Wednesday 21 December 2016
Author’s note: This piece was one of my ‘Day to Day’ posts in very early January 2016. I have altered nothing. Tell me what it is that occurs to you.
When all the play is finished and the scarcity of tan apparent, work approaching and the diminishing sounds of childish noises sets in, the realisation that things put aside are still with us hits with a regretful intensity. It’s a churning agitation, foggy, hangeroverish, even. Then as clear as a good chardonnay it all comes back. It’s a new year.
”Now, where were we?”
Slowly with agonising reality it all returns.
Yes, now I remember. Joe Hockey was appointed Ambassador to the USA, and he decided to take his Parliamentary Pension of $90,000 per annum together with his Ambassador’s salary of $360,000. Someone suggested he was double dipping. He is of course. Well you could hardly accuse him of skinny dipping.
There are a lot of pre-Christmas leftovers the velvet fog still has on his plate. Still many chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Of the many problems confronting Malcolm Turnbull and the one likely to give him the most torment is ‘what to do with Tony’. His options are, to say the least, are scant. He cannot dismiss him, nor can he silence him. As a former PM he is entitled to express a view even though a good team player would simply shut his mouth for the sake of the side.
He can’t give him a portfolio. Nor can he admonish his daft views without providing him with oxygen.
There are two courses left open. The first is just to ignore him and let him speak to the cohort he purports to influence. Secondly, Turnbull might just, as is his manner, counter with perceived reasoned superior intellect. Or just talk. He is good at talking.
Laura Tingle puts it this way:
”The trouble is that, every time he (Abbott) sticks his head up, he only gives cause for voters to reflect on just what a miserable and destructive contribution that has been; to look on his prime ministership as an embarrassing aberration; and wish as 2015 draws to a close that the man would just go away.”
Turnbull in his short tenure may have changed very little in policy terms but Australia should be eternally grateful that he ended Abbott’s politics of fear. His wars on everything. How much harm the fear years have done to our country, politically and culturally is yet to be recorded by history. It’s easy to forget that the Paris Climate Talks were over two months ago. Australia was shown not be contributing much to the cause. Greg Hunt was trying to rival Abbott as the country’s best liar and Julie Bishop was spruiking the benefits of coal. What a ‘coalalition’ they are. She’s a darling, isn’t she? Always by the leader’s side. Whoever’s turn it is!
None of our team seemed to have any idea on the ‘now’ problem, being more content to put it on hold for a further five years. Turnbull of course has an enormous internal problem with people like Christianson, Bernardi, and others. Mind you, deflating Christianson might go a long way toward fixing it.
Ah, my wife reminded me that Hunt did win the booby prize for lying by omission.
Then, as I recall, I was having a quiet couple of stubbies with some mates while watching the cricket when the news came over that Mal Brough had resigned from the Ministry. Dave asks me why they call themselves honourable. I confess I am at a loss to explain.
Anyway, I conclude that they have gotten wind that the news will not be good, otherwise he could have resigned during the last sitting, and if the AFP decide to do something about what was a conspiracy to dismiss a government, the Liberal Party, and others, might just find themselves with a case of UTR. Better known as ‘Unfolding Treachery Revelation’.
Dave almost choked on his second with the news that Jamie Briggs had also resigned from the frontbench. They have a very Liberal way with women, he ventured.
The gravel gutted baritone voice of Ian Macfarlane insinuates itself into my ‘Where were we?’ meditation.
Whatever his decision it will be a minor embarrassment for the PM. I’m told he might quit and take up the offer of the lead in the new Truss-Joyce opera ‘Uncertain Movements’. Bronny Bishop has been offered the role of the Flying Dame and Abbott is set to play the Suppository of Wisdom. The only concern is that he keeps repeating his lines.
The fact that we are heading into an election year further stirs my reverie. Turnbull will have to start, instead of engaging in the talkfest he has thus far, being specific, show some substance, and be honest about where the country is at. Otherwise he will be remembered only in that he rid the country of a terrible, in fact obnoxious decease known as ‘Abbottitus Syndrome’. A mental illness that renders its victims brain-dead.
But of course Turnbull has a bad case of lingering hypocrisy that won’t go away. It’s like a bad summer flu you can’t shake.
The former champion for the environment surely has, by virtue of his high polling, has enough fuel in the tank to be able to stand up to the moronic non-believers of his party.
He at some stage will have to confront the sceptics and tell them they are entitled to their view. It is a broad church after all (who said that?) but he cannot allow them to dictate policy in the face of the science and world opinion. He will also have to admit that his party’s policy is delusional.
Well of course if he doesn’t come up with some ideas of his own he will only be remembered as the man who according the former PM reinvented the internet after being told to destroy it, then said he could produce a new one at half the cost in half the time. It turned out that the reverse was true. If you don’t understand what I have said, Google it. If it takes a long time to get an answer, then wait. That’s what everyone else does.
Bloody hell it just occurred to me that there’s a budget in May. And I remember there was this MYEFO thing just before Christmas. It still contained things not yet passed by the senate in the 2014 budget. There was a lot of cutting in health. Unfairly of course. Oh, and a huge increase in debt. Billions in fact.
Shit these holidays are good but when you come back to normal all the crap is still there. Now if my memory serves me correctly the media didn’t make much of a fuss about our economic decline.
At least this time it wasn’t Labor’s fault. The fact that there is a revenue problem seems not to be able to escape the tight lips of a Treasurer without any expertise in economics. But he can talk. By God he can. He should be arrested for talking under the influence of money. One wonders how much longer Australia can go on in complete denial of a declining economy. And it’s been doing so for more than a decade.
The one thing, and I mean the one thing the Coalition and Labor have in common is a love of our money.
They certainly don’t love big business money because it seems there is no compunction on large companies to pay tax if they don’t want to. Perhaps that’s what Tony meant when he said Australia was open for business. “Some don’t make a profit” I hear you say. Almost four in 10 large companies paid no tax in 2013-14. It puts a new meaning to the conservative mantra of the urgent necessity to lower the tax rate for business. If 400 major firms are profitless then how on earth do they survive? If they are manipulating the rules then the rules need to be changed.
“Scott Morrison is pretty tough when it comes to taking on the weak over family payments and pensions, but he’s pretty weak when it comes to taking on the tough operators at the top end of town,” said shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh.
And how strange it is that they want to reduce the penalty rates of the low-paid workers of many of these companies who don’t pay tax, while at the same the CEOs enjoy million dollar pay packets. However, a budget he must produce. One that will, or must be overlayed with the promise of tax reform. Talk about pulling bunnies out of a hat!
As all this returning to my consciousness and a migraine was in its infancy it occurred to me just how flippant the Coalition is with our money. An example was Abbott handing over one and a half billion dollars to Victoria for a road plan that the Commonwealth Auditor General said had no value.
Then they cut all manner of things in the MYEFO update to fund the immigration program but can find 150 million to fund a plebiscite on equality of marriage simply to get an answer to something already known.
And here am I drinking pensioner’s piss. (That’s cask wine for those who can’t afford the bottled variety).
So the New Year has hit me with the reminder that it’s an election year. All the ugly insensitivity of the Abbott years are behind me.
For a minute I thought it was all an aberration. It was the only enjoyable minute I had all day.
”Where were we?” is a question now surpassed by the reality of others like ”what’s the state of play?” What should Shorten do? But the biggest question is ”how will the people judge the performance of the Coalition during its term of office?”
Well there’s still a bit of water to flow under the bridge if the PM doesn’t decide to go to the polls early. How will he juggle the need for a fairly austere budget with the promise of tax reform? Where will the money come from for election promises? Of course there are many questions.
My prediction is this: The Australian people, because they are sick and tired of ‘revolving door leadership’ will stick with Turnbull for that simple reason. Credibility, even if only perceived, will be a major factor and he has more than Shorten.
Life is not about ‘what is’ but ‘what we perceive it to be’.
For this reason, they will forgive the Coalition for the Abbott years and even disregard the abysmal performance of the government. They will even ignore the fact that they will voting for a far right government led by a leftish leader. And a leader not completely in control of his party.
Remember he said: “I respect the intelligence of the Australian people”. He said he would end three-word slogans and instead advocate and explain policies he believed in.
So far he has done no such thing. There was the promise of a different politic. Talk about honesty, reason and transparency. After Abbott the public loved it. So did his colleagues because he told them the policies would stay the same.
The problem is though that he confronts a terrible quandary. In the public’s mind the policies do have to change otherwise they will be entitled to call him just another unscrupulous fake seeking power for power’s sake.
Facing a 10% deficit in the polls, an enormously grateful electorate relieved at Abbott’s demise and an immensely popular leader the answer for Labor is not Bill Shorten, but enlightened soundly conceived policies that will convince the public that they are worth voting for.
Well that’s where it’s at but more to catch up on tomorrow..
MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.
”If you have a point of view, feel free to express it. However, do so with civility. Then your point of view is laced with a degree of dignity”.
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