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Day to Day Politics: Who would you vote for? It’s time to think about it.

Friday 2 February 2018

Today I want to go back 12 months and give you a glimpse of what Bill Shorten said at the National Press Club on 1 February 2017. This is what I wrote:

So when Bill Shorten addressed the National Press Club yesterday he did so with his usual lack of charisma and looking like he had just fallen out of bed, and still half asleep, picked the wrong suit and tie.

His speech was full of all the usual stuff that one would expect at the start of the year. There weren’t any captivating phrases that would make your hair stand on end. Well, not mine anyway. None of that is what I expect from Bill Shorten. What I expected and what I got was thoughtfulness.

Indeed, it was a speech that left me in no doubt that he thinks about things that matter, deeply so. I won’t write about the speech in its totality, but rather concentrate on one portion of it. The important part.

He showed that he had thought intensely and genuinely about the international crisis in democracy. He made a concession to the Australian people that he recognised that he and the Labor Party were part of the problem and vowed to be part of the solution. He indicated that the Australian disengagement from politics was part of a worldwide phenomenon. He said that he would be making, in his year of preparation, as he called it, a commitment to people-first politics, including a vow to divest himself of schoolyard politics together with an obligation to more transparency.

Three things he said would help the Australian process. 1) A pledge to have a more transparent method of accountancy for MP’s expenses, 2) revealing and limiting political donations (in particular from third-party entities), and 3) a Senate enquiry into the necessity or otherwise for a national body to investigate corruption in politics. (An independent one would be better in my view). A gigantic concession given his recent remarks on the subject. Did he go far enough? No, he didn’t. But he made a start.

An observation

”The peoples of all the nations of the world increasingly seem to be having less to say about their destiny.”

He spoke about the need for a national conversation saying that he would continue with his successful Town Hall Meetings but would change their focus from questions to answers.

Seeking people’s solutions to problems

Adding to this would be a series of meetings that took advantage of internet technology.

”Listening to people.”

Of course, he spoke about many other issues but this is the first time I have heard an Australian politician admit that Brexit, the Trump phenomenon, and the resurgence of One Nation were a real and present danger to our democracy. Having said all that he could do with a speechwriter, who with the art of embellishment, and a turn of phrase, could give all the thinking, a floor to dance on.

By the way, the Essential Poll at the time had Labor leading the Coalition by 8 points. (It is the same now). At this stage, if you read my analysis of Shortens 2018 address to the National Press Club he was still, generally speaking, talking about the same things with a continuity of thought. You can read it here.

Turnbull was re-elected in 2016 by the skin of his nose. Since then he has proven to be as much a disaster as Abbott. So in all fairness what has Australia gained from having four years of conservative rule?

An observation

“Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.”

Here is a thought from my Facebook friend, Russell Green:

“I was watching The Drum last night (30/01/2018) and the panel were discussing Bill’s Press Club appearance, the consensus was that these were good initiatives, but the devil would be in the detail. They were unconvinced by the lack of detail and were demanding the details of the policies. Their thought would be that the lack of this detail the policies would fade away.


My thoughts turned to the elections in 2013 and 2016 where the LNP were allowed, to say anything regarding policy, to get away with no detail and worse NO POLICIES. So once again the Media show their duplicity. It will be a long and hard-fought election, and the forces of evil are circling.

The 6 – 8% split between the parties appears to be entrenched and I doubt that the Coalition will be able to claw back the lost ground. The coalition was in the same position after the 2013 election, which prompted Turnbull’s challenge to Abbott and the now benchmark observation of 30 lost News Polls in a row ( a mark that Turnbull himself is fast approaching) and Turnbull was able to turn around their chances and called an early election and won by 1 seat. This was possible because Turnbull was “popular” and was also a ready-made alternative.

So why can’t the LNP do it again? 2 reasons I believe: 1) There is no obvious replacement, think of a Senior Liberal any of them and imagine them as PM, my advice is don’t do it as it will be dangerous to your mental health. 2) This is the most important we have had 2 years of Turnbull’s Leadership and he has proven to be a great disappointment, in fact he has proven himself to be worse than Abbott.

Whereas Abbott was true to himself Turnbull has been a giant hypocrite. The electorate has had more than enough time to evaluate and decide. That is why the LNP will find closing the poll gap very difficult indeed.

The more we learn about the coalition the more scary they are. For a government that has probably the most overt christian ethos is without doubt the most cruelest government we have ever had!

A sure sign of a government in trouble is when it splits into factions and those factions don’t care about government only about their fiefdoms. As far as the coalition is concerned long may it continue. Better for them to be fighting among themselves then fighting us.”

If you cast your memory back to the front pages of the tabloids of the time, you will recall the insults from Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott, the accusations of incompetency, that stretched the truth and perpetuated the myth that they alone were best with money.

But as it happens the Prime Minister yesterday addressed a regional group in Queensland promoting his tax cuts which he says will stimulate investment, create even more jobs, and higher wages. He promoted the Coalition as the best to manage the economy without saying where the money is coming from to pay for these massive cuts. The speech, like Shorten’s, were the first volley of many shots to be fired at a bewildered electorate disgusted at institutional politics.

So, now that the two major parties have fired their first rounds it remains to be seen who has hit the target. Shorten has chosen the more unconventional course with a return to more traditional Labor policies with a strengthening of labor market regulations to boost the bargaining power of workers and lifting the minimum wage together with an empathises on equality, trust, transparency and in part addressing the problems with our democracy. For example, a national ICAC!

Turnbull repeated the historical pitch of best economic managers and in effect reiterated the conservative reliance on trickle-down economics to address people’s hip pocket concerns. He argued that he has provided the economic leadership that he said he would when he took over from Tony Abbott.

So we do have a demarcation of ideas in democracy and economic policy. Of course, there is much more to it than what we have heard thus far. There is education, health, university, child care, asylum seeker policy, the NBN party discipline, political donations, MP’s entitlements and the big one. How does each party address growing inequality?

However, the one question central to the minds of most Australians is this: Just how has your government advanced our nation economically and culturally?

My thought for the day

“What have we learned from the ABC Cabinet files other than Kevin Rudd is likely to make a quid from some badly chosen words. MT doesn’t know as much about the internet as his intelligence does. Conservatives are not overly fond of poor folk except they need them. Scott Morison is about as Christian as Richard Dawkins. Andrew Bolt has a part-time job as a consultant on free speech. The ABC’s attempts to sensationalise the matter fell rather flat.”


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  1. WT Gator

    I’d rather die than live for another 4 years under a Liberal – National Party government. And, if they EVER got my vote, they wouldn’t give a damn once I voted for them. So they’d watch me die anyway. Is that what we want from our Federal Government? It’s not what I want. Bill Shorten is only one person in the Labor Party. When I vote, I vote for my local member who best represents my aspirations and those I have for my child. I’ll be voting Labor at the next election because I cannot stand the cruelty of the current government.

  2. Möbius Ecko

    I don’t know how successful they will be but the right wing MSM, which includes the ABC, are going hammer and tong at the moment praising Turnbull and how already 2018 is a great year for him and his leadership, whilst on the other hand Shorten is facing disarray, factional fighting and challenges at every turn.

    These attacks on Labor and Shorten will only ramp up over the coming year whilst at the same time propganda for the L-NP and Turnbull will exponentially increase.

    I don’t know how you fight this outside of the online world, and even online expect the L-NP and the MSM to massively increase their presence against Labor and Shorten, after all the Liberals have hired the firm that helped get Trump elected and who are behind Breitbart.

  3. Terry2

    So, the biggest donor to Malcolm Turnbull’s re-election in 2016 was Malcolm Turnbull at $1.75 million.

    Is that the price of the prime ministership of Australia ? Is that a healthy state of affairs for our democracy ? The last person who bought their way into our parliament was Clive Palmer and that didn’t work out so well.

    We have always prided ourselves on the ability of the least of us to achieve public office based on our personal qualities and our commitment to public service, not on how much we have in our [Cayman Islands] bank account.

    First order of business for the next parliament as far as I’m concerned is to introduce limits on political donations and absolute real-time transparency : holding back this information from public scrutiny for so long is a corruption of our democracy.

  4. johno

    I know who not to vote for, that is for sure.

  5. Harry

    The photo showing MT consulting his watch says it all. Its Time Again for a change of government.

    I would rather a PM who offers and implements inclusive policies than a millionaire show pony PM. Economic policies need to be front and centre though in my view.

    Neoliberal economics must the challenged, capitalism must be tamed. We need geuine social democracy.

  6. John Lord

    Harry. I’m glad you noticed that. The editor will be pleased. He is very pedantic about the pic relating to the story.

  7. Jack Arnold

    An interesting retrospective John, but when are you and other political commentators going to present the data SHOWING THE LIE in these Liarbral Party assertions about their fitness to lead??

    Consider: 1. “best economic managers”- doubled the 2013 Budget deficit as their strategy to fix “the Budget Black Hole”;

    “trickle down economics” has been well and truly discredited as an economic strategy to overcome inequality, yet the NLP follows the scripted press releases from US media barons who are personally benefitting from this fallacy;
    “a government that has probably the most overt Christian ethos” – Toxic RAbbott, Scat Morriscum, Muddles Turdball and heir apparent Dumbo Dutton aspire to be Sunday morning Christians but as the Book says, “by their deeds shall ye know them” so that the inhumane refugee policies of jailing without charge in concentration camps without adequate facilities looks suspiciously like the Concentration Camps of that other democratically elected fascist government in Germany between 1933 and 1945;
    No objective evaluation of Little Johnnie “Warmonger” Howard’s decision to “go a waltzing’ with Shrubya without financial limit has seen hundreds of millions of dollars spent on subsidising the USA (United States of Apartheid) NE military-industrial complex while in Australia hospitals, education, highway upgrades, airport development and electricity supply have been ignored; Canada withdrew from Iraq & Afghanistan without any repercussions, so it can be done;
    Keeping Parliamentarians honest appears to be the least of NLP concerns, when Kiwi Barnyard Joke is not required to repay the seven years of salary and perks earned contrary to the Australian Constitution s44, or the rorting of Parliamentary Allowances that in about 2015 Barnyard is reported to have run up over $1 MILLION of “expenses”.

    Bring on the Double Dissolution election so that the doubly disillusioned voters can despatch this coven of corrupt self-seeking egomaniacs to the WPB of Australian political history.

  8. townsvilleblog

    I always vote The Greens first preference, because of two reasons, firstly I know too much about the Queensland Labor Party and the internal tricks to give them the pleasure of getting my first preference, and secondly in conservative North Queensland the Greens candidate won’t get up so the ALP will get my second preference, then I fill in the rest making sure to put One Nation in the last spot with the LNP one space higher then fill in the rest with independents or minor parties, it works for me.

  9. townsvilleblog

    Terry2 I’m sorry to shatter your dream mate but from what I have seen having been a member of the ALP and a Branch Secretary for some time is that We have always prided ourselves on the ability of the least of us to achieve public office based on our personal qualities and our commitment to public service cannot be achieved, without being a member of a major party.

  10. townsvilleblog

    Jack, WPB, I would have thought WPS would have been more appropriate Worthless Pile of Shite.

  11. guest

    Mobius Ecko is right to point out the clear bias emerging more and more in the media towards the Coalition and actively against Labor. Some kind of idea that the Coalition can claw back the polling.

    Jack Arnold lists Coalition failures – and everyone here derides the Coalition.

    Just looking further afield, I saw two things in the last week which draw our attention to Climate Change. One was the melting of glaciers in Greenland and the other was about the melting of the tundra ice in northern Russia and the forming of massive sink-holes (craters) in the ground – and illegal deforestation over large areas.

    So here we are in Oz still wooing Adani as if there is nothing to fear with burning large quantities of coal. Large amounts of money are involved in the advertising of the Mineral Council’s fondness for coal and in the implementation of a coal mine which further threatens the existence of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Add to that our own deforestation, stealing of water, plasicisation of the ocean, toxic pollution of the soil and sundry other problems such as energy production…and we see that the Coalition is far from being the solution to the problem; it is the problem.

    Labor had better offer some hope – or we are all lost in the mire.

  12. helvityni

    I agree with your Facebook friend, Russell, that Abbott at least was true to himself and that Turnbull is a spineless hypocrite…getting very cocky lately; he has spent some of his own money to get there, he wants value for it..,he wants be our PM…. What does the electorate want….?

  13. David Stakes

    So how does Turnbull keep getting the preferred PM gong. Dont get how that works.

  14. Phil

    If I won $1.75 million in lotto I’d gift the entire win to Turnbull if he’d agree to resign and put an end to his cold, cruel and angry conservative government.

  15. johno

    Go Phil !

  16. townsvilleblog

    guest, You have summed it up perfectly, Labor had better offer some solutions to Australia’s problems, we in Queensland lost 1.5 million hectares to clearing in the past 5 years thanks to Campbell Newman’s tory (LNP) laws, so we need to see a massive reafforestation effort and an overturning of those laws by the new re-elected Labor government in Queensland, this time a majority government. They did try to overturn the laws when they were a minority govt but the tories and independents knocked the Labor proposal back.

  17. townsvilleblog

    helvityni, the electorate should have kicked this mob out in 2016, they are only hanging on by a thread, if one of their older members has a heart attack they know that they are gone. Which is why they gave Ruddoch some plum job to remove him from the house. It seems that the Australian electorate are masochists but they have surely reached their limit now, I will be interested to see the figure that usually comes out in February of the amount of Australians living below the poverty line, last year it was in excess of 3 million people, so collectively every man, woman and child in Sydney or Melbourne, bloody shocking for such a supposedly wealthy country?

  18. townsvilleblog

    Phil, and get Dutton as a replacement, no mate, let’s leave the status quo

  19. Zathras

    As someone who has managed to “maintain the rage” since 1975 and found it progressively easier to do so, I know who shall NOT be getting my vote.
    I abhor their selfish and repressive beliefs and underhanded practices as well as their philosophy that places individual greed over public interest.

    The ALP is certainly not was it used to be (but then again so is almost everything else) but they remain the only viable practical alternative,

    The Democrats have long since fallen away and the Greens are ineffectual unless in positions of power and easy targets for a hostile media.

    Unfortunately this is the system we’re stuck with and until political parties become more interested in our welfare than their own, not much will change.

    It’s up to the people themselves to get noisier about things and make themselves heard and not just keep debating the two alternatives offered every time.

  20. Wam

    Wow lord john what did the public learn from the ABC windfall?
    They learnt the rabbott is nasty and kevin andrews isn’t.
    They learnt that the pinkbatts royal commission missed the advice to rudd.
    They learnt that penny wong was to blame. My mates quipped she should have stayed in the closet.
    (He also said when he first went to tennant it was fabulous no blacks in town. He can see as well as you, lord john?)
    Wow terry2 surely holding back has been a part of our democracy?
    Good to see you are a donor to the greens I never donate to them for the same reason of mistrust from personal knowledge, as you do.
    Wonder if the stupidity of feeney will land batman in the green’s lap from lnp preferences? How interesting

  21. johno

    Tblog, Oz getting Dutton would be like America getting Pence, depressing.

  22. Andrew Smith

    Interesting also how anyone from unions, good, bad or indifferent, have been ‘disappeared’, ditto any minority or non centre opinions and/or imagery; exception is when dog whistling or demonising is used by LNP etc..

  23. Andreas Bimba

    A price on carbon with a full refund to all citizens so that greenhouse gas emissions reduce by 6% per annum. Protection and restoration of the natural environment.
    Fiscal net spending so that we again have full employment. {Roy Morgan estimate of Australian unemployment and underemployment is currently 19.4%}
    A Green New Deal and a rapid transition to environmental sustainability.
    Import tariffs of 15% on some manufactured goods such as passenger vehicles, white goods, steel and similar so that Australia is able to sustain a significant manufacturing sector.
    The corrupting influence of money and lobbyists removed from politics. Full public funding of election campaigns. Proportional representation voting. Permanent federal and state ICAC’s. Independent, balanced and relevant mass media and engaged electorate.
    A fair and compassionate social welfare system. Free education from childcare to multiple degree higher education. Affordable, high quality universal healthcare.
    Progressive taxation and no CGT concession or negative gearing for property investments. Rental revenue taxed higher than other income.
    Unwind 30+ years of neoliberalism.

    This will do for a start. Who offers it? No one but the Greens are closest.

    The best way to improve the ALP is probably to vote Green.

  24. guest

    Further to the topic of Climate Change – which has Turnbull in a twist. (Shorten, meanwhile is moving against Adani, prompting warnings of increasing socialism from the Coalition and Murdoch media.)

    In The Spectator a few days ago, one Phil Salmon (also publishes with Judith Curry, well-known climate skeptic) is quoted to debunk the idea of AGW or any connection between CO2 and Climate Change.

    Salmon writes about temperatures going back a long way. He mentions temperature spikes occurring in the past when there were no humans to cause them (sic).

    “In this glacial period there are many sharp upward spikes, or ‘micro-interglacials’, in which temperatures rose – then fell – by up to 10 degrees within a century or a few hundred years.”

    This is contradicted by Tony Eggleton (2013): “At present the world is warming at the rate of 1 degree Celsius in 60 years; that is, 20 times faster than any previous sustained rate of temperature change” (p139}.

    Salmon, apparently, is either writing about temperature changes which are not sustained or is reading too much into small changes in temperature, such as happen overnight (in other words, weather events).

    The Spectator article also puts Salmon in company with Ian Plimer, whose views have been well debunked.

    It is amazing how birds of a feather flock together, recognizable by their ideological paralysis brought on by their vested interests.

    So we have the Murdoch/Coalition/IPA conglomerate which promises us nothing but disaster – especially if Adani goes ahead.

  25. diannaart

    Will be voting FOR as many reasonable* Independents as possible.

    But not voting for anything remotely right of centre – which, I do believe, includes a significant percentage of the Labor party.

    ‘*’Frequently difficult to ascertain ‘reasonable’ until actually in job.

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