Friends overseas are amazed that with a world class economy such as ours, the Australian Government faces a rout. I try and explain that the government’s difficulties are self-inflicted; that it is tone-deaf on many political issues; that the Prime Minister is not being listened to and the public will not accept what she did to Kevin Rudd.
How could Australia’s longest-established and most reputable political party be behaving like a suicide cult? Where are the wise men and women in the ALP to stop the Party going over the cliff?
Australians are genuinely concerned about the prospect of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. If he wins it would be by default. He has proved himself an effective political wrecker, but credible policies are hard to find.
The government’s policy performance is far from ideal, but it has a lot going for it.
- We have had six years of uninterrupted economic growth, even through the Global Financial Crisis.
- The pre-eminent international mining advisory consultancy, Behre Dolbear, has rated Australia as the top country in the world for investment in mining and mining activity.
- The roll-out of the NBN in more expensive, but it will give Australia a top-ranking technology compared with a fourth-ranking technology that the Coalition offers.
- The carbon price which will be followed by an Emissions Trading Scheme is superior to the direct action and “soil magic” which the Coalition proposes.
- The government continues to improve superannuation. The coalition opposes
- It has launched the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
- The Gonski school reforms are underway which the Coalition opposes.
- The overall cost of living is growing at a slower rate than inflation. The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling tells us “right across the board our research shows Australian households on average are better off. We really are a lucky country”
The main policy disappointments of the government have been in health where we continue to muddle through and on asylum seekers where the government has failed to show courage and act decently.
But it is not only policy differentiation. There is also the quality of the rival front benches.
Beyond the present leaders, the Government has a very strong front-bench; Combet, Shorten, Butler, Clare, Wong and Dreyfus. Compare that with Brandis, Joyce, Bronwyn Bishop, Andrews, Abetz, Pyne and Morrison. By comparison it is talent-free at best and in some instances, a very ugly front bench.
Is the ALP prepared to disappoint so many of its supporters and allow Tony Abbott to win by default?