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Dutton and the DeLorean

So Opposition Leader Peter Dutton believes that “the Voice to Parliament’ referendum will fail. If it does, there is one person to blame – Peter Dutton. Dutton’s potential self-fulfilling prophecy is the latest of a long line of pronouncements by Coalition Leaders that are leading us to a similar situation the USA found itself in on January 6, 2021.

Dutton is opposing for opposing’s sake. He’s not even original while he is doing it.

Despite his agreement to run the republic referendum in 1999, then Prime Minister Howard effectively torpedoed the possibility of success by asking for exactly how the republic would look in practice. Then and now, the point is that the Parliament has the mandate to legislate the operation of a change in the Constitution. The ‘guarantee to me how this will work’ argument is as sensible as you deciding to drive everywhere because you don’t know if the 7.56am Route 847 bus will be on time on 15 November 2025.

Dutton’s other catch cry at the moment that it is more expensive under an ALP government is a rehash of various Coalition Leaders (false) claims they were the better economic managers. The reality is somewhat different. Prices go up over time, the claim that the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government oversaw higher prices than the Howard or Menzies Government is just as true – and as equally irrelevant as Dutton’ claim. All Governments also ‘have form’ in running good and bad economic policy. The Rudd ALP Government avoided the 2008 financial disaster known as ‘the Great Recession’ across most of the developed world. The Whitlam Government introduced the original version of our universal health care system which assisted Australians in staying healthy because they could seek medical assistance when necessary, however they never did understand the politics and economics of borrowing. Pity Medicare was continually belittled by the Howard Government and has been gutted to extent it needs life support in the past 10 years of Coalition Government. The Albanese Government is looking at options to get Medicare out of the intensive care unit.

Probably the biggest failure that demonstrates the Coalition’s economic credentials is the mining boom of the 1990s and early 2000s. Norway experienced a boom in the volume of oil exported about the same time as the Australian ‘mining’ boom under Coalition Prime Minister Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello. Norway put a proportion of the windfall profit into a sovereign fund, Howard and Costello handed out tax cuts to those on higher salaries and reduced services to those that were less well-off through effective reductions in social security benefits and cuts to Medicare. According to this ABC RN discussion.

Australia’s lack of planning and foresight during this episode appears to reflect our British heritage. Britain disastrously mismanaged its North Sea oil bounty from the 1970s onwards, in sharp contrast to the measured, controlled and long-term strategy adopted at the same time on the other side of the North Sea in Norway. Australia’s policy settings similarly fail to register three fundamental truths about the resources industry – that companies profit from extracting the minerals belonging to the Australian people; that these resources are finite; and that price booms never last.

How did Norway’s sovereign fund work out for them?

The really big lesson from Norway is not the size of its trillion-dollar fund; it is the way every single krone of surplus revenue has been converted into foreign currency. Norway has a commodity-based economy like Australia’s, but it has built a giant hedge to help manage the boom times and protect against the inevitable periods of subdued commodity prices. This explains why Norway is a creditor nation that has almost doubled its net foreign assets to around 185 per cent of GDP since 2010. That is the equivalent of Australia having amassed net foreign assets worth $3 trillion; instead, we owe the world $1 trillion.

Australia’s ‘Future Fund’ in contrast

has received contributions from a combination of budget surpluses, proceeds from the sale of the government’s holding of Telstra and the transfer of remaining Telstra shares.

So nothing about the retention of some of the royalties earned by selling the nations finite assets to multinational companies then?

Dutton has a logic problem. While in his view there may have been some halcyon time in the past where everything was tickety-boo, there is no going back to those times.

When Dutton was Home Affairs Minister, he was defending the indefensible – what gives the descendants of a colonial power that used a legal fiction claiming the country was uninhabited prior to 1788 the right to tell people who use similar methods of coming to the country in the past 20 years that they can’t stay? Both the First Fleet and boat people effectively entered the country without prior approval or authorisation and arrived by ship. To be fair, the ALP has been equally culpable in this regard. We should all be humiliated by the actions that have been carried out in our name.

When Dutton claims that the Albanese Government’s altering the Coalition’s ‘safeguard mechanism’ to actually reduce the carbon emissions of large polluters somehow makes it a ‘carbon tax’, it is similar to then Opposition Leader Abbott’s claims that the Gillard Governments emissions reduction scheme was a ‘carbon tax’. As Abbott’s Chief of Staff admitted years later – the opposition to Gillard’s scheme was just ‘brutal politics’.

When Dutton claims that ‘the Voice’ referendum will fail, he is firstly throwing ‘red meat’ to his base giving them permission to openly discredit the process and to vote against it – regardless of what Dutton says closer to the referendum date. The First Nations people, who have been in Australia for something like 60,000 years, have made a consensus decision that they would like to represent their own values and beliefs to the Australian Parliament and a treaty. The statistics show that governments to date have not had the skills or ability to deliver the needs of our first nations people, why wouldn’t you welcome a representative body to help in the decision-making process?

When Dutton opposes, he is using the same process as Trump – promising to make Australia great again by returning to undefined ‘conservative’ values. As we’ve seen in the USA, the armed followers of Trump’s returning America to greatness agenda mounted a deadly coup on the US Congress while Trump and his assortment of hangers on and media supporters did nothing. Unfortunately, those that should have done so, the leaders of Trump’s political party, his Vice President and Congressional Leaders as well as the media should have stood up to him far earlier – but didn’t. The ‘Convoys to Canberra’ and similar activities demonstrate that the same forces have infected the Australian political system and the Coalition has and continues to provide tacit approval.

Back to the Future’ was a critically and financially successful movie franchise in the 1980s, but it proved that time, fashions, technology and values systems move on. Maybe Dutton should watch a couple of old movies rather pining and advocating for the past using rose coloured glasses and a considerable amount of gloss to cover over the less appealing aspects of the past such as racism, sexism and bullying. And if Dutton doesn’t have the necessary streaming subscription – someone should tell him why the past isn’t what it’s cracked up to be before his DeLorean gets stuck there.

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  1. margcal

    Personally, I think Albanese is handling the call for detail very badly. Saying all the detail is in the lengthy Langton-Calma report is ludicrous. Those of us with more than half a brain don’t need to read it, those with ill-intent won’t read it.

    What would have been so hard about saying, right from the start, that there will be flexibility in the legislation to allow for changes over time and circumstances and that the Voice group will be made up of elected representatives from the Indigenous community in a manner decided by them?

    Personally, I hope for a lot of flexibility. Some legislation would cover all Indigenous people. But some could be region specific in decisions generally not specific to Indigenous people, eg besides all those wanting peace not war, if I were an Indigenous person living near Katherine, I’d like a chat with Parliament about the implications for the area, sacred sites, etc when RAAF Tindal is a full-on US base. I’d like to see the Voice talking to Parliament by relevant politicians making in depth site visits when the occasion demands.

    As for those that wouldn’t read the Langton-Calma report, and probably not a flyer either – that could apply to Dutton, Sen. Hume, and the troll on a pro-Voice fb comment of mine… Gave me a real history lesson, she did: those who themselves and we call Indigenous are not Indigenous at all – they came here 40,000 years ago from India and killed all the pygmies who were living here at the time. And she votes 🤯

  2. Michael Taylor

    margcal, Senator Hume was right: the Aborigines came here from India and killed all the pygmies. The number of pygmies killed has been estimated to be zero. (A minor point she overlooked).

    They did indeed come from India, but she was shy by about 25,000 years. The oldest archaeological remains are dated to 63,000 years, at a rock shelter in Queensland.

    But as to the pygmies, after studying Aboriginal Archaeology at uni, I can attest that there are no archaeological remains that confirm their presence.

    And you have given me a chuckle. Senator Hume is stark raving mad.

  3. New England Cocky

    @Michael Taylor: Perhaps Hume confused the Homo floriensis of Indonesia with the alleged Australian pygmies. Or maybe it was the bantu pygmies in Southern Africa who crossed into Australia via the Antarctic land bridge to Tasmania.

    (Well, it is an original idea).

  4. Canguro

    Gents, MT, NEC, I think maybe you’re misconstruing margcal’s comment: she wrote ‘that could apply to Dutton, Sen. Hume, and the troll on a pro-Voice fb comment of mine… Gave me a real history lesson, she did:’ … isn’t she referring to the troll on the pro-Voice fb comment, and not Sen Hume?

    Not to disagree with the perspective on Hume and her madness… too true.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Nah, disagree, NEC. Hume isn’t confused – she just believes her bullshit.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Canguro, it’s fun to misconstrue. It gives me license to say nasty things about her. 😁

  7. margcal

    Oh dear! I don’t like being wrong. But it could well happen again. I’m not going to take up fact-checking trolls (Canguro was right) for the odd occasion there might be something correct amongst their madness, prejudice and/or vitriol.
    But thank you, Michael, for correcting me here. My knowledge of pre-settlement history is pretty thin. Obviously.

  8. Michael Taylor

    margcal, I wasn’t correcting you. I was making fun of the ignorant Liberals.

  9. margcal

    Michael … 😘

  10. andy56

    Wam, yes its depressing when people say thats how the system works and then close their minds to alternatives. I have had that door slammed in my face today, lol. Its entrenched in our fabric and only a revolution or disaster will fix it.

  11. Jack sprat

    The quality of the members of the LNP ,presents a good argument for not having religious private schools when these people are the best that they can produce.

  12. New England Cocky

    Jack Sprat: Well said!! From my 30 year career in education there have been several alumni who have chosen a political career. They were known as ”easily malleable” minds who would follow instructions without the ability to evaluate outcomes. Certainly sufficient reason to stop government over-funding of private schools.

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