EDITORIAL: This Government Has Got To Go

TimAndrews1 (2)Menzies House Publisher Tim Andrews argues that this Saturday, Kevin Rudd has got to go: 

Every day this week I’ve been getting the same sort of emails: “Saturday won’t matter, they’re all the same, nothing will change, why should I bother”.

This argument is flat out wrong and you should reject it for one simple reason:

The current Federal Government has advanced the greatest assault on individual freedoms and sound economic management we have seen in over three decades.

As you would be well aware, I have frequently criticised Tony Abbot some of his plans, such as PPL and his desire to keep the Renewable Energy Target. I hold grave concerns about his ability to keep some big government influences in check, and his economic plans leave much to be desired. But any criticism I have of the opposition is dwarfed by the gigantic catastrophe that the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government has proven to be.

Irrespective of what you think about Tony Abbott, there can be no doubt about one thing: This government has got to go.

Here’s why:

Firstly, the Rudd Government’s decision to throw $80 billion down the toilet with a “stimulus package” that did nothing more than destroy our budget finances, and leave us with a mountain of debt was an act of fiscal vandalism unmatched in recent history.
When Kevin came into office promising to be an ‘economic conservative’, we had a budget surplus. In just one year, this became a $27 billion deficit. In two years, it reached a mind-blowing $60 billion. Our national debt is now on track to reach a staggering $300 billion, and we will be  paying $190 million in interest every single week.

Even The Australian Treasury and the Parliamentary Budget Offices have now admitted that the deficit is structural, unsustainable, and the result of massive over-spending. Yes, as Kevin Rudd keeps saying, it could be worse, but do we really want to keep comparing ourselves to Greece?
And all the while, tax receipts were going up and up and up as Labor announced a whopping forty three tax hikes.
And for what? Tearing down one school hall to replace it with another one, even as the schools faced closure? A concrete playground for $1.8 million? Sheds at 10 times the market value? A vote-buying cash splash of $900 per person that even Treasury admitted boosted consumption by just one dollar? A stimulus that was so useless that Treasury cooked the books to make it look like it was working – and then got  caught out and were forced to withdraw their argument.
And don’t even get me started on the job-killing carbon tax… But Kevin Rudd’s budget bungling is just the tip of the iceberg. By dragging our industrial relations system back to the 1960’s, we have had plummeting international competitiveness, small business closures up 48%, and record numbers of crippling strikes across Australia, while working days lost, which had been trending downwards for 15 years, shot up  fivefold At the same time, the number of people without jobs has gone up 222,000 between 2007 and 2013, and the government has resorted to classifying 350,000 people receiving unemployment benefits as “non-jobseekers” so that they won’t show up in the official count.
And it doesn't stop there. This government has also seen the most concerted attack on freedom of speech seen in Australia outside the Second World War. They proposed an unprecedented media censorship and licensing regime, wanting to bring in government-sanctioned journalism. They wanted to make it unlawful to ‘offend’ or ‘insult’ someone, and make you “guilty unless proven innocent” with laws that would also  destroy religious liberties, persecute the innocent, and make a mockery of free-thought. Fortunately, these were delayed after lengthy public outcry, but there can be no doubt a re-election of the Rudd Government will make their return inevitable. 
As if all this wasn’t enough, we have also seen one of the greatest attacks on individual freedoms and personal responsibility through the nanny-state gone mad, with hikes in lifestyle taxes, and more and more restrictions on what adults can and can not do. The Australian National Preventative Health Agency receives $40 million a year to do little more than lobby for more restrictions. We have actually reached a point where we’re no longer seriously considering plain packaging for alcohol and food, but are taxes are going to support bringing in food rationing. Really. This is government-sanctioned insanity funded totally by your taxes.
I am, of course, just beginning to list the cascade of failures, bumbling incompetence, and attacks on liberty by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government – there is a while library that could be filled if I was to list them all.
But there can be no doubt – This Government has got to go. I recognise that many of our members and have concerns regarding Mr Abbott, and if so, you can always vote for a third party. After all – in Australia, you can’t waste you vote by voting for a minor party as long as you preference. There are many minor parties to choose from with far, far more sensible policies than Labor (you can hear me discussing the tax policies of Family First and the Liberal Democrats on ABC Radio HERE).
But whichever party you choose to put a 1 next to, under no circumstances should Labor (or – heaven forbid – the Greens) get your preferences before the coalition (and if you are voting above the line in the senate, look carefully at who your chosen party is giving it’s preferences to: Bob Katter, for example, is supporting Labor and the Greens)
Make no mistake, come Sunday, if Tony Abbott gets elected, I will be doing everything I can to make sure that he too does the right thing! Menzies House& the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance are firmly non-partisan, and if Tony Abbott was to do the same thing, we would be just as critical.
But right now – Saturday is the priority: Australia just can’t afford another term of Labor.
In 1993, one week out of the election, everyone thought John Hewson would win. In 1999 everyone was convinced Jeff Kennett would easily be re-elected. We can take nothing for granted. This Saturday, make your vote count.

Tim Andrews is Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers' Alliance, and Publisher of Menzies House. 

We failed, Julia almost admits

Dennis Shanahan in The Australian today writes:

JULIA Gillard is appealing for a second term on the grounds of "continuity" of a Labor government, but what she is really offering is a discontinuance of the management of the Rudd government that simply "broke down".

The Prime Minister has gone as close as she dare in the current atmosphere to saying sorry for failing in the first term, blaming the leadership and management of Kevin Rudd and declaring that she's got the message for the second term.

While dressing her honeyed words with democratic phrases and highfalutin appeals to legitimacy, the Prime Minister is actually saying Labor has learned from the mistakes of the Rudd years and she will change how Labor governs and she leads.

Gillard has appealed for a second chance at providing "stable and effective government" by admitting the Rudd government was overwhelmed by having too many aims and external challenges, which "proved too hard to conquer with one term".

via www.theaustralian.com.au

The government "broke down"? That's an understatement…

A Faceless Strategy with a Public Face

Ben-Scott For a strategist that prides himself in statistical evidence and research methodology Karl Bitar listened too much to what he wanted to hear rather than what he needed to hear, writes Benjamin Scott.

“Just keep stirring the pot, you never know what will come up”, once quipped American political strategist Lee Atwater. Always a man to listen to the Republican supporter base and add a V8 engine to that research, these techniques delivered more than one American President for the Republican Party.

The Australian Labor Party is currently looking at a once pristine and all-Australian made V8 political machine which has been reduced to a Korean 4-cylinder.

It has been interesting to observe the ramifications of this as state apparatchiks and has-been hacks accuse the state and federal Labor organisations (and each other) of gross campaign incompetence. Much of this has been directed at current National Secretary or ‘Chief ALP faceless man’ Karl Bitar.

Karl Bitar is an interesting individual. An economics and research methodology graduate from the University of Sydney and former statistician at the Department of Education, Employment and Training during the Keating years, he knows plenty about political pain.

It may be surprising but the criticism levelled at him following the 2010 Federal Election surprises me. This is a political animal trained in the most hostile of political environments, with crumbling political power in his home state of NSW to a potentially disastrous scenario playing out in Canberra, yet he sought to ‘sandbag’ electorates and is now widely accused of doing so.  What is the big surprise here?

The big surprise was in the very sub-standard and inadequate results his usually impeccable research has produced for past ALP victories. Specifically for this occasion is the failed research they produced on his target…Tony Abbott.

From day dot, the ALP research and campaign machine sought to portray Tony Abbott as ‘unelectable’. This was a fatal mistake and it was a mistake that was recognised by their political opponents from a very early stage. This seemed to create a permanent ‘feedback loop’ to the remaining research and strategy for the ALP campaign. In political campaign terms, that in itself is like a cancer and is almost just as impossible to stop.

What is currently occurring amongst the ALP structure after this federal election is akin to removing a terminal cancer in a vital organ. If they fail, the ALP is facing a fatal outlook for future state and federal elections.

Perhaps the most ironic part of this clinical assessment is the fact that Karl Bitar is amongst the most intelligent and ruthless strategists the ALP may ever see. So why is he being crucified? The answer lies in research only just delivered to him. That he was listening to people who wanted to win rather than people who were telling him how to win. In other words and in a very crude sense, he listened far too much to ALP supporters rather than those voters in the marginal seats of QLD, NSW and WA that he was seeking to ‘sandbag’.

Of all things spoken about Karl Bitar both past and present, I doubt political commentators will accuse Mr Bitar of listening to the ALP base too much. But in reality, that is exactly what he did.

Benjamin Scott is the Inaugural Vice President of the Young LNP in Queensland, was an LNP campaign strategist in the last election and a former staffer to politicians at all levels of government. He now works as a Government Relations and Communications Manager in the private sector.

Stirring the Possum – A pox on all your houses!

David-Russell The Larrikin (David M. Russell) is back with the latest installment of Stirring the Possum.

Pathetic! What a complete and utter bloody shambles that was! If this election was a used car it would be left abandoned outside the sales yard with the word LEMON splashed across its bonnet, boot and side doors in hand-applied yellow house paint. Sadly, it doesn’t matter who gets to be the next Prime Minister of Australia because it is doubtful whether any more than a few sectoral niches of our society will be happy with what eventuates over the next year or two. Worse, the damage to the fabric of our nation has not yet even begun.

There may be strident cries from some quarters that this negative sentiment is a slight on our democracy. That is not the intention though it might be a deserved outcome. Democracy is a flawed beast even though it is the best system we have available to us. Doesn’t mean we have to love what it delivers us, though.

The major parties all deserve to hang their heads in shame. The campaigns they waged were shallow and shambolic. The smarties (those faceless, smarmy, conniving, treacherous, power-hungry and malevolent misfits who hold sway behind the scenes) will swear blind that attack ads work. They do not. Well, not for the bulk of Australians at this point in time. For those who do get sucked-in by their vitriol: please try to grow up and get over it.

Attack ads are effective in the same way as having your leg torn asunder by a rabid dog: it’s very effective at stopping you from ever walking again but it doesn’t make you love the dog. More to the point, we are over spin. This is an issue whose time has come. But, first . . .

It was a sad day when western societies became so arrogant that we felt we could deride vision. Anyone remember the eighties when the epithet “oh, that vision thing . . .” was slung around with gay abandon? We were so smug. But chooks come home to roost and we now find that we crave some decent vision.

Tony gave us some real action with a five point plan but it utterly failed to tell us what kind of Australia he believes in and how he might remake this country in whatever image he holds dear. Poor dear Julia just threatened to keep moving us forward like cattle entering an abattoir. Yes, it would provide us with a sense of purpose but we really didn’t have a good feeling about the eventual outcome.

And those bloody Greens! Yeah, yeah, one in ten of us is crazy enough to support them. But numerical support alone does not deliver legitimacy. That Brown chappie, who is as populist as a whore strutting a sidewalk, needs to be held to account. He professes to offer the Greens as a mainstream party. Indeed, he demands a level of respect due to a mainstream party. Hubris, Mr B. Shame on you! If you want that level of respect, develop an appropriate policy platform that would inform Australians just how you would govern the nation if you held that power. Terrifyingly, we have no such knowledge of your objectives. In its absence be judged as the niche splinter group you really are.

But WE – us poor, common folk – must now live the nightmare of soon having the Greens able to determine just how every piece of legislation that goes through our national legislature will be not only framed but detailed. This from the folks who guarantee five weeks’ paid recreation leave for every worker every year. Anyone game enough to think how many people will lose their jobs when employers start to add up that cost? For god’s sake, Greens, this is the real world, not some fantasy island on which you can dream-up Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory and have it power the national economy.

The regrettable aspect of this election is that it has formalised uncertainty in our system of government. Sure, it is the legitimate outcome of the democratic process. But it is not good for the country. For those who argue that good times are ahead because all issues can and now will be debated on their merits, I am envious of your delightful dream world. For a start, decision-making will be delayed. Procrastination will become an indelible part of our governance. When nobody has a clear mandate, indecision is entrenched.

Watch the world drift away from a focus on our input to global initiatives. When other nations realise Australia’s new decision-making dyslexia, they will tune us out. If we do not know our own mind clearly then our viewpoints are weak. Some will suggest the consequences will be negligible. That is not a convincing concept. We have been privileged for the past few generations to have played well above our weight in global forums but that now stands threatened.

The greatest damage will be that caused to our economy. Markets – like them or loathe them – guide our destiny. Our global economy is a capitalist convocation and our individual prosperity depends not just on good governance but a sense of well-being to infuse the financial sector. When those guys get nervous, the rest of us pay a high price. Global markets will look at us askance from here on but local markets will be even more scared of the uncertainty. Like a horse frightened by stirrings in the night, they will spook easily and that portends real pain in the hip pocket for most of us.

It should not have been so. Our major parties have lost sight of their core premise: to proffer a system of good governance that will benefit the vast majority of our people. They have become focused on power at the expense of philosophy and it is not a good thing. The clash of ideas and ideals is what creates great nations. The clash of initiatives and invective is the stuff of fools.

Australia has been sold a pup and we have a right to be angry. Yet we are a forgiving mob and whoever realises their mistakes first, stands to reap a bountiful harvest. There have been few other occasions in our history that the people have been so focused on achieving a better outcome. Does anyone have the requisite leadership?

Strengthening Australia’s Democracy

Joel-ParsonsRadical reform is required to ensure that the many are not held hostage by the few, writes Joel Parsons.

8.5 million first preferences, cast by Australians for either of the parties capable of governing the nation, are currently being held hostage, with a metaphorical shotgun to their head, by three otherwise irrelevant independents, put in their position by a combined total of only 116,900 first preference votes. This is not democracy – this is political hooliganism.

Two party systems are a key part of the balancing act involved in providing stability to a free, democratic society. Consensus politics may work in a hierarchical society without the freedoms we take for granted, but it is anathema to democracy. Athenian-style direct democracy is incapable of providing the stability required to respond to the challenges of modern government – crises as diverse as terrorism, SARS and the GFC.

The ethos of the two party system is inherently conservative – rewarding politicians who humble themselves and work within the system to serve something larger than themselves. To succeed, politicians are encouraged to form long-lasting but broad-based coalitions, and prioritise those parts of their platforms capable of achieving popular support. Critically, the system ensures that at any point between two elections, the government of the day has the confidence of the Parliament – the ability to pass its budget and procure whatever emergency legislation may be required. In emerging democracies, the emergence of an institutionalised two party system from the anarchy of multi-party coalition politics is associated with the strengthening of democratic institutions and a decline in instability.

Where the two party system is weakened, rent-seeking minority parties and “independent” politicians with delusions of personal greatness are given power disproportionate to their legitimacy. Unwilling to do the hard work of building a governing coalition of their own, they refuse to be held accountable for the administration of public policy and yet act as if they have a right to demand that their narrow single issue politics is elevated to the top of the public agenda. Minor parties and independents don't represent the conscience of the nation, nor do they protect hard-won institutions of freedom against the impositions of the majority. Instead, they represent the adolescent screech of those who reject against basic lessons of adulthood: to prioritise your objectives and seek workable compromises with fellow members of your community.

The Australian Democrats great achievements were the diversion of A$1b of proceeds from the sale of Telstra into a slush-fund for environmental pork barrelling, and the creation of an administrative nightmare for Australia's supermarkets and grocers in the form of the exemption from GST for certain basic food items. The Greens voted down the ALP's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for the same reason as an impatient teenage boy might dump his girlfriend – for "not going far enough." By contrast, it was Coalition MPs who fought for decades against the injustice of unions able to run roughshod over small business. Liberal and Labor MPs have just as effectively advocated on indigenous issues as any of the minor parties or independents.

The events of 21 August demonstrate the urgent need for reform of our electoral system. Reform which includes optional preferential voting, so that mainstream voters aren't forced to preference loony candidates; and increased thresholds to get on the ballot, so that toilet paper Senate ballots become a thing of the past; and which preferably also ties public funding for political parties to open, transparent internal processes which neuter the ability of the faceless men of Sussex Street and Trades Hall to parachute their friends into safe Labor seats.

The minor parties, the vested interests and the media may kick and scream. However mainstream Australia, and the history books, will eventually breathe a sigh of relief. An open, stable two party system is in the long term interest of all Australians.

Joel Parsons is a proud Victorian and works in corporate finance advising a range of clients in the mining and chemicals industries, as well as other parts of the extractive resources sector. The views expressed here are his personal views.

Can country music tell this election story?

Louis-McLennanLouis McLennan re-tells the story of the 2010 election campaign through song.

Well the polls have closed and the cheap shots at each side have begun. It started with Slim Dusty and his song The Biggest Disappointment. "Julia Gillard releases post-campaign song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cNr4FMWtMI" appearing on on this gentleman's Facebook page. This then got me to thinking that country music has a fair bit of experience when it comes to articulating disappointment and loss. So here I go at trying to tell the story of the last year in country music YouTube videos.

1. Tony Abbott rolls Turnbull with Rudd in the cross-hair. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nOvZVlH3pI

2. Tony Abbott announced paid maternity leave which is considered a major shift. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk-YgNOr8Eo

3. Rudd proposes a mining tax potentially costing jobs and concerning workers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2vem1j3Z4g

4. Rudd in strife over the mining tax and needs friends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qPcmNdduVU

5. Gillard dumps Rudd and starts listening to the polls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=107o-r4UfJU

6. Leaks come from within Labor after the dumping of Rudd. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h42b5rTGyPI

7. Barnaby does lots of media interviews. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it8W7SkJAOY

8. Greens put chick as lead senate candidate in QLD. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBcB23Fc9AU

9. Rudd goes back to the ALP. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ofg0JYUmrM4

10. The LNP quietly confident. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiCDfuw4m10

11. The polls are back at 50/50 ALP in trouble. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOd2NuHgwew

12. Mark Lathem and voters tired of the BS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUWnl7UADYU

13. Bob Katter goes on lateline to talk the possibility of a hung parliament and the issues for dying rural Australia. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDAq7_hrzzg

14. A strong ALP turn-out on election day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMXYRuQa9Ps

15. The polls close and the LNP and get to celebrating their wins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCsyA4DHwHE

16. The DLP down south poach a senate seat. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym-Ii_Jht4U

17. Independents elected by the people will bring democracy back. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bf4zok1ZmQ

Louis McLennan is a full time battler I.T. student at QUT and part-time worker. His personal blog is http://louis.mclennan.id.au/

What the GOP can learn from Australia’s conservatives

Tim Andrews writes for the Daily Caller:

As Australia awaits the results of its federal election, one fact emerges crystal clear: irrespective of who becomes prime minister, this was a historic win for conservatives, and a harbinger of things to come across the world, with a powerful lesson for all GOP candidates coming into the midterms.

After riding the crest of hope and change to election in 2007, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd seemed unstoppable.  The (conservative) Liberal Party was in disarray, and the media was unanimous in its prescription: the only way for the Liberals to survive was to “modernize” by abandoning their conservative ideology and “move forward” by embracing policies like cap and trade.

These forces calling for “modernization” found their standard-bearer in Goldman Sachs executive-turned-politician Malcolm Turnbull, who, after months of agitation, succeeded in winning leadership of the Liberal Party and, cheered on by the commentariat, quickly set about reshaping the Liberal Party in a more progressive direction, making cap and trade his signature issue. Clearly, the media proclaimed, his was the way forward; the future of “conservative” politics. Yet the conventional wisdom was wrong. Poll numbers for the Liberals plummeted. Had an election been called, the Liberal Party would have been annihilated. The situation was so dire, the Liberal Party’s very survival was in jeopardy. Yet the elite consensus remained clear and unchanging: as bad as things were, they would only get worse if Turnbull was replaced. “Moderation” was the only way forward.

Yet, in November 2009, on the eve of the cap and trade Senate vote, the Liberal Party decided to do the unthinkable. They replaced Malcolm Turnbull with hard-line conservative Tony Abbott in an unprecedented leadership coup, turning the party back to conservatism and defeating cap and trade in the process. Again, the media verdict was unanimous — this would be the death knell of the Liberal Party. Within a year, “you would be able to fit every Liberal member into a phone booth.” “Tony Abbott + unelectable” comes up with 15,000 hits on Google. Again, the media elite were wrong.

via dailycaller.com

Read the full article by clicking through on the links above.

(Tim Andrews is Editor & Co-Founder of Menzies House. His personal blog is Musings of an Australian Classical Liberal in Washington DC)

Shun all talk of consensus – Andrew Bolt

In the Herald Sun today Andrew Bolt shoots down Rob Oakeshott's idea of 'consensus':

Attention Rob Oakeshott: Here's a quick way to get this consensus you say you want. Why don't you and the Greens simply agree with me? Instant consensus. Dams built, wind farms dismantled, reason restored.

No? You object? Perhaps now you see that consensus is just a weasely way to smother real differences in beliefs and policies, and, as Margaret Thatcher noted, to force everyone to agree to what few want but to which none will object. It's a highway to mediocrity, since every great new idea starts by challenging consensus.

But worse, consensus is a way to freeze out voters while the Oakeshotts, Windsors, Gillards and Abbotts strike their private little deals to divvy up power and muddy accountability.

Take Oakeshott's example of a Turnbull in a Gillard Government. Who would I vote against if I don't like what he's doing? Against Labor? The Liberals? Or do I just leave environment policy to the verdict of Turnbull's electors in Wentworth?

Thank Abbott for giving Oakeshott's idea for a new oligarchy the bum's rush. But worry that he'll be made to pay.

Watch for Oakeshott now to sell his plan for less democracy to Labor.

And if you doubt that such a nice man could sell you out, just see how ready he seems to sell out even the conservatives who made him their member.

Here's another option if there's a deadlock. Forget such backroom deals. Why not simply call another election? What's so bad about that? The parties could do it all over again, only better, with much less cash for lying ads.

Let democracy fix a problem democracy made. Can't wait.

via www.heraldsun.com.au

As per usual, Bolt's hit the nail on the head – democracy can be left to solve its own problems. In his comments, Oakeshott blatantly ignores the fact that on most policy issues (that often aren't reported in the media) the parliament actually does achieve consensus, or at least a result that receives bi-partisan support.

But the fact of the matter is that politicians are elected based on their different ideological foundations into a parliament that was designed to be adversarial. Hence, conflict is inevitable, and in a well-functioning democracy such as our own, it is healthy.