Quick Wrap: Attack Is Great, But Useless Without A Plan

TONIGHT’S POST is a short piece to reconfirm yet again that I have not disappeared, but merely continue to operate at a million miles per hour; even so, there is a Newspoll due out later this evening (and I will get to it if I can), but a vicious and brilliant attack against ALP “leader” Bill Shorten by the PM will count for nowt if not followed with proper policies — and other things have been afoot that we will allow to percolate a little further.

I am heartily sorry for the break over the past week and a half, but revenue-generating activities (and the airport) have intervened to thwart us; after a lightning in-out trip to Canberra on Thursday to attend to an urgent business matter — in a week bookended by weekends during which I worked almost the full four days on a project I’m launching with one of my other hats on — I’m now contemplating three interstate trips over the next nine days, beginning with an in-out run to Sydney tomorrow, and scarily enough that tally of return flights is likely to grow. So whilst I apologise for the absence, I ask regular readers to bear with me.

Indeed, there is a Newspoll due for publication in The Australian later tonight, and if I can get to it before I head out to Tullamarine by 6am tomorrow I will; if you don’t see it, you’ll know the clock has beaten me.

But it will be interesting to see the picture this survey paints in terms of the Turnbull government’s fortunes, for last fortnight’s offering was (as readers could probably tell) very close to the point in my view at which Turnbull, and possibly the Coalition in this phase of holding office, passed the point of political and electoral no return.

It was cheering (and I mean this sincerely, given my trenchant criticism of Malcolm Turnbull) to see the PM rip into Labor’s alleged “leader” last week in brutal and uncompromising terms; Bill Shorten isn’t merely the least appropriate figure ever fielded by either major party as a candidate for the Prime Ministership, but is a vindictive, lying and downright obsequious piece of work to boot.

I don’t go along with the school of thought that has found its way into mainstream press analysis that “the troops” should take heart from this one-off piece of vitriolic savagery from Turnbull; the fact is that the “sycophantic parasite” Turnbull painted Shorten as should have been torn into so many pieces by the Coalition over the past four years that even a sparrow should be having trouble filling its beak with one peck.

In other words, Turnbull merely did what he should have been doing for the past 18 months — and what Tony Abbott should have been doing for two and a half years beforehand.

Whether the onslaught against Shorten continues remains to be seen; Parliament sits again next week, and it’s the way of these things that such attacks are invariably made from the safety of parliamentary privilege. But whilst destroying Shorten might amount to a case of “be careful what you wish for” — he could be replaced by someone more adept at selling a convincing, and honest-style, message — nobody on either side of politics can claim with credibility that Shorten adds any value whatsoever to Australian politics.

Leave him where he is and his opportunistic, hypocritical, populist style wreaks pandemonium on the ability of the government to govern; permit him to win an election, and the sum total of his behaviour to date adds up to the highest-taxing, highest spending, highest debt government Australia will have ever seen in which violent, militant union thugs run roughshod over democracy and the general public. A Shorten government would burn through the economy like a nuclear blast, with the likely impact of tax rises and ill-considered changes like abolishing negative gearing contributing to a hefty recession, and so even if it makes the next election even more winnable for the ALP, it is in the national interest for Bill Shorten to be driven out of the Labor leadership (and, preferably, Parliament too) at any and all costs.

Credit where it is due though: Turnbull has finally laid a glove on the imbecilic opposition “leader.” More of the same, hopefully, will follow.

A surer bet is the apparent decision by the government, from Turnbull down, to suddenly champion the consumer where essential services are concerned; what one British MP once described as “all this Greens bullshit” has led to the farcical situation whereby electricity and gas are now almost priced beyond the reach of ordinary households to afford — and what there is available to them to consume isn’t even a reliable supply, as the uselessness and unfitness for purpose of renewables to generate constant baseload power has been laid bare after a summer in which much of the country has experienced extreme heatwaves for months.

Perhaps the penny has finally dropped — perhaps — that government in Australia is not a vocation in prosecuting the trendy crusades of the smug left on climate change, Muslim immigration and “gender fluidity” (whatever the hell that is), but is in fact an obligation to govern for the people who live here in order to improve, and maintain, the standard of living they are accustomed to enjoying.

I have been blunt over the years that with Australia accounting for less than 1% of global emissions, the moves to price cheap, inexhaustible coal out of the energy mix in this country is tantamount to a criminal negligence against its citizens; even if you accept human emissions are responsible for climate change — and I don’t, for I think it’s puerile to use 150 years or so of data to make ridiculous pronouncements over millions of years of history — there is literally no difference Australia can make to the overall global emissions load.

Yes, clean up industry and yes, wherever possible, make smoke stacks belching shit into the air a thing of the past, but not at the cost of ordinary families being slugged with $500 bills every three months to turn the lights on.

Even here, I think the safest bet is to simply wait and see.

For whilst I have been implacable in my insistence over the years that Turnbull isn’t, wasn’t and won’t be the ideal candidate for the Prime Ministership, my personal view of him is very high indeed (even if I don’t hold some of his mates in the same warm esteem); if there is some way Malcolm can not only deal himself back into the game, but carry the millions of lost conservative votes back into the Coalition tent with him, nobody will cheer him on more loudly than I.

I do think such a storyline, however, remains improbable in the extreme.

But now experimenting with hard policy as a way to cut the cost of living on utility prices, maybe a flutter of success (and a flicker of cognisance in the opinion polls) might finally induce Malcolm to do what this column has been calling for over a period of months: to outline a program of comprehensive reform (however difficult the Senate might render its execution) on taxation, industrial relations, welfare and education reform, along with a sweeping program of cuts to Rudd-Gillard era spending programs and a severe cull of federal public servants, and — most importantly of all — a hard-hitting and efficacious communications and political strategy with which to sell it — not the festering, pustulent crap with which the Coalition has approached matters of mass communication in office for far, far too long now.

Of course, a poor Newspoll result might render any talk of tentative upswings entirely redundant. We will see.

I am off to watch the ghastly ABC talkfest that is #QandA, which tonight features Attorney-General George Brandis as the chief token Liberal amid the usual stacked panel of pinko sycophants and Australia-hating left-wing filth.

It should at least prove a more edifying spectacle than last week’s all-out brawl between the cringeworthy Jacqui Lambie — whose credentials, based on her performance last week, as the stupidest person ever elected to an Australian House of Parliament are well and truly intact — and Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

For once Lambie was right, although her apparent bogan tic of terminating every sentence with “that’s BOOLSHITT!” wore very thin by the end of the show: even so, the suggestion by Abdel-Magied that Islam is a “feminist” religion, and that criticisms of Sharia law are based “in ignorance” when women, children and babies are routinely raped and slaughtered under regimes predicated solely on the strictest possible interpretation of Sharia law, well and truly deserved the tsunami of condemnation it elicited in the mainstream press and in social media this week.

I’m the first to draw the distinction between moderate Muslims and Islamic extremists — something the far Right refuses to acknowledge even exists, and which the Left roundly dismisses as “racism” and bigotry” — but the simple truth is that graphic videos of women being raped and/or beheaded by Muslim men, in some cases apparently with the sanction of the Islamic states involved, are readily available online and are more than enough proof that if anyone is delusional, it’s the young Abdel-Magied who has had the benefit of a free life in Australia, not the sisters she dishonours with talk of “feminist” Islam.

After all, if her words contained a grain of truth, there would be no women from Muslim backgrounds in Australia (or any other free country) at all: life would be too good where they came from to abandon.

So let’s dispense with the nonsense that the ABC is in any way impartial or factual by providing a platform for such views, and condemn whomever approved the expenditure at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the taxpayer-funded field trip to Muslim countries for Abdel-Magied that was — and let’s call it for what it was — an attempt to curry favour with yet another minority group whilst the interests of the majority, who largely pay for such ridiculous trifles, are ignored.


Opinion Polls And Parliamentary Sittings: Dead Cat Bounces And Orangutans

One opinion poll favourable to Labor last week — even as others showed the ALP position deteriorating — and the political chatterati are talking of miracle revivals; but Parliament resumes this week, and as it does Julia Gillard is likely to receive a timely and sobering reality check.

It’s a measure of just how grim the present government’s prospects are that a poll showing it headed to a landslide defeat — and still losing nearly 20 seats to the Liberals and Nationals in the process — can be trumpeted as the harbinger of better times.

Yet that is precisely what happened last week; a Newspoll in The Australian, finding a two-point move back to Labor after preferences and a 54-46 lead to the Coalition, has whipped sections of the mainstream commentariat into a frenzy. Tentative signs of a revival, they say; early evidence that the worst of the carbon tax slump is now behind Gillard — just as she said.

This type of analysis is doggerel, and its currency likely to have been expended within the week.

The very same day Newspoll was delivering Gillard her latest poll-derived stipend of breathing space in the face of ongoing leadership ructions within the Labor Party, Nielsen and Essential were both reporting findings of 56-44 to the Coalition, or another ten seats at an election, to look at it practically; in the case of Essential at least, that result has Labor losing ground, not regaining it.

And — to wheel out a boring old caveat — all of these polls are within each other’s error margin, and so getting too excited over Newspoll probably isn’t the cleverest idea until or unless a sustained trend of improvement has been shown in that poll after another month or so.

Very simply, that isn’t going to happen.

The problem with all of these polls is that Parliament has been in recess; Gillard may be stultifyingly unpopular, but even that sentiment tends to ameliorate to some degree when the lady isn’t being thrust into the faces of voters on a daily basis.

To be sure, there have been other distractions during Parliament’s winter recess this year.

Not least, the Olympic Games, which largely has pushed retail politics off the front pages of newspapers across the world; even the hubbub of “Nice Korea” and “Naughty Korea,” engineered by mX in Brisbane with its tongue fairly in cheek, proved to be a storm in the proverbial teacup.

Such international sporting festivals traditionally underpin — temporarily, at least — a much more benign political undercurrent. I think this has been the case to a greater than usual extent this year, as discussion of Australia’s supposedly woeful performance generated great debate and discussion, especially in the earlier stages of the games.

And Gillard probably got in a lucky strike by picking a fight with the Liberal Premiers over power prices; a continuation of an obvious strategy that began with her disability insurance scheme — when she took aim at the same Premiers for effectively refusing to fund her own policy — the attack over power prices was largely ignored in the mainstream media.

The scrutiny — and the counterattack — will resume apace tomorrow.

With the resumption of Parliament tomorrow comes the reapplication of the blowtorch by the opposition, and that means the availability of easy goals and cheap free kicks for Gillard will come to an end.

In its editorial this morning, The Australian opines

“The Prime Minister’s new political strategy seems to hinge on seeking confrontation with the states, choosing fights over the NDIS, mining tax, health reform, carbon tax, electricity prices, and soon, we expect, education funding. Voters will not judge Ms Gillard kindly if these debates are seen to be political games, designed to trumpet her empathy on crucial issues, without delivering results.”

And therein lies the government’s core problem: Gillard might be a clever lawyer, adept at semantics and crucifying an opponent’s case; but her politics are of the confrontational variety, lashing out at scapegoats and shifting blame for her own incompetence, and engaging in half-baked games to score cheap political points that invariably explode in the government’s collective face.

Indeed, the issue of asylum seekers is near the top of the list of issues to be dealt with in the new session of Parliament; already there are whispers of a strategy from the ALP to agree to reopen detention centres on Nauru as a mechanism to ultimately facilitate Gillard’s “Malaysia Solution” in all its half-arsed glory.

Given the Coalition has explicitly ruled out support of any solution to the problem of boat arrivals involving Malaysia under any circumstances whatsoever, it is likely this will ultimately rebound on Gillard in spades.

Added to this is the smouldering issue of Craig Thomson and the attendant issue of union corruption, which is also due back on the running sheet this session — another guaranteed source of discomfiture for the government.

And lingering in the background of all of this is the ongoing tension over the ALP leadership and the spectre of Kevin Rudd; Labor’s need to get rid of Gillard, if it is to have any real hope of winning next year’s election — weighed against the reality that Rudd will never resume the Labor leadership — conspires to further underline the explosive nature of the parliamentary session due to commence.

So if anyone wants to talk in terms of opinion poll bounces and green shoots of revival, where the Labor Party and Julia Gillard are concerned, I’d rather talk in terms of the political vernacular, and describe such a bounce as a “dead cat bounce.”

Then again, “dead orangutan bounce” is probably more apt in this case…

But it doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?

Gillard’s Dishonest New Ruse: “The Liberal Premiers Did It”

In the face of soaring domestic and commercial electricity bills across the country, Julia Gillard — with typically breathtaking audacity — has proclaimed the carbon tax has nothing to do with it, and that Liberal state governments are the root cause of the problem. What crap!

I know this is an issue from early in the week, and that I am playing catch-up; but regular readers will know that I am still working close to 100 hours each week on other things; I do apologise for the delayed post, but I am keen to resume the near-daily frequency of this column as soon as possible — alas, just not quite yet…

…anyhow…CLAIMS made by the Prime Minister earlier this week, in a speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia, are really extraordinary; in short, it seems, the rocketing price of electricity has nothing to do with the much-hated carbon tax.

In a remarkable piece of spin, Gillard has blamed state Liberal governments and the Premiers who lead them squarely for the increases in power bills. It’s outrageous, she says; it goes against every instinct of fairness and decency in the land. Only a Labor government, Gillard says, can resolve such a weighty issue as exorbitant electricity prices to the betterment of ordinary Australians.

If anyone thinks I’m mocking her, they’re right; but the truth is that Gillard’s words would almost be laughable if they weren’t predicated so thoroughly on such a frightfully abject piece of disinformation.

Yes, electricity assets and the supply of power is a state domain, which begs the question of what Gillard is doing wading into this issue at all.

But to the extent she does so, she is wrong: the carbon tax does impact power bills; by her own admission, 9% of every electricity bill is carbon tax, and “compensated” she may claim people are, they are neither insulated nor compensated for the spillover effects of the carbon tax into retail prices, nor compensated at all if they don’t fit inside the neat little box pigeonholed by the ALP as constituting “not being rich.”

The rest of the claims at the heart of Gillard’s “argument” (and I accord it the status of a cogent argument reluctantly) are easily checked off.

Have electricity prices become a major cost of living issue? Damn right they have.

Have prices gone up a long way, and quickly? She’s a bright girl, our PM.

Could Australians afford electricity price rises of 50% over the past four years? Of course not. And can they afford similar increases again in the next four years? Of course they can’t!

Gillard asserts that rising electricity prices are a threat to the economy, and a threat “to fairness in society.” Again, I can’t fault the logic.

Then comes the bold proclamation about the Labor Party’s historic qualifications and mission to solve “these kinds of problems” — followed directly by lobbing the whole issue into the faces of the Liberal state Premiers (no mention of the remaining ALP regimes in SA or Tasmania, of course) and a demand that these Premiers come up with solutions to the problem of rising electricity prices.

If the Liberal Premiers don’t do as she demands, Gillard says, there will be consequences.

She won’t say what they are just yet; doubtless she thinks it adequate merely to wave the big stick around at present — just so people can see she is carrying it — rather than move straight to whacking someone over the head with it.

Gillard does note, however, that over the past eight years, state governments have extracted a combined $32 billion out of their respective electricity generation and supply companies, and that this has directly impacted household and business bills by sending the price of electricity rocketing.

Again, who could argue?

But the problem Gillard has — and the very deliberate item of misinformation she is attempting to peddle — is that by and large, all of these state governments were Labor state governments.

In SA and in Tasmania they still are; and until very recently, the Labor Party was the party of government in Victoria, New South Wales, and in Queensland.

Even the Liberal government in WA hasn’t even served its first full term yet after following an eight-year Labor administration into office.

I think it’s well and good that Gillard professes concern over electricity prices. But she can hardly be taken seriously when her first act is to commit the sin of omission by denying the ALP’s complicity at state level in what she correctly identifies as a scandalous bread-and-butter issue facing millions of ordinary folk across the country.

And of course, her beloved carbon tax — reviled, it seems, by everyone else in Australia except the Communists Greens — has nothing to do with it.

Yet again, Gillard’s solemn-sounding, finger-wagging attempt to appear to studiously and sincerely address something that outrages voters has blown up in her face.

But then, if you are Gillard, you’ll blame anyone; last week it was Tony Abbott, and this week, it’s the Liberal Premiers.

I just wonder who Gillard’s scapegoat and patsy will be next week — when she is again purveying her dishonest excuses as to why her government is not responsible for precisely the agenda items it institutes itself.