Yesterday was one of those “sod this for a game of soldiers” days that makes you think the whole damn election campaign is not merely a waste of time but an insult to anyone with a functioning brain.
First, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s “Growing The North: A Plan For Northern Australia”. You’ve probably already read how Labor dismissed such nonsense from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott earlier in the year. The Coalition was, predictably, a little miffed that Rudd had rolled out his own Northern Vision, and by 5pm produced a media release titled “Only the Coalition is Serious About Developing Northern Australia”. For a moment, I was hoping they’d re-use the asylum seeker template and announce a three-star general for Northern Australia, but it was merely a complaint that Rudd wasn’t serious with his plan, when the Coalition, whose plan is for a white paper, was.
Rudd’s Vision Thing wasn’t quite a “thought bubble”; it was a little more solid than that. “Thought balloon” is probably more accurate. The Prime Minister wants a “Northern Special Economic Zone” characterised by “simplifying investment rules, streamlining regulation and application processes for major projects, and introducing new tax incentives with the objective of reducing the company tax rate for Northern Territory based companies in five years”. He wants to expand the Ord Irrigation Scheme to boost agriculture and to develop “20-year growth plans for the regional hubs of Darwin, Cairns, Townsville and Mackay”.
So the Coalition only has a white paper, but Kevin has a plan for some plans. I mean, is this bloke serious?
Southern state politicians immediately wondered why they weren’t going to benefit from such a vision — and, indeed, it’s a perfectly good question as to why, if Rudd can simplify investment rules and streamline regulation and application processes for northern Australia, he can’t do it for everywhere else. Or why it was only a few days ago that Rudd was complaining about the Coalition’s plans for a corporate tax cut at the expense of Australian families when suddenly cutting corporate taxes is a great way to stimulate investment oop norf.
If this garbage from Rudd was all part of a plan to get Bob Katter’s preferences, well, maybe it makes a vague, cynical kind of sense. But if it’s the best you can do in the vision department, Prime Minister, it’s no wonder your campaign is flagging with three weeks to go.
And just like it was absent from the Coalition’s Northern Australia noodlings, climate change is missing from Rudd’s vision thing. The Northern Australia Land and Water Taskforce, in its Sustainable Development of Northern Australia report released in December 2009, warned in its otherwise glowingly positive 2030 scenario:
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“The effects of climate change have made the north hotter and largely drier, although in some places, wetter. Overall, there is less water available than in 2000. The region is subject to more extremes of weather, with the intensity of severe floods, tropical storms and cyclones in 2030 exceeding Twentieth Century averages. The sea level has risen, on average, by 0.3 metres since the year 2000, inundating low-lying areas such as Kakadu’s World Heritage-listed wetlands, and increasing the vulnerability of infrastructure such as ports and processing facilities on Cape York and in the Kimberley.”
“It’s boring waiting for you to stop with the banal hypocrisy of everyday politics and actually treat voters as intelligent adults. Show us you’re better than that.”
Not to mention that the health of a key Northern Australia tourism industry driver, the Great Barrier Reef, is now by the government’s own admission “poor”.
Still, never mind actual reality now. See the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, instead.
Yesterday was also the day shadow treasurer Joe Hockey decided that voters would be “bored” hearing about costings for the Coalition’s policies — costings that Abbott suggested in his ABC interview last night would not appear until near the end of the campaign.
Boring to hear about your costings, Joe? I’ll tell you what’s boring: hearing you and your side of politics incessantly talk about debt, and deficits, and insisting that you’ll do better with the budget, and never producing an iota, not a scrap, of evidence to back up your claims. It’s boring that you treated voters with contempt in 2010 with that accounting firm stunt, abrogating the Charter of Budget Honesty that you lot established. It’s boring listening to you attack Labor for being reckless spenders when you never publicly endorsed a single savings measure put forward by Wayne Swan or Chris Bowen. I even asked you on Twitter once to name a single Labor saving you had publicly endorsed and you thought it was a ludicrous question and offered to provide a list of them. That list never appeared, even after I followed up with your office.
Yep, it’s boring, all right. You’re supposed to be the grown-up one, Joe, the bloke whose stewardship of the economy we can trust even if Abbott is openly contemptuous of economics. You’re the bloke who is supposed to be carrying the torch of fiscal rigour and economic good sense into a new Coalition government. If the economy was sailing along pre-GFC style with revenue pouring into government coffers and a healthy global environment, the “boring” line might ring a bit truer. But you know it isn’t. You know there’s no magic reset button to restore the pre-GFC world. You know that governments around Australia are struggling with low-growth revenues while Australians demand more and more from governments. That’s why you think it’s a good idea to revisit the GST, although that’s now off the agenda.
It’s boring waiting for you to stop with the banal hypocrisy of everyday politics and actually treat voters as intelligent adults. Show us you’re better than that.