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August 23rd 2017 print

James Allan

Turnbull’s Good-for-Nothing Liberals

Who could ever have imagined that Team Turnbull would be so bereft of achievement that it embraces the Gillardian metric for success: the number of bills passed into law? That most are costly  and ill-conceived, goes without saying, as only a fool expects rationality from rabble

hogarth liberals IIOh, how all of us on the right side of politics laughed when Prime Minister Gillard used to rabbit on about how her Labor government had managed to pass 7,234,869 bills through the Senate and on to the statute books.  Okay, it may not have been more than five or six million, even a tad fewer, but you get what I mean.  We’d all guffaw at the moronic assumption that anyone would measure the worth of a government by how many laws it passed.  In the Gillard case, they were all pretty awful laws that got enacted.  And any conservative worth a salt knows that doing nothing at all is better than doing something bad, something with long-term consequences that will likely be bad for Australia.

And we Righties also used to be sure that getting big-spending Big Government bills through the Senate was never this country’s problem. Anyone could do it, as the otherwise hapless Ms. Gillard so well demonstrated. Look, we know you won’t be able to get independent Senators who love cars, are ex-radio jockeys or got a couple of thousand Tasmanian votes ever to vote for any responsible and much-needed spending cuts, not unless you buy them off with extra spending that always seems to be more than the mooted savings and which probably don’t kick in for a decade anyway.  No, no one ever doubted some idiotic ‘back of the envelope’ NBN-type Big Government plan could get through our wholly dysfunctional and in-need-of-massive-reform Senate. What we doubted was that a Coalition government could get small-government, less-spending measures through our basket-case Senate.  Or that anything that might aim to counterbalance the massive left-leaningness of our ABC, universities, and other big institutions could get enacted either.

And that brings me to the present day.  How bad is today’s Liberal Party?  It’s so bad, so devoid of any and all principles and values, that our Treasurer Scott Morrison has been parading himself around bragging about how Team Turnbull has managed to pass lots and lots and lots of bills through the Senate.  I believe he said it was 134 new pieces of legislation.  And here’s the thing.  Our Treasurer, Mr. ‘Oh how we now wish Joe Hockey were back in the job’ Morrison seems to think this is a sensible criterion for heaping praise on a right-of-centre government, that it has passed heaps of legislation.

Really?  Seriously?  Because when you look at the content of what’s been passed by Team Liberal it looks pretty much identical to what a Labor government would give you – or at least what a Labor government not headed by Electricity Bill might do.  Want to undermine superannuation and make the effective outcomes of saving a million no different to saving $400,000 (how’s that for killing thrift and hard work and the savings ethos?) in order to pull in a bit more tax money short-term and punish a handful of rich people?  Yep, Team Turnbull enacted that.  Did that seem praiseworthy?

Or want to sign up to Gonski 2.0 and massively more education spending in exchange for, well, no performance or productivity gains at all, none, nada, zippo, zero?  Yep, Team Turnbull did that too, and in the context of our educational outcomes now dipping so low that we rank with Kazakhstan.  Praise for Turnbull and ‘passing all those bills’ should be made of sterner stuff.

Or how about the bank levy, the increased funding for ‘our’ (read ‘their’) ABC, ratifying (with more spending) the Paris Accord on global warming that will achieve absolutely nothing in terms of lowering temperatures (just the de-industrialisation of this country), overseeing record spending and record debt – note, after four years in power the debt problem becomes your fault, Mr. Morrison – which will be worse still once we pay for the out of control NDIS. And heck, let’s not forget Team Turnbull’s flirting with the Finkel plan that would lift an already bonkers 26% Renewable Energy Target up to an economy-crippling 42%.  Was all that praiseworthy?  Seriously, I’m asking you, Mr. Morrison, the man who by omission helped to defenestrate Mr. Abbott.

Perhaps, though, legislation is not your thing.  Maybe you’ve given up on our woeful Senate, thrown in the towel and resigned yourself to big spending and Big Government as far as the eye can see.  Okay, let’s look at something that has nothing to do with the Senate, something that is wholly in the gift of the PM and his Liberals.  I’m talking about appointments to key positions.  Maybe there we’ve seen a bit of backbone, a bit of standing up for right-of-centre values, a bit of fight in the old dog?

Alas, no.  Things are, if anything, even worse here, as astounding as that is to report.  Think Ed Santow being appointed to the Human Rights Commission to be the Freedom Commissioner and then not saying a single, solitary word in defence of Bill Leak and the QUT students.  This appointment was an out and out disgrace to have come from a Liberal Party.  Not much better were Michelle Guthrie and Justin Milne to the ABC.  (Is it not possible for Team Turnbull to appoint anyone who is right of the Christopher Pyne Black Hand gang to anything?)  Ditto, the replacement for the insufferable Gillian Triggs at the HRC, namely Rosalind Croucher.  No cojones to close down the HRC — and then they can’t even put a conservative HRC critic in to run it!  Or take the Liberals’ appointments to the High Court of Australia since 2013.  Where is the next Dyson Heydon or Ian Callinan?  Instead we get people who love proportionality analyses, show no sign of winding back past judicial adventurism, and all but one of whom could have been a Labor pick.

Good Lord but this Liberal Party is hopeless, utterly hopeless.  Want to know why people finally throw up their hands and vote for someone who promises to drain the swamp?  You’re living through the reason right now and right here in Australia.  And as bad as things are, these Liberal MPs, including the ones who look likely to lose their seats, still won’t do anything about it. Like bunnies in the headlights, they can’t move and won’t even try to save themselves and the party.  Well, they deserve their fates, all of them, especially those we’re assured are on the party’s right.

James Allan, Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland, is the author of Democracy in Decline

Comments [10]

  1. Jody says:

    Sadly, I have to agree with this and my family actually has skin in the game.

  2. madd320 says:

    James, you are so right. I say that the Libeal party died in August 2015 whwn turnbull and his bedwetters stabbed TA in the back. I go on to say that it is now the Turnbull Coalition Party, not the Liberal party. However the sad fact is that it IS still the Liberal party. The Liberal party will not die until after the next election when the sum of its politicians in both the reps and the senate will barely fill a Tarago. The celebration at the wake will be huge.

  3. Doubting Thomas says:

    At my age, the only thing that has kept me voting Liberal is fear for my grand-children on the hitherto reasonable assumption that any Shorten-led Labor government would be infinitely worse. Unfortunately, that assumption has become obsolete. Regrettably, my vote is pretty much meaningless in my gerrymandered electorate, but I’m now convinced that tossing Turnbull and the Libs out of power with extreme prejudice is by far the best option for the longer term. I doubt I’ll be around long enough to see another Coalition government, and a good dose of dementia might ease my pain until I shuffle off.

  4. Don A. Veitch says:

    Stop picking on Kazakhstan.

  5. Bran Dee says:

    Turnbull defenestrated Tony Abbott but made little secret about his plan. Tony Abbott seemed to have a [political]death wish for the Conservatives when he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as Minister for Communications. Could there have been any worse choice of someone to oversee the ABC? Tony Abbott was the accidental PM who along with jolly Joe Hockey was ineffective.

    Seminary trained Tony Abbott wanted to be loved by his parishioners but was tough on heresy and therefore had previously been responsible for the jailing of Pauline Hanson. He obviously retained some thoughts of clerical authority and some sense of infallibility with his predilection for the Captains call and his sole insistence on the virtue of his Labor style PPL.

    Good natured but obviously naive to the extreme otherwise how could he have been hoodwinked into funding the Victorian designed Safe Schools Program with its homosexual role play for little school kids.

    Seems to me James Allan that the Good-for-nothing Liberals have gone from bad to worse.

  6. Bill Martin says:

    As one who never voted anything but Liberal until Turnbull’s despicable putsch, I am now totally uninterested in anything to do with what used to be the Liberal party. Were it otherwise, I would be obliged to unceasingly despair about what became of an once great party. As it is, I despair about the future of my country. This article precisely confirms how I feel on all accounts.

  7. en passant says:

    James,
    I agree with you, which is why I moved overseas. It is an aside, but to stimulate savings, where I live does not tax bank savings deposits. In Oz I can get 2.5% taxed. Here I get 6% untaxed so $700K here is more than enough to live on comfortably.
    One more trip to Oz to transfer the sale of my last enterprise and the lucky country can wend its way to hell …

    “… achieve absolutely nothing in terms of lowering temperatures”.
    Why would we want to do this anyway when Russia and India have just recorded record grain production aided by the glorious increase in CO2?

    Cue the entrance of the resident troll.

  8. HowieS says:

    Thanks for this article – it precisely articulates my anger and concern for the future of Australia. I am a life-long Conservative, so have moved my affiliation away from the Liberal party.

  9. Keith Kennelly says:

    And to see Bawlling Brandis and Piccadillo Pyne trying to shut down free a referendum on freedom of religion and free speech finally fended it for me.

    I’ve no where to go. Bernadis’ conservative couldn’t deal with my ideas on scrapping the marriage act and Hanson’s complete lack of intellect and judgement frustrate me.

    I’ve secured my future and my children’s and grandchildrens futures outside of Australia.
    I’m staying to watch the place go to hell in a hand basket.

    Thanks Malcolm and your bunch of spineless bastards and all your dumb a..r supporters and sympathisers.

    I hope you all freeze as your GW scam crumbles as the temps fall.