Leading article Australia

Should, could, would

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

Here’s what should happen. The Coalition, led by Malcolm Turnbull, should win the forthcoming July 2 election with a slightly reduced majority in the lower house, and ideally an increased number of Senators in the upper house. This they are perfectly capable of doing on their record alone. The Coalition has largely achieved the primary goals of the 2013 election, and deserves to be rewarded accordingly with a second term in office. For those fickle members of the public who may have forgotten: the boats have stopped, our borders are secure, our immigration program is under our own (generous) control, four hundred and forty thousand jobs have been created, three free trade deals negotiated, and of course the carbon and mining taxes were scrapped. In terms of the economy, despite a feral Senate, some progress has been made towards reversing Labor’s hugely irresponsible spending sprees of the lamentable Rudd and Gillard years. Not enough, obviously – and the hope is that (third time lucky) Scott Morrison’s imminent budget will see the public accept the need to reduce spending and therefore lower our crippling debt and deficit levels. On top of which, to quote Josh Frydenberg in his press club speech in February, ‘rumours of the death of our resources sector are greatly exaggerated’, with commodity prices rising recently. Good news for the budget’s bottom line. Despite the turmoil of the leadership change, this has been a good government for most Australians, and certainly infinitely preferable to the alternative high-spending, high-taxing ideologically putrid Labor/Greens offering. Most Australians, hopefully, recognise that it is mainly the obstinacy of Labor and the Greens in the Senate – as well as the antics of the oxymoronic (feel free to drop the ‘oxy’) Palmer United Party and its bastard offspring – that has done such dramatic damage to genuine efforts to return the budget to a healthy position. Furthermore, as is increasingly obvious and was most evident with the shonky Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, the hardworking, entrepreneurial, small business people of this country need to put as much distance between themselves and the odious, greedy, corrupt union movement that – often in coercion with big business – daily rips off not only them but all taxpayers and the community. There is also the faint possibility that the double dissolution election may focus voters’ minds on the need for stability and certainty in our national affairs and induce them to actually increase the Coalition numbers in the Senate. With the sole exceptions of Senators Day and Leyonhjelm, the Independents have been a disaster for the governance of our economy and the prosperity of our kids. The danger, of course, is that as with Clive Palmer’s initial appeal in 2013, this time around it will be Nick Xenophon and his new party that yet again drag swinging voters away from where their interests would be best served – supporting the Coalition. Regardless, Malcolm Turnbull should be returned as PM in the best interests of us all.

Here’s what could happen. The Labor party, led by Bill Shorten, could find itself either winning the election by a slim majority or able to form a Gillard-esque partnership with the Greens in the event of a hung parliament. Such a scenario would be devastating for our nation’s economy and long-term prospects. Indeed, this is the real ‘road to ruin’ that Niki Savva should have put her mind to addressing. If the Rudd/Gillard years were the cause of such waste and mismanagement, imagine the economically destructive leviathan that an unreformed, indeed unrepentant, re-elected Labor party would become. As far as today’s Labor party – as distinct from that of Hawke and Keating – is concerned, all that is needed to fix the economic mess that they themselves foisted upon us is to tax us in ever-more imaginative and greater ways. The Labor methodology is to promise all sorts of goodies that gullible people think can be had for free, and then once they’ve developed a yearning for them, to simply take more money from the taxpayer to pay for them. The flaw in this system should be obvious to all: as the Australian revealed in horrifying detail this week, fewer and fewer taxpayers end up supporting a growing army of entitlements-bludgers. Currently, one half of the population is supported entirely by the other half. This is the very definition of madness, or, more pertinently, the definition of Euro-style welfare states; a club we should be doing our utmost to avoid joining. And as the poisonous icing on this ugly cake, we cannot afford the worst extremes of the cultural ideology favoured by modern Labor and the Greens. This oppressive left-wing relativism, more often than not forged in our universities, is a toxic brew of political correctness, intolerance, utopian fantasies and hardcore Marxism of the sort detailed this week by Brendan O’Neill, Dominic Perrottet, James McCann and Christopher Akehurst.

And here’s what would have happened. The Coaltion, led by Tony Abbott, would have won the forthcoming election with a reduced majority in the lower house for all the reasons outlined in paragraph one.

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  • maic

    Yes, Australian is having another election but could it end up with the same quandary of one Party controlling the Lower House while failing to control the Senate?
    After the election you can rejoice or curse at the retention or termination of the previous government but surely the responsible position is to accept that the elected government of the day – like it or not – should be able to put its programmes and policies into operation.
    I therefore suggest the following Senate reforms:
    1. The Senate becomes a House of Review, able to suggest modification of proposed legislation and able, for a limited time only, to block it. In effect a House of Delay.
    2. Remove official Party politics from the Senate altogether. Let the people choose their Senators on the basis of their personal qualities, skills and experience. Limit the amount of time able to be served as a Senator to two terms. (This cuts out career politicians.) Insist that Senators resign membership of any political Party during their time in office. Encourage people out there who can make a real contribution to stand for office even it means that have to leave their usual job for a few years.
    Encourage them to see their service as a form of community service to the nation – rather than a step on a personal political career. Look for people who have been manifestly successful in their chosen fields, e.g. law, business. military, education, agriculture, diplomacy, medicine. In this scenario such people would give the country the benefit of their competence and experience for a few years and would then return to their normal job. What we don’t want in this scenario are Party hacks primarily interested in their own person advancement.
    The essential difference in this arrangement is that elected Senators would be directly accountable to the people who elected them and not to any political Party. In Senate discussions and debates they would call the shots as they genuinely saw them.
    Before Senate elections any person standing for the office would need to clearly state his or her personal philosophy and areas of interest. They would outline the serious political issues of the country as they saw them. If requested they would give their opinions on controversial social and political issues. Citizens could then decide to support those candidates whose philosophy and values were in harmony with their own.
    I suggest that in this arrangement the Senate becomes a moral and genuinely representative force. They speak for the people they serve and not for a Party or government. They can state their position without fear or favour because when push comes to shove the elected government of the day in the Lower House will have its way.

    • E.I.Cronin

      Point 2 is inspiring, sensible, pragmatic, ethical, truly democratic and therefore completely out of the question. You should be writing articles for the Speccie. I hope you consider sending this message to think tanks and publications.

  • Sue Smith

    Josh Frydenberg is the man to watch!! He and Morrison would make the A Team!! Christian Porter close to the top, too. I agree with Greg Sheridan; Turnbull made too many radical cabinet re-shuffles and these people are NOT household names going into an election. For the sake of pc he threw good people under a bus.. Think Bruce Bilson. A superb performer!! And he tried to do the same thing to Morrison – a mover and shaker who wants to get the job done, irrespective of ‘popularity’. He was reigned in and hung out to dry when Turnbull looked in the mirror and groomed his hair, wondering if he’d lost some sheen!! Eeeew.

    Turnbull has shocking judgment.