Gang Of One: The Divisive “Core Beliefs” Of Jacqui Lambie’s Party

POSSIBLY THE STUPIDEST PERSON ever elected to an Australian Parliament — mercenary Senator Jacqui Lambie — has chosen to emulate other deluded pathology cases, and to start an eponymous political party; said to be built on “core beliefs,” the Jacqui Lambie Network aspires to advance a narrow, contradictory, divisive agenda. Its sole beneficiary will be her public profile. Where principle is concerned, it will quickly be shown to have none.

I’m not going to make any apologies for this article giving the impression that it seeks to attack Jacqui Lambie personally; in view of such weighty pronouncements from the woman herself that she would personally block every government bill in the Senate until the Prime Minister and her colleagues acceded to the blackmail the threat implied — seemingly oblivious to the fact 74 other Senators get to vote on those bills as well — we’re not talking about a genius.

And in fact, this column has intermittently followed the travails and escapades of Senator Lambie with great interest: see here, here, here, here, here, here and here, just for starters.

In considering her incoherent and cringeworthy lack of comprehension of issues — such as the excruciating differentiation she drew between “Communist Chinese” and “Chinese” (the former able to be hit on Chinese soil with nuclear weapons without harming the latter in any way, or so her logic dictated) or her ridiculous understanding of the “Sharia Law” she so vehemently rages against — along with her foul mouth, her total lack of apparent refinement or sense of occasion or position, and the victim mentality she deploys as both justification and camouflage for her demented rants, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Lambie is in fact the stupidest person ever elected to any Parliament, at any level, anywhere in Australia.

(I acknowledge, however, that plenty of comers from all sides have constituted serious competition for that dubious honour).

And Lambie, who is explicitly on record as a stated aspirant to the position of Prime Minister, deserves as such to be assessed on her merits: and in this regard, her conduct and utterances to date reveal her to have none.

Her latest enterprise arguably boasts even less than that.

So let’s not waste any time on crocodile tears about a personal attack upon Jacqui Lambie.

For just like every other egomaniacal, self-obsessed pathology case who has come to Australian politics either deluded that they are the Messiah and/or in search of the gathering and exercise of brute power in their own hands, Lambie has seemingly decided that other Australians share her warped view of her own importance, and has started her very own party: the Jacqui Lambie Network, which sounds more like a bad comedy on a subscription TV channel than it does a serious attempt to build a political organisation.

Depending on preference, readers can peruse reports from the Murdoch and/or Fairfax press in relation to this Earth-shattering event.

In a clear sign Lambie learned nothing from the cyclonic Palmer United Party she recently stomped out of, she has already emulated one of Palmer’s worst mistakes: the appointment of a husband and wife team as chief adviser and holder of senior roles in the party’s organisational wing, respectively (a mistake also made in the case of the Liberal Party, of which Lambie should have been well enough aware to have avoided).

I’m not actually going to spend the time deconstructing the likely electoral appeal of Lambie’s new “force” — just like the credibility of her views and her merits as an MP at all, it has none — or on the fatuous fairy story of the overwhelming demand Lambie has received for a “Lambie brand in politics” (I think getting the sick bucket would be quicker and more expeditious for all concerned).

But I do want to look at the 12 so-called “core beliefs” her party is purported to be founded upon, for this creed is contradictory, divisive, and fashioned to give the impression of a limited individual working hard to grasp the implications of the issues she stands for when in fact, it is aimed merely at bolstering her own public profile.

(And that’s something that natural justice would see swiftly cut from under her too).

Right from the beginning, Lambie’s “core beliefs” get it wrong; the insistence that “members must always put their state first in all decisions they make” is simply a recipe for the Jacqui Lambie Network (or “JLN,” as it is already being somewhat irritatingly referred to) to descend quickly and irrevocably into a seething cesspit of state chauvinism and conflicting prejudices that are, by their nature and the word of this ridiculous edict, impossible to reconcile.

A similar recipe for chaos lies in the statement that JLN “supports conscience votes on all moral and ethical issues:” just how does it propose to demarcate these from “ordinary” issues? Which issues warrant the JLN’s lofty ethical and moral consideration, and which ones are merely so run of the mill that any question of conscience or ethics doesn’t apply to them? And it is clear that party discipline or a considered, united position on most things is not a priority for Lambie, which is perhaps a reflection on her own abysmal conduct as a member of Clive Palmer’s team, such as it was.

The “core beliefs” reveal Lambie to continue to obsess over the lot of veterans, with a number of motherhood statements on the subject intersecting with the almost complete disregard for the rest of the Australian community. (Never mind the fact that most service personnel I speak to are deeply affronted that this troublemaking miscreant from the junior non-commissioned ranks has the temerity to present herself as an authority on military matters, or to agitate on their behalf).

And I say “almost complete,” because Lambie enshrines in her party’s silly platform the incendiary, racially divisive scheme she first raised six months ago for reserved seats in Australian Parliaments for Aborigines: even if you accept the goodness of her intentions (and I don’t), this is one of the surest ways to stoke tension and resentment between black and white Australians any fool could volunteer. It does not matter what they do in New Zealand. It does not matter whether Lambie is of Aboriginal descent, a point hotly disputed in any case by some Aboriginal elders in Tasmania. It is little more than reverse racism, and the fact Lambie is prepared to argue for it should be a cause for alarm, not acclaim.

On and on it goes.

A transactions tax to “guarantee pensions” for returned servicemen; slashing foreign aid to boost university funding; support for the “proper regulation of Halal” (sic) and for a “monitoring and regulation system” to ensure fuel and electricity prices in Australia are no higher than overseas (wherever “overseas” is actually meant to be) that sounds like a recipe for interventionist government and the wastage of tens of billions of dollars in market-distorting subsidies that will render far more damage on the Australian economy than they will ever avert.

It’s all conflicting, turgid, pseudo-populist rubbish.

I particularly like the “Special Economic Zones” Lambie wants to establish in regional and rural areas to “help boost profitability and job creation.” How? Where? With what? What profitability? What jobs will be created? Only a fool would be hoodwinked by such empty gibberish.

Or — to paraphrase the immortal line from Don’s Party — the carbon tax Lambie supports, but only after “our major trading partners” introduce “a similar tax on their coal-fired power stations,” which in its half-a-bob-each-way sentiment sounds like a recommendation to eat shit in case it tastes like watermelon.

It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to see that the only thing Lambie wants to further or advance is herself: this mercenary political harlot, who has admitted “infiltrating” both the Liberal and Labor parties prior to her election to see what she could get from them before joining Clive Palmer’s ticket in a brazen move to get campaign funds, is not someone who can readily be accused of any consistency or principle in her public life to date.

I have seen some comments in the mainstream press this evening suggesting that all the Jacqui Lambie Network even exists for is to provide a vehicle with which to secure public election funding and, whilst this may or may not be the case, I don’t think Lambie stands to make all that much money from it, for one very salient — if cruel — reason.

Jacqui Lambie does not possess the mass appeal to rednecks and bogans of a Pauline Hanson; she does not possess the vast sums of cash to bankroll political campaigns or the inexhaustible bile and hatred and thirst for “vengeance” to single-mindedly drive them of a Clive Palmer.

Instead, Lambie is deservedly ridiculed and widely regarded as a joke, and an embarrassment.

And nobody will take her new party particularly seriously.

Back in November I characterised Lambie as an idiot whose like had never been seen in federal politics, and would hopefully never be seen again; and regrettably, her Jacqui Lambie Network is merely the latest proof that that assessment was far from inaccurate.

If this is what Lambie believes in, then God help Australia if she ever attains a position from which to act on it: she won’t, of course, for Australians might be generous to an underdog, but Lambie is asking too much of even that noble sentiment.

Once again, Lambie has proven herself to be just about the stupidest individual in politics today: and whilst there is nothing wrong with the ambition of becoming Prime Minister, there are some who are so defective as to fail to even be entitled to such a delusional aspiration in the first place.

Lambie sits in that category.

 

GST: Hockey Reform Paper To Champion Consumption Tax Rise

IN A U-urn, Treasurer Joe Hockey says he will explore changes to the base and rate of GST in examining possible reforms to Australia’s tax system, and whilst this is commendable — and shows a more realistic approach to budget reform — the probability Labor will scuttle any constructive proposal remains high. Hockey, nonetheless, deserves praise for finally confronting the crucial link in any serious attempt to fix the budget revenue base.

What a difference a few weeks can make.

Today’s post really is a quick one, on the run this morning as I am, but I wanted to revisit the issue of GST reform — something near to my heart where matters of budget policy are concerned — and the apparent about-face the Treasurer has performed on this critical point.

Not three weeks ago, I lambasted Joe Hockey in this column for ruling out anything to do with trying to change the rate or base of the GST — it was all too hard, he said, and there was “no point” — but now, apparently on the pretext that all of the current round of state elections are out of the way, Hockey says he wants to have “fair dinkum discussions” with state Treasurers about broadening and lifting the GST.

A little extra reading from today’s press can be accessed here and here, and whilst these articles may not perhaps address the critical point at the heart of any sensible debate over GST reform, the points they add go some way to fleshing out the case as to why it is this particular tax that potentially holds the key to remedying a gaping (and growing) structural hole in government sector revenue receipts.

Quite simply — and as we have also discussed — the federal government’s reliance on income taxes has become an unhealthy one, to say the least; with an ageing population and a third of the total population dependent on some form of government handout, the capacity of income taxes to contribute adequate revenues to fund government service delivery is shrinking: and the only way to redress this, in isolation, is through bracket creep and lifting marginal tax rates.

In other words, the tax burden is increasingly shouldered by a disproportionate and shrinking contingent of the population: hardly fair, to use a term beloved of Labor, or conducive to savings and wealth accrual (any discussion around “the rich” not on my radar today).

A lifting and broadening of the GST, however — a growth tax that will rise as the economy expands and consumption increases — can fund cuts in income tax and increases to pensions to insulate the less well-off from its effects, whilst also switching the tax mix from emphasising income to expenditure: and partially alleviating the issue of repeated taxation of the same income as savings accrue interest, for example.

It is true that irresponsible Labor and its Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have flatly refused, at the outset, to countenance any overhaul of the GST; this is entirely consistent with the ALP’s thoroughly irresponsible approach to its politics in the present day and its bloody-minded populism of opposing anything remotely unpalatable in the naked pursuit of winning power for its own sake.

It’s not the behaviour of a party with a well-earned reputation for economic reforms in the 1980s, and is an insult to the Hawke-Keating legacy. But even so.

My point is that tough measures like the GST must be examined if a reasonable and effective solution to the structural hole in the federal budget is to ever be addressed.

Yes, Senate intransigence might very well see any attempt to legislate change sabotaged.

But this government — which to date has mostly slunk away from such defeats, with vague references to the crossbench Senators — needs to play hardball rather than letting the ALP off the hook for its wanton vandalism of responsible government measures.

Yes, it is true the crossbench holds the balance of power. But for it to defeat bills in the Senate, the ALP must first line up against those initiatives as well — and rather than attempt a public discussion over the minutiae of Senate process, the government really needs to be pinning a lot more of the blame for such defeats where it belongs — on the ALP.

I simply note this morning that the GST (and changes to it) are back in prospect: as they rightly should be.

There are other, past discussions on the matter readers can access through the GST tag in the tag cloud to the right of this article.

But if the case for change is adequately made, it should be Labor — and not the government — that is forced into the perennial defence of its handiwork or, in this case, for the ritual sabotage of measures aimed at fixing the very problem Labor presided over and exacerbated whilst in government.

I will be back with something else (and a little more time to talk about it) this evening.

 

Labor Will Expel Martin Ferguson At Its Peril

THE MOVE BY UNIONS and the ALP to expel former ACTU head, Labor MP and minister Martin Ferguson — for no greater crime than attempting to talk sense, and to motivate Labor into the 21st century — will be realised only to the ALP’s detriment; a party that stands for no more than the getting of power on behalf of union thugs, obtained by flagrant dishonesty and reprehensible means, will soon enough have nothing to offer anyone who matters.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this, for it is neither my desire nor my intention to argue the ALP into common sense and sanity.

But the substance of a report appearing in the Fairfax press today throws into stark relief the unfathomable and self-defeating lengths to which the union movement — and by extension, the Labor Party — is prepared to go to safeguard what it appears to believe are its interests even if, as is patently clear to most outside the movement, those “interests” run counter to arguably every other major grouping in the country.

We spoke prior to Saturday’s state election in NSW — convincingly won by the Liberal Party — about the racist scare campaign the ALP mounted over the Baird government’s platform of leasing 49% of the state’s electricity infrastructure to the private sector; the anti-Asian, anti-Chinese bent of this campaign (initiated, unsurprisingly, at the behest of the NSW divisions of militant unions) was thoroughly rejected by voters as it deserved to be, and its backfire upon the Labor Party (whilst unquantifiable) is probably the reason the corrective swing against the Coalition was well under the accepted likely threshold of a minimum of 10%.

That campaign was vociferously opposed by Labor elder statesmen such as Paul Keating and Michael Costa, and with good reason: such a race-based scare campaign is intolerable at the best of times, but for Labor to do it for no better reason than to protect the featherbedded nests of its union masters is reprehensible.

Martin Ferguson’s was one Labor voice among many that expressed unease and/or disgust with NSW Labor’s election tactics, although he has been singled out for special treatment by the unions; Ferguson has committed the cardinal sin of aligning himself with the business community in the eyes of militant unionists, and for this it seems he must pay with the withdrawal of his “privilege” to Labor Party membership.

After the conclusion of his parliamentary career 18 months ago, Ferguson joined a panel that provided advice to lobbyists in the oil and gas sector: in the eyes of the head of the notorious Maritime Union of Australia, Kevin Bracken, Ferguson now “advocates purely for business” and “doesn’t represent any union at all.”

Ferguson was supportive of the privatisation program of the Baird government for the same sound reasons others like Keating were: it would free up funds for infrastructure works (that, incidentally, would provide union labour with thousands of jobs); it would partially divest the state of depreciating assets that in time will be worth no more than the land they sit on, and which will revert to the state anyway; and — and this is the kicker that should sway any politician seeking to curry favour with voters — electricity prices in those states with privatised electricity assets have risen less, and remain comparatively lower, than those states in which full ownership of networks has been retained in state hands.

But Ferguson has gone further, arguing in favour of the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with references the militant CFMEU should be brought to heel — and this seems nearer the mark where unions’ vitriol toward him is concerned, for federal Labor “leader” Bill Shorten combined with the Communist Party Greens earlier this month to scuttle an Abbott government bill that would have held the union movement to the same standards of governance as the business sector.

And the unions — as everyone who refuses to have anything to do with them knows — believe themselves very much a cut above everyone else.

My point is that Ferguson (with an impeccable old-school unionist Labor pedigree, no less) belongs to a small band of old Labor hands who not only see the evolutionary path Labor must take if it is to survive and prosper, but is prepared to stick his neck out to advocate for it.

Throwing him out of the party will achieve nothing — or at least, nothing of benefit to the unions, or to the Labor Party.

Of course the ABCC must be reinstituted, and violent and lawless unions either tamed or deregistered: community standards will not tolerate one set of laws for the 15% of the population that retains trade union membership and another set for the overwhelming majority of the population that is far harsher and more stringent.

Of course the unions’ stand against electricity privatisation, manifested in the disgusting campaign by NSW Labor, was wrong: let’s just forget about its racist foundations for a moment, although that’s bad enough. At root, this campaign was aimed at inflicting higher energy prices on the NSW public to preserve the sinecure of a handful of union officials. There is no justification whatsoever for embedding such a position within the platform of a major political party in a democratic context.

But more than anything, the union movement has shown again that it is rooted in a past that no longer exists; if, that is, it should have ever existed at all.

A movement representing 15% of the working-age population has neither the moral nor numerical right to control or dictate to the other 85%.

There is no justification for the union movement to be treated any differently to business and commercial entities.

It is an irony of sorts that Ferguson’s involvement with lobbyists of any description should be the pretext for the unions’ moves to have him thrown out of the Labor Party when the unions, too, are no more than lobbyists themselves (or at least, that’s the theory).

And it is a further irony that they should rail against Ferguson’s involvement with business — which provides all of the jobs unions so lovingly profess to provide representation for — when there is ample evidence that by its actions, its tactics and their outcomes, the union movement is the single largest destroyer of employment and livelihoods in this country.

Any cursory study of the car industry is sufficient to substantiate the point.

I could go on, but this much is clear: Ferguson, like a small number of his ilk, can see exactly what is wrong with the union movement and the ALP, where they need to change, and how they must adapt if they are to carry any relevance whatsoever in the Australia of the 21st century.

If all Labor has to work with are lying scare campaigns, bigotry, and the personal vilification and crucifixion of opponents such as Tony Abbott for no other reason than they are a recognisable threat, then it has nothing to offer to those who really matter: the men and women of Australia who elect governments, and who depend on the outcomes they deliver.

Already, the parliamentary ranks of the ALP across the country are far too heavily skewed toward union hacks and other self-interested leeches who are happy to gather and concentrate power in their own hands, but who exhibit scant and cavalier regard for those they expect will deliver it to them.

Soon enough — if Ferguson is expelled, and as others like him depart voluntarily or otherwise, out of disillusion or sheer disgust — Labor will have nobody left to fortify it with reason, or substance, or a perspective that is in any way meaningful.

If the ALP succumbs to the decree of its union masters and expels Ferguson from its ranks, it will do so at its peril: and if the unions, with or without the collusion and complicity of their stooges in the Labor Party, continue on the kind of course they have embarked upon in this instance, they will do so to their great — and perhaps terminal — cost.

Karma Bus: Labor Gets Its Very Own Geoff Shaw Figure In Queensland

IN A CLASSIC CASE of “what goes around comes around,” a visit from the karma bus has brought Labor its own Geoff Shaw-style liability; rather than appear in Victoria — where Shaw himself caused the Coalition great angst, merrily and recklessly fuelled by an irresponsible ALP — the shipment of certain trouble has been delivered to the knife-edge Queensland government. Labor will now rue its mindlessly destructive antics south of the Murray.

The old adage about two wrongs not making a right might be a noble sentiment, but the means by which to deliver the Labor Party a taste of its own medicine has landed in the lap of Queensland’s LNP opposition, which — like Labor in Victoria between 2010 and 2014 — must scarcely be able to believe its luck.

For good measure, a visit from the proverbial karma bus has delivered the ALP ample recompense for the brazenly irresponsible and wantonly tasteless effort it invested in miscreant former Liberal MP Geoff Shaw, whose escapades and Labor’s ruthless exploitation of them went so far as to render the competent Liberal state government of Denis Napthine unelectable.

Queenslanders may or may not know the name “Geoff Shaw” but whether they do or not, a local version of this menace will soon become a household name in the Sunshine State, and — like Shaw himself, for all the wrong reasons.

In a delicious twist of fate, it is in Queensland — where Labor holds office in minority, and not in Victoria — that this liability has been visited upon the ALP.

(UPDATED, 3.50pm: Billy Gordon has (rightly) been expelled from the ALP, with Annastacia Palaszczuk demanding he also quit Parliament; whatever happens now, this mess still has a long way to run and will still cause Queensland Labor a lot of grief. We will continue to monitor proceedings with interest).

The revelation that the recently elected MP for the Queensland seat of Cook Billy Gordon failed, at all times until the past few days, to disclose a significant history of criminal behaviour lights a powderkeg beneath the minority Queensland government that — like the fraught Geoff Shaw issue faced by the Coalition in government in Victoria under Denis Napthine — threatens to derail its hold on office and potentially send Queenslanders to a fresh state election later this year.

That Gordon could pose a problem to Anna Palaszczuk’s government first became apparent a little earlier, when it emerged that he owed significant arrears in child support payments and later that he had a history as the perpetrator for domestic violence: matters that in hindsight seem to have been the trigger for the full disclosure of his sordid criminal past.

And despite Gordon’s statement apparently seeking to attribute his errant behaviour on a deprived upbringing and to distance himself from his actions on the basis they were done by a young man, the itinerary of offences he committed spans more than 20 years: adequate time, one might expect if being generous, for a rotten character to see the fault of his or her ways and to mend them.

Gordon, to put not too fine a point on it, is unfit to serve as an elected member of Parliament: a dubious character and serial perpetrator of actual physical violence and a string of other misdemeanours, there is no place for him in any house of governance in this country — and I am uninterested in excuses blathered to the contrary by the compassion babbling bullshit lobby that invariably leaps to the fore in such circumstances to explain away and rationalise what is an unacceptable pattern of blatantly unlawful behaviour.

That is the problem. It makes Geoff Shaw, with his misuse of parliamentary resources and destructively eccentric delusions of importance, look like a veritable saint by comparison.

Readers — especially those from Queensland, where all of this is just the beginning of the kind of political lawlessness (no pun intended) gleefully visited upon a Liberal government by a reckless Labor Party — can access the copious discussion pieces I published on the Victorian situation through the “Geoff Shaw” tag from the tag cloud at the right of this article.

But just as Labor took untold delight in turning the screws on Napthine — it supported expelling Shaw, then when Napthine lined up to throw him out of state Parliament, the ALP refused, thanks to the one-seat Coalition majority that rested on Shaw’s vote — it now faces a dose of its own medicine provided the LNP is willing to mete out the same treatment in Queensland as its southern cousin was subjected to over an issue that was largely no fault of its own.

And there’s the rub: Queensland Labor is not responsible, at face value, for Gordon’s misadventures.

Yes, its vetting procedures should have uncovered them, and yes, this points to deep flaws in the way the Queensland ALP goes about its business: and it’s a sure bet that given the nature of the beast (and the stakes now at hand), those processes will be overhauled in an attempt to ensure the party cannot be embarrassed by this type of unwanted surprise again.

Yet such sentiments are in no way different to the kind of talk faced by the Liberals in Victoria: why did they even preselect Geoff Shaw in the first place? Of course, Shaw was only ever a candidate because the Liberals’ intended candidate fell seriously ill and was unable to contest the seat of Frankston at the 2010 state election. In her place came the odious Shaw, ostensibly from a copybook small business background, but — like Gordon — too defective a character to merit or warrant a seat in Parliament.

But Labor in Victoria revelled in Shaw and his flaws, just as the Queensland LNP should be merciless in returning that dubious favour now.

And for her part, Palaszczuk is cornered.

She cannot engineer Gordon’s expulsion from Parliament; the ensuing by-election in Cook — despite the margin of close to 10% recorded at the January election — could not be guaranteed as a Labor win, and a loss in such a scenario would make a change of government (supported by the two Katter MPs) a virtual certainty: with the major parties then tied at 43-all, it is inconceivable Labor could retain the confidence of the House.

She cannot engineer Gordon’s expulsion from the ALP, either: as an Independent MP involuntarily removed from the Labor caucus, Gordon would be free to do whatever he liked, which would include voting down any or all government legislation he felt disinclined to support, and would extend as far — as Geoff Shaw did — as threatening to vote the minority government out of office altogether on the floor of Queensland’s unicameral Parliament.

And she cannot take the obvious course of a fresh election to confirm her “mandate:” unlike Napthine, locked into the strictures of a fixed four-year term in Victoria, an election would seem the logical way of breaking any deadlock the Gordon issue imposed on the Queensland Parliament.

But given considerations around the likelihood or otherwise of a Labor win, the cost involved, and the likely ire another state election would draw from Queensland’s poll-weary voters, in practice Palaszczuk stands to be just as locked into the same daily battle to manage an impossible situation as Napthine was.

And the LNP should be just as ruthless and unrelenting about forcing Palaszczuk to twist and dangle and contort in the wind as her counterparts in Victoria were until they won a state election — largely off Shaw’s back.

Regular readers know that despite my very high personal opinion of Queensland opposition leader Lawrence Springborg and his excellent work as an LNP minister in the Newman government, I have severe misgivings over this three-time election loser representing a winning proposition at a fourth electoral outing, and especially over the palatability or otherwise of a rural MP to the large and growing urban population that now constitutes the majority of the Queensland electorate.

Even so, what goes around comes around: and just as an otherwise hopeless Labor Party with nothing of any substance to offer Victorian voters cynically turned Geoff Shaw into a weapon of great electoral advantage over an unfortunate Premier of real substance and vision, so too should the LNP rub Labor’s nose in Queensland in the dirt thrown up by revelations of the past conduct of its MP for Cook.

Perhaps if forced to confront exactly the same unprincipled treatment it sees fit to dish out to its own opponents, Labor might think twice before embarking on the same mindlessly base course in the future.

It won’t, of course. But that is no reason for it not to be forced to rue its antics in Victoria.

As for Gordon, if he is as reformed as he claims to be, he would do the right thing and leave Parliament of his own volition — irrespective of the potential consequences for the ALP.

Just like Shaw, he won’t. And in my view, that is reason enough for Gordon — and Palaszczuk — to be regarded as fair game.

The LNP is free do its worst.

Newspoll Confirms Thumping Liberal Win In NSW

NSW PREMIER MIKE BAIRD is set to be convincingly re-elected today, with final opinion polls suggesting a ten-point advantage over the ALP after preferences; Newspoll — published in The Australian — reinforces a trend of slight movement away from Labor picked up by a Galaxy poll yesterday, and the consistency of polling suggests an easy win for the Coalition that will provide both the Liberal Party and the ALP with much to ponder federally.

I am going to try to keep this brief, as I have a Liberal Party State Council meeting to attend in Melbourne this morning and I am going to have to get my skates on; with polls opening in NSW shortly and the final (much-awaited) Newspoll now released it’s prudent to make a few remarks about the outcome of today’s state election.

As I noted yesterday, the trend (to the extent there has been one) in NSW polling over the past month or so has seen a slight firming of support for Mike Baird’s Coalition government, with Galaxy’s final findings suggesting a 54-46 margin after preferences, which in turn widened the projected margin of victory from 53-47 results recorded earlier on; today’s Newspoll continues and reinforces the theme, and shows the government ahead by a 55-45 margin and set for an easy state election win.

Readers can access the final Newspoll results here.

It does rather seem that unlike its counterparts in Victoria and New South Wales, the NSW Liberal Party is not going to be forced into the kind of post-election recriminations and involuntary restructuring that now awaits its northern and southern siblings: and it is, to an extent, ironic that the State Council I am going to today will formalise a sweeping overhaul of the party’s elected executive in Victoria, with powerbroker and strategist Michael Kroger to return as state President unopposed in a sorely needed restoration of some real political nous to the division.

It is true the NSW branch has its problems; even so, it is perhaps a tribute to the party’s state director, Tony Nutt — a “Mr Fixit” in the party, who has doubled as the campaign manager for the NSW Coalition — that in spite of whatever obstacles these, and the so-called “Abbott factor” might pose, NSW will continue to be governed strongly by the Liberal Party and in the kind of shape most incoming governments will kill to enjoy at a first-up election win.

Yesterday I noted the numbers polling had produced suggested a win for the Coalition of between 50 and 55 of the 93 lower house seats in NSW, and barring some late and undetected movement that appears out of nowhere, today’s Newspoll — reinforcing both the general quantum of Coalition support and the ongoing mild trend toward the Coalition as the campaign has progressed — makes me think the government’s tally will be nearer the upper end of that range.

For a little perspective, if the Coalition wins 53 or 54 seats, it would compare favourably with the landslide result that swept Nick Greiner to office in 1988 with 59 of the (then) 109 lower house seats; for the ALP — which one might expect to emerge with perhaps 35-37 seats — the result would be only incrementally better than the 31 seats the Coalition held onto in the big Labor win over Kerry Chikarovski in 1999.

Newspoll’s findings, as readers will see, almost perfectly match those identified by Galaxy yesterday.

But Labor has squandered a big opportunity to punch Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the nose again today, for prior to the ill-advised and insidiously race-tinged “fear” campaign it embarked upon over electricity asset leasing, the numbers had hovered dangerously close to the point at which Baird’s government faced the real risk of being forced into minority.

Its leader, Luke Foley, is likely to survive, at least in the sort to medium term; yet after the likely defeat he is going to suffer tonight, it is impossible to imagine he will lead the ALP at the subsequent state election due in 2019.

Foley (as most observers expected, including me) has prosecuted an irresponsible election campaign that tugged a forelock to the union warlords who dictate what the ALP says and does these days; the central issue of the election campaign — Baird’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets to generate funds for infrastructure and development — posed a test that the Labor leader has failed, and failed badly.

The appeal to anti-Asian prejudices as a pretext to elect the ALP deserves to be answered with the scorn and contempt of the hefty electoral loss it appears certain to elicit.

And as simply another cardboard cut-out yes man prepared to do and say anything the unions want him to, Foley is hardly positioned to offer NSW voters an exciting alternative at this election or, indeed, at any other.

It remains to be seen just how comprehensive Baird’s win today will be, and in some respects the real contest is for control of the state’s upper house, where the government needs to make gains in the seats last elected in 2007 to make control of both houses a realistic prospect.

But either way, the instant trigger for another move against Abbott in the federal party room is not going to materialise from this election in the form of the loss of another Liberal state government.

The federal Liberals, of course, face their own challenges in the months ahead; not least on account of the looming budget in May. Anything, of course, could result from this, and as I have consistently opined, last year’s shocker inspires little faith that this year’s effort will be any better, and it disturbs me that in “resetting his government neither of the two most glaring problems — Chief of Staff Peta Credlin and Treasurer Joe Hockey — were removed.

On the latter, Hockey will probably get the breathing room he needs to make it as far as his very last chance as Treasurer to turn in a budget that addresses both the ballooning debt and deficit quagmire bequeathed by Labor, and the Coalition’s own political needs: if he is as good as Abbott continues to insist, all I can say is that based on last year’s effort there can only be upside for the government in this regard should Hockey deliver something of real value for once.

But on the former, I am encouraged that Nutt is said to be returning to Canberra after this election in what seems to be at least the partial assumption of Credlin’s duties; anything that diminishes the presence and influence of to ubiquitous Credlin can only be a good thing, and right now Nutt is one of the few senior advisers in the Coalition’s ranks with a sound record of achievement wherever he has been deployed by the Liberals: a reputation that can only be enhanced by the successful oversight and navigation of what presented as a surprisingly difficult state election when it should, of course, been a walkover from the beginning.

Anyhow, I said this morning’s post would be brief: some final remarks ahead of what should be a very strong re-election showing by the Coalition in NSW, and whilst surprises can always materialise where votes and voters are concerned, the nightmare scenario of a repeat of the NSW Liberals’ 1991 debacle appears, happily, not to be in prospect in any way today.

I will of course be watching Antony Green’s analysis of the count tonight — beer, red wine and pizza are something of an election night trifecta in my house on state election nights — and may post again late in the evening or the Sunday small hours but either way, I am certain the Coalition will win this election and win it strongly, the natural correction that was always going to happen after a one-sided walloping four years ago notwithstanding.

 

NSW: Racist Labor Campaign Steers Baird To Certain Win

THE BRAZENLY RACIST campaign deployed by the ALP in New South Wales — attempting to frighten voters about Chinese investment in the state’s utility assets, and appealing to base human prejudice — is rightly set to explode in Labor’s face, with Premier Mike Baird now certain of victory in tomorrow’s state election. It terminates Labor’s slender hope for a cheeky election win, and should bring questions over Labor’s methods into open question.

Say anything to win an election:” when it comes to perceptions of politics and politicians, this dubious “principle” ranks near the top of any list of voters’ gripes about the people who govern them, but in recent times the practice of telling the electorate literally anything to accrue votes — with scant regard for the responsibility, accuracy or decency of such statements — has underpinned a ballooning proportion of Labor’s communications with the voting public.

Now, it seems set to cost them.

NSW Premier Mike Baird can go to the polls tomorrow assured of victory, barring some cataclysmic unforeseen disaster today; in the wake of NSW Labor’s idiotic and reprehensible attempt to damage the Coalition with suggestions Chinese participation in the government’s asset leasing program would compromise national security and drive up electricity prices, the latest Galaxy poll for the Daily Telegraph has found the government’s final standing rests at a 55-45 lead over the ALP.

Coming after two other polls in the past week showing the Liberals ahead by a 54-46 margin on the two-party measure, the three polls more or less validate each other, and confirm two things: one, that the decline in the state Coalition’s vote over the past year was arrested before it plunged into the electoral red zone of uncertain outcomes; and two, that the NSW Coalition — unlike its LNP counterparts in Queensland in January — has actually widening its lead over Labor by a couple of points during the campaign.

It also means that in the event of an unexpected late Labor surge or the “accentuation” of the swing away from the government by NSW’s optional preferential voting system, the Baird government has a buffer of a couple of points before it can be put at risk of losing its majority (a prospect that comes into play with a 2PPV of less than 53%), whereas the LNP in Queensland fronted up on polling day already well inside this prospective killing zone, with final polls showing it on 51% (in the event, the ALP scored 51.1% in Queensland after preferences).

Galaxy finds Baird preferred as Premier over Labor’s Luke Foley by better than a two-to-one margin, leading on this measure by 53% to 25%, and whilst this measure is historically difficult for opposition leaders to head, Foley’s position in the death throes of this state election campaign compares extremely poorly with similar results from other state Labor leaders in Queensland and Victoria (and even the Liberal Steven Marshall in last year’s ill-fated election in South Australia) ahead of the most recent elections in those states.

Readers can access the Tele‘s breakdown of the Galaxy results here; accounting for the final election polls we’ve seen thus far, it seems a swing of 9-10% against the Coalition is in order, which should see it returned to office with between 50 and 55 of the 93 seats in the NSW lower house. Based on the election result in 2011, it faces voters with a notional 69 seats, the results of a number of by-elections since then notwithstanding.

For Baird and the Liberals, it seems the widely anticipated “Abbott factor” will be at worst insufficient to cruel their electoral prospects, and whilst a portion of the swing against the government will inevitably be ascribed to the unpopularity of the Prime Minister and his government, it won’t be decisive: and unlike the election in Queensland in January, this consideration was really NSW Labor’s only real hope for causing another boilover in yet another Liberal-held state.

Just like the unexpected Newspoll on Monday — coloured as it probably was by NSW state voting intention rubbing off on findings around federal support — a state election win in NSW could provide a fillip for the Abbott government which, if skilfully exploited, could see this week used as the bedrock upon which to mount a sustained political recovery (although with another Hockey budget and the patent risks associated with it coming up, we’re not going down that tangent this morning).

I think — despite its problems, the most obvious of which has been the loss of 10 MPs over donations scandals uncovered at ICAC, including former Premier Barry O’Farrell — that the government deserves to be re-elected tomorrow; after a slow start and especially since Baird took the reins last year, the Coalition has gone some way to repair the mess left in NSW after 16 years of Labor government, and has taken steps to kick-start Australia’s largest state economy after the torpor and dysfunction in which it was left in 2011.

I should be clear, however, that had Labor not made an unbelievably unprincipled slip this week — pandering to racial prejudices over the Baird government’s plan to lease 49% of the state’s electricity assets — that tomorrow could well have been on track to see a much different outcome, with an incrementally larger swing enough to at least force the Coalition into minority and with it, inflict a rerun of the infamous 1991 result on the conservatives.

I’m not at all surprised Labor has been crass enough to try to fan anti-Chinese sentiment as a way of garnering support; the increasingly amoral campaign methods used by the ALP have been surfing very close to the line insofar as acceptable political conduct is concerned for some time, and arguably crossed it in Victoria last year as militant unionists donned facsimiles of emergency services uniforms to masquerade as ambulance drivers and firefighters (and to harass and bully people into voting Labor at polling booths, no less).

It is a credit to prominent NSW Labor figures such as Paul Keating and Michael Costa that their has been a blunt and unequivocal put-down of Labor’s latest campaign tactic.

The wanton politics of race have no part in a campaign like this — if there was some actual issue that sat squarely in the middle of legitimate community disquiet over actual events and/or actions, it might be different.

But Labor’s talk about security concerns stemming merely from the fact Chinese companies are interested in investment opportunities the asset leasing program will present is tasteless, to say the least.

Perversely — for all its talk of commitment to minorities and the championing of diversity — Labor has shown its true colours, more than willing to brazenly play the race card when political need suits it. It will be interesting indeed to see whether this shifts votes to the Coalition in the seats that house Sydney’s Chinese community, which is the largest in the country.

But really, this seemingly isolated issue is symptomatic of the insidious disease afflicting Labor more widely.

In NSW, it seeks to win votes by fanning anti-Chinese sentiment, and by threatening to cancel the very licences for coal seam gas exploration in the north of the state it issued itself in its last term in office just a few years ago.

In Victoria, it lined up rent-a-crowds composed of union thugs to pretend to be trusted emergency services personnel, in a ruse that worked, although voters in Melbourne are unlikely to fall for it a second time, and voters elsewhere now know what to expect.

Labor graduated to that disgusting ploy from using union members to pose as “sick” patients on hospital trolleys in Melbourne’s Alfred hospital to advance a wage claim.

Federally, Labor prosecutes a fallacious and malicious personal crusade aimed at destroying Abbott not just politically, but personally as well.

It flatly denies the consequences of its mismanagement of federal finances, and spent part of its last term in office setting up the situation wherein exploding residual federal spending steadily worsens a budget deficit to the point it kills off a Liberal government (so Labor itself, presumably, can return to government to wreak even more damage as a bulwark against “next time”).

On and on it goes. Labor will say, and do, literally anything to win office.

As I have always said, Labor cares about power, not people: and happily enough, this shameful flaw in its priorities is set to explode in the party’s face tomorrow.

When the dust from tomorrow’s election has settled, the Liberal Party across Australia will have been charged with a fresh obligation: to stop shadow-boxing and obsessing over risk aversion, and tackle the hideous Labor ogre for what it is: an unprincipled and reprehensible stain on governance prepared to compromise or sell out anything, literally, in the naked lust for power and the indulgence of union cronies whose violent and wanton militancy should have been left in the 1970s where they belong.

Baird deserves his election win tomorrow, and I have no reluctance in providing an unqualified endorsement for a vote for the Liberal and National parties, albeit one that would have been more difficult to make were his predecessor still Premier.

Yet these considerations are based on issues, facts, and the balance of political realities; Labor’s campaign has ended with a racist taunt and a xenophobic smear.

NSW voters should be thankful that the ALP will not be returning to the Treasury benches in Macquarie Street for at least the next four years.

Union’s Penalty Rates Deal A Smoke And Mirrors Trick

THE DEAL ON PENALTY RATES announced yesterday between Business SA and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association may be a rare and welcome shred of labour market flexibility, and it may even constitute a step in the right direction. But robbing Peter to pay Paul is a fraught pursuit, and this smoke and mirrors trick simply cloaks the underlying burden of wage costs to businesses in a veil of “consultation” and “consensus.”

I have been reading about the “historic” template agreement signed yesterday between the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDAEA) and Business SA — which is said to “slash” penalty rates — and I have to wonder if I’m the only one who hasn’t been conned by what can only be described as a hoax; The Australian‘s Grace Collier tears strips from it in a complementary argument to mine, although stablemate Judith Sloan takes a gentler view of it.

The whole point to any debate over penalty rates (at least, where the poor bastards in small business lumbered with paying them is concerned) is that these archaic, obsolete relics from a bygone era as “compensation” for “unsociable hours of work” have in fact become a millstone around the figurative necks of many small and medium-sized enterprises, forcing them to restrict the times they trade, the number of staff they can hire, or both.

But this deal is simply a conjuring trick; everyone with a stake in it professes to have had “a win” — even the employers, their industry representatives, and the supposedly pro-business Liberal government — yet the only winner out of this is the union involved, which has hoodwinked the business interests concerned by a breathtaking sleight of hand.

First, the positives as I see them.

One, the abandoning of penalty rates on a Saturday is an absolute no-brainer, and this indefensible impost on businesses ought to be removed across the board: Saturday has become a day just like any other over the past few decades, and there is nothing unsociable about working on it.

Two, and similarly, the reduction of penalty rates from 100% to 50% on Sundays and from 150% to 100% on public holidays is at least a step in the right direction, reducing at face value as it does further imposts on small enterprises that — with a tiny number of exceptions, such as Christmas — simply fail to stack up against the ancient criteria still wheeled out by Labor and the unions to justify them.

The “right” — set to be enshrined as part of the agreement at hand — not to work on Sundays and/or public holidays is one I can find no fault with; after all, if people don’t want to work on given days they shouldn’t be forced to do so, although I reiterate that with a very small number of exceptions they shouldn’t have their hand out for multiples of their ordinary time earnings if they do work at those times.

And anything that helps flatten out and simplify a ridiculously complex regime of penalty allowances, loadings, and other wage components for hourly employees can only be a good thing.

But the positives are instantly neutralised with one very big negative: the 8% increase in base pay rates the agreement enshrines for its workers in return for surrendering a portion (not all, mind, just a portion) of their entitlement to be paid penalty rates at certain times, and the guaranteed 3% annual increases it includes will simply compound this.

On the one hand, this agreement takes some penalty rates away — some — from the hourly employees it will cover.

But on the other, it will mostly give them straight back in the form of a higher hourly rate.

The proof is that the template calls for the workers it covers for it to be no worse off under its terms for the agreement to be binding.

And the employers, desperate for relief from the punitive burden of paying penalty rates, will still pay out the same amount of money in wages — but broken down and accounted for a little differently.

The higher hourly rates will mean the employer effectively pays current penalty rates at any time of the day or night on any day an employee is working in their business.

What an absolute farce.

It’s unsurprising Labor and the unions are gushing over this; the SDAEA has probably uncovered an exciting new mechanism, compliant with the Fair Work Act, with which to continue to shaft small businesses whilst preserving their self-designated status as the “champions” of Australian workers.

It’s unsurprising the union, even a right-wing union like the Shoppies, would strike such a deal (despite any illusion otherwise) because it enables it to diminish a contentious area of industrial policy — penalty rates — by hiding part of it in an area of wage entitlements that it will never be held to account or challenged over; the penalty rate problem becomes smaller, more manageable and easier to fend off, whilst the unmitigated overall pressures on business are maintained.

But it is a surprise, distastefully enough, that various employer and industry bodies are hailing this as some kind of breakthrough when it is nothing of the sort; a red herring like this should have been easy to spot, and apparently it wasn’t.

And it’s just obscene that various figures in the Abbott government have seen fit to crow about this deal as “a constructive approach” and a “vindication” of its thoroughly gutless position that setting penalty rates should be left to the Fair Work Commission — which Labor in government set up as part of its sop to unions for their role in destroying the Howard government over its WorkChoices legislation.

About the only one of the key players quoted in the articles I’ve included today who has it right is Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who described South Australia as an “economic basket case” and correctly observed that those who want to work on weekends had been priced out of the market by penalty rates.

And crucially, when the dust settles and the businesses affected reconcile their outgoings on labour — and find nothing has changed — this deal will not make it easier for a single new job to be created, despite the loose rhetoric being tossed around to that effect.

In the final analysis, the union has insulated the earnings of its members by permanently entrenching the cost burden of penalty rates on the affected employers under a different guise.

It can hardly be described as a reform. The parties to this silly agreement might as well have not bothered in the first place.