The campaign for the election on 18 May started officially on11 April although statements of policy had been made prior to that, as had media assessments. Two prominent conservative commentators had in fact already indicated their view that Labor will win. Terry McCrann wrote on 11 Apr “One thing is absolutely crystal clear about the election. If Labor wins — as to me, seems certain — it will hit the ground running, straight after the election, in June”. He added that “it has a program to dramatically increase taxes on negative gearing, franking credits, capital gains and trusts; it will not cut the company tax on big companies from 30 per cent, which is now very uncompetitive, with the US down to 21 per cent, and will revisit the cut on medium-sized companies; it will also further squeeze especially small and medium-sized businesses with the so-called “living wage”; and then there’s the whole issue of power prices, which will just continue to increase and increase at an accelerating rate under Labor’s so-called climate change policy”
While Morrison says he will not attempt an early election, the New Year is seeing the re- emergence of debate on issues such as border controls. It is pointed out that, while “Labor softened its asylum-seeker policy at its national conference last month by formally endorsing doctor-ordered medical evacuations off Manus Island and Nauru, it remains committed to boat turnbacks when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement.” But Morrison claims “they will abolish temporary protections visas and last year voted to end offshore processing as we know it in the parliament. And they had no clue what they had done’’
Last Sunday I tried to explain in my Commentary why the Coalition lost the Victorian election with such an unexpectedly large swing to Labor (I then thought it was a 5% swing but it now appears closer to 6%) and this loss was immediately followed by a Newspoll showing at the federal level that Labor is ahead on a TPP basis of 55/45. While this is the same as in the previous Newspoll, and Morrison’s personal rating as Better PM actually improved to 46/34, it confirmed that the Coalition would almost certainly lose the Federal election, which Morrison has now set for March. I concluded my Commentary by saying that “whether at the federal or state levels this result is a reflection of the failure of the Liberals to distinguish themselves from Labor”.
Today’s media contains reports which are of serious concern in regard to the capacity of governments and political leaders to operate or propound policies which are in the interests of communities considered as an entity rather than of particular groups. These are briefly described below and, except for two, the attachments.
The annual State of the Union address to Congress by the President is regarded as a fairly formal report on what he regards as having happened over the past year, the accomplishments and the already known policies being pursued (the full text of Trump’s address is attached). The event is however seen as one of the most important in the US political calendar because it is one of the few occasions when all three branches of government are collected under one roof and it has also been used as an opportunity to honor the achievements of some individual Americans.
In Wednesday’s Commentary I suggested that the explanation given by an “expert” as to how Turnbull’s NEG would work, and how NEG would save $110-115 pa in costs, was incomprehensible. This expert (John Pierce) was making the explanation at Turnbull’s request to a press conference whose attendants included Frydenberg and board members of the recently established Economic Security Board (ESB), and whose role appears to be to ensure the provision of reliable power and the achievement of the emissions reduction target of 26-28% by 2030 (the text of the press conference is now attached to Wednesday’s Commentary on my web and is a “must read”). My guess is that the two ministers put together a group of “experts” as members of the ESB who are sympathetic to the need for government intervention to reduce carbon emissions.
Various developments emerging since yesterday’s Commentary suggest that the quick decision to establish a new National Energy Guarantee (NEG) may largely reflect concerns by Turnbull about his continued poor polling and that “something needs to be done” to repair that.
My last Commentary (on Tuesday 13 June) suggested that unless Turnbull recognises the many deficiencies in the Finkel report there is likely to be a political crisis within the Coalition. This morning I distributed several articles which indicate that this is now well under way. I list briefly below how this may have developed and what is wrong with Blueprint.