Jan 19, 2015

Coalition’s crony capitalism makes communication harder

The Coalition's economic agenda is straightforward crony capitalism. No wonder they can't explain it to voters.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

In its first two terms, a kind of economic vision of Australia emerged from the Howard government. There were some areas, like tax and industrial relations, that amounted to unfinished business from the Hawke-Keating years. But the real Howard agenda was based on a concept that might be called Homo Aspirationis: a voter not merely freed to pursue individual enrichment, but incentivised to do so. Workers would break free of their union-imposed chains and become individual contractors and miniature corporations; they would send their children to private schools rather than rely on public education; they would live in sprawling McMansions funded by family tax benefits, they would use private healthcare instead of “socialised medicine”; they would share in the bounty of privatisation via asset sales targeted at “Mum and Dad shareholders” (the married, heterosexual, child-bearing couple of course being the Edenic state of Homo Aspirationis). Australia would become a shareholder democracy of rugged individualists heavily subsidised by government.

In the last two terms of that government, aspects of this vision lingered, but it was increasingly swamped by Howard’s constant bribing of voters and, once control of the Senate was secured, long-dormant psycho-pathologies such as Howard’s hatred of the union movement, inculcated during the wages explosion of the early 1980s when he was treasurer.

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36 thoughts on “Coalition’s crony capitalism makes communication harder

  1. SusieQ

    Excellent and sad at the same time. All we can do is hang in there till the next election and hope there are some viable alternatives.

  2. Wayne Cusick

    Maybe it’s time we all wrote to the Governor-General asking him to put Abbott’s government out of our misery.

  3. Norman Hanscombe

    I suppose we in the ALP can feel proud that despite the ability of Union Powerbrokers to over-ride Local Branch members’ wishes and determine who gets what in seats and other positions, there has been absolutely no attempt to use that power in a way that resembles cronyism?

  4. wayne robinson

    The ANU’s decision to divest itself of Santos shares was financially sensible even at the time it was done. The share price had been on the slide even before it underwent its plunge in December. Retaining the shares even at the time would have been irrational.

  5. David Hand

    Here we have a long meandering piece designed to deliver Keane’s punch-line for the day, “Crony Capitalism”. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Bernard that the Coalition’s support for coal might have less to do with looking after Glencore and Rio Tinto and more to do with looking after regional towns who will be devastated by the demise of their local coal mines. There are dozens of regional towns across New South Wales and Queensland who are likely to lose their economic mainstay in the next two years.

    I think that coal, particularly thermal coal, is in terminal decline and regional NSW in particular, where most of the coal mined is thermal, is in for a very painful period of adjustment. But I would never expect such policy considerations to make it into a commentary piece in Crikey while the editorial position of your campaigning organ is to paint the government as corrupt.

    Crony capitalism? Ask the residents of regional NSW about that.

  6. Karen

    @David Hand – if the alleged altruistic support of regional Australia is the primary motivation for gifting tax dollars to the mining industries, than what is your theses for the handouts given to the other LNP donating business mates at the absolute expense of everybody else? Or is it simply a coincidence? Give me a break.

  7. Luke Hellboy

    I suppose it will be a coincidence when a bunch of the government politicians get lucrative “consulting” jobs in the finance and resource extraction industries after their parliamentary careers. It’s not corruption if you take your bribe after you leave office.(Alexander Downer at Woodside a prime example.)

  8. Recalcitrant.Rick

    And their might be a ton of work there in renewables, if only Abbott wasn’t so intent on destroying the industry. David, as usual, the sound of one hand clapping. Why don’t you swivel round in your chair and tell Peta that no-one is listening anymore!

  9. Recalcitrant.Rick

    And there 🙁

  10. David Hand

    What tax dollars, Karen? I guess you’re talking about that trusty perennial, the diesel rebate?

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