A lot has been made of Malcolm Turnbull’s recent comments that the Liberal party is not a ‘conservative’ party and that the ‘sensible centre’ is the place to be.
Whether you think his comments were right, wrong or reported by the media out of context, the fact is that only someone with a profound lack of judgment would open domestic political wounds in such a manner while overseas. It’s really is as if Turnbull said to himself:
I’ve just finished building a hand hamburger with Manny Dynamite at the G20 (video below), Ubered with him back to Paris and now have some time to kill before I get to meet the Queen…
What to do…
What to do…
I’ll stir up some domestic ****.
Important note: going straight to 0:24 will prevent you from thinking harmful and potentially criminal thoughts about David Speers:
PS: to be fair (to Macron), if someone wanted to give me $50 billion, I’d probably give them a lot more than a hand hamburger, a longing look (see at 0:34) and a ride back to Paris.
PS2: maybe it’s not a longing look at all. Maybe it’s more of a ‘FMD, he’s really going to give us $50 billion. Wow’, kind of look?
PS3: am I the only one who thinks it’s a little strange that our Prime Minister already has (whatever you want to call) this kind of relationship with France’s newly minted President – who was recently a member of the French Socialist Party? Or has it all just been a case of love at first sight?
All that aside, the issue of Turnbull’s London speech is little more than a diversion. We cannot allow ourselves to get sucked into a pointless debate concerning labels. When it comes to Turnbull (and pretty much any politician in government), it’s not about what he says: it’s about what he does and the results he achieves. So let’s have a closer look at these things…
Are these really the actions of a ‘centrist’, let alone a sensible one?
- 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 2016 federal 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.
- 16 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 fornicating rat, Turnbull jumps ship on the ratification plan.
- April – June 2017 – people begin to realise that Turnbull had no clothes on when talking about GST reform.
- 11 July 2017 – on the heels of the G20, Turnbull mysteriously chooses a speech given to a think tank in London to talk about what he thinks the Liberal is and isn’t – successfully reminding people about the party’s disunity and general dysfunction.
If Turnbull thinks that these are the actions of someone of the ‘sensible centre’, then where does that place John Howard?
Next, is this a ‘sensible’ budget?
Seriously, when was the last time the federal government’s tax revenue went up by this much in one year and who was the leader at the time?
When was the last time the federal government’s revenue went up by about $50 billion in the space of only two years?
And, for extra bonus points, when was the last time raw spending went up by more than 4% for two years in a row? (Which is what the Turnbull government will achieve with its latest budget).
(I’ll answer the last one for you: it was in 2008-9 and 2009-10, when the Rudd Labor government managed to increase spending by 16.3% and 6.6% – something not seen since the Whitlam years).
Lastly, are these the polls of a centrist who’s resonating with all the sensible people out there?
If this isn’t terminal, then I don’t know what is.
The only question left is when we’ll be treated to Turnbull’s last stand.