Sunday, March 8, 2015

The dilemma to governing Australia.

Despite the Abbott government winning the election with a large majority and trying to reduce the crippling Labor debt it inherited, it is stymied by an obstinate senate. Some of this motley crew of opposition or cross bench senators only got elected by a very small vote – yet they hold this government to ransom. We have to realise that this financial mess left by Labor cannot be fixed in just 12 month. Former Prime minister Paul Keating called them “unrepresentative swills” and I tend to agree.

The media, in particular the ABC, and a large number of journalists are constantly agitating and trying hard to undermine Tony Abbott. Sure he made some mistakes – don’t we all? Giving Prince Philip another title was one of them, but that shouldn’t be a hanging offence. Outstanding from all this media frenzy to get Tony Abbott’s scalp and replace him with Malcolm Turnbull is a refreshingly supportive article by Miranda Devine, from The Telegraph. Not many people may get the Telegraph, so I’ll run it here.  Watch also the two videos: 1. Malcolm Turnbull’s dirty laundry. 2.  Behind the left's push to remove Abbott (a very enlightening speech from Lord Monckton) Please circulate this widely. Werner
Toss out PM Tony Abbott, pay the price.
by Miranda Devine The Telegraph. Sunday, March 01, 2015

UNLIKE a toaster, trading in your prime minister is not free of consequences. For the Liberal Party, tossing out Tony Abbott would be a disastrous breach of trust with the electorate; an ¬admission of catastrophic failure where none exists. It would vindicate the disastrous Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era, and destroy the Liberals’ reputational advantage over Labor. It would cement the destructive idea that all political parties are run like oligarchies by people you wouldn’t invite into your home. And it could wreck the chances of a good Baird government romping home on March 28. Just three weeks after Abbott conclusively defeated the last attempted coup, the ongoing instability and poor sportsmanship of the plotters is lethal to the Liberal brand.

The “political bed-wetters” agitating for change pretend the transition from Abbott will be seamless because: a) the electorate won’t be surprised as his failings have been well-ventilated; and b) he is of good character and will not sabotage his successor. But it is wrong to assume voters will accept a democratically elected PM being cut down in his first term. The first question voters will ask is why? What has Abbott done wrong that such a drastic step is required? All we really have is Prince Philip’s gong. Less easy to - explain are ill-judged Budget policy formulation and complaints to do with the way he runs his office. These are serious problems but don’t justify removing him from office. It’s the party’s job to better manage its leader. But jettisoning the PM is the job of voters; no matter how often politicians say the job is the “gift” of the party.

Of course we know we’re voting for our local MP at election time, but people are not so stupid that they don’t also know they are voting by proxy for the PM, whose picture is plastered on how-to-vote cards and all over polling places. It is sophistry for a political party to pretend it can chop and change PMs without reference to voters. It can, but it will be punished. One consequence is that any new prime minister would be obliged to go to an early election in order to achieve legitimacy.

“We’ve seen that immediately after Kevin Rudd was stabbed by Julia Gillard there was enormous pressure on (her) to go to the polls,” Treasurer Joe Hockey tells me in an interview that was aired on 2GB.
“Because it’s not a fixed-term parliament like NSW or Victoria there’s  nothing to stop you going to the polls, so there’d be unstoppable pressure in that regard ... even though, rightly, our party chooses the leader and deputy leader it is the nation that chooses its prime minister and it’s the nation that wants to have a say in who is the prime minister.” The government’s troubles began with the last budget and may ease with the next budget in May. That may explain the urgency of the plotters pushing for a denouement this week, spooked by a glimmer of a turnaround in the polls after an intently focused PM tried reconnecting with his base on counter-terrorism, welfare and border security.

The criticism he is copping now is as ferocious as before last month’s unsuccessful spill motion, but it is completely different. It now comes from the opportunistic anti-Abbott Left. The rest have looked at the alternatives and quietly recoiled. Hockey admits the 2014 Budget may have been “too ambitious … sometimes when a doctor sees a patient who is quite ill they can overprescribe or go to extremes to try to relieve the pain and ensure it doesn’t get worse,” he says. “Maybe we did that in the Budget. Maybe we moved too quickly in too many areas but we did so because it’s the right thing for the country.”

Hockey maintains that the intergenerational report to be released this week will justify the tilt at structural reform. “It will show the trajectory we were on before the last ¬budget, the trajectory we’re on now, and what we could have been on if we had got everything through in the Budget. People will be shocked,” he said. “We’ve come a very long way ... but there is still more work to be done if we want to fully afford our future.”

In NZ this week Abbott told of economic growth that has grown from 1.9 per cent to 2.7 per cent in a year, of export volumes up 7 per cent, housing approvals up 9 per cent, and new business registrations at an “all-time record high”.His innate humility and self-restraint mean he doesn’t blow his trumpet enough. Equally, his stubborn loyalty to his besieged treasurer and chief of staff seems suicidal. But as he stoically endures attacks from friend and foe, and fights valiantly for redemption, a grudging appreciation of his strength of character may emerge. A political leader unwilling to dump loyal liabilities to save himself is frustratingly unpragmatic, but uncommonly admirable. So, if Abbott’s colleagues allow him to survive to the next election, he will have achieved a miraculous resetting of politics, back from cynicism to virtue.

More from Miranda Devine.
This government has talent. Give them time to fix Australia!! More than a year ago Kevin Rudd was prime minister, talking to a stuffed toy in his last video message. That final act of eccentric narcissism summed up the farcical Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years. It was never about the country. It was all about them. From the home insulation scheme that killed four young men to the jettisoned border protection that delivered 50,000 illegal boat arrivals, no institution was unscathed. And yet Rudd was hailed a great success in his first year, as he set in train the calamities which would saddle the nation with a $250 billion deficit.

He was the most popular prime minister in our history, so successful his party gave him two turns in the Lodge, despite his personality defects. By contrast, Abbott in his first year is slandered daily and trounced in opinion polls by Bill Shorten. Friend and foe denounce the Budget and declare their dissatisfaction with the government’s progress, as if he can magically fix in 12 months what Labor took six years to wreck.

The elite consensus is that our system of government is broken. But the Prime Minister disagrees. “It’s not the system which is the problem; it is the people who, from time to time, inhabit it,” Mr Abbott said last week.  Of course it’s the people. Governments and the market are not just machines that operate themselves.They need people of good character and competence to run them. Before we dig into the bucket of complaints about the first year of the Abbott government, consider the quality of the people on its benches. For starters, there are three Rhodes Scholars: Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Angus Taylor.

Two more ministers have degrees from Oxford University : George Brandis QC, and Josh Frydenberg, who has the added distinction of a master’s degree from Harvard. Two other MPs also have master’s degrees from Harvard, among the seven MAs, two MPAs and four PhDs on the government benches. Two more have masters of philosophy from Cambridge.

Fulbright scholar Greg Hunt has an MA from Yale. Former WA treasurer Christian Porter has an impressive four degrees. And he’s a backbencher. Three government MPs are medical doctors, including Dr David Gillespie, a gastroenterologist who won independent Rob Oakeshott’s old seat of Lyne. He is also a farmer, one of 16 in government. There are also teachers, bankers, journalists, engineers, research scientists, economists, small business owners, a shearer, a carpenter, a wool classer, an air traffic controller and even a crocodile catcher. That real world diversity is a stark contrast to Labor benches, dominated by union officials, party administrators and political consultants.

Also on the government side are at least 30 lawyers, and five former police officers, including Jason Wood, once a detective senior sergeant in Victoria’s organised crime squad and counter-terrorism unit. Governments and the market are not just machines that operate themselves.

They need people of good character and competence to run them. So before we dig into the bucket of complaints about the first year of the Abbott government, consider the quality of the people on its benches. Luke Simpkins was also an officer with the Australian Federal Police and an army officer for 14 years. Senator David Fawcett had 22 years as an army officer and experimental test pilot, along with a science degree and an MBA. Another backbencher is Brigadier Andrew Nikolic, possessor of three master’s degrees, with wartime roles in Afghanistan and Iraq as chief of staff and deputy commander. Among numerous awards is the Conspicuous Service Cross. These are just some of the high achievers representing us on the government benches.

They could be earning a lot more money with a lot less scrutiny and scorn than they get in parliament. Like all politicians, they do it for reasons both altruistic and self aggrandising, but most express the desire to serve. Take Angus Taylor, 47, one of 2013’s record influx of MPs. The father of four is a farmer’s son from Nimmitabel, a Rhodes Scholar who travelled the world as a management consultant and started a business of his own. His role model is his grandfather, William Hudson, commissioner and chief engineer of the Snowy Mountains Scheme who, “abhorred snobbery and judged people on character and conduct, not rank.

He worked prodigiously and was extra-ordinarily humble. The Snowy was never about him.” In his maiden speech last December, Taylor said: “Some people say politics is about power. I do not agree. It should be about leadership, service and making an enduring difference to the lives of others. I hope the work I do ... makes a real difference and will one day make my children proud.” This is the quiet truth, away from the headlines about Clive Palmer or Jacqui Lambie. Galvanised by the political farce of Labor years, the Abbott government is full of people driven to revive the nation. They are serious people who will make the machinery of government work again. So before we bag a one-year-old administration full of new MPs, let’s give them a chance, as the Prime Minister says, to be their “best selves”. Judging by their CVs, their best is as good as it gets.
My thought for today.
Anger is a condition in which the tongue works faster than the mind. – Proverb

1 comment:

Aussie Bob said...

You are absolutely right; it is a dilemma for this government to govern. No government should be stymied in such a way that they can’t fix up our debt burden problem. Thank you for this interesting and thought provoking posting.