Phil Coorey in the AFR reckons Turnbull has three wishes, all of which must be fulfilled if he is going to get to Christmas with the Government in good shape – he needs a Yes vote on same-sex marriage, he needs a Clean Energy Target that makes some sense, and he needs his three National Party ministers to be given a ‘get out of jail’ pass by the High Court.
It’s no surprise, then, that Turnbull, as Malcolm Farr told Patricia Karvelas, is trying to turn our attention to other matters.
Firstly, he was in full visionary nation-building mode, announcing the feasibility trial for the Snowy Hydro 2.0 pumped storage scheme that had already been announced. Then he called in the electricity retailers again to be wacked around the ears about electricity prices, which is more of the same.
Meanwhile Peter Dutton decided to flush out asylum seekers bludging off the taxpayer, the 100 or so who had been moved here for medical or compassionate reasons, and have somehow hung around.
They will have their $200 a fortnight in income support cut off and have three weeks to move out of government-supported accommodation. Apparently he can’t legally deport them, so best just shove them out onto the street and starve them.
There are a further 300 who may come in for similar treatment.
Lawyers were upset and angry, even more so when Dutton rounded on them, calling them “un-Australian”, albeit with prompting from 2GB’s Alan Jones.
Bill Shorten slammed the move, calling it “Your weakest move yet” and with the Greens will seek to have parliament overturn it. Mark Kenny perhaps got it right in Any deport in a storm: Malcolm Turnbull’s search for a distraction:
- Pure theatre. Beyond its actual cruelty, this shift has more to do with departing votes than any arriving boats.
Last week Matthias took a blunderbuss to Bill Shorten, calling him a socialist of the variety last seen in East Germany, an attack that was indeed threadbare and desperate.
Julie Bishop, we are told, nominated Shorten was the most leftwing ALP leader since Gough Whitlam’s predecessor, Arthur Calwell.
Matthias Cormann helpfully nominated five policies to illustrate the Marxist nature of Shorten’s program.
First, Shorten plans:
- to keep in place the deficit levy that the Coalition itself brought in, making highest tax rate 49.5%, compared to the 49% that was in place under the Abbott government.
Second is the ALP’s policy to limit negative gearing.
Remember, to be a real socialist there should be no private property at all.
Cormann mentions “an attack on self-funded retirees with its planned ban on limited recourse borrowing arrangements”. This ALP policy is aimed at preventing self-managed super funds from borrowing in the super fund to buy property.
Greg Jericho, who brought us all this information, reminds us that this was actually a recommendation of the government’s own Murray inquiry into the financial system.
The inquiry argued that banning this practice would help “prevent the unnecessary build-up of risk in the superannuation system and the financial system more broadly”. It is a recommendation advocated by noted non-communist, Robert Gottliebsen writing in The Australian in May.
Now it seems Gottliebsen should be practising his singing of The Internationale.
- also mentioned the ALP position on the company tax cut. But rather than talk about the cuts for large businesses, Cormann only mentioned the cut for small business – a cut the ALP has yet to announce whether or not it will reverse.
- Cormann listed the ALP’s policy to tax income from trusts at 30%. This policy is designed to limit income splitting whereby one income earner uses the trust to split income among members of their family and reduce the amount of tax paid.
Rather than as Professor Robert Deutsch, senior counsel of The Tax Institute told the ABC, the policy will only result in a tax rise for small businesses who use the trusts for income splitting.
Socialism really did use to be made of sterner stuff.
If you asked Shorten, I’m sure he would include many other policies under a rubric of ‘a fair go’, including a fair go for the planet, support for universities and TAFE, the restoration of funding in places where it has been ripped away, like legal aid and many more. Turnbull told Leigh Sales last night, in an interview where he ran right over the top of her, that he expected to win the next election.
There is little doubt that his primary strategy will be a scare campaign directed against Bill Shorten personally, because people don’t seem to listen when he lists his many achievements. They gave up on Julia Gillard too despite getting nearly 600 pieces of legislation through a hung parliament. The personal attacks on Shorten are continual and relentless, in recent times accusing him of treason, plotting with a foreign power to bring out the truth which may reveal that Turnbull’s majority in the house of government may not in fact be legitimate.
Then there was the usual – Bill consorting with capitalists beyond his station to dud the workers, and then as a raving Marxist.
Last election Turnbull chose scare campaigns, eschewing his promise of intelligent, respectful political discourse. It’s clear now that we’ll get more of the same, but with a personal focus.
Last year I took a look at the ‘socialist objective’ in Labor’s constitution, and it contains clauses like this:
- The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields. (Emphasis added)
- maintenance of and support for a competitive non-monopolistic private sector, including small business and farming, controlled and owned by Australians, operating within clear social guidelines and objectives. (Emphasis added)
However, we need to judge Shorten by what he does rather than lofty words written in a document no-one reads. In this he is arguably so centrist, taking small, timid steps towards a fairer society.
Generally speaking, Australians don’t like radical change, though they are not particularly happy about where we are. Being a bit more brave could be welcome, but then I think Labor would need a stronger personality as leader. There is a prejudice in favour of strong ‘Type A’ extrovert leaders, just as there is in favour of taller people, and folk who look attractive generally, according to the norms of the day. But that is another story.