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.