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.