Friday 18 August 2017
Our nation is paralysed with indecision, party infighting and calamitous leadership.
The government has no eye to the future, no narrative to guide us through a complex, rapidly changing world. They, after four years in power seemingly are unable to make decisions because each one determines the future of our Prime Minister or dissatisfies some extreme interests.
In four years have been unable to advance the nation either financially or socially. They are barren of any ideas, any cohesion, and even the day-to-day tasks of governance seems beyond them.
On this day in 2016 I posted the following:
I have written copiously about the difficulties facing Malcolm Turnbull and his government. Of course my thoughts are my views that are tinged with the criticism of a leftish perspective so I thought it might be refreshing to collectively read the thoughts of people from the Coalition parties.
About the disruptive elements within the party, former Treasurer Peter Costello said:
There are some people who are ambitious and want to use their influence for promotion. There are some people who have scores to settle and want to use their influence for that purpose. There are some that have legitimate policy issues and are entitled to use their influence for that.
But the point is this: on a very slim majority, you can’t afford to have too many people in any of those camps. In a situation like this, your first preoccupation becomes the internal management. If you can’t get that right, then none of these other things will be of relevance.
The former PM, Tony Abbott said they didn’t have factions, but:
They spend half their life on the telephone ringing people up, suggesting to them that if they do this, certain benefits and rewards in terms of party advancement or preferment might come their way.
There’s no doubt that there are people not on state executive who caucus regularly on the phone and face to face with people who are on the state executive to try to get pre-cooked outcomes.
Peter Costello again:
I think there are genuine concerns in the policy as it was presented, and I think the Government has acknowledged that it will have to look at it, and it will. And, of course, it will have to legislate it.
A majority of almost nothing
Peter Costello chipped in again saying that:
The crossbenchers don’t have any responsibility for the overall outcome. All they’re concerned about is cherry-picking advantages for themselves and their constituencies. And so you have to woo them, you have to dine with them, you have to talk to them, you have to be attentive to them, you have to flatter them, you have to stroke their egos.
Now, you’ll have different ones on different issues, but, when a big vote is coming up, they are your greatest friend. There is no-one else in the world except that Senate crossbencher.
While Independent MP Bob Katter says that:
If you think you can govern Australia with 76 members of Parliament, I wish you well. No one can go to the bathroom. Don’t have your grandmother die, because you won’t be able to go to the funeral.
Never wanting to miss the chance to have a say, Eric Abetz reckons that:
Clearly, a wafer-thin majority requires the Prime Minister and the leadership not only to reach out to the crossbenchers, but also all elements within the Liberal National Party Coalition, because I’m sure they must realise it will only take one person or two in the House of Representatives to cross the floor to defeat government legislation.
And George Brandis, Government Leader in the Senate admits:
It will be difficult, but I wouldn’t exaggerate the level of difficulty. It is always difficult … This is what I have been dealing with as Senate leader since I’ve been in the position; that is the nature of the Senate and it’s the nature of the task of a Senate leader.
Can a moderate leader lead a bunch of right wing extremists?
Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce says:
Our demise — if there’s such a thing — can only be brought about by ourselves. Are we saying to people who, ‘you prefer to put the nation at risk than to continue with the process of building it to a stronger position’. I can’t think of any of my colleagues who’d say, ‘no, I’d prefer to put the nation at risk.
The narrowness of its majority in the House of Representatives will impose a discipline upon all of my colleagues.
And I can tell you, regardless of what their views might be on particular issues, every last man and woman in the Coalition party room is united by a desire to win the 2019 election. And they have all been in politics or around politics for long enough to know that disunity is death.
Economics of unfairness
The agencies are saying Australia’s debt has climbed alarmingly, it’s not the AAA lending proposition that it used to be … And they’re looking at the political situation and they’re saying this: The political situation is so wafer-thin, that the chances of Government doing much about this have declined.
Now, they’ll wait to see what happens. Will we make any progress on our budget deficit? Will we be able to reduce debt? If we’re not able to do that, if the political situation stops us from doing that, that’s the time we’ll get a downgrade.
It should be clearly seen by the Senate, by the Lower House, that we have to try to get the books of our nation under control, and we intend to do that. Because that is the ultimate … statement of healthcare, it’s the ultimate statement of education, it’s ultimate statement of people’s pensions and their social security — that we have to balance the books, otherwise there is no money there for it. We must do it.
Does Tony Abbott have any future?
From the man himself:
The point I’ve made again and again … is that the Abbott era is over and the Liberal Party rightly wants to look forward, not back.
Now, I certainly want to be a constructive contributor to that process … and I think there’s a lot that I can do over the next three years to try to crystallise and clarify where centre-right politics in this country goes from here.
But in terms of the top job, the Abbott era, as I’ve said before, is well and truly over.
I think it would have been gracious of the Prime Minister to reach out to his predecessor and say ‘of course somebody that led us out of opposition into government has something to offer the Liberal Party and the nation’. Somebody with that sort of experience clearly is worthy of inclusion in the Cabinet.
The fact that the Prime Minister did not think that was the case is for him to explain, but much as I would like to see a rapprochement, I have seen no signs of it.
I think it was a strategic error by the Prime Minister not to restore one of us to the Cabinet to run a good ship. But having said that, Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and myself never got into politics to see a Labor government installed.
So we will do whatever we possibly can, albeit from the backbench, to ensure that good Liberal Party principles are upheld… and to ensure that Labor does not win the next election.
Backbenchers are upset about superannuation policy
A lot of us held our noses, sold it during the election campaign, but then tried to tell the Government there was a problem here and it needs to be re-addressed.
And regrettably there was a lot of stonewalling at first, which then led to the inevitable reaction, which was, ‘well, if you’re not gonna listen to me, I’m gonna cross the floor.
I would like to think that common sense will prevail. I’m still hopeful that it will, and therefore we can come to a resolution that says to our base, ‘we have heard you, we’ve listened to you, and here are the changes, and yes we get the message from the election.
If we keep going full steam ahead and pretend that nothing happened on July 2 other than a huge mandate for us, we will be going to an electoral disaster in 2019.
My thought for the day
What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you for doing it?