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November 16th 2011 print

James Allan

Go Green, go bust

The slight dip in support of late for the Coalition comes from twice siding with the Green Party over the Labor Party. If there’s a near universal rule for the Coalition it should be that when Labor and the Greens differ, go with Labor.


I am pretty sure that I am the least anti-Abbott person allowed to work in any Australian university.


Something must have gone wrong somewhere when they gave me the job. You see in overall terms I like Mr. Abbott (and heaven forbid I say that as an atheist myself) and I like most of his policies.

The carbon dioxide tax seems to me to be the biggest folly ever, based on patently false assumptions about what the rest of the developed world will do (or rather not do) while imposing huge costs to achieve virtually nothing, save for eliminating lots and lots of existing jobs. It’s bumper sticker moralizing, writ large. Repeal at all costs seems spot on to me.

The same goes for the egregious free speech-stifling hate speech laws and speech-chilling Gillard government media enquiry. An Abbott government simply could not be worse on free speech than the present one.

I also am a big supporter of democratic decision-making and whatever the respective policy differences I would vote against anyone who straightforwardly lied to the voters in the way that Prime Minister Gillard did just before the last election.

For that reason alone the most important thing Mr. Abbott needs to do is to promise nothing he won’t relentlessly try to achieve if elected. That means he has to be careful and circumspect in what he offers, not least on the industrial relations front because he simply cannot post-election do anything he didn’t signal beforehand. Leave that to Ms. Gillard.

Nor do I agree with most of the spin of many of the commentators who are saying that Mr. Abbott is on the whole too negative. If a policy is believed to be wrong you oppose it. That’s what oppositions are for. Besides, most of the political pundits who lament this Abbott negativity are merely crying crocodile tears. They wouldn’t vote Coalition themselves. They don’t seriously object to, say, Julia’s Fair Work productivity killing laws. They just want Mr. Abbott to make a mistake by over-extending himself.

No, I think the slight dip in support of late for the Coalition comes from twice siding with the Green Party over the Labor Party. If there’s a near universal rule for the Coalition it should be that when Labor and the Greens differ, go with Labor. Sure, there may be an example or two every million years or so where that rule is wrong, but off-hand I can’t think of a single example. So recent mistake number one by the Coalition was not supporting Labor on the Malaysian deal. I said so at the time and I say so even more confidently now. Prime Minister Gillard was plain out correct about the High Court’s activism. And the Prime Minister is correct that controlling one’s borders, the core job of any nation state, should be a matter for the Executive not seven High Court Justices. So supporting Julia’s legislation was not about the Malaysian deal itself, that’s a patently unworkable and distasteful hodge-podge. It was about ensuring that such fundamental decisions rest with elected officials, not a committee of unelected ex-lawyers.

Mr. Abbott and the Coalition effectively sided with the Greens on that issue. Or if you prefer, they sided with the Malcolm Fraser wing of the Coalition, which seems to me to mean Mr. Fraser himself.

Frankly, the hypocrisy of the Coalition making that call – in terms not just of siding with the Greens but demanding off-shore jurisdictions be Refugee Convention compliant – was palpable for all to see. And in straight out political terms I haven’t got a clue whom it was aimed at.  I go out on a limb here but I don’t think all that many Greens’ voters will shift their vote on the basis of this call.

Then there is the protectionist noises coming out of the Coalition of late as regards anti-dumping rules. Look, if you are a Coalition leader and you are starting to sound more protectionist than Labor, more like a Greens’ leader, then you’re making a big mistake. It’s time to step back and get a bit more advice. It’s time to go back to principle.

That said, none of this is close to panic inducing for the Coalition. A solid, easy election winning majority of Australians want Labor and its prevaricating Prime Minister out. Mistakes are bound to be made between now and the next election. But fewer mistakes would be made where Mr. Abbott gets as much policy forming advice as possible from as many sources and where, when push comes to shove, he thinks four, five or six times before getting into bed with the Greens on anything at all.