Bitter Pill: Tony Abbott Should Resign From Parliament

A PIECE in yesterday’s issue of The Australian bluntly declared former Prime Minister Tony Abbott should “stop stirring and get a new job;” we agree, and whether the Liberal Right supports Malcolm Turnbull, or subscribes to his political direction, or not — or whether it feels aggrieved and seeks vengeance, or is merely misunderstood, or not — it should encourage its beaten figurehead to leave Parliament, and abandon political comment.

I confess I’ve been moved to write about this after the author of this article, David Crowe, remarked on Twitter yesterday that comment on the piece online was strongly “against” him: not to defend Crowe, but because what he wrote is a) exactly right and b), more to the point, completely in line with my own thoughts.

Readers know that for the duration of this column (and for many years before) I was one of Tony Abbott’s most trenchant supporters and advocates; during his time as opposition leader, as he faced a ceaseless barrage of baseless defamatory slurs from opponents, I defended him; and for most of his tenure as Prime Minister, this column was prepared to back Abbott even as it called him out over the abominable Chief of Staff he prioritised above his obligations to the electorate, and the resultant damage from whose handiwork made it inevitable he would be involuntarily removed from his post.

In the aftermath of the abortive leadership putsch in February, we all but abandoned him: the pledges of change and the winding back of Peta Credlin’s influence and power came to nought, and when the six month reprieve he purchased with promises of electoral competitiveness expired, it became certain that Abbott would be dumped in favour of Malcolm Turnbull.

This column — no subscriber to insipid moderate liberal policies — fought against the ascension of Turnbull, but the change proved unstoppable. And as we now see, the Coalition has leapt ahead in every reputable opinion poll, and has pulled further in front despite conventional wisdom suggesting that almost three months after the leadership switch, Turnbull should be coming back down to Earth by now.

He isn’t.

Readers should peruse Crowe’s article, for I am not going to reiterate in full his neat summation of Abbott’s activities, most pertinently where national security and a response to the menace of ISIS are concerned following the disgraceful terrorist attack that organisation inflicted on Paris a couple of weeks ago.

But as a conservative Liberal, I do want to make some complementary observations of my own, and the bottom line is that having squandered his Prime Ministership on misplaced loyalties and lost the leadership of the Liberal Party, the most appropriate course of action for Abbott to now pursue is to resign from Parliament and to desist, as fully as the media will permit him to, from any further comment on political affairs.

It’s not as if he is John Howard, Mk II; Howard was and remains the most substantial figure produced by the conservative side of Australian politics in generations, and the termination of his first period as Liberal leader occurred in opposition, after losing an election that had been comprehensively sabotaged by the idiocy of the push to make Joh Bjelke-Petersen Prime Minister, amid a decade-long war with Andrew Peacock for leadership primacy, and at a time the Liberal Party itself was undergoing a fundamental transformation of its values and policies that saw it become a more conservative — as opposed to “liberal” in the classic sense — movement.

Howard was Prime Minister for four terms and almost 12 years; Abbott, by contrast, won just one election, and presided over a government so amateurish and inept that it has little, if anything, to boast of aside from ending the flow of asylum seeker boats and abolishing Labor’s hated carbon tax.

Perhaps Abbott thinks — as a former Prime Minister — that he has licence to air his views, and that those views carry authority and the imprimatur of a past leader in the same way Howard’s do today.

But to ascribe any legitimacy to such a viewpoint is to debase and insult the Howard legacy, and whilst Howard and his government weren’t perfect, there is much in Australia today that is better for their tenure in office; to a thinking, reasoning conservative — as opposed to a sycophant, or a clubby crony — nobody can say that about the Abbott government, which was nothing less than a monumental disappointment.

It is true that I (and many others with some knowledge of the man) saw enormous potential in Abbott as a Prime Minister; a Rhodes scholar with degrees in economics and law and a conservative thinker of some note, the wholesale abrogation of authority over the government he led to a staffer was unforgivable, and should be forgotten by anyone who follows him into high office only at their peril.

I have nothing personal against Credlin; in fact, I’ve never met her. I’ve heard she is riotous fun away from the office and I don’t have any trouble believing that. But it does seem she had something against me — vetoed from consideration for ministerial staffing duty by the vicious, malicious, ridiculous “star chamber” that also nobbled countless people better than myself — and I know plenty of people who have corroborated, from first-hand knowledge and in detail, some of the stories of her behaviour that found their way into the press.

It was impossible to turn a blind eye to the damage that was inflicted on the government as a direct consequence of the procedures and internal policies that were the practical form the structure she erected around it took, which is why this column campaigned, in the end, for her to be sacked: it had nothing to do with gender, or whether her name was spelt P-E-T-A or P-E-T-E-R, or any of the other nonsense uttered in her defence by Abbott; the whole thing reeked of amateurism, and the buck stopped with her. Failing that, the buck stopped with her boss — Abbott. And refusing to take responsibility, the party room did it for him — and dispensed with them both.

In the end, to say Credlin was well out of her depth in such a senior and pivotal role is probably something of an understatement; and whilst we’re talking about the notion of the Liberal Party having become a clubhouse during Abbott’s tenure, something should be said of Credlin’s husband — outgoing federal director Brian Loughnane — as well.

Loughnane is another member of the closed cabal of the Liberal Right whose record, judged on results, is at best chequered; the man himself, when announcing his imminent resignation from his post, jovially described his record as “two wins, a loss and a draw” in reference to federal elections in 2004, 2013, 2007 and 2010 respectively.

Yet 2004, once the hype over Mark Latham subsided, was always likely to see the Howard government solidly re-elected, and similarly, only a complete fool could have failed to steer the Coalition to a big win against the moribund Rudd-Gillard-Rudd outfit in 2013.

But as encouraging as the 2010 result might have been — creditworthy, even — Loughnane still has to wear responsibility for the campaign that ended the Howard era on his CV: a defeat, in frankness, that has cost Australia heavily, whether in monetary terms (foreign debt, the budget deficit) or socially (the entrenchment of the Left in the national discourse, virtually unchallenged and almost completely untouched, that continues even with the ALP in opposition under a useless “leader”). Socialists would disagree with that of course, but they would. The rest of us — the majority of Australians — will be adversely affected by the bullshit being vigorously installed as the “new normal paradigm” in Australian society, and the 2007 election loss is a causative factor in this problem.

And the one result Loughnane didn’t mention (but which should have terminated his career as a “strategist” at a stroke) was the state election campaign he presided over as state director of the Liberal Party in Victoria in 2002, which saw the party reduced to just 17 of 88 lower house seats and almost annihilated in its worst showing at an election in its home state since 1952, and its second-worst ever since its formation in 1944.

Where all of this becomes relevant to Abbott now — to his public utterances, seemingly at odds with the direction of the new Turnbull government, or his continued tenure in Parliament — is where questions of exactly what Abbott and his acolytes might think they are defending are concerned, or the structures and personnel they seek to sustain.

Abbott and his lieutenant Kevin Andrews have been critical of Turnbull’s response to the ISIS attack on Paris, advocating military strikes rather than talk, strategy, and more subtle endeavours to deal with the growing scourge of Islamic terrorism. I have to say, in fact, that I agree with them.

But actions have consequences — and the end result of everything I have covered is that little or no credibility remains vested in the individuals involved.

Abbott, for all his promise, is vastly and irretrievably diminished by the government he led and by his dumping as Prime Minister. The humiliation is compounded, and easily visible, by the fact he could have avoided it: by protecting Credlin instead of the government, he brought his downfall upon himself. Nobody is very interested in anything Abbott has to say now, and nobody will be.

There will be no return to the Liberal Party leadership. Not now, not ever.

Andrews — archly conservative, and someone I have time for at a personal level — has nonetheless earned a reputation for buggering up everything he has touched. The botch he made of WorkChoices was a huge factor in setting the Howard government on the path towards defeat. The botch he made of Immigration, and his handling of the Mohamed Haneef affair in particular, threw fuel on the same fire. As Social Security minister under Abbott, Andrews was arguably one of the biggest sources of grief for the government, between draconian welfare proposals on one hand and an ill-advised initiative of free marriage counselling vouchers for all Australian couples on the other.

Andrews, like Abbott, has long passed his use-by date.

And it brings up the fact that the Liberal Right, for all its outrage that the detested Turnbull was able to return as leader at all and become Prime Minister, has no obvious leader, and no candidate of its own for the Liberal leadership. Scott Morrison is a moderate who is acceptable to the Right on account of his own stewardship of the Immigration portfolio, but that’s the end of the list for the immediate future.

Peter Dutton was a terrible ambassador as Health minister who did not deserve to survive the leadership change. Abbott is finished, and Andrews was never a publicly acceptable starter. Andrew Robb is too old, insufficiently telegenic, and comes across badly in the press (even if he has been the ministerial superstar of the government). Everyone else is up-and-coming, and years away from being ready. It’s an indictment on the Right, and another symptom of the same clubby cabal that calcified around a stagnant group of (the wrong) people when it should have been paying due care to succession planning years ago.

For those Liberals who viscerally detest Turnbull, come election day, they can at least partly salve their abhorrence of the moderates by voting for National Party candidates in the Senate; as for the House of Representatives, can anyone seriously argue that a government led by Turnbull is not preferable to one formed by the ALP, under Bill Shorten no less, and in cahoots with — God forbid — the Communist Party Greens, whose policies of state socialism would damage this country almost irretrievably?

The indisputable reality that Turnbull is better than the alternative any day is the sole reason I will vote Liberal. Any further attempt to pursue a moderate conservative agenda instead of the small “l” liberal direction Turnbull wishes to pursue will have to wait, although it must be hoped that when that opportunity eventually arrives there are defter hands and cleverer minds behind the effort than Abbott, and Andrews, and Loughnane, and Credlin, and the rest of that failed junta.

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey — an excellent fellow indeed, but also easily the worst Treasurer produced by any Liberal government since the days of Menzies — has had the grace and good sense to leave Parliament; yes, it may well be on the end of a diplomatic posting. But the simple fact is that at the earliest opportunity to leave that presented itself, Hockey took it.

Whether they agree with what Turnbull is doing or not, any critique of government policy is best left to the observers and scribes who opine on such matters; and if opinion is sought by the press from Abbott as a former Prime Minister, the most astute response would be to politely decline.

The perceived prestige of his past office is at odds with both the public perception of his performance in it and with the direction of the continuing government. There is an adage about politicians not being commentators that Abbott and Co would be wise to follow. And in the time that comes after a political career, the shrewdness to know that — unlike Howard — the articulation of contrary views as private citizens really isn’t appropriate.

It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but the best service Abbott could render to the Liberal Party now is to resign his ultra-safe seat of Warringah and leave politics; take his equally irrelevant colleague Andrews with him, and encourage some others (Bronwyn Bishop, Ian Macfarlane, Dutton, and Senators such as Eric Abetz and even George Brandis) to also go to make way for the next generation of conservative leaders to start out, and to give the rest of us on the Right something to rally around and champion over the medium term..

The resignations don’t have to take effect now, triggering a rash of by-elections: announcements about going quietly at the looming election would be just fine.

The Turnbull government is not invulnerable. There are indications Turnbull has not fully learned the lessons of his dumping as leader six years ago. Some of what emanates from the government — especially concerning ISIS and how to respond after the Paris attack — is, in short, alarming.

But these are issues for consideration at another time, and they are not issues with which Abbott can speak with the authority of a former Prime Minister because, in the final analysis, he has none of that authority to draw upon.

It didn’t have to be like this, but it is, and Abbott only has himself to blame. He must leave politics. It is the only decent course to take if the welfare of the Liberal Party is important to him. And once he has gone, he should desist from commenting on issues at all.

But Abbott ignored good advice from many, many people whilst Prime Minister, and it is difficult to believe that will change any time soon.


“DV Leave” Is Demeaning — And Dangerous — Twaddle

NO DEPTH is too low for Labor to plumb — and no pile of bullshit too shameful for it to propagate — as it pursues its grimy, unprincipled quest for votes with dishonest and in this case downright dangerous pronouncements. Its “initiative” of five days’ DV leave in minimum employment conditions is ridiculous, and could harm victims more than it helps. Domestic violence is serious. It must be addressed. But what Labor promises is reprehensible.

I am heartily fed up with what passes for “leadership” where the ALP is concerned, and the tuberculous secretions that party tries to package as “policy;” the depths Labor is prepared to plumb on the watch of its current “leader” are without end as it lies, schemes, and seeks to hoodwink votes from people it clearly believes are too stupid or too gullible to know any better.

Not content with a ridiculous and blatant revenue measure involving taxing cigarettes to the point of costing $40 per packet — which would make nary a difference to the chasm that is the budget deficit Labor left behind when it was thrown from office, nor address the arguably greater issues of problem alcohol abuse and obesity (the latter of which is set to unleash a diabetes epidemic that will put tobacco in the shade by comparison) — the ALP has now hit upon the brilliant idea of enshrining five days of “domestic violence leave” annually in legislated national employment conditions.

Whoever dreamt up this particular piece of insanity ought to be taken out and shot.

But first things first: those readers who are so inclined can read a dreadful contribution to Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, by Labor’s Employment and Workplace Relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor, here.

To say this is anything more than a stunt — and an especially insidious one at that, even when weighed against the ALP’s notoriously debased ethical standards — is something of an understatement.

Giving domestic violence sufferers their very own species of paid leave might sound stylish, but it is exactly the kind of lunacy that could do far more damage than good, up to and including helping to get people killed.

Some people who are victims of domestic violence work in jobs unknown to their partners and/or are fearful of work colleagues finding out what is going on at home. What is Labor going to do — blow their cover in the name of “workers’ rights?” Spare me.

Even if a domestic violence victim feels secure enough and courageous enough to confide in an employer, any bluntly realistic appraisal of typical workplace cultures (and more to the point, some of the people who pop up in those workplaces) is enough to ascertain that as soon as women begin taking designated “domestic violence leave” en masse, word will spread.

It shouldn’t, but it will, and anyone who wants to accuse me of a cynical view of people in making that observation really needs to get their head out of whichever orifice they’ve stuck it in.

What if some of those colleagues of a domestic violence victim — who know the spouse involved but is unaware of any violence taking place — get it into their heads to talk to the allegedly abusive spouse or, even worse, to confront him?

What stylish “policy” will Labor then dredge up to deal with the consequent rash of retaliatory beltings, rapes (or worse) that are doled out by abusive spouses after uninvited visits from do-gooder colleagues?

And who is going to determine what constitutes “domestic violence” for the purposes of legitimate use of the new benefit? The legal minefield this stupid policy could expose employers to is limitless.

Yet those same employers — burdened by Labor governments with red tape and costs, pilloried by the ALP’s union paymasters as the enemy, and targeted by Labor as “the rich” — are nonetheless expected to blithely fall into line with this proposed new regime in spite of the potential for legal action it exposes them to, to say nothing of the potential costs of the rest of their workforces arrogating to themselves an additional week of annual leave every year on the feigned pretext of “domestic violence.”

There are endless, very real and very frightening scenarios that a stupid plan such as this could be directly responsible for bringing to fruition: hardly the intention of the policy, to be sure, but evidence in spades that a grand gesture and glorifying in human suffering — this time, the sufferers of domestic violence — is of far greater importance to the Labor Party than any rational or meaningful assessment of the likely impact of such a measure.

And in any case, there are some telltale signs that this half-arsed brain fart of a policy is little more than a political battering ram.

Labor is asking Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull “in the spirit of bipartisanship” — which, whenever uttered by Labor, means doing whatever it likes unfettered — to support domestic violence and family leave.

But in a more sinister tone, it also says that if Turnbull is “unwilling” to introduce enabling legislation for domestic violence leave, it will do so itself: basically a challenge to the Coalition to have the temerity to fling what Labor claims are the best interests of domestic abuse victims right back in their faces.

Put more simply, it’s a challenge to the Liberals and Nationals to show their colours as the nasty bastards Labor runs around insisting they are with every available breath. Nothing more, nothing less.

It’s the same trap the Coalition fell into under Tony Abbott when in opposition: Julia Gillard said she wouldn’t attempt to legislate the National Disability Insurance Scheme without the Liberals on board, and she didn’t. Facing an electoral belting and safe in the knowledge her party wouldn’t be in office to pick up the tab, Gillard went ahead and did it: and now the Liberals suddenly have $24 billion in recurrent annual outlays to find to fund the NDIS, with a budget marooned in red ink due to Labor’s incompetence in office and its total intransigence where passage of any attempts to fix it through the Senate are concerned.

Nobody should say “ooh, Labor wouldn’t play petty games over something like domestic violence,” for the obscene reason that domestic violence is exactly the kind of issue Labor would play petty games over. It has done it too often in the past to deserve the benefit of the doubt now.

The story O’Connor’s article describes is heinous, and regrettably there are hundreds — probably thousands — more like it.

But what the ALP now proposes, with the attendant risks of blowing the cover of domestic abuse victims who want their privacy protected and/or who don’t want their situations known within their workplaces — for whatever reason, whether Labor deigns to regard those reasons as acceptable or not — could very well unleash all kinds of unforeseen consequences if ever legislated, up to and including getting “Claire” and others like her killed.

Domestic violence is a serious issue. It has caused a huge number of people — predominantly women — untold pain, suffering and loss. It has cost lives. And it is, to be sure, a national embarrassment.

But Labor’s policy is no solution, and deserves condemnation from anyone associated with the domestic violence community in the strongest terms imaginable. Had any serious thought gone into this initiative beyond the temptation to try to score points against the Liberals, the “policy” would never have emerged in the first place.

The victims of domestic violence deserve better. Labor ought to be ashamed of itself. But, as ever, it won’t be.


#QandA, Newspoll: Albo Postures As Bill Shorten Burns

BILL SHORTEN is a solitary percentage point from the worst preferred Prime Minister rating of any Labor leader in the history of Newspoll, based on numbers out today; as the ALP consolidates its apocalyptic standing under “Billy Bullshit,” likely replacement Anthony Albanese appeared on the ABC’s ghastly #QandA programme last night in what can only be described as a showcase of his leadership claim. Labor is a mess. The time to act is nigh.

When it comes to Newspoll — published in The Australian today — those in the know in Canberra sit up and take notice; and when it comes to the Labor Party, the fact Bill Shorten has now been strongly outpolled as preferred Prime Minister by the undecided vote will do nothing to assuage rumours and leaks of a leadership change that persist weeks after we broke news in this column that a change was in the offing.

Before we get into the machinations of the past 24 hours, I should like to note that the information I received about a change in the Labor leadership came from an impeccable source, and was validated in cross-checking with another; despite one highly partisan reader trying to force me to reveal who these people were (moi, being dictated to by some stool pigeon of the Left? I. Don’t. Think. So), I have no intention of identifying them beyond noting (as I did early this month) that the leak did not come out of Shorten’s office. At least, not directly, if — if — that’s where my sources learned of it.

But I have clarified several times since then that whilst the information I was given stipulated a November resignation by Shorten, politics was and is a fluid business in which things change and evolve even if the eventual outcomes do not: and even if Shorten remains Labor’s “leader” on 1 December, it will be as a fatally marked man, a dead man walking, indeed, and whilst he might survive November, his political lifespan will by then be predicated solely on borrowed time.

It will not necessarily mean my information was wrong, especially if Shorten’s head is lopped off in the weeks immediately thereafter, but those on the Left who take a purely literal view of such things merely illustrate the flat Earth thinking that has seen Labor lose five of the last seven elections, and technically lose a sixth in 2010.

In any case, Shorten’s deputy — and the man chosen as their leader two years ago by the ALP rank-and-file — Anthony Albanese appeared on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night in what can only be described as a leadership “audition” in the same sense Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull put in a similar showing in the lead-up to his own move against Tony Abbott for the Liberal leadership some months ago.

But a little more on that later.

The Australian is carrying Newspoll results today that confirm Labor’s election-losing position yet again, and reveal that on the question of who voters prefer as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s lead has now blown out to a whopping 49% with Turnbull (64%, up 3% in a fortnight) now heading Shorten (15%, down 3%).

With the solitary exception of a survey in November 2003 in which Simon Crean polled 14% as “preferred PM” against John Howard (and which precipitated his removal the following month) Shorten’s result in this Newspoll is the worst by any Labor leader on that measure since Newspoll began surveying voter sentiment more than 20 years ago.

Alarmingly for Shorten, there is ample scope for his ratings to fall further. On this occasion, he has been outpolled by the “undecided” vote (21% prefer this as Prime Minister to Shorten’s 15%). It is clear Labor is in a hole going nowhere on the watch of its incompetent incumbent dud.

I’m not going to pull the Newspoll figures apart in overly great detail beyond making the observation that the 53-47 two-party finding it makes of Labor’s likely electoral fortunes under Shorten probably understates the Coalition’s actual current position; the average of all reputable polls since Turnbull’s ascension is near 54% on this measure, and on the basic rule of thumb that half of the “Others'” primary vote of 10% and a quarter of the Communist Party’s Greens’ 11% would flow to the Coalition on preferences, my extrapolation is that Newspoll has rounded down a 53.3% finding in the Coalition’s favour.

It means Labor is on track, at best on current trends, to suffer a repeat of the belting inflicted upon it in September 2013. With Shorten in charge, the propensity of the final report from the Royal Commission into the unions to damage Labor (even if Shorten is untouched) and the ALP’s defective strategic approach continuing apace on Shorten’s watch (see here and here), the prospect of a further blowout in electoral intent toward the government is obvious.

Labor’s position is a double-edged sword, and whilst the settled (average) eight-point two-party lead it maintained whilst Tony Abbott remained Prime Minister has quickly been replaced with an equally settled seven point deficit with Turnbull at the helm, I have been adamant that not calling a double dissolution for next month and translating his advantage into a fresh mandate could well prove to be a tactical blunder on Turnbull’s part; the longer he leaves it in the new year to go to the polls, the greater the danger some or all of this new-found advantage will be squandered.

But the only conceivable way Labor can take any paint off the Coalition now appears to be the leadership change we’ve heard so much about behind the scenes; Shorten, quite bluntly, is never going to win an election against Turnbull (and would probably have lost — narrowly — against Abbott too, although that’s a more speculative call open to much debate).

To this end, Albanese’s performance on #QandA last night is telling. Those who missed it should spend the hour watching through the link provided at the top of this article.

It had everything: lofty, soaring rhetoric. An emphasis on “national values.” An extollation of the virtues of his “diverse electorate, the rumours of Albanese’s switch to a seat less at risk to a Greens onslaught notwithstanding. The presentation of Australia as a “global microcosm.” You name it, Albanese checked off every requisite box for the presentation of an alternative face for the ALP in a clear showcasing of his pitch to assume his party’s leadership.

And if anything were going to save Shorten (or at least prolong his agonising, if useless, tenure), it would have been the events of the past fortnight.

Turnbull’s response to the terrorist atrocity in Paris has been tepid, confused, and reeking of appeasement as it seeks to eschew hard action against ISIS in favour of endless talking; the public debate over GST reform is eliciting ridiculous nightmare scenarios from the ALP that are left publicly unchallenged by the government; and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is probably more in tune with public sentiment than Turnbull is with his calls for military strikes against ISIS targets to attack “the toxin (of Islamic terrorism) at its source.”

None of this has put a dint in Turnbull’s standing on any measure. He merely pulls further ahead in the estimation of the voting public. If you were Bill Shorten, you’d be asking what in hell he’d done to deserve it.

In the end, the metaphor of Shorten writing off his deceased mother’s car by crashing into a row of parked cars in inner Melbourne last week neatly sums up his “leadership:” and I would add that if reports of spilt coffee in his lap being the trigger for the collision in the first place, then Shorten should be prosecuted for traffic offences for good measure, if not for the look of it to set an example to others.

He won’t be, of course…

The bottom line is that Shorten is finished — completely, utterly finished — and this latest finding from the reputable Newspoll, long regarded as the most accurate of all the reputable surveys, merely shows that his time is well and truly up.

Labor is in a mess. It faces electoral Armageddon. It is time for those around Shorten to act, and to put this despicable excuse for an alternative Prime Minister out of his misery once and for all. A Labor leadership change mightn’t win it government next year, but it will almost certainly halt the carnage and conceivably win Labor a swag of seats currently held by the Liberal and National Parties.

Come on down, Anthony Albanese. You know you want to. Your party’s members prefer you over Shorten by almost two to one. You are ready and waiting. And your performance on the ABC last night proved it.


Karma Bus: Queensland Dashes Shorten’s Only Hope

AN OBJECT LESSON in the dangers of politicians flagging the stupidity of the electorate has come back to haunt Bill Shorten, with a Galaxy poll in Queensland — the epicentre of a strategy to turn Malcolm Turnbull into a Coalition liability — showing federal LNP support now running above the landslide level recorded by Tony Abbott in 2013. Queensland was Shorten’s only hope to become Prime Minister. That hope, deservedly, has been dashed.

Whilst in many ways it is better at prosecuting raw politics than the Coalition is, it never ceases to amaze me just how stupid the ALP can be: and that wanton stupidity has, fittingly, rebounded on Labor with a vengeance.

Some weeks ago, the ALP’s alleged brains trust devised a strategy they thought was just brilliant: with an eye on the suave, urbane, inner-city Sydney-based Malcolm Turnbull, Labor decided that Queensland voters (and voters in regional Queensland seats especially) would find themselves with little in common with the Prime Minister; as the theory went, voters north of the Tweed would find the articulate and indisputably refined Turnbull a character they could not connect with.

The swag of seats the ALP stood to snatch in Queensland, according to this half-arsed plot, was significant, and provided Labor and its useless “leader,” Bill Shorten, could prise the Queenslanders away from the popular Turnbull, then government would be theirs for the taking.

What a pile of shit.

I alluded to this crack-brained scheme a few weeks ago, when elements within the ALP were urging Shorten to “pick a fight” to save his “leadership” and to give Labor a chance to win the looming federal election; at that time I made the observation that suggesting voters in outer suburbs and regional towns couldn’t connect to a figure like Turnbull was tantamount to an insinuation that people in those areas are too stupid to identify with an aspirational and entrepreneurial Prime Minister — and that as sure as night follows day, it would backfire.

Like a visit from the proverbial karma bus, it appears that that is indeed what has now happened.

A Galaxy poll of federal voting intention in Queensland has found a 9% swing, after preferences, to the Coalition in the nine weeks since the Liberal Party dumped Tony Abbott as leader: now ahead of the ALP by a 58-42 margin in the Sunshine State, if such a movement back to the government were uniformly replicated at an election, it would hold the 22 of Queensland’s 30 seats it won in 2013 with 57% of the two-party vote, pick up Clive Palmer’s seat of Fairfax, possibly Bob Katter’s seat of Kennedy (given it can be conclusively shown the Palmer United Party is the only thing that stopped Katter losing to the Nationals last time), and perhaps Lilley and Moreton as well.

Fully a quarter of the federal Coalition’s lower house seats are already situated in Queensland; on these numbers (and remember, Galaxy is among the more historically accurate opinion surveys), Turnbull could conceivably improve quite solidly upon even that.

The message gets worse for Labor, with 61% of Galaxy’s respondents agreeing that Turnbull has the best plan for Queensland, as opposed to a pitiful 14% saying that Shorten did; the same question, posed by Galaxy three months ago, elicited a 40-34 result in Shorten’s favour. It tends to suggest (and especially given the Government’s program under Turnbull hasn’t changed since he replaced Abbott) that the real issue is one of leadership — not policy.

And all of this has taken place against a backdrop of wider opinion polling that, in trend terms, shows Coalition support nationally running at almost 54%: a swing, albeit a small one so far, further toward the Liberal and National Parties based on their 2013 election landslide.

The perspective of Brisbane’s Courier Mail today, as it editorialises the false conclusions Shorten and Labor have drawn this year about their prospects in Queensland, is pinpoint in its accuracy.

Unless you belong to the cabal of ALP insiders or to the irretrievably rusted-on (but dwindling) band of Labor voters, it is impossible to argue that Bill Shorten, or Labor generally, has offered a single reason for people to vote for it aside from disaffection with the Liberal Party under its previous leadership.

That reason is now gone — and so is the cancer of the Credlin-Loughnane duumvirate, whose political “expertise” risked destroying the Coalition’s prospects and consigning the party to oblivion after a single term in office.

Without Abbott, the dastardly duo running things behind the scenes, and the cavalcade of dolts masquerading as astute advisers recruited for compliance with Credlin rather than any efficacy in executing political strategy, Shorten has been shown up as the empty vessel he really is.

And frankly, any political party embarking upon a “strategy” that is essentially predicated on the gullibility and stupidity of voters — to say nothing of the implicit accusation that Queenslanders are too unsophisticated to appreciate someone like Turnbull — beggars belief.

Aside from the shocking insult it lobs at everyone north of the Tweed, it ignores that fact that Labor’s last Prime Minister was worth well over a hundred million dollars, was a Queenslander no less, and was embraced by voters in 2007 in Labor’s best result in that state since 1990.

It also ignores the fact that Malcolm Fraser — probably worth more than Turnbull and Rudd put together — all but obliterated the ALP in Queensland in 1975, repeated the feat in 1977, and held up in Queensland tolerably for the Liberals three years after that.

The notion of wealthy people being spurned at the ballot box by the supposed uncouth rednecks of the Deep North hasn’t been true in the past, and it isn’t true now.

In any case, the fact these considerations were half-baked into an ALP election strategy at all speaks volumes.

Even under Turnbull, the Coalition is not invulnerable; readers know I believe the Prime Minister made what could prove a serious tactical blunder by not calling a pre-Christmas double dissolution election. The longer this term of Parliament runs, the greater the risk the wheels on the Coalition cart will start to wobble, if not perhaps come off altogether.

And a change in the ALP’s own leadership arrangements, which is certainly on the cards — even were it to an unreconstructed socialist like Tanya Plibersek — could change the political dynamic completely, and make it impossible to predict the outcome.

But for now at least, Queensland has signalled that it will not tolerate Bill Shorten as Prime Minister, and this aligns with the other Coalition strongholds of New South Wales and Western Australia also rushing back toward the Liberals, and even Labor-friendly Victoria and South Australia indicating solid movements in the Coalition’s direction.

The smack in the head this result doles out to Shorten and Labor is no less than they deserve.

It is a dangerous pastime for politicians to explicitly tell voters that not only are they stupid, but that their stupidity is the pivotal ingredient in strategic election planning.

Queensland, with its surfeit of marginal Coalition seats, was — on balance — Bill Shorten’s only hope to become Prime Minister.

That hope has been dashed, in a stunning repudiation of the strategy he and his party had cooked up.

One could indeed say the karma bus has paid Shorten a visit. It could hardly be regarded as unwarranted.


Muslim Political Party The Last Thing Australia Needs

IN A POKE in the eye to decency — and hot on the heels of the disgusting terrorist attack in Paris on Friday — news that Muslims have set up a political party in Australia is the last thing we need; parties predicated on any religion are abhorrent, but the idea of a Muslim bloc in Australian legislatures is an outrage. Signs of Islam’s utter incompatibility with liberal democracy are everywhere. This enterprise must be defeated at all costs.

I must apologise for my silence; some of the undertakings that have placed great demands on my time in the past few months are winding down after reaching something of a crescendo point recently, and as ever, the things that take precedence are those that pay the bills: hence my silence in this column at a terrible time in world events, although I have remained vocal — where possible — on Twitter throughout.

In any case, whilst there are still a couple of known time-intensive jobs headed my way in the next fortnight, readers should see a little more of me from now on.

At the outset, I have to say that what the world witnessed in Paris on Friday night (Melbourne time) was obscene, and for the second time this year the French have borne the despicable burden of showing the rest of the Western world exactly why Islam is utterly incompatible with liberal democratic society, and it is to be hoped that this time — finally — the cacophony of Chardonnay drunks, bullshit squirters and “compassion” babblers is once and for all drowned out by an avalanche of hard-nosed common sense, and the realisation that continuing down the bleating path of trendy socialists who think they’re agents of social Nirvana will lead only to disaster: and an awful lot of bloodshed and lost lives.

Regular readers will recall my piece when Islamic terrorists attacked the offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in Rheims in January; then, as now, I publish the same image, identically captioned and which is every bit as relevant today, and which has taken on far more sinister meaning in view of the recent events in Paris.

SAGE ADVICE…the culture of violent, radical Islam has no place in free societies.

We will return, e’er briefly, to Paris and the fallout from Friday’s events shortly, and whilst I am painfully aware I’ve missed a lot of the early discussion, there are some points I nonetheless wish to make this morning: unlike the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the Paris attack isn’t going to disappear from daily discussion very quickly, and I do want to place a couple of pieces of coverage before readers for their consideration.

But before we do that, the news yesterday that Australia is to have its first Muslim-based party in time to contest next year’s federal election is about as appropriate and as welcome as the proverbial hole in the head; not content with timing the announcement of its arrival to coincide with the brutal slaughter of 130 innocent people in France, the “policy” unveiled to accompany the launch is to never support military action in a Muslim-majority country: or in other words, if the atrocities like Charlie Hebdo and Friday’s Paris massacre continue, and hypothetically are traced to state backing in the Middle East, this party would seek to ensure that no reprisals are ever meted out.

I don’t believe any political party based on religion is appropriate and, as one mischief-maker on Twitter suggested yesterday, that goes for the Christian Democrats as well (which in truth, is really an anti-abortion party in any case, and thus not necessarily the same thing despite its name).

But Rise Up! Australia, for example, with its hardline fundamentalist Christian ideas and the noxious, offensive outbursts of its founder Danny Nalliah — from whom the assertion that the devastating bushfires in Victoria in 2009 was God’s punishment for relatively liberal abortion laws in this state pretty much sums up what is wrong with both Nalliah and his odious party — is, on one level, every bit as bad as any mooted party of Islam. There are, of course, other non-Muslim religious fringe parties I could have equally cited by way of illustration.

But one thing all of them lacks, compared to a Muslim party, is a background theological code of murdering people in its name, and the idea a party underpinned by a religion — or totalitarian ideology, depending on your view — of subjugating women, raping and murdering women and children, slaughtering “infidels” (quite simply, non-Muslims) and bolstered by the newly announced policy of shielding Muslim states from military attack has no place in Australia, and is less welcome than even the repulsive Nalliah and his God-forsaken band of fanatics masquerading as candidates for elective office.

The proposed party (or at least, its central pledge to interfere in the management of external affairs) could well be unconstitutional.

And like any half-arsed, power-crazed electoral venture, the Australian Muslim Party promises only to contest Senate seats and upper house berths at state elections across the country: the same approach of any party that boasts little broad support, and which seeks to accrue disproportionate clout in order to wield disproportionate influence.

I have always said — and do so again, even after what happened in Paris — that what makes dealing with the issue of Islam and the Muslim community in Australia so difficult is that the majority of Muslims do, in fact, simply want to be left alone to live in peace, and don’t actually want to hurt anyone.

Yet by the same token, where Muslim immigration exists, so too does the risk of terrorist atrocities: and the end destination of this lies in the kind of outrage played out on the streets of Paris on Friday night.

Muslim reform activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali (to whom much attention should be paid, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike) published an excellent op-ed piece in The Australian yesterday, in which she bluntly acknowledged that fundamentalist jihadis have been at war with the West “for years,” and that the West must militarily destroy Islamic State and its so-called caliphate, whatever it takes.

She is also on record as describing Sharia law to be “as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism,” and that “Violence is inherent in Islam – it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder (sic).”

But even were Islamic State to be wiped out of its solidifying stronghold in Iraq and Syria, the problem of Islamic fanatics would go unresolved; the only surprise about what went on in Paris last week is that it didn’t occur in the Netherlands or Belgium first, for Muslim numbers in European countries have ballooned to the point that tension between those communities and the rest of the population is a constant. Boilovers — or worse, the profane and gratuitous violence perpetrated in the name of “religion” that occurred in Paris — are an incessant and wholly undesirable prospect.

It is not accurate and not good enough for Muslim leaders to simply eschew responsibility whenever their flock offend against the majority non-Muslim populations in countries where they have been made welcome; in my view, it is idiot-simple (and wrong) to blame Islamic terror now on former US President George W. Bush, or on the United States generally.

Certainly, the flawed military action in Iraq from 2003 onwards was based on false assumptions, and if a finger must be pointed anywhere it should be pointed in the direction of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose government was responsible for preparing the defective dossier of intelligence upon which the 2003 strikes were based.

Yet acts of Islamic terror were growing in number and force well before the US led Western forces back into Iraq in 2003; and in any case, deposed tyrant Saddam Hussein had spent years after the first Gulf War claiming he had complied with disarmament obligations imposed on him by the United Nations whenever a Western voice was listening, whilst simultaneously telling his regional neighbours that he retained biological and chemical warfare capability and wouldn’t hesitate to use it if provoked.

This game of brinkmanship was, of course, ultimately exposed as bluster. But whilst the effects of US action may have exacerbated the progressive emergence of Islamic terrorism, it is unfathomable and bereft of credibility to claim it was singularly responsible for it.

And as I mentioned earlier, even if you excise the problem (whoever you believe caused it) from the Middle East, it would simply germinate and fester in Europe and, increasingly, in other Western countries.

One of the big take-outs from events in Paris for me is the admission by French authorities that screening of immigrants to weed out potential terrorists and jihadis had been a failure: and no matter how much chest-thumping or how many claims to tough border control regimes are made in Canberra, or London, or across continental Europe or even in the United States, it defies belief that screening procedures in any Western country are imbued with sufficient rigour or efficacy to stop the importation of militant Islamic terror at the border.

And something that ought to horrify and alarm fair-minded Australians — even the bleating left-wing imbeciles who would simply run up a white flag in the name of “tolerance” when their beloved, unseeing diversity programs are concerned — is that fact that the most senior Muslim in this country, Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, not only failed to condemn the atrocities in Paris, but added insult to injury by claiming, in short, that the attacks were the fault of the West and, by implication, that our own government was complicit in them.

I’m not going to dissect everything the Grand Mufti had to say, but in terms of his shopping list of things that were responsible for the slaughter in Paris, rather than Muslim communities taking responsibility for the actions of their members:

  • “Racism” is a cowardly cop-out — this problem here is not race, but religion, and a theological construct that codifies and practices specific acts of violence against “infidels” and anyone else who dares defy the “sacred” book of Qur’an (and yes, I am well aware the Christian bible also spells out some pretty barbaric edicts, but the difference is that Islam continues to practice literal interpretations of its holy book, whereas Christianity doesn’t);
  • The Grand Mufti can hardly complain about “Islamophobia” when the litany of barbaric acts carried out against civilian populations in the name of “Allah Akbar” is growing: of course people are frightened, antagonised, and increasingly hostile to this so-called religion of violent slaughter and destruction;
  • Blaming the “curtailing of freedoms through securitisation” is hardly an astute pronouncement from a senior Muslim, when across the world radicalised Islamofascists have destroyed parts of cities, exploded commercial airliners, slaughtered innocents going about their business, beheaded private citizens in Western countries at random and for no particular reason other than religious hatred, and make little effort to hide their disinclination to integrate into the communities that have offered them a chance at a better life;
  • And just what “duplicitous foreign policies” the Grand Mufti is referring to is unclear, but in any case, the bottom line appears very simply to be that Islam — with values and laws and expansionist objectives that are utterly incompatible with Western democracy — refuses to play any genuinely meaningful role in western countries it is welcomed into, and that even when accommodated, it can’t be trusted not to bite the hand that feeds it.

These observations will be dismissed by the Left as the rantings of a bigot, a hate monger, or whatever other abuse it is flinging around the place this week, and I strenuously reject any such claim.

I don’t think anyone these days seriously looks at Jewish holocaust survivors, or Greeks or Italians, or people from Asia and India who have found new lives in Australia, and tries to make the claim with any credibility that they don’t want to be part of the Australian community. There will always be fringe wackos around who will try. But Australia’s immigration record is one to be proud of, and the tolerant society it has helped to create is rightly the envy of the rest of the world.

(I would add that the greatest moral hypocrites of our time at the ALP and the Communist Party Greens have amply demonstrated their hatred for Israel, but of course to them, that’s “different:” the hard cold fact is that Israel only responds aggressively when provoked, and surrounded by lawless thugs sworn to wipe it off the face of the Earth, it is no surprise such provocations are frequent. But to the compassion blurters of the Left, radical Islamic aggression = good whilst justified Israeli responses = bad. Such a position is baseless, unjustifiable, and tantamount to an endorsement of outright savagery in and of itself. But I digress).

Even so, the one group that simply refuses to become part of Australian life is the Muslim community: it wants Halal food served everywhere. It wants men and women segregated at swimming pools, sports facilities and other areas. It agitates for the introduction of Sharia law. It refuses to surrender known troublemakers in its ranks to law enforcement agencies. It apologises for terrorist atrocities and seeks to transfer blame for the acts of Islamic jihadists to the very societies that feel the full force of the obscenities they commit. How many Muslims are interested in serving in the Australian military and fighting for their (adopted) country? How many Muslims want to leave the country to fight in jihadi wars against Western interests (as much, admittedly, as against each other among warring Islamic factions)?

These people are happy to take with one hand what they are given by western democracies. It is highly debatable whether anything given back with the other is worth anything at all. Indeed, it seems all countries like Australia get in return for their “compassion” is a kick in the head.

Europe is a powderkeg; with immigration from Muslim countries in places like Belgium and the Netherlands (and France) many years ahead of Australia and involving exponentially more resettled people, the ignition point between the relentless advance of Islam and the fed-up, resentful and defiant incumbent populations has arguably been reached. Very soon, all hell may very well break loose. If and when it does, blaming Uncle Sam will be a facile fallacy indeed.

As night follows day — with the same defective controls on its borders and in screening out potential terrorists in particular, no matter how loudly Coalition politicians might protest — what is going on in Europe is what Australia has to look forward to if things are allowed to continue, unchecked, with the Muslim community insulated from reproach for the actions of its members and the Left cheering it along under the auspices of “social justice,” “humanitarian compassion,” and whatever other fatuous bullshit it churns out to justify undermining the integrity of Australian society.

It is not heartless to insist on the defence of our national way of life; it is not “racist” or prejudicial on religious grounds to point the finger at one group when the weight of evidence of its culpability — and complete incompatibility with Western values — is overwhelming.

I acknowledge how heavy-handed this might seem, especially given I am sincere in also acknowledging that the vast majority of Muslim people don’t want to hurt anyone.

But the first obligation of any government is to its own people — not to others elsewhere in the world, irrespective of the nobility and authenticity of the desire to help others.

Serious consideration must be given to a moratorium on Muslim immigration until or unless failsafe methods of excluding potential terrorists can be devised and implemented. If such an undertaking proves impossible to achieve, then Muslim immigration must end.

There’s nothing bigoted in this. France has shown us twice this year the dangers of unfettered open borders for people who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a decent and tolerant society. The same Left that preaches the need for understanding and acceptance remains mute in the wake of last week’s outrages against civilised decency, and just as unwilling as the Grand Mufti to acknowledge exactly who was at fault for killing and maiming hundreds. That, on its own, speaks volumes.

And it brings me back to the point at hand.

Perhaps a political party for Muslims is legal; perhaps it isn’t, but this is scarcely the point.

Enough acts of barbaric violence mark the course of Muslim settlement in free democratic societies to suggest to any reasonable person that not only is there a serious problem emanating from this particular group, but that the problem is growing — and quickly.

If there are constitutional grounds on which to disqualify and dissolve any Muslim political party, they should be seized upon and used: such a divisive, confrontational and downright inappropriate initiative must be responded to resolutely and with the full force of any law that might neutralise it deployed to that end.

A little foresight is all it takes to see the catastrophic end destination of a political party forged in a religion that claims to be a force of peace when so much of its recent history has left a trail of destruction, rape, murder and other barbarities.

And if forward thinking is beyond the capacity of those well placed to avert such an outcome, then a look instead in the rear view mirror will suffice: the most recent images that receptacle displays are of murdered and wounded civilians in Paris; plenty of comparable episodes are visible the further into the past one chooses to delve.

At the bottom line, Islam is utterly incompatible with the nature and spirit of liberal democracy. It is a poor joke of the most insidious variety that Australian Muslims now seek to attempt to use democracy as a vehicle for the advancement of their aims. Too much indulgence has been afforded to a group in Australian society that will never respond in like kind, and whose brethren elsewhere in the world trade only in slaughter and misery and destruction.

Enough is enough. If Australia, like the rest of the West, is to learn anything at all from the events last week in Paris, it must draw a line in the sand against the excesses of Islam. The time to do so now.



Newspoll: The Bell Is Tolling For Bill Shorten

WHILST SUPPORT for Malcolm Turnbull has settled in the latest Newspoll, Coalition support has risen again; cleared of criminal wrongdoing at the Royal Commission into the unions and with debate over GST increases in full swing, Shorten Labor has fallen further behind nine months from a scheduled election. Electoral sentiment on Shorten now seems final. An election to lock him into position would be an astute move by Turnbull.

Whether you support Malcolm Turnbull or not — and whether you believe his Prime Ministership will be a success or a sellout to soft liberal policies that sit counter to the majority of the Liberal Party base, which is more conservative than liberal, or not — the inescapable fact is that the Liberal leadership change seems to have not just had its intended effect in retrieving the government’s standing in opinion polls, but that effect is starting to appear more durable than many, including among Turnbull’s most enthusiastic backers, believed or dared or hoped.

The latest Newspoll, in today’s issue of The Australian, continues the stunning recovery of support for the Coalition that has taken place since Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as Prime Minister eight weeks ago, and whilst personal support for Turnbull appears to have plateaued (at levels nonetheless unseen for a leader or Prime Minister since the early days of Kevin Rudd’s initial stint as PM), the government continues to pull further ahead.

What appeared as a certain Coalition defeat under Abbott seems to have been recalibrated to indicate a certain Coalition victory, and this column believes an election — announced today for 12 December, or within the next week to utilise the final practicable election date this year of 19 December — should be called to capitalise on the hapless, hopeless Shorten’s complete lack of appeal to voters and to lock in the government’s new-found ascendancy over the Labor Party.

But first things first: since its previous survey a fortnight ago, Newspoll finds primary vote support for the Coalition rising one point, to an almost ridiculous 46%; it finds support for the ALP and the Communist Party Greens each declining by the same degree, to 34% and 10% respectively; and support for “Others” up one point to 10%.

On a two-party basis after preferences (based, importantly, on flows at the 2013 election), this equates to a one-point increase to 53% to lead the ALP , with 47%, by six points.

The reason I think preference distinctions between the 2013 result and these figures (if replicated at an election) are important is that the Coalition primary vote, based on this survey, is obviously more solid than the 45.6% recorded under Abbott at the polls two years ago; moreover, there is no discernible major threat to the Liberals and Nationals on their right flank — for now at least — with anecdotal evidence across all polling suggesting that “Others” contains a Palmer component of a solitary point at most, and the Katter Party probably lucky to account for even that.

And the reason I raise it is because despite bluster about electing the government on his party’s preferences, Clive Palmer’s presence in 2013 actually retarded the Coalition performance; a careful analysis shows his claim to be completely baseless, and whilst wiser heads on psephological questions than I would give a more decisive opinion (like Kevin Bonham or the ABC’s election guru, Antony Green), my best estimate of the overall flow of Palmer’s preferences in 2013 was a 60-40 split in Labor’s favour: hardly the handiwork of a jocular, avuncular conservative fellow traveller trying to carve out a niche of his own in friendly competition to the established conservative parties.

Palmer, of course, was anything but, and the effects of this subtle augmentation of the ALP result obviously dissipate further and further the lower his vote goes. And in my view, the spawn of ridiculous minor parties that has followed the Palmer Party’s implosion — the Jacqui Lambie Network and the even sillier Glenn Lazarus party — won’t matter a tin of beans when the votes are eventually counted.

In terms of personal approval, Turnbull has slipped by two points in Newspoll to 56%, with disapproval rising one point to 24%; Shorten, by contrast, sees the record low personal approval score recorded last time rise by a solitary point to 27%, with those dissatisfied with his performance declining by the same increment to 57%. The ratings for Shorten are within the range of some of the worst figures ever recorded by his arch-nemesis and supposedly most unpopular major party leader of all time, Tony Abbott, and no varnish can be applied to the fact they remain nothing short of abominable.

On the “preferred Prime Minister” measure, Turnbull (61%, -2%) continues to head Shorten (18%, +1%) by a wide margin of well over three to one.

Whichever way you cut this, the findings for Labor and for Shorten are nothing short of dire, and continue the trend that has seen the Coalition slowly but ceaselessly draw level with the ALP since the leadership change, and then pull further and further in front.

What spells mortal danger for Shorten’s prospects as a “leader” (and, of course, for Labor’s at an election) is the fact that having quickly accrued significant political capital in all major opinion polls, Turnbull has begun to spend some of it: the prospect of GST rises as part of a wider package of reforms has been ruthlessly seized upon by the ALP and its stooges, and used as the basis of a thoroughly dishonest campaign that insists the GST will simply rise and makes no mention of the tax cuts or increases to welfare benefits and pensions that would accompany it, and insulate the poorest Australians from its impact.

That campaign has singularly failed to bite, and the Coalition vote now sits above its winning 2013 level on primaries, and near it on a two-party basis that might even understate the result if the Newspoll figures reflected the result of any election.

Not insignificantly, the fieldwork for this poll took place after Shorten had been cleared of criminal misconduct by the Royal Commission into the unions: and even if one accepts Shorten was somehow deprived his stipend of good press from this development by the release of the news at 8pm last Friday, the ensuing ruckus kicked up by him and those around him well and truly ensured everyone was aware of it by no later than Saturday.

If GST scares (against a backdrop of actual consideration of GST changes) and Shorten getting off the hook at TURC can’t retrieve his standing it is impossible to envisage anything credible that might do so.

It does rather look as if people couldn’t care less whether Shorten is charged or not, and a sentiment I have heard freely expressed in the past few days is that even if he didn’t break any laws, Shorten remains a very iffy figure in people’s minds. They don’t like him. Critically, they don’t trust him an inch. Shorten is to Labor what Tony Abbott, under the stewardship of advisors completely out of their depth, had become to the Coalition — an utter turn-off and a clear vote-loser. These judgements appear to be final.

These judgements are also consolidated and validated by every other reputable opinion poll; the polls have moved almost uniformly over the past eight weeks, and the scale of those movements has been virtually identical across all of them.

A single poll mightn’t be worth much as a meaningful predictor of likely electoral behaviour, but a basket of them is: and this Newspoll comes in bang on the average of the lot of them, which is a 7% swing to the Liberal Party in just eight weeks. The consistency and scope of the rejection of Shorten Labor and concurrent embrace of Turnbull is simply too overwhelming to ignore.

With concrete evidence of leadership machinations at the ALP taking place away from the glare of public scrutiny, there is really only one course of action to suggest: an immediate election, for both Houses of Parliament, before the end of the year.

Turnbull might not as yet have a reform blueprint finished to place before the electorate, but the debate on tax reform is far enough advanced for some firm parameters to be quickly decided and included in the Coalition’s pitch that leave ample room for the detail work to be finalised after polling day, and a package presented to Parliament with the imprimatur of an electoral mandate.

I don’t think Turnbull has anything to fear from facing Tanya Plibersek or Chris Bowen as leader at this time; Albanese might put up more of a fight, and I understand he is the primary prospective replacement for Shorten following Plibersek’s stupid and illiberal edict that ALP MPs should be forced to vote to legislate gay marriage. And beyond those three, Labor has nobody worth talking about as a potential leadership candidate at this time.

But as insulated from the risk of a Labor leadership switch as Turnbull might appear, why risk encountering it? Why not seek a mandate for a further three years when nine months is all that is left on the clock now? The argument that Turnbull is a new leader at the head of a new government is a compelling one. And as we have discussed many times, unlike Julia Gillard he is well known around the country, and has been for decades. Voters would already know the man they would be asked to endorse at the polling booth.

A double dissolution now — with a Coalition primary vote edging toward 50% — would also offer an opportunity to increase numbers in the Senate (even if still falling short of controlling it) that will evaporate if and as support for the government ebbs, as it inevitably will. Better to go now, with close to half the country ready to provide a first preference vote, than to wait for some months and potentially face a shitfight just to be re-elected.

Yet whether an election is announced in the next seven days to lock Shorten into his post and capitalise on the excellent Coalition position or not, the message from this — and every other — poll is very, very clear.

And that, simply, is that voters have written Bill Shorten off; his standing this year has collapsed, and has now consolidated at disastrous levels. This poll finds just 18% of respondents see him as the preferable candidate for the Prime Ministership. Ominously for Shorten and for Labor, there is every chance that figure could decline even further.

The bell is tolling for Bill Shorten; at the very minimum his colleagues are readying to put him out of his misery; and whether they do it this week or not, Turnbull could act decisively to finish him off once and for all by calling an election: and virtually guaranteeing re-election in a landslide in so doing.


Neanderthal Shorten Readies To Scuttle Reform Debate

ECONOMIC NEANDERTHAL and vapid opportunist Bill Shorten has taken predictable aim at musings over tax reform — centred on the GST — emanating from the Turnbull government and some states, including those run by the ALP; unable to advance credible alternative policy ideas and wedded to mythical fixes that are neither workable nor capable of fixing the country’s finances, the best thing ordinary Australians can do is to ignore him.

Federal Parliament resumes this week, with momentum and community debate growing around Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for a thorough consideration of a sweeping reform of taxation arrangements; the discussion of tax reform is something this column has resolutely and relentlessly championed since its commencement in early 2011, and whilst any outcome is likely some months away and even then subject to the verdict of the electorate at the ballot box, the fact Turnbull is prepared to countenance the subject at all contrasts sharply with his predecessor, for whom meaningful talk of tax reform or industrial relations reform dissipated at the first sign of opposition from the ALP.

Speaking of that, the week also sees opposition “leader” Bill Shorten return to Canberra facing uncertainty over his tenure in that post; as we revealed two weeks ago, there are moves afoot to enact change at the top of the ALP, and cleared of criminal wrongdoing at the Royal Commission into the unions as he may have been, decent, ordinary folk will have trouble accepting that whilst it won’t lead to him being prosecuted, what went on at the AWU on Shorten’s watch was anything less than unethical, amoral, deeply unprincipled, and plain wrong.

For as long as he remains visible in politics, the poor standing of Shorten (and Labor) is unlikely to recover.

But for now at least, he remains “leader” of the Labor Party; and with that in mind, Shorten’s flat Earth, Neanderthal-like approach to just about anything at odds with the “modern” Labor tradition of killing incentive, punishing “the rich” and pandering to vested interests and gnomes on the Senate crossbench and at the Communist Party Greens has been presented with a very big target in the form of Turnbull’s preparedness to evaluate big reforms.

It comes as signs people have had enough of petty, small-minded politics are everywhere, writ large in all of the major opinion polls: deprived of key electoral asset Tony Abbott (and more particularly, the flat-footed and inept cabal that surrounded him), Shorten has been exposed as a little man with no ideas of substance — beyond pandering to class prejudices, and to lunatics like the Greens — but for as long as he remains in his present post, he will do everything in his power to ensure the reforms so desperately needed to free up the Australian economy are torpedoed.

If readers wonder why I unilaterally declare Shorten unfit to be Prime Minister, this is a very big hint.

As The Australian editorialised on Friday, Shorten’s self-proclaimed “year of ideas” is all but over; having spent the two years since his ascension as “leader” doing everything he can to ensure Labor, in effect, maintains the vandalism it wrought on the federal budget in the belief an election win lies therein — declarations of increases in national debt on the Liberals’ watch, whilst voting against every proposed savings measure in the Senate, are proof of this — the only “ideas” Shorten has advanced are a reintroduction of not one carbon tax, but two; a ridiculous 50% renewable energy target that would, if implemented, price essentials like fuel and electricity beyond the reach of most households; the abolition of the private health insurance rebate, a measure whose end destination would be the overrun and collapse of public healthcare; and vaguely articulated, mean-spirited initiatives such as a crackdown on superannuation for “the rich” and “ensuring multinationals pay their fair share in tax,” which is a notion that has neither been substantiated in any way whatsoever, nor solved by any government in any comparable country across the world.

In other words, Shorten — a self-confessed liar — is asking people to trust him.

Pigs might fly, too.

But when it comes to others attempting to discuss serious reform (even if Shorten and Labor refuse to) anything involving the GST, like so many of the articles of faith of the political Left, isn’t even a permissible subject to talk about; this, like labour market reform, or nuclear power, or a whole litany of ideas, is something the ALP flatly refuses to permit mention of — and when such an edict is defied, its own contribution is based on half-truths, fatuous and empty populism, and outright lies.

Raising the GST, we are told, is not tax reform. It is lazy. It isn’t innovative. Oh, and it goes without saying, of course, that it isn’t “fair.”

What a lot of garbage.

And perhaps this would be true, were a hike in the GST — in isolation — what was on the table, but it isn’t.

I think it’s exciting that a root-and-branch shake-up of taxation arrangements is in prospect; it appears, to those who bother to acknowledge it, that everything is under consideration — literally, everything — and whilst reducing or abolishing state taxes like payroll tax and stamp duty might seem unlikely outcomes, the fact Turnbull and his acolytes are prepared to discuss them at all should explode the myth that a straight GST increase is simply a revenue grab by stealth.

Any broadening or lifting of the GST will be accompanied by steep cuts in PAYE income tax — a shrinking revenue source that is relied on far too heavily in this country, and which has seen average taxpayers pushed into the second-highest tax bracket: hardly a system embedded with incentives for hard work that encourage success.

Any broadening or lifting of the GST will also be accompanied by compensatory increases in pensions and other adjustments to ensure the less well-off are not disadvantaged: just like the introduction of the original tax in 2000 was, and something nobody on the Left is prepared to concede, let alone admit publicly, lest it destroy the dumb scare campaign being hastily reassembled from more than 20 years ago.

Did the sky fall in when the GST was introduced? Of course it didn’t. And it won’t now, if changes — including a heavier reliance on the consumption tax — are made.

I was reading on the weekend that even measures like cutting or abolishing fuel excise and car registrations were on the table as part of any taxation overhaul; hardly the handiwork of a senseless, one-way tax grab.

But mindless, blanket carping of the Shorten Labor variety ignores the fact that taxes on consumption, provided poorer people are fairly compensated, collect disproportionately more money from richer people than they do from those at the bottom of the ladder.

The more you spend, the more you pay: hardly a regressive concept.

And even if “nightmare” scenarios of a GST on Education were to materialise, who would pay the most? Labor’s hated “rich” people, who send their kids to elite private schools: $125,000 to put a kid through five years of secondary schooling at the kind of establishment so detested by Labor, if subjected to a 15% GST, would reap the government close to $20,000 in tax receipts where none currently exist. A student in a state high school, by contrast, would pay nothing.

But having ordinary wage earners paying 37 cents in every dollar in income tax — which is the end result of so-called “reforms” undertaken by the Gillard government, which were nothing more than a fiddle of the tax scales — scarcely encourages people to work hard and save; on the latter score, faced with real living costs that now see some Australian cities rank among the most expensive places in the world to live, saving money is a concept that is simply beyond some taxpayers and families to even dream about.

That 37% rate, by the way, includes the 2% Medicare levy: as I have argued before, it is a pointless semantic exercise to itemise this impost separately when all it is is income tax. People on the lowest incomes don’t pay it anyway. Part of Turnbull’s reform dialogue should be to get rid of the nonsense of a Medicare levy, and simply incorporate it into the tax scales directly. But I digress.

There are those that argue that putting more money in people’s pockets, only to claw it back in the form of GST receipts, is a smoke and mirrors exercise, and it misses the point: allowing people to keep more of what they earn gives them greater choices and control over how they spend it. The more they spend, the more tax they pay. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Even someone of limited economic literacy like Bill Shorten could grasp it: were he not so hellbent on torpedoing it, that is.

The point is that by unilaterally ruling out a conversation that includes the GST — just like he has tried to do with labour market reform and penalty rates — all Shorten is doing is to prove those dissenters who regard him as a one-trick pony obsessed with power and power alone to be correct.

Governing Australia is not a simple process of buying a few union hacks and Greens off, and clicking your fingers — something the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government learned to its political cost, and to the country’s enduring detriment.

Hard questions need hard answers, and they are not going to materialise when dogma-driven cretins like Bill Shorten attempt to firewall whole swathes of the total economic picture from consideration.

While we are at it, they are not going to materialise when puerile, immature and factually misleading rubbish like this is indicative of the contribution of left-wing and socialist hacks out in the independent commentariat either: no mention of compensation for the less well-off, quoting figures that by their nature cannot represent the government’s reform proposals (bluntly, they haven’t been finalised, let alone announced) and laced with abuse of anything to the Right of Stalin, the drivel contained in that article is all too representative of the intellectually misleading, fundamentally dishonest diatribe Labor is trying to foist on ordinary voters.

There are some in the ALP — Labor state Premier Jay Weatherill foremost among them — who recognise and accept that without sweeping structural reform of the country’s taxation arrangements, Australia faces a permanent budget deficit whose end destination is the economic ruin typified by the likes of Greece.

These people, like Turnbull and a solid majority of those on the Right, recognise that for any reform to be meaningful, it must assess every aspect of the tax edifice — even if individual items are, in the end, discarded from consideration.

But if Shorten were a leader’s bootlace — which he isn’t — he would be joining the debate, seeking to influence it, and providing better critiques than simply calling things “unfair,” or “lazy,” or summarily dismissing things like GST changes without a valid or credible explanation which to date, he has singularly failed to provide.

Once again, by his utterances on tax reform, Shorten has shown himself to be nothing more than an economic Neanderthal, a vandal, and a wrecker of meaningful change in this country.

If this is the best he can do, then quite frankly, he should simply be ignored: especially in a climate where his own party is readying to do exactly that.