EARLY IN their time in opposition — and early, too, in their “rebuilding” phase, in theory — the emerging “narrative” of Labor and the
Communist Party Greens is vapid in its capacity to inspire, and frightening in its dislocation from reality. To oppose is one thing. To advocate a parallel universe, free of the constraints of reality or ethics, is another. To be sure, the world of the Australian Left is one nobody ought aspire to.
I half expected to see a Newspoll last night; given it looks like being another week before Newspoll recommences for 2014, I thought we’d talk about the past few months in review, and not least on account of the rich seam of…fertile material…our friends on the Left have provided in that time.
At the outset (and to avoid any charge of hypocrisy) I should like to spell out, unambiguously, that there is nothing wrong with an opposition actively opposing a government. After all, it’s what Tony Abbott did, relentlessly, for four years — destroying two Prime Ministers (three if you count Rudd twice) and obliterating an otherwise ascendant Labor government in the process.
The difference, of course, is that the Abbott onslaught was aimed squarely at defective policies and legislation, and their (often destructive) consequences; from what we’ve heard and seen from the ALP and the Greens to date, the approach they seem determined to take relies on selective dishonesty, hypocrisy, the inconsistent application of principles — if they could even be called that — and the apparent pursuit of a world in which friends are feted, and enemies plundered, but which could and would only ever end in tears.
There is a single, basic falsehood that lies beneath almost every policy, every prescription, and every forked-tongue utterance that derives from the modern Australian Left: the assumption, so obvious that millions of otherwise rational people refuse to acknowledge or concede its existence, that the pot of money to be doled out — to reward cronies, and buy allegiances and votes — is endless.
And yet at first glance, some of what I seek to take aim at appears not to concern money at all, or to do so only as an afterthought: it must be remembered that when it comes to the Left, many parts make up the whole, and its handiwork should be viewed accordingly.
In fact, many readers will have heard me point out that whilst we on the conservative side of politics tend to be “a party” — with loosely affiliated, often passive friends among families, the middle class, business and the elderly — the ALP, by contrast, presents as “a movement.”
So it is: the constituent parts of that movement — the Left — include the ALP, the Greens, the harder-core political Left who hate liberals and conservatives, and hate even liberty and tradition themselves; the ABC, the Fairfax press, and other sympathetic voices in the media; the civil service, the unions, the universities, the school system, the welfare lobbies and a hefty slice of the churches. And that’s just for starters.
It’s important to be clear about just what makes that “movement” up in order to fully understand its aspirations. The Left in Australia has, since the days of Whitlam, steadily and stealthily infected an expanding range of this country’s institutions to perpetuate itself, with the attendant danger that the line between its preferred narrative of society and reality becomes so blurred that most of the people who live here fail to be able to make the distinction.
It’s the reason why (to use a quick example) kids in schools are compelled to learn about and embrace diversity and tolerance and the value of welfare, whilst basic economics or capitalism is an elective unit at best, and institutions such as the monarchy and a literal interpretation of Australian history are “educated” out of existence.
The problem with socialism — in all its incarnations, be they moderate or extreme, virulent or seemingly harmless — is that a theoretical case can be made for them. In practice, none of it works. And in the end, as Margaret Thatcher summed up succinctly, the problem with socialism is that sooner or later it runs out of other people’s money to spend.
Amen to that.
Let’s have a look at what has been going on of late.
We know, of course, that in the wake of the so-called Indonesian spying row, the Left — with the bucket emptied all over the conduct of Labor in office — left Abbott and his colleagues to carry the can. Never mind that the Liberal Party declined to bandy around insults over the issue, or sheet home the blame to the ALP, which it was entitled to do. The real enemy in the equation was US traitor Edward Snowden, who (along with that other treacherous dog, Julian Assange) has shot to notoriety by releasing state secrets and other classified material with the primary objective of embarrassing Right-leaning governments in Western democratic countries.
Labor, and its sycophantic cousins over at the Greens, could scarcely believe their luck; never mind the fact the Liberal Party had nothing to do with the alleged misdeeds made public for the explicit purpose of creating an international incident. Such incidents tend to develop a nasty tendency to backfire on an apolitical basis: that is, it really doesn’t matter who did what — if the explosion is strong enough, it blasts everything in its path.
Even so, to listen to the carry-on from Labor and the Greens in particular, anyone would think the revelations were lucky not to have started a war: their own hands, of course, are spotless.
It’s much the same with the continuing “stop the boats” rage that has the Left in paroxysms of rage; the revelations that Australian vessels had inadvertently encroached on Indonesian waters several times has only been reported as diplomatically dangerous by the Fairfax press. Elsewhere — in more reputable organs of the Australian media, and from international sources — the key story has been that Australian forces have secured an agreement to co-operate in the implementation of the Abbott government’s border control measures with respect to the unauthorised arrival of asylum seekers by boat, with the maritime transgressions a factor to be worked through and eliminated in the continuing course of a policy that has otherwise proven extremely successful thus far.
(Again, however, you’d think this issue too was about to start a war with Indonesia as well, to listen to the ALP and the Greens).
Tim Blair, writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, published an excellent piece yesterday that went into a great depth of analysis of everything wrong with the approach of the Left on this issue.
The villain in his article was the regrettable Greens’ Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, although he could just as easily have been discussing one of dozens of figures from the Greens, or the ALP, or from their more vocal mouthpieces in the press.
I’ll leave readers to peruse his article (and you can do so here), but the opening paragraph — that “leftists are actually more upset that lives are being saved by Tony Abbott’s government than they ever were by the deaths of asylum seekers under the previous Labor government” — sums it up perfectly. Alas, it’s all downhill from there, although there is nothing in his analysis that it factually incorrect, and that’s a scary thing.
For those still conflicted by the merits or otherwise of the issue, just remember Australia already spends close to $15 billion per annum on asylum seekers, by virtue of policies pursued and implemented by Hanson-Young and her colleagues in concert with the Labor Party, and that those policies were an abysmal failure. Yet the best the Senator can do on the issue of hundreds of people dying as a direct result of those policies was the cavalier observation that “tragedies happen, accidents happen.”
And in a passing mention of China’s increasing militarism and threatening behaviour aimed at several of its regional neighbours (to say nothing of the thinly veiled threats levelled at pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong), one would have thought it made sense to give some kind of contingency consideration to where Australia would stand if any of China’s military adventures came to blows; one would have thought Labor and Shorten (and even the lunatics at the Greens) would welcome the opportunity to engage in such a discussion, even if for no better reason than to parade a little nous on international matters before the voting public. But no, by initiating such a discussion at all, Abbott and Co are inviting — you guessed it — more international conflict.
Labor and the Greens have tried to reap huge dividends from the decision by General Motors to shut down its Holden manufacturing operations in Australia, despite overwhelming evidence (not least from GM’s own public relations releases) suggesting the decision was taken behind closed doors in Detroit months ago, irrespective of what was subsequently served up for public consumption by way of an “official” process to determine Holden’s fate, or the timing of the “official” announcement.
In other words, the deal had been done when Labor was still in office. Significantly, no Labor figure has ever publicly denied or sought to rebut this point.
And this makes the hypocrisy of its so-called “leader,” Bill Shorten, absolutely galling: as much as he throws around the insults that the Abbott government “did nothing” to stop the Holden closure, and that it “sat on its hands,” and that Holden is a mere taste of the “war on jobs” that Labor apparently believes Abbott is determined to wage, Shorten knows too well that the blame lies with his cronies in the union movement — by virtue of the extortionate enterprise bargaining agreements it struck with Holden, the other car manufacturers, and a raft of other companies like Qantas that are now sitting on wage-related nuclear bombs that are ready to explode — and with the Gillard and Rudd governments, to the extent they may have done anything to change the outcome.
We’ll come back to Shorten a bit later. I’m not done with him just yet.
But talking about Qantas, I wanted to draw attention today to the dubious efforts of another odious specimen from the Greens, former (actual) Communist and USSR propagandist Lee Rhiannon, whose position on the well documented issues facing the national airline would be ridiculous were it not such a brutal illustration of the silliness of doctrinaire socialism.
The contemptible Rhiannon was favoured last week with an article in The Australian, in which she simply dismissed the very real and existential problems as Qantas as nothing more than a stunt.
(In the interests of balance on this point — and looking to another section of The Australian from last week — readers might like to check this article out too, by Grace Collier, who leaves little doubt about the true nature of at least one of the massive handicaps Qantas faces and, more importantly, why).
I have been a vocal and ardent supporter and defender of Qantas for many years, and will continue to be so; I have also conceded that some of its problems stem from poor decisions that have come home to roost: the purchase more than a decade ago of the wrong aircraft types for its fleet renewal program, ordering A380s instead of B777-200LRs and -300ERs to replace its ancient fleet of B747-400s, is a prime example.
But the key to Qantas problems, first and foremost, is its cost base: and for “cost base,” largely, substitute “labour costs.” Thanks to Collier, some perspective on the scope of those costs can finally be shared, and indeed ought to be rammed down the throat of Shorten or any union leader claiming their members are inadequately or uncompetitively remunerated. But I digress.
The upshot of Rhiannon’s grotesquely crass remarks is that Qantas must be Australian owned — no more, no less — whether by Australian shareholders or by Australian institutional investors, or a combination. Failing that, the government should re-nationalise it.
This formulation denies reality; Qantas’ problems do not derive from who might own it were the Qantas Sale Act to be repealed; they derive — union-crafted wage structures notwithstanding — from the fact competitor Virgin Australia has access to a virtually bottomless bucket of cash through its foreign owners with which to seek to erase Qantas from the skies.
Rhiannon can’t even get the details of that correct, suggesting Singapore Airlines would be a potential buyer for Qantas were restrictions on ownership relaxed; the Singaporean carrier already owns a hefty slice of Virgin, and even if it were inclined to play both sides of the competitive fence, it would likely be blocked by the ACCC from doing so on anti-competition grounds.
Even so, Rhiannon’s stand isn’t too hard to identify; an extinct Qantas is better than one substantially owned by offshore interests. How that helps the travelling public or the national interest is impossible to ascertain.
But socialists like to nationalise things, and so it comes as little surprise that this is one potential “solution” to Qantas’ woes Rhiannon seems receptive to. Then again, of course, she probably wouldn’t object to Aeroflot taking Qantas’ place in Australian skies; it certainly wouldn’t be inconsistent with any of the other nutty ideas this one-time agent of Moscow has the nerve to flaunt.
A complementary theme was taken up in The Age — that supposedly “impartial” left-wing trash rag that constituted the total of Labor’s endorsements from major newspapers at least year’s election — on Saturday, in a opinion piece penned by ACTU president Ged Kearney.
Clearly mindful of the cosy influence and sinecures enjoyed by union cronies who have had it too good for too long, Kearney makes the unbelievable overreach that “big business,” rather than the government, is about to take control of Australia: and not to put too fine a point on it, this is apparently about the biggest scary thing to have ever confronted the country since…well, since the previous biggest scary thing — WorkChoices — that ten years down the track Labor and the unions are still trying to fight election campaigns on.
Never mind the fact the ALP (with all the help from the likes of the ACTU as it could summon) made a spectacular botch of its last period in government; the notion anyone else could govern Australia more effectively must be kyboshed at all costs. But this was, after all, the same Ged Kearney so willing to judge an Abbott government on its merits that she told a gathering of teachers last April that the ACTU would launch a “pre-emptive strike” on Tony Abbott ahead of last year’s election: not the words of someone seeking to work productively with the government of the day in the interests of her members.
The main objective of Kearney’s article, as I read it, seems to be to attempt to destroy the credibility of any external entities providing expertise and counsel to the new government as it commences its root and branch review of governance: the Business Council of Australia and the Productivity Commission are the key targets, of course; heaven forbid they or their members should have a clue about how Australia operates, or indeed how it should.
Her attack on mining leader Andrew Forrest, however, defies belief.
Forrest — a sometime Labor-friendly character with a proven willingness to engage all sides — has a long history of philanthropic work involving remote Aboriginal communities, with a program dedicated to combating aboriginal disadvantage that runs alongside another providing academic and vocational scholarships for Aboriginal communities. His work (and expertise) in this area is admirable, and formidable.
According to Kearney, however, as “one of the richest men in Australia,” Forrest’s appointment by the Abbott government to lead a review of indigenous training and employment “should raise eyebrows.” It seems that where Australia’s Left is concerned, if you want to have any influence in this country — or be recognised as having any expertise or even detailed knowledge at all, about anything — the last thing you should do is to actually make some money and succeed.
They simply won’t stand for it. Or to the extent they will do so, they will seek to tax that money out of existence.
To tie it all together, this brings us neatly to the subject of Labor “leader” Bill Shorten, himself a former union chief now masquerading as a contender for the Prime Ministership.
In the interests of even-handedness, I’m sharing links to two profiles on Shorten today: one from Fairfax and one from Murdoch, both of which appeared in newspapers across the country yesterday to commemorate Shorten’s first 100 days as Labor’s “leader.”
Shorten hasn’t earned the nickname “Bull Shittin'” for no reason, and even the Fairfax profile one would expect to be friendly makes no attempt to hide the contradictions in his story; his laughable claim to be developing a plan to tackle alcohol-related street violence ignores the fact this is purely a state government issue, yet he offers Abbott “bipartisanship” in tackling it. Presumably when Abbott refuses (because the Commonwealth doesn’t actually police licensed establishments), he’ll be dismissed as a drunkard and a misogynist!
Last week’s heatwave in southern Australia is offered as proof that Julia Gillard’s carbon tax should be retained, despite the fact the tax was still in force when the heatwave struck.
Shorten belts the same dishonest can as the rest of his morally bankrupt MPs have done about the Holden closure, signalling the Abbott government will be at fault if EBAs run SPC, Qantas and Electrolux out of business too: unions can’t be blamed for anything of course.
Rather pompously, Shorten told Fairfax that ”this is the year where we talk to people, hold the government to account,” which sounds, rather unkindly, like a plan for Labor to continue to tell everyone what to think, and to seek to crucify anyone who doesn’t — a straight copy from the Rudd/Gillard playbook.
And the kindest thing anyone could say about “Bull’s” interview with the Murdoch press is that it is…well, that it’s bullshit.
There is a systemic and total denial that the ALP is in any way responsible or culpable for its failings in office in anything Shorten has to say.
There is a blind, or blithe, denial of the fact the nation’s budget has been run so far into the red as to be structurally unsustainable over anything beyond the short term, haemorrhaging red ink and sucking in foreign capital as it is simply to continue to run.
But this clearly doesn’t bother or trouble Shorten, who says that “we want to make sure we’re a conscientious opposition, not negative for negative’s sake but we ensure the Abbott government doesn’t break promises,” which is presumably the rationale behind the fact that any bill presented to the Senate since the election containing reductions in expenditure has been rejected or obstructed, whilst any measure increasing spending has been passed.
Abbott went to last year’s election foreshadowing a need to do “some things that wouldn’t be popular” — a clear allusion to the need to cut spending, vary policy pledges, and even make modest imposts on people, such as the mooted $6 co-contribution for some patients on GP consultations. The early indications from the government’s budget audit is that the damage enacted by the ALP is far worse than the Liberals feared, and Shorten presumably, as an ex-Cabinet minister, knows exactly what that particular picture actually looks like.
Even so, it’s an attack on Medicare, it’s an outrageous broken promise, and a quick jump from a $6 co-payment to the full-blown failings of the US healthcare system for Abbott to take that action as part of the wider program of budget repair. There are plenty of other issues attracting the same treatment from the ALP.
Naturally, Shorten has no policies of his own to offer, and admitted as much. Far simpler just to throw shit, and stand back and watch it dribble from its targets’ faces upon impact.
He is, however, quite expansive about his belief he can lead the ALP back to power after a single term, and that’s the rub.
In short, Shorten — and Labor — stand for nothing except obstructionism, and they will say, quite literally, anything in this nihilistic pursuit of power.
Quite aside from anything else we’ve covered here, it should be remembered that a trickle of prominent Labor identities are finding their way through the Courts in various jurisdictions around the country in what is becoming a stream, if not a torrent: fraud, misappropriation of monies, corruption, the whole box and dice; it speaks to an entrenched culture of criminal misconduct and contempt for standards of decency and transparency in ALP circles, and ordinary folk are entitled to wonder who else among those ranks may be prosecuted, or indeed how many more of Labor’s number will find their pictures in the paper for the wrong reasons — or, equally, what they may have done.
This is a very long post, and I ask readers’ indulgence; having not posted for several days — but wanting to look at the Left from an overall perspective, rather than picking at separate issues — it seemed a perfect opportunity to do so. I have been extremely busy in my “real world” activities of late, and I apologise for the consequent sparse offerings in terms of fresh comment.
And what does all of this add up to?
With one eye on the six years that have recently concluded, and the other on the four months that have elapsed since, the signs of any quality in new offerings from the Left are not encouraging.
That whole movement — even the constituent parts of it — are so consumed with their lust for power and driven by revenge for its loss that no price is too high for them to pay to regain it, but of course saner heads beg to differ.
It isn’t the Australian way to incite wars when you can’t get your own way; no more than it’s the Australian way to virtually bankrupt the country when you do.
The cultures of abuse, hatred, victimisation and old-fashioned lies the Left deploy against anyone who disagrees with them doesn’t make them right any more than it makes the rest of us wrong.
The ALP, the Greens, the union movement and all of their associated, snivelling, get-in-the-gravy hangers-on have served Australia extremely poorly; rather than fixing up their act in the wake of a hefty election loss in September, that event seems to have spurred them on to more of the same jaundiced prescriptions for the country — and the world — we must all share.
Theirs is a world of entitlement without enterprise, rights without responsibilities, and noblesse oblige with neither the requisite nobility nor a sense of obligation based on anything other than the ability to shove their snouts, and those of their fellow travellers, into an endlessly taxpayer-funded trough.
The Abbott government is not perfect. Like any organisation of human beings, it will get things right and it will make mistakes. It has an enormous task ahead of it to correct the mismanagement that preceded it, and it is in the interests of all Australians that it get that job right.
Perfect or not, Australia under the Liberals is a far more attractive proposition than the alternative. The picture the Left seeks to paint is one of conflict, of hardship, and of a hierarchical order based on those “in the circle” and those who are not — an irony I suspect totally lost on a movement so obsessed with its own crusades to tear down what it perceives as “class barriers” in Australia.
The Australia, and the world, that the Left seek to create in its image should be a frightening prospect for anyone interested in a fair, decent, or tolerant society that is competently run by intelligent people.
And for the party that invented the concept of “the light on the hill”, Labor has no vision to speak of; to the extent it does, that vision is nothing worth aspiring to, let alone allowing to spawn into reality.