Another fearless prediction

As longterm readers know, my record on political and other predictions is mixed, not as bad as some have made out, but by no means uniformly accurate. Still, I’m going to venture my most fearless prediction in some time.

Bill Shorten will be Prime Minister after the next election.

Like most Australian voters, I have no great enthusiasm for Shorten. But, I’ve come to the view that Turnbull is, as the Fin remarked recently, “all hat and no cattle”, and the same can be said of most of his ministry. In particular, Scott Morrison is the most striking instance of the Peter Principle I’ve seen in some time. Brutally effective as Immigration Minister, he handled the Social Services portfolio quite deftly, but has floundered as Treasurer.

Turning from personality to policy, Labor certainly deserves a win. They have stuck to their guns on issues like carbon pricing, and advanced serious and credible policies on tax and public expenditure, something that hasn’t been attempted since John Hewson’s Fightback! disaster in 1993.

By contrast, the Turnbull government is an enigma. Will it go to the election with the policies Turnbull inherited from Abbott? Or will be asked to “let Malcolm be Malcolm”? Or will we see a continuation of the studied ambiguity of the last five months? No one seems to know.

For the moment, Turnbull’s popularity looks like the trump card. The experience of his last stint as leader suggests that this is a fairly weak reed.

The best hope for the government is that the post-Turnbull surge was not so much driven by support for Turnbull as by an underlying LNP majority, submerged by Abbott’s absurdities.

60 thoughts on “Another fearless prediction

  1. Where can the Aussie battler find Coalition policies that address their concerns? We have a wage recession and yet only the top end of town seems to be in their line of sight. Staples like education and health are still being cut. Dithering so close to an election could cost them dearly, unless they snap out of it fast and give voters an alternative vision to Labor’s. The electorate’s patience is running out after two embarrassing years under Abbott and now month after month of talk but no walk. Otherwise their only claim to fame will be for having stopped things-like boats.

  2. Defence wins big, white paper apparently claims climate change a defence risk, coal-ition cuts CSIRO’s budget, their new CEO cuts the climate scientists from the research org, calls it a company, and that’s that, another month in Aussie politics. We shovel the money out to military and authoritarian aspects of our state, but cut our education, diddle on health, and amputate research limbs left, right, and centre.

    Meanwhile, we have the leaving CEO of the ABC dribble on about merging it with SBS and how it would save the taxpayer, ooo, $40m or so. Compared to the squillions the LNP wants to direct to the defence forces, that is but a rounding error.

    I don’t know about whether the ALP deserves to win, but the LNP certainly deserves to lose.

  3. Donald, conservatives always spend big on defence. You have two choiced next election – more of the same youve been dished up by the LNP and its financial lobby group backers, ( and if you follow political things you will know what that has resulted in) OR Labor, which has good, well thought out policies all designed to make Australia a fairer society, with everyday people’s welfare at heart. They may not be perfect, but their heart is in the right place. Malcolm would have made a good Governor-General, but a man with a net worth of $200 million safely tucked away from scrutiny in the Cayman Islands tax haven, is not exactly a person who understands what it is like to be an ordinary working man or woman. So, two choices.

  4. @Ikonoclast
    Ikon as you very well know, I thought a lot of the criticism of Julia Gillard here was affected by unconscious sexism. I don’t intend to refight that battle now, but if your criticism was directed at me (amongst others), it was, to put it politely, misplaced. I was not and am not having a discussion about ‘personalities’. Whether you agree or disagree that criticism of Julia Gillard was affected by sexism, you should acknowledge that sexism is a serious issue.

  5. @Val

    I honestly had another commentator in mind. I was also trying to suggest in general that personality politics and psephology are unhelpful distractions from analysing what is really important in ideology and economics. I was really critiquing the basis of the whole topic.

    On the issue of sexism, I do acknowledge that sexism is a serious issue. I would also note that late stage capitalism is making all such issues worse again. Sexism, racism, classism, refugee persecution and the now endless bullying of workers; all these issues are getting much worse again under late stage capitalism.

  6. @Ikonoclast

    ‘I was also trying to suggest in general that personality politics and psephology are unhelpful distractions from analysing what is really important in ideology and economics. I was really critiquing the basis of the whole topic.’

    It appears that you are complaining about the fact that John Quiggin is discussing the things he wants to discuss and not the things that you want to discuss.

  7. @J-D

    That is true if you insist on viewing matters through personality framing. It can also appear in other lights through other reference frames.

  8. I was also trying to suggest in general that personality politics and psephology are unhelpful distractions from analysing what is really important in ideology and economics. I was really critiquing the basis of the whole topic.

    Oh come on, Ikon. I would guess that at least 90% of the posts on Prof Q’s blog are concerned with “economics, society and democracy” as opposed to “personality politics”. Complaining about one thread where personality politics is part of the topic is a little precious.

  9. Sexism, racism, classism, refugee persecution and the now endless bullying of workers; all these issues are getting much worse again under late stage capitalism.

    I’m also going to register my skepticism of the proposition that sexism and racism are getting worse (in Australia at least), regardless of whether or not we’re under “late stage Capitalism”. I’ll grant you that virulent sexism and racism is more visible, mostly thanks to the internet, but that’s quite different from them actually getting worse. In fact, I think it’s arguable that the relative noisiness of racists and misogynists is evidence of the increasing marginalisation of those points of view, rather than increasing racism and sexism, per se.

  10. @Ikonoclast

    If I walk up to some people who are having a discussion and say ‘What you are discussing is not important; I want to discuss something more important’, they will think I am rude. And they will be right to think I am rude, even if the subject I want to discuss really is more important than the subject they are discussing.

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