This morning I noticed the headline from the local Murdoch Manipulation, which screeched: “TURNBULL LUNCHED WITH SLAIN LAWYER”.
Now my immediate thought was how much lunch would a slain lawyer eat, what with them being dead and all, but once I started reading the article, I discovered that the lawyer was slain after the lunch. Quite a long time after the lunch, so Mr Turnbull felt that he had no need to assert that it was an independent slaying by an independent body.
The point of interest was not, in fact, that the lawyer’s slaying, nor even whether he considered the lunch worthy of “Masterchef” but the fact that the lawyer, one Joe Acquaro, was allegedly donating money to the Liberal Party on behalf of the Calabrian Mafia. Now, one would suspect that taking money from such an organisation could be considered almost as bad as taking money from the CFMEU, but apparently it’s not, because while the CFMEU are “thugs” and “bullies” and “operate outside the law”, the Calabrian Mafia are businessmen.
Of course, guilt by association is always a little dodgy – unless one is a bikie in Queensland… Or a friend of a bikie in Queensland, so one shouldn’t make too much of this, because Mr Turnbull must have had lunch with hundreds of people with dodgy connections over the years and he can’t be expected to know what they were up to beyond the fact that they were being generous to Liberal Party because they like it’s work and certainly not because they’d expect any favours in return.
After all, Mr Turnbull says that he remembers the patie de foie gras, but the names of the people at the lunch are a little foggy, but Arthur $inodinos definitely wasn’t there, so what’s all the fuss?
He also could remember discussing a plan for energy efficient light bulbs with a businessman, whose name also escaped him. However, as Mr Acquaro was a businessman and he also lobbied Mr Turnbull when he was Environment Minister for the chance to supply energy efficient light globes to government offices, it seems highly likely that this was the same person. Apparently, Mr Turnbull didn’t feel that this was a bright idea and turned him down, although it’s not clear whether he turned him down because he couldn’t remember his name, or because he was offering to supply energy efficient light globes which would have contravened the government policy of burning as much coal as possible because it’s good for humanity.
But on to more recent events. Today, Mr Turnbull met people and said things to them in NSW, while Mr Shorten showed a stark point of difference by meeting people in WA and saying things to them there. Most of the things they said were about such important matters as what kind of dog was that and how long have you had it, how beautiful the baby was, what a beautiful place to live and how hard it must be to do whatever it is that you do, but Mr Shorten broke the brief period of bipartisanship by bringing up the Medicare bulk billing freeze, prompting Mr Turnbull to talk about Labor’s spending and how terrible it was because there was no way he could pay for it. Mr Shorten seemed to think that reversing the company tax cuts may raise ten billion or so, but this is the sort of tax and spend philosophy that caused Australia to miss out on the opportunities that the GFC provided for mass unemployment and a consequent reduction in wages. Of course, the Liberals are already telling us that Labor plan to introduce a massive carbon tax again – you know the one that wiped Whyalla off the map and led to $100 lamb roasts – so surely that should cover a piddly little promise like Gonski and funding for the Health system. Of course, climate change could be considered an election issue, but the Liberals don’t think it is because – like the budget emergency – it’s just fine now that, instead of collecting money from people polluting the air, we pay them money not to do it, and if they take the money and continue to do it, we just won’t give them any more money. We won’t give them any less money, but we certainly won’t be increasing it.
Mr Turnbull was at pains to point out that he was very keen to utter the words, “Jobs and Growth”, because in all the hooha about someone being allowed access to Labor Party documents just because it’s the middle of an election campaign when they were simply there to take as many photographs as possible, just to check that any documents weren’t copies of NBNCo documents which are NBNCo’s property and nobody should be allowed to make copies of them. Making copies of Labor Party documents to check that they weren’t NBNCo documents is no problem, of course, and if he took photos of anything that wasn’t an NBNCo document, well, that was just so they could clear it and it certainly wouldn’t be passed on to the government because even though the taxpayers own it and Turnbull appointed the board, NBNCo is completely independent and there’s not a chance that they’d leak anything. Well, not to the Liberal Party, anyway.
In a confidential leak, I’m told that tomorrow, both Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten will be appearing on tomorrow night’s news, walking in a public area, before stopping to say something about why the other party can’t be trusted. The Greens won’t be given any air time unless either of the following things happens: One of the leaders of the major parties ventures into a seat that The Greens may win, or one of The Greens candidates makes an outrageous comment (or a perfectly reasonable comment that can be spun to make it look outrageous. For example, if they say that terrorism suspects should be subject to the same legal protections as anyone else charged with a crime, the headline will be “GREENS CANDIDATE SUPPORTS THOSE CHARGED TERROR OFFENCES”)
Yes, it’s going to be a looong six weeks. What I suspect that Labor have going for them is that they can give Shorten a rest and if Mark Dreyfus, Tanya Plibersek, Jason Clare or a number other Labor frontbenchers pop up on your screen, it’ll be a welcome relief, whereas if the Liberals realise that the more people see of Turnbull the more his approval rating drops, an appearance by Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison, Mathias Cormann, George Brandis, Christopher Pyne or any one of the other ones that they’ve hidden out the back is likely to lose them votes. That’s even before Barnaby reminds us all that he’s Deputy PM and Abbott reminds us that he’s the PM-in-waiting should Turnbull’s popularity slip. Throw in Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews and you have the sort of government that couldn’t possibly go six weeks without some major stuff-up.
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