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Planning – Turnbull’s black hole

By Ad astra

Let’s stand back from the daily tumult of federal politics momentarily, hard though it is to ignore, and look into the distance. What do we see? Given that politicians believe their role is to make this nation a better one for us all, where is the evidence of them planning to make it so? Where is the Turnbull Team’s much touted ‘Plan for a Strong New Economy’ that the logo promised?

Let us start with a recent calamity – the electricity blackout in South Australia. The complexities of how this came about will be explained by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s enquiry. This is not the place to predict its outcome, but already there is evidence of a lack of planning that has contributed to this disaster.

Although the States and energy generators and providers have responsibility for energy supply, the federal government has overriding responsibility for energy security – indeed Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg declared the day after the calamity that “Energy security is the federal government’s number one priority.” Did anyone hear him uttering these weighty words anytime before it occurred. No. This was a newfound mantra, now so important that it supplanted the Coalition’s top priority – national security. Turnbull concurred.

Which raises the question of exactly how much planning the feds had made to ensure energy security. Had they contemplated the effect that intermittent (or asynchronous) energy generation from renewables might have on the electricity grid and the constancy of supply?

They have known for years that renewable energy generation has been rising steadily. At the end of 2015 there were 77 wind projects, with 2064 turbines generating 4187 MW of power, with a further 365 MW under construction. Almost a year later there are many more. As at March 2015, in addition to household solar panels, there were over one hundred solar projects generating 4,100 MW of photovoltaic solar power.

This is not restricted information – it is freely available on the Internet. Yet there seems no evidence that the federal government and its Energy Minister have undertaken any planning to integrate intermittent power generated by wind or sun into a network that hitherto has been powered by regular base-load power generated from burning fossil fuels. There are complex arrangements already in place to modulate the level of power in the grid, which allow changes to the levels of power occasioned by intermittent power inputs. These arrangements are said to have failed during the fierce SA storm with its gusts of up to 140km an hour and over 80,000 lightening strikes, which took down 22 power transmission pylons and three transmission lines.

The consequent sudden drop in energy frequency in the network triggered an automatic cut at the interconnector with Victoria to protect the national network. SA Premier Jay Wetherill said: “The system behaved as it’s meant to behave to protect the national energy market”, but the federal Energy Minister and the PM seemed not to understand this reality, nor were they prepared to take any responsibility for this vulnerability despite trumpeting that ‘energy security was their top priority’. What they did do immediately though was to make political capital by castigating State Labor governments for their ‘unrealistic and ideologically-driven targets for wind power’; thereby insinuating that reliance on wind power was a prime cause of the disaster.

Frydenberg then called an urgent meeting with State energy ministers to discuss how the national electricity grid might be better protected in future. Why was this the first such meeting?

If ever there was an example of a gross planning deficit at a federal level, this is it. A Turnbull planning black hole!

Marriage equality
The marriage equality issue is another example of poor planning. Propelled by the promise to his right wing to continue Abbott’s policy, Turnbull has persisted with the plebiscite idea, which will be stone dead once the Senate rejects it.

Turnbull, despite his personal support for marriage equality and his proclaimed confidence that both the people and the parliament would support it strongly, has no Plan B. For him, Plan A, the plebiscite, is all there is. Other leaders have been able to change their mind in the face of an alternative view in the electorate (Mike Baird springs to mind), but so controlled is Turnbull by his conservative rump, which refuses to even consider a Plan B, that he will not to listen to the increasing public clamour for marriage equality and the rising desire for a parliamentary vote rather than an expensive and divisive plebiscite. A sound planner would have anticipated that the long and loudly voiced resistance to a plebiscite by Labor, the Greens and several crossbenchers in the Senate would eventually kill the plebiscite plans, leaving him with nothing.

Bernard Keane of Crikey has this cryptic view: “…there is a Plan B, even if the Prime Minister won’t discuss it. It’s to hope the issue that has hovered over federal politics for more than a year goes away, put off until at least the next election!” 2353NM analyses this issue at length in Turnbull – Abbott from a better postcode.

Turnbull’s lack of an alternative plan for introducing marriage equality is another planning black hole, one that is distressing to the LGBTI community. He ought to have anticipated the outcome now upon him and have planned an alternative approach.

Budget planning
This constitutes another black hole.

How long have we had to endure the ideologically driven budget planning that started with Joe Hockey and was continued by Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann? We know that it is based on supply-side (trickle down) economics, which benefits the top end of town but penalises those lower down the pecking order. We know that the touted benefits of increased investment, more jobs and better pay for the workers are illusory, unsupported as they are by historical evidence accumulated over many decades. Yet they persist, driven by their ideological disdain for the ‘leaners’ whom they insist depend on the ‘lifters’ who work hard and pay their taxes.

You might be interested to view this You Tube video by economist Robert Reich, former labor secretary to US president Bill Clinton, which addresses this issue:

It goes on still. Only last week the Coalition, backed by Labor, passed a bill that embraces trickle-down economics – the Income Tax Relief Bill – which will drop the marginal tax rate for the $80,000-$87,000 bracket from 37 to 32.5 per cent. This was reported upon comprehensively in The New Daily, an abbreviated version of which follows:

Treasurer Scott Morrison sold it as an income tax cut for “middle income” workers, but The Australia Institute insists it’s not a cut for middle earners because average income earners don’t earn anything like $80,000 a year. Anyone on $80,000 a year is in the top 25 per cent of income earners, and this figure doesn’t include age pensioners, the unemployed, and the disabled. If they were added in, it would push those on $80,000-plus close to the top 10 per cent. While it’s true the average full-time worker earns just over $80,000, that figure is misleading; the Institute’s economist pointed out that when part-time workers are factored in, the average wage drops to $1575 a week, which works out to roughly $60,000 a year.

Image from bigwillbling

Image from bigwillbling

It’s even worse for women. The average female worker earns only $925 a week, which is about $48,000. Female workers constitute only 39 per cent of those who earn $80,000-plus.

Not only will the tax cut not benefit ‘middle’ Australia, but it will cost the Budget $3.9 billion over the next four financial years.

Giving an extra $315 a year to low-income earners would ensure it was spent immediately, resulting in much-needed economic stimulus, whereas higher earners are likely to bank more of their tax cut – trickle down will not occur.

There are other approaches. Take Mark Dayton, Democrat governor of Minnesota, who won office in 2010. This is what the US blog Mic had to say about his approach:

“Since 2011, Minnesota has been doing quite well for itself. The state has created more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Huffington Post. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.6% – the fifth lowest in the country, and far below the nationwide rate of 5.7% – and the state government boasts a budget surplus of $1 billion. Forbes considers Minnesota one of the top 10 in the country for business.

“Given that Dayton is a well-connected millionaire whose family controls the Target fortune, one could be forgiven for thinking this was the result of embracing the corporate world. But in fact, over the past four years, the state has undergone a series of policy reforms that most of the corporate world decries: It has imposed higher taxes on the wealthy and raised the minimum wage. (My emphasis)

“When each of these progressive policies was initially proposed, Minnesota Republicans made dire predictions about their effects on the economy, and argued that bleeding-heart concerns about economic fairness would stifle growth. Despite all the warnings, Minnesota’s economy hasn’t tanked. Instead, it’s sailing with greater force than it has in years.”

The Mic article contrasts this with the situation in the adjoining state Wisconsin.

“As Minnesota has enjoyed economic success, observers have often compared the state’s situation to that of its neighbor Wisconsin. Republican Scott Walker also won the governor’s mansion in Wisconsin in 2010, but pursued a deeply conservative agenda for managing the economy. He made huge spending cuts to vital services ranging from education to health care. He reduced taxes on the wealthy, and got rid of tax credits for low-wage earners. (My emphasis)

By a number of measures, Wisconsin hasn’t fared as well as Minnesota. As the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal documents, Wisconsin’s job growth has been among the worst in the region, and income growth is one of the worst in the country. It has a higher unemployment rate than Minnesota. And the budget is in bad shape.

This is just one example; there are others. But it illustrates two vastly different approaches to economics: one that increases taxes on the wealthy and increases the minimum wage, and the opposite: one that reduces taxes for the rich and cuts services, and shows that the former is superior.

Why can’t Turnbull, Morrison et al consider approaches other than the traditional conservative one of cutting services and giving tax breaks to the well off? Why haven’t they got a Plan B? The truth is that this is another Turnbull ideologically driven planning black hole. So driven are they by their supply side ideology that believes economies are stimulated by giving tax cuts to the top end of town, that they are unable to consider an alternative approach. The have a Plan A, but no Plan B. This planning black hole leaves them shackled to a discredited economic policy.

In their economic planning, have they ever considered the merits of Modern Monetary Theory as described by Ken Wolff in Modern Monetary Theory and will it help? The answer is: ‘almost certainly no’.

What Government planning is evident as we approach an economy where many jobs will be automated, both manual and cognitive, and unemployment and underemployment will rise? Have they thought about and planned for the ‘gig economy’ described by Ken Wolff in Are governments ready for the coming economic and social changes? The short answer is: ‘not that any of us can see!’

Economic planning is among the government’s poorest efforts, leaving us all vulnerable, and many of us worse off.

Inequality
There is now abundant evidence that inequality is a social burden for millions of people in our country and in many others. A large part of the phenomenon we witness day after day as America prepares for its presidential election is the direct result of vast swathes of the nation feeling left behind, while the political establishment does little to elevate them from their impoverished state. Thus people like Bernie Sanders, who press for more equality, excites many followers, and even the arch-capitalist Donald Trump attracts supporters by promising to fix the ‘corrupt’ political establishment that he claims cares little for them.

We know too from the work of Professor Michael Marmot that health inequality runs parallel to economic inequality. Those with the least, those with the poorer jobs, have the worst health.

In The neoliberal execution of democracy, Ken Wolff describes in detail how neoliberal politics promote inequality. He quotes Noam Chomsky: “Neoliberal democracy, instead of citizens, produces consumers…The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless”

Where are the Turnbull government’s plans for decreasing inequality? The Coalition is doing nothing to ameliorate the growing inequality that exists; indeed their neoliberal actions are making it worse.

Climate change
Here is where planning by the Turnbull government is so appalling. We know that its Direct Action Plan, Plan A, is a fraud. At this historic time when the world has crossed the threshold for the Paris agreement to take effect, the United Nations is challenging Australia’s policy. A report in The Age only last week read:

“Australia is facing renewed international pressure to explain what it is doing to tackle climate change, with a United Nations review finding its emissions continue to soar. Several countries are calling for clarity about what it will do after 2020. Countries including China and the US have put more than 30 questions to the Turnbull government, asking for detail about how Australia will meet its 2030 emissions target and raising concerns about a lack of transparency over how the government calculates and reports emissions.

“It comes as the federal government has been facing calls at home – sparked by its own criticism of ambitious state renewable energy targets – to reveal what it would do on climate change and clean energy beyond 2020. An expert review commissioned by the UN found, based on data submitted by Australia, its emissions would be 11.5 per cent higher in 2020 than they were in 1990.”

The Turnbull government has no Plan B for mitigating global warming even although Plan A continues to be ineffective.

GST in WA
Malcolm Turnbull made a big pre-election political play when in Western Australia about its unfair share of GST revenue and promised to fix it. Several months later there is no fix, nor is there any plan to do so. In his quest for a fairer share of GST for WA, and in the absence of any action by Turnbull, Brendon Grylls, (who is also attempting to regain his position as Leader of the WA Nationals), is promoting a mining tax, which would increase WA’s GST take. He is highly critical of Turnbull for having no plan to match his words.

Here’s another planning black hole with which the Turnbull government is riddled!

I could go on and on, but let’s finish with a laughable procedural planning shemozzle.

Procedural non-planning
With just a one-seat majority, it would be reasonable to expect careful planning in the area of parliamentary procedure. But already, in just a couple of months, the Turnbull government has suffered three defeats on the floor of the House because some of its members decided to leave on an early flight home, and last week Kelly O’Dwyer managed to embarrass the government through a procedural bungle by accidentally endorsing a bill amended by Labor, which criticized the Government. Of course she, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, and the PM tried to play down the incident, but observers see it as a metaphor for the awful planning of the Turnbull government.

Whichever way we turn, wherever we look, we see either no planning in critically important areas, or faulty planning that imperils the Turnbull government, and of course we the citizens who depend on government to do those things that keep us safe, that enhance our prosperity, that give each of us a fair go, that enable us to be part of an integrated multicultural society which cares for all its citizens, rich and poor, able and disabled, healthy and ill.

The Turnbull government is letting us down badly because of its many planning black holes. And sadly there is no sign that planning will improve in the time ahead.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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39 comments

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  1. Möbius Ecko

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-18/defence-ministers-stalemate-a-'crazy-situation'/7941012

    You can add the three Defence minister positions created by the Turnbull government to that list. Of course Pyne’s position was created as a job for the boys to alleviate a collapse of votes in SA and to save his seat, but this has created confusion across the board. Individuals and businesses don’t know where to go. They get fobbed off to the other Defence minister whichever one they go to.

    In fact the whole jobs for the boys that started in earnest with Abbott is a huge planning f*ck off by this government. They are created positions on high wages and entitlements where none existed, all added to the size and confusion of doing business with government at great cost.

  2. Rezblah

    Thank you for this beautifully argued rational analysis, but I question the hopelessly hopeful point of view. there is no hope whatsoever for this government, or for our nation if it continues down the neoliberal road to perdition. This government is nothing but an expendable (and extremely well rewarded) forlorn hope, whose sole mission is to dismantle what’s left of our democracy as quickly as they can, on behalf of their corporate masters.

    That is the plan, there is no other plan and there never will be, so please give up on hoping for anything better under their so called ‘leadership’

    The time for rational analysis is long past I fear, we are not dealing with rational people, you can’t reason with a rabid dog, and you can’t reason with sociopaths or psychopaths such as these

    This government needs to be sacked IMMEDIATELY. charges must be brought against all of them for corruption, misleading parliament, theft, money laundering, etc etc the list goes on and on and on ad nauseum.

    They do what they do because nothing stands in their way, there is no accountability, there are no consequences

    They should all be charged and jailed for HIGH TREASON, in most instances it would be an open and shut case.

    Apart from a marching on Canberra with a couple of million people to end this complete farce, I’m not sure how this can come about. A move to a republic with a complete rewrite of our constitution and our parliamentary laws and procedures by an independent body of experts and citizens to restore our democracy might go some way, but obviously it won’t any time soon, so until then, at least start upping the ante, the polite way of doing things just doesn’t cut it anymore with people like this I’m afraid. The only thing they understand is a bigger stick

  3. wam

    Thanks ad astra,
    I learnt a new, politically avoidance word today – disambiguation.
    The hope, rezblah, lies in the amoral black hole(s) that is(are) lurking in the backbench.
    The septic references are democrat and republican could be useful for little billy????

  4. Kaye Lee

    “Average” income is a fairly useless statistic because it is so greatly affected by the enormous incomes of the few at the top. The median wage (the wage that 50% of people get lower than) is much much lower than the “average”,

    Another planning black hole – what to do with the people stuck on Manus and Nauru. Bet they wish they had accepted Gillard’s Malaysia solution but no – Hockey did his crocodile tears act so they could make it as difficult as they possibly could for Labor, not understanding that they were, in fact, making things difficult for themselves when they got into office.

    What sort of a moronic government would abolish a price on carbon foregoing tens of billions in revenue and making the task of reaching emissions reduction targets virtually impossible?

    The only plan the Coalition has is to win the prize of government and then to use their power to gift jobs to mates and protect and increase the benefits that the wealthy enjoy – paid for by cutting services to the poor.

  5. Klaus

    A very good article but I must thank Rezblah for his commentary. It saved me 10 minutes of intense anger about this corrupt, criminal mob (Asylum seekers seemed to be forgotten in the planing black hole).

    Thanks, must stop here, otherwise I throw up, thinking about the rewards they give themselves.

  6. lawrencewinder

    I shouldn’t thank you for this article…. it almost made me weep. The insanity’s of this ruling rabble will eventually reap its own hideous reward.

  7. Andreas Bimba

    A very well written article. I would have added the stupid FTA’s and the forced exit of the Australian manufacturing industry and specifically the automotive manufacturing industry for want of just $80 million per year till 2023, as requested by Holden. Probably 30,000 direct jobs will now be lost but pre GFC the industry employed twice this and also applying a conservative job multiplier factor of 2.3 the total loss of employment potential comes to about 140,000 but others have estimated 200,000 as many supply chains will probably collapse.

    This is all unnecessary as Australia is a productive and capable automotive manufacturer and has a large 1.1 million unit per annum new car market. A 15% tariff would have sufficed to retain the industry along with a comprehensive plan to manufacture half of local demand in Australia and to transition to electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell and renewable fuel conventional internal combustion engine vehicles for some market segments. Renewable fuels include hydrogen, bio-diesel, methanol, ethanol and methane from biomass for example.

    Just as Russia is now reinvigorating its industries after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Australia may also one day return to manufacturing for a sustainable economy but what a wasteful and stupid path that would be to destroy and then to build from scratch which will greatly increase costs.

    I suspect the dynamic nations of Asia and Europe will just pass us by and Australia will truly become the poor white trash of Asia as Lee Kuan Yew predicted a few decades ago unless we can rid ourselves of these fools acting on behalf of the mining, finance and real estate Kleptocracy and Squattocracy.

    Rezblah is right, the time for reasoning and persuasion of this hard right neoliberal government and the complicit mass media are over.

  8. Harquebus

    The physical reality of diminishing energy returns is destroying the absurd infinite growth ideology. As it was always going to do.

    “the increasing public clamour for marriage equality” is actually the media clamoring for it. It is cheap journalism. Not myself nor any in my family and circle of friends could care less. In fact, I am sick to death of the issue and wish that it would go away.

  9. bilko

    An excellent summary Ad Astra, of the state of non government or as I call it a Claytons government that exists today. You should do a part two about inovation only a word from Turnbulls repetoire with no Plan A let alone a plan B and his own ball and chain the NBN something desperately needed but scorned by Murdoch and all those dangling on his strings. My memorie’s fail me but can anyone remember anything a Coalition goverment has done that acts in the countries interest and not vested interests in the last 50 years.

  10. helvityni

    bilko, only two come to mind; Howard’s gun buy-back, Fraser’s generosity towards Vietnamese refugees…

  11. helvityni

    I started do my report card for Mal’s year in the office, then realised that too many FAILS mean a repeated year for him as the country’s leader…

    I could not put up with that so I relented and gave him a couple of PASSES; for good grooming and for installing a handy luggage lift in the Lodge …

  12. Ross

    Love your work Ad.
    Don’t expect good government to start today or anytime soon.
    The Liberal National Coalition, a deep well of incompetence (or a well of deep incompetence, take your pick).

  13. economicreform

    I was impressed with Robert Reich’s presentation. In particular, his statement that attempts to cut back the federal government deficit – in the absence of an adequate growth in employment and economic improvement in the form of increased aggregate demand – can only serve to harm the economy. Putting it more forcefully, it would be a major dagger through the heart of the economy, and would unnecessarily reduce the living standards and well being of the entire population.

  14. david1

    Two months plus and counting since the election and not a word about the construction of the 12 submarines. The Govt and SA Ministers in particular used it constantly prior to the poll….since zilch. Sth Australian workers are desperate for jobs and the voting puiblic are entitled tto know what is going on.
    Last report I seem to remember, the specs had not even been drawn up, let alone the process of understanding and agreeing to them. As I have reported before in these columns, French TV 24 said soon after the announcement of the contract being awarded to France, the first two subs will be built entirely in France with French labour and French steel.
    All is not well in the State of Canberra politics

  15. Kim Southwood

    Your article really gets to the heart of the issue and demonstrates how the major political parties prior to election make all the right promises for change but end up delivering more of the same at an escalating rate. Turnbull’s narrow win at the last election can only be attributed to his superior skill in playing politics. But he earnestly projects himself as above that in the rank of Messiah.

    Take this exchange with Fran Kelly on Radio National two days ago:

    FRAN KELLY: Well, we had a royal commission into the unions.

    PRIME MINISTER: Yes, we did but you see this is – Fran, you’ve got to work out whether you want to govern or whether you want to play politics. Now, Bill Shorten is in Opposition, so I guess he’s just got to play politics. I’m the Prime Minister. We’re in government. We’re governing. Where there are problems –

    FRAN KELLY: There’s no politics in accusing Bill Shorten of being in debt to the lawless CFMEU?

    In essence, this whole interview is a condescending regurgitation of the same old mantra we have heard ad nauseum. Muscle flexing against an impotent opposition is as good as it gets. Nothing changes.

    The full context of this extract is at – https://www.pm.gov.au/media/2016-10-18/interview-fran-kelly-abc-rn-breakfast

  16. paulwalter

    Very good article fits in well with the general warning thrust at AIM and resonates with another piece up today highlighting the bizarre comments of Grace Collier on QA the other night (not to mention Sloan and Roskam), from the same psychopathic line of thought.

    Tonight’s Drum had more of this callous spinning like a top to obscure the real nature of issues to do with Abbott and shotguns, Clinton/Trump and the again unfairly maligned Prof Gillian Triggs on a matter of emphasis in a statement.

  17. astra5

    Möbius Ecko
    The three defence ministers are now a standing joke, another planning stuff-up akin to the three stooges. Here they are singing ‘The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down’: https://youtu.be/GZ21qxN0N2w.

  18. astra5

    Rezblah
    What a telling sentence: “The time for rational analysis is long past I fear, we are not dealing with rational people, you can’t reason with a rabid dog, and you can’t reason with sociopaths or psychopaths such as these.”

    I too fear that nothing will change until the next election. Adversarial politics does not permit the government to admit its mistakes, to concede the chaos that pervades its ranks, or even to envisage a better way of planning and carrying out the nation’s business. A contemporary example of chaos is the current Abbott/Turnbull dissonance, which is met with denial instead of remediation. Self-medication seems out of the question. Only we, the voting public, can fix this pathological state of affairs – by excision.

  19. astra5

    wam
    ‘Disambiguation’ is what we need but seldom ever get from our politicians. They thrive on ambiguity – it is their most potent weapon. Yet it is the very antithesis of sound planning.

  20. astra5

    Kaye Lee
    You make very sound points, which lead logically to your cogent conclusion: “The only plan the Coalition has is to win the prize of government and then to use their power to gift jobs to mates and protect and increase the benefits that the wealthy enjoy – paid for by cutting services to the poor.”

  21. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee,
    “The only plan the Coalition has is to win the prize of government and then to use their power to gift jobs to mates and protect and increase the benefits that the wealthy enjoy – paid for by cutting services to the poor.”
    And my greatest fear is the poor have felt little yet to what they will.
    Planning for the future is a difficult proposition for individuals and businesses, and let me tell you the trends don’t look too rosey.
    We have just gone through a “Training and Development” exercise for the family firm and although some “predictions” are just that, others are rock solid in planning ahead.
    We had a person, expert in polling look to the next 5 years and his predictions in States we do business in is not rosey Government wise.
    He is predicting a return of the Liberals in NSW, The LNP to hang on Federally by about 2 seats {based on current polling and individual seats} a QLD government with One Nation balance of power and a SA State Government with NXT holding the balance of power.
    Irrespective of that, we have decided to unload our investment properties in Commercial and Industrial.This wasn’t a hard decision based on the appalling rate of small business failures.
    In one industrial estate one of our investments had 14 “tenants” over a 10 year period.
    9 broke their lease early and shut up shop.
    The growth areas that we will be upping our investments in are domestic/residential rentals, as more find it less likely to ever own a home.
    The other area where we intend to go in heavily in,constructing new centres and buying into existing establishments are Child Care Centres.
    With my daughter, who runs the show wanting to retire next year when she turns 40, I have a strong urge to turn over the day to days to Property Management Companies and get the hell out of Dodge till people wake up and turf the LNP.
    I have a feeling it will get way, way worse before it gets better, if ever it does

  22. astra5

    Klaus, lawrencewinder
    Thankyou for your generous remarks.

    Throwing-up and weeping are understandable responses to this government’s incompetent machinations. It could be worse though: the Trump phenomenon is more emetic; the Donald’s threat to the democratic process evokes even more tears of grief.

  23. astra5

    Andreas Bimba
    Thank you for your kind comment and for reminding us of yet another planning shemozzle – the mismanagement of FTAs.

    Who could disagree with your sentence: “I suspect the dynamic nations of Asia and Europe will just pass us by and Australia will truly become the poor white trash of Asia as Lee Kuan Yew predicted a few decades ago unless we can rid ourselves of these fools acting on behalf of the mining, finance and real estate Kleptocracy and Squattocracy.”

    I can remember Lee Kuan Yew, a wiser politician than any of ours, saying that 1980. Those words stung Bob Hawke into action and helped transform the Australian economy. This was nicely written up in The Australian Financial Review: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/the-poor-white-trash-of-asia-a-phrase-that-changed-an-economy-20150323-1m5mzm

  24. Kaye Lee

    cornie, my daughter has just finished an honours degree in teaching early childhood/primary. Her final internship was at a long day care centre. The owner immediately offered her a permanent job in a supervisor’s role in a new centre she is opening with daughter to be in charge of the 4-5 year olds to prepare them for school. Daughter is a good chance to also be targeted by the dept of education but, after lengthy discussion, she has decided to take this role because of the future business opportunity even though pay and conditions aren’t as good. I am conflicted, but it is probably the right decision opportunity wise. I am enormously relieved that her hard work has paid off and she won’t be facing the struggle so many young people do to break into the employment market. Choice is a rare thing nowadays.

  25. Jack Russell

    @Rezblah:

    Precisely!

  26. astra5

    Harquebus
    The notion of ‘infinite growth’ needs to be supplanted by ‘sustainable growth’, something few industrialists seem to understand.

  27. astra5

    bilko
    How nice to see your icon again and read your comment.

    Thank you for reminding us of the NBN. What a mess Turnbull has made of that, all because Abbott stupidly told him to ‘demolish the NBN’. If only FTTP had been followed we would have had a world-competitive communications system. Instead, we a have a hybrid that is slower, a long time coming, and likely no less expensive that Labor’s plan.

  28. Jack Russell

    Childcare:

    Remove childcare from private hands entirely and place it under the aegis of the Department of Education, with centres in the grounds of all public schools and staffed by properly trained teachers. The benefits for everyone concerned are enormous … and obvious.

  29. astra5

    helvityni
    Writing a Turnbull report card is laborious and time consuming. This piece on planning (or the lack of it), could have been twice as long, but there are limits to how much visitors to the site are prepared to read.

  30. astra5

    Ross
    Thank you for you complimentary remarks. All I’m anticipating is more indecision, more dithering, and more chaos. Turnbull has been profoundly disappointing, and now he has a resurgent attack dog snapping at his heels. More chaos ahead!

  31. paulwalter

    Kaye Lee, congrats re your daughter and think she is right to get some sort of grounding in the real world, first things first.

  32. astra5

    economicreform
    Could you please point me to Robert Reich’s presentation.

  33. astra5

    cornlegend
    Your story highlights the abysmal lack of planning of this government and many State governments too.

    Those who care to look can see change occurring all around us: the changes to manufacturing, the increasing interest in renewables, the slow demise of fossil fuel industries, the rise of robots in both manual and cognitive areas, and the ‘gig economy’ in which more and more workers will find their home.

    What the federal government ought to be doing is to establish a high level think tank of futurists, demographers, economists, industrialists, businessmen, bankers, town planners, infrastructure planners, unions, workers displaced from their jobs, the unemployed and homeless and those on welfare, healthcare personnel, educators at all levels and universities, as well as politicians involved in planning, and members representative of the wider public. The think tank should be given the task of predicting future trends and advising on how to manage the inevitable changes that are coming.

    But what are they doing? You know the answer!

  34. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee,
    One of the first areas where negotiations are already underway is in your neck of the woods, Forresters Beach, so if your daughter ever feels the need for change :-D, and rest assured pay and conditions will be first rate .An investment in quality staff, well renumerated, leads to better outcomes for all
    ” Choice is a rare thing nowadays.”
    I encouraged both my kids and grand kids to take a year and really look at what they WANT to do for the next few decades.
    I would hate the thought of them in a job where they spent monday to friday waiting for saturday and sunday to come around

  35. Kaye Lee

    cornie, that is what daughter did after school. She has worked in a pre-school, a before and after school and vacation care centre, she has organised “discoability” which was a disco for disabled kids, she has nannied, babysat, and done before and after school care for locals – she is an amazing person with a real gift with kids – everyone wants to employ her. Thanks for the offer, she will be a real asset whatever she does.

  36. jimhaz

    [Let us start with a recent calamity – the electricity blackout in South Australia. The complexities of how this came about will be explained by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s enquiry. This is not the place to predict its outcome, but already there is evidence of a lack of planning that has contributed to this disaster]

    There was NO disaster in the first place. Just a systems failure that happen from time to time.

  37. astra5

    paulwalter
    That episode of Q&A did expose the entrenched attitude of neoliberals, whose minds will not be changed. The IPA religion has captured their thinking, probably irreversibly.

  38. paulwalter

    astra5, the sort of panelists they have on the Drum are macabre, several have grated this week and typical would be the Sarrah Le Marquand cupcake who does Overington type passive-aggressive. Where does Murdoch find these horrors and why does public broadcasting insist on using them?

  39. Jane Love

    Another beautifully written and researched article calling for economic competence in the Australian Government. Thank you Ad astra.

    What this requires though, is compassion and morality and sadly, THAT is what is missing. An Australian politician would have to be blind, deaf, dumb and well actually, dead, not to know what their policies are doing to Australians. So economic competence, however well presented, is not the issue.

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