There’s an old cartoon where the couple in a car are speeding down the highway while there’s hundreds of cars stuck in traffic in a lane beside it. The wife says, “Look at the sign – we’re going the wrong way!” To which the husband replies, “Who cares, we’re making great time.”
Every few days someone in the current Abbott Government makes me remember that cartoon.
Of course, unlike the man in the cartoon, most members of the goverment seem completely unable to acknowledge that they are going the wrong way, even though that’s what the sign clear says.
“We’ve made great progress on the Budget!”
But the deficit is growing and it’s not predicted to get back to surplus any faster than Labor planned.
“But you’d be a fool to trust what Labor said. They promised to get it back to surplus a couple of years ago and they still haven’t done it!”
But you’re the government now; you’re the ones promising to have it back in surplus, then changing the date.
“Yes, but I’m not a quitter. I’m determined to see this through, as is the PM. He’s a nice bloke, you know. A terrific guy. Family man. Athlete. He pedals really fast. Firefighter. And he’s a fighter. He’ll get back up. Really, I can’t think of someone with more attractive daughters. No, he’s certainly the best person to lead the country. ”
Of course, Hockey did acknowledge that having the highest unemployment since John Howard was PM wasn’t great, but attempted to argue that it could be worse. Basically, his point was that if there hadn’t been so many jobs created last year then unemployment would have been over seven per cent, so we were really, really lucky that we’d rid ourselves of that Labor Government who wouldn’t have grown the economy.
He went on to argue that the best possible way to improve the unemployment figures was to get the economy growing faster. Which, to me, is a bit like a mechanic saying that the best possilbe thing for your car is to get it moving again, because once it’s moving then you won’t have this problem with it stalling. And if it keeps stalling, well, that’s because it’s not moving. At this point, don’t be tempted to ask the mechanic how you’re supposed to get it moving again, because he’ll just tap his nose and tell you that he has a plan, and, though it may not be popular, the best thing you could do is to pay his bill.
In fact, that’s more or less what Hockey said:
“I’m trying to get it to shift and things that have been unpopular but necessary have helped.”
I’m still trying to work out how sacking large numbers of public servants is meant to stimulate the economy and lead to an increase in employment numbers in the short term, even if one accepts the rather dubious argument that it’ll help get the Budget back in surplus and once the Budget is back in surplus, all will be well. (And once the car starts moving, it’ll no longer be stalled. $739, please, for parts and labour!!)
But, of course, the week truly belongs to Tony Abbott. Now I’m not going to mention the war – in particular, I’ll say nothing about the holocaust; neither will I make cheap shots about him not being able to stop Japanese subs from coming to Australia. (Actually they’ve announced that it’s no longer the case that Adelaide can’t build them, and that the they’ll be allowed to put in a thing that nobody seems to know what to call, before the contract is given to the Japanese under the free trade deal that’ll lead to jobs, jobs, jobs in whatever part of the world we’re trading with, and now that we have a free trade deal, well, what benefits them, benefits us, because we’re all just one happy free trading partnership where we’ve managed to break down the borders. Actually, change that to barriers. We want STRONGER borders, but no barriers to the movement of money, trade and anything else you care to name, if your donation is big enough.)
So after we’ve had the barnacle clearing, the learning, back to work Tuesday, more learning, and good government starts today day, we were treated to the government’s attempt to bury a report by waiting six months then releasing it late in the day, only to have Tony attack the Human Rights Commission for all he’s worth (no, actually, probably a bit more than that!) A report that was apparently partisan against his government, yet Mr Abbott suggested only minutes later that he was doing the Labor Party a favour by not following its recommendations, because if he implemented a Royal Commission “… it would condemn them (the former Labor government).” Strange that a report that was so ‘blatantly partisan’ report should also condemn the Labor Government, but, never mind, Abbott’s attack on Gillian Trigg’s managed to create enough attention that the report didn’t go the way of so many reports: We’ve got it, thanks, we’ll read it and get back to you, unless it’s the Gonski Report which Christopher Pyne refused to read because there were no pictures.
But just to cap off the week, we had the sacking of Phil “Smiley” Ruddock. Undertaker Ruddock, the Father of the House (do we know who the mother is?), the third longest serving member ever, Uncle Phil, the Liberal Party Whip was sacked. Make no mistake, Abbott wasn’t going to give him the dignity of resigning to promote generational change, or because he wanted to spend more time nursing a family member’s ingrown toenail, the PM made it clear that the decision was his. (I don’t think that he added and his alone, because that may have necessitated another announcement about how he intended to be more consultative in future, and people tend to grow a little cynical when you announce the same intention to change on a weekly basis, instead of the monthly basis that we’ve grown used to.)
Yep, I’ve heard people argue that the term, “forward progress” is a tautology, because you can’t have “backward progress”. That, of course, was before the Abbott Government.