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lunes, 9 de mayo de 2016

Zimmerman.-Federal election talk brings out zombies

Federal election talk brings out zombies
Trent Zimmerman, the newest member of Federal Parliament, astutely observed in his maiden speech last week that three-year parliamentary terms come with a miserable cost to voters.
Zimmerman, Joe Hockey’s Liberal successor in North Sydney, lamented that since federation as many as 33 years of good governance had been wasted because every third year becomes “consumed with the posturing that is part of every election year”.
It is abundantly clear now that we have entered that period of zombie politics where you’re asked to leave your brain at the door.
Peter Dutton told us that Labor’s negative gearing policy would bring the economy to a “shuddering halt” and crash the stock market. It’ll be pestilence and plague next.
For months, Malcolm Turnbull played Moses, holding back the tide of old, dirty politics. But he dropped his staff and we’ve been swamped again.
Zombie politics and negative smearing is back.
How appropriate that Barnaby Joyce — the man who infamously warned of “$100 roasts” under Labor’s carbon tax — perhaps the ultimate zombie political line, should be under karmic attack from the undead.
(Tony Windsor does not have an unkind face but he looks at Joyce with the cold stare of a farmer with a shotgun whose old working dog has gone lame.)
Tony Abbott has shown how an election victory could be achieved, formulating “Labor’s five new taxes”: the carbon tax; housing tax (negative gearing); wealth tax (lower capital gains tax); seniors tax (superannuation) and the workers tax (tobacco).
Dutton became the first to embrace Abbott’s “housing tax” descriptor for Labor’s wind-back of property investor concessions.
Turnbull has recently proved he’s not shy of also accentuating the negative but does he go the full Abbott? And if he doesn’t, what will he put up instead?
This has become a pressing issue inside the Government. And more than you’d think.
As we trudge inexorably towards a July 2 double dissolution election — and surely, that is where Turnbull is now leading us — what’s going to fill the seven-and-a-half campaign?
Both sides will have war-gamed a standard 33-day campaign but a long, drawn-out campaign of 52-plus days demands more material than either side’s got.
The coalition especially has a crisis of content, given Turnbull’s delay in defining the Government’s economic agenda and his trouble in settling on a tax package.
“There’ll be weeks of waffle from Malcolm,” shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told ABC radio yesterday.
“And if he think he can fill a seven or eight week campaign with his normal discursive and expansive approach, we would certainly welcome that because I think Australian people are over his talk, over his lack of vision and his waffle and a seven week campaign will expose that.”
An election campaign for a double-D election on July 2, necessarily called on or before May 11, would have to be a different kind of campaign.
Neither the Liberals nor the ALP organisations have much money to splurge on a long campaign. Nor are the budgetary circumstances suitable for big-spending promises.
Rather than having the leaders flitting madly about the country, as has been the case in recent election campaigns, we would more likely see the leaders spending chunks of time in certain parts of the country.
If a July 2 election isn’t Turnbull’s plan, he’s doing nothing to dispel it.
Bringing on the Senate reforms for debate to next week has triggered such momentum that if Turnbull does not to go to a poll it would appear weak and confusing.
In this sense, we could end up with the “accidental” double dissolution election where serial indecision and the weight of public expectation allow Turnbull no alternative.
Talk of bringing forward the Budget by one week to accommodate passage of the supply bills and the pursuit of a more credible double-D trigger with the reinstatement of the Australian Building Construction Commission feeds this perception.
At the moment the reason for a double dissolution election appears to be little more than wiping out the Senate’s crossbenchers and using his political capital before it runs out.
Beyond the “vibe” and the innovation package, a blancmange of hip catch phrases, trying to work out what Turnbull and his Government stand for is becoming a real problem for voters.
Former Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett, who never left his voters any doubt over what he stood for, offered an unflattering appraisal of Turnbull mid-week.
“I don’t see any need for a double dissolution, again except for self-interest and that to me is not governing,” he told Sydney radio.
“I had hoped that Malcolm, whom I will support at the election, had taken over the leadership of the Liberal Party and the prime ministership because he had a plan.
“What is quite clear now, he did not have any plan at all, he took over the leadership for one reason only, and one reason above all else and that was his own self-interest.
And this: “Malcolm was given the opportunity of a lifetime and in 5 to 6 months it appears he has blown it.”
Kennett’s comment were typically flavoursome but Turnbull cannot let the perception of purposeless waffler take hold.
The Prime Minister’s supporters say he’s got plenty of ideas to share and John Howard last night urged for Turnbull to be given more time.
Voters will give Turnbull the benefit of the doubt for a bit longer, but they will be rightly peeved if their patience is rewarded with even more zombie politics.
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