February 27th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY SSCA: Check out this inversion of the Parental Control system

CANBERRA OBSERVED Barnaby Joyce likely to give Cabinet a kick-along

ALCOHOL Studies confirm benefit of earlier nightclub closures

HISTORY OF TAIWAN Post-WWII Japan's loss is Chiang Kai-shek's gain

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT Welfare of children at heart of surrogacy inquiry

EDITORIAL Syria agreement first step to ending the carnage

EDUCATION Discounting Christianity in schools denies history

WORLD CONGRESS OF FAMILIES Diversity's American dream: genderless parenthood and apple pie

ENVIRONMENT Harry Butler: a victim of deep-green politics

EUTHANASIA Legitimate denial of choice at end of life (Part I of two)

ACTIVISM Safer schools or a radical Marxist sexual revolution?

UNITED STATES Big Brother v the Little Sisters: Obama takes nuns to Supreme Court

MUSIC Oppositions reconciled in logical harmony

CINEMA Of heists and hedge funds: The Big Short

BOOK REVIEW Alarms and arms

BOOK REVIEW The human factor


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Barnaby Joyce likely to give Cabinet a kick-along

News Weekly, February 27, 2016

Some ministerial own goals and the departure of two senior ministers have gifted Malcolm Turnbull the line-up he needs to take to the election and beyond.

Barnaby Joyce

While the past couple of months have been described in the media as messy for the new Turnbull Government, the political stability the nation craves should come now that he has a settled fresh team in the Nationals with Barnaby Joyce at the helm, as well as having had the opportunity to promote worthy younger MPs to his frontbench to replace three ministers who have blotted their copybooks.

All political observers and commentators expect Turnbull now to switch to poll mode and to work toward securing an all-important second term for the Coalition Government.

No serious commentator is forecasting an upset ALP win, especially now that the Treasury has taken an unpopular 50 per cent rise in the GST off the table following an initial flirtation.

Turnbull’s “tax reform” is now likely to be incremental, carefully targeted and most importantly palatable to the Australian people. There will be no big bang tax reform before the 2016 poll.

The election itself has been slated for September or October, but could be called any time after July 1.

For Turnbull especially an election victory will provide him with the authority and the mandate he needs to govern in his own right. Barring a cataclysm, he will be able to secure three years and possibly a more manageable Senate at the same time to drive his economic agenda post the mining boom.

Mr Turnbull has been able to promote talented younger MPs such as Victorians Dan Tehan, Alan Tudge and Scott Ryan, and Angus Taylor from New South Wales.

In the Nationals Fiona Nash, now the party’s deputy leader, and Darren Chester have been elevated to Cabinet.

Turnbull also has a new Deputy PM following the departure of the solid but low-key Warren Truss.

Labor is relishing the opportunity of having Barnaby Joyce as the Deputy PM, expecting his colourful and unpredictable style to be a rich source of “gotcha” moments.

If Labor can drive a wedge between the progressive, urbane and free market boosting Turnbull and the socially conservative, interventionist and bucolic Joyce, they expect to have a field day in portraying the government as a divided, and confused operation.

Portraying Joyce as a buffoon will be a standard tactic.

But it could also work the other way.  Having such different personalities and world-views in leadership positions in the Liberal and Nationals Coalition covers a large swathe of the spectrum of political opinion in Australia.

As Christopher Pyne put it, Turnbull-Joyce have the potential to make a formidable electoral team. “Malcolm and Barnaby are a great team because they’re the yin and yang in politics,” he told Channel Nine.

“They represent all sides of the political spectrum … except of course socialism.”

Paul Kelly, The Australian newspaper’s editor at large, says the Turnbull-Joyce dynamic will be one to watch, but on balance believes it will be a positive for the Government.

“The ongoing political education of Barnaby will now become a feature of national politics,” Kelly wrote after the change. “As the departing Truss said: Barnaby is not like me. Joyce has been elected to be a more assertive Nationals leader. That is what is expected and it involves operations on two fronts: rhetoric and cabinet power. Pivotal for Joyce will be establishing his authority within his party, the acid test for any new leader.”

Both Joyce, who is a more serious politician than Labor give him credit for, and Turnbull are thinking long term.

Joyce describes the arrangement between the Nationals and the Liberals as a “business partnership” and repeatedly says the Coalition has been the most successful form of government post WWII.

Turnbull will also be keen to make the arrangement work, and it is in neither man’s interest to see the relationship implode early.

At the same time both men know there will be battles to come should the Government be fortunate to govern for any decent amount of time.

The Prime Minister now has the clear air he needs to lay out a policy platform for the election and to win the confidence of the nation.

With economic clouds gathering on the horizon he will be hoping the economy remains sufficiently buoyant to be able to do the things he wants to do.

Fortunately so far, Mr Turnbull has shown that he does have the agility and open-mindedness to make political accommodations as required.

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