This was the moment. After the disaster that was the federal election, after all the talk of squat toilets and UN climate conspiracies, it was time for Malcolm Turnbull to get on with the business of governing. His speech yesterday was to lay out the economic challenges facing Australia, and outline a broad vision for how to transition our economy from the mining boom to what comes next.

Turnbull was badly wedged by Nick Xenophon’s economic protectionism during the election campaign, so surely he would acknowledge that Australia has fallen out of love with globalisation.

Here was Turnbull:

“Protectionism offers nothing but declining living standards to Australia. Regional Australia in particular has a vital vested interest in our opening more markets — indeed the agricultural export ‘dining boom’ has offset, at least in part, the consequences of the downturn in mining construction activity in many parts of regional Australia.”

That is disingenuous. As Turnbull well knows, protectionism offers more than declining living standards. It also offers the state of South Australia, bought for a $50 billion submarine contract.

And at a time when Turnbull needed to show real leadership, to get the country back on track after all of the nonsense and distractions we’ve had in the past few weeks, this was the most interesting part of the speech:

“We took our positive economic plan for investment, jobs and growth to the election and now returned to Government, we will work to deliver it.

[Interruption]

It’s going to be a long three years.

Peter Fray

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