Maladroit Mal: the dog that caught the car

My neighbour and mate Richard Jones wrote a fine post online last week in response to the series of humiliating dud moves by PM Mal Turnbull. I particularly liked this bit: “Malcolm Turnbull wanted to be Prime Minister but was told by his Labor friends he would have to go through the hoops of pre-selection first [ie unions would be involved]. He realised where he lived was a dyed-in-the-wool 

Liberal seat and decided to become a Liberal PM instead. There's nothing wrong with ambition but sometimes the goal becomes an end in itself. It's like climbing Everest. When you get there -- what then?”

Now Richard is a Byron Shire kinda bloke who was a NSW state senator for 15 years (a Democrats greenie before The Greens were), but Terry McCrann is a pro-Lib columnist in Murdoch’s dailies and he agrees with Richard -- Turnbull “has been like the proverbial dog who caught the car,” wrote McCrann, and “after getting what he’d always wanted, becoming PM last September, he really had no idea what to do next.” What Mal did, says McCrann, has been to feed us “measured but endlessly extended waffle.”

Also last week the more rabid Labor and Greens hater Andrew Bolt (also Murdoch owned) blasted “’delusional conservatives’ who think Malcolm Turnbull is one, too, or that he’s made a genius move even when he’s stuffed up big.”

The three stuff-ups, as agreed on by the non-delusional commentariat, were Mal’s proposals to: 

(1) Hike GST to 15%, which would mean someone earning $45,000/year would be paying 5 cents of each dollar they earn in GST while someone earning $500,000 (like Malcolm) would contribute about half a cent. 

(2) Make each state collect whatever taxes they need to fund education, hospital costs, and who knows what next, so Canberra would be freed from the bothersome job of collecting those taxes nationally and haggling with the Premiers over who gets what share – except that Mal promised to keep paying private schools from the federal Treasury, so wealthy churchy people wouldn’t feel insecure. 

(3) After twisting the Governor General’s arm to call parliament back next week just to NOT pass a bill to persecute the giant CFMEU union, Mal will claim this bill-refusal as justification for holding an election for both the House and Senate on July 2nd -- so he can crush Ricky Muir, Jacqui Lambie and the other free-agent senators. “So successful were these ‘triumphs’”, grizzled Mr Bolt, “that Turnbull destroyed the Liberals’ poll lead.” 

Bolt conceded that some of the changing poll numbers were due to Bill Shorten having had tutoring in how to not sound like a union boss – and by golly the Labor leader has gone from unelectable dud to plausible dude in just six months. His tutor is Dean Frenkel, a “noted throat singer” and lecturer at Victoria University, who has got Bill to lower the pitch of his voice, add pauses so we can hear each pearl more clearly, and stop raising his eyebrows like the bouncing ball above his lyrics.

Another oracle of conservatism in Murdoch’s Telegraph, Miranda Devine, reckons Mal’s bait to the state’s “Bolshie” premiers – collect your own taxes – was a sly game switcher by Mal, whom she calls Mr Fox, because now we all know the premiers are chickens at heart. I suspect most of us caught the headline “Mal backs down” on the same day as “Mal says states should impose new taxes” so the bait and backdown made Mal look more headless chook than sly fox. And his cunning constitutional ploy to get his double election might yet prove too clever by half – the Senate might end up even more beyond Coalition control than it is now, and setting up this 103-day campaign might drive us all so mad at watching Mal and Co. whinge about how corrupt Labor is when we and the rest of the world are focused on corporate corruption, that Mal the Fox might become Mal-adroit and lose the election.

Meanwhile, back in the USA

Our 103-day election is an infinitesimal blip in space-time compared to the American version, now entering itsthird billion dollars in campaign spending. In a private letter to their branch managers the “all government is bad for business” Koch brothers David and 

Charles announced they’d given up their quest to buy the presidency, since the lead candidates are unhinged-cannon Trump and religious-nut Cruz – whose quest for the presidency is “a cult”. 

“It’s understandable that many Americans succumb to the ‘cult’”, wrote the billionaire bullies, “-- putting all their eggs in the basket of one person as the way to solve underlying cultural and economic challenges facing our nation. Then, after rising to power, they fail to deliver on even their most basic promises, namely reining in a government spending spree.”

The brothers, worth $40 billion made from their daddy’s oil empire, are instead investing $900 million to elect senators and representatives at state and federal levels, and to beat whichever candidate for president the Democrats select. They also pay state politicians to pass laws they write for them. The Kochs are libertarians which, to them, means abolishing nanny-state limits on things they like, such as pollution and unsafe workplace conditions.

P. Frazer1 Comment