1. How not to run a party or a government
Malcolm Turnbull in announcing a royal commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, to be led by former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, told us that the inquiry was entirely unnecessary, but the government was a couple of seats short and had effectively lost control of the agenda.
Chris Bowen, shadow treasurer, formally wrote to his counterpart Scott Morrison (AFR, pay-walled), saying that the inquiry was neither far-reaching enough nor adequately resourced, that there had been inadequate consultation over the terms of reference, plus the deliberate targeting of union-dominated industry superannuation funds – a political strategy which diminished its credibility.
His letter leaves open the threat of another inquiry should the government’s not be deemed comprehensive enough.
Phillip Coorey in an article The Nationals have visited ruin upon Malcolm Turnbull again (pay-walled) said the current mess was really due to Joyce’s leadership style, or lack of it. Joyce has crossed the floor more than 20 times and is hardly a model for collegiate governance. Coorey said that Warren Truss, apart from gold-plating his electorate (Wide Bay, based on Gympie), would have quelled the rebellion, or gone to Turnbull much earlier, saying that a banking inquiry was inevitable and best make it look like it’s a government mind-change for whatever reason.
Truss, he said, was a leader although no-one knew he was there. Joyce is very publicly there, but is all over the place.
David Marr today said about 7% of the population vote for the Nationals, probably fewer than One Nation.
2. Edging towards same-sex marriage
Here’s Dennis Altman with How the same-sex marriage vote will impact on human rights and democracy:
- Labor is managing its divisions smartly: clearly the handful of anti-marriage MPs were told they could vote no provided they did nothing to delay or water down the legislation. The same is not true of the government parties, where the marriage debate is caught up in the increasing febrile battles for control.
There will be further attempts in the lower house to introduce “religious freedom” protections into the legislation, despite the fact that it already exempts religious institutions from having to perform same-sex marriages.
In fact, the amendments the right seeks are largely attempts to water down existing anti-discrimination provisions.
Then we have:
- Same-sex marriage bill passes Senate: Here’s what’s in the bill and what’s not
- Same-sex marriage: Turnbull wants bill changes to protect religious freedoms
- PM wants changes to gay marriage bill
The same-sex marriage bill passed the Senate 43-12 on last Wednesday.
Manager of Opposition Business Tony Burke said the bill should be moved through the House of Representatives this week in the same form it passed in the Senate. There is a chance that the whole thing may not be resolved in this session of parliament, which would wreck a lot of wedding plans currently being made.
Turnbull introduced the notion of amendments once again by saying they were unnecessary.
3. Real wages are falling and the RBA doesn’t know what to do
PD Jonson is former head of research at the Reserve Bank of Australia and a former company director. He is currently writing his second book. In an AFR opinion piece he explained that since the GFC in 2008 labour growth has been low-productivity growth and there is serious doubt about official labour market statistics:
In developed nations, governments have opted for definitions of unemployment that make things look better than they really are. For over a decade, Roy Morgan Research (and myself) have been pointing this out. The latest Roy Morgan survey shows 2.3 million Australians unemployed or underemployed. In percentages of the workforce, this is 9.5 per cent unemployed and 8.5 per cent underemployed, well above the official 5.4 per cent unemployment figure. Hardly shooting the lights out.
He says that the Reserve Bank, the Treasury and the Government comprise a big sheltered workshop. No-one knows what to do, so they keep telling us stories. Here is a graph of the RBA wage-price index forecasts against what really happened:
A correct narrative from government would be honest about the battle Australia faces to create some genuine approximation to full employment, with strong productivity growth and a budget surplus. Not the minuscule surpluses currently forecast, but a real and growing surplus based on hard work, productivity-increasing economic reform, increased investment and household spending restraint.
Whatever that might mean.
4. FLOTUS gets ready for Christmas
POTUS Donald Trump has been having a fun time tweeting as usual. So we’ve had:
- Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos
- White House defends anti-Muslim Trump tweets, says it doesn’t matter if videos are real
- Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos to ‘elevate the conversation’, White House claims
- State Dept. warned White House about possible increased threats after anti-Muslim tweets
- Twitter changes reason for not removing anti-Muslim videos retweeted by Trump
The sum of all that is:
- “I think this is real dangerous shit,” says David Livingstone Smith, a professor of philosophy at the University of New England, who specializes in the history of dehumanization and who authored a book on the topic called Less than Human.
“This is scary shit,” echoes Jason Stanley, a professor at Yale and author of the book How Propaganda Works, whose father fled Nazi Germany in 1939.
In what we would be concerned was a cry for help, had the Trump women not consistently proven themselves to be enthusiastic collaborators in the family’s stunningly inept attempt at a fascist takeover of the United States, today Melania Trump followed up her own personal Suspiria reboot by unveiling this, um, festive holiday decor: