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March 02nd 2017 print

Ken Harney

Awaiting Our Next Disappointment

Who should replace Turnbull? Well, there’s a bloke in Washington who seems to have the right attitude, but he’ll be tied up for the next eight years. The sad fact that Australia cannot produce a leader who sees a swamp and knows it needs draining is our national tragedy.

swampCall me paranoid but I have to confess that it’s not my real name on this article. I run a business, you see, and I depend on things like deliveries to make it prosper, so I’m not going to make an enemy of the union thugs who might decide to cut off my lifeblood. This is Victoria where I am writing and I know the police wouldn’t help if there was a blockade at my front gate. They didn’t move along the CFMEU hoods from the front of that chicken factory, they let every second bunch of ratbags blockade Flinders Street anytime they feel like it, and they spent months not noticing that a stinking army of drug addicts, thieves, drunks, no-hopers and people who should be in padded cells was camped and crapping on one of the busiest stretches of footpath in the CBD. It’s sad that it has come to this, but I don’t have an ounce of faith anymore in the institutions and leaders I was told I could always trust and respect.

Then again, perhaps I am paranoid because most of what I have to say is more about Malcolm Turnbull — the man I voted for at the last election, God forgive me —  and the party he leads than the weekend penalty rates which have the unions so upset.

The Liberal Party was the smart one, I’d always believed. They had their Hewsons and McMahons, sure, and there was the spectacle of Malcolm Fraser going slowly silly and sillier, but collectively they represented the smarter money, the people who could balance their cheque books and the nation’s, too, when Labor had taken its turn at bankrupting us. Liberals are supposed to be the smart ones, not just the sly ones, and Turnbull’s advance publicity insisted before his assassination of Abbott that he was one of the brightest in decades. Then something like the penalty rates business comes along and you realise our Prime Minister isn’t just a mug, he’s a mug with no handle and a dirty big crack full of the ideological bacteria you expect to find in other parties, but not in purported pro-business conservatives.

Does Turnbull think we’re all stupid? He never misses an opportunity to let his erstwhile supporters know as much. There he was, poncing for the TV cameras the other week, saying how so-called renewable energy has to be deployed rationally and why the taxes my business pays are going to be researching some mythical creature called “clean coal”. Does he think we’ve all forgotten that crippling the economy with green hobbles was his idea, that thousands of wind generators are chopping up birds and ruining landscapes everywhere his smart alek mates  suck up the subsidies to put them there. He supported Tim Flannery’s dribble during his turn as opposition leader and, if I remember, he even crossed the floor to back a carbon tax? (editor: you’re not wrong, Ken) Does he think we’ve forgotten he was the man who made cheap, off-patent iridescent light bulbs illegal, so now we pay $5 apiece for those compact  fluorescent ones? Turnbulbs, I call them, and like their namesake they’re just not as bright as we were led to believe.

I guess after being told for your entire life that the sun shines out of your every orifice, it must be the most natural thing in the world to expect everyone lse will agree.

Would I want to see Abbott back in charge? Hmmmmm. He was in charge and, yes, he stopped the boats and all the rest, but he struck me as someone who wanted to be liked, and that was his fatal flaw. Jesus turned the other cheek and they hung him on a cross. Abbott tried being nice to his enemies and they crucified him for it too. When I turned on the ABC, it was Turnbull they were pushing as the saviour of the country because why exactly? He wore a leather jacket, sooked about hot weather and treated Tim Flannery with respect. If there is one thing that justified Abbott’s ouster it was his refusal to beat the stuffing out of the ABC. Would he be any more likely to go for the throat if he gets back. Who knows, but that temperament of his is a definitely a worry.

Think about the way Turnbull has marched into the Fair Work trap. Like Abbott he wants to be liked. The penalty-rates case goes to Fair Work, which is a Labor creature all the way from soft palate to posterior and staffed by Labor creatures. So it cuts the rates, but not by very much: from 200% to 175%? That’s not a cut, it’s a scratch, and don’t expect it to get too many businesses re-opening on Sundays. But it is enough for Bill Shorten to go berserk. A smart operator, which Turnbull clearly isn’t, would have seen it coming, figured out that sob stories about consumptive widows feeding cat food to starving kids around the warmth of a single candle would feature in the next election season’s ads  he sould have sen this coming and prepared his ground. But not our agile PM, who has jumped with self-admiring glances straight into the pit of his party’s lowest-ever election prospects.  He should be beating Shorten viciously about union thuggery and corruption and making lots of hay. Instead, he’s the one on the defensive. You need to be some sort of genius to hold all the trump cards and still play a losing hand.

On the radio this morning Turnbull couldn’t even bring himself to stand by the principle that the rate cuts will – might, actually – generate more jobs, a few more anyway. Instead he was doing a Shorten-lite and fretting about the suffering it would cause. Well I think that’s what he was saying because, as usual, it was a double order of waffle.

Look, I’m not political, not at all. I voted for Hawke and I voted for Keating. Once. What I am is someone who is trying to run a business, pay my taxes, mind my own business and enjoy my grandkids, who might still have a nice country to live if we could ever get a government that has their best interests at heart.

I can live with the political correct stuff. I don’t call soccer “wogball” anymore, so I move with the times. And when I hear so many Aborigines are in a bad way, I’ll refrain from saying that they are welcome to do what I did: grow up in a slum, leave school at sixteen, learn a business from the ground up and then start my own. Good on ‘em if they want to have a shot.

What I can’t live with, what my business won’t survive, is too many governments that reckon I’m a stupid, complacent cow to be ignored, abused and milked dry with taxes, charges, fees, fines and paperwork that should be nailed to the back of an outhouse door, because that’s all its good for apart from helping public servants build up their flexitime.

The country is built on coal and gas but we pay some of the highest energy prices in the world. Cut my fuel bills and I’ll love you. Cut my office overheads and I’ll love you even more.

Turnbull won’t do that and Abbott probably lacks the ticker.

So who should replace Turnbull?

Well, there’s a bloke in Washington who is big on draining swamps, but he’ll be tied up for the next eight years. Maybe there is an Australian Trump, but I doubt it. We’re so whipped and docile and accustomed to doing what we’re told without protest that it is impossible to imagine our nation producing such a specimen. Even more than Turnbull, that is Australia’s bigger tragedy.

Ken Harney is the pseudonym of a Melbourne entrepreneur who makes his money in the transport game

Comments [44]

  1. Jody says:

    OK, you are paranoid.

    • RayM says:

      Pretty obvious that you don’t run a business in Victoria Jody.
      Remind me again what you do?

      • Philby says:

        I thought Jody said she was a retired educator.That could explain heaps

        • Jody says:

          With a huge agricultural business run by the family!! That was the main source of our income; the teaching job just paid down the farm loan.

          We’ve been to hell and back with regulation from government and don’t feel like being lectured about it from those NOT at the coal face. The EPA tried to shut down our operation several times. And the standard response? “You cannot pollute the environment (dust and odour) just because YOU’RE MAKING MONEY”. That last phrase was absolutely key.

          I never got into political stouches with teachers because they lived in a different universe to me and my family – who put EVERYTHING on the line for our business, whereas teachers had put NOTHING on the line. I could write a book….!!!

  2. Tony Tea says:

    Being paranoid and being right are not mutually exclusive. You can be both.

  3. Ian MacDougall says:

    There he was, poncing for the TV cameras the other week, saying how so-called renewable energy has to be deployed rationally and why the taxes my business pays are going to be researching some mythical creature called “clean coal”. Does he think we’ve all forgotten that crippling the economy with green hobbles was his idea, that thousands of wind generators are chopping up birds and ruining landscapes everywhere his smart alek mates suck up the subsidies to put them there.

    Like the curate with his egg, I find some of this ranting diatribe agreeable. Like the ‘clean coal’ bit. No such animal I’m afraid. But the idea of Mr Ageofentitlement taking over, well that one should be saved for April 1.
    It is highly fashionable around this site to knock renewables and repeat the Abbott mantra that ‘the future is coal’. (I occasionally wonder why, but am always steered back towards the same inescapable conclusion.)
    Which is a pity, because when the low hanging fruit of the fossil-carbon tree has all gone up in smoke, and a good deal of the planet with it, our descendants will probably be looking round for something to use as a feedstock for the chemicals and plastics industries and for road tar as well.
    And as for windmills, a bird would have to be a total galah to get chopped in half by one.

    • Mohsen says:

      You didn’t say what your inescapable conclusion was!

      Energy means life and means wealth. There are over seven billion people on the planet because of the fossil energy. Only fossil fuel can give us the amount of energy fossil fuels do. Nothing can even come close. Fossil fuels created 19th and 20th centuries, and when they’re gone, so most of us.

      And about the birds being galahs; well, yeah, they’re birds, they’re animals; they’re not as clever as you are (ah, just kidding).

    • en passant says:

      I agree with the MacD. We need nuclear power.

      “a bird would have to be a total galah to get chopped in half by one.” Does the Macd have wings, or is this birdbrain not a galah?
      From the Smithsonian: “According to the current literature between 140,000 and 328,000 birds die each year from collisions with wind turbines.”
      http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-many-birds-do-wind-turbines-really-kill-180948154/

    • Jody says:

      Regarding windmills; lots of people spend disproportionate amounts of time tilting at them!!:-)

  4. ianl says:

    > “The country is built on coal and gas but we pay some of the highest energy prices in the world. Cut my fuel bills and I’ll love you”

    Nothing “paranoid” there – just truth. The MSM, well the Aus anyway, has a constant dribble of reports from enterprises all over going down slowly (sorry, wonderful singing Sisters) from this cancer.

    Yet, despite prods and jabs, thread after thread here, the commentariat ignore this critical issue, preferring instead to emote over the childish wrestling between Waffle and Abbott – a trivial reality TV show. We need hard, accountable, detailed, costed *policy*. The clown show is for Channel 10.

    And I am well aware that silence here will be the courageous reply.

  5. Bran Dee says:

    Turnbull’s mother worked for the ABC so his approval of it was imbibed with mother’s milk.

    Abbott lacking conviction and courage promised ‘there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS’. On ABC interviews he submissively took a walloping. Lacking conviction he tried to appease the devil.

    There was no sign that Abbott in his theology classes heard how Jesus contested with the Pharisees on every occasion. Contested with those public praying, halal eating, women stoning, self righteous ideologues of the first century. They were not appeased but were given a courageous enlightened challenge and superb example.

    It is Peter Dutton, forensically trained and son of a builder, who takes no stick from the ABC. He calls them out and leads the discussion. As Janet Albrechtsen says, Peter Dutton as leader with Michaelia Cash as deputy could be the dream team, and such a team could contest with the taxpayer funded self serving elites and extract the nation from the swamp developed through a decade of unsound leadership.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Jesus Christ! He, Jesus Christ, would have cut the ABC and SBS to ribbons! Probably will if he makes his return descending in glory from the clouds next week.
      Remember what he said: the meek can eat dirt.
      Or something like that.

      • Lawrie Ayres says:

        Your ignorance is showing. Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth. The converse of course is the proud and mighty will eventually fall. Haughty Turnbull displaced a meek Abbott and will fall and land with a thump.

      • Jody says:

        The Americans had a black Jesus for 8 years and look where that got them!!!

    • Warty says:

      I’m afraid Peter Dutton has as much charisma as a summer cicada, and Michaelia Cash, well we’ve heard of her, but are not quite sure whether she plays for the Sydney Swifts or Melbourne Renegades 20/20 female team. So, in short, the Libs are stuffed, their only choice as leader, a headless chook.

      • Jody says:

        LOL. Cash is personally a lovely, warm woman and she’s able to make an argument, but as a Senator she has a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being in a leadership position.

  6. Geoffrey Luck says:

    Not irridescent, incandescent. What we all are.

  7. Keith Kennelly says:

    Dittons too young and Cash even younger. Remember the experiment with the too young Alexander Downer and Costello(?)

    The deputy PM will be Barnaby

    Abbott with Dutton as Treasurer would work and lead to a reasonable longer term succession.

    Abbotts ability is to draw the conservatives and the Howard battlers back.
    The shrill centrist elites would attach themselves to Abbott rather than to Shorten.

    A competition between Abbott and Shorten with a disempowered Hanson looking on would have Abbott win in a canter.

    The conservatives and battlers have parked their votes with Hanson and the undecided. They leap back to an Abbott lead coalition.

    Right now Trumbril is a lame duck, going through the motions.

  8. Peter says:

    A very good article, I feel there is no hope here. I am now looking to USA and President Trump for a positive lead.

  9. Steve Spencer says:

    It’s the system what’s to blame. A bit at least, because mainly it’s our own complacent fault. For some reason, Australians have been sleepwalking for decades, meekly accepting treatment from our institutions, governments and businesses that simply wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else. perhaps it’s because, being perched atop an enormous pile of expensive dirt that we just had to dig up and flog to the Chinese, nothing else in Australia needed to work – we were quids ahead anyway and doing great.

    That was then, though. Those complacent decades produced a car industry that couldn’t make cars anybody not wearing a flanny wanted to buy. They produced a school system that employs only teachers who can’t teach, an industrial relations system that turned all big industry into a model of 1950s efficiency, and a retailing environment that mostly just whacked a couple hundred percent markup on somebody else’s stuff, take it or leave it.

    But our government…….. Now there’s the icing on the cake. Aussies love sport and a bit of biff, so our politicians worked out that they had cushy jobs for life if they just yelled at each other and took it in turns to win the cup. Nobody noticed or cared that it was all patently a charade.

    All of which brings us to here. Busted.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      …All of which brings us to here. Busted.

      Careful now, Steve. Careful.
      All of the above reads to me like an argument for a mining tax.

      • Steve Spencer says:

        Not at all, or at least, only if you want to further weaken Australia’s competitiveness in every other endeavour. You must have missed my point: that we have gorged for so long on the easy money produced by the mining sector that we have grown lazy, inefficient and uncompetitive in many other areas. Extracting more money from mining and handing it to our politicians isn’t going to help, because it will simply fund further growth in our already bloated public sector and provide more handouts to uncompetitive industries such as renewables.

    • Jody says:

      The culture wars need to be fought, first and foremost. The rest will follow once that battle has been won. Abbott isn’t the man for that job and never was. I’d like to see Christian Porter whose already had plenty to say about welfare entitlement. My son sent him an sms after a speech about that, saying “if you keep this up you’ll become Prime Minister”. Totally agree.

  10. Elle says:

    Love this!

    You’re not paranoid, Ken. I work in a heavily leftist weighted arena, where disclosing your political leanings would bring so much grief.

    I forgive you for voting for Turnbull. I did too. Please forgive me!

  11. Philby says:

    Nothing will happen in the liberal party as there are too many bedwetters of the socialist disposition,just look at the weak pussies in the inquiry into AHRC and 18c. Not goodenough displayed a weak left leaning attitude instead of a classic conservative view.
    There is not a strong classic conservative in the party that could provide strong conservative leadership and in any case if there were one he/she would have no backup. The only way forward is to attempt to get as many PHON and ALA members in both houses so pressure could be brought to bear on the liberals to return to their traditional conservative values. I don’t want more of the same and I do not want the union dregs and Shorten anywhere near holding government.
    Global warming is a UN scam and the real not fake evidence does not support their claims and grab for cash and power.Time to drain the swamp of labor Marxist filth

  12. Warty says:

    I humbly suggest Greg doesn’t know a great deal about Steve Bannon, but there we go. As for Trump, it is not a matter of Trump ‘settling down’ because his message hasn’t changed, just the delivery, or as he calls it, the ‘tone’. Trump is essentially unchanged, but Greg is. Greg Sheridan was amongst the staunchest of Trump opposers, but his tune has over late changed significantly; in fact I’d say, ‘I think he likes him. Oh yes, I think he likes him’ and who would have thought Greg had it in him to adjust. I’m all for it.

    I’m afraid Howard’s cri de Coeur that the Liberal Party is broad church is proving to be its undoing. What we have is a party deeply divided. It cannot find the voice to push through the changes in penalty wages , and it hasn’t the collective wisdom to compromise on s.18C, which most sensible commentators agree is a bad law.
    Added to this you now have a rampant Labor with the full support of the unions, particularly the CMFEU, all agreed that this is another version of Howard’s debacle, the Fair Work Choices. The fact of the matter is that it has no bearing on Fair Work Choices at all, but Labor and its union cohorts have got another effective scare campaign, and the truth and their own inconsistencies seem irrelevant: they’ve caught a mother of all waves and they’re going to take it into the next election.
    But I digress (just a little) because Ken (Somebody Else) is talking about Malcolm Turnbull, the guy the commentators said was one hell of an intelligent bloke; yet he seems tired, muddle-headed in his interviews on the penalty rates; emasculated on s.18C, and one wonders if he secretly wishes he were back in corporate banking, where identity politics are all the go.
    For the poor voter, the problem is the senate that merely reflects our protest votes (except some of us became sufficiently confused to vote for the likes of Nick Xenophon and Derrin Hinch, of all people. But protest we did and more divided democracy became, and there is no one there to drain the swamp and I’m rocking my head in despair.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Warty:

      It cannot find the voice to push through the changes in penalty wages…


      Nor should it, IMHO… Unless of course you want to get rid of the present calendar.
      What is cannot be evaded is the fact the all schools are operating for 40 x 5 day weeks of the year, and parents have to work in that reality. Workers on overtime also have to live with that.
      Money is a pretty miserable compensation for having to work when your kids are not at school. But it probably helps a little bit.

    • Jody says:

      Xenophon is a feral opportunist. Hinch…well, the less said the better. The Senate is unrepresentative swill, but that isn’t new.

      What IS new is the culture of grievance and entitlement. Labor trades on that but it’s a poisoned chalice. They’ll get to government and nothing will change; people will still have their hands out to their ‘redeemer’, the government, and business will shut up and expect everything done for them.

      My advice: spend your cash, live the good life and bugger the lot of them.

  13. Warty says:

    Sorry, the first paragraph belongs to the Australian. My cut and paste (I always write a draft) decided to be greedy.

  14. Bill Martin says:

    The lively, feisty and combative tone of this article made it a pleasure to read. If only we could have someone with similar attributes to lead our nation, there would be reason to hope. Of course, such a person would also need to be so wealthy so as to be relatively safe from the crushing dead weight of the establishment. Like Trump, perhaps? We might as well dream on, useless as that might be.

  15. Lacebug says:

    LACEY UNDERPANTS (Off-Topic): Did anyone see today’s comment in the SMH about cheerleaders and how they are a relic of the past, scantily clad lasses who exist only to entertain the lads? I helpfully suggested in the comments page that they be made to wear a burka so men would not be tempted by their naughty bits. No surprise, that little gem, didn’t get past the moderator.

    • Elle says:

      I didn’t see the article. Was it one of the feminist writers? I’d like to ask what is wrong with entertaining the lads? People think it is conservatives who are the prudes. Nup, it is more often the Left. It’s all those rules and regulations they love imposing on everyone – keeps them all tightly bound.

    • Steve Spencer says:

      I bet that the SMH would have heartily applauded a bunch of scantily-clad ladies performing titivating dances for a lesbian audience.

      These are the times we live in.

  16. Keith Kennelly says:

    The latest disappointment arrived in reports Turnbull is considering ways to lessen the impact of reduced overtime rates on workers.

    Fair go this bloke is a drop kick.

    • Jody says:

      And the frightening thing for us is that he’s preparing his son-in-law from the US Studies Centre to take his seat at Wentworth. Meanwhile, Talkbull has squillions of dollars to assuage any short-term pain. You’re the only people suffering; he couldn’t care less, IMO.

  17. Steve Spencer says:

    What kind of idiot is Eric Abetz? He apparently came up with the genius idea of only applying the lower penalty rates to new employees, thus ensuring that existing workers are not disadvantaged. As my dear old Irish father-in-law would say, “What’s the eejit tarken about?”

    So when Mr/Mrs/Ms Line Manager is drawing up the roster and has a team of staff – some of whom are on old contracts and so must be paid more, some on new contracts and so paid less – the Sunday shift is still going to be given to the more expensive workers?

    I’m guessing Eric has never worked in the ‘real world’?

  18. Bushranger71 says:

    The delusion prevails that Howard continued in Menzies footsteps when in fact he shed RG’s principles.

    The accelerated decay for Australia and the Liberal Party began in 1996 when Howard got into power. The Liberals have no show of survival unless they shed the cloak of Howardism and quite positively begin to undo his legacies.

    Do they have anybody in their mob prepared to tackle that task?

  19. Keith Kennelly says:

    I’m not suffering at all Jody.

    What makes you think I am.

    I’m more well off than most people but if you met me you’d immediately think I was a left wing eeducated elite. But once you get to know me youd realise I’m a highly intelligent individual who accepts I don’t know everything, that I see the ridiculious, love individuality, laughs a lot, loves the battler in people and listens to and understands what’s in people’s hearts.

    I feel deep sympathy for those who are suffering from the delusions of the educated elites.

    The delusions of you and people like you.

  20. Keith Kennelly says:

    Do you want me to prove that hat I say?

    Tell me how you fell about Pauline’s rage against the Govt threatening to take away welfare from people who won’t immunise their children?