30 Aug 2011

The Feral Coalition

By Evan Jones
Tony Abbott's claims about the Coalition's economic track record just don't stack up - but even as he careens wildly on policy questions, polls show the voters are keen, writes Evan Jones

The federal Coalition Opposition is the pits. Has there ever been a time when the partners in a long marriage of convenience have been so lacking in substance or in values?

The Liberal front bench has nothing to redeem it, save for Malcolm Turnbull whose light is dimmed under his NBN-trashing punishment for being a bright boy. There is no intelligence, no courage, no character, no integrity. Ex-Liberal MPs like Edward St John, Ian Macphee, Peter Baume, Judi Moylan or Petro Georgiou wouldn't even get near pre-selection. Instead the shadow ministry is replete with airheads, headkickers, crackpots and malevolent (readers can fill in the boxes). Some shadow ministers are competent but are either invisible or content to function as party hacks. Joe Hockey, in the key Treasury portfolio, appears reluctant to acquire the responsibilities associated with his brief. There are capable backbenchers but they are seemingly without a voice.

Tony Abbott remains an enigma. Smart, but bull-headed. After bouts in the ring with the Catholic Church, he retains a "strong Catholic faith" (Wikipedia) but an elusive morality. His period as Opposition leader has been uniformly unprincipled and incompetent.

Abbott's reference to "forgotten families" in his May Budget response was not only farcical — the childcare rebate was to be means-tested for affluent families — but flippant regarding the allusion to Menzies' 1942 "forgotten people" speech. Were Abbott's minders asleep during their lessons on party history?

When Menzies was elected in 1949, he handed a few sops to the Party's hard line ideologues in the form of some token privatisations but marginalised them henceforth and proceeded to perpetuate the Labor inheritance. Menzies was of course aided by post-war global reflation, but also pushed along by Country Party developmentalism.

Menzies was a Conservative. Not merely have small-l liberals been cast into the outer darkness, but genuine conservatives appear to be an extinct species as well.

As for the National Party, it is a rabble.

The Country Party changed its name and gradually changed its spots — hence the election of Independents in previously safe rural seats. The Howard government (following a cue from Keating-era Labor) decided that non-urban populations could sink or swim, and the Nats remained silent. Barnaby Joyce, who has a keen instinct for small business problems, chooses to lose himself in loopy causes. The fact that John Anderson, previously National Party leader, is now chairman of Eastern Star Gas, a company lusting after prime farm land, sums up the shift of focus.

On 16 June, Warren Entsch, Member for Leichhardt, made a short speech to Parliament claiming bank predation against small business and farmers in his electorate, with cynical borrower asset devaluations, demands for greater security and imposition of criminal penalty rates.

"We as a community would all prosper if [the banks laid off a little bit], but instead they continue to bankrupt businesses that have been great clients of theirs. Quite frankly, I think it is totally inappropriate that they continue to gouge in this way."


NSW Nationals Senator John Williams, himself a bank victim, has been the recipient of multiple cries for help from rural casualties. It's a systemic problem. To date, there's been only tinkering at the edges — a foreclosure here or there delayed but not prevented — but no attempt to meet the problem head on. Why? Because the party bosses won't have it.

What is the Coalition plank on economic policy? Apart from feeding the ravenous resources sector beast, it boils down to budget surpluses. And tax cuts or concessions to the privileged. That's it. Return the federal budget to surplus — after giving tax cuts? — and the economy will spring to life. Admittedly, this nostrum is standard fare among the economics cognoscenti. When the Productivity Commission opines that airport parking fees are not excessive, what else can one expect from harried politicians who follow their nose?

On the budget surplus bandwagon, the Coalition is thinking big. It's looking for $70 billion in spending cuts and holding up Peter Costello's 1996 budget as a promising precedent. Well indeed might the Coalition heavies examine the 1996 horror budget in fine detail.

The first step would be an exhumation of Bob Officer's Commission of Audit that provided philosophical legitimisation for the slashing. It is a document other-worldly at best, dishonest at worst — an exemplar of New Public Management principles to be applied a priori. Representative of the report's idiocy was instructions for the dismantling of the federal regional policy bureaucracy.

Thus Costello's first budget dismantled the regional policy bureaucracy. The budget unthinkingly slashed various industry support programs. The budget also dismantled Keating's painfully constructed Working Nation programs for the long term unemployed — essentially out of spite. More, the budget initiated the first tranche in the ultimate full privatisation of Telstra.

And what happened? Howard had to re-establish the regional policy bureaucracy. After major lobbying from Howard's own business constituency, Howard had to come up with a swathe of replacement industry support programs (under a package labeled Investing for Growth). As for the long term unemployed, they were sentenced to trudge the corridors of Howard's privatised Jobs Network, condemned to the too-hard basket. The privatised vertically integrated Telstra spelled disaster for a functioning telecommunications system, still in limbo. Ah yes, Costello's 1996 budget — a work of genius; and a model for a clueless Coalition intent on bravado.

If all else fails, there's always WorkChoices revisited.

Here is the crudest of right-wing politics for simpletons: national economic problems are of necessity due to selfish workers. Now that the retail sector is hurting, time to abolish all penalty rates and hours restrictions. Labour market "reform" to the rescue! The retail sector was an important force in the 1980s Business Council-led push for labour market "deregulation", but the complete counter-revolution was not accomplished.

After the tight election in August 2010, Tony Abbott claimed that Labor lacked legitimacy and was unfit to govern. Truly, if ever there was a grouping deserving of this judgment it is the Coalition Opposition led by this accuser. The question is, why are Australians apparently so keen to vote for him?

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Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 13:53

Rabbott is a danger to the Liberal party he has proved one thing by embarrassing the party with his bull-headed attitudes, time to get rid of him before he puts the Liberal Party into obliteration. Malcolm Turnbull would be the grace saver of the Liberal Party, at least he has some commonsence, something guffing rabbott has not got.

David Grayling
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 14:15

Grumpy, perhaps someone can convince him to move to America like Murdoch did, perhaps tell him he might just end up the U.S. President.

He'll need to move quickly to get a nomination in because the election is in November of 2012.

With Palin or Backman as his running mate, they'll make a lovely couple, don't you think?

And Australia will be saved from a fate worse than...


This user is a New Matilda supporter. Jane E
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 14:50

I don't think there's too much mystery in TLOTO's avowed Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic church is the largest, best organised, longest surviving company in the modern world. It has a power structure that you have to be male and acceptable to the ruling clique to join. It has secret ballots for the leadership attended by a tiny tiny fraction of the membership. It is filthy rich.

It has a proud record of oppressing women which makes the Taliban look like rank beginners. No abortion, no contraception, and if there's a choice, the women go hungry and don't go to school. Oh, and god help you if you're female and you can swim. One of the few ways to avoid being burned at the stake as a witch was to drown when they tied you to a stool and dropped you into a river.

It's not killing they are against. They are all in favour of "just wars". I once looked up the Vatican website to see how to interpret the 5th commandment - "Thou shalt not kill", as I was taught. Pretty straight forward, you would think? You'd be wrong. Pages and pages of weasel words.

This organisation, no doubt benefitting from its association with the emperor Constantine, long ago perfected manipulating heads of state and anyone with power, money and / or influence to facilitate its colonisation of the world. The Spanish in America, the French in Africa and Asia....everywhere the Europeans went, they took missionaries, and their Euro-centric, superior self image. They also took colossal greed, and total disrespect for anyone's culture but their own.

The RC church may not have organised all this by themselves, but they really provided the propaganda whereby the masses were properly intimidated so that the chosen - sorry, wealthy - could get on with the exploitation. I think TLOTO is doing exactly what he was trained to do.

Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 17:41

Dear me Evan, I think you've 'blown' your invitation to the next Coalition conference! I enjoyed your article and thoroughly agree with you. The "honourable" Tony Abbott MP is not a man from whom I would buy a motor car (new or old) and certainly not an economic policy. I was amused when I saw him sharing a platform with one Alan Jones outside parliament recently, in light of Abbott's purported statement relayed by a reliable source, "that the only thing he wouldn't do to gain power would be to sell his ****." I suspect that Abbott sold it long ago and found it fitting that he was sharing a platform with Jones whom I believe was once found lurking in suspicious circumstances near a toilet by the police in a large city. These two obviously have a lot in common. Seriously, the Coalition has junked every convention it can in the pursuit of power and has proved to have no interest in good government. Abbott's success in selling his message is testament to the power of money, his lack of principle and skill as an agitator; unfortunately as you point out, this fecklessness is not confined to Abbott, his colleagues are similar and even more sadly it extends to quite a few in the Labor Party too. Never mind, despite all the hullaballoo Gillard is still in power, the government though weak due to its minority status is probably the most democratic we've had in years and it is implementing (largely) good policies

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 00:25

When Coalition boast about their surplus they don't mention how they acquired it.....selling Telstra, but worst of all clearing out all our gold reserves owned by the people of Australia and selling them at bargain basement prices. They did this without even bringing the matter to a debate in Parliament but merely making a fair accompli announcement TO Parliament after the event! The latter is a scandal and there has, to my knowledge, only been one report on it, 7.30 Report with Kerry O'Brien years and years after the event. It bugs me that ALP let them get away with this from then until now and journalists just simply never remind ANYONE, if they remember it themselves.

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 00:26

typo - 'fait accompli' in above!

opus est
Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 17:08

Very true Evan,
Tony Abbott is a phoney. He obviously has an intellect, but goes to enormous trouble to hide it and act the buffoon. He has followed in the footsteps of his mentor, the unlamented John Howard, in surrounding himself with real buffoons; Malcolm Turnbull excepted. He raves about tax cuts while promising largess to the big polluters and the dumping of Labor's mining super profits tax, the price on carbon and making cuts to government spending of some $70 billion. He wants to bring back the abominable Work Choices. Not a day seems to pass without a new Abbott stunt, without some ham-fisted comment, or an appearance at some staged public meeting, preferably with the support of Alan Jones, that champion of the illiterati, as a crowd puller. One might be disappointed with some of the Government's decisions, but how could we consider replacing it with a bunch that stands for nothing, has no credibility, no courage, no integrity, and no real policy, led by a man such as Tony Abbott.

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 19:39

Iain Hall
Who was it that gave us the GFC, 1930's and 1890's Depressions.

Those greedy, lazy workers I bet, we should send them off to another war, to die so that the rich don't have to and get rich while sitting back and reading about the war in the safety of a paper.

Students guide to World History 1789-1979
This is one of the comments there:
“(ii) Periodic Cycles of Business. Attention was drawn to earlier depresssions. In the 19th century an English economist, W. S. Jevons, had noticed that such crises tended to recur at roughly ten-year intervals. Since 1815 they had occurred in 1827, 1836, 1847, 1857, 1866, 1873, 1882, 1893, 1900, 1907, 1913, 1921 - and now, 1930. Give or take a year for their full impact to reach any particular country, they were essentially a world wide phenomenon.”

The labour movement must have been very powerful to be able to do that all around the world. About time we allowed all you Harvard educated clowns into the Offices to show us how to run a country and economy. Man the workers movements are realy dumb, they have ruined so much and for so long while you guys just looked on in terror.

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 19:58

Betty you and Jane E prove that women are smart, as smart, if not smarter then a lot of blokes.

Some of the comments you read here, you have to wonder whether the people who post them ever read anything else, (like history) but their own posts and whether those posts are driven by ego or just fantacy.

Evan Jones is quite right and most people here agree, but then, I know, he has a right, Iain Hall blames the worlds mess on Australian Labour and the party.

Nothing on this planet is perfect and the Labour movements certainly ain't, but how many times must the wheels fall of Iains Billy Cart before he will admit that it isn't ever going to work, that its over rated junk.

Capitalism is Americas Pimp and American Democracy is more like Marilyn Monroe. Fancy stitches, Glitz and Glamour, Platex support bras and Panty Girdles, but strip it down and its nothing but an Obese Junky. Everybody wants to sleep with it to see what everybody else might have seen, yet nobody wants to marry it.

Iain is still drewling over her, despite the fact she's long gone. She was just a sad, sad creature, used and abused.

Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 - 04:13

Iain Hall

"Likewise I think that there is merit in well organised and properly managed unions which serve the interests of their members rather than the schemers and political ideologues who use the fees extracted from members for their own agendas or base hedonistic lifestyles."

Iain. Humans will be Humans, thats why we have laws, rules and regulations.
Even if you go flating with Mates and or friends for the first time, you have to have rules, to modify human behaviour, learned or otherwise.

The Labour movements and their Political Parties were set up because we had Booms and Busts every ten years with Business Cycles and it was always the working Classes or consumers of over produced Garbage at over inflated prices in the name of record profits who payed the price. The system isn't perfect, thats why we have laws. You however try to Politicize a problem with inforcing laws amongst thieving humans.

The law is reactive, thieves are Pro active.

If you want better laws concentrate on commercial laws to stop white collar crime you will then get a trickle down effect. The poor imitate the rich because the rich have been getting away with it for years. Look at the GFC.

You are a verbal Thug, a bully, for the greedy grubs who believe in the Harvard Model of Economic War Fare and wealth or rescource stealing. You are a payed lacky, thats how you make a living, talking garbage for and on behalf of somebody.

Its like the Guy who owns a Company that specilizes in being and anti Conspiracy Theoriest, Theoriest.

Now think about that one, who benefits. Who payes for or would pay for that type of service and would. What is a Theoriest in the first place and how much more would the anti Conspiracy Theoriest, Theoriest know then the Conspiracy Theoriest. A conflict arrises between Official version and Media version of events, so the problem is with the Media or Corporation/Government not the theorist. So you need more regulation in either Government, Corporations or Media to get the truth not anti Conspiracy Theoriest, Theoriests who want to make a living of human stupidity, as you do.

Aust. suvived the GFC better then others because we still had regulations, had the Banking sector and others got their way earlier we would have followed the Yanks into the big Black Hole of the Harvard Economic Business Model, which is all about the demand for wealth rather then the supply of it, in the food chain or consumption chain.

Harvard mentality wants Politics or Nationalism to provide the National rescources then Privatise the Profits and Nationalise the losses.

Its Bull, Dailight Robbery, Thieving, A PYRAMID GAME............................................

Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 - 23:48

Iain, just what I expected.
Long on criticism short on facts.
You sure your namw ain't Tony, Abbot maybe.

Posted Saturday, September 3, 2011 - 14:35

Iain, the labour movements ain't going to employ you as a mouth peice so you have to stick with your opinions. Just like Tony you now have to keep banging away, because your out there.

AND, you need a Job. The movie industry does not need anymore writers, the industries stuffed anyhow.

So that means you have made your bed and now you will just have to sleep in it.

Wait until all those Journos from England (who have just been dropped by Murdoch) come over here on the next plane. There are a few in your world, all those who came first in their English class who will soon feel a bit threatened. So unless you got relo's at the privates and your a Koala, I think you could be in trouble.

Is that why you created the sandpit, pay the morgage, weasel your way in. Hoping business will notice your un-dying love for their ego's. You trying to get noticed.

Put on some lipstick, boy and stand in line, there are lots of you out there. Or you could try and get a real job, Drive a Truck, nah you'll probably get your hands dirty.

SO, Good luck!

Posted Monday, September 5, 2011 - 05:02

Thank you Iain.

I'm beginning to appriciate you and your comments more and more.

Talking or texting is the best way to comunicate each others hopes, desires, wishes.

When we read, we understand, there is not enough understanding in the country or world. We are all far too busy, far too consumed by our own problems and society as we once knew it has been destroyed, by the me, me, me mentality.

So keep talking, your OK.