JOHN MENADUE. Prime Minister Trumpbull.

The styles of Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull may vary but on many important issues the substance is similar. 

Neither are business people in the traditional sense.  Donald Trump is a real estate speculator and Malcolm Turnbull is an investment banker.  If Malcolm Turnbull had a serious and successful business background, we would not have the fifth-rate NBN that he is responsible for. The NBN is probably the most disastrous infrastructure project in our history. No business person worth the name would have got us into this mess.

On climate change, they now have very similar views.  Despite what we thought were Malcolm Turnbull’s views on climate change he has turned out to be very flexible. He is now joined at the hip with Donald Trump as a climate sceptic.  Both of them are committed to underwriting and even subsidising coal-powered electricity generation . By failing to address climate change they are both imperilling our  planet. It is as serious as that

Both Turnbull and Trump are committed to the ‘trickle down’ approach of large corporate tax reductions that it is claimed will promote jobs and growth. Trump has put his company tax cuts in place, but Turnbull is struggling to get parliamentary approval.  But both Trump and Turnbull believe that substantial tax cuts for wealthy companies is good policy.

Both Trump and Turnbull also believe that tax cuts should favour  wealthy individual taxpayers despite all the global signs that it is bad for the economy and adds to inequality. Turnbull’s dismantling of our progressive tax system will add to inequality. People who live in harbour side mansions or grandiose hotel complexes just don’t get it.

Donald Trump both preaches and practices protection for industry as shown in his tariff increases.  Malcolm Turnbull preaches free trade but in practice, he is also protectionist.  As a result of his government’s policies we now have a 300% rate of protection for our ship-building industry in South Australia, a $12b annual subsidy for Private Health Insurance and an effective ban on imports of second hand cars.

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump go out of their way to accommodate influential media companies.  Donald Trump has very close relations with Fox News in the US. It is his media base.  In Australia the Channel 9 takeover of Fairfax could not have occurred if the Turnbull government had not removed the restrictions on cross-media ownership laws last year.  In defending these changes in the law in support of the Channel 9 takeover, Malcolm Turnbull told us ‘all the media companies strongly support these [new] laws’.  This is no surprise . Turnbull used to work for Channel 9.  Turnbull  mimics Trump in wanting  to oblige particular media  and especially the Murdoch media .

Donald Trump rails against ‘false media’.  Malcolm Turnbull does it differently.  He attempts to intimidate the ABC and cut its funding to bring it into line.

Donald Trump is direct and racist in attacking Muslims, refugees and Mexicans coming across the border.  Malcolm Turnbull is more careful but his intent is the same.  Asked about ‘African gangs’ in Melbourne, Malcolm Turnbull gave us the typical dog-whistling approach.  He said ‘Well I’ve heard about [these gangs] from people in Melbourne … Well, I’ve heard it.  I’ve heard people, colleagues from Melbourne say that there is real anxiety about crime in Melbourne.  It is a real issue.’  Donald Trump would have put it more directly, but the result is the same. Both appeal to racism.

On foreign policy and defence issues, Malcolm Turnbull has quite deliberately linked himself and his government to Trump policies.

Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump have a lot in common.  The language may be different but the substance is very similar.

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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