Another wave of confected outrage over the dangers of safe schools sweeps all before it this week in politics, almost upstaging the Senate’s all night pyjama party over getting rid of micro parties because of Greens’ Leader Richard di Natale’s deal with the LNP.
In the chaos, PM “Mr Magoo” Turnbull surrenders power to a rabid right wing rump of tin foil hatters, urged along by his predecessor and a loose mob of Nationals who believe farmers will be able to get more for their milk if they can sue their supermarket buyers.
Mr Magoo happily keeps the nation guessing over policy, the budget and the date of the election because even if he did know, his leadership is now reduced solely to denying information. Inspired, Environment Minister Greg Hunt denies carbon emissions are increasing.
Turnbull wants to “end the circus” in the Senate by extinguishing micro parties. He is excited by experts who predict that this will increase the LNP’s prospects of controlling both houses.
A deal between the government, the Greens and Nick Xenophon, means the Senate passes a law which is aimed at preventing the likes of Ricky Muir being elected on only 0.51% of the vote.
Turnbull watchers suggest that the move could pave the way for the Federal Government to call a July double-dissolution election, clearing out both chambers. Few others care.
It is “a great day for democracy”, says the PM and a great day for Bob Day who mounts a legal challenge on the tenuous grounds that 3 million voters will be disenfranchised by the laws because their votes will no longer result in electing political candidates.
... a High Court injunction ...
Family First Senator Day also seeks a High Court injunction to intervene before the election to decide whether the electoral changes are constitutionally valid. Joining Day is Liberal Democrats’ Senator David Leyonhjelm who believes that universal gun ownership guarantees public safety and whose party name may have confused would-be Liberal voters.
Experts do not favour the duo’s chance of success in getting the High Court to deny Parliament the power to re-design the ballot process.
Senate drama to one side, at the heart of the week, the national agenda and reflecting some of the deepest issues which beset a beleaguered Turnbull government’s slim hold on reality and legitimacy is his government’s Innovation Policy.
Turnbull holds a presser. No-one knows why. No-one cares. He makes a forlorn, final petition to the vast yawning indifference of the assembled Canberra hacks.
“Christopher and I failed to inspire one question about innovation. Is there a question - one more question - if it is on innovation?” A journalist put up his hand to ask a question about cigarettes. The room breaks up laughing. Turnbull gives up and leaves.
His innovation policy a load of old cobblers, his indecision and uncertainty over election dates, tax policy, Senate voting reform or budget plans all equally risible, the briefing’s sole achievement is to confirm the government’s determination to give tax cuts to fat cats.
Big, experienced investors stand to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in Capital Gains Tax exemptions for investments in early stage start-ups and exemption from global warming.
Hunt claims that Australia’s emissions peaked ...
February is reported to be a shocking 1.35 per cent hotter than average but Australia’s World’s Best Minister, Greg Hunt, is not having an isobar of any hint that Australia is any part of the problem. Instead, Hunt claims that Australia’s emissions peaked 10 years ago.
It must just be a 21st century climate vibe thing, the Environment Minister is picking up because Hunt’s view, like his Direct Action policy has no foundation in reality.
Hugh Grossman, Executive Director of Reputex, says his company’s analysis of the government’s own data shows Australia’s emissions will continue to grow with “no peak in sight”. Australia’s growth rate will be among the highest of all developed countries.
“Extraordinary comments” says Climate Institute CEO, John Connor, who also points to “the enormous credibility gap in the government’s current policies.” Or was the Feng Shui somehow better under Abbott? Bruce Billson reckons so.
“The wisdom, the insight, the personal Feng Shui, Billson fawns this week in a valedictory, which earns him golden grovel of the week. But who is his Great Harmoniser?
Billson’s high praise is for his former PM Tony Abbott, now Monkey Pod faction Captain, a gang of four whose latest move to destabilise Malcolm Turnbull sees him sign a petition against Safe Schools, an initiative of his own brief, unsafe government.
Now Abbott opposes Safe Schools because “new material has come to light” and it gives him a stick to beat Turnbull. He signs Christensen’s petition to reject the Safe Schools’ review. 39 others do likewise, it is claimed, a tally only four shy of Abbott’s last, lost leadership spill.
... his homophobic attack ...
Gorgeous George Christensen, Australian Christian Lobby stooge, continues his homophobic attack on Safe Schools with allegations of paedophilia. Urged on by The Great Harmoniser, Christensen dismisses the government’s inquiry as a “joke”.
Gorgeous is happy to do the bidding of the ACL, which requires children to be bullied at school because of their gender identity or uncertainty or just because they are children.
By Friday, the government announces it will gut the Safe Schools programme and impose restrictions. These include limiting it to secondary students who have their parents’ permission and the parent body’s permission. An excited Christensen, the voice of adult, reasonable, fundamentalist, homophobic government crows:
“We’re not going to have students exposed to websites that take them off to adult shops or to groups that are running sex toy workshops for youth and that sort of thing. That’s got no place in this program.”
In other words, whatever it may reveal of his own preoccupations, Christensen’s objection has nothing to do with the programme. It is an open challenge to Turnbull’s authority. Obligingly, the PM caves in; something Abbott managed to avoid in 2014.
When a few right wing tossers last got hot and flustered about Safe Schools in the Abbott government party room, their ranting was hosed down by Christopher Pyne who said the government “did not, as a rule, defund programmes which were already running.”
This time, however, the homophobic, fundamentalist push has Tony’s signature on their petition. The non-sniper’s moniker makes all the difference.
... beholden to the right wing.
Out to wedge his PM as a closet Marxist, Abbott has now succeeded in making Turnbull even further beholden to the right wing. Turnbull’s government will continue to be fearlessly innovative and agile in education or any other policy area it may have unless any right wing nut job or pal of Tony Abbott’s objects and organises a petition. Then it will be even more benighted than its predecessor. Nowhere is this better seen than on the issue of marriage equality where it is about to do nothing.
Unable to agree on public funding or granting exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, a deeply divided Turnbull government is about to renege on its promise to reveal the fine print in its planned marriage equality plebiscite before the next election.
Being unable to keep Abbott’s dodgy plebiscite promise may even amount to a bizarre keeping of faith with the Great Harmoniser. He stacked caucus with conservative Nationals and called for a plebiscite as a cunning diversion. No-one expected him to do anything, unlike Barnaby Joyce who must suddenly rise to his greatest test.
Ducking for cover, Deputy dog, Barnaby Joyce, is baying at the moon and chasing parked tractors over the prospect of a dog-fight with Independent Tony Windsor for his seat of New England. He may be the first sitting deputy PM in Australian political history to lose his seat. Newspoll suggests a two-dog swing against the Nationals leader of 16 percentage points.
Will Joyce be too tied up to help Mal campaign? What is certain is that Abbott will be up on his hind legs with his non-sniping, non-wrecking, non-undermining support of his own.
Far from chastened by his recent rebuke from his master, over when submarines could and should be built, Tony Abbott makes mention of Malcolm Turnbull’s name at a Balgowlah RSL in the Warringah electorate last Sunday only to draw jeers.
... if he actually had an election platform ...
Almost straight-faced, Abbott explains how important it was for his audience to do all they could, as he himself is, to see that Malcolm Turnbull wins the election. Turnbull would be helped if he actually had an election platform according to one old Liberal Party running dog, Jeff Kennett.
“This talk about an early election,” Jeff Kennett tells 2UE, “is an indication sadly that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country, and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.”
One of these failings is Scott Morrison and his grasp of how this economy thing works.
“The plan on this side of the house is to reduce the tax burden on investment. That is the key ingredient to support the transition in our economy.”
If only it were that simple. Canadians found that tax cuts for big business meant extra ‘revenue’ was not put back into the economy, but was in fact paid to their shareholders.
Much as he loves the Tea Party rhetoric of tax as a burden, Australians’ tax “burden on investment” in companies is mitigated by the benefit of dividend imputation. Add the uncomfortable fact that, as the ATO reminds us, out of 1539 of Australia’s largest corporate entities, 38 per cent did not pay any tax in 2013-14.
Voters may question why Morrison’s tax relief for companies is fair and reasonable, especially since he’s lost his earlier passion to cut individual tax to beat bracket creep.
Upstaging any creeping bracket, however, is Turnbull’s backflip this week on Section 46 of The Effects Test, a competition law which should prohibit conduct by firms with substantial market power that has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition, consistent with other prohibitions in the competition law.
... a flip-flop for Turnbull ...
Aimed at preventing big firms from misusing their market power, such a test has been popular with National politicians for decades and is a flip-flop for Turnbull who opposed it six months ago.
Its adoption as policy splits the coalition and is opposed by Labor which describes the effects test as “a lawyer’s picnic”. Amazingly, Labor proposes alternative legislation making it easier to bring litigation.
In the end, this is a sop to the Nationals who fret over the fate of farmers whose milk production has earned them lower and lower prices as a result of our supermarket duopoly combining to drive the milk price down and send farmers broke. Now those who remain in business can look forward to risking more of their money on legal battles with companies whose pockets are deep.
The battle for market share should not obscure the battle of ordinary Australian working families to afford leave to have a baby. New parents in low-paid jobs stand to be $10,500 worse off under a Turnbull government paid parental leave plan intended as a compromise on cuts proposed by Tony Abbott, according to new university research out this week.
The research, commissioned by women’s group Fair Agenda and conducted by the University of Sydney’s Women and Work Research Group, shows mothers who work in healthcare, teaching and retail could lose between $3942 and $10,512 under the compromise policy.
Fair Agenda’s report reflects a Liberal government whose support of big business and big earners is its only clear policy commitment yet, while its Prime Minister’s authority is now so compromised that his capacity to lead an effective election campaign let alone another term in office is now seriously in doubt.
• Guardian: Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity falls into negative territory in Newspoll Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating as prime minister has fallen into negative territory for the first time but voters still expect him to win this year’s election, the latest Newspoll shows. … Dissatisfaction with Turnbull has risen three points to 44%, leaving his net satisfaction rating at minus five points. But he remains by far the preferred prime minister, on 52%, compared with 21% for Labor’s Bill Shorten whose net satisfaction rating is up one point to minus 24 points.
• Guardian Politics Live: Malcolm Turnbull paves way for 2 July election with recall of parliament House of Cards: I admire your methodology, Prime Minister. If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.