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Go slow ScoMo

What has this government actually achieved?

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

15 February 2020

9:00 AM

Hard to believe, I know, but the Morrison government is just about to hit its nine-month anniversary since its surprise election win last May. And what big ticket accomplishments have we seen from Team ScoMo some quarter of a way through its mandate? Seriously, what have we seen? My guess is that even the most committed Liberal party partisan will not need to use even half the digits on one hand when attempting to enumerate those achievements. As for the vast preponderance of us, well, we’d be hard pressed to come up with anything much at all. So here are a few random thoughts of mine, wishes really, as regards what I’d like to see from this so far supine Coalition government.  I’m not expecting much or any of this to come to pass. I’m just fantasising.

First off, we need immigration reform. Stop listening to Frydenberg or anyone else who talks in terms of GDP growth. Yes, yes, yes, Australia has the OECD record for longest time without a recession – some 27 or 28 years. GDP keeps going up. So what? Since GDP just measures economic activity, if you let in a ton of people it is almost a sure thing that a country’s year-on-year GDP will go up, as it has here. But over those same last 27 or 28 years if you compare Australia’s per capita GDP increase, which is how individual people are faring, to say Japan’s –  remembering that Japan has virtually zero immigration and we have basically the democratic world’s highest per capita net immigration – it turns out they are about the same. Growth per person in Japan over that period equals what it has been Down Under.

And it equals our per person rate without all the often significant costs of big immigration on infrastructure, on the need for welfare provision, language training and extra schools, on trying to help new arrivals fit in and more.  And of course big immigration suppresses wages (which is why big business loves it). Plus there is a ton of evidence that the gains and losses from big immigration are not evenly distributed. Once per capita net immigration reaches a certain level most all of the benefits accrue to those coming into the country, not to the citizens already here. Deplorables lose while Davos Man types and newcomers win.  So I’d like a significant drop in net immigration back to what it was up to about 2005 (so throughout most of the Howard years and before). Around then it was jacked up big time at the end of the Howard government, then jacked up again by Rudd/Gillard/Rudd, and it’s never got back down to where it should be. The Coalition’s natural constituency would benefit from this drop. It’s the direction most conservative democratic governments are moving. We should too. Now. A government’s core obligation is to its own citizens and lifting their employment prospects not to some bogus jobs growth target or GDP no-recession mantra that fails badly at the level of individual existing citizens.

Then there’s our public broadcaster. I’ve just spent a year away on sabbatical, mostly in Britain and the US with some time in Canada. It struck me almost immediately that the BBC in the UK, despite leaning noticeably to the left and being laughably biased against Brexit, is still far, far more balanced than our ABC. They have top presenters who are clear conservatives. They stack current affairs shows, of course, but not nearly as shamelessly as here. And right now the Boris Johnson Conservative government has decided enough is enough. It’s taking the fight to the BBC. There’s talk of making it a subscription service – pay if you want it, so we’ll see how much the wider population ‘loves it’. Boris is keeping ministers off current affairs shows due to patent past bias. He’s showing some fight. Here in Australia Coalition governments appear to quake in fear at the feet of an ABC that often looks like the propaganda arm of the Greens party – or as was said, the ABC makes the BBC look like Fox News.

Half of the ABC’s billion dollar plus annual budget comes from people who vote right, many of whom can no longer bear to watch or listen to any ABC politics-related offerings (and I count myself in that group).

Meanwhile in the US, Mr Trump ran not just against the Democrats and against many in his own Republican party, he also ran against the mainstream media. He taunted them, correctly I think, as being shills for the political Left. (And more than one university study, so not by righties, has shown President Trump getting over 90 per cent negative coverage on the mainstream US media. It’s a joke when a US president gets worse coverage than a Pakistani one or a Saudi Arabian king during a time when the economy has never, literally never, been better for blacks, Hispanics and women. Plus there are all the damning surveys of journalism professors in the US who donate almost exclusively to the Democrats.)

Trump’s response is to fight. Sure, he can’t control himself and fights on every front going. But he fights and fights. Good on him I say. And it’s a political winner too. Here, we’re lucky if the Libs wimper the odd muted protest to the managing director they themselves appointed! As many before me have said, ‘politics is downstream of culture’. So we desperately need Team Morrison to take on the ABC.

More widely we need it to fight the culture wars. If you don’t fight you lose. The Left has taken over the universities where I work almost completely. If I had to start out today there is no way at all that I would work in a university. If you’re at a senior level, like me, and not afraid to fight it’s okay. Maybe. But God help young academics on the right. Meantime the minister might as well be in a coma. He and the government seem completely captured by the universities and education bureaucracy, including on free speech matters.

We see the same pusillanimity as regards not fighting activist judges; not fighting climate change zealots; and often not appointing conservatives to important posts (look at the PM’s own advisors, look at who gets Human Rights Commissioner jobs, look at top judicial appointments, look at top ABC appointments, the list goes on).

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There are two years and three months before the next election. Maybe the government might opt for the radical notion of trying to achieve something.

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