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Feb 4, 2009

Turnbull's stimulus suicide

Refusing to back the Government’s stimulus package is a truly colossal error by the Opposition, writes Bernard Keane.


At about 10.30 this morning in the House of Representatives the Opposition walked into a baseball bat. It caught them flush across the head. BANG. Then they got up and invited the wielder to swing it again.

The wielder — Kevin Rudd — won’t need to be asked twice.

Refusing to back the Government’s stimulus package, which Malcolm Turnbull announced in the chamber this morning, is a truly colossal — indeed, almost suicidal — error by the Opposition.

The Coalition and much of the media haven’t worked out that politics has for the moment changed completely. A crisis mindset has taken hold and voters are in no mood for anyone getting in the way of it being addressed with urgency. The Press Gallery will obsess about whether the Greens and Xenofielding will support the package. The Greens, displaying common sense that the Opposition clearly lacks, have rapidly moved to deal themselves in. They’ve proposed the Economics committee conduct hearings late this week and that the Senate sits Friday and next Monday (it is scheduled to rise so they can conduct Estimates hearings) to consider the urgent bills. They’re also looking at options for greening up the package, including ensuring the 20,000 new houses to be built under the package are energy efficient. Fielding is for referring the package to committee, as, apparently, is Xenophon. Wishlists might be brought out in discussions with Chris Evans’s office.

But the passage of the bills isn’t the main game.

Kevin Rudd has recently embarked on a strategy of delegitimising the Liberal Party, connecting it with the causes of the financial crisis and painting it as intellectually incapable of understanding it, let alone dealing with it.

This strategy isn’t just a few words here and there at press conferences. Rudd is writing about it, talking about it inside Parliament and out, and so are his senior ministers. It is a comprehensive and determined strategy.

It is also fallacious and deeply partisan. But this morning, Malcolm Turnbull handed the Government compelling proof that it is right.

Rudd’s campaign will now accelerate into a ferocious attack on the Liberal Party. They will be portrayed as extremists who are deliberately, bloody-mindedly preventing the Government from dealing with the crisis because of their ideological extremism. If the Government succeeds in its attacks — and thanks to Malcolm Turnbull, their chances of doing so have risen massively — they could crush the conservative side of politics for the next couple of years, leaving them irrelevant, divided and dispirited. The ALP could obliterate the Coalition in 2010, even amid high unemployment and continuing recession.

A lot of the media will miss this. Rudd is talking over them to voters. They’ll obsess about how the Government will gets its package through the Senate, as though that is the Government’s problem. In fact it’s the problem of the other parties.

Turnbull is saying what he has done isn’t popular, but the right thing to do. Commendable. He actually offered some sensible suggestions this morning for alternatives, particularly in relation to reducing small business costs. But he can’t begin to understand how unpopular this will be, and the way in which it will erode his party’s support among voters. Remember the bollocking Kim Beazley copped when he tried to amend the Howard Government’s tax cuts in 2005? This is like that — multiplied a hundred-fold, because it’s not about handouts so much as economic survival.

You fools. You utter fools.

There’s not even any intellectual rigour to Turnbull’s position. He insists that tax cuts should be brought forward. But in effect they HAVE been brought forward into the next five months via tax bonuses — which in any event exceed the tax cuts. He also claims it’s all about the kids — not leaving future generations to pay the price for our profligacy. Presumably Turnbull hasn’t met too many people who grew up in homes with both parents unemployed, or young adults who couldn’t find a job after leaving school or finishing training. They’ll be paying the price for this recession, very soon. And pity your party doesn’t apply that same logic of generational equity to climate change, Malcolm.

Yesterday in Question Time, when they belatedly got round to asking questions, the Opposition made much of comparing Rudd to Gough Whitlam. The inanity of this tactic was truly staggering. Like John Howard, who to the very end of his political life retained his 1970s view of trade unionists as folkloric ogres that he could scare voters with, the Liberals appear to think Gough Whitlam is some sort of demon, with whom association is an automatic negative. Those with a basic grasp of political history know that Gough ran the most inept government in Australian history (at least until the Iemma/Rees years). But most voters don’t have a basic grasp of political history. Most voters think Gough is some avuncular relic from a quaint era of bad hair and silly political songs. Who on earth is running the Opposition’s tactics committee and thinks this is a good idea?

Overnight and in The Age, backbencher Peter Costello was saying something critical of the Government. Whatever. No one cares about you anymore, Peter. Go away.

Rudd will be delighted with the Opposition’s stupidity. But he won’t be celebrating. Instead, he’ll be flexing his muscles and practising his swing. That mild-mannered, bespectacled bloke will be swinging the baseball bat, hard and without pity. And he’s going to hit the Liberals again, and again, and again, and again, and he’s not going to stop until they’re a bloodied mess.


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58 thoughts on “Turnbull’s stimulus suicide

  1. Jen L

    Turnbull & Co have upended a nation needing direction. The Vaucluse cruiser sounds like Billy McMahon every time he opens his mouth. Artificial and tricky rhetoric is the last thing this nation needs in such a crisis. Yes we’ve got a dysfunctional two-party system that needs fixing after this depression. Meantime can the two major parties call a truce to save a nation or is party credibility their consuming passion?

  2. Graemel

    So sad to see commentators such as yourself Mr Keane, so incapable of reason and common sense. Here we see the men with the credit card going hell for leather to rack up as much debt as their credit ratings will allow, with the simple and single purpose of buying the votes of you BK and all your maddie respondents here. No rhyme or reason for the extremes of the cash splash, the thousands of houses for soldiers, the insulation thingos and so on. The only sensible bit is the school upgrades – only designed to bail out his Labor premiers – but even that is way over the top.

    Hoping for some rational thinking from you Bernard – but when???

  3. Cathy

    Malcolm Turnbull’s reasons for blocking the stimulus package don’t add up. Not one of his objections to this cash splash alluded to ‘we may need to spend more”. In other words he was blocking it because it sounded ‘too much’. All the attempts to justify opposition to the stimulus package tumbled out as simplistic excuses from a smarting Liberal Party desperate to define itself – even at the expense of a nation.

  4. JamesK

    Kevin Rudd is insane.

    Forget about Parliamentary democracy. Rudd’s is a presidential rule and as close to a dictator as Australia has ever had. The Parliamentary Federal Labor Party is not without people of ability. I have absolutely no doubt that their voices are drowned out or simply ignored.

    Adam Schwab and Stephen Mayne point out the insanity of this “package”.

    So should Bernard Keane.

  5. Luke Buckmaster

    Well said Bernard. I am baffled by the Coalition’s idiocy on this matter; perhaps it’s part of a weird new tactic: lure voters by opposing free cash handouts! Seems a little, well, Brendan Nelson esque…

    And your comments re: Whitlam are spot on – they’d connect better if they likened K-Rudd to The Beagle Boys or Drop Dead Fred. At least then the majority of the populace would know who they were talking about.

  6. S. Slamming Sam

    “At least he is trying to do something” – so any excuse will do? How irresponsible.

    We’re talking about $42,000,000,000. An expensive “don’t worry, Uncle Kevin, is Doing Something” exercise.

  7. Venise Alstergren

    #3: despicable, an exercise in total self-interest and subversive. Jes-s I hope you, Malcolm Turnbull, will fall over your own grave.

  8. Bernard Keane

    As I said to a Coalition MP this afternoon, Rudd is out to destroy you as a legitimate political force. And if he succeeds with you, then he’ll turn and do the same to the Greens, and then to whoever else is left who disagrees with him.

    We’ve repeatedly underestimated Rudd. Not even John Howard aimed at destroying his Opposition. He wedged them, and ignored them, and assailed them, and tried to destroy their main source of funds in the union movement, but I’m not sure he ever countenanced wiping them out.

    The bloke is playing for keeps and Turnbull, whom we all thought would be a pro at this sort of thing, looks in deep trouble. The Opposition’s performance in Question Time was abysmal. The Government, even Swan, was virtually toying with them.

    Fans of parliamentary democracy ought to be worried.

  9. Jonathan at Crikey

    Must say Turnbull supporters may not have reassured by the man’s performance just now on 7.30 Report. Pwned I think is the expression. Add to that unconvincing, addled, and absurdly smug and I think you get the photo. It does not appear to have dawned on Malcolm that the other lot won the last election and they make the decisions now. That’s how it rolls.

  10. Tom McLoughlin

    Turnbull is dead right to demand a consultation process over such a huge drawn down on the national wealth.

    The Senate independents and Greens agree. No opposition no senate role.

    I watched Turnbull. It was a poor performance … by Kerry OBrien. He stopped asking questions and starting arguing. He interrupted the answers and spoke longer than the interview subject. That’s not very good work. And I like KO but he did poorly.

    The role of parliamentary scrutiny is being monstered at this critical time as Alan Ramsey suggested back in his piece in October 2008. KO and his 7.30 researchers ought go back and read it.

    Albanese is projecting his own failings referring to the ‘only reason for Opposition would be to play politics’. Coming from the ALP in Marrickivlle/Grayndler, that’s rich. Pure projection.

  11. Venise Alstergren

    This is the letter I wrote to Peter Costello this afternoon.

    Dear Peter Costello: Your own career has been an exercise in futility. Now you are but a backbench member of the shoddy Liberal Party. Malcolm Turnbull appears to be pushing to threaten supply: in the manner of Malcolm Fraser when he wanted to get rid of the Labor Party during the time of Gough Whitlam.
    Whereas your own career has provided a rich vein of comic relief to the nation; your new leader, Malcolm Turnbull, has set a low bench mark, beneath which not even an ant could walk .

    Yours faithfully

  12. sam from sunshine

    The argument that Rudd is positioning is clear. He cares, the other guys do not.

    The election of a Merchant Banker to lead the Liberal Party may be seen to be a decision that has consequences.

    Look at the US and see how well Merchant Bankers are regarded at this time.

    Guilt by association. 30 second TV grabs. An electorate used to being told by the Public Media how they should think and act.

    If for some reason the legislation does not get up in the Senate – Double Dissolution anyone. Just imagine how fast Xenofielding would act in the face of this prospect.

  13. Dr Harvey M Tarvydas

    You’re hot today Bernard with this article. My sister (Tarvydas) has been hot today with national and international multi-media coverage so I and family love media. But I am a scientist (and a medical doctor – the unscientific bit) and try to be intellectual but the media maul me in a most ugly way) so your comment “The Coalition and much of the media haven’t worked out that politics …..” inspires my comment … they respond not work anything out (media I am talking about) they can’t unless it relates to their genitals or they are following directions. Those hired for their intellect (a few) try to demonstrate it but also have directions which compromise their intellect thrust at them too often.

  14. Spammy

    Holy batsh!t batman, I can’t believe they could be so stupid

    As my kids would say – epic fail

  15. JamesK

    What an extraordinary take by Bernard Keane on the Opposition’s decision to vote against this extraordinarily insane Rudd “stimulation package”.

    Keane comes from the leftist school of thought that posits that the people are too stupid to be told the truth to. The same school that David Sanderson is a fully paid-up member to.

    Almost $13 billion in fresh cash handouts following hard on the heels of the pre-Christmas $10 billion cash handout. Mind-bogglingly massive infrastructure spending on schools, the only caveat apparently is that the money is spent quickly.

    Such spending will do nothing to position business and the economy in a good ‘productive’ infrastructure environment in which to compete internationally during difficult times and to then to capitalise on the recovery, which Paul Keating at least, does not expect for some 4-7 years.

    What a relief to finally see Turnbull display some courage. Good on him!

  16. Graemel

    So sad to see commentators such as yourself Mr Keane, so incapable of reason and common sense. Here we see the men with the credit card going hell for leather to rack up as much debt as their credit ratings will allow, with the simple and single purpose of buying the votes of you BK and all your maddie respondents here. No rhyme or reason for the extremes of the cash splash, the thousands of houses for soldiers, the insulation thingos and so on. The only sensible bit is the school upgrades – only designed to bail out his Labor premiers – but even that is way over the top.

    Hoping for some rational thinking from you Bernard – but when???

  17. Frank Birchall

    Well said, Bernard, but I can’t let your throwaway line about Whitlam’s inept government go through to the keeper. The Whitlam government had many faults but how many people today are aware of its accomplishments? These include: the Trade Practices Act, major tariff reductions, no-fault divorce, Medibank, recognition of China, state aid to private schools, free tertiary education, steps towards equal pay for women and regional development. All of this achieved in three years whilst beset by the “born to rule brigade” ( the Coalition and supporters) who, aided and abetted by the Premiers of NSW and Queensland, conducted a relentless destabilising campaign that culminated in the double dissolution of 1974 and the dismissal of 1975. These accomplishments are a reasonable counterweight to the ineptitude on the other side of the scales.

  18. Tom McLoughlin

    Well I’ve been traversing the big media and cross referencing alot of it on my blog. So I notice your piece is less about sound policy and more about real politik. Is that right?

    I reserve my opinion on that. I’m not so alarmed about unemployment. It’s unfortunate but it’s not the only metric of a viable society in a recession. Even 10% unemployment in 1982-3 and 8 percent or so in 1990-91 didn’t see social collapse by a long long way. ABS stats here: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/94713ad445ff1425ca25682000192af2/bc7ec6b46d35dcabca256fe9007bfe27!OpenDocument

    I’m old enough to remember both periods working in a bottle shop and a commercial law firm.

    Unlike those times, there is a credible and reasonable explanation – our export markets are drying up in an unprecedented synchronised downturn.

    At some point the politics ought to, might possibly, relate to the realities. For instance intergenerational equity where our debts are loaded onto the kids of the future. Much like the ecological debt and climate change momentum has been loaded up on them.

    Now you are saying it’s okay to keep maxing the credit card rather than go on a big painful diet. All because people have grown accustomed to near full employment and immediate gratification. No wonder the churches are getting frustrated with these giant handouts as temporary and insubstantial values to build one’s life on.

    People are talking on local sydney abc radio this morning about buying a plasma for Australia. This kind of fantasy life priority could well actually destroy the country.

    Soo okay as Hartcher and Gittins and Taylor say in the press today the Rudd Govt reckons this huge deficit builds a bridge to a recovered capitalism, a recuperation of the global economy. But will it really recover? What if in fact we are actually in a Singapore pre Japanese invasion type reality with overfed party boys and girls living in denial? It didn’t stop the invasion. And there was a huge cost to that denial.

  19. Jenny

    Watched Turnbull dealing with Kerry O’Brien last night too. I found Kerry’s thinking a little muddled, he was trying to say Australia was America, a kind of leap of illogic. We all know the Americans had unfettered banks, unfettered capitalism. Australia did not, it had smart regulations in place since 1997. I was disappointed in Kerry O’Brien, is he panicked like the rest of the media? Maybe it sells more newspapers?

    As usual, Turnbull had clear concise answers to the questions. Maybe everyone’s so used to waffle and spin these days, they can no longer decipher plain English. Turnbull was a Rhodes scholar at University of Oxford just like our beloved Bob Hawke, and I’m sorry guys, but the quality shows no matter what side of poltics they’re from.

    I don’t buy the idea that Turnbull is another rotten merchant banker as the Labour Party is now simplistically trying to assert in a dirty smeer campaign. He was an Australian animal after all. (Please refer to first paragraph.)

    These guys are truly rattled. I mean to say, pink bats in the ceiling might not just be dwelling in your rooftops, it seems they are already rife in some panicked minds. Are pink bats going to save jobs, that is the question? I’d say not!

    I voted out Howard as the far right got a hold of that party in a big way, and they forgot about the idea of public service & a social safety net. Now Turnbull is getting them back on track.

    I’d say we should all agree to a national spend month, and do it out of our own pockets Keynesian style. Don’t put our kids in debt.

    Or if we must ” spend, spend, spend” I agree with Bishop/Costello/Turnbull. Target the spending well and spend less, don’t reel about like drunken sailors. It feels like we’re all going to go off to buy trinkets or bats, when really we need specific well thought out targets.

  20. gxdata

    ABC 720 Perth (Perth)
    Mornings – 4/02/2009 9:22 AM
    Geoff Hutchison
    Julie Bishop, Shadow Treasurer joins the program to discuss the economic
    stimulus package. Bishop says the Oppn will not support the package
    because they believe it is poorly targeted and irresponsible in today’s
    economic climate. She says they will oppose the package because it is not a
    responsible or sustainable way to run the national economy. Bishop says
    they know their decision will not be popular but it is the right decision. Bishop
    says all economist agree the recession has a long way to go but the Rudd
    Government is panicking and firing all its bullets at the first engagement. She
    says the objective of the package must be to protect and create jobs, support
    small business and strengthen the economy and the package will not
    achieve this. Bishop says they have suggested a package up to $20b would
    be more affordable and appropriate and it should be targeted in areas that it
    will achieve the protection and security of jobs. Bishop does not agree with
    the infrastructure section of the package because infrastructure takes a long
    time to get up and running and will not stimulate the economy now. She says
    nothing in the package is about protecting the predicted 300,000 job losses
    to come. Bishop says Malcolm Turnbull has brought a new style of
    leadership to Aust and he is offering to sit down with the Government and put
    forward the Oppn’s alternatives. Bishop says the PM has told them to take
    their package or leave it, she says there is no room for an assessment of
    other ideas. Bishop says the Austn economy is vastly different from the US
    and UK economies and it is more secure. Bishop talks about the budget
    deficit. Hutchison says Government is making policy on the run to some
    extent because the economic situation has been moving so quickly.

  21. S. Slamming Sam

    Bernard –

    Your shrieking hysterics are breathtaking.

    Ill-conceived public panic statements from economic hacks such as yourself are half the reason public confidence is so low in what is one of the best financial systems in the world.

    Seriously, go back to the public service already.


  22. Venise Alstergren

    If Rudd’s contempt for parliament is so profound I would have to ask myself, has parliament done something to deserve this disrespect? World’s longest pause. Tick one of the following boxes. They have earned the contempt of the Australian electorate by dint of failing to understand they were actually thrown out of power at the last election 1. ( ) Massively so. 2 ( ) certainly. 3. ( )Dunno.

    Anyway, thanks for the information.



  23. Jenny

    Goodness me. What hysteria, from both Our Bernard and Our Kev! I think Bridget Jones summed up male breast beating so well, ” Emotional Fuckwittage” is in rampant ascendancy here.

    Where are the cool heads in a time of crisis. I’d say Julie Bishop is more on the money there as well as Costello and Turnbull.

    I really resent the press’ ubiquitous assumption that we are all dimwitted idiots with our greasy palms held out continually for a mere pittance. ( Some of us read ” The Spectator” after all). Especially when the pittance is multiplied by a few million palms and is guaranteed to do nothing in the long run and send us all broke.

    What happened to better bandwidth .. where on earth did that bandwagon disappear to? ( education and business opportunities), better ports ( ships banked up there at Newcastle, better trade opportunities), better roads, rail and public transport. I’m sure there are other things that would set us up better for the long run. Cut taxes now ( more sustained spending, not just a quick rush) and raise them again letter. Is this rocket science?

    Feed us some long term solutions, not loliies please?

    I voted for this lot and I am starting to get embarassed. Well, I have been for a while actually.

    STOP panicking and really think things through please. It’s our country too. I so agree with Merri. Debate, debate, debate. PLEASE!

  24. Venise Alstergren

    Olé, olé Bernard. Spot on. I kow-tow to you. In fact, when I first heard the news I accidentaly shifted my car into reverse. The person behind me wasn’t thrilled.

    These are desperate times. Certainly Rudd’s last effort benefited the cheap Chinese tacky market, and the gaming industry. But he is trying to do something. Cannot anyone here realize what would have been NOT done by the Howard government and the whinging Peter Costello?

    For Malcolm Turnbull to threaten supply-and that’s what he wants-a, and subversive.

    Well done Malcolm: been reading what happened to the Gough Whitlam Labor Party under the Coalition led by Malcolm Fraser? You are merely setting in stone one of my fundamental beliefs. Namely the Liberal/Country Party/National Party was founded by lower class white trash: and is proud to remain so.

  25. David Sanderson

    Bernard has got it right here. Labor has convinced people that the government must play a substantial and early role in heading off the slump. Voters were already looking forward to their cash bonuses and the big improvements to the primary school down the road. They are going to be furious that economic policy is being thwarted and the benefits for them in the package are being endangered.

    Turnbull will wear the blame for this although it is clear that the lack of a credible shadow Treasurer at his side, one who could warn him about the folly he was about to embark upon, is a big part of the Liberal mess. I happened to hear Bishop stumbling over her question comparing Rudd to Whitlam and it was pathetic and sad to hear her come across like a middling high school debater who is unaware how juvenile she sounds. Swan, a wooden parliamentary performer, responded by pointing out how out how out of her depth she was and generally walked all over her.

    I did think that Turnbull was a serious threat to Rudd . His more open and easy personality did seem appealing compared to Rudd’s fiercely buttoned-up banality but he has been immensely disappointing. Instead of finding and articulating a new Liberal vision he has become a standard issue Liberal leader who has a lawyer’s slipperiness with the truth and a tiresome obsession with cheap point scoring. Like most Liberal leaders he treats the electorate as something to be manipulated rather than led. If his leadership fails where on earth will the LIberals turn?

  26. Spammy

    Thanks for playing Graemel and although you didn’t win any prizes tonight, here’s a complimentary mouse pad or would you prefer a fridge magnet? the choice is yours

    Just make sure you “get the balance right”

  27. Jared

    The stench of hysteria is overwhelming. Let’s put the Australian stimulus package in perspective. This new round of $42 billion (spread over several years) brings the total to $52 billion so far.

    Compare this to America, which is in the process of passing an AUD $1.2 TRILLION stimulus package on top of the AUD $1 trillion bailout package it passed last year.

    If you adjust for the population, that would be $240 billion if the same kind of money was spent by our government. Needless to say, we are far from requiring that sort of action, as our financial industry has not collapsed, but it shows the magnitude of what’s going on overseas.

    I think the idea to set up a government bank is a sensible measure, as the arteries for global credit will be constricting for some time. Our economy needs the credit currently supplied by foreign lenders to function, and if the government can step in a temporary substitue, that should bide us some time even if we do follow the rest of the world into recession.

    I would suggest people start learning Mandarin like dear leader, because our northern comrades are best placed to bail the world out of this mess.

  28. JamesK

    I read this morning that Rudd’s ‘stimulus package’ passed the lower house.

    The vote on the legislation passed after 15 hours of debate much of it, including the final vote, in the absence of both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.

    Of course, this only serves to bolster Turnbull’s observation that Rudd shows contempt for Parliament. I think Turnbull is correct.

  29. Venise Alstergren

    S.Slamming Sam: Oh dear, have I been inarticulate in expressing my distaste for Australian politicians? Let me see. I’m trying to get the point accross that Malcolm Turnbull seems to have been a retrograde step for the major conservative party in Australia. I, along with many other people, have been disappointed by Turnbull’s innate bellicosity towards the Labor Party, rather than attempting to understand the mental processes of the electorate. His absolute conviction in his own divine leadership. Pales into insignificance alongside his total lack of political nouse. It would appear he thought he was imagining he could lead the Liberal Party at a canter, To me he comes across an a Falstaffian tragic, but without Falstaff’s humanity.

    Kevin Rudd, on the other hand, is a person whom I dislike-most intensely. He is a mediocrity, a banal little man who would be our dictator. Unfortunately, he appears to have an instinct for the electorate’s mind set which is dazzling.

    Now that I have underlined what I was trying to say before. And done so in words of more than one syllable, perhaps you could understand there are times when I like resorting to a sort of verbal shorthand. This is because, in general, Crikey has an extremely well educated and multi-talented readership. Notice that I used the phrase ‘in general’.


  30. Merri


    Should all politics be conducted like this? No debate. Just pass it in the house.

    It’s silly ideas like this that resulted in:

    Draconian anti-terror laws
    The Iraq war
    The US Fed cutting rates to 1% and creating the subprime boom and bust.

    Short term panicked politics has to stop!

  31. Naomi Cartledge

    Michael T “I sympathise with Malcolm – it’s hard to see any good options for him in these circumstances. ” I don’t have one ounce of sympathy for him. Last night on the 7.30 Report, he asserted that Rudd will be responsible for a $200 BILLION debt – he included in this, the over $115 billion of taxes that the Govt won’t receive due to the financial crisis – this is A LIE – it’s a lie to include this figure in the Rudd govt’s impending debt! I don’t like liars – Kevin Rudd is not responsible for this – the greedy bastards on Wall St in the US are! People in a similar ‘occupation’ that Malcolm Turnbull got his many millions from! He’s as bad as those in the US govt, who aren’t in favour of these scoundrels having their bonuses capped at $500,000. They are so greedy, that they took billions of dollars, while the ‘little taxpayers’ are helping them out! They have no conscience, no scruples, and their greed is breathtaking!

    Malcolm Turnbull has just put himself squarely in their company – and the rest of the Conservatives have followed him! As to being forced into quick decisions; he conveniently forgets the gag and guillotine used by Howard – frequently! I recall the so-called Anti-terror Legislation introduced on Melbourne Cup day, and the Worst Choices Legislation was also rushed through; members were denied the opportunity to even put their views on the record – Howard cut off the debate after a very short time! Turnbull said zilch! The silence from the others on his side was deafening! The hypocrisy is nauseating! I hope they are decimated – they deserve to be! I also agree with the comment re Peter Costello. He’s been free-loading on us since November 2007; he advocates Worst Choices being tougher! He’d be sacked under an AWA, and would be denied access to ‘unfair dismissal’ laws – he has another job, while he accepts a salary from us! A real parasite! Go away Peter indeed!

  32. spotbanana

    Interesting though a bit hysterical analysis. The Bull has really got himself in hot water over this, and Hockey looks more and more like the barking bulldog, all het up over the injustices that the Ruddites serve the electorate. Bernard, you have done a nice job at this, though you were a bit tough on Gough.

    Is it time for Uncle Pete to come out to play before he becomes Uncle Nobody?

  33. S. Slamming Sam

    Venise – thanks for the explaination – point taken. However, there have been many other ‘voices’ in the media and on forums like this proclaiming that ‘Doing Something’ as underwriting any alternative criticism of Rudd’s actions.

    Bernard – “Fans of parliamentary democracy ought to be worried.” Yes they should be. And so-called ‘Independent Media’ outlets should also know better as to not go into hysterics and promote decision-before-debate politics. The vast majority of Australians don’t spend as much time each day analysing media, politics and reading between the lines. Please be more responsible next time.

  34. spotbanana

    Tom McLoughlin writes:

    “I watched Turnbull. It was a poor performance … by Kerry OBrien. He stopped asking questions and starting arguing. He interrupted the answers and spoke longer than the interview subject. That’s not very good work. And I like KO but he did poorly.”

    Actually, I saw it rather differently. When one begins one’s answers using vocatives, especially the interviewer’s first name, that is a pretty clear signal that the interviewee is in an argumentative mode. Turnbull was the one who decided to treat the interview as a personal argument against O’Brien. Turnbull avoided the simple answers, but when pressured, gave extremely patronising responses. Also, it’s what Turnbull didn’t say that needs illuminating, like the fact that he and the gang have known that an announcement such as this was on the cards for a while. To falsely claim to be surprised at the 48 hours notice is a nice attempt by the Bull to regain a little credibility, but it didn’t work, at least not on the 7:30 report.

    Remember this article was about the politics of the package, even though many have spouted their alternative views to the merits of the package. I’ll go with the IMF strategy involving swiftness and decisiveness that O’Brien quoted rather than some of the shady ideas of some here.

  35. JamesK

    Another nonsensical post from pseudo-intellectual moonbat extraordinaire David Sanderson.

    The ‘argument’, for want of a better word, put forward by David Sanderson actually bolsters rather than detracts from Turnbull’s discriminating criticism of Rudd’s cavalier attitude to parliamentary process.

  36. The Colonel

    Bernard is spot on this time especially about the politics of Turnbull’s decision. Whoever is advising Malcolm should be taken out the back and given a revolver to dorequested to do the gentlemanly thing-but the way Turnbull allows himself to fall for this hokey old Liberal Party stuff shows he is still a very bad poltician, no mater how clever he is.

    Those screaming the loudest-the ones over $100K a year are the very ones who still think Whitlam was a disaster (a popular myth-if he had been allowed to fulfil his pledges we would never have had a Howard treasurer ) but as poltics he preacehs to the young who simply don’t know who Gough is apart from being very old, and the other half are evenly divided on Gough’s rule.

    But why anyone thinks they will thank Turnbull and his party for a few dollars a week tax cut instead of nearly a grand in a one off payment, plus voting down all the infrastructure projects is a mystery.

    Instead, apart from causing real damage-they hand Rudd a gift. He can now blame them for not only being the cause of he problem but for delaying the solution. Turnbul should be offering bi-partisan support-he can never win office under the present financial crisis but he risks being seen as irrelevant.

    Shame-as he has a lot to offer.

  37. yofussn

    um, whose the hypocrit.!.

  38. John Bryan

    Go Bernard. Get it out of you. Good article.

  39. David Sanderson

    Please explain James how it bolsters “Turnbull’s discriminating criticism” (which I agree is so so much better than his undiscriminating – his undiscriminating criticism is complete bullshit).

    Pseudo-intellectual moonbats (the ordinaire ones, the extraordinaire ones, and everything in between) around the world are dying to know.

  40. JamesK

    Why give me all the ‘tough questions’ Venise?

    I guess we are supposed to be a parliamentary democracy rather than an executive presidential democracy.

    This “package” represents the spending of a mind boggling $43 billion in an unprecedented short time frame.

    Rudd was unreasonably attempting to wedge the Opposition into approving this unprecedented legislation with less than 48 hours notice.

    Anybody reasonable (which excludes David Sanderson of course) would justifiably described this as an insult to the usual democratic process respected by the overwhelming majority of Australians.

  41. Chris Johnson

    A brilliant serve to a gob-smackingly stupid opposition totally spooked on their inner misgivings. The Liberals haven’t got policies just philosophies that were temporarily rendered useless by the Howard virus about which they did nothing. Costello buried himself in his memoirs, Vaile took off with Virgin via Arabia and Downer went casual on Cyprus all oblivious to revivalist issues but keen for a Nelson crucifixion. Last week when the PM socked it to the conservatives for being part of the free-market debacle he notionally stripped them of their core values. They believe him! Which is why they’re grandstanding as a pack of bas*ards. They have to find something to stand for. Call for the democracy doctor, the Libs are about to kark it.

  42. Venise Alstergren

    Have any of you watched Channel 2 this evening? Malcolm Turnbull revealed himself once and forever, as being consumed with his own matchless self-believe. He ignored at least one of Ketty O’Brien’s major questions, waffled on like an elderly spinster and ensured Kevin Rudd’s complete domination over all the political parties.

    And when, at some stage in the future, your children (I’m talking both of the major parties here) ask you: why is it forbidden to discuss politics? Why do we live in a country where the thought police dictate how we are to think?

    You can say to yourselves. I allowed our Dictator to become the monster he is. Why did I place personal political interests above the welfare of the country?

    I am a Labor voter. I can see where Kevin Rudd is heading. Why aren’t all of you united in protest about this little man?

  43. JamesK

    Jeez what an indictment!

    Marilyn belittling an association between Iraq and….. well…… anything.

    This “stimulus package” is insane and must be stopped. Furthermore, Rudd should be removed as leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister of this country.

    Before it’s too late.

  44. Spammy

    *********** have no idea who Edward Gough Whitlam was*********

    Damn, he has “three names” ?,

    I always figured he was just “Gough”… you know, like 50cent? 😉

  45. Tom McLoughlin

    And I notice the house position in the editorial yesterday was hopefully a high level of immigration to continue.

    I see this as rich folks in govt and media on good fat wages and no concerns about finding and keeping shelter continuing to cannabalise the scarce economic and environmental resources of this land to prop themselves up there. In short the growth fetish. And this is quite distinct from refugee policy.

    What the country actually needs is a zero population growth policy. And so does every other country.

  46. JamesK

    I had not seen 7.30 Report tonight but since the ever nausea inducing and predictably conceitedly disparaging Jonathan Green gave it a ‘pwned’ rating (…ur so fully ‘sick’, Jonathan), I checked it out:


    And indeed no: Reality bore no relationship to Jonathan’s “I think you get the photo”.
    “That’s how it rolls”……..Indeed!

    It was a sober and sensible Turnbull behaving as a calm dissenting opposition leader should in a nationally broadcast interview under the quite extraordinary circumstances of the past two days.

  47. An Big Whiny Baby



  48. bill

    Am I displaying my considerable age? Whitlam as the most inept government? What about Julian McMahon’s father, Billy Big Ears unlamented administration (now there’s a trivia night question) or for that matter John Grey Gorton? There are a number of previous administrations that may qualify as worst or equal worst.
    Secondly, most young people I speak to (who are eligble to vote) have no idea who Edward Gough Whitlam was. Bernard, eighteen year olds voting in the last election may well have were born nearly 14 years after Gough was sacked. Indeed, voters who can remember Gough are now at least 35. Most voters have no idea who he was.

  49. Daniel

    This “stimulus package” is insane and must be stopped. Furthermore, Rudd should be removed as leader of the Labor Party and Prime Minister of this country.

    Before it’s too late.


  50. MichaelT

    Quite right, Bernard.

    The government’s measures are seen as the ‘rescue package’. The only thing that can go wrong for the government is that their stimulus proves to be too small, not that the deficit is seen as being too large.

    The Opposition is in a difficult place. Their role is to oppose, but opposing a resuce package is not good politics. Supporting it won’t win them votes either. Saying ‘yes, but’ is always a difficult message to get across.

    I sympathise with Malcolm – it’s hard to see any good options for him in these circumstances.

  51. Venise Alstergren

    Jillian: Yeah, I know where you are coming from. I guess the reason I brought it up was because it re-affirmed to me that Turnbull doesn’t seem to think we learn from the past. Rather that the past should be rehashed and presented as today’s cure-all.
    Anyway I think I’ve written out of my system most of my hatred at the Liberal Party’s death-defying insanity. A good night’s sleep will recharge my batteries.



  52. Justin

    This is one of the biggest spending packages in the nation’s history, and to ram it through Parliament in just 48 hours was downright irresponsible.

    The opposition and public had little more than an hour for each billion that was going to be spent to scrutinise the package.

  53. Allan

    The baseball bat should be used on the idiot
    who introduced a $42billion bid into parliment
    with no discussion and allow no time to debate
    the bill.
    This bill was put together by a pack
    of ex union reps and professional pollies
    with no feel for the real world.
    Hope u do ok at the next labour

  54. Venise Alstergren

    Sorry JamesK, my last comment was for you.


  55. Jillian

    Your comment that Malcolm Turnbull appears to be pushing to threaten supply is really drawing a long bow. Opposing an expenditure package is a long way from blocking supply. Blocking supply would involve stopping all government expenditure, including routine expenditure that has already been approved by parliament, like the public service payroll and pensions etc. I cannot imagine that it will come to that. Malcolm is entitled to oppose expenditure packages. Otherwise there would be not much point in having an opposition – it would be words only.

  56. David Sanderson

    This is juvenile rubbish James. Unlike you, Rudd and Gillard have a heavy worlkoad and cannot afford to stay up all night. Their votes were not necessary to get it passed so therefore they were entitled to get some sleep.

    There was no contempt of parliament but there is plenty of contempt for you.

  57. Marilyn

    This is a package that will not kill people but will house them. It will not drag innocent people off the streets and jail them, it will help re-build their children’s schools.

    The lunacy of trying to link this to Iraq and terror laws just debunked in two sentences.

    I do have to wonder why Turncow thought that a $5 a week tax cut brought forward would be even remotely useful and Bishop seems to think that if everyone pays less tax the coffers will magically have more tax.

    As for Pistol Pete – has he forgotten that under him nothing happened at all. All we did was dig up stuff for China and make coffee.

    20,000 public housing units are much needed, a further almost 4,000 to be repaired has to be done.

    After all this is only about 1.5% of GDP over 3 years.

    Talk about breathtaking madness.

  58. Tim

    This financial package is just the sort of ‘Reprehensible Behavior’ that Malcolm has been looking for. If he can only get Field to vote with him in the Senate, then he can go to the GG and …

    Only it’s Fielding , not Field this time. Come on, you know you want to.

    Any sort of ‘rescue package’ that we throw at this firestorm doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. It has all the romance and faith of cloud seeding – the gallant Aussie Tiger Moth throwing any amount of voodoo science into the vast stratosphere in order to prise loose those pennies from heaven.

    I rather like the advice Keynes gave Australia in 1932, that “.. the main objects of statesmanship should be to stagger along somehow until the rest of the world pulls itself together “. I suggest the government is doing just that.

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