“Turnbull must virtually start all over again, but not just with a new team.
Now, with just three months to go before his first Budget and only eight or so until the election, he must find a new economic plan.”
Yes… well… uhm… d’errr.
The amazing thing about the public is that it has given Turnbull the Big Tick because they want to believe that a new captain – with virtually the same old team – can turn the side around from wooden-spooners to premiers in the space of a couple of months’ brainstorming.
It happens in schlok Hollywood baseball movies about baseball and gridiron – the new man, now off the booze, inspires a gaggle of numpties and misfits etc. – or every now and again in, say, an ice skating race – where you’re so far behind that when the rest of the competitors fall over each other you’ve got enough time to coast around them and win gold.
Not so often in real life.
Of course we are not addicted to real life. We are addicted to Reality Life, which is different.
In real life you work hard to achieve your goal. You genuinely innovate, “do the math”, “work the problem”, “science the shit out of” your predicament.
In Reality Life, your little brother dies, you write a song about the poor little blighter, go onto to Australia’s Got Talent and wow the judges (who look about as un-real as can be managed, which means they are “Reality Real”). You can’t write. You can’t sing. You can’t dance. But the promos for the show make out you aced it, all the way to the semis and then the finals. All it needed was a bit of a tragedy, mixed-in emotion and a modicum of good looks. And the inspiration to believe you could do it. It’s All Australia’s “Must See” episode.
I used to write here that Australia lacked confidence. Years of pre-Treasury Joe Hockey droning on about “debt and deficit disasters” and “School Hall” waste finally convinced the punters that we could have survived the GFC simply by simply inspiring ourselves to do it. His (and his cronies’) “relentless negativity”, as PMJG put it, got the idea into the voters’ minds that there probably hadn’t been been a GFC and, if there was, it was in the Northern Hemisphere. It didn’t have anything to do with us. Labor just liked racking up debt and spending our money for its own sake. As a result the nation lost confidence in its economic management (which had, in fact been the envy of the world).
Come Tony Abbott, with Hockey his John the Baptist hailing the advent of a Three-Word Messiah, and we made-believe that it was Muslim boat-people, Pink Batts and shoe malfunctions that caused our woes and the reversal of these would restore confidence. With an economy that was ready to boom with mining money and China’s insatiable urge to Buy Australian, all we needed was the confidence thing.
“Now there’s yer problem!”: now we have too much confidence.
Turns out the Chinese fascination with all-things-Oz was waning, their economy was finally levelling out, permanent growth was exposed as an impossibility and we found ourselves with a lot of holes in the ground that other people were making money out of… but only because they didn’t pay their taxes.
The Coalition’s Surplus fetish (and Labor’s half-hearted participation in it during a precariously hung parliament), borne of a classic tail-wags-dog belief that the government’s over-taxing of the people and under-management of their basic services brought prosperity for all (and votes for the government) just made things worse.
Enter Sir Galahad, Malcolm Turnbull. The Turnbull Renaissance was at hand. His witty insouciance, his urbane but cruisey style got the punters to thinking that all they needed to put the mix together was a businessman who could cut red tape, beat unwilling heads of slow thinkers together and Go For Growth via Ideas.
Unfortunately this was the bloke who had shed ideas and ideals like a snake with sunburn: the Republic, a decent NBN, gay marriage, Climate Change and many more. There wasn’t a Turnbull passion that couldn’t be discarded in the pursuit of office. But we – and I use “we” with obvious exceptions – loved him for it, or at least became infatuated. Here was another Easy Way Out: we’d charm our way back to prosperity… even better… Malcolm Turnbull could do it for us.
No need to work, or really innovate. Just talk about it and it would be so. Someone else, anyone else could take care of the details.
What no-one twigged to was that “innovation” is not an innovative idea. Innovation is “core”. It’s basic. You have to have it or you may as well not get out of bed in the morning. Talk of innovation being the new “thing” shows how much of a failure the Coalition’s time in office had been. But let’s hang onto it. Maybe something will happen, something new like innovation.
We had the confidence at last, but where was the other bit? Don’t know what I mean? It’s the Economy, stupid. The Coalition’s negativity finally bore fruit: they went out of their way to fuck the economy by talking it down. and they succeeded, just in time for them to win office.
The solution was easy: just talk it up again. All their mates were in on the scam. It was like the annual Lurk Merchants and Sleeve Tuggers’ Convention.
Good one Liberals! Good one Nationals! All hail the troglodytes! The village was destroyed in order to save it. Their recovery plan? Flog everything off. Reward their mates and party donors. Re-establish the old order. Telstra’s on top. Rupert’s still in charge. Miners are ripping squillions out of our earth. Transurban’s putting up its tolls and having a bumper year. Tony Abbott still lurks. What’s not to love about any of that?
But digging holes for one-time sales of dirt, building toll-roads to nowhere, selling off The Farm, applying duct tape to Foxtel cracks only puts off the inevitable crunch. Even the well-worn observation that we were “starting again” – two years into a government that said it had all the ideas ready to go in 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 – but which had systematically cut the country off at the knees as a favour to vested interests in fields as far apart as media, communications and even the education industry – should have rung hollow.
“Can’t bat. Can’t bowl.”
Sadly, to a nation addicted to the quick fix, the easy solution, the Grand Scheme where the other bloke has a go while you coast along doing the same thing you’ve always done, the appeal of Malcolm Turnbull was irresistable. Our national torpor could be maintained, and we could afford to wait for another miracle. Someone else had come along to save us. No wonder we gave him the Audience Vote. He let us believe it was just a matter of snapping our fingers and telling ourselves destiny was on our side again. An innovative new idea: “Innovation”.
I’m surprised the Stump-Jump Plough wasn’t trotted out. Or the Hills Hoist. Instead we got how wonderful the CSIRO was in detecting gravitational waves… omitting to mention that the branch that helped do was was sacked en masse years ago. Tomorrow it’s the Climate Change’s mob’s turn to join the Centre Link queue.
Where to now? Looks like Waffles’ polls are going off the boil, and the cavemen thirsting for revenge in his own party will be salivating. A bloke that was good at kicking helpless boat people around in secret isn’t exactly shining when it comes to sophisticated economic management in public. The commentators are getting bored (it was going to be so exciting). The ministry’s in a shambles. The nation’s going nowhere, with no plan and no leadership. All that excitement for nothing. As we enter the cold months ahead, there’s not even a Budget plan on the horizon. The back benchers must be restless. They’ve seen all this before. And they don’t like it.
Sure, Bill Shorten’s always good for a “question that must be answered”. “Labor waste” will be produced. Newspaper editorials will still give Turnbull the benefit of the doubt, but there’ll be less “benefit” and more “doubt”. Our Messiah, in that hesitant, “I-could-say-so-much-but-I’ll keep-it-simple-for-you-little-people” way he has of talking, will continue to pretend it’s all part of The Plan. Let’s have a Union Bashing recovery.
There’s a firey red Federal Police car parked on the corner outside the Turnbull residence in Point Piper. Who’s it there to protect him from?
Malcolm, there are so many threats, and so little time. Please shit, or get off the pot.