The Coalition lacks policies. It also lacks charisma. It has no other option but fear, writes Ben Eltham.
Labor has spent years honing and sandbagging its policy platform, which on any sensible judgment is moderate and achievable. In contrast, the Coalition has spent the last three years consumed by its own internal hatreds. Now that the crisis has arrived, the Coalition finds itself without a coherent assault plan to break down Labor’s platform. Time is running out.
$80,million Spent like water (ODT)
Guardian Australia reported this week on the mystery surrounding the reason Joyce chose the companies he did for the buybacks. On Friday, Labor raised specific questions about one of the purchases, worth $80m.
On Saturday, Hanson-Young said she would write to the auditor general requesting an urgent audit.
“The auditor has a responsibility to investigate how $80m of taxpayers money was paid for water that doesn’t exist,” she said in a tweet.
Scamming your money to promote herself? (ODT)
Downer was rightly universally condemned for her actions, but think about what her action suggests. Firstly, she considered taxpayers’ funds her own to claim and present (the novelty cheque clearly said the Liberal Party on it and had her image printed on it as well). This betrays how the Liberals think about taxpayers’ funds — the funds belong to them, not the public. Which is why the Libs loathe welfare. Any welfare payment made is effectively less money in the pool for them to rort.
Secondly, under the media cover of wall-to-wall coverage of Cardinal Pell’s conviction of paedophilia charges, the Liberals quietly changed the rules around how sitting MPs can use their taxpayer-funded office expenses for political advertising in the lead-up to the election. Again, this rule change takes taxpayers’ funds and allows them to be used by the Liberal Party for political advertising, something in the past they’d have to pay for themselves. Given that in the Victoria State Election the Liberals ran much of their campaign claiming that the Victoria Labor Government was corrupt for accidentally using taxpayer-paid office staff for campaigning (the red shirts scandal), this is hypocritical in the extreme.
Mr Turnbull’s break-even point, therefore, if he wants to claim the Coalition has maintained employment relative to comparable countries, is 12,752,000 people employed. Above that, he can assert he has improved Australia’s standing. Below that, he must accept that he has allowed Australia’s employment fortunes to slip.
At just 12,501,000 people in jobs, he has, in fact, facilitated a dramatic slide.
Already this year, Australians have been confronted with a new barrage of statistics, re-confirming that we are indeed living in a starkly unequal society. The richest 1% now own more wealth than the bottom 70% combined. Growth for workers’ wages has slowed to record lows. Our underemployment rate – 8.4% – is now higher than almost anywhere else in the OECD. And we learned recently that homelessness has jumped 14% since the last census.
There is now no doubt about who runs Australia’s economy better. Econometrics writer Alan Austin updates the data.
In both Greece and Japan, excessive debts will have to be reduced by means previously regarded as unthinkable, writes Adair Turner.