Today’s Media has included many comments on the Morrison Government’s Budget for 2019-20 as well as estimates of revenue and expenditure for the following three years. These include a large number of decisions and it would not be appropriate here to examine them in any detail: indeed I challenge anyone to examine what one journalist described as “a budget speech littered with references to plumbers, couriers, cranes, hard hats, teachers, tradies and nurses”. My general conclusion on the speech I watched on TV was that it did not impress most on the Coalition benches and some of those there tended to drop off and, after a time, showed little encouragement as Frydenberg continued well after the half-hour finishing time allocated to budget speeches. In consequence, what my comments below mainly relate to are the totals of revenue, expenditure and what is commonly treated as the deficit or surplus for the four years.
In yesterday’s Commentary I argued that, given the latest Newspoll (and for policy reasons too), the Coalition should “change courses” asap. I also sent a letter to OZ (unpublished) advocating the cancellation of Turnbull’s membership of the Liberal Party. My advocacies are based on my perspective that, although risky, the Coalition needs to take risks now if it is to have any chance of winning the election and that an improved set of policies would in any event provide a better starting point in Opposition to a Labor government.
On Tuesday I referred to Andrew Bolt’s suggestion on Sky News that the decision by Labor to push legislation through the lower House allowing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island to “doctor” themselves to Australia for treatment without ministerial approval and, by obtaining court approval, to then “recuperate” here for a indefinite period. With the support of the Greens et al, this legislation has now passed the Senate too but, despite his strong attack on Shorten and accusation that he has broken what had seemed a bipartisan agreement on border control, Morrison has said that he will not call an early election. Even so, Bolt tonight again repeated on Sky News his advocacy of an early election by taking advantage of the policy windfall provided by Labor.
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’’
If you are going to “do a deal”, and start from a weak position, you will doubtless have to compromise. But not so that you undermine the essentials of your position. But that is what Morrison is in fact doing with his energy policy: he says that his prime aim is to reduce power prices but at the same time he sticks to the emissions reduction policies and does nothing to reduce subsidies for renewable. This is a contradiction and lower power prices will not be achieved in any degree if the joint energy policy statement by Taylor, Morrison and Frydenberg is realised.
It is now well known that Turnbull initially sought to join the Labor party and it was recently reported that it was the then PM Bob Hawke who knocked him back. Turnbull then tried the Liberal party and succeeded in twice being elected leader and, after succeeding in forcing out Abbott as PM, he became PM himself. But he was only there for a short period before Newspoll put the Coalition behind Labor on a TPP basis and that continued to be the case for 40 successive polls. On 24 August he lost his position as PM and resigned from Parliament and his seat in Wentworth after Scott Morrison was elected.
In Friday’s Commentary I said that it was ‘almost certain’ that the Wentworth seat would be lost – but not by as much as actually happened, with the swing against the Liberal Party being around 20 percent. It is not appropriate here to repeat all the problems now faced by the Coalition with a hung Parliament (see Friday’s Commentary on Wentworth Almost Certainly Lost now on my website www.ipe.net.au). Nor to repeat what many recommended some time ago, viz that Turnbull should have then been dumped. But it is not only Wentworth that poses serious problems: the next Newspoll, presumably tomorrow, will send bad news too.
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.
There is one thing that emerges from the ABC shenigans, viz it establishes a strong case that there is now no need to have a public broadcaster covering the field, even if there was when it was established. The private sector now has many broadcasters and has ready access to “news” about what is happening overseas and to the views of visiting “experts” from overseas. This extends to the rural sector as well as the urban, although the former does not have as wide an access. There is a marvellous opportunity for the government to review the role of public broadcasting
One might have thought that the second Newspoll after the election of Scott Morrison as PM would produce something of a lift since the one published a fortnight ago on 27 August. That showed the Coalition on a TPP of 44/56 (and a primary vote of only 33) after Turnbull was dismissed on 24 August. But now we have on 10 September the same TPP for the Coalition and only a one percentage point lift in its primary vote – but, and for Labor too.