A DISGUSTING ATTACK on Malcolm Turnbull based on grimy, baseless accusations of tax avoidance and made in the most general terms shows not just the moral and intellectual torpor of “modern” Labor, but how disconnected it is from the Australian ethos of “having a go.” The PM used enterprise and a stomach for risk to attain personal wealth. Diatribes based on envious hatred have no place in a country built on opportunity and reward for effort.
This column has never made a secret of its opposition to Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party, based on his track record in the role in 2008-09 and marked differences in outlook over social policy and the future of Australia’s constitutional arrangements, but even at times it has savaged him the argument has never been personal: indeed, the personal regard I have for Turnbull is genuine — difficult as it is for some to comprehend the ability to separate personal and political considerations — and there is a great deal of respect for the man despite the differences that place us at opposite ends of the broad Liberal church.
In any case, I call things as I see them in this column: sometimes Turnbull will get the benefit of that and sometimes he won’t. ‘Twas ever thus, as he might say himself.
Even so, respect is earned, which is why so little of it is ever accorded here to Bill Shorten who, along with some of his repulsive henchmen in both the ALP and the broader labour movement, is an abject disgrace to this country and a poor candidate to ever serve in its highest office of state.
Shorten’s Labor Party has proven this week why it is so deserving of the contempt of decent, thinking Australian people with a despicable personal attack on Turnbull based on the (substantial) personal wealth he accrued in the career in private enterprise he pursued prior to entering Parliament in 2004; the suggestion that because some of Turnbull’s investments are held in funds registered in the Cayman Islands — known, admittedly, as a tax haven — he must himself be a tax dodger and defrauder is reprehensible, made as it was without a shred of proof.
The Labor onslaught seems to have been predicated on the syllogistic reasoning that because some people use the Cayman Islands to evade tax, and because Malcolm Turnbull has investments held in the Cayman Islands, that Malcolm Turnbull is engaged in tax evasion; as any child intelligent enough to spot the flaw in the elephants are pink/Nelly is an elephant/therefore Nelly is pink argument can tell you, such a specious case is, quite literally, a joke.
I saw Turnbull’s speech in Question Time yesterday (and you can access it through this article by Dennis Shanahan in The Australian today) and I can only say that where he might have been entitled to be angry, Turnbull’s response was measured, appropriate, and lethal to the tasteless charge levelled at him by Shorten and his goons: there is no reason not to believe his statement that all tax payable on investment income he has earned has been paid in Australia and paid in full, and were this in any way untrue, then as sure as night follows day Labor would have found documentary evidence to show it.
It didn’t. It hasn’t. And it won’t.
The motivation for the ALP attack isn’t difficult to discern.
Ever since Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard led a crusade to underpin governance in this country with state-sanctioned socialism under the populist auspices of “fairness,” the politics of class envy and hatred have been central to the ALP’s economic and social narratives; “the rich” are a constant target of Labor’s (and, not so coincidentally, the Greens’) fatuous rhetoric.
Taken to its inevitable and logical conclusion, the utterances of the ALP are indicative of a vision of wealth and success destroyed by taxation and other punitive imposts on the one hand, with the proceeds redistributed on the other not merely to the poor and those unable to help themselves but also to the lazy, the disaffected, and those who would prefer to vilify those who’ve had ago and simply demand a cut of what they’ve made without getting off their arses themselves.
There is nothing “progressive” about this. There is nothing “fair” — to use Shorten’s favourite word — about it either. It is simply an endeavour to seize power by fanning the resentment and prejudices of the lazy and useless against those who have made something of themselves, and such a strategy ranks among the basest and most contemptible imaginable.
Turnbull noted that there are plenty of people who (literally) work harder than he has done, who have little or nothing to show; there are, I would add, plenty of people who have taken risks in enterprise and business who have lost a lot of money, in some cases losing livelihoods, marriages, families and/or fortunes, and of course these people are deserving of empathy.
Yet the simple fact is that there is no reward without risk, and this country extends opportunity to anyone who seriously wants to try their hand in life: and in this regard, Turnbull’s transformation of a $450,000 capital outlay into a $59 million windfall through his OzEmail venture would seem a very astute exercise indeed, and one later repeated when he cashed out his interests in the investment banking firm he helped to found.
That these are the kinds of activities some will never have the opportunity to emulate is undeniable. But Turnbull, who himself comes from a tragic and modest background indeed, took full advantage of the opportunities he encountered and had the smarts and brains to do so, and this is cause for great admiration: not hatred, or contempt, or some half-arsed attempt to wreck the man with unfounded slurs and despicably dishonest accusations designed to appeal to the very worst instincts of the gullible, the impressionable, and the downright stupid.
That Labor’s attack exploded in its face — and that the detonation was triggered by Turnbull’s response personally, no less — is entirely appropriate, and highly satisfactory to boot.
But there is a bigger issue here, and it is one that Labor may well have unintentionally allowed Turnbull to run hard on, without any serious fallout in a period dominated by intellectually dishonest diatribes from the Left about “fairness” and shovelling (borrowed) government largesse all over the have-nots, the lazy, the brainless haters and the wantonly greedy, and it is this.
For there to be any kind of pie for government to divide up at all, there must be wealth; for there to be wealth at all, there must be opportunity, incentive, reward for risk-taking (within the confines of the law) and hard work in fields well-removed from the lives of ordinary humble folk that nonetheless generate vast income streams that are able to be appropriately taxed.
Destroy that wealth — or the conducive climate that enables it to be generated — and any form of socialist redistribution (which is what it is) becomes impossible.
Instead of creating faux definitions of a “rich” person as anyone earning more than $150,000 per annum and then setting out to tax the living daylights out of them to bring them closer to the gutter, the ALP — and Shorten’s union buddies who’ve been lining their pockets at the expense of the business community, and are now being found out at a Royal Commission they have desperately and hysterically tried to sabotage and/or shut down — ought to be more concerned with those things they are charged by the nature of their roles with responsibility for, and less concerned with trying to drag down and destroy those who actually create the very largesse they are so keen to spread to those who do not deserve it.
Make no mistake: this is not a jab at the sick, or the disabled, or the helpless.
But the spirit of Australia — in many respects, historically, the land of the last chance in life — is for people to have a go, and if they succeed, to be entitled to enjoy the fruits their labours generate through risk, hard work, or indeed (as Turnbull observed yesterday) a sprinkling of luck.
Not for the first time, Bill Shorten and Labor ought to be ashamed of themselves; not for the first time and not for the last, of course, they won’t be, for Labor, and its unprincipled servants, are shameless.
Shameless, too, is Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who ostensibly shouldered much of the dirty work in yesterday’s attempted smear against Turnbull: “Dasher,” as he is wont to refer to himself, obviously sought personal glory in launching what was probably discussed internally as a hard-hitting and blistering assault against the Prime Minister. Far from covering himself in glory, he finds himself today instead covered in excrement. It is not a humiliation he deserves to recover from.
If “Dasher” had any balls, he would have dashed out of the Senate and made his preposterous and defamatory claims about Turnbull freed of the coward’s cloak of parliamentary privilege: that he didn’t shows his words can be treated with the scorn and ridicule they warrant, and in fact elicited.
In the final analysis, it matters not who authorised what and who co-opted who to indulge in yesterday’s disgusting, premeditated and co-ordinated personal attack on Malcolm Turnbull. It was gutless, baseless, and deserves to be sneered at by anyone attached to the ALP or who might have otherwise been contemplating voting for it.
But ultimately, the buck stops with Shorten who, as “leader” of the ALP, is responsible for the insidious and highly objectionable attempt his party has made to discredit Turnbull with a baseless smear campaign, and as Turnbull himself observed, Shorten didn’t even have the bottle to make the central allegations in the onslaught himself. It speaks volumes.
Once again, Bill Shorten has shown himself completely unfit to be Prime Minister; it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.
But after yesterday, nobody can seriously pretend he is anything other than a disgrace to this country, or that he and his party constitute anything more than an anathema to the Australian spirit.