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Turnbull for PM

May 19th, 2011

There are three people prominent in Australian politics whom I would happily support as Prime Minister[1]. Of these, the one who has the best chance is, I think, Malcolm Turnbull (it shouldn’t be hard for readers to guess the other two). He’s reminded us again what we lost when he was replaced by the lightweight opportunist who now leads the Opposition, against a mirror-image PM. If the Libs would put Turnbull up again, they would get my vote for the first time.

fn1. That reflects a fairly pessimistic view of what progress can be made. A competent government with a decent and consistent policy on climate change is as much as we can hope for at present.

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  1. Freelander
    May 19th, 2011 at 22:46 | #1

    Malcolm Turnbull’s characterisation yesterday of Tony Abbott’s magic pudding climate change policy underscores the pathetic job journalists are doing. Everything he said, they ought to have been being saying, long and loudly. Doesn’t say much, either, for the government, that Turnbull is able to provide a more focused critique than any of them seem capable of.

    Given that there is so much wrong with the Coalition’s ‘competing’ non-policy, a policy which is obviously code for do nothing, and a policy that if implemented would cost the taxpayer heavily for rather small achievements, any respectable fourth estate should have been ripping it to bits. That journalists have been shockingly silent really says a lot.

    As for the state of politics, just as appalling. Both sides of politics are unworthy of office and there are no real signs that things will get any better.

    As for Gillard, clearly she is a mirror of Abbott. Neither seems to have a moral compass. Both like Howard just want to be PM. That said, Gillard has to be better than the drongo she replaced – Kevin, whatever his name was?

    I don’t think Turnbull would really make a great PM, though, his support of sensible climate change policies has to make him a lot better than Abbott.

    I couldn’t imagine two other politicians to happily support, and am wondering who your two others are? And I would not be happy if Turnbull was the best left of a very bad set of choices.

  2. Phillip
    May 20th, 2011 at 00:12 | #2

    The other would be Rudd; the third, Bligh?

    Don’t you think Turnbull would have made a much better Labor politician? It’s not too late for him to join the ALP, stop pretending that he opposes the NBN, and then lead Labor to victory over Abbott.

  3. fred
    May 20th, 2011 at 00:47 | #3

    JQ
    I suspect you are ignoring the party itself [the Libs that is] and are beguiled by the comparison between its present leader and Mal who really are only two individuals out of many.
    Remember that this is a party of a hundred odd [in more senses than one] federal politicians and hundreds more elsewhere who share a particular mind set when it comes to social issues.
    Looking at their ideology, their policies and past performances is a more valid measurement of who such persons are likely to accept as their spokesperson and how suitable such a group would be to govern this nation.
    The Libs are the party whose parliamentary and non parliamentary members number …lots…, that gave us the Intervention, that trumpet xenophobic ‘border security” policies, that are happy to co habit with the Exclusive Brethren, who are happy to ignore public as opposed to private education and health, who believe one should govern as one cooks a small fish, who do not want the NBN, trust the rainmaking gods with $10 million, a substantial minority, or perhaps even a majority of this party, are denialists of climate change, they have concocted spinning PR water policy re the MDB on the back of an envelope [remember that back in latish '07 and who was the relevant minister of the time?] have never seen a tax cut for the rich they didn’t like nor cosider the answer to any problem even the GFC, and who can’t count to the tune of losing $10 billion in an unaudited election package [and there were others beside Tony involved in that]……so on.

    Perhaps the ALP does not measure up with our hopes and expectations but this other mob have been and will be again in a couple of years far worse.

    Putting a pretty face up the front is only putting lipstick on the pig.

    Mal is not the answer.

  4. Donald Oats
    May 20th, 2011 at 00:55 | #4

    While I think Malcolm Turnbull has the where-with-all to be prime minister, I won’t vote for the Liberals until they clear out some of the more society-destroying parasites from the party ranks. Abbott, Minchin (out of his own volition, with a nice super bonus, thank you), Benardi, Hockey, Robb, Morrison, and several more handfuls. True, the party ranks would be severely thinned, but they need a liberalisation of the party before they are governing material. In a nutshell, if they got in with Malcolm at the helm, he would meet severe internal resistance on any policy beyond the do-nothing but tax cuts for the rich type thinking that we can do without.

    Labor aren’t particularly appealling but the competition is execrable. The Clayton’s Budget Reply was a particularly galling experience, and the National Press Club speech by Joe Hockey barely qualifies as garbage. The Liberals need to lift their game substantially, and also realise that a policy with a social element is not akin to pulling teeth unanaethetised, it isn’t anywhere near that bad.

    Caught me at a bad moment…

  5. hc
    May 20th, 2011 at 01:07 | #5

    I agree. I think Turnbull is smarter and speaks with more conviction on climate than does the Labor leadership.

  6. Robert in UK
    May 20th, 2011 at 07:33 | #6

    Is Andrew Leigh one of the three, JQ? I think he should be.

    Also, if you want to have a look at how the other side is thinking, take a look at Professor Allan’s blog over at Quadrant: http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/allan/2011/05/why-abbott-scares-them

    You get the picture. Turnbull’s not coming back any time soon, sadly.

  7. Jeepers Creepers
    May 20th, 2011 at 08:56 | #7

    I would agree with HC.

    Turnbull seems to me understand the implications of GW whereas the ALP leadership and power-brokers only seem to understand the politics ( and bad politics at that) of the subject.

  8. May 20th, 2011 at 09:00 | #8

    I think Turnbull, while the best of the Liberals, would be still faced with the neanderthal front bench that the coalition has now, and the pressure of their corporate donors, so voting Liberal would be the equivalent of the “forlorn hope” charging the breach that Turnbull doesn’t really represent (if I haven’t mangled that metaphor too much!).

    Here is my last attempt http://davidhortonsblog.com/2011/05/20/the-ragged-trousered-philanthropist/ at treating Gillard as a recovering neoconservatism addict. Is she beyond saving?

  9. Ikonoclast
    May 20th, 2011 at 09:15 | #9

    I think supporting a party on the basis of its leader is mistaken. One ought to support a party on the basis of its platform and its track record. On that basis one could never support Labor or Liberal ever again in this country, if one was concerned about actually getting something done about carbon emissions and switches to renewables. Labor and Liberal have proven they are totally beholden to corporate capital, especially corporate mining capital. They will never deliver on these issues.

    One had to change the political landscape totally by making Green and Democratic Socialist parties the main players. That is the only hope.

  10. May 20th, 2011 at 09:59 | #10

    I don’t think Andrew Leigh counts as “prominent in Australian politics” yet.

    For what it’s worth, while I think Turnbull is great as far as the Liberals go, Ikonoclast is right. Leaders are overrated.

  11. Ken Fabos
    May 20th, 2011 at 11:25 | #11

    @Ikonoclast
    I have to agree but find it deeply dismaying that mainstream politics is letting us down so thoroughly. We shouldn’t have to look outside the mainstream to get policy that has a foundation built on science based reality.

    Good on Turnbull, but, with the Coalition enduring a surge of popularity, in part by feeding off and feeding climate change denialism, the chances of his regaining their leadership looks more unlikely than before. And he would be just as unlikely as Abbott or Gillard to align against the resources sector; an ETS that doesn’t actually impact the profitability of them or emissions intensive industries (ie greewash) is about the best we can expect and I’m not willing to bet we’ll even get that.

  12. John Quiggin
    May 20th, 2011 at 11:56 | #12

    For the record, the other two are Kevin Rudd and Bob Brown

  13. Peter Evans
    May 20th, 2011 at 12:17 | #13

    Rough rule of thumb these days for parliamentary members is that about 90% of the Libs/Nats are hacks, socially regressive, politically regressive, defenders of the status quo and easily bought by corporates and other rent-seekers and spivs. The corresponding number for the ALP is about 60%.

    A decent leader in the Lib/Nats has no chance of achieving anything or changing the culture. A decent leader of the ALP has a low chance, but more than a Lib/Nat leader. However, such a leader is not in Parliament yet.

  14. Ian Milliss
    May 20th, 2011 at 12:26 | #14

    By calling the Murdoch media the hate media Bob Brown has shown more guts than all the others put together alhough Turnbull did pretty well in that speech. Why is Labor so fearful of giving the Libs or the media a good belting? How could that work out any worse than what is currently happening, their slow bleed to death.

  15. May 20th, 2011 at 12:29 | #15

    Nice piece in The Drum today John. Our thoughts are complementary, although I must say Abbott as Chifley came out of left field and flummoxed me.

  16. May 20th, 2011 at 12:40 | #16

    I’m not sure how Bob Brown fits into the picture at least outside the typical Green environmental ideas. The other two I can intuitively understand, mainly because I share the view.

  17. The Lorax
    May 20th, 2011 at 14:36 | #17

    Turnbull stands head and shoulders above the other leadership contenders at the moment (Gillard, Rudd, Abbott, Hockey). His defence of sane climate policy this week was a highly principled move that is very rare in modern politics. Sadly, it has probably killed off his leadership chances forever unless there is a big swing in public opinion on climate policy. The Coalition are riding a populist wave of denialism (and carbon tax fear-mongering) that will no doubt sweep them into office in 2013 or before.

    I wonder if we’d be here today without OzCar/Utegate/Gretch?

  18. Ian Milliss
    May 20th, 2011 at 14:49 | #18

    @The Lorax
    What can’t last doesn’t last and denialism is in that category, before too long the denialists will all be denying they were ever denialists, just like you can’t find anyone now who ever ever thought Schapelle Corby was innocent. Although there has been a spate of research demonstrating that irrefutable contradictory evidence hardens people’s viewpoints rather than alters them I have no doubt that further research would show that over time in the face of overwhelming contradictory evidence they would easily rewrite their own memories to subtly slide to a position of conformity. I think we need to somehow memorialise them lest we forget and they get away with their idiocy.

  19. sam
    May 20th, 2011 at 15:05 | #19

    I see no redeeming qualities in Kevin Rudd. If Gillard does nothing else good in her career she will have at least made that pompous git cry.

  20. may
    May 20th, 2011 at 15:39 | #20

    sam :I see no redeeming qualities in Kevin Rudd. If Gillard does nothing else good in her career she will have at least made that pompous git cry.

    settle petal.

    that you see no redeeming qualities is up to you

    gloating does you no favours.

    politics is rough enough.

    (duck)

  21. May 20th, 2011 at 15:58 | #21

    Hear hear. Never voted Liberal before, but if Turnbull was in line for the throne, I’d considered it.

    Curious as to who the other two are, John?

  22. May 20th, 2011 at 15:59 | #22

    @daz

    Ahh see who you mean now…Rudd and Brown.

  23. The Lorax
    May 20th, 2011 at 16:26 | #23

    @Ian Milliss
    Unfortunately climate change plays out on such long timescales that AGW can be plausibly denied for decades. I have no doubt Andrew Bolt will go to his grave believing he did the right thing.

  24. fred
    May 20th, 2011 at 16:51 | #24

    Re climate change and ‘populism’ as in this statement from 17 above:

    “The Coalition are riding a populist wave of denialism ….”

    The latest Newspoll [April 29-May1, 2011] to test this had these numbers [careful, I'm paraphrasing and rounding] in response to these questions:

    -Is climate changing?
    Yes 78%
    No 16%

    -Caused by Humans?
    Yes [totally or partly] 92%

    Perception of the noise from a few is hiding the fact that a large majority of Australians, the “populist” view, is clearly NOT denialist.

  25. May 20th, 2011 at 17:04 | #25

    The Lorax :
    @Ian Milliss
    Unfortunately climate change plays out on such long timescales that AGW can be plausibly denied for decades. I have no doubt Andrew Bolt will go to his grave believing he did the Right thing.

    You left the capital “R” off. Have edited for you.

  26. sam
    May 20th, 2011 at 17:38 | #26

    @may
    That’s true. But Kevin Rudd is the one originally responsible for my disillusionment with this generation of the Labor party. I am very disappointed and angry with him.

  27. gerard
    May 20th, 2011 at 18:23 | #27

    Gillard’s polls are so bad that Mal realised he needs to sabotage Abbott now, or be stuck as a lowly communications minister in a multiple-term Abbott government; his worst nightmare!

  28. Alice
    May 20th, 2011 at 21:15 | #28

    Gillard is so busy trying to be a liberal…committing the very same mistakes that saw Kristina nailed to a cross. You know and strenagely enough Barery is a better bet in NSW because labor had an entrenched culture of corruption and they were all benefitting from their links with developers in the end.
    I dont who is advising federal Neo Labors policies, but frankly those media advisers and policy advisers need to be sacked or at least leaked at being the US free market moles they are.

    As a liberal party, labor will always be second best.

  29. Alice
    May 20th, 2011 at 21:16 | #29

    @Alice
    Should read “You know and strangely enough Barry”

  30. Chris Warren
    May 20th, 2011 at 21:43 | #30

    Hmm… Quiggin votes Liberal (“for the first time”).

    This looks like an inability to see the wolf beneath the sheep’s clothing.

  31. stockingrate
    May 20th, 2011 at 21:48 | #31

    I agree with Prof Q.
    & HC ” I think Turnbull is smarter and speaks with more conviction on climate than does the Labor leadership.
    However I wouldn’t touch “Big Australia” Rudd with a barge pole, and similarly I don’t trust the Greens on the key green issue – population .

  32. Ian Milliss
    May 20th, 2011 at 22:01 | #32

    @Alice

    Alice :
    As a liberal party, labor will always be second best.

    or as the old joke goes – the Amateur Liberal Party (ALP). Boom boom!

  33. Alice
    May 20th, 2011 at 22:17 | #33

    Well Alice voted liberal for the first time recently in the NSW state elections – if only to get those self interested, corrupt, disgusting idiots in NSW Labor out (Obeid, Tripodi, Sartor, Costa, Roozendahl, Kenneally)

    Oh god, they forgot they were actually getting paid by us to get the job done.
    Just do the job or get thrown out.

    We dont pay people to be in committees and reward themselves with trips perks, spins and private sector backrub connections. They are supposed to be building the infrastructure to take this country forward with increases in population. If they cant manage that job, whether its roads, rail or telecommunications or water or electricity with our taxes

    they are useless and grossly overpaid and deserve to be thrown out.

  34. Ian Milliss
    May 20th, 2011 at 22:18 | #34

    Alice :
    As a liberal party, labor will always be second best.

    or as the old joke goes – the Amateur Liberal Party (ALP). Boom boom!

  35. MarkWW
    May 20th, 2011 at 22:25 | #35

    Oh please. Why? Why do so many people believe there is a hope in Malcolm Turnbull? What did he achieve as a Minister? What did he achieve as LOTO? He failed his biggest test: to get his party to back him over CC. He failed to use his status as representative for very safe, very wealthy electorate to add advocate for more progressive line on the key policies that divide the parliament (and the community). He also utterly failed the credibility test during the “Utegate” farce: a disgraceful performance that none should forgive or forget.
    MT has only excelled at cravenly toeing the party line, first under Howard (“the man who broke Australia’s heart”) and now under the arch-monarchist Abbott, rather than speaking out when he should/could have.
    Besides, the LNP is overwhelmingly dominated by charlatans/fools/bigots (take your pick) like Minchin, Abetz, Joyce, Bernardi, Morrison, Hockey and Abbott. Where is the winning team of decent liberals to back Prince Malcolm the Good? What on earth makes people think the LNP could be something other than what it is? All my life it has been dominated by reactionary, populist tories (that is what Fraser was) and I’m pretty sure it always will be. The MT that people talk about as our saviour exists only as an idea. He certainly hasn’t been visible at all since he became the Liberal Member for Wentworth. Prove me wrong.

  36. Alice
    May 20th, 2011 at 22:33 | #36

    @Ian Milliss
    Boom boom – thats what they are these days. The ALP (amateur liberal party). Talk about loss of brand identity. Wow if it was Coca Cola they would be in deep doo doo.

  37. May 21st, 2011 at 00:00 | #37

    Completely off topic but still on the subject of statesman like leadership.

    After Obama had Osama whacked, which has pretty much won the Afghan war in one fell stroke, it seemed to me that this was the right time for the US executive to put the screws on the Likudniks to leave the West Bank. Sorta like the way George Bush Snr leaned on the Likudniks after Gulf War One. Dealing from a position of strength, one might say.

    The expression that leapt into my head was “where is James Baker when you need him?”. Those with medium-term memories will probably remember that Baker did not endear himself to Israeli hawks in the aftermath of Gulf War One.

    But it turns out that Obama has suddenly grown balls of steeland started applying thumb-screws himself, with his call for a return to a 1967 boundaries for Israel. Obama will betray his Jewish base to achieve real progress in Palestine and maybe beyond. Nixon would be proud.

    Since 2008 Pr Q has been carrying on like a big girl’s blouse, oscillating from joy to despair over Obama’s tacks, every time the political wind changed. But really there was never any cause for concern one way or another. Cool Hand Barry plays a long game, biding his time and waiting for the opponent to slip up. Thats the moment for him to play the ace up his sleeve.

  38. May 21st, 2011 at 00:00 | #38

    Completely off topic but still on the subject of statesman like leadership.

    After Obama had Osama whacked, which has pretty much won the Afghan war in one fell stroke, it seemed to me that this was the right time for the US executive to put the screws on the Likudniks to leave the West Bank. Sorta like the way George Bush Snr leaned on the Likudniks after Gulf War One. Dealing from a position of strength, one might say.

    The expression that leapt into my head was “where is James Baker when you need him?”. Those with medium-term memories will probably remember that Baker did not endear himself to Israeli hawks in the aftermath of Gulf War One.

    But it turns out that Obama has suddenly grown balls of steel and started applying thumb-screws himself, with his call for a return to a 1967 boundaries for Israel. Obama will betray his Jewish base to achieve real progress in Palestine and maybe beyond. Nixon would be proud.

    Pr Q has been carrying on like a big girl’s blouse, oscillating from joy to despair over Obama every time the political wind changed. But really there was never any cause for concern one way or another. Cool Hand Barry plays a long game, biding his time and waiting for the opponent to slip up. Thats the moment for him to play the ace up his sleeve.

  39. May 21st, 2011 at 00:59 | #39

    Pr Q said:

    He’s reminded us again what we lost when he was replaced by the lightweight opportunist who now leads the Opposition, against a mirror-image PM. If the Libs would put Turnbull up again, they would get my vote for the first time.

    Of course by that logic Pr Q, at least in a time-travellable parallel universe, would be obliged to vote for John Howard. Had the Master Machiavellian been PM we would have had Pr Q’s beloved cap-and-trade embedded by now. Now that would be worth waiting up for!

    The sobering fate of Rudd and Turnbull shows that transparent policy commitments do not seem to have political legs. Has Pr Q learned nothing from the Master?

    This is the season for nimble political foot-work. The extraordinary media spin and complex web of lobbyists and true-believers means that all good policy must inevitably piggy-back on some nifty politics. We are seeing twin instances of this in both Obama and Gillard.

    Pr Q is doing Gillard a disservice by calling her a “mirror image” of Abbott. As he has already correctly figured out, Gillard will get the carbon costing policy job done, mostly because she has no choice now but to go for broke. So there is no need for Pr Q to go to the extreme lengths of breaking ranks with his bolshie tradition and voting for a moderate Centre-Right liberal.

    The ALP in general, and Gillard in particular, has shown some Machiavellian skill in deposing an ineffectual leader, deceiving the electorate on carbon tax and now dodgy dealing with Independents to get a carbon tax through. Her cynical opportunism in pursuit of a noble end is breathtaking and not a little awe-inspiring, at least for the present commenter.

    I expect a carbon tax to be in place within one year or so’s time. That should give the electorate the better part of a year to suck it and see that a CST is not much worse than the GST. Making the L/NP’s inevitable calls for “rollback” in 2013 look as futile as Kim Beazley’s calls jn 1999.

    I think that the Abbott-L/NP know this and are looking increasingly desperate in their silly calls for an “immediate election”. Abbott, like the Tea Party which he mimics, must sense that he has peaked too soon. Whilst Gillard can at least go the 2013 election with a solid policy score on the board.

    I am not yet confident enough to call the 2013 federal election, although standard theory tells me that the ALP should win, given the mining boom and counter-valing L/NP tendencies at the state level. The electorate is a bit cranky and antsy.

    But at this state of the game I am happy to predict that the ALP will greatly close the polling gap between the L/NP over the next 18 months. They are a very good bet now at 2.70.

    Over the next 18 months I expect the ALP odds to shorten along with the electorates patience with Abbott. Plenty of time for Gillard to pull more Machiavellian rabbits out of her hat. Meanwhile Abbott has nothing to take to the electorate but a belly full of gripes, which grow old fast.

  40. May 21st, 2011 at 02:19 | #40

    Having said all that I have to admit that Gillard’s political salesmanship leaves me pretty under-whelmed. Over 70% of the polity support the Commonwealth taking action on AGW. Yet political support for a carbon tax is about 30%.

    That means that the current ALP leadership have a politics/policy conversion rate of well under 50%. Thats a pretty miserable failure of political salesmanship. Where is Keating when you need him?

  41. Peter Evans
    May 21st, 2011 at 13:02 | #41

    @Jack Strocchi
    I reckon you nailed it Jack. Plus Gillard has a bunch of strong symbolic cards saved up (eg, gay marriage) to play when the time is right. Her biggest worry is taking the fall for drooping property prices.

  42. Catching up
    May 21st, 2011 at 13:23 | #42

    What will Mr. Abbott do in a couple of years when:-

    The NBNCo is spreading it’s network and many in the country have high speed broad band for the first time. When the NBNCo is a fact of life and the value of doing it correct in the first time becomes apparent.

    Carbon price is a fact of life and the sky has not fallen as predicted by Mr. Abbott. Will Mr. Abbott continues to push his unrealistic and wasteful Direct Action, which no expert has supported here or anywhere else in the world. Much of what he proposes is not proven and still in the early days of research.

    Parents are getting use to attending their schools and are impressed at how they are equipped and sit in comfort in the new halls during, what can be boring procedures.

    When much of the road work across the country that has decreased the black spots become a pleasure to travel on.

    As people understand that many of the health problems an are being address with the new health plans.

    Parent of disabled children start to believe their children are beginning to receive some assistance.

    The biggest change will be the disappearance of refugee boats coming to our shores. Personally I found little harm in letting them I.

    Will he continue to swan around the country, at taxpayers expense, screaming, the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

    Over a million and a quarter of homes across the country have experience the benefit of having their homes insulated and are amazed at the fewer times they have turned on the heaters or air conditioning.

  43. Alice
    May 21st, 2011 at 14:33 | #43

    @Catching up
    If this is a plug for organised public spending instead of yet more costly expensive PPSs that have governments bending over backward to reimburse failed projects and their high flying well paid executives with taxpayers monies, then Im all for it.

    Its really about time we also realised the stupidity of our policy penchant fo privatising all (all) things public, and especially airports. Privatised airports act as a form of border security and its quite clear that far more illegal immigrants arrive on planes anyway. Public airports and a higher level of security might also help protect innocent travellers from terrorism or having their bags loaded with drugs by corrupt private sector employees working at the airpor in baggage handling or whatever (including a particular executive of MQ bank itself). The not that long ago the debacle of bikies brawling in public areas in Sydney’s airport – showed that there was simply not enough security on the spot (cost savings).

    It was a huge mistake to privatise airports. Absolutely huge.

    But Tony Abbott would tell you otherwise.

  44. May 21st, 2011 at 14:37 | #44

    I am slightly re-assured by the fact that Shanahan – a diligent player of the insiders game – has independently come to the same conclusion as me about the political chess game: that the ALP is banking the Gillard’s superiority in long-term policy strategy to counter the Abbot’s edge in short-term political tactics. The Australian’s political editor opines that Gillard’s long game is a big gamble:

    while she is under enormous pressure, Gillard firmly believes she will prevail and have Labor in an election-winning position when it counts in 2013…All of Labor’s hopes and the Prime Minister’s strategies are long term and rely to an extent on Abbott’s successful, short-term tactics petering out by mid-2013.

    Gillard has great faith in her own strategy, particularly on a carbon tax, and being able to hold her nerve for the long term. Having embarked on her course, Gillard cannot afford failure or countenance retreat.

    The Gillard strategy also rests on Tony Abbott maintaining a short-term, negative outlook as he pursues his election campaign themes of “stopping the boats, opposing new taxes and cutting the waste and debt”. The Prime Minister wants to address each of these key issues well before the election and leave Abbott looking negative, short-sighted and an empty scaremonger.

    The key here is for the government to regain the initiative on bragging about the benefits of the carbon tax. Right now the Opposition has the initiative in moaning about the costs of this tax. The government really does suffer from an acute shortage of competent political communicators. All of its senior talking heads look like they are phoning it in.

    Gillard has, sadly, managed to break down hirsute stereotypes about fiery red-heads.
    Wong, by contrast, has conformed to ethnic stereotypes about Oriental inscrutability.
    Swan has all the sex-appeal of a suburban accountant working out your tax rebate.

    The ALP leadership desperately needs to reach down and bring up its inner-Alpha males if it wants to bring the public along with the carbon tax. You would think Peter Garrett would be the ideal man for the job, but apparently he is not up to it.

  45. Catching up
    May 21st, 2011 at 15:51 | #45

    May, in my working life I worked for Doc’s in NSW. There were numerous forums and meetings where we were asked how to improve the service without spending money. This was an impossible quest and the money disappear over time, sourced out to NGO’s and private operators.

    As is the norm, they only took the easy to manage children, leaving us to cope with those with more problems and needs. It was my task, as a case manager to work with children in both systems.

    It was cruel to sit in on regular case conferences, where those in the outsourced, mainly church and private care got whatever money was requested. The cost to the Department was tens of thousands a year more costly than those in Doc’s care.

    It was impossible to get the necessary resources and money for those who remained in Doc’s direct care. The Foster Carers were also paid less. Less for having in their care, children that others found too difficult to handle.

    A do not need to add, most of the bad publicity came from those in Doc’s direct care. You have the most harmed, you have the most problems and little success. Very soul destroying.

    To run salt into the wound, the NGO’s and private agencies were not slow in returning children that they found too difficult.

  46. Catching up
    May 21st, 2011 at 16:21 | #46

    The PM is under extreme pressure.

    Show me where a Labor PM has not been under extreme pressure. What is new.

  47. Alice
    May 21st, 2011 at 16:50 | #47

    @Catching up
    Gillard is obviously under pressure – under pressure from her own right wing insiders as well…under pressure from the big business sycophants in labor, under pressure from labor modelling neoliberal price and market pushers, under pressure from US moles in her own party, under pressure from infliltration by the same free market de-regulation globalisation no barriers no protection (no looking at whats its doing no looking at inequality no looking at marginal employment) ideologues that have brought the US to its knees.

    Julia better shake then off before she gets my vote. A Greenspan fan after Greenspan has disappeared and is now seen as part of the problem post GFC, by any other name is not exactly what we need right now.

    Im glad those parents are sitting in confortable school halls. Im glad people dont have to turn their air conditioning on because they have ceiling insulation….Im glad even if it did cost the government more than expected (that extra money is out there and circulating and doing a good job – better than the Reserve Bank and its gloomy inflation warnings and its threats of interest rate hikes and its lies about full employment which might only apply in one state anyway).

    Ill give credit where credit is due. Some decent investment in infrastructure, nation wide was made. As far as I can see Howard spent our money alright, rewarding useless things like the Brethren and marginal seats. Spending was always about politics for him. What national project (like NBN) or insulation did Howard ever actually produce?

    Cant think of a thing. Maybe someone can prove me wrong? (Oh hang on – there was the aboriginal intervention which actually took money away from aboriginal people and rewarded hundreds of doctors and bureacrats with Northern territory fly ins and conferences – did he put many souls on on the ground in those outposts of disadvantage, to actually continue the work?).

  48. Alice
    May 21st, 2011 at 16:56 | #48

    Oh but hang on ….I forgot…wasnt the above all Rudds doing? And isnt it Julia that is going around with the word surplus popping out of every second sentence she utters in the media just now?

    My vote looking less likely.

  49. Chris Warren
    May 21st, 2011 at 20:21 | #49

    This thread from start to end is a real pastiche of confusion, ignorance and naivety.

    Politics does not consist of parties and leaders. It consists only of public opinion and, more importantly, electoral votes on polling day. The parties and politicians we get float out of this soup and madly wave-about trying to collect enough attention to push an agenda this way or that. Under universal suffrage – all politics boils down to marginal seat symbolism.

    So there is no point complaining about reality. You always get the leaders, identities, akademics and organisations that society determines in the whole.

    I can only assume that most if not all of the above posts emanate from those who really have no capacity to work within existing structures, cultures, and dialogues for progressive change. More often than not they parade their isolation as their own self-worth. This is a fools game.

    Forget, ‘Turnbull’, ‘Gillard’, ‘Abbott’, and ‘Brown’. If these all disappeared in a puff of smoke, another almost identical set of puppets would emerge, and the same agendas and policy plays would still flood public consciousness and opinion. The only difference would be they had different names.

  50. Ian Milliss
    May 21st, 2011 at 21:15 | #50

    Chris, some troll has hijacked your name…

  51. Donald Oats
    May 22nd, 2011 at 00:42 | #51

    I do work within the system but not a lot happens because of that. My perspectives on life are too remote to be particularly relevant to the political discourse in this nation, that is how it seems.

    Every now and then a party throws up a policy I could live with, whether it is for dealing with AGW, or something utterly unrelated like employment policies. Trouble is, the party (or parties, in this case) put forward an idea as encapsulated in bills, bills which either have had the guts ripped out of them before they get beyond the inner circle, or get killed by senate. The most usual situation though, is to have a good idea dangled as a voting carrot, only to become a non-core policy after the fix is in. It is quite frankly difficult sometimes to accept that this is the best process we humans can manage as a means of developing long term vision. Noone wants dictatorships but that doesn’t mean that the current process isn’t a broken one (ie the Australian brand of democracy, or even the USA’s) or at least a severely dented one in need of some repair.

    Finally, I think Chris Warren (or his Doppelgaenger) is wrong about the policy, not the person or party, mattering. If a person votes only on the policy, they may still find that the policy fails to be implemented: after-the-election “blackholes”, or the mysterious “non-core” promises? Fact is, the people that end up in power must be principled enough to follow through on their collective (or individual) word, not to welch their end of the bargain. On some rare occurrence of a need to change or drop a policy commitment, then people might forgive it, but to trash a bunch of policies put forward as election enticements? No, voting for unprincipled people gets you that sort of behaviour (both major parties have had their senior politicians do this); a good policy dangled on the stick by an unprincipled politician buying your vote is hardly a reason to vote for them, in fact it is quite the opposite. Then there is the recent decision by people on mass to vote for Green candidates: recent voting for the Greens has put Bob Brown out there among the Media Murdocracy, and he gives them serious indigestion. They don’t like it when their snide remarks embedded in their questions are flung right back at them and with interest! It’s a hoot to see and hear.

    On a bad day I might grimly agree with CW, yet still wish we had a better way of doing things. Someone has to struggle for change for that to happen, and it isn’t going to be done by people who benefit from being inside the tent. Groups like GetUp! are one way of trying to get change happening (from within the system, where the system consists of democratic electoral process and the media), and they have been effective on some items of significance (especially to me). On the other hand, sometimes standing in front of something or being chained to something or marching in protest – illegally – is necessary. A pity, but no less necessary for being that.

  52. TerjeP
    May 22nd, 2011 at 07:08 | #52

    It seems clear that Labor is in very deep trouble when the John Quiggin crowd is busy rationalising the circumstances under which they would vote for the Liberals. The Labor brand, not to mention the Labor product, has become toxic. I suspect we are witnessing the begining of some serious tectonic political shifts. I don’t think they will leave any political party untouched but for now Labor is the most likely to get trashed by the process.

  53. May 22nd, 2011 at 07:45 | #53

    The “John Quiggin Crowd” sounds like the name of a new political party doesn’t it? One opposed to zombie policies from Liberal and Labor alike, and which treats libertarian fundamentalism with contempt. And considering voting Liberal? You’d have to believe in the Rapture to believe that.

    Speaking personally, my opinion bearing no necessary relation to those of others on this blog, with Aneurin Bevan I say “No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical and social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party … So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.”

  54. TerjeP
    May 22nd, 2011 at 09:21 | #54

    What we need is a Whig party.

  55. boconnor
    May 22nd, 2011 at 10:21 | #55

    Donald @1 page 2 (why can’t numbering be consecutive?). Good post, agree with all of it. I too have those grim days looking at the current bunch in power. Then there are better days when I remember that the system can throw people out of power like Pauline Hanson.

  56. May 22nd, 2011 at 10:22 | #56

    Or, I don’t know, a party concerned with social justice, equity issues, the environment. What could we call them? The Browns? No, um, ….

  57. Chris Warren
    May 22nd, 2011 at 12:00 | #57

    TerjeP :
    What we need is a Whig party.

    The Whigs were the barbarians who massacred political dissidents in the British Isles and banished others to toil in labour camps in Africa and Botany Bay. They also invaded North America, India, Africa, Europe, and SE Asia using smallpox as a weapon whenever necessary. The Whig economy was based on plantation slavery.

  58. Fran Barlow
    May 22nd, 2011 at 13:25 | #58

    I’m with those who would never endorse the Liberals, subject to the if my uncler were a woman, she’d be my aunt. Unless the Liberals were unrecognisable as the party of Howard/Menzies and were instead hard to distinguish on core issues from The Greens I’d not consider supporting them. Since that’s improbable I might go as far as to say that if the party were composed overwhelmingly of people of Turnbull’s disposition it might not be as horrible for them to win as it would if they won now.

    Turnbull won’t come back, IMO, at least not before 2013 and a significant coalition loss in which Turnbull-like voters voted ALP. Turnbull would need that to have any authority at all.

  59. Fran Barlow
    May 22nd, 2011 at 13:41 | #59

    I also don’t share your view on Rudd PrQ. While he was undoubtedly the most cerebral PM we have had since Whitlam the mess the ALP is in now is largely of his doing. He had a chance after Grech to establish his grip on the office by driving a serious climate change solution, and yet he squibbed, reducing Garnaut to “input” and getting into a negotiation with the Libs to brown out (in both senses) mitigation policy. That undermined both Turnbull and him, though he fancied it would only do the former.

    Rudd was naive and utterly lacking in political acumen. While he appealed to intellectuals that very thing subverted his authenticity. Climate change is largely seen as in the province of boffins, and thus political action often turns on what one thinks of boffins. Rudd needed to show how policy touched the lives of people in the here and now. He didn’t. He needed to show he could kick heads. He didn’t and instead made it a game.

    His posturing over “boats” was appalling, and further made him subject to credentialling by the Howardistas. Nobody was going to believe he’d do as good a job beating up vulnerable people as the Libs.

    So while he’s a better man than the Murdochracy allowed, his flaws make him unfit to be PM. I’m not sure there’s anyone from either party who’d do as good a job though. Couldn’t we have Adam Bandt? Andrew Wilkie? Not sure who’d second them of course.

  60. Donald Oats
    May 22nd, 2011 at 14:36 | #60

    @Fran Barlow

    Rudd had his flaws, and I agree with you that he squibbed on AGW when Ross Garnaut came across as a loose cannon. Garnaut wasn’t a loose cannon in actual fact, although he did show a lack of political judgement in interviews. His report was a little too frightening for some in caucus (the kitchen-sink cabinet, or the TV room cabinet, I don’t know which), and anything that spooks the horses is a bad thing for a leader. Rudd just panicked, I think, and side-lined Garnaut at the first sign of potential difficulty.

    The real damning thing though is that the evidence of AGW just keeps mounting up, already consigning the original Garnaut report to a historical footnote. Garnaut has kept at it though, publishing various updates and reviews on the web.

  61. Ralph
    May 22nd, 2011 at 15:45 | #61

    Harcher is right. Gillard has two years and in the meantime she shouldn’t care less what the polls say. Let the media endlessly examine the entrails of the various polls, discuss petty political issues rather than policy and follow the circus that is Abbott. The independents do not want an election and will support Gillard for another two years. In two years the electorate will be considering a whole set of new issues (and interpretations) and this week’s poll, let alone the debates of today (set top boxes or whatever) will be largely irrelevant.

    Gillard has some things on her side: she is a better administrator than Rudd who wanted to control everything the Government did, eventually resulting in paralysis; she is a better negotiator; she is going to prosecute the case for a price on carbon; and (again) it is is not in the interest of the independents to seek an early election. She has the precious advantage of TIME.

    Turnbull, while a principled (small l liberal) politician (reflected in a 10% swing at the last election compared to Abbott’s 5%) should not be in a hurry – he has plenty of time for his run, with an election at least two years away! DON’T PANIC!

  62. bobalot
    May 22nd, 2011 at 18:28 | #62

    I agree with Ralph’s sentiments. I remember John Howard’s first year. It was a shocker.

    There’s plenty of time for Labour to recover.

  63. TerjeP
    May 22nd, 2011 at 23:09 | #63

    While he was undoubtedly the most cerebral PM we have had since Whitlam the mess the ALP is in now is largely of his doing.

    Interesting. I actually think Rudd is dim relative to most PMs over the last few decades. He is also fabulously ignorant of his limitations. I have never been able to see what people admired in him. I’d rather Mark Latham or god forbid Kim Beazley.

  64. Fran Barlow
    May 23rd, 2011 at 07:27 | #64

    @TerjeP

    Being ignorant of one’s limitations doesn’t entail being dim, even in relative terms. It’s a flaw straddling the divide between the intellectual and the psychosocial. You’ve also admitted that you don’t know hius strengths, which for someone engaged in politics here during his time in office is a signiuficant admission of cognitive deficit. I suspect you are being rhetorical, and merely wish not to acknowledge his strengths, on cultural grounds.

    Neither Latham nor even Beazley was Rudd’s intellectual peer. While all three were prisoners of their right-of-centre paradigm, it’s likely Rudd at least understood that he was mere political flotsam, unlike the other two.

  65. TerjeP
    May 23rd, 2011 at 17:10 | #65

    You’ve also admitted that you don’t know hius strengths, which for someone engaged in politics here during his time in office is a signiuficant admission of cognitive deficit.

    I admit he was good at being sly, good at self promotion, and obviously he was bilingual but if he had some other strengths then they don’t spring to mind. Feel free to list a few.

  66. Andrew
    May 23rd, 2011 at 21:48 | #66

    wow – what a change of heart from JQ. Whatever happened to the view that “The Liberal Party will never again win a federal election”

    http://johnquiggin.com/2007/11/25/the-last-liberal/

  67. TerjeP
    May 23rd, 2011 at 22:48 | #67

    Andrew – the JQ prediction from 2007 reminds us that a week in politics is a long time. Not that John has been proven wrong yet but the fact that even he is thinking about the terms on which he would vote Liberal is telling. Whilst we are on the topic I must admit to a mild chuckle at the following bit:-

    “The conservatives haven’t won a state or territory election this century, and have suffered landslide defeats at the hands of Labor governments, some of which have been mediocre at best. Of course, things could go badly wrong for Rudd or for one of the state governments.”

  68. John
    May 24th, 2011 at 08:17 | #68

    @TerjeP
    You’re a genius. Thanks for blessing us with your infinite wisdom.

  69. rog
    May 24th, 2011 at 15:45 | #69

    As leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott has been very effective – in keeping the coalition in Opposition. As time goes on the reality of their non policies, their misrepresentations, their deliberate attempts to mislead will be harder for them to deny.

  70. Fran Barlow
    May 25th, 2011 at 06:07 | #70

    @TerjeP

    I admit {Rudd} was good at being sly, good at self promotion, and obviously he was bilingual but if he had some other strengths then they don’t spring to mind. Feel free to list a few.

    Actually, apart from the bilingualism, these were not sources of strength for him, and indeed I’ve made the point a number of times that his regime was one of the least effective at the politics. He was naive, assuming that the public at large shared his capacity to reason from evidence, to see spin when it was offered and so forth. When it dawned on him finally that this was not the case, instead of speaking more plainly and thematically, he started borrowing from what he (wrongly) took to be the argot of hoi polloi further delegitimising himself in their eyes.

    He had an enormous capacity to grasp the details of policy and their implications. He was diligent and analytic and sought to place his views within a coherent and textured ethical paradigm. While it’s my view that he ultimately failed in this last respect, and most critically, became the prisoner of the culture of xenophobia and existential angst that has beset this country’s politics almost continuously since its emergence as an outpost of British and then “western” civilisation on the fringes of the empire, this effort and his intellect still sets him apart positively from most of his predecessors.

  71. TerjeP
    May 25th, 2011 at 06:51 | #71

    Failing to calculate how others will calculate is a pretty big failure in politics. It is a root failure of socialism. It isn’t consistent with having deep insight into the implications of a policy position. A deep insight into a policy position recognised how others calculate an the alternate incentives they have to do so. For instance the policy to implement an Internet filter using a secret list of blocked sites assumes that those administering such a list will calculate the the political, social and moral implications of a websight and respond rapidly to errors and changes. It is naive in the extreme to the incentives of somebody that does something in secret with no public scrutiny. Lots of the policy ideas that Rudd prevailed over were not deep thinking at work but run of the mill naive populist thinking. They presume governments have certain powers of cognition which they don’t. They in fact ignore the calculation problems.

  72. Fran Barlow
    May 25th, 2011 at 07:03 | #72

    @TerjeP

    Without accepting your claim about “a root failure of socialism” which would take us a long way from the topic, it is clear that political acumen was not Rudd’s strong suit. In this country, he really ought to have been a senior policy adviser rather than a PM.

    In a Scandinavian country, where a higher value attaches to intellectual life, he’d probably have got 3 terms while Howard and Abbott wouldn’t have been prominent figures.

    I don’t agree with the internet filtering idea of course — but that’s what happens when you start pandering to the right.

  73. Chris Warren
    May 25th, 2011 at 08:25 | #73

    @TerjeP

    Capitalism is even worse at this calculation. It relies on increased debt to fill-in the gap. And of course, for those who take an evidence-based approach – the amount of debt increases and eventually destroys the entire economy.

    No economic system is based on “calculation” except a planned economy as during war years.

  74. TerjeP
    May 25th, 2011 at 08:33 | #74

    In a Scandinavian country, where a higher value attaches to intellectual life, he’d probably have got 3 terms while Howard and Abbott wouldn’t have been prominent figures.

    I’ll ask my relatives about this. Maybe they can take him off our hands.

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