Driving home tonight, I heard the ABC commentator tell me that after weeks of dithering on policy, Malcolm Turnbull was now sounding decisive and determined. He’d decided that the Senate must pass the ABCC legislation or else he was calling a double dissolution. And just to show how determined he was, he’d called Parliament back so that the Budget could be brought down on May 3rd, instead of May 10th.
Of course, there’s always a bit of shadow puppet theatre involved in politics. If you look at the people, you’ll probably miss the point. It’s the shadows that are the real show. In order to move the Budget forward by a week, preparations needed to be made. For example, the Great Hall is needed, and by a fortunate coincidence it just happened to be booked by the government for May 3rd. Mind you, this was done several weeks ago, for an event. Exactly what the event was doesn’t seem to matter any more, because it’ll be Budget night!
And the Budget needed to be moved forward because the last possible date to call a double dissolution was May 11th. It would have been impractical to have brought down the Budget on May 10th, then call an election the next day. It would have denied the Opposition leader the right of reply to the Budget, as well as making it impossible for the Senate to pass the supply bills.
Yep, the idea that there was ever any doubt that we’d have anything other than a July 2nd double dissolution was the sort of fantasy that only the politicians, the uninformed and those journalists paid to fill newspapers with speculation about the date of the election could indulge in.
But now, Turnbull is out there, determined, decisive, strong, in control. I expect we’ll hear a lot about how he’s turned the corner, he’s grasped the nettle, he’s taken the bull by the horns, he’s a true leader and all those stories about how he was being led by the nose and not game to stand up to the extreme elements in his party will be somehow less important.
Yep, I expect we’ll be hearing about how the ABCC is necessary to keep those building unions in line. And if there should be arguments about the necessity of workplace safety or should anyone bring up injuries or deaths in the construction industry, why they’ll just be using tragedies for political advantage and one should never do that unless it’s when four workers are killed installing insulation and it’s clearly Labor’s fault for not having enough oversight.
And I expect that we’ll hear about the lawlessness and thuggery of the building unions. Turnbull will demand that Shorten refuse to take money from them because of their alleged criminality. Which is rather funny considering the Liberal Party’s Millennium Forum took Mafia money.
We’ll get the Budget and it’ll contain company tax cuts because – as Arthur “I don’t recall” Sinodinos told us – company tax cuts benefit everyone because companies will employ more people and give people higher wages. I guess this also means that a cut to company tax takes away the need to cut penalty rates.
But won’t these higher wages lead to bracket creep and create a strong case for personal tax cuts? Undoubtedly. We may even get a modest cut now with the promise of more later when “things improve” and the milk and honey is flowing and the companies have such increases in profits that the manna once again falls gently from heaven and we’ve been saved from the soaring rents and falling house prices under Shorten. Similarly, we’ll hear of a future where every worker is paid less but somehow earns more.
We’ll hear of how “Minister for The Greatest Story Ever Told” Greg Hunt has saved the Great Barrier Reef by getting it taken off the endangered list and so the recent stories of it dying at a rapid rate must just be the result of the Reef not actually keeping up with the news. He may even tell us how well the Direct Action is working because, even though emissions are rising, companies are promising to use the money they’ve been given wisely in the future.
And there’ll be promises of ships and submarines being built in Adelaide, Budget surpluses, lower unemployment, cuts to spending, but no cuts to services, promises not privatise anything more, accusations that Labor is just running a scare campaign because there’s no plan to do anything at all and WorkChoices is dead, buried, created and don’t you think you can trust us enough to give us a Senate majority because, well, it worked so well last time. Otherwise, you’ll just have people slowing things down by asking questions and, even worse, wanting answers.
Scrutiny. That doesn’t suit a determined, decisive go-getter like Mr Turnbull. Why, it’s positively undemocratic!
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