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Does this make him a master political tactician?

Monday 19 March 2018

Yesterday I posed the question; “Why in God’s name did Bill Shorten pick last Tuesday to announce a rather contentious policy? And in the full light of day knowing that there was a must win by-election the next week end, and a South Australian State election.”

The question of course referred to the dividend imputation benefits enjoyed by many retirees were a Howard-Costello largesse and are now unsustainable.

So we have a tax system that can no longer pay for all the services that older people have been accustomed to all their lives.

Well, Kaye Lee seems to have found an answer that sounds perfectly reasonable in the circumstances. It comes via an article by Guardian journalist Katherine Murphy:

“Katherine Murphy had a few ideas on the timing. In an article written before the election results were known, she suggested Labor needs to get these savings booked before the May budget so they can fund their policies and maybe match income tax cuts.”

Murphy assumed Labor would lose both elections and pondered how, after a poor result like that, the announcement of a contentious policy would look.

“So in this scenario Batman is lost, and the pontification complex is already off and racing, and then Shorten unveils the cash rebates policy, which triggers the public backlash we’ve seen this week. This would be written up as a colossal misjudgment, potentially as some kind of panicked response to events, and that wouldn’t give Shorten’s internal critics an inch.”

Of course Labor held Batman giving Shorten a trifold victory. Labor won the seat, have the policy, and the war chest. Does this make him a master political tactician? Well, I’m not sure about that but he certainly has a good mind for it. Murphy’s theory certainly explains the haste with which the policy was announced.

It is a policy not without risk but despite the criticism most commentators think it’s sensible political policy. Even the IPA. As with negative gearing, his timing has been impeccable.

Given that he and Labor can survive what will be a full on $250 leg of lamb scare campaign he will have a war chest of dollars easily matching that of the Coalition. With that sort of money to throw around Shorten should be able to minimise the fallout. And I might add that the public has had enough of scare campaigns.

I am also indebted to Kaye Lee for this short summary:

“For too long government policy has focused on wealth creation instead of the provision of essential services, equal opportunity, and protection of the vulnerable. Australians have become used to it and it has led to a selfish society where people only consider themselves. They are happy to invest in shares, but ask them to contribute $10 a week to save the planet from climate change and they will vote the government out. Ask them to give up an unreasonable unsustainable unnecessary rort and they scream blue murder. Yet these are often the same people who castigate politicians for rorting entitlements.”

After winning Batman I think the “Kill Bill” campaign still has a long way to go.

All the Murdoch media outlets, since Labor’s policy announcement, went in hard against Shorten and Bowen saying they were politically stupid for being so honest before the by-election. No doubt they will continue to throw more mud at this politically astute policy because they could never bring themselves to admit that Labor was right.

What else can you say about Ged Kearney other than “You can’t beat a good candidate”? Her victory gives women a 48% representation in the parliament leaving the Coalition on 20%.

The Greens go back to the drawing board yet again proving that minor parties in Australia have an abysmal record.

In South Australia, after 16 gruelling years Labor found that longevity of tenure and a four seat redistribution too much to overcome but nonetheless congratulations must go to the Liberals. But it was far from a disaster and they will be well placed to win the next election.

Nick Xenophon proved that you need more than a self-belief in your own ego to stand up as a truely third party candidate, and Cory Bernardi proved that a touch of charisma helps, as does being less judgmental of ordinary folk. The polls performed even worse.

In a doorstop interview yesterday Malcolm Turnbull, the hypocrite that he is, spoke as if we were meeting our Paris climate commitments and that SA was responsible for all of Australia’s energy problems. In a former life he would have been praising them.

On a personal note the Prime Minister looks hagged and drawn as though he is stressed out of his mind. I do hope he is looking after his health because he looks decidedly unwell at the moment.

My thought for the day

“Life is about perception, not what is but what we perceive it to be.”


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  1. Kaye Lee

    Why do the polls and media keep wrongly predicting the significance of minor parties – PHON in WA and Qld, Bernardi and Xenephon in SA, Lambie in Tassie?

    The people who agree to take part in polls usually fall into one of two categories – they are either fervent supporters of a political party or they are pissed off with our current lot. Many people wouldn’t bother doing the poll. But it is the undecided and the apathetic who often determine the result of an election.

    The media also spend a great deal of time reporting on the minor parties who get more airtime and print space than they really warrant. It’s more like watching a freak show than seeing them as a viable alternative when it comes to the crunch.

  2. Terry2

    Well at least the ASEAN conference in Sydney went well. Those who thought taking human rights off the table was a cop-out have been shown to be spoilers as to do otherwise would have eaten into the time available for photo-ops and harbour cruises.

    Calls by Aung San Suu Kyi to have Australia and other Asean countries resettle Rohingya refugees were well received but as Peter Dutton explained to Ray Hadley, this doesn’t affect Australia and has nothing to do with skin-colour as we are already embarked upon a major program of resettling South African farmers of a white, pink and sometimes red complexion.

    Evidently President Hun Sen of Cambodia addressed a popular leaders’ retreat on the subject of how to repress the scourge of democracy in Asia. Mr Turnbull defended Hun Sen’s right to speak his mind and reminded journalists that free speech is a cornerstone of leadership in Asia but acknowledged that it doesn’t necessarily extend to the people.

    Peter Dutton’s address on the subject of terrorism and asylum seekers in the region turned out to have a focus on fashion and in particular black tight fitting uniforms with lots of braid, epaulettes and sturdy leather jackboots all modeled by Roman Quaedvlieg who accessorised his outfit with a fetching Australian stock-whip.

    President Joko Widodo of Indonesia talked of the rapid strides towards political freedoms in Indonesia and explained that the jailing of former Jakarta Governor Ahok was nothing to do with the fact that he was of Chinese ethnicity or that he was a Christian but he did concede that these factors did not mitigate in Ahok’s favour.

    Mr Turnbull gave the closing address and pleaded for Australia to be admitted as a full member of ASEAN to which the response from Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei , Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar was a collective ; ‘pigs arse’ to which Mr Turnbull responded well, there’s always chicken satay ! 🙂

  3. Henry Rodrigues

    The so called Independent Guardian, ill represented by its chief political dimwit, Katharine Murphy, who has been shown many times to be nothing but a echo chamber for her idol Turdball, is unable to formulate any coherent explanation for Bill Shorten and Labor’s clever strategies, which again and again are proven to be right and effective. Look no further than the 28 bad polls in a row, and Turdball’s ppm ratings from 70% to 37%.
    And dear Katharine still carries her barely flickering torch, hoping that somehow Turdball will pull through and all will be well with the conservative world. Its no surprise, the Guardian has banned me from any comment on their website.

    But I’m sure they’re taking note !!!!!!!!

  4. wam

    Good Morning JL(suitably chastened by the realisation of my problem of upsetting Daibhidh I mac [Mhaoil] Chaluim;)

    My pie is hugely humble after screaming condemnation of ‘short on thought’ Bill. My excuse is an American moment a la:

    “A European says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with me? An American says: I can’t understand this, what’s wrong with him?
    I make no suggestion that one side or other is right, but observation over many years leads me to believe it is true.”
    ― Terry Pratchett

    As for summaries, Terry2 has presented stunning visions(including rubbery figures’ john elliot and a ‘fetching accessory’) from his words.

    The word “Frugality” is ‘one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language’. Was Scrooge frugal?

  5. Ricardo29

    I don’t know if Bill is a policy genius but I certainly wondered about the timing of the announcement given there had to be an immediate walk back from its most dire aspects. I think the Batman result was a combination of excellent and presentable candidate vs a good candidate destroyed by infighting.

    Regarding Roman Quadbike’s accessorising, don’t forget the chest full of medals.

  6. king1394

    Greens should not forget that a percentage of their vote has always come from traditional ALP voters, who put Greens first to encourage them in seats where there is no contest. In a situation like Batman, those voters are savvy enough to vote 1 ALP. Given the rather unpleasant actions of the Greens in trying to tear down Shorten’s reasonable comments on Adani and legal contracts, that would have also lost them sympathy from the typical Green to Labor vote (which would be difficult to quantify). In the result in Batman, the Greens can take no comfort in the 46% they achieved as this must represent the votes of many Liberal voters who would not willingly vote for Bernardi et al.

  7. Peter F

    The greens make the mistake of attacking the party closest to their ideology , preferring to support those most opposed to them.
    I believe Bill shorten is much more of a leader than he is given credit for.

  8. etnorb

    Liberals won in SA mainly because after 16 years of Labor mismanagement, the voters had had enough! We have the highest power bills in the world, a stupid new hospital we did not need & which is going to cost the taxpayers of SA over a million dollars a day for 30 years, just to pay for the building (?). This state has now had almost all the previously government owned Utilities, businesses etc sold off for ridiculous prices so that now there is really nothing left to sell–& everything this Labor mob sold off was at a very reduced price etc–we have had scandal after scandal in our Aged care system, we have NO reliable energy source now (only wind & batteries??), etc etc.So it was more than time for Weathman & his lying, inept, obscenely over-paid so-called Labor party to go! And I have traditionally been a Labor voter, having been an active Union member whist I was at work. In the Federal sphere however, the sooner Talkbull & his flat earth capitalist mob are gone the better! As for Shoirten’s new taxation policy, if one was to believe the Mudrake press,the right wing radio shock jocks etc, this country will be going to the dogs! However, if anyone can get to read the announcement Bill made, it is obvious that nothing of the sort is proposed or going to happen! Bloody MSM & the “rest” of these shock jocks would not know if their pants were on fire when it comes to telling the truth, the facts & explaining properly what Bill really said.

  9. paul walter

    Yes, Peter F and Labor has also made the mistake.

    bronte, take an aspirin with a glass of water and go and have have a lie-down.

    People really must get out of binary thinking.

  10. Keitha Granville

    Why are we not pleased that a party has put a policy out ages before the next election, giving everyone time to absorb it, understand it and if need be suggest a few tweaks so that those at the bottom with shares and not a lot else are looked after.

    The Tasmanian Liberals released their gun legislation alterations less than 24 hours before the vote – conniving finks. These are the sort of things we expect from those with dodgy policies who don’t want too much scrutiny. Will Hodgmanwill find he has a battle on this one.

    Well done Bill Shorten for giving us plenty of time to digest. More please.

  11. Freethinker

    It appears that the”master” have to make some adjustments in his tactics.

    Bill Shorten emboldened as scope emerges to soften Labor $59 billion revenue grab

    The analysis shows that 350,000 retirees would escape the revenue hike if Labor adjusted its plan to put a $1,000 cap on the cash refunds rather than cancelling them entirely. end of quote

    It is a shame that they do not think about this before release the policy, we know that when the mud is there it is hard to wash it down, it stick.

    I can see the lines on the media: “You cannot trust the Labor”

  12. Kaye Lee


    I realise you don’t have an alternative to the Murdoch press down there but you shouldn’t blindly believe what they tell you. SA has the highest power bills in Australia but not in the world. It was the Olsen Liberal government who privatised the grid in 1999. The articles criticising the hospital all come from the Murdoch press and the IPA so I would like to see information from a more reliable source. You actually have several gas fired power stations if the companies will be bothered to turn them on and two temporary ones opened by Weatherill using General Electric gas turbine generators to be used in emergencies.

    If you voted out the Labor government it is presumably because you think the Liberals have a better plan. I think you will be sadly disappointed.

  13. Joseph Carli

    etnorb..you may enjoy swallowing the Libs/MSM bullshit and get high on it…but I’m telling you to lay off the Kool-Aid…you’re tripping out , mate…you’re tripping out!

  14. paul walter

    Kaye Lee, it is true that the generation problems initially were to do with the grid to do with South Australia’s (in)ability to interconnect with the Eastern states grid. It was a fault in the national system, nothing to do with alternative energy and much to do with the unreformed privatised national system a problem exacerbated by neo liberal rationing policies involving power generation and distribution.

    Under these circumstances, the LNP attack on the SA government, supported unfortunately by Xenophon, was an opportunist lie, for want of a better description.

  15. jimhaz

    [etnorb..you may enjoy swallowing the Libs/MSM bullshit]

    It is not all bullshit. The hospital is a public-private partnership. You can expect costs to be enormously over inflated. Of course the 1m per day includes running the hospital, not just repaying the capital costs. The blowout was “typical” – govs of both sides bullshit when it comes to contract costs.

    The energy stuff is primarily bullshit when viewed in relation to more difficult supply options in SA. But again both the LNP and the ALP have been TOTALLY AND UTTERLY negligent in relation to ensuring domestic gas supplies at a lower costs.

  16. Joseph Carli

    We have the highest energy costs in SA because we are being ripped off and gouged by the suppliers..using “clever accountancy” to negate solar input (if you have any) and “gold-plating” the service delivery wherever they can …

  17. Kaye Lee


    I agree both parties made mistakes on gas. There should have been a reservation for future domestic use at least.

    I note today that Chris Murphy, who modelled Malcolm Turnbull’s big business tax cuts for Treasury, argued sectors enjoying what he calls “excess profits” should pay more and that this approach was “a sensible option” when it came to recovering some of the estimated $65 billion decade cost of the corporate tax cuts.

    Oh you mean like a mining resource rent tax?

    Or a PRRT which, because of generous deductions, only raises $800 million per year?


    Re the hospital, the contract with the builder allowed the government to issue a default notice and withhold payment (they were making payments of about $1 million a day) when the project ran overtime which cost the builder a lot as they were significantly in debt.


  18. jimhaz

    No doubt that Australians are getting completely ripped off by miners. My god I”d be vicious on them if I could. Current debt would be paid fro primarily by mining and gas.

    Take WA under the Libs – shut up about the GST, got a debt problem then you pay for it by increasing the royalties.

  19. New England Cocky

    As a disappointed fan of Albanese, who in my opinion is a logical ALP leader, it is a pleasure to see that Silly Billy Shorten has finally developed some political spine and is beginning to stand up for the workers of Australia against the foreign investors and undeserving wealthy who currently accept about $150 MILLION PER YEAR government charity for no good reason.

  20. Michael

    There is also the automatic and involuntary rabid unleashing of LNP elites of their hypocracy to better inform the Australian public.

  21. guest

    As Joseph Carli points out, we are frequently being dudded by the excesses of private business. We see it in the operation of the privatised grid in SA, sold off by the Liberal government of SA in 1999.

    We saw that kind of problem in the Pink Batts and BER programs where in some instances private industry, big and small, rorted the system, caused deaths, and it was the government which was blamed.

    As for thenew RAH hospital, etnorb, it is a very fine hospital which has private rooms for every patient – not the shared wards as in the old asbestos riddled RAH. Of course these things cost money. The same kind of complaint was made about the new Adelaide oval – now highly praised and utilised.

    Murdoch’s Chris Kenny tries to explain why Labor was to lose the election. He writes:

    ‘Many issues are running the Liberals’ way in SA, from the “It’s time” factor of a 16-year Labor administration to scandals over cancer treatments, aged-care and TAFE colleges. But the destruction of the state’s energy self-sufficiency leading to extortionate electricity prices and a crisis of supply is Labor’s most egregious abrogation of responsibility.’

    What Kenny does is to blame the Labor government for a brief list of ‘many issues’ and ignores the base situation involving individuals., such as a doctor administering a wrong quantity of medication. Similarly, Kenny claims that Labor has destroyed the “state’s energy self-sufficiency” when in fact the state’s energy is part of the interconnector between states – and when winds blew down the powerlines, the system was designed to shut down.

    But of course Kenny must persist with his spin explanation because the SA Labor energy plan is in such sharp contrast to the Coalition lack of planning. Note that in the NT 400 powerlines were blown down, shutting off power for days. In the eastern states, there have been numerous blackouts involving coal powered energy, but no one is blaming the source of power in those cases.

    So what did Jay Weatherill say about the loss? He said it was like being a race horse which had won 4 races but was caught by the handicapper. Look to David Tyler’s comment about the handicapper in his article on this AIMN site.

    So, amongst all the chatter there is so much reference to money and the cost of this and that and the value of nothing. My question to all the climate change deniers is this: “What is the cost of cooking the planet?

  22. paul walter

    Guest, it is basic Chris Kenny to kick the subject when the subject is down.

    On Kaye Lee and gas reservation, we know the impetus for rejection of this comes from the IPA and Murdoch megaphones who represent and are part of the titanic global fossil fuels sector. These are the folk who,in the form of Shell Chevron and others have avoided rent on the colossal gas resources of the north west.

    I’ve been trying to hunt down one particularly significant article on gas prices and revenues by Lenore Taylor but can’t hunt it down, but an hour or two going through Taylor’s numerous articles on these issues is worth a read in itself.

    What a shame She was moved to “Editor” when a far more effective broadsheet writer than most previously.

  23. Christopher

    Thank you John. Yes, winning Batman is a crucial indicator of how people feel about LNP – SA not so much.

    Kaye – yes, the apathetic, the uninterested, the uninformed. All vote because they have to. I often wonder if we would get more honest politicians and political parties if voting was not compulsory.

  24. diannaart

    There was at least a solitary shining light of hope (wind-powered of course) from the SA election and that was the trouncing to Nick (lookame) Xenophon Bestie’s.

    Although not enough to make him go away. Some people just do not know when to give up.

  25. Ill fares the land

    I am wondering if Shorten’s plan is even more devious and nuanced. He might well be thinking that by putting himself in the “arena of confected outrage” and exposing Labor to the demented and hysterical diatribe of Turnbull, Morrison, Cormann (and heaven forbid that O’Dwyer doesn’t get into the act with another 3-word slogan that she can inject into every public utterance), there will be a polling dip and that might just provoke Turnbull into going to the polls early. Heaven knows, despite Turnbull’s acknowledged intellect, his political judgement is generally abysmal, so he might just be drawn into an early election thinking that now is the time to strike – he would surely be thinking that the franking credit issue is one where he could “slaughter” Shorten and damage his election chances in the way that Mediscare damaged the Coalition at the last election..

  26. Cubism


    I agree about miners ripping off the country but regarding the WA budget, royalties and the GST, you need to do more research. The WA Libs did raise royalties but only got to keep 10% of them – the rest goes to other states. The complex interplay between the GST distribution and royalty increases, campaigned for by the mining industry of course, makes raising revenue by royalty increases difficult for any state:


    WA has argued for the GST formula to be modified, in large part, so that it can do what you suggest.

  27. PK1765

    When are people going to grasp this… Taxes and government borrowing NEVER finance the spending of a monetary sovereign central government, such as Australia is.

    People saying they do, or conventions which are introduced to make it look as though they do, don’t change this simple fact.

    People who claim otherwise either don’t understand monetary systems or are being dishonest.

    Taxes are there to limit inflation – government debt issuance is there to provide safe financial assets to savers and/or for the purposes of interest rate management.

    Professor Mitchell explains…


  28. Kaye Lee


    We all grasp the concept. It has been discussed at great length here. It is not us you need to convince, it’s the government who would have to change legislation to make that possible. As it stands, the government cannot go into overdraft to the RBA except in unusual and very temporary circumstances. Under current legislation, they must fund their deficit spending by the only means available which is issuing bonds.

    It’s ok to talk about the theory of what they could do however the reality of what they do do is an entirely different matter.

    “The Reserve Bank also provides the government with a term deposit facility for investment of its excess cash reserves, as well as a limited short-term overdraft facility to cater for occasions when there is unexpected demand for government cash balances. The overdraft facility was not accessed during 2016/17.

    While the Reserve Bank manages the consolidation of the government’s accounts, the AOFM has responsibility for ensuring there are sufficient cash balances in the OPA to meet the government’s day-to-day spending commitments.”

  29. Kronomex

    Inconvenient truths can ruin a good lie…


    …except if you are the LNP, then you just come up with a whole new raft of lies to cover the previous lies. When you are a party of nothing, lies and scare tactics are what the LNP relies on and falls back on time after time after…

    The imaginary retiree Jean is a good example.

    Sod giving the catholic schools even more money! Shorten is making a mistake with this and if it bites him on the arse then so be it. They had a hand in the Batman election result and now he’s beholden to the catholic corporation. Stuff ’em!

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