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Shorten smells blood

Bill Shorten can smell blood and is becoming bolder by the week. His announcement last week that the cash payments tied to the dividend imputation scheme would end, was just the beginning.

He is becoming more prime ministerial in his approach, made easier by a government in disarray. The 29th Newspoll showing an increase in primary support for Labor must have sent a chill down the backs of several Coalition members.

Shorten’s boldness was reaffirmed this week, firstly by announcing a tweak to the dividend imputation policy, exempting full and part pensioners. It wasn’t necessary, but it blunts any scare campaign that might be aimed at it.

Then, he announced Labor’s intention to repeal any legislation that gives our corporations a tax reduction. Another bold move, but one clearly consistent with Labor’s continued opposition to the legislation.

Whether this initiative influenced two cross-bench senators not to support the legislation thus far, is difficult to say. But the prospect of the tax cuts being included in this year’s budget looks unlikely.

It is hard to reconcile what the conservatives were thinking, given the severity of spending cuts that have hit hard at individuals and community groups who have lost their funding for social programs and health groups no longer able to extend vital community support assistance.

The government will try to paint Labor as anti-business but as far as the electorate is concerned, that train left the station months ago, as people began to absorb the reality that most of our major corporations don’t even pay tax.

With the polls showing the two-party preferred vote 53% to 47% in Labor’s favour, Malcolm Turnbull will want to delay the next election for as long as he can.

That would mean May 2019 as the date, but if he chooses that option, there are three significant roadblocks to manage; the Victorian State election in November this year, the NSW state election in March next year and the 2019 May budget.

It means that any budget sweeteners planned this year will be long forgotten, with no time to prepare for next year. All of which points to an August/September 2018 election.

Whether Labor planned an election strategy on the grassy knoll of inequality or not, that’s what will take place. A clear “us versus them” battle line.

Malcolm Turnbull can continue to boast 400,000+ jobs created this year, but the unemployment level both in percentages and raw numbers is the same as it was in 2013.

Those new job have done no more than keep pace with population growth, a natural occurrence in any economy. All of which means that in five years of government, their jobs and growth mantra is as hollow as their concern for equality.

Those who remember the months leading up to the 1972 election that saw Gough Whitlam become prime minister might see some similarities emerging. A stagnant economy, a government bleeding from within and an expectation that their time was over.


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  1. Alpo

    Excellent article, John. Yes, I fully agree, there is a strong stench of Government death and it won’t go away, the dice have been cast.
    However, the situation for both parties in Government (Libs+Nats) is far more serious than one can imagine. The loss at the coming election (yes, late this year seems the obvious date) is going to shatter the Coalition parties to their roots. The mighty bashing will be followed by serious internal turmoil. I can see the potential for Tony Abbott to return to the Liberal leadership and Barnaby Joyce to return to the leadership of the Nationals… two angry men thirsty for blood and revenge… This could only mean a radical shift to the right in the Coalition (the death of the Wafflers, the “Moderates”, the death of the Turnbull experiment)…. With a radical shift to the right by the Coalition, Labor will be free to expand and fully control the Centre, thus promising a few terms of Social Democratic reforms.

    We may be on the verge of the dawn of a new era…. Very exciting!

  2. Ross

    Malcolm and Co have been running around boasting about how they have ”created” over 400,000 jobs in the present tax climate yet at the same time bemoaning that big business, most of which pay exactly no tax, need a large tax cut to create more jobs. The logic, or lack of, makes your head spin.
    Plus for good measure, the bosses union, the Business Council of Australia are now going to run a large advertising campaign to convince the great unwashed of the urgent need for just such a tax cut.
    That should be good, are we going to see the bank CEO’s dishing out bowls at some soup kitchen to prove what paragons of truth, virtue and honesty they are? Good luck with that as well.

  3. Matters Not

    It would seem that the coming election is there for Shorten to lose. But it’s not an impossible outcome. Losing an unlosable election features at regular intervals on the historical record. Those who watch Parliament on an ongoing basis will know that attacks on the Labor leader focus on the concept of trust. The statement – Bill Shorten is not to be trusted! – features at every question time. Presumably this accusation is grounded in some LNP sponsored research via focus groups and the like and every trust misstep by Shorten will be taken down and used against him at a future date.

    And there’s been a number of those in recent times.

  4. John O'Callaghan

    Thank you for an exellent article,everything you say is true but we still have to be cautious as these conservatives are as cunning as a you know what, they are also backed by the majority of the MSM,all signs point to a Labor win but nothing is guaranteed except death in this world so let’s not start celebrating too early!

  5. petenotpeat

    Matters Not: While Turnbull and co (especially Morrison) are pushing the Bill Shorten can’t be trusted line more and more they are becoming ever more strident and frankly beginning to sound totally unhinged. Hopefully this outrageous and outraged delivery is grating more and more on the general electorate as it is on me.
    Ross: I saw some figures in the past month that showed employment and new jobs (including full time jobs) going up (as advertised endlessly by Morrison and co.) but total hours worked actually going down substantially. An example was given today on another site of an individual who has what is classified as full time work but has an on-call contract that provides variable hours of work (and pay) each week including zero hours, and none of which come close to what I would call full-time. Why don’t we see more complete analysis of the employment data? Why aren’t Labor labouring the point?

  6. Phil

    Social media and independant media are playing a critical part in an emerging new way. The spin, outright lies, the misrepresentations, the deceits and the boondoggles that were once thrown like chips to seagulls, leaving us with no counter arguments or exposures until weeks or months after the events, are now called out almost in the blink of an eye by a small army of astute, erudite and research savvy journalists, bloggers and commentators. Not just called out either, but systematically deconstructed and proven to be other than claimed. The Turnbull company tax cuts are an example.

    The old mantra used to muddy debate that says “the people are confused” say about some government policy or announcement, now tends to ring hollow – the crude murdochian headlines can scream diversion and division but almost instantly facts will emerge and as so often happens now, the mud doesn’t stick.

    The other slogan for those whose mob is on the nose – “they’re all the same” – might still work on some, but factual reporting and deciet countering information from alternative media and disseminated via social media means it is no longer under the MSM’s lock and key.

    Information is power.

  7. Marlin101

    Bill knows what he should do. If only he stopped being so precious. Apparently, he wants to fight the LNP by following the ‘rules’. They don’t. My dad always said, ‘if you get into a fight, fight dirty, because your opposition won’t fight fair’. Bill, kick Mal in the nuts, show the population that you can be the leader you are destined to be.

  8. Graeme Henchel

    Is it time to imagine a scenario where Turnbull is challenged in the party room and defeated? To be replaced by Dutton, or Morrison or Fraudenberg or Bishop or weirdly Abbott. In this event the coalition defeat at the next election will move well into the landslide territory. However the rolling of Turnbull will itself hasten the next election. It is my view that Turnbull would spit the dummy so much that he will make Rudd and Abbott look like models of compliance in comparison. The most vindictive thing he could do resign not from the parliament but from the party and sit as an independent. Behind the facade of urbane smugnes Turnbull is that sort of guy

  9. Glenn Barry

    Turnbull does look the on the verge of releasing his inner sook with the question of “why do they loathe me?” gnawing ceaselessly at his psyche and torturing his sleepless nights.

    All the while Morrison has unleashed his inner whack job, his press conferences are soon to become the full froth mouthed, spittle sodden, firebrand rants I know he is capable of.

    Do we think it’s perhaps dawning upon him that he isn’t going to get any chance at being prime minister?

    I don’t credit either of them with the capacity for self awareness, but damn psychic shields of that capacity, blocking the obvious have to drain a serious amount of mental and emotional energy – perhaps delusion has it’s drawbacks

  10. ajogrady

    Anyone who uses the internet/NBN should vote these incompetent, corrupt L/NP parasites out. This country is heading for a major communication/data fail when 5g becomes available around the world. 5g works on Photonics that uses light to transfer data and communications. 5g only works with fiber optics. Our copper NBN will not be capable of 5g, putting Australia way behind the rest of the world, as if Australia is not far enough behind now under the stewardship of the L/NP.

  11. Wun Farlung

    I saw Madam Mesothelioma on 730 last night and she was speaking as though the ALP was in Government , at one point she uttered the phrase “the Labor Government” when she should have said the Labor opposition when parroting the hand in the pocket of pensioners bullshit
    Maybe she has accepted the inevitable.

  12. New England Cocky

    Uhm … “Business creates jobs, governments create taxes” I seem to remember was the 80s spin from the LNP.

    If we are to have a 1972 again, then let us do it boldly and strongly, removing from Parliament all those Fascist toadies, RAbbott, Morriscum, Dicko & Turdball. We sacked Howard in 2010 so we can again sack these inhumane unChristian misfits sponsored by foreign media magnates.

    Anyway, it is about time that Silly Billy Shorten found some masculine character and pounded the NLP with ALP policies for the benefit of the people, rather than following the NLP and gifting tax concessions to corporations that ALREADY DO NOT PAY TAX.

  13. Matters Not

    For Labor, education is normally a political lay-down mesire but Shorten’s endangered that. As long-time Labor stalwart Lyndsay Connors points out:

    Almost a year ago we thought that peace had been declared in the school funding wars. … After less than a year Labor has resurrected them in a planned gift of $250 million to Catholic schools in the first two years of a new Labor government.

    … The Shorten announcement positions the Labor party as having been pressured by Catholic sector interests into pre-empting the board’s report; and as preferring to play sectarian politics behind closed doors than to engaging in an open policy development policy.

    … Labor has apparently not been able to learn anything new. The difference this time around is that they might get an unwelcome judgment from an electorate that has, and one that expects something better.

    For those who know something about Gonski that goes deeper than the slogans, Shorten is bad news for the future funding of State schools. Shorten is a today politician – a tactician – a deal maker – not a visionary – not a strategist. And public school teachers, parents and unions are becoming more conscious of it.

    As Connor and Bonner point out: Shorten has apparently not been able to learn anything new. The election isn’t over yet. Expect to see other developments. Birmingham gone for example.

  14. Michael Slocum

    Shorten is no Gough Whitlam.

  15. Max Gross

    The problem is that Aussie voters have the memory and attention span of goldfish. Oh and then there is the historic fact that Australia is a conservative backwater and ALL federal elections are decided by a tiny dopey minority of so-called swinging voters. Since the overthrow of the Whitlam government a fair, just and progressive Australia has been a constant downhill trajectory.

  16. Cubism

    Nice article. Shorten is growing in stature every day while Turnbull shrivels. And the PPM/approval results from NewsPoll confirm that the general public are seeing it. How much longer before Shorten overtakes Turnbull (assuming MT isn’t rolled beforehand)?

    It really is looking dire for the L-NP. The complete failure of the govt to get traction on the dividend imputation issue (before the tweaking), based on the solid NewsPoll result (only one to go!), suggests that the voters really have made up their minds and nothing that Turnbull could do would alter that. They’re treading water as they edge towards a likely massive defeat that could see them out of government for a decade; the next Labor government won’t be nearly as divided as the R-G-R govt was and could be a reformist govt to challenge the Hawke-Keating years. That’s my hope anyway.

  17. Michael Taylor

    True, Michael, Shorten is no Gough Whitlam. But I fail to see anything in the article that suggests he is.

  18. Matters Not

    Michael Slocum re:

    Shorten is no Gough Whitlam.

    Indeed he isn’t – but are there any visionaries on the political horizon? Sally McManus shows promise but like all genuine visionaries – it takes time to establish one’s credentials – articulate a broad social, economic and political agenda – and develop same. Nevertheless, given recent developments in the feminist movement such as Me Too, it might see the emergence of a new It’s Time.

    Generally speaking, Shorten, Bowen, Chalmers, Leigh et al are prone to enthusiastic political overreach followed soon after by humiliating back downs. Their recent announcements re dividend imputation and Leigh’s assurance re the integrity of the policy – followed soon after by significant revisions suggests certain ideological, practical and factional problems within the party.

    And I won’t mention Shorten’s over reach re – no problems with citizenships – only to find several. Embarrassing!

  19. Rhonda

    Actually it’s poll #59

  20. Matters Not

    Re policy development. Never let it be controlled by any specialist – including economists, lawyers, environmentalist, factional power brokers and the like. By all means seek their views but don’t think that their world view is the only possibility and therefore the one true way.

    Politics is much more complicated than that. On tap but never on top ought to be the guiding slogan. Hopefully, Bill has learnt that re the dividend imputation fiasco. I suspect that Jenny Macklin will remind him after she was (presumably) co-oped to sort out the economists’ political mess – but then again she’s in the wrong faction. (Shakes head.)

  21. Michael Taylor

    Rhonda, 59 all up. The 29 John was referring to is the number since Turnbull has been PM.

  22. Pauline Westwood

    I agree with everything you say with one exception. You mention that new jobs have just kept up with population growth which is natural in any country. Actually that is incorrect. Our rate of immigration more than doubled under Howard and has increased over the past couple of years to over 2000,000 per annum from about 70,000 pre Howard. This is only permanent migration. Added to this are all the special visa categories including student visas. We will soon see further increases from trade agreements with uncapped free entry of workers usually not reciprocated. Our new jobs appear to be taken by these workers.
    This is of great benefit to employers who get access to compliant non-union labour, but bad news for australian workers and for less developed countries which train workers and then they move offshore.
    This is not a problem with race or immigration per se. It is about the numbers which are leading to overcrowding, traffic congestion, Hong Kong style housing, water shortages, impossibly high house prices, high rents, loss of agricultural land and adds to species extinction. The right has pulled a swiftly on us for their own benefit. Most of us lefties won’t risk being labelled racist. We have been thoroughly wedged on this.

  23. townsvilleblog

    John, yesterday 28.03.18 was a terrible day in the parliament, the tories had the answers to the Labor attack on the $65Bn tax give a way but yet they persisted asking the same question even though they were being done like a dinner. The brains trust of federal Labor has to get more imaginative in the questions they ask, or tory Turnbull will win the next election.

  24. Harry

    Pauline Westwood,

    Agree that the Coalition is bringing in migrants to keep down wages and conditions. They are in effect the agents and propagandists for big business. We have a regime that is for big business, by big business. They want a big Australia and never mind the consequences for our liveability and sustainability.

    The next election will be very important.

  25. Ian Hughes

    One area that’s been puzzling me is that with all the cuts to govt services and the rapid increase in govt debt then where is the money being spent? I’m hopeful a more enlightened reader of this excellent website can educate me – thanks in advance!

  26. Kaye Lee


    Let’s start with a budget of $400 billion to spend on weapons of war over the next twenty years. And that is on top of the normal defence budget which, for some unknown reason, the Coalition are determined to increase to 2% of GDP whether they need the money or not. Also, Peter Dutton’s super ministry has cost us a fortune as has our offshore detention. I could go on…..

  27. Matters Not

    Then there’s the monies wasted on shifting the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale in Joyce’s electorate with a massive loss of critical staff – impacting negatively on vital work. Plus many other blatant examples of pork barreling including the $5 billion for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) – Matt Canavan’s private slush fund. Etc, etc.

  28. Kaye Lee

    And Canavan’s new Resources 2030 Taskforce

    “The taskforce is expected to identify and bring forward bold, attainable reforms to the Australian resources sector. Each reform will ensure the sector’s competitiveness and sustainability to 2030 and beyond.

    The Resources 2030 Taskforce members are:

    Mr Andrew Cripps, former Queensland Minister for Natural Resources (Chair)
    Mr Mike Henry, President Operations, Minerals Australia, BHP
    Ms Joyce McCulloch, Mayor, Mount Isa City Council
    Dr Chris Pigram, former CEO of Geoscience Australia
    Mr Will Robinson, Managing Director, Encounter Resources Limited
    Ms Erica Smyth, Chair, NOPSEMA Advisory Board
    Mr Paul Flynn, CEO and Managing Director, Whitehaven Coal
    Prof. Marcia Langton, Foundation Chair, Australian Indigenous Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Melbourne”

    How much will that cost us?

  29. johno

    Canavan and Sustainability, now that’s a laugh.

  30. Ric Edwards

    As I have repeatedly said on FB here the hell are they finding all this money?? they keep telling us on pensions and the like to tighten our belts(mine’s down 2 sizes already) but they can spalsh all this cash on their pet projects??? WTF??

  31. Paula

    I said yes to an integrity commission because it’s needed for politicians more than anyone else. There is no longer integrity in politicians on any side of politics. The danger is that the integrity commission itself will become corrupt and a weapon used by one side of politics or the other, or am I just a cynic?

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