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AFR

16
Oct
2016

SA Blackout, Qld Commits to Renewables, Turnbull on Racial Discrimination

It is now more than two weeks since the South Australian blackout on 28 Sept and yet the South Australian government has said nothing about the possible need to change its existing policy of relying on wind power to supply 40 per cent of the energy for electricity. Indeed, in terms of official news releases it took five days before on Oct 4 Premier Weatherill made even a formal acknowledgement of the blackout However, he did then announce an “independent” review led by former Police Commissioner Burns on October 4. My inquiry to the Premier’s office about whether submissions could be made has still not been answered.
30
Sep
2016

Turnbull Needs to Go, Growing Threat from Muslim Adherents

Today’s front page of the Australian Financial Review carries the composite photo below of Malcolm Turnbull seated on a couch with Bill Shorten and Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson standing at the back. The accompanying (very) glossy magazine purports to present them as four of those in Power in Australia. In its subsequent pages the magazine includes many others, along with, surprisingly, Muslim Waleed Aly. President Obama is added for good measure, possibly because it is the last chance to do so.
11
Sep
2016

Turnbull’s First Year

As the end of the first year of Turnbull’s Prime Ministerialism draws nigh, assessments of his performance are appearing in the media from various quarters. The Weekend Australian’s lead article reports former Treasurer Peter Costello as not directly criticising Turnbull but as calling on the Liberal Party to “explain better its agenda, motivations and priorities” and to “smash the high-tax cheer squad”. The AFR has even published a survey of the views of 50 people regarding his achievements and, in the range from A to F, has awarded him only a D+ (see attached Results Turnbull’s AFR Survey). In fact, almost all commentators in the media (including journalists themselves) have reservations about Turnbull’s contribution to the political debate and to where Australia is or should be heading. While they tend to focus on how he has been performing recently against Shorten or on specific issues, rather than the longer term and broader perspective, this suggests that there may not be a ready recovery of Turnbull’s personal polling in the current session of Parliament. This despite Shorten’s poor handling of the contradiction of Labor’s foreign policy in statements made by Shadow Minister Senator Dastyari.
31
Aug
2016

Turnbull Satisfies Electorate Less than Shorten, Enterprise Bargaining, Global Warming, Presidential Candidates’ Health

The first Newspoll since the election on July 2 shows only a slight fall in the Coalition’s TPP from 50.4 per cent to 50 per cent but a large drop in Turnbull’s net satisfaction ratio to the point where it is now less than Shorten’s (minus 18 cf minus 14). Late last year Turnbull was plus 38 while Shorten was minus 38. While Turnbull still has the Better PM rating, the gap has narrowed sharply. Importantly, the poll also shows that “Reducing debt and deficit” are strongly supported by both Coalition and Labor voters, almost as strongly as “Maintain border security”.
9
Aug
2016

Turnbull Continues under Fire

The questioning of Turnbull’s performance continues apace with the Financial Review editorialising under the heading “PM must break free of populists” and Andrew Bolt arguing that “It takes Turnbull a year to do nothing” (relevant articles attached). Such critiques have not yet reached a crisis point but they (and others) are increasing and no substantive response emerges. The editorial provides an indication of the concerns being expressed - “his decisiveness proved rushed”, “he was plainly wrong” and “Turnbull needs to more vigorously set out the undeniable case for the legislative trigger for the double dissolution election”. Not surprisingly, Bolt goes even further with “is it also because Turnbull really is a Labor cuckoo in a Liberal nest”, “has done absolutely nothing of real value” and for how long can Liberal MP’s “afford to cling to Turnbull. How long can Australia”.
7
Aug
2016

Decision-making by Turnbull , Stone on Turnbull

My Commentary of 4 August examined Turnbull’s decisions in the period since the July 2 election when there was an opportunity to elaborate on policies neglected during the election. I concluded there was in reality a continuation of bad judgements as to both substance and process in the limited policies announced. Yesterday John Stone wrote Del-Con Notes in The Spectator surveying the election results. He described Turnbull “as a supreme narcissist”, a term seemingly being used overseas to characterise a culture seen by some as having developed around people in various walks of life who have excessive self-esteem (see discussion in an article not available digitally “Ego is not a dirty word”, Weekend AFR 6-7 Aug 2016)). Applied to Turnbull it suggests a political leader who has a limited interest in other peoples’ views or even that his own decisions turn out to be wrong. Stone concludes that “ sooner or later Turnbull will have to go” (see Spectator Australia article).
5
Aug
2016

Outcome in Senate, NT Royal Cn, Rudd, Bank Interest Rates, US Defence Policy, CFMEU Behaviour

Since the election on July 2, Turnbull has continued his record of mistaken decisions as to both substance and process, plus a failure to indicate what substantive policies will be pursued other than the legislation already foreshadowed to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to make unions more accountable under the registered organisation arrangements. But unless the (recounted) loss of Herbet by 37 votes is successfully challenged and another election held there (which seems too risky a venture), he has a majority of only one in the Reps and a deficit of 16 in the Senate.This means that if the two houses sit together he would need 9 votes from cross benchers (who include no less than 4 from One Nation and 3 from Xenophon) to obtain a majority to pass that legislation, which is a possibility but clearly uncertain. It is of some importance to climate change and extremist terrorist policy that One Nation ended up with 4 Senate seats, including one held by a sceptic (Malcolm Roberts) on global warming who is well versed in the data.
18
May
2016

Will there be Real Budget Tests Available Publicly before the Election?

Today’s Financial Review has published my letter (see below) drawing attention to the importance of providing analysts with an accurate picture of the effects on the budget of policy announcements by both major parties. Separately, the AFR has reported (also shown below) that the Treasury will actually publish its assessment of the budgetary effects on Friday. But one question is whether sufficient detail will be provided to allow a meaningful analysis of for example the extent to which Federal government expenditures are drawing on national resources and further adding to the higher tax burden which the 2016-17 budget already proposes. Similarly, will we be provided with revised estimates of the deficit and (the likely) higher debt levels?
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.