Reality Seeping From Labor Opens Door For Turnbull

AMID THE ENNUI of a timid, misdirected Coalition campaign, a ray of light has shone on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; his opponents’ efforts — hitherto a tightly disciplined exercise in the seamless delivery of unmitigated bullshit — have begun to unravel and with them, some hypocritical realities of Shorten Labor have oozed out. A week ago, Turnbull was gone. It remains to be seen whether he can capitalise on the chinks in Labor’s armour.

First things first: I didn’t watch the so-called leaders’ “debate” last night, and from what I have since heard, I didn’t miss much; these events — whilst allegedly integral to our democratic processes — have never, as far as I can recall over the past 30 years, made one jot of difference to the eventual outcome of an election: and nor would they, rendered sterile by rules of “engagement” that make spontaneity and authenticity impossible, filled with platitudes and the regurgitation of slogans served up for weeks and months and years beforehand, and “judged” by an aptly named worm that is neither representative of the voting public nor statistically valid or reliable in any way.

The fact those who didn’t mark the debate as a saccharine draw scored a paper-thin win to Bill Shorten doesn’t and shouldn’t come as a surprise, either: these “debates,” by virtue of the ridiculous format they follow, typically favour Labor leaders and opposition leaders in that order. Shorten is both.

Let’s pray there are no further “debates” between now and 2 July. Politics in its current incarnation is debased enough as it is without wilfully adding such rubbish into the mix and insulting the intelligence of the Australian public even further than is ordinarily the case.

I had intended to publish over the weekend a precis of where I think the campaign stands, with three weeks down and five to go (and I’m sorry, but after a day at the markets on Saturday, I instead went to and celebrated yesterday’s stellar win over Geelong by the Carlton Football Club) but it’s no real secret that after months of dithering, directionless government this year followed by the opening rounds of a misfiring and frankly pathetic campaign, had the election taken place a week ago, I think the insidious Shorten would have narrowly scraped home to form a government.

What the summary I had planned to publish would have said is that after a dreadful week in which Labor’s tight controls on the semantic diarrhoea it has been passing off as an agenda for office began to unravel, Turnbull — and the Coalition — have been dealt back into the game; at this stage it remains to be seen whether this process continues, and whether or not the government can finally begin to land some killer blows upon its opponent. But at the very least, the effronterous march of Shorten and the ALP toward the Treasury benches appears to have been stayed.

The revelation of gaffe-prone frontbencher David Feeney’s “forgetfulness” about investment properties he has negatively geared doesn’t just undermine Labor’s “hit the rich” rationale for abolishing negative gearing concessions, but merely represents the tip of a very large iceberg; with 1.8 million Australians directly involved in this practice, it defies belief that the ranks of organisations queuing up behind Shorten to rail against “the rich being subsidised by the taxpayer” in writing investment losses off against income — the ALP, the unions, and particularly those catering to teachers, nurses and emergency services personnel — are not awash with individuals with negatively geared property, and this includes the senior national leaders of these entities.

I suspect we will never know, of course. But where there is one David Feeney to be found, there are no doubt others: and whilst Feeney has made millions out of the taxpayer in the form of parliamentary salaries, the fact is that 77% of those who negatively gear properties earn less than $100,000 per annum, and 90% of them have just one or two investment properties.

This will — or it should — be an issue on which Turnbull and his acolytes run hard over the next month.

But Feeney is nothing if not generous, for he also forced during the week an admission that for all its hot air and blather about the Gillard-era Schoolkids’ Bonus — abolished by the Abbott government, with indications over the ensuing two years that a Shorten government would restore it — this blatant Labor Party election bribe would not be reinstated if it won office, which is more of a revelation than first impressions might suggest.

The ALP needs to win over hundreds of thousands of additional voters if it is to defy electoral history and return to office after a single term; the Schoolkids’ Bonus — which this column flatly opposed when it was cooked up by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan, despite the fact I have school-aged children — should now be made a talismanic symbol by the Coalition parties of just what else Labor has suggested it would dish out if it won that is also in line to be scrapped.

For a self-confessed liar with the dubious record of professional trustworthiness that Shorten now asks voters to endorse for the Prime Ministership, this should be the thin edge of the wedge; the Schoolkids’ Bonus was set to cost $4.5bn over four years, and despite trumpeting a plan to slug Australians with $102bn in extra taxes over a decade and insisting that figure was both accurate and achievable, Feeney’s admission ultimately forced Shorten to concede that it wasn’t affordable.

Apparently, according to Feeney, there are other “savings” and boosts to the budget bottom line to come as part of Labor’s program.

What else in the bag of goodies Shorten is waving around the country isn’t affordable either? The seeds of doubt are there to be planted.

To be fair, the wild swings taken at Labor last week by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance minister Matthias Cormann — arguing there was a “black hole” of some $67bn in Labor’s election costings — went some way to planting them, and we spoke about this on Thursday; the accusations were met by righteous and indignant protestations from the ALP that the “black hole” was a figment of the government’s imagination. But even the best rationale that could be offered up in its support found Labor $32bn short: and pressing this advantage home over the next five weeks will be paramount.

Today, The Australian chips in with a piece featuring former Queensland Treasurer Keith de Lacy — a Labor stalwart who mightn’t have had much corporate credibility during the term of the Goss government, but who has since become a rather distinguished voice within the business community — who takes the opportunity to rip into the federal ALP, dismissing Shorten’s claim that Labor has “excellent relations” with corporate Australia, and branding the opposition’s taxation policies the “most anti-business policy (he’s) ever seen federal Labor put to an election.”

This, from one of the few genuinely respected ALP figures to have been responsible for Treasury books anywhere for a protracted period in recent decades, is a damning indictment. As far as I’m aware, de Lacy isn’t nursing grievances or pursuing a vendetta against Labor, and so it’s probably safe to take his judgement at face value. And that judgement, of course, validates everything the ALP’s economic critics have been saying about it for almost a decade.

Labor’s ghastly social policies have taken big hits as well, with “Safe” Schools now permanently discredited by the departure of co-founder Roz Ward, whose outbursts included the declaration that Australia’s “racist” flag should be replaced with a hammer and sickle, and anecdotes of suggestions by her that people who believed “Safe” Schools was about stopping bullying when it was really aimed at destroying traditional values must be very stupid indeed.

Another of the Daily Telegraph‘s regular writers today highlights Shorten’s overreach — in seeking to pander to another minority community, this time Aborigines, in his efforts to win votes by demonising the mainstream majority — by insisting Australians are fundamentally racist and that only he, Bill Shorten, could terminate this outrage at a stroke.

Never mind the fact that millions of those racists must first vote for him if he is ever to do so: yet in any case, the idea of Shorten stamping out what pockets of racism exist in Australia is akin to the expectation he will walk to Parliament House in Canberra every day across Lake Burleigh Griffin. It’s just bullshit.

There are other things I could point to over the past week that have conspired, slowly, gradually, but definitively to expose the part of Labor’s neck that houses its collective jugular vein, but the point is that in increments and across a broad framework whose constituent areas are being filled in one at a time, the tightly controlled cacophony of bullshit that has been Shorten’s stock in trade for two and a half years is now being found out as rather loose.

So what is “fair?”

Is it fair to be a party to the virtual bankrupting of Australia — as a government minister and later as the leader of a conspiracy to prevent anyone else fixing the damage — in order to claim the Coalition is an assortment of economic vandals? The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Is it fair to mortgage the future living standards of not one but several generations for political gain spanning a single electoral cycle?

Is it fair to set Australians against each other, actively fomenting class envy and hatred, for the grimy anticipated return of a handful of votes?

Is it fair to aspire to govern Australia, preaching one set of standards for the wider population, whilst some in Shorten’s midst (and perhaps Shorten himself: we don’t know) operate on a different set of principles altogether?

Is it fair to fling borrowed money at voters to bribe them? Is it fair to promise people what the country simply can’t afford to spend? Is it fair, when caught out, to take the bribes off the table, saying there’s not the money to pay for them — in the same breath as announcing a $102bn tax slug on everyone in the country?

And the decidedly iffy, questionable past of Bill Shorten — the dodgy election donations, the dodgy workplace agreements, the selling out of workers whose fortunes he was entrusted with, and the dubious personal dealings he has had inside and outside his party — are a legitimate, and critical, part of any properly calibrated Coalition onslaught.

There are storylines and avenues of attack that Turnbull and his colleagues can establish, develop and shoot home with lethal force if the opportunities that have now begun to appear are seized and properly exploited over the remainder of this campaign.

Some of the weak points in the Labor edifice have sprung sharply into focus over the past week.

It hasn’t been enough to get Turnbull out of the woods — yet — and if the ALP re-establishes an iron grip over its own campaign, giving people easy answers and bags of non-existent money whilst saying what they think they want to hear, the ray of light shining on the government heading into week four may yet prove to have been a false dawn.

And it might be trite to say so, but every one of these attack themes have been advocated both in this column and elsewhere in the conservative press for almost three years as the key to securing a second term in office for the Coalition, and have been largely ignored: it might be a case of “better late than never,” but if the Coalition finally gets its communications and strategy people doing what they are paid to do, then the past week may yet be seen in hindsight as the point at which Shorten’s “leadership” of the ALP imploded, and the ALP’s electoral prospects with it.

For the first time in quite some time, Turnbull starts the week with a golden opportunity to turn the tide of public opinion back in his government’s favour, and to begin a process that culminates in slaying the Labor dragon in 33 days’ time.

The big question, of course, is whether or not he can. Time will tell. It always does.

 

Nova Peris-Nowhere: Tasteless End To An Abuse Of Parliament

THE RESIGNATION of Aboriginal identity Nova Peris — three years after being controversially shanghaied into an unloseable Senate seat by Julia Gillard — brings to a tasteless end what was always an abuse of Parliament. The ALP has form for treating elected sinecures as baubles for trade, and the Peris fiasco is just one of a long list of cases of Labor wiping its backside on Parliament and on voters. This time, it has been left to carry the can.

It does rather seem that in the runup to the election to be held on 2 July, the usual spate of comings and goings promises to be rather “special” — and I use the term sarcastically — this time around; yesterday we wrote the deserved political obituary of Clive Palmer, with a few equally justified barbs lobbed at his onetime protegé Jacqui Lambie for good measure, and it also emerged yesterday that perennial candidate and division pedlar Pauline Hanson seems primed to make yet another comeback attempt 18 years after she last represented anyone except herself.

But news that former Olympic champion and prominent Aboriginal figure Nova Peris — shoehorned into an unloseable Labor Senate seat three years ago by then-PM Julia Gillard, who unilaterally dumped the sitting Senator in the process — has quit her seat should outrage anyone with a care for such quaint notions as the commitment of elected representatives to their constituents, or cling to the faint but forlorn hope that politics might yet be a vocation for individuals and parties genuinely committed to public service and to the public good but who are repeatedly proven delusional by the cynical antics of the so-called political class and its flat disregard for any of the aforesaid concepts.

First things first: when Gillard’s “Captain’s Pick” was unveiled in January 2013, this column was affronted by the undemocratic and dictatorial manner in which the Prime Minister made it her business to dump a sitting Senator (the plodding Trish Crossin) and the insultingly patronising token it made of the Northern Territory’s Aboriginal community. Indeed, one indigenous elder at the time remarked that Gillard has seen to it that Peris would be the “pet Aborigine around Parliament House,” and given the invisible nature of her service ever since, the barb was probably not too far wide of the mark.

Readers can reacquaint themselves with discussion of the issue in this column at the time here and here.

One of the things I found most offensive at that time was that for all the hype and bullshit from Gillard that she was giving an opportunity to an Aboriginal woman to serve in Parliament, there was already an Aboriginal woman, in Labor’s ranks, with a depth of experience in public life and intending to stand against Crossin for her endorsement: Marion Scrymgour, who had acted as Chief Minister in the Northern Territory Assembly, and who was a veritable heavyweight as a candidate for high office compared to Peris.

It is to be hoped that Scrymgour might be persuaded to stand for the unexpected vacancy now, and not least because media reports suggest the mediocre (but understandably aggrieved) Crossin may by weighing the prospects of a comeback.

Peris announced yesterday that she was quitting her Senate seat after just three years — failing, apparently, to tell her staff before the announcement was made publicly — and whilst there was some suggestion it was to take up a role at the AFL as Head of Diversity, conflicting reports last night indicated she was by no means a certainty for the post.

Even so, and with the exception of the lack of grace shown by not giving her staff the courtesy of prior warning, the most difficult person to blame in this episode is Peris herself; at the time of the so-called “Captain’s Pick,” there was plenty of anecdotal evidence and scuttlebutt to indicate she was far from an eager recruit, and that some degree of cajoling and “persuasion” had been necessary to convince her to accept Crossin’s Senate spot in the first place.

I said at the time that it was an insult to Aborigines, that it stank of tokenism and paternalism, and that the histrionic rhetoric the appointment was couched in — that Gillard was “righting a wrong” — was nothing more than melodramatic twaddle and with the benefit of hindsight, I don’t think I was wrong.

But what it also was, on a more sinister level, was just another example of the ALP exhibiting such disrespect for the voting public and the institutions of elective office as to be little more than a contemptuous exercise in the party wiping its backside on Parliament, and on the voters of the Northern Territory.

Labor has form for this kind of thing. The Peris appointment wasn’t the first time the ALP has done something like this and it won’t be the last.

Former Midnight Oil frontman Peter Garrett was parachuted into the (then) safe Sydney seat of Kingsford Smith in 2004; as an eventual minister he was an abject failure.

Disendorsed Senator David Feeney was parachuted into the safe — for now — Melbourne seat of Batman; Feeney is a machine thug and a union hack who adds nothing to either the national debate or to constructive outcomes of governance.

Former NSW Premier Bob Carr was parachuted into a casual Senate vacancy on Gillard’s watch specifically to replace Kevin Rudd as Foreign minister; the calibre of his performance in that role was debatable. Yet having stood for and secured a fresh six-year term at the 2013 election, Carr quit Canberra in land speed record-breaking time once the trappings of government had been displaced by the drudge of opposition.

All over the country, Labor’s factions (and in recent years, militant unions like the CFMEU) have divided the spoils of the electoral map between themselves as if they are baubles and trinkets for trade; it is an appalling one-fingered salute to the notion of representative democracy for which the ALP makes no apology.

Indeed. the party’s current federal “leader” — having lost a leadership vote of the Labor rank and file by more than a 60-40 margin to Anthony Albanese — occupies his position today only on account of union dictates to individual MPs to support Shorten in the ALP caucus: or else.

But Labor in its “modern” incarnation has never much cared for democracy: the wild frenzy to destroy the Abbott-Turnbull government within a single term, and the unprincipled gutter tactics with which that effort has been prosecuted over the past three years, far exceeds what might ordinarily be described as a “vigorous” opposition to the government of the day, and represents merely the culmination of an increasingly anti-democratic trend that has taken root at the ALP over the past ten years.

For once, however, Peris’ sudden resignation has left the ALP carrying the can.

Less than six weeks from polling day, it must now find a replacement Senate candidate, and quickly; Scrymgour would be the obvious (and most credible) choice, although Crossin’s musings ought to alarm Labor hardheads hoping some good might come of yesterday’s bombshell by replacing Peris with a much more substantial figure.

And there is, of course, no chance whatsoever that that candidate — whoever it is — will fail to be elected: with just two Senate berths to fill and the quota required identical at a double dissolution to that for a half-Senate election (for the uninitiated, the territories elect Senators for three-year terms that are synchronised with the House of Representatives) the only parties with a realistic chance of winning them are Labor and the NT’s Country Liberal Party, and neither is ever dominant enough to win both.

But just for once, one of these “smart” appointments by Labor has blown up in its face, which is no less than the party deserves.

It delivers a politically posthumous slapdown to any lasting belief (if there ever was any) that Gillard was possessed of an iota of sound judgement: the appointment of Peris should never have been made and we said so at the time.

Labor will continue to carve up the spoils of power for as long as it remains an unreconstructed morass of factional appetites and union prejudices, but this time at least the ALP has been made to look very silly indeed, and voters across the country are entitled to question just how poorly it might perform in office if they are inclined to elevate Bill Shorten to the Prime Ministership in a backlash against what has been a disappointing Coalition outfit to date.

And speaking of Shorten, a recent similar adventure in exercising a “Captain’s Pick” to install an Aborigine into a Senate vacancy over the heads of the local rank and file — this time in WA, with the endorsement of Pat Dodson — offers a chilling parallel for ALP strategists to ponder over the next few years: if, that is, Dodson is even elected, for he wasn’t even given a high enough position on the WA Senate ticket to make victory certain.

Shorten would want to be damned certain in his judgement of Dodson, and sure that he had backed the correct candidate where Gillard blundered badly: but if Dodson fails to enter the Senate at all, the embarrassment will be considerable, and point only to an insidious culture of preferment that should be stamped out at all costs, and which flies in the face of any sanctimonious blather about merit.

 

Shorten Promise To Slash GP Fees Is A Dangerous Delusion

THE PROMISE by ALP “leader” Bill Shorten to cut fees for GP visits by up to $25 is dubious, almost certainly unfunded, and a further recipe to ramp up debt to fund spending from a party planning $102bn in tax hikes that have already been discredited by independent analysts as incapable of generating the projected revenue. The bribe will either not be delivered, will drive the country deeper into debt, or need hitherto secret taxes to fund it.

With my time once again at a heavy premium this week, I’ve found myself in a quandary this morning: whether to talk about the latest hare-brained promise from Labor (this time on Health), the embarrassment it has brought upon itself by bickering over asylum seeker policy, or the naive and nakedly populist proposal to yank negative gearing concessions out of the economy, with the potential to create economic mayhem and downturn that they entail.

The Medicare announcement wins — by a bee’s diaphragm — and if my workload eases up at all over the next few days we will return to the other two issues, for like anything that passes the lips of “Billy Bullshit” and his band of merry miscreants, none of their utterances on these matters should be taken at face value.

But the Medicare pledge announced yesterday by Shorten — to reduce the cost of visiting a doctor by between $14 and $25 — ought to be consumed with a rather large pinch of salt; reportedly set to cost $12.2bn over ten years, Labor’s past record suggests that the actual figure is likely to be roughly double that amount.

Even if it isn’t, Shorten is already throwing promises totalling tens of billions of dollars around like confetti, with taxation promises that can’t pay for them, and that should give voters pause enough for thought on its own.

By lifting the Coalition’s freeze on indexing the Medicare rebate, this promise will cost $2.4bn over four years, rising to $12.2bn over a decade; already staggering under the weight of non-existent money with which to pay for other lavish promises, Shorten knows that this expenditure is completely unaffordable: and he doesn’t even care.

There isn’t much point in examining the merits of the latest Labor Health announcement — there aren’t any — and instead, this “initiative” speaks more to the operational practice over at the ALP these days of saying whatever its boffins think will force the gullible and/or stupid to vote for it than it does to any serious attempt to fashion credible policy.

The only thing that matters to the ALP is power: to get it, and keep it, by literally any and all means possible.

And with Shorten on the record that becoming Prime Minister of Australia is his “destiny” (get the sick bucket), this new announcement merely serves to strengthen that assessment.

The 25% or so, give or take, of Australians who are not currently bulk billed (including myself) pay gap contributions over and above the schedule Medicare fee of anywhere between $30 and $50 for a GP visit; the indexation of the rebate is generally only a couple of extra dollars per year. So how does Shorten arrive at a figure of up to $25 cheaper on this measure?

Those who are bulk billed, of course, pay nothing. How do these people get a saving from the Shorten policy of $14 to $25 every time they see a doctor?

The suggestion the $12.2bn would be covered by discontinuing the baby bonus, abandoning company tax cuts and capping VET Fee Help loans sounds suspiciously like cover for raising taxes to pay for something else — perhaps the shortfall from his existing plan to extort $102bn from Australian workers and businesses over a decade.

Because patients who continue to be bulk billed will continue to be refunded nothing — with or without Shorten’s policy — and those who aren’t bulk billed are not going to see consultation fees cut by the level Shorten claims when just two or three dollars per visit are added to the existing Medicare rebate.

So, “Billy Bullshit” strikes again, it would seem.

Whether or not indexation of the rebate is restored, it seems unlikely that Shorten is proposing to increase it by $14-$25 either.

But if the increases in line with CPI do recommence ahead of schedule, the cost blowouts faced by Medicare will grow even faster as population growth and an ageing population compound the effects of indexation, and fuel the budget deficit further into the red.

And this, in turn, means more foreign debt: something Labor denies any responsibility for, despite racking up $300bn of it in six years before 2013, and which it has stoutly refused to allow the Coalition to repair through its childish, megalomaniac obstruction in the Senate ever since.

In short, this is a promise that will either never be delivered — or simply become the newest monument to Labor’s dubious recent heritage of economic vandalism — or will need other, secret taxes to fund it that the self-confessed liar Shorten has hitherto failed to level with the Australian public over.

I think it’s just a further illustration of Shorten’s penchant for saying whatever seems like a good idea when it comes to hoodwinking voters, so desperate is he to slake his ego with the title of Prime Minister — and to hell with whatever it might cost the country in the longer term.

Just like his plan to hit “the rich” by abolishing negative gearing, which will not help first home buyers, but will raise rents, moderately depress house prices, cost thousands of jobs and create unquantifiable knock-on effects across the broader economy.

But at the end of the day, who cares? So long as Shorten gets to be PM, what difference does it make what he and his acolytes have to say and do to get him there?

When it is remembered Shorten also flagged the abolition of the private health insurance rebate shortly after winning the Labor leadership — a measure that has not been heard of again since then — a better assessment of any government Shorten might lead becomes easier to make.

And when the public healthcare system collapses under the sheer weight of patients flooding it, as they dump their private health policies and withdraw the extra money those policies pump into the healthcare sector overall, empty promises of price cuts that are based in fantasy will be the last thing angry voters are concerned with when they can’t get to see a doctor — or a public hospital bed — at all.

But, never fear: Bill told us it was thus, so thus it must be.

Mustn’t it?

Greens Preferences: Making Broccoli-Munching Gnomes Useful

ACRIMONY has greeted moves by Victorian Liberal president Michael Kroger to seek preference deals with the Greens; it is not credible to oppose the idea by saying Labor is the lesser evil: it is an economic vandal, addicted to fuelling recurrent spending with high debt and taxes, and obsessed with chasing the hard Left vote. Easily as bad as each other, anything Kroger can do to play the Greens off against Labor to advantage the Coalition is laudable.

For long-term readers of this column, I offer the assurance that I haven’t taken leave of my senses, and nor am I softening in my trenchant distaste for the party I routinely characterise either as Communists — which is what they are — or as socialist filth, in a reflection of my contempt for them.

And for the benefit of those who are newer to this forum, in the runup to the 2013 federal election this column exhorted voters to preference the Greens out of existence in the national interest; this closely followed a piece recommending that people should vote Liberal or Labor per their preference, but to avoid the Greens at all costs; more recently, the possibilities of tactical preferencing have grown more appealing, and with Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger copping undeserved flak over his plan to recommend preferencing the Greens above Labor in some of their target seats in return for open tickets in a selection of Liberal targets, I wanted to publish on this subject once again.

The trigger for my remarks today has been an article appearing in the Weekend Australian, which details the apparent move by Liberal Party advisers to circumvent the members’ elected president in Victoria and overturn his preference plan, to which I can only stress that Kroger is the servant of the members — and that the advisers are largely unaccountable employees with no right to do anything of the kind.

But before we progress further, let’s spend some time assessing exactly how the ALP and the Greens are constituted these days.

The stereotype of average Greens voters — broccoli-munching vegan gnomes singing kum-ba-ya, cycling barefoot through their compost-powered homes and proudly boasting their hearts bleed for asylum seekers arriving by boat who are trying to illegitimately jump the queue — sits at odds with the platform of the party itself, which (and this is an old story) is anti-family, anti-industry, anti-agriculture, anti-mining, anti-business, anti-enterprise, anti-car, high tax, open border, anti-democracy, anti-Australia, anti-America, anti-Israel, pro-CND, militarily pacifist, illiberal, statist, doctrinally socialist, and resolutely committed to the de-industrialisation of Western society and to the destruction of the values that built and sustained it in the first place.

In other words, the Greens have developed into the public menace they represent through the exploitation of compassion-babbling Chardonnay drunks who are stupid enough to believe they are working to build some kind of socialist utopia on Earth through their support: and in my view, a useful idiot is a more valuable commodity than one who is simply an idiot and no more, and this underpins the change in my assessment of the Greens’ fitness for purpose — but not of the party, or the insidious agenda it represents.

These bleeding-hearted, compassion-babbling bullshit artists and so-called SJWs — now steeled by what they think is a ticket to Nirvana on a vessel with more in common with the USSR than the land of Oz — used to be called something else: the left wing of the Labor Party.

Over the past quarter of a century (and especially in the past 15 years), Labor has haemorrhaged more and more of what was once the support on its left flank to the point it is no longer capable of winning elections on its own without torrential flows of Greens preferences or even — as has now happened once federally and twice in Tasmania — formal power-sharing and Coalition agreements with the so-called environmentalist party of the certifiably lunatic hard Left.

Yet in response, the ALP has — like a spurned adolescent youth chasing haplessly and hopelessly after the first girl he ever went to bed with — given chase after the former constituency spirited away by the Greens by repositioning itself further and further to the Left, as if by eschewing its mainstream base and masquerading as hardened pinkos, the lunatic Left might re-embrace its sometime flame and live together happily ever after once more.

Carbon taxes: not one now, but two, as if such a ridiculous act of economy-killing overreach might impress the socialist maiden who spurned it.

Unreasoning and unreasonable renewable energy targets of 50% — certain to cripple Australia’s economy — that put even the nutty aspirations of the Greens themselves into the shade.

An aspiration to abolish the private health insurance rebate: long hidden from view, of course, but an early initiative of the present ALP “leadership” designed to tip the balance away from the private sector and toward the state.

Everyone knows the ALP doesn’t really believe in the Coalition’s tough border policies — irrespective of Labor’s “commitment” to them — and everyone knows that that “commitment” is bitterly opposed by more than a handful of Labor MPs, and by perhaps an overwhelming majority of the ALP rank and file.

The outbreak of defiance and dissent over the issue that hit Labor’s campaign this week is proof of it.

On asylum seekers and border protection, the Labor head knows that an untrammelled influx of asylum seekers, replete with hundreds of deaths at sea, is electoral cyanide; the Labor heart, however, beats very closely with that of the Greens, which is ruled by the conviction that Australian taxpayers should fund whatever expense is incurred by throwing open the country’s borders.

These are but a few of the crossovers between the Greens and the ALP; there are plenty of others.

But as time has passed in recent years, the Labor copybook has grown increasingly blotted with other stains that mark the party out as equally unfit to ever hold office as the Greens.

These stains also round out the process of qualifying the ALP to jointly share equal billing in terms of just who the Coalition’s ultimate political adversary is: it’s no longer an automatic case of just putting Labor last.

It was Labor which was responsible for the moral and social abomination that is the so-called Safe Schools program, which those inside the tent freely admit has nothing to do with stopping bullying but everything to do with destroying traditional social values, with its emphasis on indoctrinating primary school children about alternative forms of sexual contact, “gender fluidity,” and the merits of leading deviant sexual lifestyles.

It was Labor that made a naked and unapologetic attempt at media regulation and censorship in its last period in office, seeking to legislate to enable the neutering of those organs of the press that opposed it: a measure cheered by the usual suspects at Fairfax and the ABC, but advocating only for the contraction of the diversity it champions whenever convenient to it, and happy to wipe out a large component of the traditional position of scrutiny the press sector performs.

It was Labor — in slashing military spending to divert money to foreign aid and other social schemes so beloved of the politically correct Left — which allowed Australia’s defences to run down to the point this country would be virtually defenceless in any medium-level conflict it found itself engaged in, the prospect of US assistance notwithstanding.

It was Labor which, in the last term of the Keating government, left $100bn in debt behind as it shovelled out largesse to the arts community, to ATSIC, to a plethora of social minorities to purchase and seal their allegiance, and to any other rent seeker offering votes in return; it followed this up with a record of economic vandalism that would make Jim Cairns blush, leaving behind $300bn in debt and the legislated but unfunded recurrent expenditure of hundreds of billions more; and it now seeks office with a slate of big-spending social programs, backed by a regime of tax rises totalling a purported $102bn, which leading economists have already indicated will fall far short of its expected yield.

And it was Labor — in cahoots with the Greens and the odious Clive Palmer — which spent three years marshalling the numbers in the Senate to attempt to destroy an elected government by making the Parliament unworkable to the Coalition.

Fellow conservatives, in all seriousness — can you really say Labor is the lesser of the two evils? The ALP and the Greens are now every bit as bad as each other.

When Kroger first outlined his plan last year to deal with the Greens on preferences — exchanging preference recommendations on Liberal how-to-vote cards in selected seats in return for the Greens issuing open tickets in others — I was ambivalent; the Greens really are evil, with their hardened socialism masquerading sickeningly as tree-hugging harmlessness. But possessed of a strategic bent and having considered the notion at length, I think it’s high time the Liberals started playing the preference game just as its opponents have always done.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green — publishing on his blog yesterday on this subject — makes the point that allocating preferences to the Greens on a seat-by-seat basis requires the Liberal Party to make preference recommendations based on strategy rather than ideology: something he points out (and which I acknowledge) some in the party are extremely resistant to doing.

Yet the ALP has always preferenced based on self-interest: one of the reasons for the lengthy analysis of the Greens and the ALP in this article is to illustrate that even on ideological grounds, Labor today is no better — and should be regarded as such in Liberal eyes — than the Greens.

Labor has spent years fuelling friction at three-cornered contests for vacant Coalition seats by generally allocating preferences to whichever of the Liberal and National Parties is not incumbent: hardly the basis for kind treatment of the ALP in return, as the growing siege it faces in some of its seats from the Greens gathers pace.

It was complicit in Tony Windsor’s election to the seat of New England in 2001, complicit in keeping him there for 12 years, and is now readying to help him reclaim it at the expense of deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce with a solid bloc of preference votes.

It was not only complicit in the election of Clive Palmer — at tremendous cost to both his own community and to the national interest — to the safe Liberal seat of Fairfax, but delivered the decisive bloc of preferences to take the seat from the Coalition.

There are other examples I could cite, of course, but the point is that in all of these cases the only principle involved was to weaken the Coalition as far as possible: and in drawing preference strategies at this election, the equivalent Coalition principle must be to weaken the Left commensurately.

If we take five electorates — Melbourne, Batman, Wills, Grayndler and Sydney — at present, all five are held by the Left in a 4-1 split in Labor’s favour.

If the Liberal Party recommends the Greens be preferenced ahead of the ALP in all five, it would guarantee the re-election of Adam Bandt in Melbourne, but potentially transfer at least some of those Labor seats across to the Greens.

Has the Left been strengthened in this process? Absolutely not.

Can the Greens be satisfied with such an outcome? Absolutely.

And were the Greens to issue open tickets in five marginal seats either currently held by the Liberals or targeted by them — we’ll call them Corangamite, Deakin, Chisholm, Melbourne Ports and Bruce — the likely reduction in preference flows to Labor from their usual 80-20 split to a level in the order of 60-40 could well make the difference in the Liberals holding Corangamite and Deakin, and picking up some or all of the other three.

Has the Liberal Party gained something? Absolutely.

And where this plays out is when down the track — perhaps even on 2 July — the ALP and the Greens collectively win 76 of the 150 seats in the House of Representatives.

From a strategic perspective, what would be better for the Coalition — a 75-1 split in Labor’s favour, giving it the whip hand, or something in the order of 72-4 and shackling it to the insanity and ambit demands of lunar fringe socialists?

Remember, ideologically, Labor is no better than the Greens nowadays: it wasn’t always so, of course, but today it’s a fact.

And as Kroger himself noted recently at a meeting I attended with him, anything that might trigger a fight among the Liberal Party’s enemies is no bad thing.

The Liberal advisers — who continue to do things the way they have always done them, and who as a group have consequently engineered the relative decline of the party across Australia from its Howard-era heyday — would do well to heed the insight and strategic bent of the Victorian chief.

Those in the party’s branches who genuinely continue to believe the ALP is the lesser of two evils should reacquaint themselves with the modern Left and take note of its contemporary methods and “principles:” and this means accepting that Labor is no better now than the Greens ever were.

Those members who say they can’t support preference deals with the Greens on “principle” must reflect that if the principle that moderate conservative governance is infinitely better than anything dished up by the hard Left is valid, then there’s no conflict of principle for them to even reconcile themselves to.

If the Liberal Party is to progress as a truly professional and effective political outfit, the evolution of it personnel, its methods and its strategic bent (such as it is these days) must evolve to recognise that when it comes to the raw politics of elections, the party has been comprehensively outclassed now, on balance, for many years.

And this brings me back to the broccoli-munching gnomes who probably mean well, but who are mostly the unwitting instruments of the slow march of the Left into illiberalism, hard socialism, and the eventual dismantling of the liberal democratic institutions we are so lucky to enjoy in free Australia: freedom that can easily be undone in even short bursts of governance by the Left, as the Gillard government neatly proved.

A seat-by-seat appraisal of all 150 lower house seats by the Liberal Party — identifying which of the Greens and Labor is likelier to unsettle the cohesion of the Left if victorious, and directing Liberal preferences to that party — is now a no-brainer, when even a few years ago it would and should have been avoided like the plague.

If there are to be idiots voting for the Greens at all, they may as well be useful idiots: and if the recommendation that broccoli munchers and Chardonnay drunks put the Coalition ahead of Labor weakens the balance of the Left and/or gains the Liberal Party even a single seat, the exercise will have been well worth it.

All power to your arm, Mr Kroger.

 

A “New Do” For The Red And The Blue

FROM TODAY, The Red And The Blue takes on a new look as we update our site to make it more streamlined, clean-cut and professional; these changes are aimed at making our conversation easier to follow and easier to read, and we trust readers will endorse the modifications we have made.

Over the past month or so, readers may or may not have noticed minor tweaks being made to the visual presentation of this site; I have now overhauled the template on which the site is constructed to provide a cleaner and more user-friendly experience for newcomers and regular readers alike.

This process will continue over the next little while (as I have time to complete the desired modifications in the lead up to Christmas, in other words) but the “new do” published today represents the last of the major changes I intend to make.

With nothing against the standard WordPress template I originally used, it was always my intention to update this to reflect a more modern and professional look — and almost three years on, here we are.

It is to be hoped all readers find this revised format for The Red And The Blue enhances their experience, and makes their interactions with our conversation more enjoyable; I would be very keen to receive feedback on the new layout that will form the basis for the column into the foreseeable future.

Oh, and don’t forget: if you’re not already doing so, you can follow this column on Twitter @theredandblue

I’ll be back later today with something — typically enough — a little more political.