then, Turnbull has done nothing but dig himself in deeper, in the process creating great uncertainty in the power industry, something that could easily end up adding to blackouts and price rises.’’
My thought for the day
We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?