So soon after scraping back in, Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to risk everything on the one issue, which makes many voters, think only of treachery, arrogance and incompetence.
Instead of forming a workable government based on merit to deal with the serious issues confronting the nation, he is too pig-headed to back down. The only consequence may be to expose the pigs frolicking in the trough that is the retirement heaven for politicians.
But if others show the backbone that George Christensen has, the government risks losing a crucial vote in the House unless Labor and crossbenchers flock to Turnbull’s support.
As losing this vote would bring down the government, its assumed Turnbull will not take the risk and the slightest suspicion of defeat will be used as an opportunity to back down by referring the issue to the enquiry he should always have held. But to paraphrase Abba Eban, Turnbull never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Why, for example, did he call the double dissolution when it was obvious that he was doomed to lose even if he scraped in? Why did he rely on Godwin Grech, support Rudd’s ETS, dismiss conservatives as impotent and display such serial weakness and indecisiveness in the very area where he promised leadership, the economy?
If the bill does scrape through the House, an inquiry will be assured, but not on the government’s terms.
To have any credibility it must involve a comparison with pensions of those on welfare as well as the politicians themselves. For one, Senator Hanson can be expected to insist on this.
First, the inquiry will no doubt confirm, with facts and figures, that the average net retirement income of MPs who joined the parliament before the most recent remaking of its pension scheme is several times larger than the pension the Turnbull-Morrison scheme allows for ordinary people before they must pay a punitive third tax.
This is in addition to the first tax imposed at marginal rates on all non-concessional deductions as well as a second on fund income during all of the long years leading up to retirement.
Second, it will confirm that when it comes to retrospectivity, the politicians have cloaked themselves with an impermeable shield of protection, unlike the fate of ordinary people under Turnbull-Morrison.
Third, it will confirm the fabulous rivers of gold available only for retired politicians. They are regularly parachuted into one or more of the many positions for which they are not especially qualified, from glittering embassies down.
Worse, retired politicians are completely free to go through the revolving door into lucrative business positions in the very areas in which they had recently made decisions and voted.
Just knowing of that revolving door, to say nothing of a job offer in advance, has the potential to influence a vote. That is why this potentially corrupt practice has either been banned or is closely regulated in many comparable countries.
The inquiry will also hear the many assurances and promises that superannuation was safe under the coalition, including those by Treasurer Morrison and his then assistant Kelly O’Dwyer who has since astounded everyone when she openly stated that superannuation concessions are only a ”gift of government’’.
But when the boot was on the other foot, Minister O’Dwyer accused the Gillard government of considering self-funded retirees, with their ”hard-earned superannuation savings”, a ”soft target” and a ”honey-pot ripe for the picking”. She lambasted Labor for doing what Turnbull-Morrison is actually achieving, making superannuation an ”unattractive investment option for working people.”
The Senate enquiry will be justified in finding that the government has not come with clean hands and that there was either no problem or it was small and in the past. They will hardly accept the claim that only by acting in accordance with Turnbull Morrison that our AAA credit rating will be saved.
As Turnbull and Morrison’s mess distracts the government, it is floundering just as it should be attending to the real and pressing issues, which confront the nation.
To begin with, Turnbull should surely have known that the reason Sir Robert Menzies decided that not all ministers should sit in cabinet was that it could then be small and workable, even agile and innovative. Further, ministers should be chosen only on merit, ignoring calls for criteria then quotas based first on sex and then a never-ending list −sexual preference, colour, religion, disability etc.
Just as the lobbyist powerbrokers sabotaged General Molan’s run for the Senate, so Turnbull has excluded some of the most qualified from cabinet. Tony Abbott is obviously worth significantly more than Turnbull’s two defence ministers combined. Seriously concerned about the portfolio as more than a vote winner, Abbott remains one of the very few Western leaders who have restored border control. Cory Bernardi would bring good sense and traditional values and Eric Abetz has demonstrated that he is not unafraid to call a spade a spade. At a time when government must exercise the immigration power with the greatest of care, Kevin Andrews has previously shown that where immigrants are unwilling to assimilate and respect the values of the nation he will act.
The Turnbull cabinet is inadequate to provide leadership on the burning issue concerning Muslim immigration. More than a decade ago Spectator contributor, John Stone, provided a well-argued position on this; he was ignored.
As Western politicians have been more and more assimilated into the left wing elites, they have abandoned their duty to exercise the immigration power with due diligence. Worse, some have used immigration to buy votes or even to change society. In Australia, Malcolm Fraser went against advice with the Lebanese concession, Labor openly used the power to buy votes with minister Chris Hurford losing the portfolio when he sought to deport Sheik Hilaly, and the Rudd and Gillard governments throwing open the borders to over 50,000 illegal immigrants.
The government’s fundamental duty is to ensure that immigrants are only admitted on clear evidence that they will fulfil our needs, contribute and assimilate. If this leads to a reduction in immigration and to one or more of its sources, so be it.
There should be no longer be a place for welfare or chain immigration guaranteeing places for relatives, or indeed, alleged relatives. And we should resist sudden and regular demands for some increase in refugees, usually by those who pose as morally superior to the rank and file.
Above all, citizenship should only be granted with maximum care and, as in Switzerland, only after the local community has had an opportunity beforehand to examine the candidate.
David Flint is presenter of ‘Safe Worlds – Conversations with Conservatives’ on Safe Worlds TV and YouTube