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Out of ideas


There’s a reason why Donald Trump’s rallies amount to hate-fest pep-talks empty of any actual policy ideas. It’s the same reason his Republican opponents are finding it difficult to differentiate themselves from each other, or from Trump. And it’s also why our very own Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has become chief-ditherer, the-dog-ate-my-home-work, ‘I’ll-get-back-to-you-about-that-budget’, culture-wars-advocate without any actual economic policy ideas to contribute. The reason is that, world-wide, the right side of politics is out of ideas. They literally don’t know what to do with either the power they already have, or the power they’re campaigning to win. So instead of contributing anything new, they’re filling this policy-void with hate and fear in an attempt to legitimise their power, in order to distract voters from realising the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

But the game is up! We can see you’re naked. You’ve got nothing!

When you’re arguing with someone and they start flinging personal insults, you know they’ve lost. This is where the right is at. Literally the only thing Trump is promising a Trump President would do is to build a wall to stop Mexicans ruining the country. Not just Mexicans. Rapist Mexicans. But Trump isn’t alone in this petty game. Malcolm Turnbull is building his own wall to keep his conservative backers safe from teenagers who need counselling to deal with being bullied about their sexual orientation. See what I mean about petty cultural wars replacing productive, effective government?

This type of infantile, destructive and divisive behaviour is just a symptom of the disease suffered by conservatives and neoliberals across the globe who have served up policies time and time again which only benefit the richest of the rich. As this privileged little enclave gets richer and richer, and fewer and fewer in number, as their wealth becomes more concentrated, the rest of us, the 99.9% who thankfully get one vote per person and not one vote per dollar, are starting to awaken to the absurdity of the right’s bald-face-lies about their policies supposedly benefiting everyone. Because their policies don’t benefit everyone. Clearly. The right’s policies only benefit a tiny number of influential, yet democratically scrawny, greed machines. I recall an Occupy Wall Street placard which read: ‘the rich have had your tax cuts. Now where the f*ck are our jobs?’ The jobs never materialised. Without jobs, there is less consumer spending, which in turn means less business investment, therefore less growth, less income tax going to the government, less company tax and in the end, less government. This might sound like a great idea to the right, who have always strived for small government, but they’re starting to realise small government comes with a catch. When government can’t actually do anything, because they have no revenue, they’re left with an impossible situation to sell electorally. Not only do the masses actually need government services like health, education and social security, and get a tad upset when they’re taken away from them (remember the reaction to Abbott’s first budget?), but the right also can’t bribe voters with tax cuts and middle class welfare when they’ve got no tax revenue to hand-out. So they’re stuck between an ideological hard place and the reality of their previous bad policy rocks.

For decades now, the right has been arguing that the free market will solve all our problems. They have been stripping away regulation in an effort to free-up markets, when in reality this cutting of red tape has let greed run selfishly rampant, at the expense of everyone – both the rich and the poor. The world felt the full force of the right’s sham through the slap-in-the-face Global Financial Crisis and learned the hard way that the free market isn’t actually the messiah the right have always claimed it to be. I can’t imagine how it feels to find your ideological heaven isn’t as profitable as you always hoped it would be. But I can guess it’s not a fun realisation to not only feel wrong, but also poorer for it. To add insult to injury, the left is finally waking up too, to realise they can argue for their policies using the ‘wealth inequality is bad for everyone’ narrative, where everyone really can see benefit in a well-resourced government equipped to tackle societal problems a free-market not only fails to solve, but also makes worse. Climate change, education, health, social welfare, job creation, technological advancement, the continuation of our species – all problems the right have no solutions for and the left have aplenty.

My guess is that Turnbull has political-writer’s-block with his budget, and is arm-wrestling with his Treasurer because of it, due to the little voice in his head telling him the only way to retain his power is to use left-wing policy to grow the economy through stimulus, to at least have a go at delivering this ‘never been a more exciting time’ promise which is so far as hollow as a full-of-hot-air-balloon. The truth is, there’s never been a more exciting time to be a progressive watching the right crumble, and to know the left’s time has come. It’s time (again). Pass the popcorn.


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  1. Keitha Granville

    the only hope lies in the majority of voters realising in time that the Emperor has no clothes .

  2. mark delmege

    You might recall it was Mr Clinton who changed the rules that allowed the GFC aka Wall Street Shuffle to materialise. The point…the major political parties across the world are little different in their embrace of neo liberalism -ie globalism and blind faith in the market. Its a crock. Markets play a role but they should always be subservient to the needs of a country and its people. Until political leaders and public intellectuals realise the problem types like Trump will win votes out of desperation because people know from living experience that the system is broke and want change. It wont happen either so long as our media drowns us in misinformation.

  3. Michael Taylor

    They’ve been playing the fear card for a while now, and unfortunately it’s been undeservedly winning them elections. Howard in 2001 with his boat people, in 2004 with interest rates going up if Labor won, Abbott with his carbon tax campaign. No policies, just tactics. Fear tactics.

  4. metadatalata

    The problem is getting the message to everyone when you have a complicit mainstream media that seems quite happy to spruik neocon lies. When you have the LNP government controlling the likes of ABC television through self-appointed shills like Sarah Ferguson while Mark Scott has been bullied by none other than Turnbull every time the news division mentions NBN or Budget deficit.
    There is hope though as more people look to independent news sources such as AIMN and IA for some much needed balance from the Murdoch News Limited offerings.
    Thanks Victoria for your contribution. Looking forward to the election. LNP are in for a shock and I can’t wait.

  5. Backyard Bob

    When you’re arguing with someone and they start flinging personal insults, you know they’ve lost.

    Sadly, this piece doesn’t rise above that level of “substance”

  6. DisablednDesperate

    So true. Great article. I live in hope that the Rights scare campaigns won’t work any more but they seem to still. Independant media and youth are my hope.

  7. johnlward010

    Tricky but damaging. Here is an example of how lazy and arrogant.

    People in the renewable energy industry are afraid to take on the Government due to their apprehended consequences.
    I need help, to back me up by enabling me to run a section 75.v of the Constitution, to get an injunction or a writ of Mandamus from the High court to put these ministers back in their box.
    I believe I have standing,any negotiations with banks are such, that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is the preferred lender but the intention of the government to shut it, the CEFC, down has made me read the documents produced; they appear to be political documents that seem not to match the public utterances of former Treasurer Hockey and Christopher Pyne would appear designed, to cause fear and confusion in the Industry.
    I am amazed that these guys think they could undo an Act of parliament by ignoring the limits they placed on their revoking the previous Government’s investment mandate .
    I seek your advice on the matter of Senator Cormann and former Treasurer Joe Hockey attempt to close down the Clean Energy finance Corporation, by using the act itself; but ignoring the fact that section 65 of the act, limits and precisely forbids with mandatory language, the very action they propose. The treasurer and now his replacement have run an outrageous bluff on the renewables industry, and the effect of their public utterances means they have almost got away with it;
    They simply cannot change the Act without going back through Parliament. The original Mandate to the Board of the Finance Corporation was made by section 64(1) of the Act was there for Treasurer Wayne Swan, to empower the corporation in the first instance to proceed. Section 64 is not a vehicle for ministers to point the organisation in a direction against the object of the Act or to make or not make a particular investment.
    The object of the Act is to ‘facilitate increased flows of finance into the clean energy sector.
    They have demanded a higher investment return from the corporation to minimise exposure risk of taxpayers’ funds. It appears the direction is actually inconsistent with the object of the CEFC Act.The direction does seem to be transferred across from the Future Fund Investment Mandate Directions 2006.

    The key sections of the CEFC Act are set out below.
    It is worthy of note that the Ministers advisors have studiously avoided section 65 of the Act, which limits the ministers attempts to write a contrary investment mandate. Treasurer Swan and Senator Wong have been prescient in putting an ‘Effects test’ in section 65(a) just as Malcolm Turnbull has recently done in his ‘Competition Policy.

    Section 64 Investment Mandate
    (1) The responsible Ministers may, by legislative instrument, give the Board directions about the performance of the Corporation’s investment function, and must give at least one such direction. The directions together constitute the Investment Mandate.
    Note: For variation and revocation, see subsection 33(3) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.
    (2) In giving a direction, the responsible Ministers must have regard to the object of this Act and any other matters the responsible Ministers consider relevant.
    (3) Without limiting subsection (1), a direction may set out the policies to be pursued by the Corporation in relation to any or all of the following:
    (a) matters of risk and return;
    (b) technologies, projects and businesses that are eligible for investment;
    (c) the allocation of investments between the various classes of clean energy technologies;
    (d) making investments on concessional terms;
    (e) the types of financial instruments in which the Corporation may invest;
    (f) the types of derivatives which the Corporation may acquire;
    (g) the nature of the guarantees the Corporation may give and the circumstances in which they may be given;
    (h) broad operational matters;
    (i) other matters the responsible Ministers consider appropriate to deal with in a direction under subsection (1).
    Section 65 Limits on Investment Mandate
    The responsible Ministers must not give a direction under subsection 64(1):
    (a) that has the purpose, or has or is likely to have the effect, of directly or indirectly requiring the Board to, or not to, make a particular investment; or
    (b) that is inconsistent with this Act (including the object of this Act).

    As you will be aware the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012, is now a trigger for a Double Dissolution of the Parliament although there is a certain reluctance to use it to fight an election. The responsible Ministers, now Treasurer Scott Morrison and Minister for Finance Senator Mathias Cormann are attempting to take the key investment mandate, which is of course, the engine that starts and maintains the life of the corporation, to open it up to be a vehicle, a mechanism for the Ministers to have more control of the terms of the board reporting back to them. This is an attempt to change the Act without taking that change back to the Parliament. The Arrogance is breathtaking.
    The correspondence to the Board of the corporation from the Treasurer stated, “the Government’s policy is to abolish the Corporation”. As the responsible Ministers Senator Cormann and the Treasurer were defacto Directors clearly acting against their duty to protect the interests of the corporation under their direction; not to cut it down.
    A reference to ASIC is appropriate?
    The public and verbal instruction to move away from Wind and Roof top Solar, towards emerging technologies was not only against the objects of the Act, it had the effect to cause many in the industry to have greater difficulty in attracting investment or gain financing.
    There are many who could run a class action against the government.

    Lenore Taylor points out that Turnbull has simply taken $1billion from the CEFC and funded his new CEIF and intends to simply have the ARENA act as an administrator.

    From todays Guardian. Lenore Taylor writes.

    “Malcolm Turnbull’s clean energy investment announcement is part good news, part bad news, part ideological shift and part shell game.

    The good news is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is safe. The $10bn CEFC was derided by the former prime minister Tony Abbott as “Bob Brown’s bank” and was so despised by the Abbott government that trying to stop its lending was one of the Coalition’s first acts after it was elected in 2013.

    Coalition announces $1bn clean energy fund to invest in emerging technologies
    Read more
    Now the CEFC can continue its highly successful work, which has so far provided $1.4bn in loans to projects worth $3.5bn while at the same time generating a 6.1% return on the lending. It will no longer labour under the uncertainty of a government determined to abolish it, or a government periodically bending to the pressure from climate sceptics or anti-windfarm advocates by seeking to limit its investment mandate.

    The bad news is the Turnbull government seems to be cementing in the $1.3bn in cuts that the Abbott government factored in to its 2014 budget from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency although it was never able to legislate them.

    Because those cuts were not legislated, despite being accounted for in the budget bottom line, Arena still has a legislated spending program with $1.3bn in uncommitted funding over the next six years. Presumably the Turnbull government believes it will be able to legislate to change that after the federal election. By retaining it as government policy it can continue to book the saving.

    The ideological change comes in Arena’s new role. It is effectively being subsumed into the CEFC, becoming the administrator of the new Clean EnergyInnovation Fund, a subsidiary fund of the CEFC, lending money from the CEFC’s allocation. And the final decision on that lending will be made by the CEFC board.

    In the short term it will finish doling out the grants programs it has already announced. In the longer term, instead of giving out grants, Arena will be simply be administering the new fund, which will make loans at a lower rate of return to earlier stage clean energy projects.

    Clean energy groups are concerned at the abolition of grants funding, saying grants are essential at the earliest stages of technology development. Turnbull says this is a deliberate change in direction.

    Turnbull faces ‘fierce campaign’ if tax cuts put before restoring school and hospital funding
    Read more
    “This reflects a very big change in the way the government … is now approaching this type of investment,” he said on Wednesday. “Historically … the federal government has been very much like an ATM, it’s been making grants … without, frankly, a lot of follow-up as to whether it’s effective.

    “We believe … the government should seek to be a partner and investor, seek to get a return. It doesn’t have to get the same high return that a private venture capital firm or a private bank would seek to get. It can get a very long-term return but, in doing that, by ensuring that you take a more economic approach, you will ensure that you have a much more rigorous analysis and that you will get a better quality of investment and a better quality of project.”

    And then the shell game. The “new” Clean Energy Innovation Fund is not “entirely new”, as billed by the government and enthusiastically accepted by some media reporting, but is in fact funded entirely from the CEFCs existing borrowings and is more like another of the subsidiary funds the CEFC has set up – this time with the leeway of achieving a slightly lower rate of return so it can take on slightly higher levels of risk.

    And despite the government’s insistence that Arena has been “retained” as a separate agency, and that it has not been merged with the CEFC, that appears to be the case only in name, if it now functions as a subset of the CEFC and very soon will no longer be making grants with its own money.

    Turnbull’s attitude to the CEFC is big shift from his predecessor – in real terms and symbolically – but Arena appears to have been “retained” in name only”.

    My main concern is that Turnbull, Pyne , Hockey, Cormann and Hunt are trying to convince the public and the Industry that they and Cabinet can ‘repurpose ‘ the corporation without going back through parliament when the CEFC Act limits what changes can bed made by the overseeing ministers in the terms of the ‘investment mandate’. when you examine their behaviour; it is in fact, deceptive and misleading enough, to still destabilise the industry to have bankers and investors become gun shy.
    Turnbull claims he is retaining something he was not able to abolish in the first place; and he still pretends his ministers were able to change an Act of the Parliament by making a change to the investment mandate that was beyond their authority. Turnbull is not the king he would love to be.
    This is why I need to talk with Tim Flannery if that can be arranged by your good self?
    A lot of people have lost badly in the solar and wind industry and a lot were in Tasmania. There will be a class action that further delays the industry and the public just getting on with moving away from the hugely subsidised coal, gas and oil industries.

  8. wam

    a government dolce far niente and abbott claiming credit for SFA may get labor something but ‘the flies in the ointment’ are the watermelon boys who are now firmly blueberries.
    Still, no matter what happens, there will be a new treasurer this year.

  9. townsvilleblog

    I doubt that Turdbull would be able to persuade the Treasurer of anything because he (Hillsong Morrison) thinks he is doing God’s will and everything he thinks is divinely correct, as all religious fanatics do, sadly he is not alone in the Liberal Party as the recently sacked Minister Robert is also a ‘Hillsonger’ these people should be with their fellow Hillsongers in the Family First party.

  10. johnlward010

    So the trick is to take $1.3 Billion from ARENA and call it Treasury money . Then a cool 1$Billion from CEFC and call it new money for emerging technologies in Clean Energy Innovation Fund. The Mob have invented a new entity that invests $100 Million a year only. In the meantime The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is reduced by $1Billion and ARENA has no fund of its own. so Greenies down $2.3Billion Treasury up $1.3 Bn.

  11. Arthur Graves

    The Liberals tried to give businesses an extra vote in the elections for Sydney’s Mayor. Not just one person one vote anymore…

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