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A Letter to our Prime Minister

By Dave Chadwick

Dear Malcolm, it is time we have a talk. I’m not angry – I just have to ask: What the hell are you doing?

I write this as someone with more than a passing interest in politics and no loyalty to either major party. As such, I was happy to see you take the leadership of the party from the worst prime minister in Australia’s history and your party could have easily won my vote at this point, if you backed up your words about mature politics and showed you would work towards the kind of progressive ideas you articulated prior to taking the leadership.

I wasn’t expecting you to immediately legalise marriage equality, take meaningful action on climate change and do something about the systemic abuse in our offshore detention camps. I understand you lead a conservative (ironically named) Liberal Party and you have to contend with a number of ultra-right wing ideologues such as Eric Abetz (who must know where a lot of ‘bodies are buried’, based on his continued power within his party is in direct contradiction to his performance). Still, I hoped that a more moderate and rational agenda would begin to be recognisable under your leadership.

So in your first months, I was content with some of the smaller things. Your considered reaction to the Sydney siege and your replacement of the chief science advisor with someone who didn’t appear to think the world was flat. These were positive signs. As were reversing Abbott’s bizarre prohibition on investment in wind power and discontinuing your government’s disgraceful campaign of undermining Professor Gillian Triggs for doing her job.

But that was about as good as things got. You really did nothing more of substance. Even when those who oppose marriage equality within your party gave you good reason to abandon the costly plebiscite and bring the vote to parliament, you let the opportunity pass. Even in the face of obvious and more dramatic evidence of climate change, you have showed no heart to actually confront the problem – a problem you have already publicly recognised too.

You placed all of those issues to the side and pretty much said the most important thing to focus on is improving the budget. If you had followed through here, this would have been a more credible action, but you didn’t. Instead you mangled the discussion of tax reform, by ruling out anything that either seemed too unpopular with the public or big business donors who will fund your election campaign.

As someone who owns a house that is negatively geared, I wasn’t ecstatic about the ALP policy to end negative gearing, but if it were part of a set of reforms to tax policy aimed at making tax fairer and also addressing our budget deficit, I would wear it. I have said the same about increasing the GST. If we have to take a small bit of short term financial pain, to prevent a much bigger problem in the future, explain a coherent plan and stick to it. I am crying out for a leader who is willing to be honest with us about what they stand for, but it doesn’t seem like that is you.

I’m not sure whether it was the fact that ending negative gearing might force rich people to pay tax (which seems to be against Liberal Party policies) or just that it seemed an easy populist way to undermine Shorten, but the hyperbole and zeal which you ripped into the ALP policy was worthy of your predecessor (and that is far from a compliment).

Eventually, you seem to have ruled out any real tax reform. Now you are suggesting cutting company tax and even cutting income tax. This suggests either the budget situation may not be as dire as you made out and you are as adept at fear-mongering and scare tactics as the man you replaced, or you are just not that serious about fixing the budget.

Because there is a looming long term problem in our budget and despite broken promises over education funding and major cuts to CSIRO and the health sector, the LNP has done little to address it. Now, with a double dissolution election on the horizon, no doubt the recent announcement of road funding is the start of a series of announcements of pork barrel politics and desperately transparent election sweeteners.

All of this casts some doubt on the central argument the Liberal Party likes to run that they are better economic managers compared to the irresponsible Labor governments. Given your government appears just as financially irresponsible, I really can’t split you in this area, and in fact will save half a billion dollars (according to PwC analysis) on the overall costs of an unnecessary plebiscite just by not voting for you.

Economic performance aside, you also failed to stand up to the lunatic right in your party and sanctioned decisions to the detriment of our country. I accepted you may not have been able to depart too dramatically from the Abbott policies you inherited, but you at least could have done more to ensure no more of these redneck brain-farts entered the national discussion. The Safe Schools debacle is a blight on your character for failing to dismiss it, just as much as it is on the homophobic ideologues who propagated it. The fact that even after the unnecessary review you approved found no grounds for concern, you still placed greater restrictions on the program to appease the hateful can’t be something you are proud of. Similarly, the fact that your government continues to approve coal mines and invest in the coal industry – even as across the globe, demand for coal is dropping quickly – says a lot about the influence the coal industry has on your party.

So to sum up, you have shied away from conflict with your own party over climate change and marriage equality. You have just as quickly shied away from controversy with voters in the area of tax reform. I had hoped you would be a good leader for this country, but on exposed form, it appears I was wrong. You have shown little willingness to LEAD either your party or the nation and are instead being LED by both. This is particularly problematic as your party does not actually appear to want the same thing as the people it represents- instead being far more concerned with the interests of the large companies that finance it.

Your failure to lead according to your expressed convictions has let me and millions of other Australians down. I’m not bitter or angry though. Perhaps (like the man you replaced) you were never up to it in the first place and it is my fault for expecting you to be better than you are.

Still, if you’re not going to lead, should you have taken the job?

This article was originally published by Dave on Quietblog.


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  1. Steve Laing -

    Having watched his performance over the last six months, I am completely bemused how he might be considered a successful “businessman”. Investor, speculator, lawyer – perhaps. But he seems to have neither decent leadership nor management skills. He seems scared of his own shadow.

  2. Jaquix

    Malcolm in fact has been very lucky in life (he admits that himself). He inherited a substantial amount from his father, at a relatively young age so he had money to make money with. He married Lucy. He then had more luck being associated with Kerry Packer and bought property off him (possibly at a discount). Even his Ozemail monster windfall was a lot of luck. Right place at right time, etc. He is definitely a disappointment – but while acknowledging he has those old fogeys yapping at his heels, he has not shown any guts in standing up to them. I look at Daniel Andrews and see what he is doing for Victoria, and Malcolm looks like a cardboard cutout compared to him.

  3. Stephen Tardrew

    Power, power, power, power, power based upon a Faustian contract with you know who. He knows no humility or compassion when it comes to self-gratification. Machiavellian through and through.

  4. Douglas Pye

    I understand Kerry Packer is said to have remarked that he would not stand between Mr.Turnbull and a Bag of Money, for fear of Injury !

  5. Klaus

    Hi Dave,

    whilst your findings are quite accurate, the differences between the ideology driven Turnbull and the Bill’s Labor party are far wider than your compromising article says. There is a world of differences between the 2 parties and that is never acknowledged anywhere. Not sure whether the ABC has to point this out any time (as in a Directive) but the wording “both major parties” starts making me feel sick. You haven’t said this directly but implied it just about everywhere.
    And one word on Malcolm. I agree with Jaquix above. The man had more luck than skill and is vastly overrated on many fronts. His drive is power and staying in power. He is no man of principles, he is an empty shell with nothing to give. He is a taker, not a giver.
    It has been scientifically proven, that good versus bad investments are largely driven by coincidence where random computer investments outdid investment bankers.
    So, good fortune but not a man of any principles other than wanting to be in power.

  6. Jack Russell

    In one electoral cycle, the LNP and their networks have managed to finally, clearly and explicitly, expose themselves for what they really are…amoral predators. Those who vote for them are tarred with the same brush.

  7. Jack

    I don’t think Malcom Turnball will be able to finish this Election campaign. His mirror will get him in the end. I think he’s headed for a complete breakdown .

  8. Jane

    Getting to be Prime Minister was just on the rich kid Malcom Turnball Bucket list. He’s an empty vessel.

  9. Jaquix

    Malcolm has definitely developed a new set of funny lines on his forehead in the last six months.

  10. brickbob

    I am amazed at the number of people who start the conversation with something like,””” I had such high hopes or expectations for Malcom Turnbull but have been very disappointed by his performance as i thought he had progressivs policies and would be a breath of fresh air”’bla bla bla”””.
    I never had any false or naive expectations for or about the bastard,he is a hard right Conservative who hides under a progressive suit to curry favours and vice versa when he needs a favour from the other side.

    Malcom is all about Malcom, and i would hazard a guess that through his whole life he not only coverted the idea, but truly believed he was born for the role, and if anyone deserved to be PM he believed it was himself, it was his destiny,written in the stars, a natural progression for him if you like.
    Malcom did not disappoint me,in fact he just reafirmed what i always thought him to be

  11. Loz

    Klaus – I completely agree with your comments.
    brickbob – I too had no high expectations from this man, all I saw was an ambitious man who would go to any lengths to achieve his aims.

  12. Ian Sprocket Muncher Parfrey

    Truffles proves little apart from the, hopefully now obvious fact that smarmy business types have no place in leading our country.
    Many seem to be blinded by the Shine-O-La on the outside and ignore the shit on the inside. I hope that the general populace have now taken note that running a country is NOTHING like running a corporation, and it should not be seen as such.

    Malcolm in the Muddle indeed.

  13. Adrianne Haddow

    Great letter, Dave.
    I hope you also sent a personal letter to the PM.
    Or better still, a letter box drop in his electorate and other ‘blue ribbon’ seats.
    I’m sure the army of unemployed, betrayed youth would be happy to oblige with distributing them. There may even be a few mobile pensioners who could also help.

  14. diannaart

    I am amazed at the number of people who start the conversation with something like,””” I had such high hopes or expectations for Malcom Turnbull but have been very disappointed by his performance as i thought he had progressivs policies and would be a breath of fresh air”’bla bla bla”””.

    Because some of us are optimists.

    Excellent article BTW – covering the main issues of Turnbull’s leadership thus far.

    Turnbull, a shy man… from controversy


    A note about Labor’s changes to negative gearing – they only propose to permit -ve gearing on new homes – in the future – all who currently -ve gear on everything, will still be able to continue, however further investment will be for new properties only.

    So shut the hell up!

    (from little person who pays mortgage – and considers herself extremely lucky for that)

  15. JeffJL

    Nice article

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