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The hazards of voting Liberal

By Ad astra

It’s clear that around half of all voters for the major parties will vote for the Liberal-National Coalition and half for Labor and the Greens. The result is likely to be close. There are many seats that promise to throw up intriguing results. If the Coalition wins, the Senate may end up being no more helpful to it than the last one.

The purpose of this piece is not to attempt to predict the election result, but rather to ask what might motivate voters to place the LNP first, and to examine the hazards of doing so.

It really boils down to what voters want of a federal government. Liberal-National voters seem to want different things from Labor and Greens voters, or for that matter different from what voters for independents want.

As our politicians tell us, whether they can do what they want to do, and what voters want them to do, revolves around priorities. Who would not like to see policies put in place that made us all well off, with the services we want and need readily available to us all whenever we needed them? In a perfect world we would have it all. Yet we know that we can’t have it all. The political and economic system in which we live produces disparity. There have been, and always will be the very well off at one end of the spectrum, and at the other those who struggle day to day simply to survive.

There is not room here to describe all the hazards of voting Liberal, so I will confine myself to examining just four areas: Inequality, Medicare, the NBN, and Marriage Equality, where Liberal priorities conflict with those of other parties.

Those who disparage the idea of equality do so because they believe those seeking equality want the same for all. Nobody believes we can all be millionaires or even modestly well off, but who would not want everyone to at least have the necessities of life? What the ‘equality’ advocates want is the gap between those at the top and those at the other end to be less grotesque than it is, to see it narrowing as a result of government policies, not widening. Inequality is currently at a 75 year high!

Yet LNP policies will widen the gap. Its proposal to spend $48 billion to reduce company tax, not just for small businesses, which Labor supports, but large ones, even our big banks and multinational corporations, is yet another example of the application of ‘supply-side economics’, colloquially known as ‘trickle down economics’. How many examples of the failure of this model do they need before they acknowledge that it does not work? All it does is increase inequality.

Tax breaks given to businesses do not trickle down to workers in the form of more jobs and better wages. History tells us that businesses save more of any tax break they are given than they spend; they do not invest it predominately to grow their businesses; and they do not roll out lots more jobs.

‘Jobs and growth’ is just a fine-sounding mantra, not a plausible plan for growing our economy or creating more jobs. It is a façade with almost nothing behind it. It is hard to contemplate that those who perpetrate this charade really believe in its effectiveness and its worth. If our PM, Treasurer and Finance ministers do believe their own ‘jobs and growth’ rhetoric, heaven help us; if they don’t, what we are witnessing is a grossly cynical political plot to deceive the electorate.

And what’s more, the Coalition has never explained why business tax breaks of $48 billion should have priority over the $37 billion needed for schools.

Research studies show that conservatives are resistant to change and are tolerant of inequality, which they regard as part of the natural order of societies, dating back to the days of feudalism and serfdom. They have no innate motivation to work for a more egalitarian social order, although this is what the average Aussie wants. Their support for reducing workers’ penalty rates on Sundays is an example of their tolerance of worsening inequality.

The first hazard of voting Liberal then is that inequality will increase and disruptive social consequences will follow.

The future of Medicare has been at the top of the issues discussed during the final campaign weeks. Labor is insistent that the Coalition is intent on disrupting and diminishing Medicare; the LNP labels this as a gigantic ‘scare campaign’ built on a ‘deceitful lie’. Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to react to Labor’s attack by denying any ill intent, and has promised, almost in legalistic terms, that no changes will be made to Medicare should his government be elected: “I am making a solemn commitment, an unequivocal commitment that every element of Medicare’s services will continue to be delivered by government. Full stop.”

That ought to be the end of it, but politicians have so diminished themselves in the eyes of the electorate, have told so many lies and broken so many promises, that only their rusted-on supporters believe them anymore.

Who can ever forget John Howard’s 1995 ‘never, ever’ GST reassurance? Who could possibly forget Tony Abbott’s 2013 promise of “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”? The GST was the only area to avoid the Abbott/Hockey savaging.

Voters are skeptical and highly cynical about any political promise, no matter how volubly made. Turnbull ought not to be surprised at the reaction of voters; frothing at the mouth with indignation will not change their views.

None of us can predetermine what will happen to Medicare. Words have no value in the bare-knuckle street fighting we are seeing as the election draws near. All we have to go on is past behaviour.

The most brazen upshot of the Abbott/Hockey push to reduce expenditure was the 2014 Budget. It contained attacks on Medicare with the proposed GP co-payment, blocked in the Senate, but now being put into effect with the freeze on GP bulk billing rebates until 2020. As practice costs continue to rise, the freeze means that bulk-billing GPs are making less and less profit from each consultation to the point that practice viability is being threatened. The government is forcing them absorb the deficit, or to charge their patients a co-payment. This is pushing them to the point where bulk billing is no longer a viable option. Expect more and more to abandon it, partially or completely.

The result will be that the less well off will not be able to afford the co-payment, and will not consult their GP when they ought to. Their illnesses will progress and the cost to them and the healthcare system, especially to public hospitals, will increase. This is dangerous healthcare, and wasteful to boot.

Writing in The Conversation about the threat of privatization of Medicare, Stephen Duckett, an architect of Medicare, says: “The greater threats to our national public health system lie in the increasing role of consumer co-payments and the power of vested interests that stifle policy innovation in health.

Another attack on Medicare was the change to bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging proposed to begin on 1 July, which is now on hold. This would have made it difficult for the less well off to have necessary pathology tests and imaging. Cancer patients particularly would be affected. Moreover, the proposed $5 increase in the cost of prescription drugs (also held up in the Senate) would penalize patients with chronic illness.

How can we believe Turnbull’s denialism about Medicare, and his mealy-mouthed rhetoric about preserving Medicare in all its facets, when past and quite recent actions show how determined the Coalition is to reduce its cost and thereby erode it, subtly yet persistently? It’s his government’s actions that belie Turnbull’s effusive reassurance.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the AMA support Medicare strongly and are mounting a powerful campaign with patients and the public to preserve it and shield it from attacks.

The maintenance of Medicare is Labor’s most important policy platform; it has received much prominence during these latter weeks. Voters will have to decide whether they believe Bill Shorten’s or Malcolm Turnbull’s rhetoric.

So the second hazard of voting Liberal is to invite more assaults on our universal health care system – Medicare – and further erosion of the benefits it offers. The less well off would suffer most.

The National Broadband Network
With someone supposedly as tech savvy as Malcolm Turnbull, it would have been reasonable to expect something better from him when he was when Communications Minister in the Abbott government. Although he did not carry out Abbott’s instruction to “demolish the NBN”, what he has given us is a cobbled together mess: a multi technology mix, fibre to the node on the street corner (FTTN) in most instances, and ageing copper wire from the street corner to the premises. Speeds are not what the original Labor fibre to the premises (FTTP) promised, roll out is slower than predicted, the cost is growing every month and is likely to be no less than Labor’s fibre to the premises rollout. The NBN rollout has been badly bungled by Turnbull and the Abbott/Turnbull government.

Turnbull insists that Labor’s plan was too expensive, too slow to roll, and that the speeds it offered were unnecessary. He cites the uptake of slower speeds as indicating that users did not want Labor’s 100 Mbps!

To give the lie to Turnbull’s assertions, let’s look at a public speech given last week at the University of Melbourne by the first chief executive of the NBN, Mike Quigley. He called the current rollout ’backward-looking’ and ‘incredibly short sighted’, saying the current state of the project is ‘such a pity’.

His scathing critique of the Coalition’s current multi technology rollout strategy included evidence that a majority of the NBN will quickly become obsolete.

He’s what he said:

“The Coalition regularly points to the fact that a majority of the data packages purchased by customers already connected to the NBN are lower-tier packages as proof the network is sufficient for the nation’s needs.”

“It seems especially curious that a government that styles itself as the innovation and infrastructure government, should argue this. Gigabit services are just starting to emerge elsewhere in the world, so the applications that can take advantage of this type of speed are in their infancy. But we all know they are coming.”

Writing in The Conversation, Quigley adds:

“To spend billions of dollars on building a major piece of national infrastructure that just about meets demand today, but doesn’t allow for any significant growth over the next ten or 20 years is incredibly short-sighted.

“It is such a pity that so much time and effort has been spent on trying to discredit and destroy the original FTTP-based NBN plan. Equally, it’s a pity the Coalition has put its faith in what has turned out to be a short-sighted, expensive and backward looking multi-technology mix (MTM) plan based on copper.

“The nation is going to be bearing the consequences of those decisions for years to come – in higher costs and poorer performance in an area that is critical to its long-term future. Betting tens of billions of taxpayers dollars at this time on copper access technologies, as the Coalition has done, is a huge miscalculation…

“It is becoming increasingly obvious, especially to customers, that an NBN based on FTTP is a much better network than an MTM-based NBN from every angle – speed and capacity delivery, maintenance costs, reliability, longevity and upgrade costs.

“An FTTP network would be a much more valuable public asset and could generate greater cash flows for the government due to lower maintenance, higher revenues and almost no upgrade costs. And it would be vastly superior in driving growth through the wider economy.

“So it is a great pity that before making the shift to the MTM, the Coalition did not heed the words of the then independent MP for New England, Tony Windsor: “Do it right, do it once, do it with fibre.”

What more needs to be said? After vehemently criticizing Labor’s FTTP NBN, Turnbull has created a multi technology mess that will leave Australia struggling in the wake of the 58 countries that already have superior connection speeds.

This then is the third hazard of voting Liberal – an inferior broadband network, dangerously uncompetitive in the global market. Yet Turnbull thinks this is OK for his innovative, agile nation!

Marriage equality
It is with foreboding that LGBTI folk and their supporters anticipate the plebiscite forced upon the LNP by Abbott and his conservative faction, now slavishly adopted by Turnbull. Despite his protestations of support for marriage equality, his dependence on the support of the conservative clique in his party renders him impotent to substitute a parliamentary vote in place of a plebiscite.

He knows full well that Abbott’s choice of a post-election plebiscite was to frustrate the popular push for marriage equality, first by delaying its implementation, and more importantly by giving the bigots a chance to frighten the public with predictions of dire outcomes should marriage equality, or more baldly ‘same sex marriage’, come about.

We have already seen the fear mongering of the Australian Christian Lobby via its aggressive chief executive Lyle Shelton, who wants anti-discrimination laws suspended before the plebiscite so he can say what ever wants! And we have heard the grotesque utterances of the likes of Cory Bernardi, which do not deserve repeating. Pamphlets designed for the plebiscite campaign claim that ‘social outcomes’ for children of same-sex parents are ‘unemployment’, ‘sexually transmitted diseases’, and ‘drug use and abuse’, which is at odds with the body of scientific research demonstrating that children of same-sex couples are likely to have at least as positive emotional, social and academic outcomes as other children.

Penny Wong, a member of the LGBTI group, recently highlighted her apprehension. She pointed to ugly posters and hurtful social media hate speech, such as were seen in Ireland, that demean LGBTI people, hold them up to ridicule, hurt good parents, and induce uncertainty, fear, suspicion and loathing. Opponents of marriage equality do not care what hurt and anxiety they cause; their purpose is to stop it in its tracks, no matter what the cost to others. They are not kind or empathic; they are ruthless in the pursuit of their quasi-religious dogma. We now hear that Turnbull will allow his members to vote any way they wish and not be bound by the plebiscite outcome!

Here then is a fourth hazard in voting Liberal. It will result in a damaging lead-up to an unnecessary and expensive ($160 million) plebiscite that will hurt many, and which runs the risk of frustrating the wishes of a clear majority of the electorate which wants marriage equality, and wants it now.

This piece is already long enough. To detail all the other hazards of voting Liberal would take another piece, or two. So do read Michael Taylor’s excellent catalogue of reasons not to vote Liberal which you will find on the AIM Network in Why on earth would you want to vote for the LNP? He has compiled a comprehensive list that will astonish you. It makes one wonder how the LNP could possibly succeed on July 2.

I suppose voters who can’t see the ghost of Abbott with his cynically calculating conservative faction hovering over Turnbull, who don’t care about inequality, who are indifferent to the Coalition’s assault on Medicare, who don’t care that our NBN is slow and already antiquated, who don’t give a toss about marriage equality for our LGBTI friends, and who are unaware of the many other hazards of voting Liberal, would be comfortable voting this way, dangerously unaware of the awful consequences.


This article was originally published on TPS Extra.



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  1. flohri1754

    Well, that about sums it up ……

  2. etnorb

    What a great & true thought piece “ad Astra”! I agree completely with what you have said, & can only shudder at the prospect of this lying inept effing liberal mob being re-elected on Saturday! How is it at all possible that they have (& are) hoodwinking so many Australians into believing their litany of lies & untruths, & the “obvious” deficiencies in almost all their so-called “policies”, plans etc? Jobson Growth has really set the cat among the pigeons with the claptrap they ALL spout! God help us if they are re-elected, I can only shudder at the thought & the prospects of just how worse off ALL low paid workers, pensioners & persons on welfare etc will be if they do get in!

  3. king1394

    Many groups should not be considering a vote for Liberal/Nationals. They include women, waged workers, unemployed people looking for work, other social security / pensioners, anyone who cares about the environment, education, social justice or who may need healthcare now or in times to come. It seems that half the citizens are doing All Right at the moment, and don’t share any of my anxiety about the future.

  4. Wayne Turner

    Two groups vote for the Liberal party:-

    1.MEGA RICH – A minority.

    2.MEGA STUPID – An ignorant and gullible majority.

  5. jim

    Don’t forget when it comes to the runners in this election while Labor called for a RC to look into institutional (priests) responses to scum Pedo’s the Liberal party tries to protect the scum pedos giving sealed PM references to the scum.

  6. col gradolf

    I don’t know about everyone else but when I think about equality I am not considering that we should all be on the same level in terms of out comes such as income and lifestyle. The notion of equality which I favour is that of opportunity and is most clearly demonstrated in access to quality educational resources.
    This government and pretty well all of them since the public purse began funding the private sector have been eroding the opportunities for the least advantaged social sectors while providing obscene amounts of money to elite institutions and wasting more on the school chaplains scheme. They say that the amount spent per student has never been higher, but the criminal misallocation of those funds is seeing a decline in opportunity for the most disadvantaged and that is just in the primary and secondary sectors.
    The tertiary education system is also being gutted and I shouldn’t need to remind people that the very scum who are making a university qualification unaffordable and inaccessible themselves benefitted from the open access system we had for so short a period. The Whitlam reform of the university fees made tertiary education and the opportunities arising available to vast numbers of people from working class backgrounds and saw multitudes become the first in their families to attain a degree.
    It is not just in the university sector that opportunity is being eroded. TAFEs are being gutted all over the country and training centres are being sold off for a fraction of their capital value let alone their intrinsic worth. Privatisation of many public utilities has seen the apprentice programmes which they previously ran get cut right back; the private sector want trained staff, but do not want to pay for that training. The result is that employers resort to overseas trained staff with the 457 Visa programme and the wages and conditions of every Australian worker are put under further threat and the decline of social standing and opportunity accelerates even more.
    We are in a downward spiral that needs a real change in the way we address the political process to reverse it. The major parties have let us down badly and the only way that we can make them listen is to Hang The Parliament. Make them actually talk about issues rather than which of the snouts in the trough is the better squabbler. Negotiate social outcomes rather than score points off each other or engage in cheap ‘Gotcha’ moments.
    Put the LNP last but give your primary vote to Independents or progressive minor parties.

  7. Malcolm Turnball

    Get Rid Of Negative Gearing

  8. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Do you want my good response or my bad response?

    My good response is that the Australian people can’t be THAT stupid to vote the LNP Degenerates in for another term after the damage they have committed over the past 2 2/3 years and threaten to continue into the future.

    My bad response is that if the Australian people are THAT stupid to do the above, then I won’t pretend to believe in Democracy ever again.

  9. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I have been handing out htv’s for Labor, Greens and the Australian Progressives during this election campaign.

    I’m pleased to say some open-minded voters have shown interest in considering the alternatives to the Lib/Labs.

  10. Kizhmet

    Thank you for sharing your insights JMS … I am learning a new skill as the countdown to the election diminishes – how to type with my fingers crossed. Please let us be rid of these neocon destroyers.

  11. Tony

    Has everyone noticed how all the dud Liberal Ministers have been silenced from the Election Campaign.Like Mr Erica polyamory Abetz, Cory Himmler Bernardi, JamieTouchy Feely Briggs, Peter Robot Dutton, Greg Xunt, Jim Molan Aka Bruce Ruxton, Wyatt Earp Roy, Authur Snout in the trough Sinodinos, Tim Bitch Wilson, and George Arrogant Brandis.

  12. silkworm

    I think Labor’s “you can’t trust the Libs on Medicare” campaign has bitten. The Libs were forced to respond but it has been lame… “Labor is lying… You CAN trust us on Medicare.” It’s a huge gamble, hoping the bogans and morons will be sucked in. Still, I don’t underestimate the power of the moron vote. The evil bastards might still get in. Look at what happened with Brexit.

  13. Rezblah

    The thought of 3 more years of these criminals in power makes me want to puke. We all know to take poll results with a grain of salt, but have you ever wondered why they have been called so closely so consistently for so long? (Think back over the last 20 years or so) when was the last time they ever indicated a landslide victory to anyone? Mysteriously, it always seems to be “Too close to call” until one side is decimated (the modern meaning not the Roman, I know) and then they “didn’t see that coming” oh puh-lease! Really? It’s all just part of the propaganda isn’t it with the same boring bullshit “results” flopped out at the same stage of the campaign every time. First it’s the race to be the underdog, then it’s too close to call, then Murdoch says the liberal nazi party are just in front by a nose blah blah blah in an effort to tell us what to do.

    Queensland has already demonstrated the mood of the nation and what’s possible, I’m truly despondent about a possible turnbull victory, surely they’ll get booted big time?

  14. townsvilleblog

    Wayne Turner has the formula down pat.

  15. Kronomex

    Looking at the photo before reading the article all I could of was; “My thoughts are becoming your thoughts. Give in to the dork, daft and dark side Malcolm. Close your mind Malcolm. Close your mind.”
    Tax breaks good because LNP say so. Education bad, LNP not want commoners, serfs, and plebs to think (read “The Marching Morons,” by Cyril M. Kornbluth).
    ““I am making a solemn commitment, an unequivocal commitment that every element of Medicare’s services will continue to be delivered by government. Full stop.”” I say bullshit! We’ve heard this sort of mantra so many times from both sides of politics that the words have become empty of meaning. So again, I say bullshit!
    Turnbull will be knifed inside of twelve months (I’d be very surprised if he makes past that time frame) by the rabid right wingers that he crawled to, and is now kept on a very short choke collar by, to become leader and PM. Who replace him, Abbott or Morrison?

  16. Neil of Sydney

    It is becoming increasingly obvious, especially to customers, that an NBN based on FTTP is a much better network than an MTM-based NBN from every angle – speed and capacity delivery, maintenance costs, reliability, longevity and upgrade costs.

    Good. If Labor wins the election they can leave whats done and do the rest FTTP. Then we can sit back and have a laugh about how long it takes to finish and how much it costs to build.

    I really hate the question do people want FTTP. It is like asking would you like a Ferrari

  17. Mark Needham

    I just love the Passion being shown against those we dislike.

    silkworm, “It’s a huge gamble, hoping the bogans and morons will be sucked in. ” That is the whole name of the game, so said Caesar, of Brutus, “Not you too, you bastard”
    ” My Mummy and Daddy love me and are really nice people” said new born Dalek.

    Mark Needham

  18. jimhaz

    [Has everyone noticed how all the dud Liberal Ministers have been silenced from the Election Campaign]

    A week and a bit ago I was thinking why are the LNP not using Julie Bishop – of the current lot she at least is partly human (more old style conservative, rather than mad, scorched earth conservative). I’d hardly heard a squeak from her. It seems they were saving her up as since then she has been well covered since.

  19. Peter F

    When you say “part of the natural order of societies, dating back to the days of feudalism and serfdom” you highlight one reason why so many vote LNP against their own interests: they want to be seen as one of the ruling class , not the workers. They totally ignore the policies of those they support in the foolish belief that they are part of the ‘winning side’ in this destructive game.

  20. astra5

    Thank you for your helpful comments, which add so much to the piece.

    The election promises to throw up some interesting results. Pollsters are under pressure to predict the outcome, which, as we are close to E day, should be accurate. But we have seen such variance: this week’s Newspoll predicted a comfortable LNP win, while a day or two later Essential pointed the other way. Barrie Cassidy says the bookies have the LNP at $1.20 (now $1.11), pretty short odds! Labor is at $8, and a hung parliament at $5.50

    But after the failure of both the bookies and the pollsters to accurately predict the outcome of the UK referendum with its surprise Brexit result, they have much egg on their faces. Will they have more on Saturday evening, or Sunday, or next week?

    Moreover, there are more wildcards than ever in this election with a batch of independents (there were 116 candidates on the Victoria Senate ballot sheet when we voted pre-poll yesterday). The NX Team will attract a lot of support.

    Whoever wins, it should be a fascinating outcome. Even if the LNP wins, there will be an intriguing sequel with Abbott and his conservative sycophants breathing down Turnbull’s neck – literally – if the result is close! Like you, Kronomex, I though that image of Abbott boring into Turnbull’s head captured the dynamics of that fractured relationship.

    I agree col gradolf that the equality progressives seek is equality of opportunity, especially in education. Whitlam gave us opportunity with tertiary education, which so many of us enjoyed; Gonski extends that opportunity to school education, and Labor’s support of TAFE to trades training. These are the initiatives Liberals find so hard to swallow, so hard to fund, wedded as they are to the status quo and the inequality that goes with it.

    It is difficult for progressives to understand the conservative mindset, just as it is difficult for religious people to accept the dogma of religions other than their own. Every day it astonishes me how facts, figures, verifiable evidence and logical reasoning can be discarded by dogmatists, determined to cling to their cherished and deeply embedded beliefs.

    In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn describes this phenomenon brilliantly. Even scientists, whom one would expect to respect evidence and reasoning, will adhere to their deeply held beliefs even as refuting evidence steadily accumulates, until it becomes overwhelming, when a ‘paradigm shift’ to another way of thinking occurs, often suddenly.

    The phlogiston theory of combustion held sway for eons despite Lavoisier demonstrating that oxygen was necessary for combustion. The resistance to changing this particular piece of scientific dogma is well expressed in a Wikipedia article with these words: “Many people tried to remodel their theories on phlogiston in order to have the theory work with what Lavoisier was doing in his experiments. Pierre Macquer reworded his theory many times, and even though he is said to have thought the theory of phlogiston was doomed, he stood by phlogiston and tried to make it work.”

    This resistant attitude is the same as we see among conservatives who cling to the theory of ‘supply-side’ (trickle down) economics, which underpins their central election mantra: ‘Jobs and Growth’. The fact that it has been discredited makes no difference to their belief, and of course they can always dredge up a tame economist to support their position, as happened today.

    Kuhn’s work in the field of science enables us to understand the tenacity of entrenched beliefs in politics. While we might find accepting such beliefs impossible, at least Kuhn enables us to understand how they survive despite all the contrary evidence.

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