Turnbull’s early election gamble, the last rattle of a desperate man.

Malcolm Turnbull answers questions March 2016  during a press conference during a tour of the Furgo LADS Corporation facility in Adelaide, Tuesday, March 8, 2016.


The incredible shrinking PM has finally dropped his bundle; lost his nerve. In desperation, after six months of dithering, Malcolm Turnbull has gambled on an early election in July. He claims, with a straight face, that he must resuscitate a Howard-era relic, long dead, buried but not cremated, the ABCC, whose seven years of partisan attacks on unions cost taxpayers $135 million, last time it was inflicted on the construction workforce. He talks over Leigh Sales when she presents government evidence that the ABCC did not result in improved productivity. But there’s more.

Apparently a Registered Organisations Commission is also vital given a fifth of our workforce still in a union workplace.

Only with an industrial relations zombie and union bashing as its centrepiece can his government function as it should. Secretly Mal’s hoping that the senate will be rid of its unrepresentative swill, even though LNP control of the upper house via a double dissolution is far from guaranteed. Malcom game-player declares the ” time for games is over”. He is referring to the senate and also to Abbott and his Monkey Pod opposition.

Turnbull hopes to put a spoke in Abbott’s wheel. The rabid right currently setting his government’s homophobic, fundamentalist agenda can all back off; tighten up and fall in behind. Yet on the day of his big call Abbott is madly claiming it will be an election fought on an Abbott agenda he quickly reinvents to feature refugee turn-backs and free trade agreements but no cuts to health or welfare. He does put in a plug for the ABCC and the ROC.

Turnbull is forced to fire his first big shot at his own side. In the AFR Tuesday, he tweaks his budgie-smuggler’s beak. Abbott is wrong. Look at Turnbull’s fantastic achievements: media law reform, Senate voting reforms, changes to section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act and last year’s innovation statement. No-one could take this rebuttal seriously.

It’s a wild punt from a man who knows he stands to lose everything; a man whose opinion polls already have him on the skids and whose party red-necks are laughing at his lack of authority over them.

Certainly, he may have seemed to do well out of high risk ventures in the past, as Tony McGrath, the liquidator of HIH alleged in 2004, when naming Turnbull in his inquiry into how FAI came to be so overvalued just before HIH paid $300 million too much for the business.  Then as now Turnbull fought tooth and nail when disaster seemed o be looming, as its seems now.

Let’s just drop the pretence. Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t give a toss about the building industry watchdog but he’ll do anything to be top dog. Desperate to assert his authority over a divided party, damaged by his predecessor’s destabilisation campaign and unable to put together a coherent narrative on tax reform or budget repair, Turnbull needs an early election before his pose as a progressive and effective Liberal leader is revealed to all as a cruel hoax.

After six months Turnbull’s disappointed many Australians’ hopes that he’d be something different, a better PM than the embarrassing incompetent he knifed. Not being Abbott made him popular for a while, but he has failed to manage any greater expectations. His policies are Abbot MKII and his pretensions to be an expert economic leader have been flatly contradicted by his indecision, inertia and death of ideas. A one man leadership debt and deficit on his own, Turnbull has created a policy vacuum his opponents have eagerly filled.

The Turnbull policy vacuum has enabled Labor to defeat the government’s GST plans, at least this time around. Labor has also been able to set out it own policy ideas. It’s a curious form of leadership. Under Turnbull the Liberal Party seems as if it’s in opposition again, chasing Labor initiatives rather than making the running itself. And fobbing us off with promises.

It’s too late to defend inertia by claiming all will be revealed in The Budget. The treasurer’s promises, thought bubbles and retreats so far, inspire no confidence in his grasp of economic policy. Yet Morrison is Turnbull’s appointee.

Making Scott Morrison treasurer may have neutralised a political rival but it’s provided the nation with an incoherent, gibbering economic basket case in return.  Too many of Turnbull’s cabinet choices have been similarly poor decisions. And, now, the relationship between treasurer and PM appears to have broken down irretrievably. Monday, Morrison learns from the media that his budget will be a week earlier; that his PM has decided to go for a double dissolution.

Turnbull’s a captive of his right wing on policy. Now he’s making a bad case out of a bad policy to prove them wrong. The ABCC bill is bad law which under John Howard was a failure which delivered much higher rates of injured workers; higher numbers of fatalities. When Labor gutted the ABCC, productivity soared.

Let’s be clear. The claims being made for the ABCC are a shonky pretext for union bashing. Turnbull is consumed instead by a desperate need to control his own party dissidents. At the core of his campaign is a gamble to win over the right. The right of his party mistrusts Turnbull. It sees him as too soft and too pink to be trusted with the hard right heel of the Liberal Party, the dryer, meaner party of John Howard.

The case for the ABCC is based on lies and hyperbole. Leigh Sales could have reminded the PM of his massive government misinformation campaign in which Nigel Hadgkiss, its Liberal appointed Director of Fair Work Building and Construction (FWBC) falsely claimed there have been 1000 crimes and 948 workplace breaches on building sites.

Under questioning in the senate estimates committee 22 October 2015, Hadgkiss backed off the crimes claim. There were 1000 complaints. Many were trivial. The Director admitted to the senate, complaints could include a drainpipe over someone’s back fence.

They were not crimes nor were there 948 workplace breaches.  All up there were only 36 proceedings brought in 2014/15, of which only 12 were successful. Despite all of this being in the public domain, it still suits the Liberal leaders to repeat this tosh in parliament and the whole stitch-up was faithfully reported as fact in The Australian.

If Turnbull wants to run an election campaign on the ABCC, he could make a start by cleaning up the lies. To reassure us that it’s needed he must justify why the ABCC needs its extraordinary, security agency powers.

Or he could come clean about his motives. This will not be an election about cleaning up the union movement or fixing a hamstrung construction industry and Turnbull knows this. His double dissolution bluff is all about besting Tony Abbott.

So far, on day two of the phoney campaign, Turnbull’s early election gambit, which is based around a pretext based upon a lie, is looking like the rattle of a desperate man.

Australians are being forced to go to the polls early because after six months of indecision, capitulation to conservative forces and a failure to meet any of the hopes placed in him. Turnbull has left himself with no other option. He may say it’s about the ABCC and the need to set his country’s workplaces free, but for Turnbull, as always, it’s all about me.




4 thoughts on “Turnbull’s early election gamble, the last rattle of a desperate man.

  1. Turnbull should have done some porridge with Rodney Adler over the HIH swindle.. Wayne Martin now Chief Justice of W.A. recommended an adverse finding be made against Turnbull at the HIH royal commisssion..somehow this was ignored ..


  2. This inveterate liar as his two predecessors were never ever had an idea for Australia s future ! With the rabid right they are gutless cowards and compulsive haters of ordinary people !
    These morons wouldnt have an idea between them and if they had another brain it would be lonely !! They as Hockey would be unemployed if they werent given special jobs at the end of their play time in parliament ! The rabid right are so predictable it would be laughable if they werent so hell bent on trashing a once decent economy ! Everyone of them are economic vandals and should be doing tme in jail for their wilful vandalism to the Aus economy !!
    I cant recall (i am 75 years old ) ever an election by the facist rabid right in Aus ever not to have made” union lies bashing” a feature of their campaign ! I cant recall ever when they have won an election not to carry out their predictable cuts against ordinary people ! Usually its hospitals education and transport leading in that period up to the election and then its the same old tired lies “we have to do something about the unions “!
    They are usually aided and abetted by the right wing foreign owned Murdoch Press ! Enough said about that rabble and family” who were all in’ on eavesdropping on a murdered schoollgirls mob phone !! Such is where the rabid right get theiri kicks ??
    Turnbull is a serial liar like his two predecessors and totally unfit to govern Aus such is the tax avoider also that he is !
    Labour has invariably been elected to come in and clean up the mess after this right wing rabble and its predecessors have vandalised our economy !
    I repeat at the very least the facist rightt ought to be doing uail time for the economic vandalism (not mismanagement but wilful vandalism)they inflict every time they are elected and may I reiterate these cowards clowns and spvs that suffer from” “the used car sale syndrome ” ought to be brought to justice over their economic vandalism !


  3. Good all round summary of the governments diabolical dilemma I.e. How to pretend it knows what its doing when all around it can see it hasn’t a clue.


  4. As an Irish person living in Sydney, I found Malcolm’s comments at the Lowy Institute last night linking the refugee crisis and the Brussels attack both despicable and inflammatory.
    To use such an occasion for a cheap electioneering speech (one which bore all the hallmarks of abbott-speak) was surely a sign of his increasing desperation…

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