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Turnbull The Decisive; Abbott The Divisive; Sinodinos The Memory Sieve

Malcolm Turnbull is proving the most decisive PM we’ve ever had. Every day he makes a decision. Most days it’s a decision not to do what he floated the day before, but it’s a decision nevertheless. Tomorrow I expect that we’ll hear that he’s decided not to give the states income tax powers because they wouldn’t spend the money wisely.

But before I go on to his latest decision – or as some would say “thought bubble” which is rather generous as it implies that some thought has actually been attached to the bubble before it pops – I’d like you to picture the following scenario:

There is a rise in crime statistics. In spite of an increase in funding, violent assaults and robberies are up. So the police minister calls a press conference. He goes to the podium.

“The latest numbers are very disappointing. While there’s been a slight decrease in some areas, it’s clear that the streets aren’t as safe as ten years ago. It’s clear that throwing money at the problem doesn’t help. As everyone knows, crime is reduced by having a good police force. A good police officer doesn’t need fancy equipment. He or she can prevent crime anywhere, so we’re going to freeze funding and concentrate on ensuring that we have the best police force possible by testing them before they graduate.”

Sound ridiculous? Yep. I guess it does. So why whenever some test or other shows that Australia has slipped in the education rankings do politicians respond exactly like that?

Of course, I could point out that rankings are just that. Positions relative to other countries. If they improve, then we can slip down without our education system being any worse than before. Just as Jason Day’s improvement means that he’s now the number one golfer in Australia (and the world, for that matter). It doesn’t mean that the number two player in Australia is suddenly playing badly. (No nothing to do with Aaron Baddeley, before someone makes a terrible pun!)

I’ll be the first to agree that there are many, many things in education that need to change, but the idea that money won’t help is one of those things that only applies when we’re talking about public education. Try to remove one dollar from federal grants to the private system and watch the accusations of class warfare and politics of envy come from the Liberals faster than Tony Abbott seizes an opportunity to steal someone’s wave.

So Turnbull’s latest bubble is to give public education back to the states and make them totally responsible for its funding. Of course, the Commonwealth would still fund private schools. Of course. They’re too important to let the states decide on how much funding they deserve. This would give them the great political advantage of being able to say look at how well the schools we fund are doing and don’t blame us that your state government doesn’t see the need for providing the same level of support to the schools that are its responsibility. The only reason that Scotch has a space for three orchestras in their performing arts centre, while the school down the road has classes in the gym is because your state government wastes its money.

End of the blame game! Ha! About as much chance as Abbott saying that he totally understands that the party needed to move to Turnbull because some of the “Captain’s calls” were about as successful as sending the opposition in, only to find them none for 632 at stumps.

Turnbull reportedly said the other day: “Just because the press gallery doesn’t know what I’m doing doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m doing”. And, of course, he could have added, “Just because Scott Morrison doesn’t know what I’m doing, it doesn’t follow that I have a memory like Arthur and forgot to tell him, I may have a plan to make him look silly so he can’t plot to replace me after the election when the conservative forces give up on Abbott return to planet earth.”

Of course, I’d add that just because Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t know what I’m doing, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I know what I’m doing. And vice versa.

And just because Arthur Sinodinos has been returned to the front bench, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he knows what he’s doing either. It’s not proven that he can remember if he’s actually attended any Cabinet meetings and, if he did some of these things may have been discussed but he probably wasn’t paying attention because he was trying to remember which house he was living in and where he parked his car.

As for suggestions that the Liberals are in disarray because Abbott is plotting to take over from Malcolm after the election, I’d like to say categorically that it isn’t true. The Liberals have been in disarray for years, and it was mainly thanks to the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd soap opera that nobody noticed.

If there’s one thing that most Liberals have agreed on for the past ten years or so, it’s the idea that somebody else should be Prime Minister. Just before John Howard “powerwalked into the sunset” as one commentator put it, most of them thought that Costello should take over. (The phrase seemed to suggest that he chose to go, ignoring the fact that he was the only Prime Minister in almost a century to lose his seat!) When Rudd was elected, they all thought that it would be better if a Liberal was PM. When Gillard took over, they all argued that it wasn’t right because the people hadn’t voted her in. When she won the support of the Independents and stayed PM after the 2010, most Liberals expressed the view that this was outrageous because they’d gained the most votes. (A concept they never mentioned when Labor under Beasley had more votes!) Of course, while Tony was all right at first, most of them soon decided that he had to go.

So now we have a situation where a large number of them agree that they’d be better off with a new PM. The only problem is that so many of them have the belief that they personally should take over from Malcolm after the election. Morrison, Abbott, Dutton, Bishop (Julie, not Bronwyn…although who knows?), Pyne et al. Probably even Tim Wilson thinks that once he’s been around a couple of weeks and got the hang of the place, then the IPA should be able to maneuver him into that job like they did with the Human Rights Commission.


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  1. flohri1754

    Becoming a true three-ring circus on the hill …..

  2. JeffJL

    Hey Ross. A quick check of the election results for the 2010 election on the Australian Electoral Commission shows Labour with 6,216,445 votes and the LNP with 6,185,918 two party preferred (House of Representatives where the Government is formed. It is a MSM and LNP myth that the LNP received more votes than Labour in the 2010 election.

    I suppose after throwing a brick bat I should throw a bouquet. Good article. Nice comparison with policing.

  3. paul walter

    Interesting, how Sinodinos “disappeared” under cover of Easter.

  4. jim

    But wait the LNP are better economic managers ain’t they? well apparently… from our ABC….. The difference between the average tax level of the previous Coalition government and the current Labor Government is 2.3 per cent of GDP. In today’s dollar terms, that is around $35 billion per annum in less tax collected by the Labor Government compared with the previous Coalition government. That $35 billion lower tax take is equivalent to around $4,000 per year for every household in Australia.

    The budget papers also show that the Howard government was the highest taxing government in Australia’s history. In 2004-05 and 2005-06, the tax to GDP ratio reached a record high 24.2 per cent. In addition, there have been only seven occasions where the tax to GDP ratio has been in excess of 23.5 per cent of GDP and all seven were under the Howard government.

    In a similar vein, in the last 30 years, there have been 10 occasions when the tax to GDP ratio has been below 22.0 per cent of GDP and all 10 were under a Labor Government. To put simply, the Howard government was a high taxer, while the current Labor Government is a lower taxer …Vote these LNP no-hoppers out Australia….

  5. jim

    And here dear reader is a comparison of policies of the major parties for you, (dear reader).
    What I found really fascinating was the verbs used by the ALP and the LNP e.g
    ALP. Establish, increase, Change, introduce, improve, achieve, create.
    LNP. Privatise, repeal, abandon, withdraw, abolish, force, halt, end.
    Look at what The Australian Labor Party have achieved! _And what the LNP plan to do to those achievements. i.e.;
    They plan to privatise or sell off assets
    Privatise Medibank
    Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme
    Privatise Australia Post
    Privatise SBS
    Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function
    Privatise the Australian Institute of Sport
    End all public subsidies to sport and the arts
    Formalise a one-in, one-out approach to regulatory reduction
    Privatise the CSIRO
    ALP. · NBN (the real one) – total cost $37.4b (Government contribution: $30.4b)
    LNP. Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and
    privatise any sections that have already been built
    Rule out any government-supported or mandated internet censorship
    ALP. · BER 7,920 schools: 10,475 projects, not just school halls, (completed at less than 3% dissatisfaction rate)
    · Gonski – Education funding reform
    Repeal the National Curriculum
    Introduce competing private secondary school curriculum
    ALP. · NDIS / Disability Care
    · MRRT & aligned PRRT
    LNP. Repeal the mining tax
    ALP. · Won seat at the UN
    LNP. Abandon Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council
    ALP. · Signed Kyoto
    LNP Withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol
    ALP. · Signatory to Bali Process & Regional Framework
    · Eradicated WorkChoices
    · Established Fair Work Australian Labor Hub
    LNP. Repeal the Fair Work Act
    Allow individuals and employers to negotiate directly terms of employment that suit them
    Encourage independent contracting by overturning new regulations designed to punish contractors
    ALP. · Established Carbon Pricing/ETS (7% reduction in emissions since July last year)
    LNP. Repeal the carbon tax, and don’t replace it.
    ALP. · Established National Network of Reserves and Parks
    · Created world’s largest Marine Park Network
    · Introduced Reef Rescue Program
    LNP. Repeal the marine park Legislation LP
    ALP· National Apology
    · Sorry to the Stolen Generation
    LNP. Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
    ALP. · Increased Superannuation from 9 to 12%
    LNP. Abolish the low-income superannuation contribution. This will reimpose a 15 per cent tax on superannuation contributions for 3.6 million workers
    earning less than $37,000 will pay more than $4 billion extra in tax on their super over the next four years.
    Abolish the proposed 15 percent tax on income from superannuation above $100,000 a year. The combined effect of these two superannuation changes is that 16,000 high-income earners with
    superannuation savings in excess of $2 million will get a tax cut
    End preferences for Industry Super Funds in workplace relations laws
    Allow people to opt out of superannuation in exchange for promising to forgo any government income support in retirement
    ALP. ·Changed 85 laws to remove discrimination against same sex couples
    LNP. Defund Harmony Day
    ALP. · Improvements to Sex Discrimination Act
    · Introduced National Plan to reduce violence against women and children
    LNP. End all government funded Nanny State advertising
    ALP. · Introduced Plain packaging of cigarettes
    LNP. Repeal plain packaging for cigarettes and rule it out for all other
    products, including alcohol and fast food
    Reject proposals for compulsory food and alcohol labelling
    ALP. · Legislated Equal pay (social & community workers up to 45% pay increases)
    · Legislated Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme
    LNP. Introduce a paid parental leave scheme that replaces a mother’s salary up to $150,000. To put it crudely, this means a low-income mum gets about $600 per week while a high-income mum gets close to $3000.
    Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than
    260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
    Halve the size of the Coalition front bench from 32 to 16
    Slash top public servant salaries to much lower international standards, like in the United States
    ALP. · Established $10b Renewable energy fund
    LNP. Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
    Abolish the Department of Climate Change
    Repeal the renewable energy target
    ALP. · Legislated Murray/Darling Basin plan (the first in a hundred years of trying.)
    Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
    Encourage the construction of dams
    ALP· Increased Education funding by 50%
    · Established direct electoral enrolment
    LNP. Introduce voluntary voting
    End mandatory disclosures on political donations
    End media blackout in final days of election campaigns
    End public funding to political parties
    ALP. · Created 190,000 more University places
    LNP. Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
    Reintroduce voluntary student unionism at universities
    Means test tertiary student loans
    ALP. · Achieved 1:1 ratio, computers for year 9-12 students
    · Established My School
    · Established National Curriculum
    · Established NAPLAN
    LNP. Introduce a voucher scheme for secondary schools
    ALP. · Increased Health funding by 50%
    LNP. Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
    Abolish the means test on the private health insurance rebate. This will deliver a $2.4 billion tax cut over three years for individuals earning more than $84,001 a year, or couples earning more than $168,001. People on lower incomes will receive no benefit.
    Repeal the alcopops tax
    ALP. · Legislated Aged care package
    · Legislated Mental health package
    · Legislated Dental Care package
    · Created 90 Headspace sites
    · Created Medicare Locals Program
    LNP. Means-test Medicare
    ALP. · Created Aussie Jobs package
    · Created Kick-Start Initiative (apprentices)
    · Funded New Car plan (industry support)
    LNP. Cease subsidising the car industry
    End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of
    Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
    ALP. · Created Infrastructure Australian
    LNP. Force government agencies to put all of their spending online in a
    searchable database
    End all hidden protectionist measures, such as preferences for local
    manufacturers in government tendering
    ALP. · Established Nation Building Program (350 major projects)
    LNP. Introduce a special economic zone in the north of Australia including.
    Lower personal income tax for residents
    Devolve environmental approvals for major projects to the states
    Introduce a single rate of income tax with a generous tax-free threshold
    Allow the Northern Territory to become a state
    ALP. · Doubled Federal Roads budget ($36b) (7,000kms of roads)
    · Rebuilding 1/3 of interstate rail freight network
    · Committed more to urban passenger rail than any government since Federation
    · Developed National Ports Strategy
    · Developed National Land Freight Strategy
    · Created the nations first ever Aviation White Paper
    · Revitalized Australian Shipping
    · Reduced transport regulators from 23 to 3 (saving $30b over 20years)
    · Introduced NICS – infrastructure schedule
    · Australia has moved from 20th in 2007 to 2nd on OECD infrastructure ranking
    · Awarded International Infrastructure Minister of the Year (2012 Albanese)
    · Awarded International Treasurer of the Year (2011 Swan)
    · Introduced Anti-dumping and countervailing system reforms
    LNP. Remove anti-dumping laws
    Deregulate the parallel importation of books
    Remove all remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers to international trade
    ALP. · Legislated Household Assistance Package
    LNP. Eliminate family tax benefits
    ALP. · Introduced School Kids Bonus
    LNP. Abolish the means-tested School kids Bonus that benefits 1.3 million families by providing up to $410 for each primary school child and up to $820 for each high school child.
    ALP. · Increased Childcare rebate (to 50%)
    LNP. Abolish the Baby Bonus
    ALP. · Allocated $6b to Social Housing (20,000 homes)
    · Provided $5b to Support for Homelessness
    · Established National Rental Affordability Scheme ($4.5b)
    · Introduced Closing the Gap
    · Supports Act of Recognition for constitutional change
    · Provided the highest pension increase in 100 years
    · Created 900,000 new jobs
    · Established National Jobs Board
    Significantly expanded 457 Visa programs for workers
    · Allocated $9b for skills and training over 5 years
    · Established Enterprise Connect (small business)
    · Appointed Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner
    · Introduced immediate write-off of assets costing less than $10,000 for Sm/Bus
    · Introduced $10,000 immediate write-off for Small Business vehicles over $16,500
    · Introduced Small business $1m loss carryback for tax rebate from previous year
    LNP. Return income taxing powers to the states
    · Legislated Australian Consumer law
    LNP. Abolish the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
    ALP. · Introduced a national levy to assist Queensland with reconstruction
    Abolish the First Home Owners’ Grant
    · Standardised national definition of flood for Insurance purposes.
    · Created Tourism 2020
    · Completed Australia’s first feasibility study on high speed rail
    · Established ESCAS (traceability and accountability in live animal exports)
    · Established Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse
    · Established National Crime Prevention Fund
    · Lowered personal income taxes (Ave family now pays $3,500 less p.a. than 2007)
    · Raised the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200
    LNP. Lower the tax-free threshold from $18,200 to $6000. This will drag more than one million low-income earners back into the tax system. It will also increase the taxes for 6 million Australians earning less than $80,000.
    ALP. · Australia now the richest per capita nation on earth
    · First time ever Australia has three triple A credit ratings from all three credit agencies
    · Low inflation
    · Lowest interest rates in 60 years (Ave mortgagee paying $5,000 less p.a. than 2007)
    · Low unemployment
    · Lowest debt to GDP in OECD
    · Australian dollar is now fifth most traded in the world and IMF Reserve Currency
    · One of the world’s best performing economies during and since the GFC
    · Australia now highest ranked for low Sovereign Risk
    · Overseen the largest fiscal tightening in nations history (4.4%)
    LNP. Legislate a balanced budget amendment which strictly limits the size of budget deficits and the period the federal government can be in deficit Legislate a cap on government spending and tax as a percentage of GDP
    ALP. · 21 years of continuous economic growth (trend running at around 3%pa)
    · 11 years of continuous wages growth exceeding CPI
    · Increasing Productivity
    · Increasing Consumer Confidence
    LNP. Abolish the Office for Film and Literature Classification
    ALP. Record foreign investment
    · Historic levels of Chinese/Australian bilateral relations
    · First female Prime Minister
    · First female Governor General
    · First female Attorney General
    LNP. Abolish the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
    Eliminate laws that require radio and television broadcasters to be ‘balanced ‘
    Abolish television spectrum licensing and devolve spectrum management to the common law
    End local content requirements for Australian television stations
    Eliminate media ownership restrictions
    Rule out federal funding for 2018 Commonwealth Games
    ALP. A fiscal strategy to return to budget surpluses over the economic cycle without damaging its economy with austerity measures already proven to fail. A future linked to the National Broadband Network, renewable energy and greater productivity through higher education and infrastructure investment. Improved social equality and has a larger voice on the world stage.
    All this (and more) despite a hung parliament, a recalcitrant press and the most negative and
    asinine Opposition since Federation.
    In my view this has been one of the finest parliamentary periods in our history. Vote these Lying LNP #@##$ out Please.

  6. Douglas Pye

    Indeed another fine article from Rossleigh! ….. and what Jim has offered by comment covers much ground.thoroughly! …

    On the ‘words’ topic (and politics) I believe Jim nailed with the following :- …

    ” What I found really fascinating was the verbs used by the ALP and the LNP e.g

    ALP. Establish, increase, Change, introduce, improve, achieve, create.

    LNP. Privatise, repeal, abandon, withdraw, abolish, force, halt, end.”

    It’s not so much what is expressed … it’s the ‘Construction’ that offers the underlying intent of the assembled words! & the ‘INTENT’ represents the final destination!….

    Thank you all.

  7. Rossleigh

    JeffJL, just because I repeat a claim doesn’t mean that I believe it. In the case of the current Keystone Cabinet, if I printed a denial of all they had wrong, I’d have no time to actually do anything else. 🙂

  8. cowper133

    A great piece Rossleigh! It seems we lurch from bad to worse with this Govt!
    A timely reminder from Jim about the stark differences between ALP & LNP! If we want Australia to continue to be a progressive country people should have no choice but to vote out the LNP!

  9. JeffJL

    I am surprised you even have time to comment on these posts Rossleigh with all the writing you do.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. Wayne Turner

    Thoughtless bubbles from Tony Turnbull.Sums up this current lot.

    STOP THE WASTE indeed.

  11. Kizhmet

    Great article as always Rossleigh. As Kaye commented recently – amazing how you encapsulate all that is wrong with LNP in such a humorous way.

    Jim – awesome post! Loved the way you used the verbs to illustrate the distinction between the two parties. Your summary was extremely enlightening. Thank you for taking the time to post such a thorough response. Wow!

  12. Random

    Excellent read Rossleigh, but your last paragraph caused an image of Duh-ton as PM to pop into my head…talk about chills up my spine. Glad I didn’t read this before bed, I would have had nightmares.

    You are undoubtedly correct in your theory that they all believe they are worthy of the top job, and we need to take that out of the realms of possibility.

    Jim, thank you and kudos for your enlightening comment. Enlightening because of the clarity in which this info was presented, without the layers of negativity, distraction, deceit, and general obfuscation that is normally applied when the ALP try to promote this info themselves.

    Have a great day.

  13. mark delmege

    I thought Capt Bligh had some political intelligence… maybe even some wisdom but he doesn’t.

  14. John

    “A massive leak of confidential documents has for the first time exposed the true extent of corruption within the oil industry, implicating dozens of leading companies, bureaucrats and politicians in a sophisticated global web of bribery and graft.

    After a six-month investigation across two continents, Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post can reveal that billions of dollars of government contracts were awarded as the direct result of bribes paid on behalf of firms including British icon Rolls-Royce, US giant Halliburton, Australia’s Leighton Holdings and Korean heavyweights Samsung and Hyundai.”

    Now called CIMIC Group, Leighton is a project development and contracting group that includes Thiess, John Holland, Leighton Contractors, Leighton Asia (Northern), Leighton Asia (Southern) and Leighton Properties.

    The LNP is right, there IS corruption in the building industry, just not where they are looking.

  15. lawrencewinder

    Good piece… I’m waiting for Malcon “Truffles” Turdball th re-introduce the Feudal system and indentured labor.

  16. Gangey1959

    Maybe, since below the surface, or at least behind the party room door they are all willing to give the top job a go, they could learn to share, and we could get sportsbet or william hill to set up a polybet channel, where we would be able to bet on who would be PM, or any of the various senior and junior ministers and who was to be on the backbench today. (Lucy might be in for the odd surprise, but it’s politics, so she’s just got to be ready to take one for the team like the rest of us.)
    If your chosen poly was a minister on any of the the first 3 days, but ended up on the backbench at the end of the week, CASH BACK up to $50.
    Considering how mean and nasty the lovely ta was when Ms Gillard was pm, what sort of odds would we get on julie bishop, or better still michaela cash considering she got fewer primary votes that Ricky Muir. The possibilities are endless.
    Tattersalls could give them all numbers, and every Monday lunchtime we would have a National PolyLotto draw, First prize, All of your taxes back from the last 100 years.
    They could run a raffle for a night with aunty bronny, but ta would buy all of those tickets himself and then get little johnny coward to join them for a 3some, but it’s all for “charity” anyway isn’t it ?
    @ John. We could possibly have expected justice heydon to have been looking in more than one direction. That’s not what he was being paid his $6million + for.

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