QED

Another Turnbull Moment

The same lack of nous that inspired the double dissolution and an avalanche of lost seats is now confronting those promised corporate tax cuts, which the polls tells us will do little to win the electorate’s hearts, minds and votes. Count on this Prime Minister, as always, to get it hopelessly wrong

turnbull selfie smallRecently in The Australian, Paul Kelly opined that, if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dropped his proposed company tax cuts, he would be “abandoning the policy on which he won the 2016 election.”

By any journalistic standards, that is one of the longest of long bows. A foreign visitor might well read this and imagine Turnbull had established a clear mandate for the company tax cuts.  In fact, as all who follow politics with even half an eye are well aware, Turnbull called the election on the basis of re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The double dissolution was advised on May 8, just days after the budget at which the tax cuts were first announced. So they were in the public consciousness, true, but only for two months during the campaign, and then only as one plank among many in a wider platform. It is safe to doubt they played a huge role, or even a middling one, in deciding the election’s outcome.

When the returns were tallied, Turnbull had managed to reduce a fifteen seat majority to just one.  If that’s ‘winning’ we need to seriously consider the adoption of a new word, one that will fit somewhere between winning and losing.  We already have ‘boycott’ and  ‘gerrymander’, two words springing from the names and actions of those who gave them meaning,  so why not  ‘turnbulling’?   For example, one could say Julia Gillard turnbulled the 2010 election.

Had Turnbull won government from opposition by turning a deficit of seats into a one seat majority, Kelly’s statement might be justified.  However, as a reflection of reality, he could more justifiably have said ‘he would be abandoning the policy on which he almost lost the 2016 election.’ Be that as it may, as far as the tax cuts themselves are concerned, I am persuaded by the likes of Judith Sloan (and Bill Shorten in an earlier incarnation) that they are not only desirable but, ultimately, essential.

The question now facing the Coalition is whether to dump the corporate tax cuts.  Policy-wise, it would seem a mistake to scuttle them.  By any reasonable reckoning they would be a good thing, and an astute party, one led by a leader more deeply possessed of political nous than egomaniacal vanity, would make a virtue of their phased introduction by pointing out that the timeline is intended to soften the blow to government revenues. Again, were the Coalition competently led, there would be gains in stressing Shorten’s previous support and cynical about-face as he cranks up the class war rhetoric. That would be both a principled stance — and one upon which they would probably lose the next election, given dearth of talent and selling skills that characterise the Turnbull cabinet.

So why not dump them?  Such a backdown would be a major embarrassment for Turnbull and yet another blow to what little credibility he retains. That last fig leaf of conviction, gone with the wind.

Regarded pragmatically, the main reason to dump the push for corporate tax cuts is that they are, apparently, a turnoff for the swinging voters the Coalition desperately needs. But there is another good reason to give them the flick, at least for now.  Jack Lang is reported to have said ‘always back the horse called Self Interest.  It’s the only one trying’.  That may be the most astute thing Lang ever said, but is it always true?  The so-called ‘big end of town’ the tax cuts are designed to help have largely abandoned the field on this front, preferring to advance their self-interest by enthusiastically embracing each and every new virtue signalling fad proposed by the lunatic Left.  If I were a Coalition MP whose seat depended upon selling the corporate tax cuts, I would not feel inclined to run onto the stadium without a raucously cheering mob in the stands.

Which brings me to my last reason to dump the tax cuts.  In this Weekend Australian, Paul Kelly, channelling Kevin Rudd, identifies energy policy in general, and the NEG in particular, as ‘the biggest political test of our time’.   If that is true, why would the government want to fight the next election on two controversial fronts?  There is no need to disembowel a chicken to read the portents and know the NEG will not get up this term. Rather, it will be the key election issue next year.

But that is where I part company with Kelly who assures us “there is no Plan B.”

Really?  What about a Plan B that includes withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, abandoning the pointless CO2 emissions reductions and working to restore an energy infrastructure that delivers affordable, reliable power.  Yes, I know that’s a big ask from a government led by the man who once crossed the floor to back a carbon tax, but the electoral logic is unassailable. Sadly, these are also Tony Abbott’s suggestions, which means the Prime Minister who knifed him cannot, under any circumstances, embrace them.

What is the alternative?  If the NEG is, as Kelly asserts, “complex and defies easy understanding”, imagine how easy it will be for the usual crop of rent-seeking opportunists to game the system.  If anyone thinks implementing the NEG will be an end to the CO2 emissions reduction madness, they are sadly mistaken.  Once the Coalition and Labor are done raping and pillaging the power sector, they will gird their loins to inflict a world of pain on other sectors, in particular transport and agriculture.

So the tax cuts need to be dumped (at least for the foreseeable future) because they are political poison. But the Paris agreement and the NEG need to be dumped because they are abysmally poor policy.

As for this abysmal, tin-eared Prime Minister, he needs to be dumped first and foremost. Then, maybe, we can turn on the lights.

17 comments
  • en passant

    Peter,
    There are no longer any converted to preach to.

    The disillusion of the Liberal base in the desolate, desperate, dissipated, delusional donkeys running the Liberal Party (or ‘party hacking’ their way like sheep in an abattoir to electoral destruction at the next election) is such that even the return of the Messiah, King Arthur, Merlin or Tony Abbott will not change the devastating outcome.

    My local Liberal Member has clearly begun her doomed campaign as I received an email asking me to answer a survey about my ‘concerns’. She listed 14 categories, yet electricity pricing and immigration were not among the options about which she has ruled I might concern myself. To add insult to ignorance, five of the choices are State matters …

    I emailed her my real concerns, but considering I was a loyal Party Prole for 31-years I added rather unnecessarily that “I would not vote for you even if you were the only candidate.”

    To her credit she replied, so I set her the challenge of winning my vote by stating unequivocally tat she would openly declare and campaign for just one of the following:

    1. Withdrawal from the Pathetic Paris Climate Accords.
    2. Cancellation of all ‘renewable’ energy, CO2 reduction targets & subsidies to uneconomic schemes.
    3. The building of at least one federal coal-fired power station with the output saleable to the States.
    4. Approval of fracking on all Federal land and offshore with the aim of making Oz energy independent and aggressively pursuing price reduction to 1970’s levels.
    5. Cease all indiscriminate immigration and family reunions and introduce DISCRIMINATORY immigration of SELECTED migrants.
    6. Impose a 5-year immigration moratorium for ALL migrants until we can absorb (or deport those we already have.
    7. Conduct a complete review of our ADF, its equipment, officer training and the capabilities of our senior officers

    I am awaiting her reply.

    The current Liberal Party reminds me of a battle fought between the Austrians and an invading Ottoman Army in the 1600’s.

    The Austrian Cavalry (the Liberal Right) had the foresight to bring along barrels of brandy to fortify themselves for the coming battle. The Infantry (the Liberal Left) did not.

    The night before the battle the infantry raided the cavalry camp and stole the brandy. The Cavalry attacked the infantry and the battle raged for hours killing several hundred on each side. The Right lost and packed up and ‘left’. The infantry got drunk and the next day the Ottoman (Labor) strolled in (with their elite fanatical Green Janisseries) and bayoneted the lot.

    Does that sound like the next Oz election?

    • lloveday

      1788 is far from the 1600’s!

    • whitelaughter

      “Does that sound like the next Oz election?”

      It seems like an accurate description of the Cormack Foundation fiasco!

  • Jody

    I was lying in bed this morning, unwilling to face the cold, so I had some time to think. Turnbull crossed my mind and it came to me, suddenly out of the blue: HE HAS GOT NOTHING TO SAY.

    It’s game over for the Coalition and I just want it done. Meantime, making contingency plans in SMSF for Shorten’s clawback of imputation credits. My accountant won’t be amused as he has staff employed to handle SMSF audits. They will lose their jobs.

    • ianl

      At last, Jody.

      My view of Waffle is that he should have been disbarred over the “conflict of interest” HIH/FAI affair.

      Just sneaky, duplicitous, treacherous, vain-glorious.

      The ALP doesn’t have much of that last characteristic (Rudd was dispatched because of his uncontrollable propensity for vain glory) but it does have the first three characteristics mucho big time.

      Waffle won’t spell out loud any actual policy, not because he has none, but because those few he does have are vomitous to most of the electorate … and he knows it.

      • Jody

        Not ‘at last’. I’ve always known it; what was and is at stake is a Shorten government which will radically alter this country irrevocably. I’ll be dead and buried when it’s over-run with hoards from the third world, but not before my pension has been ransacked. The supporters of Turnbull have sacrificed their own political careers, but Labor is equally on the nose with Albanese waiting in the wings for Shorten to make the slightest slip.

        My one consolation is that they’re going to inherit the same intransigent Senate!!!

  • Len

    Peter, your first sentence nailed it. Paul Keating is reported to have said that Turnbull has no judgement. I don’t disagree with that but I would go further and say that Turnbull is completely clueless. He has a long history of stuff-ups from paying an organisation involving a mate to do rainmaking to producing dozens of un-thought-through taxation options to the “problematic” Murray-Darling Basin legislation. Decisions involving the appointment of mates and the funding of questionable projects continue. It appears that every day is another “light bulb” opportunity.

    While many people seem to have reached the view that a term in opposition would provide the opportunity for the Liberal Party to remake itself, I think they are being way too optimistic. It is likely that the election of Labor would be for more than one term. It is also possible that a Labor Government would change the nature of Australia for a very long time. I experienced the Whitlam Government up close and personal. Australia still has not recovered. Rudd and Gillard have had similar effects.

    What we are faced with is no choice. It is therefore desirable that whatever the outcome of the next election the objective should be to foster a situation where the excesses of government can be moderated. The key to that seems to lie with a Senate comprising a substantial number of sensible and responsible people.

  • talldad

    Have you forgotten that within the dividend imputation system, company tax cuts don’t stay with the company?
    They flow through to the shareholders, which mostly means super funds and thus a lot of “mum and dad” investors.

    So Bill Short-on-brains is arguing to kill a big tax cut for “his” constituents (I know they aren’t really his, but he thinks that way). And if, as you claim, he is wanting to get his hands on a super bonanza, then he is unwittingly diminishing the pile of gold which he seeks.

    • Jody

      Shorten has a medical condition known as “Frontal Bossing”, which accounts for his large skull and Frankenstein appearance. My nephew, a GP, recently confirmed this and he also said there are “co-morbidities” with this condition. I expect some of these will be linguistic…’wiv’, ‘fret’ etc. and a total economic illiterate blinded by ideology. We call him FB in our family – and it doesn’t stand for Facebook!!!

  • mags of Queensland

    Malcolm Turnbull and that bunch of sycophants that are mostly his supporters has changed forever the way Australians view government. Bill Shorten is another. The key to their character is that they want the title without taking responsibility for the job.Neither has the interests of the nation at heart. The unfortunate truth is that there are too many Australians who know next to nothing about the people who govern them and only care if someth9ing they have been given is taken away. We have had the governments we deserve because of this. I think that until the whole house of cards falls down this situation will continue.

    Why anyone with a grain of common sense would vote for labor is beyond me. But then the same applies to the Greens. The Nationals need Barnaby back, like yesterday, and the Liberals need to find a kick ass leader to bring them back from the dead. Turnbull is not the man, he never was and never will be.

  • Les Kovari

    “As for this abysmal, tin-eared Prime Minister, he needs to be dumped first and foremost. Then, maybe, we can turn on the lights.”

    AMEN to that.

  • [email protected]

    Having been raised on a farm in Central Western NSW, where floods and drought are regular if not quite common occurrences, for me the sight of Farmer Turnbull poncing about in his pristine Akubra hat and other de rigueur rural clobber is nauseating. He owns a farm, sez he, therefore he can empathise, sez he, with those in dire straits. Turnbull with his hobby farm, backed by an immensity and diversity of immediately realisable non-farm assets not to mention a relatively huge salary package, has absolutely nothing in common with farmers and graziers struggling to survive. That he cannot realise this fundamental fact and persists in trying to make political hay out of their hardships, is simply more evidence of his lack of political nouse. Having the utter stupidity of preaching about “climate change” to people whose whole lives are governed by the weather, about which many have records going back a hundred years or more, is sheer ignorance.

    I dread the thought of a Labor government. However, unless and until Turnbull and this spineless Coalition rabble are destroyed in detail there will be no hope for this country.

  • Egil Nordang

    I have a gut feeling that Lucy is every bit as much in charge of Australia as PM Malcolm is.
    Neither of them doing much good, from my perspective.
    BS is, of course, even worse;
    Consequently he will most likely be next in line to enjoy Grange at the Lodge.
    Australia really is a long way up the creek.
    How far up does the creek go?

  • Keith Kennelly

    Jody has had a moment and suddenly become aware most of us have been telling her for over two years.

    Yet her only answer is to criticise Shorten.

    Doh Jody stay in bed a little longer and have another moment and realise we’ve also been telling you for two years Abbott is the answer.

    • Jody

      Nurse!! He’s out of bed. AGAIN.

      • Keith Kennelly

        Of course Jody. , stupidity is your strongest suit.

        • [email protected]

          And for me, your behaviour is totally unacceptable. Grow up.

Post a comment