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No good reason to change government

April 17, 2013

NoReasonTweet

By Barry Tucker

I wrote the above Tweet on 16 April, 2013. It created the usual temporary flutter of interest in the form of Favourites and Retweets. And then it was gone, replaced by the next person’s “grabby” thought, but part of history nonetheless.

“Reason” (when it relates to politics and elections) usually refers to the need for change, or the fact that the other mob has policies that seem to be more appealing.

Unfortunately, in today’s popularity poll elections it’s more a matter of the leader of the other mob having more personal appeal than policy appeal. And that brings me back to my Tweet.

There is another way of looking at the statement in that Tweet. Who does the Liberal/National Party Coalition represent? The Liberals represent big business. The Nationals represent country, rural or regional interests. Observers are still trying to figure out who the Australian Labor Party (ALP) of today represents, so the jury’s out on that one.

The Liberal party was formed from the ideas of Robert (later Sir Robert) Menzies in 1944. It had the backing of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), formed during the previous year. One of the founders of the IPA was Keith (later Sir Keith) Murdoch, the father of Rupert Murdoch. Menzies was a Royalist (and was richly rewarded for it) and a Conservative (in the days when women wore gloves and petticoats) and he quite rightly thought television was the work of the devil so he tried to prevent the beast entering Australia.

Conservatives are not opposed to change. They believe change should be well considered and, if considered necessary, introduced gradually. So, gradually, the devil got its foot in the door, women got rid of the gloves and the petticoats, the country finally got rid of Bob Menzies (who got to take charge of the five, or Cinque, ports of merry old England) and (greatly aided by television) Gough Whitlam burst onto the scene and changed Australia forever. House rules inherited from merry old England were used to get rid of Gough and Australia was again changed forever – Parliament was no longer what it had always seemed to be.

Because there is little interest in politics in The Lucky Country the business of politics fell into a predictable syndrome: the mob on the Left get in and change too many things too quickly. Eventually they get kicked out and the mob on the Right get in and put things back the way they were. Eventually they get kicked out, and so on.

Over the years the Liberal party has changed. Today, it represents big business. And the devil (having seen his gaudy temples installed in every living room, bedroom, kitchen and man cave in the country) has taken charge of the Liberal party. It may be in the form of the federal Parliamentary Liberal Party Leader, Tony Abbott, or the managing director of News Corp/News Limited Rupert Murdoch, or in the heart of the IPA – but he’s in there somewhere, in the detail.

This, again, brings me back to my Tweet, to look at it in still another way. Who do we want to represent us after September 14? Do we vote for the ALP (the progressive socialists who seem to be floundering as they try to figure out how to govern for the whole nation) or do we vote for big business (those selfish interests who think the country would be better managed by mining conglomerates and news media moguls, including television station owners and content providers)?

I don’t want to be governed by miners and media Barons. I can’t see how they would have my best interests at heart. I don’t want to see a change of government at this time. While the federal Labor government has overseen some spectacularly messy policy stuff-ups it has also done some pioneering work, which is what Labor is famous for. I want to see this government given time to settle down and continue to govern for all Australians.

Labor’s refugee policy gives me nightmares, but it’s not very much different to the Liberal policy. Carbon pricing had to happen, and it’s not set in concrete. Australians have responded well and without much fuss to carbon pricing, water saving campaigns, electricity saving campaigns and walk-to-work campaigns. They want a clean, safe future for their grandchildren and conservation of non-renewable and natural resources. By contrast, the Liberals want to burn everything for a profit today and … we’ll think of something else tomorrow.

Evidence is emerging that the LNP Coalition’s traditional slash and burn policies, which they say are necessary to compensate for Labor’s over-spending, have a tendency to create a drift towards recession. While there also would be global influences, it seems to be a perfect logical theory.

Labor’s problem is not so much their leader, Julia Gillard, but how she came to power. Because of the coup (ordered by the Right wing of the party), Australia’s first female PM has had trouble finding acceptance, complicated by the fact that she is the first and her persona, while very much a modern woman, is different to that of the majority of women. In the era of personality politics you must have the right kind of personality to win the game.

A bigger problem for Labor has been the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, and Labor’s inability to counter the enthusiastic support he has been given by some sections of the news media. This is the man who, after he lost the September 7, 2010 election, said: “My challenge now is to ensure that I’m not the best Opposition Leader never to have become Prime Minister.”

To my mind the modern Liberal party is becoming too much like the USA’s Republicans, who in turn seem to have been taken over by the Tea Party – a ruinous bunch of religious ratbags with oddly adverse attitudes towards humanity and a fondness for tin foil hats (loony ideas). Senator Cory Bernardi, a backbencher in the Liberal/NP Coalition, is an advocate of Tea Party politics and a good exemplar of everything that’s wrong with it.

There is also the issue that the real Tony Abbott is virtually unknown. He appears on radio and television stations where he knows the interviewers and presenters are friendly, generous, non-critical and not inquisitive. He avoids any interviewer who might give him a hard time. Why? He sometimes walks away from stand-up interviews. On one occasion Mr Abbott ran from the debating chamber to avoid accepting the “tainted” vote of an MP he had found guilty of fraud even before the man had been charged with any crime (charges have since been laid and the MP concerned is appearing in court).

Mr Abbott ran a relentless campaign against the Prime Minister’s decision to introduce carbon pricing. He ignored a statement the PM made on the eve of the 2010 election and relied on an earlier statement, in which Ms Gillard said there would not be a carbon tax “…under the government I lead”. There was a better line of attack, related to a mandate for action on carbon, but Mr Abbott missed it – in fact everyone, including the generally biased news media, has missed it.

In the House, Mr Abbott has repeatedly displayed contempt for the rule of law (especially the presumption of innocence) and for the democratic process. He exhibits a disconnect from reality (“… the government is illegitimate; it does not have a majority …”, ignoring the fact that he would have needed the Independents’ support to govern). His contempt for the parliament and the law can be seen in his bid to force the Prime Minister to dismiss the then Speaker, Peter Slipper (a matter not unlike the Craig Thomson affair), not for the benefit of parliament and the Commonwealth but for Mr Abbott’s personal benefit: the gaining of the Prime Ministership.

Prior to this disgraceful behaviour (from an experienced parliamentarian and a law graduate) there was a sustained campaign to politically damage the Prime Minister by linking her to allegations of misconduct and even criminal actions in regard to the ACTU “slush fund”. There was no provable evidence. If it existed it should have been given to the Victorian or Western Australian police. Failure to do so, the concealment of a crime, is a crime itself. The allegations were nothing more than a smear and their appearance across the news media day after day was politically damaging. Understood correctly, they were not only damaging to the Prime Minister but to the Opposition Leader, to news media generally and to the people’s opinion of parliament.

That episode was followed by his blatant lies and attempts to mislead the House in regard to the reasons for higher electricity bills and the portions attributable to carbon pricing. I have never seen an explanation of why a Minister or the parliament itself did not take Mr Abbott to task over this.

You might say all is fair in love and politics. But I ask: Is this kind of behaviour acceptable in a man who puts himself forward as a more suitable Prime Minister?

There is no shortage of examples of what I am referring to. Mr Abbott’s behaviour stands in sharp contrast to what I think can be reasonably expected of a man who would be Prime Minister. Given that and the fact that Mr Abbott will take us back to the era of his mentor, the former Prime Minister John Howard, I can only repeat: “There is simply no reason to vote for a Liberal/NP federal government. Not one.”

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of international media giant News Corp and Australian branch News Limited, doesn’t agree with me. He posted the Tweet below on May 20.

Murdochtweet

Mr Murdoch did not acknowledge the constantly negative and critical role his Australian news media outlets have played in denigrating the federal Labor government in the minds of the Australian people.

One of the polls he refers to, Newspoll, is 45% owned by News Limited.

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