May 7th 2016


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Safe Schools: Sorry, chef, but the entire sex-ed menu's off!

CANBERRA OBSERVED Mild unpopularity of Libs preferable to ALP slogans

EDITORIAL Turnbull's stuttering election gambit

ENERGY Media shows no interest in Shorten's renewables plan

LEGISLATION Viability bill at least a baby step for the babies

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Intifada of the Knife: Israel's unknown war

FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Gender symmetry: women can be as abusive as men

ECONOMICS AND POLITICS Overhauling Australia will require more than a tinker

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Media gush over study only to find same-sex parents more irritable

RESEARCH The scientific objectivity of gender difference (Part One of two parts)

CINEMA Mowgli takes on the lore: The Jungle Book

BOOK REVIEW A sliver of hope

BOOK REVIEW A primer on Western civilisation

BOOK REVIEW Of ships and shots

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CANBERRA OBSERVED
Mild unpopularity of Libs preferable to ALP slogans




News Weekly, May 7, 2016

The looming 2016 election will be a crucially important one for Australia’s future. Will the nation decide to oust yet another short-term government by electing Labor, or will it seek stability by giving the Coalition a chance at settling into governing for at least a full term.

Policy differences will be much amplified during the campaign but will boil down to alternate policies on negative gearing, on how best to deal with alleged cavalier and arrogant behaviour by the banks, and how best to deal with alleged stand-over merchants and intimidators in the building unions. There will also be an important debate on who is best to run the economy.

On government spending, Labor’s policies will ignore economic reality while pledging to continue spending without admitting to the fact it will be kicking the can down the road for future generations to pay the tab.

For its part, the Coalition will at least be attempting to reduce the debt burden, ratcheted up by the previous Labor government, but over time rather than by tough spending cuts.

However, the fundamental issue of the campaign will be about the type of government Australia needs at this time in its history. It was once the case that single-term governments were extremely rare in Australian politics, which was considered by world standards one of the most stable democracies in the world.

At a state level governments lasted decades and at a federal level the last single-term government was that of James Scullin, which lasted just over two years (from 1929 to 1932) as the catastrophe of the Great Depression unfolded.

Even the erratic Whitlam government was re-elected in 1974, although his “two terms” did not quite add up to a full three years in government.

In recent years, though, Australian politics has suffered from an unhealthy instability reminiscent of the early years of federation.

The violent swings from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard to Rudd to Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull over the past six years has meant no government has been able to settle into long-term planning and direction setting because it has been consumed by day-to-day politics and the next opinion poll.

The problem would not be that Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would necessarily be a bad prime minister. In fact, public opinion has recently begun to recognise Mr Shorten’s positives as a leader who has managed to keep his party united and disciplined over the past three years. Mr Shorten as prime minister would be less volatile than Kevin Rudd and more mainstream than Julia Gillard.

But Mr Shorten’s policies are shallow and shortsighted, and offer little in the way of a long-term plan for the country. A vote for Labor will be a vote for yet another change in government barely eight months after Turnbull snatched the reins of power from Tony Abbott, and less than three years since the last disastrous Labor-Greens-independent government.

Electing Bill Shorten, who offers little more than sloganeering and the submission to Labor’s union base, would be a depressing indictment of the political process in Australia. It would suggest that the Australian voter is not concerned about ongoing unstable government at this time and is prepared to throw out a government that is, at worst, mildly unpopular.

Labor’s “policies” consist of more money for schools and health (without a credible path of providing the funding for them), and a banking royal commission that will be a boon for lawyers and take years to get results. Labor seems not to have learnt any of the lessons from the profligacy of the past.

Should Malcolm Turnbull lose the election, it would be a massive repudiation of the conservative side of politics from which it would take a decade or more for the Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the Nationals, to recover.

The best result for Australia would be a returned Turnbull Government to give him the chance to prove himself as a prime minister of competence and long-term vision for the country.

The path for the Australian economy in the wake of the mining boom will be extremely difficult to navigate and it will take a strong government with a strong mandate to manage the transition. On balance a Turnbull-led Coalition is better placed to manage this challenging period.

A great government is not guaranteed, but another three years would at least give Mr Turnbull the chance to display his mettle and potential as a leader who can see the big picture and make the bold decisions required to take the nation forward.

However, as recent state elections have shown, that result is not a foregone conclusion.




























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