Transmissions from political Lala land resume

Clive Palmer is back in parliament and he is nothing, if not interesting. His latest transmission from political Lala land is that Malcolm Turnbull is just a seat warmer for Tony Abbott and he will stand down after winning the next election and let Abbott regain the prime ministership.

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 Another comic turn: Clive Palmer doing a Les Patterson impersonation

It’s another one of those ideas that are so stupid, it’s difficult to know where to start explaining why. But then, it got Clive into the newspapers yet again, not for any useful contribution to policy or public debate but because he’s a clown.

 In fairness to the man, he is not unpleasantly malicious in the way some members of the government have appeared this week. So give me Clive anytime of the day before Cory Bernardi, Luke Simkins or George Christensen.

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Nationals MP George Christensen who seems to think that being an MP is a license to say the most outrageously offensive things he can think of

Then there was this other little zinger, Fairfax Media revealed that

Faced with electoral annihilation, Clive Palmer has held a secret meeting with two Senate crossbenchers in which he proposed dissolving the Palmer United Party and forming a super-micro party. Mr Palmer met with Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm and Family First’s Bob Day in Mr Palmer’s parliament office on Thursday.

This is to try  to protect themselves against a double dissolution and political oblivion. We can probably safely assume that Palmer will stand for the Senate in the next election as his chances of being elected in his lower house seat are in the category of snowballs surviving in hell, so a coalition of cross bench senators  makes some sense in terms of political survival.

The bizarre aspect of this is that this group of people have nothing in common beyond the desire to save their own political skins.  The chances of them being elected in the first place are probably slim given the electoral changes that will probably be passed  through parliament, but not as slim as being able to have a coherent policy view on the issues that face the nation..

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 Not long for this life: the cross bench senators. Only Xenophon has a chance of re-election

 It’s been an interesting week, enlivened by news of the Prime Minister’s dinner for the cross benchers. Senator Jacqui Lambie stormed out of the dinner, somewhat predictably, as staying wouldn’t have got into the newspapers and then, Senator The Brick with Eyes left early because he wasn’t getting enough to eat and had to go to Macca’s for a decent feed.

Policy debate anyone?

 

 

More froth and bubble from political Lala land

PUP owner and chief Pooh-Bah of political Lala land is surely going to run out of stunts to keep himself in the media. Surely it’s going to be hard to find anything that beats insulting a global superpower and one of Australia’s major trading partners. Whatever the aim of Palmer’s intemperate outburst on Q&A, it was quite clear that it would be interpreted as an attack upon the Chinese people. This is despite Palmer’s claim he was only referring to his training partners with whom is engaged in a legal dispute about him apparently purloining funds to support his election campaigns. well, no Clive, if you say things like “they shoot their own people”, we can only assume that you’re not referring to your training partner CITIC.

And certainly his off-sider, Jacqui Lambie directed to a broadside that will only be regarded as deeply offensive by the Chinese. She really is shaping up to be another Pauline Hanson. What have we done to deserve this?

We are only just beginning to realise the impact and consequences of the failure of our politicians to reform the voting system for the Senate. Unless Abbott calls a double dissolution, we’re going to have Lambie behaving like this for nearly 6 years.

And spare a thought for Penny Wong, surely one of the most respected politicians in the federal parliament. She had to sit next to Palmer during his anti-Chinese rant.

Did Palmer not pause from moment to think had deeply offensive what he was saying would have been to an Australian-Chinese citizen Who happened to be sitting next to him on a television panel, those in the audience, those watching the programme and those in the broader community?

And what of Palmer United Party’s Chinese-born Western Australia senator, Dio Wang? He must have been appalled and insulted by what has happened. Clearly, Clive has not given much thought to maintaining party unity. Has he given any thought to how he can maintain the loyalty of Mr Wang While continuing to insult him?

If Wang and the super-silent Brick-with-eyes defect from PUP and become independents, Clive’s influence in the Senate will be limited to the vote of the highly erratic Jacqui Lambie.

The most disturbing aspect of this disgraceful performance is it indicates how Palmer is leveraging his carefully orchestrated position in the federal parliament to further his own commercial interests. Before the Q&A programme, there was a Four Corners program discussing the Abbot Point development and the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef.

It is important to remember that one of the major partners in this development, approved by Minister Not for the Environment, Greg Hunt against all scientific and environmental advice, is none other than, yes you guessed it: Clive Palmer.

Another transmission from political Lala land

The Muddle-headed Wombat of Lala land, would-be Grand Poobah, Clive Palmer has been in full control of the media circus over the last couple of days with his pronouncements on the repeal of the Carbon Tax. The difficulty with Clive is that, as Michael Pascoe said in The Age: One of the problems with Clive is working out what he’s saying, what he might think he’s saying and what he actually means. They can all be quite different things.

But his real coup was appearing on television with Al Gore, talk about Dracula and the Head of the Blood Bank! This really took the cake.

Gore and Palmer: who's a clever boy? Certainly not Al.

Gore and Palmer: who’s a clever boy? Certainly not Al.

You’d like to think that someone with the political smarts of Al Gore would realise that appearing on television with Palmer was the equivalent of receiving honorary citizenship of Lala land. But he did, and it gave Palmer yet another chance to substitute stand up vaudeville for the serious political discussion. Eventually, someone is going to explain to Clive that simply putting the words “Australian families” in a sentence doesn’t turn it into a policy.

Palmer’s latest bid to hog the limelight was to suggest that his tame senators will not support the repeal of the Carbon Tax. Later in the day, it appeared that Palmer was only going to make repealing the bill dependent upon the savings in electricity prices being passed on to the Australian consumers. I wonder if Clive realises that the repeal is not going to be retrospective and he will probably still have to pay the tax that his company has not paid.

One can only assume that he wants Tony Abbott to promise that the savings will be passed on. Clive is probably only person in Australia who believes that a promise from Tony Abbott is worth more than the hot air that surrounds it. Apart from this act of staggering political naiveté, Palmer’s statement demonstrates how little he understands about the role of government in the Australian economy.

How does he think that the government is going to ensure that power companies pass savings from the repeal of the Carbon Tax on to consumers? Why, it’s simple. The government will do it the same way that it ensures that the banks pass on interest rate cuts to mortgage holders.

The political debate that we really need in this country is the way that we reform the electoral system to ensure that the unrepresentative swill don’t make decisions on issues for which they have no mandate and do not understand

Senator-elect Ricky (Kangaroo poo chucker) Muir makes media debut

Senator-elect Ricky Muir has turned in a media performance that leaves the other inhabitants of political Lala land for dead. Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, we find that this balance-of-power senator may not be capable of speaking in public. That probably suits Clive Palmer down to the ground, as he appears ready and eager to speak for all of the members of PUP and now may be forced to cover for Ricky as well.

The gormless Ricky Muir (left) and (right) with a television makeover but still gormless

The gormless Ricky Muir (left) and (right) with a television makeover but still gormless

The gloss that is being put on Muir’s poor performances that he’s an “ordinary Australian” and that he froze during his first appearance on national media. That may well be the case but it’s not going to be an excuse that can be run more than once.

Palmer’s defence was a classic: ” Mike Willesee, who does he think he is really, he’s got a plum stuck up his arse.” And who said the standard of political debate in Australia was on the decline?

Palmer’s witty riposte is a pretty unanswerable criticism when you think about it. Willesee now has the option of demonstrating that he doesn’t have a plum stuck up his arse or living with the ignominy of this accusation forever. But that’s politics.

Muir has not had a good introduction to Australian political life. Video clips of the kangaroo poo throwing incident and the burnouts with his eight-year-old daughter behind the wheel leave the impression that he is not very bright. His performance on television has only reinforced that perception.

Ricky clearly needs some media coaching. My advice would be that he takes a bag full of Kangaroo poo to his next interview and throws it at the interviewer. It would be more informative and certainly more entertaining than this effort.

What is more worrying is that Ricky Muir may not have the intellectual capacity for understanding the role that he must play in the Senate, let alone understanding the politically implications of legislation that comes before the house. He is likely to be taking a lot of advice from Clive Palmer or the Motoring Enthusiasts Party founder and spokesman Keith Littler.

Keith Littler: Australians know nothing about the man who may be one of the main puppet masters in the new Senate

Keith Littler: Australians know nothing about the man who may be one of the main puppet masters in the new Senate

This is the man who won a 14.3 percent quota after preferences on a record-low primary vote of 0.51 percent. To claim that he is representative of “ordinary Australians” is a complete nonsense. He is in the Senate because of some skillful manipulation of a hopelessly undemocratic election process.

He will remain, for the next six years, a powerful argument for reform of the way that we elect our senators in Australia.

A visit to political La-La land: an interview with PUP Senator-elect Jacqui Lambie

Anyone who wants to understand what a terrible danger PUP represents for Australian politics should watch Sarah Ferguson’s interview with Jackie Lambie on 7.30.

The ABC's Sarah Ferguson and PUP's Senator-Elect Jacqui Lambie

The ABC’s Sarah Ferguson and PUP’s Senator-Elect Jacqui Lambie

The first worrying element of this is the extent to which PUP will be a coherent and cohesive political party in the Senate. Lambie’s appearance on 730 last night does little to reassure that this will be the case.

SARAH FERGUSON: Let’s talk about some of the policies. Clive Palmer’s changed his position on university deregulation. Last week he was for it; now he opposes it. Which policy do you support?

JACQUI LAMBIE: Oh, no, we oppose it. There’s no doubt about that. I think Clive Palmer may have been a bit sleepy over that when he answered the question.

Clive Palmer delivers yet another PUP policy. "It's easy," he said, "I can do it in my sleep."

Clive Palmer delivers yet another PUP policy. “It’s easy,” he said, “I can do it in my sleep.”


The next thing that is worrying is the extent to which Lambie understands the taxation system that operates in Australia.

SARAH FERGUSON: You’ve opposed – as I understand it, you’ve opposed the debt levy, you’ve opposed the Medicare co-payment, changes to pensions, changes to welfare, and clearly, universities. What are you proposing as alternatives?

JACQUI LAMBIE: Well, you know, one of the alternatives was – in our national package, was that, you know, we have an annual – we collect tax annually, which will bring in $70 billion. Now every time that goes through the hands of another person, that builds on another $7 billion. So, if that goes through three sets of hands, that’s $21 billion and they’re the economic outcomes that we should be looking at.

Surely Lambie is not suggesting that we abandon the PAYE and GST collection systems and collect tax once a year, presumably around Christmas time? Remember, this woman will be one of the people who will hold the balance of power over all legislation that comes before the Australian Parliament. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Later in the interview, she got stuck into the banks. Now, everybody enjoys a bit of bank bashing and we all think that the fees they charge are a form of usury and this is Lambie’s (and presumably PUP’s) populist approach.

SARAH FERGUSON: And would you just be precise about what you mean about those other avenues? How would you collect that extra revenue from the banks?

JACQUI LAMBIE: Well, you’d put extra taxes on the banks, but you would make sure that that’s not passed down to the consumer. You would put in legislation so it was that tight it wasn’t passed down to the consumer and the big banks that are making all these profits will be paying more into the country.

There’s no doubt that this will wash well with the electorate. But as Lambie not realise that if legislation can be put in place to tax the banks and that legislation will ensure that the taxes are not passed on to consumers, that someone will not pay the price. That will be the nasty capitalists who own shares in the major banks. In particular, it will be the superannuation funds that handle the superannuation investment of all working Australians who will carry this particular impost. Now, this may actually be an equitable solution to finding more revenue sources for the government. But the worrying thing about Lambie’s approach appears to be that the banks should be taxed simply because they are profitable.

And then there was this killer:

SARAH FERGUSON: And just briefly, does Clive Palmer support your idea of levying higher taxes on the banks?

JACQUI LAMBIE: Well I haven’t actually spoke to Clive Palmer about that one yet. How’s that for you?

Tony Abbott must be wringing his hands in despair if he thought that he was going to be dealing, and negotiating, with a Palmer Party that is actually united. Jacqui Lambie may be about to redefine the notion of a political loose cannon.

The first 100 days: what Abbott should have said

Look, I’ll be honest with you. We’ve made a right-royal cock-up of the first hundred days. If the opinion polls are correct, the Australian people are losing confidence in this government.

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Source: SMH December 15

In Opposition, we made an art form of shouting at the Labor government. Now we are in government, this has proved less than effective.

It seems that the electorate is more interested in us fixing what we identified as the problems rather than continuing to blame Labour Party. I suspect that the electorate knows that the Labour Party was hopeless and has punished it by electing us. I also suspect that the electorate has moved on from blaming the Labor Party and expects us to do the same. Difficult, because it was such fun.

Christopher’s handling of the Gonski reforms scored an impressive 9/10 on the Political Ineptitude Scale. He couldn’t have done more damage to the government’s standing if he tried. The best thing to do would be to sack him before he cocks things up again but sacking a senior minister in the first hundred days is not a really good look and the Labour Party would have a field day.

We’ve also stuffed up badly on asylum seeker policy. We said we would “stop the boats” and then we refused to tell anybody if the policy had been successful, which it appears to be. For the most part, this is because the draconian policies of the Labour Party are having effect. However, we could have claimed to have made a difference with our policies and taken the credit. But Scott Morrison turned a political positive into a negative by refusing to release the figures on asylum seekers.

It wasn’t a good look to have the Prime Minister, the Deputy-Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Attorney General caught rorting their travel expenses.

We have mishandled relations with Indonesia where SBY appears more interested in scoring political points for domestic consumption than helping us with our asylum seeker policies.

The paid parental leave scheme is going to be a political albatross around the government’s neck. We cannot afford it but we cannot scrap it without breaking another promise.

Our strong position on debt reduction before the election hasn’t been helped by the lifting the debt ceiling, against advice from Treasury and the Reserve Bank. Not fixing the budget crisis in the first hundred days probably wasn’t a good idea either. If things were so desperate, Joe should have done something sooner.

We knew we would be facing a hostile Senate that would not repeal the Carbon and Mining taxes. Probably would have been a good idea not to have promised to do this as soon as gaining government. Makes it look as if I don’t understand the Senate system.

And then there’s the Senate. Clive Palmer is going to be a loose cannon and if it’s politically popular to make life difficult for me, you can bet Clive will be doing just that. The situation in Western Australia is a bit of a worry. With our popularity sliding, we might not hold the seats we had in the original election.

We are trying to think of a way out of this mess but if we can’t, but just start shouting at everybody again.