Newspoll: Life Ebbing From Malcolm Turnbull’s Government

LEST ANY DOUBT remain over the government’s luck in winning the July election, Newspoll finds Labor leading the Coalition, 52-48; as PM Malcolm Turnbull’s fortunes continue to slide and those of opposition “leader” Bill Shorten somehow edge higher, all indicators since 2 July suggest Turnbull’s “win” was a mere punctuation point on a downward spiral. Should it continue, the Liberal leadership will soon enough be a speculative proposition.

Ten days out from the 2 July election, a reasonably senior figure in Liberal Party circles rang me to gauge my views on the likely outcome of election; with characteristic bluntness, I told him I thought we were fucked — and added that if Bill Shorten could get the ALP to 72 seats or better, it was almost impossible to see how Labor could be prevented from forming a government.

Happily, the ALP fell three seats short of the target I nominated, probably (and perversely) because its so-called Mediscare campaign was the point an over-confident and just-too-clever Shorten overreached badly, scaring just enough punters out of switching sides in the final week to deliver up the narrowest majority election win* in Australian political history.

Once polling day was out of the way, two articles in this column dealt with the situation into which Turnbull had strode: the first, suggesting the Coalition would have been better off in opposition than minority was of course quickly overtaken by the tiny outright majority his government scored, but the second — based on the premise that Turnbull’s victory would be one to regret — remains very much a telling one.

And frankly, the Liberal Party would probably be better off in opposition, rebuilding under a new leader, and waiting for Hurricane Shorten to renew the carnage that is Labor’s appalling Rudd-Gillard era track record of economic and social leadership.

Today’s Newspoll in The Australian finds the ALP leading the government 52-48 after preferences; an increase in its share of the two-party vote of 2%, this equates to a swing to Labor of 2.4% since polling day that if replicated at an election would deliver up an extra 12 seats to the ALP for a total of 81, and a 12-seat overall majority in the House of Representatives.

Just in case anyone thinks I’m jumping straight to conclusions based on one poll, it should be noted that the weekly surveys conducted by Essential Research have shown Labor at a 52-48 lead ever since the election; ReachTel has been a sliver kinder to the government (albeit still showing it trailing 51-49 in its last findings) and with three months now basically gone since polling day, it does rather look as if people have settled in their judgement that whatever else they might think of the election, its outcome and what has since transpired, they don’t want Malcolm Turnbull.

I’m not going to run through every little detail of today’s poll, suffice to observe that the Coalition primary vote of 38% (42.1% on polling day) is its lowest share recorded by Newspoll since Tony Abbott was replaced; Abbott actually fared better in his final Newspoll, with 39%, for an overall result little different to this one.

It was a run of 30 consecutive losing Newspolls, Turnbull said, that justified a change of leadership in the Liberal Party.

Which, if I’m sarcastic about it, was just as well, because Turnbull’s true personal approval numbers sure as hell couldn’t justify it: Newspoll’s recent pre- and post-election findings well and truly prove that Turnbull’s standing in the electorate has returned to the abysmal levels at which it stood at the end of his first stint as Liberal leader seven years ago, with just 32% (-2%) of respondents saying they approved of his performance, and 55% (+2%) disapproving.

Tony Abbott, in retrospect and by contrast, looks only marginally less popular: and on a good day, even as support for him within his party evaporated, he actually fared better than Turnbull’s numbers now.

It is true Bill Shorten is now (fractionally) more popular — albeit through the clenched teeth of voters — than Turnbull, with 36% of respondents approving his performance and 51% disapproving, with both of those numbers moving one point in the right direction; and it is true that Turnbull remains “preferred PM” among Newspoll respondents (for now at least), with 44% of them nominating the Prime Minister as opposed to 33% for Shorten.

Yet even Kevin Rudd remained preferred Prime Minister over both Turnbull and Abbott prior to his own dumping as PM in mid-June 2010, so there goes the veracity of that fig leaf as any kind of justification for Turnbull to cling to.

As leadership becomes more and more central to the way politics in this country is reported, the observation simply must be made that far from the exciting, broadly popular and (dare I say it) innovative leader Turnbull promised to be last year, it has become clear that he remains in fact the jaundiced, failed and rejected specimen he had become by the time he was dumped in favour of Abbott late in 2009.

The voters — who initially flirted with flocking to him in droves — have worked Turnbull out; the army of Lefties who claimed to intend to vote Liberal to support him is nowhere to be seen (as predicted). In fact, the only time Turnbull was ever going to win an election convincingly was five minutes after sinking the knife between Abbott’s shoulder blades, and in this sense the political ineptitude and stupidity of not calling a December election, as insistently called for in this column at the time, is now breathtakingly clear for all to see.

I still believe that Tony Abbott, whom I supported for many years until his refusal to dispatch Peta Credlin from his office, would have lost the most recent election.

But even had it done so under Turnbull, the ALP would now be accruing electoral demerit points under its obscenity of a leader. Instead, the Coalition now shows every sign of embarking on a three-year torturefest that can only end in a thumping defeat.

In this sense, I attracted considerable opprobrium late last year for breaking a story that suggested Bill Shorten was set to quit the ALP leadership, as his own flaws and the fallout from the union Royal Commission rendered him seemingly unelectable; of course, the Federal Police raid on the home of Turnbull minister Mal Brough signalled a get-out-of-jail-free card for Shorten, and he survived: with more than a little subsequent help from the supposedly bold new government Turnbull appeared determined to steer into rocky waters.

But the plot was definitely on — and has been widely reported since — and just as Shorten was a dead man walking late last year, so too he may become again.

Labor doesn’t need the mythical 40% primary vote to win an election, thanks to preferential voting, and even with its winning position today it still doesn’t have it, mustering 38% in this Newspoll.

But there are already those who muse behind the closed, tribal ALP door that if they replace Shorten with a more substantial and less cynically opportunistic figure, victory in 2019 will become that much more achievable.

And they are probably right.

For Turnbull, the danger now is that it won’t matter what his government achieves, or how much of the wafer-thin agenda it took to the election it manages to legislate; Malcolm Turnbull is a lame duck and a damaged leader, devoid of credibility, and the voters know it. His political opponents know it. A growing number of his MPs know it. The risk is that, just like Julia Gillard, any “achievements” he can boast merely drive the nails deeper into his own political coffin.

Personally, I think that whilst the polls will bounce around — and they will, especially if the fatuous Shorten gets the political comeuppance he deserves, and his colleagues begin manoeuvring to get rid of him — Turnbull’s trajectory will continue downwards, and he will take the government and the Liberal Party down with it.

At some point, the Liberal leadership — despite public protestations to the contrary from all and sundry — is going to become a live commodity; at some point, Liberal MPs (or those with any brains, at any rate) will realise that the albatross around their necks is a dead weight with which they should never have saddled themselves, and at that point, the Coalition’s last real leadership prospect — Christian Porter — is going to become much better known to ordinary voters.

But whichever way you cut it, Turnbull’s election “win” in July is likely to be costly, and — without putting too fine a point on it — is likely to be a source of regret for the Coalition in the years to come.

The Liberal Party’s fine tradition of sound, astute governance is not in good hands, and could well suffer enormous damage by virtue of the fraught political circumstances in which it currently operates — just as I said in this column on 8 July.

Today’s Newspoll is just the start of a very frightening storyline. What Turnbull’s minions do about it — if anything, at least to the extent it might matter whilst the PM remains in his post — is a classic case of “believe it when you see it.”

I’m tipping that you won’t.

 

*Pedants will argue that the 62-60 result achieved by Bob Menzies in 1961 was an equivalent outcome, but Turnbull’s 76 of 150 seats is proportionately a wafer thinner than the Menzies win in 1961. In any case, Menzies continued to govern with a friendly Senate: something Turnbull, whatever alliances his team may strike, cannot rely on. Thus, the continuing Menzies government was a stronger one than the outfit currently charged with the government of Australia.

 

Ruddwatch: Time For Kevin To Hit The Road — And Not Come Back

MORE CRETINOUS TWADDLE from the megalomaniac’s megalomaniac — a failed former Prime Minister with the delusion he should rule the world — has erupted once again, this time in a laughable attempt to send the actual Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on a guilt trip for refusing to back his unjustifiable aspiration to a perverse bureaucratic Nirvana. It’s time for Kevin Rudd to hit the road — and not come back. Ever.

At the end of another stifling, stultifying week, I’m probably dignifying Kevin Rudd with more attention than he deserves in commenting yet again on his dismally misguided aspiration to rule the world through the bureaucratic behemoth of the United Nations, but here we are.

Regular readers will have ascertained that heavy demands on my time continue at present, and as ever, those obligations central to earning an income must always take precedence over this column; even so, I’m not going anywhere, and in the fullness of time will restore our conversations to the frequency everyone is accustomed to.

There’s a little clear air coming over the weekend, and I will post again, but for now my remarks will be blunt: whenever the temptation exists to think Kevin Rudd has got the message that he should shut up and go away, just like a bad penny he comes back.

I’m not going to bother linking to any of the plethora of articles this column has published over the years dealing with the imbecilic Rudd’s foibles and misdemeanours or, more pertinently, the half-baked idea he harbours that the world is simply crying out for his “leadership;” the tired old story of Rudd is too well known as it is, and on the latter score, only a world even less sane than Rudd himself is rumoured to be would regard him as a suitable candidate to lead anything.

Yet like a blowfly with a bit of dog poo in prospect, Rudd has this week returned to his latest favourite theme — the alleged grievous slight inflicted on him by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the “crime” of deigning Rudd to be temperamentally unsuited to the position of Secretary-General of the UN — and in an irony lost on few except the lamentable Rudd, his continued outbursts on the subject merely prove that Turnbull’s judgement (in this case at least) was chillingly correct.

Turnbull was not shanghaied into the decision by the “far right” of the Liberal Party; most thinking people can see at forty paces distant how utterly unsuited Rudd is to the UN post, and the scope for him to prove an unmitigated disaster (and an unmitigated embarrassment) in it were he ever successful in securing it. Why would the Australian government sign on to supporting that?

It doesn’t matter that current Foreign minister Julie Bishop lavished praise on Rudd as an “eminently qualified candidate” for the post; everyone makes mistakes.

It doesn’t matter that Turnbull once privately promised support to Rudd, only to later change his mind; after all, the longer one looks at Rudd the less attractive he becomes — a reality exactly mirrored by his relationship with the Australian public between 2007 and 2010, and replayed with record speed between June and September 2013.

It doesn’t matter that the ALP torpedoed former Liberal Party figures for diplomatic postings after 2007; whilst tit-for-tat arguments over such things can certainly be entertaining, the issue of whether to help Rudd strut the world stage preening (and making a fool of) himself is a different issue altogether.

And it isn’t a mitigating factor that his own parliamentary colleagues have variously called him juvenile, vindictive, or a bastard with contempt for the Australian public.

Or, accurately, all kinds of much nastier things.

No, Kevin has spent a great deal of time doing this to himself.

Even before he first won the ALP leadership in late 2006, it was an open secret that Rudd viewed a possible Prime Ministership as a mere stepping stone to his ultimate objective of running the United Nations; and before even that, anyone with a direct eye on the goings-on in Queensland and Rudd’s part in them (as I had, prior to my move south) knew the guy was nothing if not utterly consumed with his own importance.

Once upon a time, Rudd enjoyed the fellowship of a small ALP cabal in Brisbane that feted him and fanned his ego with fulsome public declarations of his competence and brilliance; they’re nowhere to be seen or heard today.

The damage was done, however — if, that is, Rudd needed any encouragement in this vein at all — and it would be a brave soul who attempted to rebut the contention that his entire public life has been spent making it very clear to anyone who listened that nobody was smarter or more important than Kevin Michael Rudd.

Never mind the complete balls-up he made of public service restructuring in Queensland during the tenure of the Goss government; never mind the sheer toxicity it created, to the extent that the huge swing against Labor that seemingly materialised out of thin air at the 1995 state election was overwhelmingly driven by public servants fed up with six years of Rudd’s master-slave regime, and driven by some of the (usually) most loyal Labor diehards to boot.

And never mind the love-hate relationship he has had with the press in all those years; when it suited them, the media built Rudd into a messiah. I had a conversation with a very senior Liberal MP prior to the 2007 election, demanding to know why the party hadn’t made better use of the abundance of material that was available from Rudd’s time under Goss. The media had decided Rudd should beat John Howard, and weren’t interested. The subtext was that it signalled to Rudd that he could get away with whatever he liked.

Those days are gone.

Anyone who has paid even scant attention to Rudd’s shenanigans in recent years knows that for all his bluster, diplomacy is not an attribute that could be regarded as his forte; anyone who hasn’t will quickly get up to speed browsing past articles that can be accessed through the “Kevin Rudd” tag in the cloud to the right of this article.

And it will surprise nobody to realise that we are now at the end destination of the story of Kevin Rudd and his public career, for the UN job was the one he coveted more than any, and for almost exclusively self-inflicted reasons will never have.

From here, any more blather on the subject from Rudd can and should be regarded as sour grapes: an attempt to send Turnbull on a guilt trip for no more substantial reason that in refusing to nominate and support Rudd for the UN post, Turnbull actually discharged the obligations of his office properly.

Certainly, I have just about had enough of Kevin Rudd, and I daresay so have many millions of Australians.

Even so, it isn’t hard to comprehend how Julia Gillard — no favourite of this column — might have been frustrated and even enraged by the puerile behaviour he now thinks will “shame” Turnbull into backing down and giving him exactly what he wants.

Unlike Gillard, however, no subterranean scheme to knife Turnbull is available to Rudd, and even if it were, his residential arrangements in New York would severely compromise his ability to execute it.

It’s time for Kevin Rudd to disappear. Permanently. The only person he remains capable of damaging is himself: but after more than quarter of a century of doing exactly that, it is difficult to imagine Rudd going quietly or, for that matter, with a good grace.

More’s the pity, for if he doesn’t, he will simply prove former ALP Senator Stephen Conroy’s barb about Rudd’s contempt for the Australian public to have been more accurate, and prescient, than anyone could have ever believed, thought, or imagined.

 

“Nyet” To NEETs: A New Approach To Welfare-Bludging Scum

THE LEFT’S insistence — with its vested political interest in addicting lazy people to welfare — that all claimants of unemployment benefits are legitimate, or that it’s “disrespectful” to question them, has been torpedoed by an explosive feature in Murdoch titles; they insist it’s too expensive to prosecute rorts, or that enforcement costs would outweigh monies paid. Here’s a radical idea: let bludgers who won’t work claim welfare. But there’s a catch.

Some will argue that picking on two silly, young, and indisputably bone-lazy girls is mean, cruel, or — God forbid — unfair.

But like snakes, rodents or other vermin, where there are some, there are usually more.

Before I raced out the door this morning, I caught an article in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph (and republished across the metropolitan Murdoch mastheads) that has had me simmering with anger for most of the day; returning to my desk tonight I see the Tele has also editorialised on the story of two self-entitled examples of an army of lazy, self-indulgent bludgers.

LAZY, USELESS AND CONTEMPTIBLE…Ashleigh Whiting, 21, and Amy Arman, 17, whose attitude toward hard-working taxpayers who fund their dole-bludging existence is tantamount to wiping their backsides on them. (Picture: the Daily Telegraph)

It’s about time Australia confronted reality — and the army of insidious socialist activists who slap down dissidents with abuse and lawsuits — and accepted that a huge problem exists where the so-called “age of entitlement” is concerned; based on a study quoted in the Tele that was compiled from federal government figures, that age seems to fall between 15 and 29, and the number of its cohort appears to be increasing.

So-called NEETs — young people “not in education, employment or training” — are a double-edged sword; it has long been known, and shown, that school leavers and recent graduates are among those who find it hardest to secure work, and the recent OECD Investing in Youth report found 580,000 Australians in the 15 to 29 age bracket are NEETs: an increase of 100,000 in eight years.

It found 41% of those want a job and are actively looking for one, and we have absolutely no quarrel with those people (or their claims upon the welfare budget) whatsoever.

But it also found 40% (or more than 220,000 young Australians) were “inactive and unwilling to work,” and — in what is either a cake-and-eat-it-too formulation or simply something they think will pull the wool over reasonable people’s eyes — another 19% claimed they wanted a job but weren’t looking for one.

At various times over the years, this column has proposed entirely reasonable measures to help unemployed people (and particularly, young Australians starting out) that will, more to the point, do something about the shameful fact that 40% of all government expenditure is allocated to welfare payments and the attendant culture of entitlement that sees too many undeserving people erroneously think that not only does society owe them for their existence, but that taxpayers should be obliged to bankroll their indolence.

The latest idea — or, more particularly, the latest variant of an ongoing idea — that I have been discussing around the traps has been the concept of a two-year period of compulsory national service, an indenture that carries with it the ability to complete a fast-tracked apprenticeship in carpentry, plumbing, electrics, or some other essential trade in which Australia is facing a chronic shortage.

The thinking is that school leavers can go straight to the armed forces or the emergency services and acquire state of the art, on the job training, and emerge not only with a qualification they can use throughout their lives but also with two years of regular employment, the discipline it confers, and the remunerative benefits that accompany it behind them.

Predictably, those of a more conservative bent I have spoken to think the idea is workable, even if it needs tweaking; those of a more leftward inclination think forcing people to work (never mind if they are wilfully unproductive charges upon the state or not) is an unbridled outrage that should be likened to Nazism and Fascism.

Yes, there are those who cannot work — those who, by dint of psychiatric or physical injury are unsuitable for regular employment — and I have never advocated forcing this group off welfare if they don’t work.

But for the hundreds of thousands who simply refuse, it has long been the position of this column that their refusal should be met with the termination of their eligibility for welfare payments altogether: and whilst this may seem harsh, it reciprocates the action of the bludger who refuses to engage with the contract of mutual obligation that exists between the society and the individual.

I have, however, had another idea. More on that shortly.

Those readers who peruse the articles I have linked today from the Tele will learn the incendiary stories of Ashley Whiting and Amy Arman (pictured, above), who make few bones about the fact they are prepared to “work” only if it demands little or nothing from them, and only if they are nevertheless paid.

Statements that they will “never get a job” and the admission they wouldn’t know how hard it is to get a job because they don’t try are not the sentiments of people who are serious about taking responsibility for their lives.

The complaint of a student that she doesn’t get paid for attending classes would be ridiculous were it not so frightening in terms of the mentality it highlights among some sections of Australian youth.

Whilst these girls no doubt indeed enjoy “chilling at Maccas (sic),” bush-bashing in their old Barina or having Centrelink cover their rent for them, the hard reality is that “Centrelink” isn’t paying — every hardworking family and business that pays tax is footing the bill.

As I have repeatedly insisted in this column, there is no such thing as “government money.”

Accordingly, it is simply unacceptable that the rest of us should be expected to support people like this pair who flatly refuse to get off their arses to help themselves: and as I said at the outset, where there are some — just like an infestation of vermin — when it comes to welfare bludgers, there are invariably others.

This latest report suggests upwards of 350,000 people under 30 have deliberately elected to live off the taxpayer; it is a situation that is just wrong, and cannot be tolerated: a point compounded by the fact that some in Australia complain that Indian and Chinese migrants who pack supermarket shelves, staff petrol stations and clean buildings are “taking our jobs” when those jobs are given to foreign workers for the damning reason that Australians turn their noses up at them.

So what do we do?

Orthodox conservative positions have historically centred on making compliance with the requirements to receive unemployment benefits so onerous as to force the bludgers off the dole and into a job to avoid them; certainly, taxpayer-funded training programs and vocational schemes such as Work for the Dole ostensibly have merit. But in reality, none of this has made a shred of difference.

The Left offers no such obstacles, other than the requirement to fill in forms claiming to have applied for jobs and a means test so tight that you have to be just about on Skid Row to qualify. If you have worked for many years and find yourself out of work, Labor’s regime basically requires you to fritter away everything you have ever saved and earned to qualify for the pittance that is the dole. But for those who have never been bothered to work in the first place, such concerns are irrelevant.

And it remains the case that as meagre as the dole is (I believe about $590 per fortnight at present, including the maximum amount of the bits and pieces that can be added to it), three or four recipients can pool their resources to run a modest household in a very modest rental property (replete with a beaten-up Barina if desired) on about $5,000 per month between them.

Maybe the solution isn’t to kick them off the public purse at all — with the feigned outrage of the Left this would entail — but to leave them on it.

Maybe the solution is to give Newstart and Job Search Allowance applicants the option to declare themselves “unwilling to work” — and to create a special category of benefit for them.

Maybe if they’re paid 50% of the rate received by actual job seekers, this would kill off the “grievance” that they’re better off on welfare than in a job, whilst avoiding the predictable ranting from pinkos that evil Tories are booting people off welfare and into poverty.

After all, claimants would declare themselves unwilling to work. Nobody would force them.

And maybe the savings could be reinvested in higher benefits for those who are actually serious about working as soon as they can nail a job of any description: people who work have obligations that continue even after their last job ended. As an emergency measure, today’s dole payment is of next to no use with essential basic expenses, let alone other obligations that may not be easily abandoned or postponed.

Those savings, if even half of the 350,000-ish who clearly can’t be bothered are honest about it, would be in the order of four or five billion dollars each year: nothing to be sniffed at in a budget context, either, at a time Australia is running $50bn annual deficits.

With half their payment disappearing overnight as the price for getting the rest of the world off their backs, lazy vermin like Ashleigh, Amy, and their hundreds of thousands of fellow travellers might actually get the message that if they want more from life, the answer isn’t to bludge off the hard worker — but to get off their own arses and to do something for themselves.

The world doesn’t owe anybody, and it owes less to the able but unwilling than it does to anyone else.

Making them jump through hoops, threatening to cut them off and showering them with more of the same hasn’t worked.

Perhaps the ticket is to halve the amount these leeches are paid — and, quite literally, to starve them onto the job market.

And really, anyone who feels sympathy for these self-inflicted disaster stories is not quite right in the head.

 

Needless Chaos: CFMEU Thugs Do Not Run This Country

CHAOS caused yesterday by CFMEU goons to “support” 55 sacked Carlton and United Breweries workers offers a timely reminder that wanton anarchy in the union movement must be smashed, and that union thugs do not run this country — whatever they think. A limited show of support was warranted, but gratuitous chaos unleashed in Melbourne and in Brisbane smacks of no more than an unjustifiable “lesson” of who unions believe is in charge.

As readers will have surmised, I am absolutely flat strap right now; we may be able to partially redress some of the issues we have missed over the weekend, but for now at least I wanted to make some very brief — and blunt — remarks about what the CFMEU got up to yesterday.

Supposedly “in solidarity” with 55 workers at CUB in Melbourne — who, according to reports, have been sacked and offered re-employment on contracts, and on lesser conditions than they enjoyed as employees — the unions, led unashamedly by the CFMEU, staged demonstrations in Melbourne and in Brisbane, causing gridlock in the Melbourne CBD yesterday as they marched on Parliament House in Spring Street and in Brisbane (1,750 kilometres away, for goodness sake).

Making declarations such as “I love a fucking revolution” and “We just love a fucking blue,” CFMEU officials led ragtag mobs through the commercial centres of both cities, ensuring each was thrown into chaos that lasted (in the case of Melbourne at least) for hours, and — aside from the fact CUB operates relatively small brewing operations south of Brisbane — with no justifiable reason for spreading their protest more than a thousand miles to the north.

I am obviously not party to the minutiae of the industrial dispute at the heart of yesterday’s demonstrations, but the unions’ version of it is enough to render judgement upon; if full-time employees have been fired, and offered re-employment of contractors, it is a matter for the employer to sort out — with the union directly involved, should the affected employees opt for a union to represent them.

But this in no way justifies two capital cities being thrown into disarray for hours over what is, on any reasonable assessment, a minor industrial dispute.

It is significant that these protests occurred in Victoria and Queensland, the states run by ALP governments so beholden to violent and militant unions for their very existence as to have no practical choice but to acquiesce to whatever those unions decree.

And on that basis, it is certainly interesting that no such tomfoolery was engaged in in Sydney.

So-called Industrial Relations ministers — former union cat’s paws implanted into state Parliaments — do not provide “leadership” by publicly siding with the unions over the company, but rather simply form additional prongs of a tawdry and one-sided multilateral attack aimed at demonising employers irrespective of any substantive case that might exist to justify their own side of the dispute.

It is significant, therefore, that ALP figures in Queensland — where none of the affected workers are even based — were gushing in their praise for the wildcat industrial action the unions took in their state.

And “wildcat” is the correct term: whilst Police were apparently notified in Queensland of the unions’ intentions, the actions that threw inner Brisbane into chaos were, by the unions’ own admission, an impromptu exercise.

Trades Hall filth will attempt to excuse yesterday’s actions as a “national issue,” and will claim the ramifications are important for every wage and salary earner in the country.

Yet Labor’s own industrial laws — pointedly, crafted at gunpoint and created from a union wish list — offer ample redress, at little or no cost, to employees who have been unfairly or unlawfully treated.

In the final analysis, yesterday’s actions can only be interpreted as a flexing of union muscle, led by the most insidiously criminal and wantonly violent outfit this side of the waterfront — the notorious CFMEU, which repeated tsunamis of successful court actions and a corresponding flood of multimillion dollar penalties seems unable to curb.

The plight of the CUB workers aside, the only acceptable response from government — any government — is that the CFMEU does not run this country, and secondary pickets and wildcat industrial actions ought to be met with the full force of the law.

It would serve the Turnbull government well, and its industrial relations ministers especially, to take up this argument with gusto this morning.

Regrettably, like so many of the key issues it faces, however, the Turnbull crowd will likely botch its handling of the matter or ignore it altogether.

If, that is, it manages to avoid a counterstrike with some new self-inflicted debacle of its own.

And meanwhile, the “grip” unions like the CFMEU think they are perpetuating over Australia will simply strengthen — with no moral, ethical or legal justification whatsoever.

As Margaret Thatcher — who knew a thing or two about managing unions — would say, it’s a funny old world.

 

Newspoll: Turnbull Slide Resumes After Election “Win”

EVIDENCE that “victory” will do nowt to lift the federal Coalition continues to trickle in, with the first Newspoll since last month’s election showing the government and Prime Minister on the slide after their narrow escape at the polls. Malcolm Turnbull now flounders at levels of public esteem that cost him the Liberal leadership in 2009. Unless he produces tangible results — and quickly — leadership ructions are likely to paralyse his government.

Regular readers of this column will be well aware of the fact that prior to the election eight weeks ago, I was emphatic that the Coalition would be better off in opposition than re-elected to government with virtually no authority whatsoever in a photo finish.

As I have elaborated before and since, both publicly and within forums of the Liberal Party that I occasionally attend, a narrow loss would see the counter start rolling on a Shorten government accruing “demerit points.” A narrow win, by contrast (and with the judgement that the Prime Minister and his cabal are useless in any meaningful sense) would see the government limp through whatever portion of a fresh parliamentary term it managed to survive for ahead of a likely belting that consigned it to opposition for at least two terms — and probably longer.

Everywhere you look, there are signs this rather bleak assessment is shaping up to be absolutely correct.

Today’s Newspoll, published in The Australian (and you can peruse the breakdown of it here) assumes rather more significance than early post-election polling otherwise might; for one thing, the poor light it casts upon the Coalition validates similar findings by Essential Media polling in recent weeks that actually shows the government behind the ALP, and for another, with Labor and the Senate crossbench giving every indication that the government will struggle to deliver even the narrow agenda it took to the electorate, today’s poll might quickly come to represent the kind of numbers Malcolm Turnbull wishes were even possible.

The 50-50 result published by Newspoll on the two-party measure is, technically, a very slight further movement away from the Coalition since the election; whilst a uniform application of it at another election wouldn’t see any more seats lost to Labor, it does go halfway toward the 0.7% movement that would see the Liberals lose three additional seats. And government. Re-elected governments are expected to get a bounce out of victory. But this government seems adrift: just as it has all year.

The Australian, in its analysis of the findings, has observed as much, noting that in the past 30 years only John Howard’s government in 2005 and Julia Gillard’s in 2010 went backwards at their first post-election Newspolls. In Howard’s case, the government was quickly beset by vigorous debate over how to use its new-found Senate majority to deliver labour market reforms that were never mentioned during the 2004 election campaign; in Gillard’s case (and notwithstanding the 17-day “negotiation” period to form a government after the 2010 election), the PM was quickly crucified for lying to the electorate over her intention to implement a carbon tax during the campaign and never really recovered from the fallout.

By contrast, there is no such definitive marker to punctuate Turnbull’s fortunes. Simply put, Malcolm is simply being judged on being Malcolm, and it shows.

In this sense, Turnbull’s personal approval ratings have now deteriorated to the level that saw him ejected from the Liberal leadership seven years ago; as Newspoll tells it today, just 34% (-6% since the pre-election survey) of voters now approve of the job he is doing as Prime Minister, with 52% (+5%) disapproving; these numbers are a far cry from the stellar heights of last October, when Malcolm foolishly declined to call a December election to capitalise on what would almost certainly have been a landslide of popular support.

Instead, he now boasts numbers that hardly show predecessor Tony Abbott in a poor light, and any advantage he once held over Bill Shorten has now evaporated.

Shorten, for the little he is worth, is now more “popular” than Turnbull, with 36% of respondents approving of his performance and 50% disapproving — erasing one of the key advantages held out to justify the Liberal leadership change — and Turnbull’s lead on the “preferred PM” measure continues to be eroded, with 43% (-5%) opting for Turnbull and 32% (+2%) for Shorten.

In other words, whilst Turnbull probably retains an edge over Shorten from an overall perspective, that “edge” is now heavily qualified, not very clear, and virtually encased in semantic arguments about margins of sampling error.

So much for economic leadership — or, indeed, any kind of leadership — that Turnbull professed to offer after the 30 consecutive Newspolls featuring two-party leads to the ALP which he used to justify knifing Abbott.

On “jobs and growth,” Turnbull’s ambitious tax cut already appears doomed in the Senate, as the ALP, Greens and minor players give every indication it will at best be heavily emasculated to the point the aim of the policy will be all but destroyed.

On superannuation, Turnbull’s plans appear destined to suffer a similar fate.

On the fraught issue of gay marriage, Turnbull appears unlikely to be able to deliver the Coalition’s long-promised plebiscite, as a Senate majority to block it appears set in stone.

The justification for the double dissolution — Registered Organisations legislation and a bill to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission — is an outside prospect of passing at best; even if it does, the chances it too will be heavily doctored (and rendered toothless) are very high indeed.

And on the repayment of Commonwealth debt and fixing the haemorrhaging federal budget, Labor under Bill Shorten has already signalled it will refuse to co-operate unless the government adopts the “Labor plan” of $110bn in tax rises and economically destructive measures such as abolishing negative gearing: an agenda only a foolish, class-obsessed government would even countenance.

In other words, little of any significance is likely to be achieved by this government. Off the back of a timid, woefully thin election agenda, this is an indictment — the finely poised numbers in Parliament notwithstanding.

It remains to be seen, of course, how the government performs, although the signs are far from promising; just to tighten the screws on it a bit further, the next half-Senate election must be finalised by 30 June 2019: meaning another election is at the very most two and a half years away, not three.

And the sum total of all of these pressures is leadership instability: sooner, rather than later, in my view.

There will be time enough in the weeks and months ahead to canvass and discuss the ongoing unsuitability of the ALP (and especially Shorten) for office, the defects in Turnbull’s leadership that I believe are probably terminal, the thin field of realistic contenders to replace him, and the effect any leadership change might have on the overall political landscape.

Personally, I am already of the view that the transaction costs of a leadership change (if one occurs) are likely to be lower than persisting with Turnbull for some or all of the next two-and-a-bit years: even if it is assumed both scenarios would end in defeat anyway.

But the key takeout from this poll, which is a very inauspicious start indeed, is that unless Turnbull produces significant, tangible results — and quickly — then leadership ructions are likely to consume the Coalition, and sooner rather than later in my view.

I don’t think the Parliament will permit any such outcomes, which means the key to the government’s survival — under Turnbull or someone else — will come down to its execution of political tactics and strategy, and its ability to frame and communicate a case to the public that skewers Shorten and Labor with the accountability for the mess government in Australia has become that they should have been held to after 2013.

These are not areas in which the Coalition has performed well, let alone excelled, for at least a decade. The scale of the challenge is clear. But an objective assessment of Turnbull’s ability to grasp and respond to it suggests any confidence in his ability to turn things around is probably misplaced.

 

Taking The Piss: Greens’ “Reshuffle” Defies Sanity

IMMUNE TO REALITY, the Greens’ belated post-election reshuffle would be risible were it not monument to the obsequious agenda of the far Left; the ongoing presence of Sarah Hanson-Young — at all — is indecent, and any party according “healthy oceans” ministerial status is perverse. But by making Lee Rhiannon responsible for “democracy,” it is clear that when it comes to the intelligence of the electorate, the Greens are taking the piss.

With the exception of actual video media directly relevant to our discussions in this column, it has been a long time indeed since I last gave readers something to listen to as an accompaniment to an article; today I renew that occasional practice, with a brilliant Australian song from the 1980s (and its official music video, replete with a distinct and appropriately keystone flavour) the perfect choice to go with what I want to cover this morning.

Enjoy this as you read…

…for by now, I think most people will be aware of the reshuffle the Communist Party Greens deigned to execute late last week, ostensibly on the peculiar pretext of “aligning MPs’ responsibilities with their particular states,” and whatever fatuous spin might be offered by leader Richard Di Natale to justify it, the Greens have become even more dangerous to the national interest as a result.

If, of course, such a consequence is even possible.

At first blush, the removal of the contemptible Sarah Hanson-Young from the Immigration portfolio is a triumph for anyone who values the sanctity of human life; her “accidents happen” dismissal of the deaths of 1,300 asylum seekers at sea as the direct result of a policy the Greens championed and which was initiated during her tenure in that post is a cause for great shame, and should have led to Hanson-Young’s defeat at the 2013 election.

The fact it did not underwrites a very big clue as to why the Greens are so trenchantly supportive of proportional representation in Parliaments across the land; even with that easy ticket to undeserved parliamentary leather in hand, Hanson only just squeaked home on that occasion, and this year — with the quotas almost halved — only just managed to survive that too.

Clearly her papers are marked; but before her career can finally be terminated, this reshuffle has only widened her scope to wreak havoc.

The failed bank teller will now be the Greens’ official spokesperson on Finance and Trade matters; this quisling, whose life experience of the commercial world barely registers above zero, is now the voice of the key crossbench bloc deciding pivotal matters affecting Australia’s $1.5tn economy, the half-trillion dollar debt Labor and the Greens saddled it with when they last held office, and the $450bn in annual government spending which — contrary to the Greens’ world view — must be drastically slashed (especially where lefty-trendy social programs are concerned) if Australia is ever to pay its way again among the nations of the developed world.

It gets worse, however, when the Senator is also now to be the spokesperson on “Lifelong Learning” — every aspect of the educative process from day care to universities — and Youth, and the idea of this scion of the hard socialist Left, utterly divorced from common sense and sanity in the orthodox sense, being even remotely able to influence the development of young Australians is enough to send a shudder down the spine of any fair-minded individual. “Education” and “brainwashing” are not the same thing, although with Hanson-Young’s propensity to refuse to interact in any way with those who dare to question her position on things, that distinction is likely to become impossible to spot when the Greens’ policy prescriptions in these fields are revealed.

Senator Hanson-Young is also the Greens’ shadow minister for the Arts, and it is to be hoped the Arts community — usually a friend to the Left — recognises the imbecilic new ally it has been shackled to, and takes aim accordingly.

What any of these things uniquely shares with South Australia is difficult to ascertain.

Queenslander Larissa Waters has been given responsibility for Women, Gambling and Tourism (and of course, we don’t have any of those things south of the Tweed), as well as Mining and Resources — an industry her utterances over the years suggest she would be happy to shut down altogether.

In keeping with the Greens’ tradition of putting parliamentary neophytes in charge of Immigration, new Tasmanian Senator Nick McKim takes over this role from Hanson-Young; it’s an interesting choice, based on Di Natale’s criteria, for Tasmania typically receives the fewest migrants (both in raw terms and per head of capita) of any Australian state.

McKim will prove no match for Attorney-General George Brandis — and his claim to shadow the country’s First Law Officer is as opaque as the rest of the Greens’ claims to adequacy — and it remains to be seen what input he might have in Small Business other than collaborating on taxation and workplace relations laws with the ALP that might help drive enterprises in the sector to the wall once and for all.

It’s a similar story with McKim’s fellow Tasmanian, Peter Whish-Wilson, who apparently seeks to emulate titans of Australian politics such as Paul Keating and Peter Costello as treasury spokesman; the likelier event is that he makes Wayne Swan on a terrible day look comparatively brilliant, for the one thing nobody is ever going to accuse the Greens of is economic competence.

Putting him in charge of Consumer Affairs, or “Waste and Recycling,” seems standard enough fare for the Greens, even if some of his party’s members need a dictionary to spell the terms correctly.

Making him shadow minister for “Healthy Oceans” is patently ridiculous, and betrays the rank amateurism and puerile, university-style politics that still underpin the Greens’ efforts despite its solemn declaration a few years ago that it was finally a mature political party. It wasn’t, and it isn’t, and it shows.

And aren’t there oceans around the rest of Australia too?

To kill two birds with one stone — promoting wimmin into key posts and prosecuting the Greens’ own peculiar brand of social misadventurism — Rachel Siewert and Janet Rice cover “portfolios” ranging from “LGBTIQ” to Ageing, and from “Forests” to Disability Services: the latter, of course, so dear to the hard Left as a means by which to simultaneously entrench welfare dependency whilst locking in votes from the underprivileged. At $24bn per annum once the NDIS is fully operational, expect the Greens to nevertheless advocate loudly for increases in expenditure in this area, and steep tax rises on the rest of us to pay for them.

Scott Ludlam takes responsibility for just about everything no thinking Australian would ever want a Greens politician to have any influence over: Foreign Affairs, Defence, Veterans’ Affairs, International Aid, Communications, Sustainable Cities, and “Nuclear.” The scope for permanently ruptured international relationships, combined with a “reach out” to despotic regimes in third-world countries is obvious, as is the abandonment of the defence community altogether and a move to compost-powered houses. I am not directing these remarks at Ludlam personally, but the idea that any Greens’ edict on any of these matters would be anything other than stone-aged is preposterous.

It’s clear where the Greens think their “brains” trust lies: Adam Bandt is assigned Climate Change, Energy, Industrial Relations, and Science. On one level, Bandt (a Melburnian) is clever enough to handle such a workload; on another, he is just as affected and addled with the disease of hard socialism that nobody ought to take much notice of what he has to say about any of it. Climate Change and the Greens? If you want impartiality on such a hotly contested issue, the last person who should be consulted is the most partisan combatant in the group.

And again, how is any of this particularly aligned to Bandt being domiciled in Victoria? It just shows what a nincompoop Di Natale is if this is representative of his idea of leadership.

And this brings us to the pièce de résistance of the entire reshuffle: actual Communist Lee Rhiannon, who as a former fellow traveller with the USSR and propagandist for Moscow during the Cold War shouldn’t be entitled to sit in an Australian Parliament at all.

Rhiannon is charged with “Industry:” something the Greens desperately want to shut down.

Rhiannon is simultaneously charged with responsibility for “Animal Welfare” and “Gun Control:” draw your own conclusions there.

Rhiannon is to be responsible for “Housing,” which we take to mean the compost-powered variety containing bare-footed residents who munch broccoli and lentils by candlelight and ride bicycles all over the place.

But most obscenely, Rhiannon is to be the Greens’ spearhead on “democracy,” and the idea this antediluvian, vituperative battleaxe, with her roots deep in hard Communism and her well-known hatred for anything even marginally to the Right of Marx, will in any way constitute a champion for anything remotely democratic is as fanciful as money growing on trees.

Then again, with the Greens’ notorious ignorance of economic reality and their insistence that “government money” is a bottomless pit from which to fund endless adventures in social engineering and statist interference, who would know?

The bottom line (excuse the pun) is that whichever way you cut it, the output from the Greens is unlikely to change; this isn’t a party of consultation, much less one of accountability, whatever its MPs claim to the contrary. They might or might not be answerable to their rank-and-file, as they regularly protest whenever their “credentials” as democrats are questioned, but none of them are accountable to the Australian public.

To the extent they are, anyone can replace a beaten Greens MP: all they need is the wherewithal and the commitment to “the cause.” The storyline stays the same even if the storytellers change once in a while.

One constant that remains unaffected by this reshuffle is the propensity for the Greens to regard the intelligence of the average voter with utter scorn; safe in the knowledge too many unthinking voters still believe their party is a benign assortment of tree-hugging, fairy-loving hippies with whom it is safe to park a protest vote, the Greens simply get on with spreading the insidious cancers of socialism and social subjugation that are beginning to tear at the social fabric.

It’s why those in the mainstream need to find effective voices to slap down the leftist PC rubbish — and the sinister, deeply destructive agenda it cloaks — before the damage it does to this country becomes irreversible.

But in announcing such a defective line-up — one so apparently well thought through, and carefully contrived — it is clear the Greens are taking the piss, not posturing as a serious force to be entrusted with the duties of high office.

Sarah Hanson-Young on Finance and Education. Lee Rhiannon on “Democracy.” And a slew of spear-throwers all allocated parts of the overall Greens project to destroy Western values and to change Australia into something it isn’t, and which most people (rightly) don’t want.

It’s a mistake, all right. The Greens have had an easy time in Parliament ever since they took the balance of power in the Senate in 2008. For the present Parliament to be viewed favourably by history, it’s about time something was done to change that.

 

NT Election: Mediocrity, Cynicism, Hypocrisy The Only Winners

THE LANDSLIDE recorded by the ALP at yesterday’s Northern Territory election should be a cause for despair for anyone interested in sound governance in Australia; on the one hand, a fractious conservative administration with a penchant for self-immolation has been ejected from office with the force of a missile, whilst a Labor Party responsible for shocking miscarriages of justice has been restored. There is nothing to celebrate here.

I wasn’t going to even bother commenting on the circus that is NT politics, but lest ALP triumphalism spiral out of control, a few passing comments are probably warranted.

They say things are done differently in the NT, but as I see it, politics there are following the same cynical trajectory as is being pursued elsewhere in the country: and the same disastrous consequences — not least, the continued disenfranchisement of increasingly jaded voters — are likely to ensue.

Just as this column declined to publish so much as a congratulatory syllable after the Coalition “victory” at the 2 July double dissolution, we similarly see little reason to do so in relation to Territory Labor today; the ALP may indeed have prevailed in elections for what passes as the Territorian equivalent of a state government, but the circumstances in which it has done so are tasteless in the extreme.

In the blue corner sits the Country Liberal Party: racked by divisions and the competing agendas of misplaced egos, elected four years ago and ravaged by leadership ructions ever since, the CLP has paid a predictable price for self-indulgence, petty bickering, and the utter political ineptitude that now seems to permanently infect conservative administrations comprised of MPs determined on factional grounds rather than merit, and aided and abetted by advisers who in the main are bereft of a skerrick of political judgement, strategic or tactical nous, or the ability to convincingly sell ideas or policies to an electorate that expects better of its parliamentary representatives.

In the red corner sits a Labor Party which, like its interstate and federal counterparts, boasts precisely nothing to recommend it: a classic illustration of the adage about oppositions not winning elections and governments losing them, the new ALP Chief Minister — the aptly named Michael Gunner — may come to rue the fact his election triumph was sealed in a controversy over prison abuses that were perpetrated on his own party’s watch in office several years ago.

The defeat of the CLP — never in any doubt — was almost certainly amplified by some appallingly partisan “investigative” journalism by the ABC, which saw its way clear to run an explosive expose about the torture of young offenders in the NT and other outrages on its Four Corners programme just as the NT election approached: never mind the fact these excesses occurred during the last administration Labor formed, and never mind observing quaint notions of impartiality like declining to broadcast such material during an election campaign; the result of the Four Corners production was to ensure the fallout hit the CLP with laser-like precision, as intended. The kneejerk reaction of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in announcing a Royal Commission into the affair, made it a certainty.

Territory politics are notoriously volatile, and — since the end of almost 30 unbroken years of CLP rule — have been a template for instability. The projected 18 of 25 seats Labor is expected to finish with will guarantee it one term only, and whilst a further term must be considered likely, such is the nature of the beast that the resurrection of the CLP after a single term, whilst difficult to foresee today, cannot be ruled out.

But in this sense, the NT is merely following the pattern of politics that is starting to become entrenched everywhere else in Australia these days.

We have arrived at the point at which the ALP and, by extension, a broad coalition of like interests — the unions, the Communist Party Greens, the teachers, the churches and the welfare lobby, among others — simply refuse to acknowledge or accept the election of conservative governments and, whenever such a government holds office, the singular priority of these groups is to destroy it.

Aside from extending the reach of unions and kowtowing to the faceless thugs who run them, the Labor governments subsequently formed either achieve nothing or (as in the case of the Andrews government in Victoria) cause massive economic and social division, as inept MPs propelled by self-interest and greed for power prove spectacularly unsuited to the task to which they have been elected.

This is also a theme that will continue to play out across Australia in the years to come.

I’m not interested in the welfare or good fortune of the parties of the Left and their fellow travellers; even so, the ascent of the ALP in a minor regional assembly merely underlines even further the challenges faced by parties of the Right and their seeming inability to grasp them, let alone resolve them.

An abjectly pathetic approach to electoral politics, in which the hierarchy of the Liberal Party is run as a clubhouse rather than a bona fide war machine, means the actual business of winning elections and prosecuting arguments is relegated to an afterthought as alliances and crony cohorts are elevated above ensuring the best possible people are installed to engineer the triumph of right-of-centre policies and the sustained success that increasingly eludes it.

In the process, Labor becomes more and more the default choice of voters, thanks to compulsory preferences that reward the ineptitude and indulgences of the Liberals in office with defeat.

It doesn’t matter that Labor is guiltier of the same sins, or is demonstrably incompetent when it comes to the business of government: the Coalition parties across Australia is increasingly incapable of carrying even those arguments publicly. This result in the Northern Territory is simply further proof of it.

Turnbull can probably feel lucky in that directly at least, the NT can inflict no further damage on the federal Coalition; Labor controls the Territory assembly, and holds both federal electorates as well as one of the two NT Senate spots.

But any national interpretation of the result can only invite the conclusion that the Liberal Party’s current decline is not just continuing, but accelerating.

Of the remaining Liberal state governments, the one in WA is likely to fall when it goes to the polls early next year; the one in Tasmania appears to have run aground in a state not noted for goodwill toward the conservative parties, and in which the perennial threat of minority ALP-Greens administrations seems once again poised to consign the Liberals to opposition. Mike Baird in NSW is beginning to look as if his party is readying to surrender office to a discredited ALP just two terms after claiming office, as did the Greiner-Fahey outfit 20 years ago.

Liberal oppositions in SA and Victoria — for different reasons — seem certain to remain in opposition in 2018. What happens in Queensland, where Labor has rigged future elections by abolishing its own system of optional preferential voting with neither consultation nor a mandate, is anyone’s guess.

What is certain is that the only victors from yesterday’s field trip to the polls in the NT are the forces of mediocrity, cynicism and hypocrisy: and today at least, that means unjust reward for the ALP, which will simply be emboldened everywhere else.

Once again, the real losers are the poor bastards forced to choose between two unpalatable options.

If anyone finds this state of affairs worthy of celebration, it says much about the insidious narcissism and obsession with power at any price — with flagrant disregard for the consequences — that continues to infect politics and elections in this country.

Make no mistake, there is nothing to celebrate here. It is a reality that the predictably shattered CLP, the more decent adherents of the ALP, and their counterparts across Australia would do well to contemplate.