Month

April 2016

23
Apr
2016

Workplace Relations Reforms, The US in Syria? Iraq, Earth Day

Malcolm Turnbull has been prepared to risk forcing a double dissolution to obtain a vote by both houses sitting together on legislation to pass the Registered Organisations bill and to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. That body was abolished under the Gillard government in May 2012 and replaced by Fair Work Building & Construction with much reduced regulatory powers. Turnbull also secured the winding up of the Roads Safety Remuneration Tribunal established under Gillard at the behest of the Transport Workers union and effectively designed to favour unions able to collude with transport companies.
16
Apr
2016

Turnbull Visit to China & Stone on Split Within Liberal Party

Turnbull’s 36 hour visit to China and his meetings (and banquets) there with President Xi and Premier Le Keqiang may have enhanced his role as a PM able to get on with important leaders from other countries. Many of his reported comments also appeared to be designed to show that he is knowledgeable about Chinese history. But the question is whether anything came out of the visit.
14
Apr
2016

Global Warming Presentation

Today I made a presentation on global warming to a lunch at the Australian Institute for International Affairs, Victorian Branch. A small audience attended and, although the presentation was quite widely advertised, believers in the dangerous warming thesis did not appear and nor did any media. However I think it is accurate to say that those who did attend were appreciative particularly of the facts which I presented both orally and graphically. The idea that temperatures may increase “naturally” seemed to catch on.
11
Apr
2016

Turnbull Visit to China

Rowan Callick, who is now China correspondent for The Australian, has written two interesting articles relevant to Australia/China relations. He seems to have good contacts with both Chinese themselves and with outside experts on the Chinese political situation. The shorter one is of particular interest as it assesses the influence of Xi and argues that he operates as in a sense a “benevolent” despot, but with the benevolence not extending to corrupt senior officials (see Callick on Xi). Xi, who is said by Callick to have drawn all power to himself, is said to be favourably disposed to Australia.
6
Apr
2016

Turnbull Loses Coalition Lead in Newspoll

The latest Newspoll showing a negative TTP of 49/51 for the Coalition (see below) has sent the Turnbull government, and the Liberal Party itself, a clear message to fix the role being played by the current leadership. The poll includes a section indicating only 19% favoured allowing the States to impose an income tax. This does not necessarily rule out such a development in the future. But it confirms that the handling of the issue by Turnbull has been so bad that, as suggested in yesterday’s Commentary, it requires a major change in the role being played by him as PM.
3
Apr
2016

Turnbull’s State Income Tax Still Afloat

When Malcolm Turnbull announced that he would offer the States the opportunity to impose an income tax, he described it as one of the greatest potential reforms to Federation in ‘generations’... “this, we believe, is the only way that we can genuinely reform our Federation... It will give the states real financial autonomy”. But when the States rejected the offer, Turnbull initially described it as being “not there” now. Soon however it reappeared, first in the COAG Communique and then in Turnbull’s explanation (sic) of the reason for the rejection and the implication as he sees it.
1
Apr
2016

Turnbull on Federal State Relations

It is becoming more difficult by the day to guess what rationale is behind the limited policy announcements Malcolm Turnbull is starting to make. One interpretation of Turnbull’s latest announcement is that he reached a personal view that he needed to announce something new. That led to his decision to announce a “new” policy on federal-state relations without providing substantive detail because he thought that there would general agreement that something needed to be done to reduce the vertical fiscal imbalance between the Federal and State governments. And that there would be much discussion of the idea and praise for him for initiating it.