Only the politically inept would:
- privately tell the Chinese that they’ll ratify the extradition treaty we have with them;
- have four (i.e. the number of death in Chinese numerology) government ministers (including the Prime Minister) publicly declare that the treaty is good for Australia and ought to be ratified ASAP; and
- back down within 24 hours when it becomes apparent that NOBODY will support ratification of the treaty – and cause the Chinese to lose more face than they otherwise would.
Yep, real smart.
For those not familiar with this story, Australia (under the Howard government) and China signed an extradition treaty in 2007. Since then, our Prime Ministers have politely stuck the treaty up on the fridge, with the possibility that it may some day go to the pool room. That is, unless and until the treaty is ratified by Parliament, it cannot practically come into force. For example, the Senate has the power to vote down the regulations necessary to give the treaty effect.
Many have pointed out that ratification of the treaty shouldn’t occur due to China’s 99.92% prosecution success rate. When combining this with the vastly differing conclusions the Australian and Chinese legal systems have as to what actions are considered criminal, it becomes clear that ratification is a big ask indeed.
To put Turnbull’s latest failed thought bubble in perspective, consider that even Rudd and Gillard – prime Chinese fawners (when Rudd’s not referring to their alleged carnal knowledge of rats) with some of the worst political judgment we have ever seen on the Australian political landscape – didn’t touch this one with a barge pole. As for why Turnbull and Bishop decided to go head first into this pile of political radioactive waste: your guess is as good as mine.
You really have to wonder what’s coming next…
Given this and Turnbull’s recent Snowy River plan to remove energy from our grid at an alleged cost of $2 billion (I say ‘alleged’ for the simple reason there’s no feasibility study in place), it’s time to update the list of Turnbull’s thought bubbles:
- November 2015 – Super Tax (Episode I): Turnbull thinks about changing the super contribution tax rate from a flat 15% to a 15% discount on the contributor’s marginal income tax rate, which would have impacted all workers earning over $36,000 per year.
- March 2016 – Turnbull thinks about introducing a negative gearing cap and reducing the CGT discount before taking them ‘off the table’ in April 2016:
After weeks of suggesting the government might make some changes to negative gearing at the higher end of the income scale, Mr Turnbull said it was “common sense” to make no adjustments to existing arrangements.
- 30 March 2016 – Turnbull thinks about building the taxation revolution, by having the federal government share income taxes with the States – an utterly hopeless proposition:
In other words, Turnbull wants to fix the finger pointing and overlapping with more complex tax legislation, more overlapping and nine income tax jurisdictions (*) – all with the intention of collecting essentially the same amount of income tax, just with more government administration and double handling:
“From a taxpayers’ point of view, he or she would pay the same amount of income tax but the states would be raising the money themselves. We would obviously administer it and collect it for them so again there’d be no compliance costs.”
Yep, that should definitely do the trick.
(*) Six States, two Territories plus the Commonwealth.
- 1 April 2016 – two days later, Turnbull thinks against building the taxation revolution, even though it was supposed to be the ‘the most fundamental reform to the federation in generations’. The date couldn’t have been more fitting.
- April 2016 – Super tax (Episode II) – Turnbull tries to out-left Labor by increasing super contribution taxes for anybody earning over $180K.
- April 2016 – Turnbull thinks about building the high speed rail revolution.
- May 2016 – Super Tax (Episode III) – Turnbull and Morrison have another go at trying to raise more revenue by fiddling with people’s super. Everybody is left utterly confused, including Julie Bishop.
- May 2016 – Turnbull and Morrison announce corporate tax cuts over a period of 10 years – something which has absolutely no chance of happening. Turnbull then crashes the plane into the mountain with a complete disaster of an interview regarding the costings.
- July 2016 – somehow, Turnbull thought that Rudd’s UN candidacy was a top priority for consideration immediately after the election – while dealing with section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act was not.
- August 2016 – Turnbull announces that he wants to change the GST distribution system. Many misinterpret this to mean that Turnbull’s proposed change will improve Western Australia’s GST share. A review of what Turnbull actually said shows otherwise:
“We believe that we should take that opportunity, as the West Australian share of the GST increases under the current system, to change the arrangements so that we set a percentage floor below which no states receipts can fall,” he said.
“Setting a floor below which a state’s share of the GST cannot fall, immediately after it has been exceeded in this cycle, means that no other state will be disadvantaged based on their projected GST shares.”
In other words, once the current system has finished screwing over Western Australia, Turnbull will introduce a floor so that no other state suffers the same problem. In the meantime, Western Australia is free to continue suffering under the current flawed system.
- March 2017 – Turnbull announces the Snowys – Mark II. Although no feasibility has been completed, a rigorous back on the napkin analysis has probably been done.
- 28 March 2017 – Turnbull’s crack team announces that ratification of the China extradition treaty absolutely must happen, right now.
- 29 March 2017 – faster than a rat, Turnbull jumps ship on the ratification plan.