Flat White

The 16 per cent non-solution

8 February 2017

7:03 AM

8 February 2017

7:03 AM

As you read this it will have been half a year since Mr Turnbull and the Coalition limped back into office with a bare one-seat majority government. Yes, it’s been half a year. Six months. One hundred and eighty odd days. Over one-sixth of their term, 16 percent, is gone. Poof!

And in that time we right-of-centre voters have – let’s be honest – next to nothing to show for it. Okay, there’s that reincarnated ABCC, but the new version has so many compromises and delays built into it that it seems hardly worth caring about it. In fact, Judith Sloan is adamant that this newborn version is worse than nothing, such are the costs of the delay in its implementation and other agreed compromises to get it through the Senate. (And has anyone else noticed that the Prime Minister has nowhere that I know of explicitly denied Senator Hinch’s claim that the two-year delay before these ABCC provisions kick in were the PM’s own suggestion? I mean surely that question has to be put to the PM directly if the press is in this country is anything other than fawning cheerleaders.)

Oh, and there are the superannuation changes that have given the government some ‘budget savings’. That’s the Liberal government’s new terminology, borrowed from Labor, for a tax increase.  It’s one of those government irregular verbs. We budget save. You regular shmucks pay a lot more taxes. And the civil servants and ex-politicians continue on with their gold-plated defined benefit pension schemes that are so generous that all of this newly collected extra super tax and more will have to go to paying the increased costs of these obscenely generous schemes.

Let’s be blunt. This Turnbull/Morrison team is taking more of your and my hard earned money in taxes but they just prefer to call it a ‘budget savings’, such are the attractions of this sort of Orwellian newspeak.

And if those two Team Turnbull accomplishments aren’t enough for you well, heck, let’s be generous and toss in the ‘innovation’ of a parliamentary inquiry into 18C. In my view, this is the worst sort of Yes Minister delaying tactic to try to take the heat out of an issue that has Liberal voters justifiably white hot with anger. The problem is that the PM and so many MPs in the Liberal caucus seem to be completely indifferent to free speech concerns and appear to lack any desire to repeal 18C. But they realise they need to do something. Look, every single argument on these so-called hate speech laws and how they end up attacking the Bill Leaks and QUT students of the world are already well known. Not a single new argument or new opinion will come out of this Inquiry. All that is missing is political will. That’s what’s inevitably missing when half of your caucus thinks the core Enlightenment value of free speech is a peripheral concern, not nearly as important as taking more money from you with increased super taxes – oops, ‘repairing the budget with a big new ‘savings’ that we all know will end up ‘raising’ nowhere near the stupid estimates that assume no one will change his or her behaviour (such as pare back super contributions) in the light of this new ‘savings’’.

But this being the new year let’s give Turnbull and the Libs and even the now wholly house-trained and tamed Nationals that one too. Still, that’s it. That’s what the report card says you get for voting for Team Turnbull six months ago. Okay, I didn’t vote for Turnbull but lots of you did. My view then was that it would be better to take the short-term pain of a Shorten win to get out the most left-wing leader of the Libs ever. I didn’t think a narrow Lib victory could be engineered and even if it could I didn’t trust the Liberal caucus to defenestrate Turnbull the way it had Abbott. Too many had blood on their hands from the earlier coup.

And so half a year on from the last election let me ask you, ‘Would it really have been a mistake in the long term to have seen Shorten win last July 2?’. If he had then by now Shorten would have probably upped taxes on super; he wouldn’t have put the old ABCC back in place, and he wouldn’t have repealed 18C.

Not much different to now, is it? And we’d have a new Liberal leader. We’d have an actual conservative party that might, fingers crossed, actually be arguing for less spending. We’d have had Liberal shadow Cabinet Ministers who were in favour of Brexit (not Libs in Cabinet openly against it) and who didn’t go around before the US election calling Trump a ‘dropkick’ and more or less openly hoping for Hillary – witness Herr Turnbull’s face the morning of the Trump win. Truly this government has redefined what it means to be a conservative party, and not in a good way.

Oh, and perhaps best of all, the upcoming pain and blame of the budget imploding would all be sheeted where it belongs, onto Labor. They would be sitting in government now with a one or two seat majority trying to deal with the pending loss of a triple-A rating and with the flack from all sides for not repealing an egregious hate speech law that had ensnared three innocent QUT students and Bill Leak. And Labor wouldn’t have been any worse in its High Court picks, painful though it is to say that.

Best of all we’d have a Liberal party leader who actually had a few core conservative beliefs – about the patent bias of the ABC, about the importance of free speech, about cutting the size of government, and who you knew in your heart wouldn’t sell you down the river if, Heaven forbid, he ever got a big majority win.

As for the defenestrating coup that brought in this Labor-lite crew, ask yourselves this. Would Australia be better placed vis-à-vis the US with Mr Abbott in charge or Mr Turnbull? To ask is to answer.

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