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Day to Day Politics: Politicians getting in the way of good policy.

Saturday 11 March 2017

1 There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest impediment to the future prosperity of Australia is our political system. In particular, conservative politicians. I say conservative because they are more attached to the system of capitalism than those of the left. And might I add, pre-disposed to the wacky idealism of the extreme right. Having said that, I include all political parties in my statement.

Nothing backs my argument more than the history of our political parties’ attempt to deal with the subject of Climate Change over the past ten years. I could have included other policies like the NBN but for the purposes of this piece I will stick with the environment.

Barry Jones, as Science Minister in the Hawke government, first alerted us to the danger of Climate Change and man-made emissions over twenty years ago. No one took much notice back then. It has only been over the last decade that the problem has been taken seriously. Well not so seriously if you look at the calamitous attempts Australia’s highly educated, highly paid but never the less incompetent politicians have made to put in place Climate Change and energy policy.

And you don’t need to digest my words, it’s easily evidenced and traceable.

Did it have to come to the point where rising prices, rising emissions and a national grid that falls over for any reason, but mostly from a decade of calamitous, unconscionable inaction from our politicians? We have witnessed a decade of public policy failure.

It’s not just the current politicians, although their incompetence is surely worthy of public contempt. It can be traced back to Rudd who in 2009 put Turnbull in a corner, got an agreement, but when the crunch came didn’t have the balls to act. Then the Greens voted down a Carbon Trading Scheme believing polluters were sympathetically treated.

But if anyone should take the prize for destroying, what has now proved to be a correct decision, it has to be the ultra-conservative face of Tony Abbott. For years in opposition he exposed the voter’s gullibility to propaganda.

His former Chief of Staff recently admitted on Sky News that his scare campaign was essentially a political rouse that had nothing to do with Climate Change.

“It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax.”

“We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and, when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

His alternative policy of direct action was just an attempt to show the public they were doing something when in fact it was doing nothing.

If it were possible he should be charged with crimes against the environment.

He had in fact used climate policy to steal the leadership from Turnbull. The devious cunning gutter politician then began his ”axe the tax” campaign with all the political brutality he could muster cumulating with the repeal of the tax and self-congratulations on the floor of the parliament.

A decision now proven wrong. The price of electricity has doubled since its repeal.

Now we are faced with fixing the problem but who do we turn to fix it. Well the same people who caused it of course. Our inept, bungling, ineffectual politicians who when seeking a solution will put aside the national interest in favour of self-survival or self-interest.

A cohort of interested parties are collectively pleading with the government that they want an emissions trading scheme. The whole of the Energy and big users are wanting to get into the headstrong government of climate deniers and make them understand just what is wrong and how to fix it.

This is where they run into a brick wall. The government, for purely political reasons, will rule out any form of carbon pricing. Turnbull would lose his job if he agreed.

The Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has been asked to come up with a solution without a price on carbon but it’s a bit like asking a captain to save a ship that’s already on its way to the bottom.

Turnbull is to have a meeting a meeting of east coast gas company chief executives and other stake holders and in the meantime is blaming them. I hope they bring some hand grenades to throw at him.

Their collective view would be that the fault is of the governments making. The lack of a cohesive bipartisan policy framework. The writing has been on the wall for a generation. Coal-fired power stations do have a lifespan after all. Investment went on strike and we have ended up in a mess of our politicians making.

On top of all this we have a gas market seemingly out of control. We have an abundance of the stuff but we export most of it for profit and have little left over for ourselves and what is left we have to buy at world parity.

With the government poring scorn over renewable energy and wanting to lower our RET, the whole thing has become a political dogs breakfast of political making. The can never act on the advice of experts because the advice is usually contrary to conservative ideology.

The world will not collapse if they show the grace of admitting they were wrong and take the advice of the industry who want certainty for investment and secure energy. Turnbull being captive to the moronic denialists of the far right doesn’t help either, nor does the avalanche of lies they continue to tell..

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

I have been writing daily about Malcolm Turnbull’s takeover of the Liberal Party leadership. Anyone who follows my writing will attest to me at first embracing him as a new light on the hill. I said that Australians would be eternally grateful to him for removing the greatest liar of a politician the country had endured. He would bring a new era of reasoned political discourse.

For the ensuring five months it became apparent that despite his eloquent, articulate and grandiose statements, he had no plan, no economic reform agenda and his only motive has been one of self-interest. There was nothing to reasonably debate.

Some said I was overreacting and he just needed more time. Well I’m pleased that yesterday one of their own in former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said it like it is.

Jeff, whether you liked him or not could never be accused of holding back. I got to ask him a question at a function many years ago. I asked him why he was going to an election when there was no reason to do so. His answer was a lie but forcefully put.

Anyhow this is what he had to say about Malcolm Turnbull during a 2UE radio interview on Wednesday.

”When they changed leaders, I thought we were in for a period of government, a period of stability, a period in which policy was going to be enunciated.”

”This talk about an early election is an indication, sadly, that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.”

Mr Kennett said the Prime Minister ”did not have any plan at all’ when he took the leadership for his own self-interest”.

He added that Turnbull had received much public goodwill in taking over the leadership but had squandered it with his failure to create a narrative when the public was ‘craving good leadership’.

”What they can’t stand is vacillation where politicians don’t have the courage, in this case in my opinion, to put the interests of the country well before their own and their own party”.

He went on to say that he had failed to stand by his beliefs on negative gearing and same-sex marriage.

”We don’t need a plebiscite on this. We don’t need to waste another $139 million on a vote.” If Malcolm had any courage, he would have simply stood up and said ”I’m going to put this through the Parliament.” What he’s saying now. ”This decision, this policy position was decided by Tony Abbott and we’re going to stay with it,” he said.

There’s a good example of where Malcolm set himself apart from Tony Abbott and yet, when he took on the leadership, he hid behind Tony’s clothes and did not have the courage of his conviction and that applies right across the board.

Nothing different in all that than what I have been saying for some time. At the risk of repeating myself the fact is that he never had any policy to bring to the table, nor the conviction of his own beliefs. We have a yes man, a hypocrite doing what he is told to by the extremists in his party.

My thought for the day.

”Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity”.



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  1. Terry2

    The Prime Minister is a great fan of the agile innovator, Elon Musk, the founder of TESLA the electric car and, more importantly for us, the leader in battery storage systems linked to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

    Musk has demonstrated his agility in challenging our politicians to embrace renewables and battery storage by saying that he can overcome the South Australian power supply problems within 100 days by the installation of a 100-300 MW battery storage system.
    If it doesn’t alleviate the problem, he will donate the system at no cost : ‘can’t ask for a better deal that that can you, although I can hear right-wing nut jobs insisting that Musk also stop storm damage.

    This is going to present a big problem for the coalition as they had been banking on ongoing power problems in SA to promote their dislike of Labor and renewables and their love of coal. We should, as a nation, embrace the offer from Musk, after all we have nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain – he may even consider Australia as a base for manufacturing TESLA cars but he must also be wary of this coalition government who have been pretty hostile to auto manufacture in this country.

  2. wam

    there is no doubt you bring a smile to my morning. The short term pain of lifting by the poor end of town will certainly support the tax cuts which will eventually mean more jobs for the poor which will allow them to take part time jobs without security, sick leave or holiday loading indeed holidays themselves.

    Another day without reference to TT (‘truth’ or ‘trump’)

    Politicians are SELECTED by the party members then elected. The quality of members is the result of that process not the parliamentary system..

    A simple change to the by-election rules will give the voters double the choice. On a vacancy the preferences of the voters for elected member’s are distributed and a recount will select the new politician ie no need for a new vote

    Thanks for the mentioning the diludbransims who by agreeing with the rabbott:

    Mr Abbott strengthened his cost of living attack on the proposed carbon tax, telling protesters the measure would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Power bills would rise by $300 a year, the cost of petrol per litre would rise 6.5 cents and the cost of a new home would rise by $6240, Mr Abbott said the tax would cost 10,000 jobs in the coal sector, 24,000 jobs in mining and 45,000 in energy-intensive industry.

    and voting the carbon price down, have allowed the end to Australian fervour for climate change. Until they admit the folly of bob’s vote. I will not divest myself of the ‘loonies;.

    kennett and latham vs hanson and hinch not that sums up the morning shows bill must master sooner than later.

  3. stephengb2014

    Turnbull – todays most expensive YES man.

  4. Keith

    Last night I listened to a fascinating James Fidler interview with Thomas Frank an author of books dealing with the American political scene.
    Thomas Frank commented on how the Republicans shamelessly support big business. He instanced how a Republican Kansas Governor experimented with the concept of reducing the size of Government Agencies; that is, promoting austery. The view being that business would be encouraged, it did not happen. The result being Kansas went backwards, a Democrat Governor was subsequently elected and took the opposite tack to government, and prosperity improved. So the policies being promoted in Australia by the LNP have been shown to not work in Kansas.

    Thomas Frank spoke about how the Democrats in earlier years truely understood the plight of working people; but, the Democrat Party evolved from a Party being led by persons from all socio-economic areas to leaders with high academic qualifications. The result being that the Democrats lost contact with numerous groups within society.

    The interview is worth listening too, it brings out some matters which relate with what is happening here in Australia.

  5. June Currie

    One of your best columns.

  6. Harquebus

    It is a fight to the death between the economy and the environment and the economy is winning.

    “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the reverse.” — Herman E. Daly

    Malcolm Turnbull is a businessman. A deal is a deal.


  7. Ella Miller

    The statement by TA’s Chief of Staff
    “we made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment……Gillard was gone”
    Shows how little the LNP care about Australia, our environment and our future.
    These same people who condoned this approach are still in Parliament, all jockeying for power.

    If anything, this, should prove to the electorate that it is NOT about what is good for the Australian community, NOT about what the environment needs ….it is about a disgraceful selfish grab for power.

    LOOk at the fight with ADANI, the fact that the reef is dying is of no consequence…at any cost the LNP must keep their vested interests happy. Otherwise why approve this mine?

  8. crypt0

    Back in the day, there was a bloke called Nero, who fiddled away while Rome burned down around him.
    Seems to me that we are witnessing a replay of that policy on a world wide scale, Australia being an outstanding example.
    How long before planet Earth burns down, and will we still be fiddling ?

  9. Keith

    If interested in pod casts, here is an interview featuring Professor Clive Hamilton who resigned from the Climate Change Authority when Turnbull began the nonsense of pushing clean coal. Clive also gives some insight into why he and Professor Karoly had previously provided a minority report. The Climate Change Authority had been stacked by Turnbull after the resignation of prior members. Clive does not waste any niceties on Turnbull.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Professor Clive Hamilton – professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University

    “It’s a tragedy to watch a man like Malcolm Turnbull to shrink into the kind of shell of a person that he has become. I don’t understand why a man like that does not say ‘look, I have some fundamental principles and I might lose the leadership but at least I will be able to look at myself in the mirror for the rest of my life.’”

    “The Liberal party has undergone a transformation in the last 10 years and it’s now dominated federally by troglodytes from the hard right – the anti-science brigade, some of whom probably cheered when Pauline Hanson attacked vaccinations the other day. These are the anti-science, anti-expertise crowd — the kind of people who now advise Donald Trump.”

  11. Terry2

    Well, Kaye, to be fair, he has gone part of the way. He has said to his party ‘I have some fundamental principles but if you don’t like them, I’ll adopt yours or Pauline’s or whatever it takes to stay in power ‘.

  12. Kaye Lee

  13. kerri

    The concept of politics as a game has to be challenged and got rid of! When Morrison took the lump of coal into the house and Joyce almost wet his pants as he did when Turnbull was calling Shorten a sycophant, to me brought home the stark reality of why most of them are there. Yes this was done years ago by many a politician but today so many MPs look back on Abbott as the glory days and are only interested in the name calling and jeering! There is very little evidence of representatives having the interest of their constituents as a priority over their own fat pay packet and the sport of dumbing down what should be responsible discussion.
    Cut the theatre and represent your people!
    Stop telling us what we want and engage with your community, not just to claim travel, but to actually take, into the house, the wishes of those who put you there!

  14. Susan

    Great article John thank you. My advice to all readers if you haven’t yet snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef do it soon… It is dying

  15. Gangey1959

    I watched little johnny on the news a few years ago giving a speech about someone. I think it was at a funeral, but I cannot for the life of me find it anywhere, but his words ill stick with me forever.
    ”X….was a monumental worker for the liberal party, for New South Wales, and for Australia……..”
    It is just so arse about, and they are ALL the same.
    The trumbler could have been monumental, but instead he is a joke.
    He should be in the position to at least form a cabinet of his own choosing, but he can’t even do that.
    We have some brilliant minds in Canberra. Young joshua friedtheburgers is an example.
    Let’s face it. trumbles, as we would like him to be, would be our best pm. Why can he not pick the eyes out of all of the members from all sides, and give Australians the leadership and Government we deserve. Chris Bowen should be the treasurer. Mark Dreyfus should be AG. It should have nothing to do with politics, and all to do with expertise.
    The sooner we get a different political system the better off Australia will be.

  16. kerri

    Gangey 1959 i would have to disagree compketely with you on Frydenbrain!
    He is my federal member. I email him frequently. The responses are all the same.
    Doing our best for Australia. Looking towards the future. Upholding values. BS BS BS BS!
    He is no brains trust. For a start he believes in coal for humanity!
    Local light poles sport photocopied protest sheets against “Josh Frackenberg” etc.
    He is not loved by the young in his electorate as his views are so old.

  17. Steve Laing

    Well said John. My thoughts entirely. The political system favours those who are prepared to abuse the rules, and those on the right are more than happy to do so. They take policy areas that they know might be contentious and use them to create wedges in order to get power. Immigration/refugees, energy/climate change, security/terrorism – they have no desire or indeed policies to deal with these issues, and when they do they are inordinately expensive AND ineffective. But that is Ok, because they aren’t interested in solving problems, just in being in power. As I’ve said, until progressive parties realise this and make changes to the system to make it harder to be gamed, we will continue to see the same downward spiral. Unfortunately this will require the removal of political parties, and I don’t think senior Labor people will be able to give up whatever power they have acquired. Note when Shorten talks about change he does so that it can only occur through parliament, not through individual public action (unless, of course, that is through the Labor party).

  18. Alan Baird

    Joshie is a joke. Witness the violent climbdown when he whispered something about a pri– on c–bon po–ution and the trogs erupted. He’s as courageous as Mal. (Pssst…this means “not very”). Face it Gangey1959. I also deride the suggestion that we should pick the eyes out of both sides of the Federal Parliament. We’re flat out getting an alternative to neo-liberal moron-think from the LEFT side of politics (well, comparatively speaking) let alone the Right! Nothing to see there! Nil. Zip, as the yanks say. Mind you, picking their eyes out would be a satisfying experience to watch but that’s going too far perhaps. We have to watch when people try, by diverging from the truth by degrees, to eventually get us all agreeing on bullshit.
    A good example of this occurred in the SMH where Urban Taskforce (god they sound like HARD WORKERS!), an extreme right wing developer spokespace tried to get across the notion that by excluding non-Oz bidders for property, the houses would become more expensive and hard-to-buy (presumably because there were fewer bidders). Yeah. Of course. The SMH didn’t laugh at this.
    This is an old technique, pushing the direct opposite of the truth forcefully. GM in the UK did this with a car of theirs, the Cavalier, a dog, renowned for unreliability, by emphasising its RELIABILITY in ads. As you do. I’m going to do a blog emphasising my conservatism. I’m also reliable. Honest.

  19. helvityni

    “Joshie is a joke.”

    Alan, ‘joke’ implies that something, someone is funny. Frydenburg is the most boring bloke on the block, sleep-inducing. Oh, well, he’s there with Hunt and Cormann…. all as dull as they come..

  20. jimhaz

    Re: Clive Hamilton… that podcast was worth listening to. I like the fellow.

    Now I’ll have to read his PDF on Affluenza

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