29 April 2016
by John Lord

A Government in disarray

1 On the eve of the 2016/17 Budget the Turnbull Government finds itself in disarray. Next Tuesday the Treasurer must perform a feat of economic dexterity that seems beyond him. The deficit will have blown out largely because of the Government’s own spending yet it says spending is the problem. Yes, revenue has nothing to do with it. So on Tuesday Morrison will have to produce a budget that is both good for the nation and good for his party’s chances of re-election. Impossible in my view.

2 And on the eve of the election Malcolm Turnbull looks set to have, with Tuesday’s ruling by Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court on Manus Island, his own Tampa moment.

Minister Dutton said that the decision “hasn’t taken us by surprise”. They had been aware of the impending decision prior to Christmas yet he doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what to do with the 900 men, most of whom are genuine Asylum Seekers. Even when they knew an unfavourable decision was imminent, Dutton and the Government had no immediate solution. Don’t you think that if another country was prepared to take them they would be on their way by now?

Cambodia charged $25 million for a couple. Just imagine the cost for 900.

Perhaps I can help. They bring them to the mainland. Chuck them in a detention centre for another two years and advertise that anyone coming by boat will be imprisoned for a total of five years before being considered for asylum. That should act as a deterrent.

Or better still as a Cabinet of mainly Christian men who seem to preach Christian values when it suits them they could simply examine their consciences.

3 Turnbull’s interview with Leigh Sales on Tuesday night was an utter disaster. He didn’t argue his case for retaining Negative Gearing very well and his demeanour was decidedly one of a person with a superiority complex. The media coverage of this issue seems to indicate that the public, that is the vast majority of taxpayers who contribute their taxes to those who use this tax dodge, have finally woken up.

5 This week’s Essential rolling poll places the Opposition four points in front of the Coalition; 52% to 48% and is but a reflection of how badly the Government is travelling.

The weekly Crickey Poll Bludger aggregate has Labor ahead 50.4 – 49.6.

Also telling was that in the Essential weekly questionnaire 52% were in favour of tightening Capital gains tax; 48% said that Negative Gearing should be limited; 60% thought that the Super Concessions for high income earners should be reduced; 67% agreed with a tax increase on cigarettes; 57% opposed a cut to corporate tax; 63% thought there should be a cut in personal tax; 83% thought there should be more spent on funding health; and 80% think more should be spent on education.

Could it be that Australians have at long last woken up to the tax rorts available to the rich and privileged? That those with the means available to them don’t pay tax while ordinary folk are compelled to do so? That inequality is growing rapidly?

That corruption is not only within some sections of the Union movement but also Government and big business? Have they at last realised that they are being conned by conservationism’s reliance on capitalism? Are they sick and tired of the Banks ripping them off and being lied to by politicians? Have they seen through the Abbott/Turnbull years of division?

Has the elevation of Turnbull and his subsequent inability to live up to the lofty standards of truth and transparency, he insinuated in the Australian public mind, opened the need to cast off the malaise they have been living in for so long?

An observation.
“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages… It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile” (Robert Kennedy 1968).

4 As if to illustrate the point, Arthur Sinodinos has refused to appear before a Senate Committee enquiry. Instead he had lined up an appearance at his old school. The school then, after recognising it to be just a political stunt, told him to stay away.

Oh well, I guess the best you can say is that he has already failed both the pub test and the court of public opinion.

5 Instead of being proactive the Government seems to be reacting to everything. A sure sign that they are under pressure. This time its Labor’s carbon reduction policy which ironically is partly based on a proposal endorsed by Turnbull himself. Labor proposed to reduce emissions by 45 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

Barnaby Joyce reacted by saying that there would be dramatic rises in food costs and that it would threaten farmer’s property rights. At least, this time he stopped short of the $100 leg roast. Maybe he didn’t want to make a fool of himself again the second time around. The PM predictably suggested it would result in higher electricity prices. How he would know that is anyone’s guess.

So what happened to all that ‘advocacy rather than slogans’? Remember the promise of a ‘more mature and adult conversation’ no matter what the issues?

All we are seeing is a continuation of slogans and very little mature conversation.

Try this: Treasurer Scott Morrison called Labor’s proposal “a big thumping electricity tax”, Greg Hunt said that an ETS was in the same “family” as a fixed price or carbon tax, and was designed to “inflict pain” on families, farmers and small businesses. “Of course it is [a carbon tax]”.

When the Leader of the party that only a short time ago championed a scheme similar to Labor’s policy you can only say that it is hypocrisy of the very worst kind.