Good lord what can they mean? It’s been one of those weeks in which the politics of politics resolutely becomes the story. But here, with this little effort, The Australian has gone to the head of the class. What they mean, of course, is that Malcolm Turnbull has reclaimed the natural ascendency that conservatives have when it comes to the discussion of serious things like Economics. Regular readers will recall the doggedness with which the paper held to the notion through last year that whatever the headline polling figures might say, John Howard’s edge as “preferred economic manager” would see the Liberals through.

Yup. This headline says some troubling things about the quality of our political discussion. The fact is that the only economic debate that seems to count in this country is the meta-chat about who said what in talking the whole thing down, about where inflation came from and under whose watch. There is no particular difference in actual economic approach between the two major parties. There is no discussion, other than the sort of cheap inward looking talk that follows an overlong examination of competing navels.  

We’d be better served if the discussion got real. People are poor. Kids sleep on the streets. Houses are expensive. Hospitals struggle to cope. Teachers are paid a pittance. Rivers are running dry. The Australian economy bobs like a cork in a turbulent global pool. Regional communities are dysfunctional and in decline. Malcolm Turnbull has reclaimed nothing. 

Peter Fray

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