Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two wasted years

Tumultuous week in federal politics, with the totally useless Abbott replaced by the man he earlier replaced as leader, Malcolm Turnbull.

Then the announcement of a new Cabinet  and some, not all, of the under-performing idiots Abbott appointed being dumped.

There's been an immediate jump in the polls for the coalition, as predicted, with the LNP just in front of Labor for the first time  since I can't remember when.

We mustn't forget that Abbott's LNP didn't win the last election, the useless self-centred leaders and factions of Labor lost it. Abbot has always been hugely unpopular and very few voters wanted him as Prime Minister, but the electorate was desperate to remove Labor so we got him.

And what a disaster the last two years have been.

It started with the first budget, almost universally outed as totally unfair and containing many broken election promises.

The broken promises piled up rapidly - cuts to pensions, cuts to the ABC and SBS, threats to increase GST included.

Fortunately the Senate refused to pass the more draconian budget proposals - and that's why we almost never vote for the governing party to have a majority in the Upper House.

Abbott used scare tactics, absolutely predictable, warning that Da'esh was coming to get us all, that the economy was about to collapse, that boat people were 'illegal' and would swamp us...it just went on and on.

He scrapped sensible ideas like the carbon price, which is a good example of his negative outlook. It was all in three word slogans, like stop the boats, axe the tax but there were no positive plans, it was all about stopping and scrapping.

So we floundered along for two years, with budgets not approved, no new policies, no plans for the future.

Turnbull was beaten by Abbott by one vote for the leadership and he won it back by ten, 54 to 44.

I really believe he needs to grasp the nettle, face off the right wing loons and get the party back to centre-right. Unfortunately I think he'll pander to the right, trying to keep them onside to avert another challenge. And that will be a huge mistake.

All parties, reflecting society, have lunatic fringes, left and right. The far left of the Labor party are just as mad and dangerous as the far right of the Liberal party, but they're in the minority, just as they are in society.

They can be faced down, treated as the (vocal) minority they are in reality.

Just like the raving shock-jocks, who have a faithful but small following, they're given much more credence than their numbers suggest.

In what I assume is a gesture to the far right, Turnbull has retained Greg Hunt and the breathtakingly stupid Peter Dutton, who have demonstrated the jobs are way beyond their capabilities. He's also kept Mathias Cormann as Finance Minister, a man who assisted failed Treasurer Hockey with his extreme policies and only spouted party slogans in answer to any questions.

So while I'm hugely relieved that the dangerous, idea-less idealogue Abbott has gone, my judgement of Turnbull will depend on how well he stands up to the fanatics on the far right.

So far, admittedly very early days, he seems to be wobbling, suggesting no changes to the Abbott party agenda.

But he's also talking about cabinet decisions rather than captain's picks, so I'm hoping he wants the move back towards the centre - which he's so often promoted in the past on so many issues - to be a cabinet decision. If that's the case it would obviously strengthen his hand and head off a challenge to his position.

All we can do is watch this space.