20 September 2015

The right balance

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

- Newton's Third Law of Motion
The Liberal right are convinced they can trash the Turnbull government in the same way that they trashed the Rudd and Gillard governments. They might just be able to do it, but if they do the Liberal Party forfeits its position as a party of government.

Our notoriously obtuse press gallery thinks it detects a "stoush" or a "split", but there's more going on here: a wholesale redefinition of the Liberal Party. The Liberal right like it the way it is - small, ageing, reactionary, and with its liver-spotted hands on the levers of government, jamming the gears and sending things into reverse wherever possible.

I doubt Turnbull's progressive instincts, and his political competence. While it is unlikely he will transform the Liberal Party single-handedly it is possible that he could unleash reforming forces beyond his control, similar to those who made it to the top of eastern European Communist regimes in the late 1980s. No-one else in the Liberal Party is remotely capable of this. This is why Turnbull is the Liberal right's worst nightmare. This is why they're arcing up: they face losing control of the Liberal Party if Turnbull, and people like Mike Baird, succeed.

Working with smart people

What follows here sounds like some sort of paean to the corporate sector of the sort you might see from Ayn Rand or Pamela Williams. That isn't my intention. I'm trying to show how certain people seem to think and follow those thoughtlines to (what seems like) their logical conclusion.

In the late 1990s, when the Chinese mining boom was starting to take off, Malcolm Turnbull was head of Goldman Sachs Australia and Julie Bishop was managing partner of the Perth office of law firm Clayton Utz. These people worked on big deals with tough, clever people, capable of nuanced thought and thinking several steps ahead. These are people who would rather pay a skilled worker $300k to get a mine up and running rather than play silly-buggers with self-defeating nonsense like zero-hours contracts.

Turnbull and Bishop want to work with people of that calibre again. They know those people, they get them to donate and otherwise keep them involved, but capable people like that laugh at the very prospect of going into parliament, playing silly shouty games and having to account to journalists for ever time you breathe in and out. The Liberal Party says that it wants to attract such people, but it has rarely succeeded; it tends to attract those who would never cut it at the top end of town, big-firm droputs, small businesspeople for whom an employee payrise comes from their own pockets, or staffers who can talk fluent corporatese but who don't really get it.

When Turnbull was leader in 2008-09 he wanted to attract clever, capable people into government. Corporate careers became shaky and the importance of effective politics became obvious to all: if ever you were going to get capable people from the corporate sector into politics, that was the time to do it. These are people who understand large-scale, complex thinking and get things done. The Liberal Party foisted Chris Kenny and Peta Credlin into his office to stifle any far-reaching ideas, and they largely succeeded. As Turnbull's star faded in 2009 he was less convincing in attracting capable people from the private sector, at the very time the Liberal Party was starting to open preselections for the 2010 election.

Working with dumb people

When Abbott took over, the Liberal Party responded enthusiastically by preselecting people compatible with Abbott: people who could recite their lines, recite their lines, people who weren't particularly fussed about the big issues or making things happen, but boy could they recite their lines. People like Eric Abetz and Peter Dutton came to campaign for them, and the candidates who won thought people like Abetz, Dutton and Abbott were what the Liberal Party were all about. This was reinforced in 2013, by which time Abbott had set the tempo of national politics. If you couldn't bear all that empty, obnoxious horseshit that lay at the heart of almost everything he did, then you simply didn't join (or stay in) the Liberal Party let alone run for preselection. The Liberal Party was dumbed down to the point where it could be controlled by people like Abbott, Credlin, and Loughnane.

What sort of person looks up to people like Abetz, Dutton and Abbott? The sort of person of such limited capacity they make Jaymes Diaz look like Demosthenes, i.e. many Liberal Party office bearers and candidates.

Big businesses dealt with Abbott and his team before 2013 to discuss what they wanted from government, and what they weren't getting from Gillard-Rudd and their team(s). The deal big business does with politicians is that they provide money to political campaigns and align their messaging, so that the politicians in question appear 'economically responsible' to journalists employed by big businesses. In return, politicians don't explicitly promise to deliver on specific reforms, but they do offer the public relations skills to present pro-business reforms as in the public interest.

Before the 2013 election the Abbott-led Coalition linked the abolition of carbon and mining taxes to voters' household incomes; this was dishonest but nobody in the corporate sector or the media called them out. Insofar as the Abbott government had a reform agenda, it was either not raised or denied before the 2013 election and again business and the media played along. When Labor and some NGOs did call them out they were mostly ignored. By the time they came to light in 2014, they were unattached from any wider reform agenda and from the prevailing economic conditions at the time. No thought had been given to selling policies that disproportionately affected low-income earners, and whose impact on measures like debt, deficits, and business confidence was negligible. The government's political leverage was trashed.

Pro-business reform has no hope when it is presented as benefitting big business only, and having zero to no benefit for employees and the community as a whole. Chifley's bank nationalisation proposals failed in the High Court. This failure was compounded when the banks successfully presented the proposals as detrimental to the community as a whole and synchronised their messaging with the Liberal Party: Chifley's government was replaced, the banks remained as free enterprises, the Liberals won government and held it. Despite decades of 'professionalism' in communications strategy, this remains the gold standard of Liberal-business co-operation to win public support.

Abbott promised to introduce a raft of fairly limited reforms, tax cuts and reduced environmental restrictions and the like. He failed because his politics skills sucked. The media kept saying he had great media skills, but he couldn't really explain why he did things, and they couldn't articulate why he was so great at media. He expected his edicts to have authority in themselves; contemporary CEOs know that they need extensive change management programs to make internal changes, and they assumed the Liberal Party knew what it was doing. The media were wrong about Abbott's media skills, and if Tony Abbott wasn't good at media then what was he good at/for?

Business came through with their side of the bargain (campaign donations, synchronisation of communications between corporate umbrella groups and Liberals), but the Liberals did not (public acceptance of pro-business reforms, enactment of those reforms into law). This is the reverse of the situation with WorkChoices, where business expressed support for the reforms but deserted the Liberals once they enacted them.

The Liberal-business relationship is pretty unproductive in policy terms. It succeeds only as a measure of donations to the Coalition parties. Business hasn't really considered whether it is asking too much of the Coalition (e.g. are penalty rates really inhibiting productivity? Do lax environmental regulations stifle efficiency?). Coalition MPs today lack Menzies' smooth touch in knowing when and how to push back on reforms that cannot succeed.

Representing corporate manoeuvres as being in the public interest is hard. It requires an understanding of intended and unintended consequences of reforms, a deep understanding of government, and being in touch with communities to an extent that polling and focus groups can only hint at. I am starting to believe Abbott did his best to deliver for business; I have always believed that his level best was never good enough. I remain amazed that professional journalists who are paid to observe politics up close for decades couldn't tell political shit from chocolate, but don't get me started ...

Might as well jump

Cory Bernardi has courted money and tactics from the Tea Party in the US for many years, threatening to leave the Liberal Party. The Tea Party's evangelical wing is fading and nothing but racism seems to keep it going in 2015-16. Economic resentments seem to be fading with a recovering economy, less readily translated into racism than in previous eras. US rightwing politicians who had been notorious Kochsuckers (funded by the disclosure-resistant Koch brothers) find their supply of funding drying up.

Bernardi is a former SA State President of the Liberal Party and was preselected at the top of the Liberal Senate ticket at the last election. He knows that a Liberal Senator who leaves the party robs the party of significant funding and other entitlements, earning the enmity of hardworking Liberals who underwrote the privilege he now enjoys. In 2013 he wrote a fatuous book (no I won't link to it) from which he was supposed to launch his political independence, but you have to sell books for that to work. Now he's taken the phrase "Liberal Party" off his social media profile - *yawn*.

If he's going to leave the Liberal Party, like Bob Day did, he may as well join Day's Family First - but it won't be big enough for the two of them. He couldn't join forces with Pauline Hanson or Clive Palmer for the same reason. If he wants to run his own show, why doesn't he just wear the slings and arrows and step off the mothership? People start small businesses every day, and Bernardi likes to think he champions such people - but it is almost painful watching someone talk so tough and yet pussyfoot around when time comes to take a meaningful stand.

Cory, buddy, I left the Liberal Party before there was social media in any meaningful form. I didn't just change my social media profile or hide behind Andrew Bolt, whimpering "this time for sure". I wrote to the State Director and told everyone I knew that I was taking the step. Some tried to get me to stay, which was nice, but nobody can or does claim I was dithering like you are. There was much, much less at stake with my departure from the Liberal Party - where's the leadership you found lacking in Abbott, and now Turnbull? Stop being so gutless and just take the leap. Join the 'ferals' who are more your kind of people anyway - or else, get in behind the Turnbull government. You could have a meaningful role in building bridges between the government and the crossbenches - but to do that you'd have to get over yourself.

Bernardi discredits Seselja and other conservatives so long as he neither fully commits to the Liberal Party nor strikes out on his own. He is the sort of dilettante the rightwing accuse moderates of being. If the Liberal Party is really and truly this conservative redoubt, why is Bernardi heading toward the exits? Can he really do better, and at what? When will be the perfect time for him to take the bold step around which he has minced for so long?

If Malcolm Turnbull can take on a sitting PM after Question Time on Monday, and be the PM at Question Time on Tuesday, you can do it! If that milquetoast Nick Xenophon can start his own party, why can't you? Silent majority got your tongue? You're tougher and smarter than Turnbull or Day or Xenophon. You can take Seselja with you, and John Ruddick (see below). Jump, Cory, jump! You didn't want respect and influence within a major party anyway, did you?

A new people

Turnbull is likely to appoint more women in his ministry today and otherwise represent the government as making a fresh start. This might attract people who had held off joining the Liberal Party at all, let alone run for preselection, had Abbott remained as leader. Turnbull won't be able to shift the party much, but one or two high-profile recruits could change the way Liberal Party sees itself.

John Ruddick is one of those conservatives who likes the Liberal Party just fine the way it is. His piece this week, and again back in February shows another conservative desperate to head off reform, even to the point of appearing as a moderniser clearing out 'archaic' practices - whatever it takes, anything but fresh blood that might reinvigorate the Liberal Party and take it from the hands of high achievers like John Ruddick.

A political party is always different after it has held government. When a party returns to opposition it's wounded and good people give up on it. Those who harbour and foster resentments, like Ruddick and his mentor, former plaintiff lawyer David Clarke, hold the whip hand. Barry O'Farrell had to fight people like that to get the Liberals ready for NSW government in 2011, and Mike Baird fights them still.

In Victoria and Queensland, defeated Liberals have brought back old hands like Michael Kroger and Laurence Springborg rather than take any more risks that might not pay off. These people will turn narrow losses into routs at the next election because risk-aversion and resentment are the very qualities that killed the former Coalition governments in those states. A backbiting, infighting party keeps the incumbents at the top and that's just how they like it. In South Australia, Steven Marshall wants to be a winner but just can't take on the dead weight of a party that doesn't really want to win and wouldn't know what to do with state government if Labor dropped it into their laps. In WA the party has a vicious reputation for infighting despite near unanimity on policy - staunchly conservative, low taxes.

Preselections for the 2016 election are opening soon. Those who control an ageing, stagnant party use preselections as prizes where they can, making "captain's picks" that flatter a candidate without necessarily offering voters a good choice for election. Turnbull has pledged to avoid captain's picks but nor is he someone who suffers fools, despite their abundance atop the party he now leads. He's not as skilled in party fights like O'Farrell, and he doesn't have the time and lack of media scrutiny O'Farrell had in state opposition.

A candidate who was courted by Turnbull and fast-tracked into preselection would edge out some long-serving hack who had built up credit with people like John Ruddick. When they lose, they'll grizzle to people like Ruddick, who will write another piece for The Guardian on how unfair it is that interlopers are taking our jobs, fuelling the very resentment he would claim to relieve.

Once you understand Ruddick's Liberal nativism, you can see how the asylum-seeker debate is both a simple case of projection, and an existential threat to the perpetually resentful. Ruddick was a good mate of Michael Towke; people who think Scott Morrison is from the far right of our politics should take a closer look at this man and those behind him.

A quick response to Anika Gauja

This piece by Anika Gauja on why Australian political parties turn over leaders so often is well considered and worth reading.

Her contention that leadership ballots involving party members slows down leadership churn is negated by the experience of the Australian Democrats in its final decade. It is also negated by the experiences of the Liberal Party under Malcolm Fraser (six years without being challenged for the leadership) and John Howard (twelve), where rules on leadership challenges were scarecely different to those under which Abbott both rose and fell.

Before social media, Australia had a rich history of political activism outside political parties. Political parties followed rather than led campaigns on major social and political issues such as women's suffrage, alcohol licensing, conscription in World War I, counting Indigenous people in the census, euthanasia, and a republic. What social media has done is make organising faster. It is paradoxical that a party-room ballot can be organised in a few hours while a membership-wide ballot takes months, and yet neither relies on social media.

Political leaders today are feeling the strain of outsourcing their needs to engage the community to the broadcast media, which is increasingly inadequate for the purpose, while social media in its current form cannot support the political class (and leaders thereof) in the manner to which they have become accustomed. We see this not in the speed in which leadership contests take place, but in the parties' ability to rationalise leadership changes after the event:
  • Labor failed to adequately explain why Kevin Rudd had to be replaced as Prime Minister in June 2010.
  • The press gallery claimed that Labor would have more credibility with Rudd as leader than Gillard. When Rudd replaced Gillard in June 2013 his forebodings about an Abbott government were ignored.
  • In February 2015 Abbott promised there'd be no more captain's picks, and "good government". The press gallery, again, took him at his word.
  • The downfall of Abbott last week was different to Rudd's downfall because the policy dysfunction in Abbott's office was examined more clearly than that of Rudd, where commentary was reduced to a he-said-she-said interpersonal spat (reinforced in The Killing Season).
  • There is an element of sexism about the roles played by Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop in recent leadership ballots that was not present in examinations of their no-less-implicated male colleagues, which affects the way women engage with traditional political processes.

The zombies that ate Canberra

One or two high-profile candidates could give a defensive, unimaginative party a glimpse of what relevance to an attractive, tangible future for this country might look like. Turnbull might not be capable of that. The rightwing might hem him in to the point where he can present Abbott's policies in a slightly more oily way, in which case he's finished.

There is no civil war in the Liberal Party. Turnbull won fair and square, and decisively. Abbott is no more able to return to the leadership than Harold Holt. What you have is a bunch of political zombies roaming around offering nothing, with that nothing being breathlessly quoted by the press gallery. Nihilistic sooks do not deserve equal time. If we've learned one thing from Abbott's period as leader, we've learned that you can't quote the incoherent howls of the pointlessly outraged and then wonder why public debate has become so debased (well, everybody outside the press gallery seems to have learned that).

Turnbull is the Prime Minister of Australia and should be able to prevail over backroom heroes like Ruddick. The Liberal Party would be stupidly self-indulgent to choose Ruddick or Seselja over Turnbull. Evatt and Calwell failed to tackle the backroom boys, hence failed to become Prime Minister; Whitlam succeeded at both and underlined the importance of both. Howard dealt with the backroomers in 1995-96, which Ruddick witnessed up close (and Turnbull didn't). If Turnbull can't take on the backroom operators he has no business being Prime Minister, and the Liberal Party's key value proposition as one of two major parties providing responsible and representative government is pretty much forfeit.


  1. This is the best article on politics in Australia that I have ever read.

  2. An excellent, insightful piece. You bring weight and nuance to your words and anchor your analysis in context. I always appreciate historical references.

    That said I am not as sure as you are that Abbott will not attempt to be disruptive. It is after all his nature to be in conflict.

    I am very appreciative of your efforts Andrew.

    Best wishes.

    1. I don't know that Andrew said Abbott wouldn't be disruptive, just that he wouldn't be PM again.

    2. You are quite correct DI (no relation). Anon

    3. Yes, this blog does macro level political analysis (i.e. the trends behind the trends) better than any other, perhaps with the exception of the Piping Shrike. Not that I want to say that one is better than the other. Both are essential reading.

    4. If it's not a return of Abbott it will Be Scott Morrisson up to the plate, mark my words Malcolm won't run the full term being forced over a barrel, unless he goes to an early election.

  3. I'm extremely sceptical that Malcolm Turnbull has what it takes to deal with the 'backroom boys'.

    The fact that he has already given up his supposedly deeply held beliefs on a market orientated approach to climate change and same-sex marriage to appease the hard-right of the Liberal party convinces me that he can't and never will.

    He is popular with the public because he is seen as a progressive Liberal. If he fails to deliver on this perception, his popularity will fall.

    Decreased worldwide demand for minerals and massive increases in supply in addition to China heading to either slower growth (services led growth) or a recession, means Australia's terms-of-trade will collapse (it already has started). Export prices for minerals are already plummeting.

    The economy is deteriorating, unemployment is rising, the mining boom is over and real wages are falling. The car industry is set to close over the next two years and cost up to 200,000 jobs in the Australian economy.

    These are difficult problems for a competent government. I'm finding it hard to believe that a bitterly divided Coalition government with a PM who isn't willing to take on the big business spivs and hard-right hacks will be able to rise to the challenge.

    1. I'm not sure Malcolm has given up these views. I think he's certainly parked them to appease the nasties of the right...at least until the next election, If he wins, he'll then have the authority to tell the nasties to piss off, leaving him free to bring in policies more in line with his philosophies.

  4. Fascinating and a great read as always, Andrew.

    Do you think Gauja's ideas might be vindicated in the age of social media? Australia is virtually the only country where the governing party's leadership selection is left to the parliamentary party.

    It is certainly a coincidence that social media took off around the time Howard's authority began waning, but what role has it had in leadership challenges since then?

  5. Andrew. Well written. There is no chance whatsoever the Cory is going to give up his well-paid public service position for the dangers of being an independent politician. Hey, he believes in competition and risk-taking and all that stuff, but not when he's involved.

  6. Thank you for this excellent article.

    There is a typo in the year (2013 should be 2015) in the third bullet point in the Anika Gauja section

    1. Plus "Libral" in the first para, and a fair few missing words as well (e.g. "made it to the top of eastern European Communist in the late 1980s"). Could use a proofread.

    2. Thank you both, fixed. Yes, the proofing standards late at night and on Sunday morning is at least as good as that of the Murdoch press

  7. Lachlan Ridge20/9/15 9:50 pm

    A stand out article Andrew!

    The shining example of the high-profile recruit currently sitting in near earth orbit is Peter Hendy; MHR for Eden-Monaro, the former ACCI boss whose entire public life has been about cutting wages to the most vulnerable in the workforce under the guise of "freedom".

    If the media can be believed - and that's a bigger If than Kipling's - Hendy's joint in Queanbeyan was where the plotters plotted Abbott's downfall. So what, the guy is the MP for a largely rural electorate and he has managed to piss of that constituency from my sources.

    People in the southern Monaro and the Bega Valley - which lie in Eden-Monaro - are particularly aware of the impact of drought (the area is a rain-shadow), so take a keen interest in mitigating climate extremes. they are also interested in ways the area can use natural advantages to stimulate investment in new industries, such as wind-farms. Hendy has been pfaffing about on the former and hostile to the latter. As well as other faux-pas, such as referring to graziers as farmers, he has managed to piss off a large section of the electorate that can only be thought of as conservative.

    These conservatives had been well courted by the former Mp for Eden Monaro, ex-army officer Mike Kelly - someone who has actually done something for the country before entering parliament. Hendy, too focused elsewhere to take the little people of his electorate seriously, has shat in his own nest. He only holds the seat by a margin of 542 votes.

    Another example would be John Alexander in Bennelong for similar reasons.

    My own local member won't say how she voted in the leadership ballot, which is contemptuous of her electorate and failing the basic transparency required of functioning representative democracy. The fact that the media had already outed her as an Abbott supporter made her diffidence appear as a cowardly churl, like St Peter before the cock crowed.

    It's these sort of tipsy staggering stumblebum efforts that will consign this government and every government thereafter (because the ALP is little better) until this two party kabuki ritual is done with for good, and we move to a system focused on addressing public policy needs.

    Whether those ore the public policy needs of corporations or of communities is a story yet to be fully written, but I suspect it will be at the behest of the former rather than the disorganised latter.

    1. Very incisive article and the responses - including this one are equally informative. Better than much of the MSM commentary apart from the few usual exceptions.

  8. Lachlan, I enjoy reading your contributions. They allow a sneak-look through the keyhole.
    Andrew, who is behind Scott Morrison? I am intrigued. He must be very annoyed at the moment that Malcolm is on a charm offensive and he is wiping egg off his face.

  9. I was slightly impressed by Turnbull's reshuffle. While the retention of Peter Dutton is baffling (possibly no minister has done more to harm the government's standings apart from Abbott himself and Hockey), he has been willing to do more than a few token changes, he has not tried to pretend Hockey can still be a minister after that bridge was burned in stereo last Monday, he has thrown Abetz and Andrews out on their ears and avoided giving many sops to the arch conservatives, we have a female Minister for Women (admittedly the easiest and most obvious change he could make, and one the Liberal Party should have forced Abbott to make long ago) and more women in the ministry generally.

    To make any real headway, though, he is going to need to do better than the waffle on Direct Action he has managed so far. Shorten has zeroed in on this as a point which makes Turnbull look inauthentic, shifty, and under the thumb of the hard right - with good reason. Turnbull is lying his backside off to support Direct Action and can't do so with any credibility. If the Libs force Turnbull to stick with Direct Action unchanged he's toast.

    I see that the ALP is coming after Turnbull on higher education straight away too. This is another test - does he throw Pyne's higher education bill overboard or tie himself to another unpopular Abbott-era policy? Will it be easier to do this now that Pyne isn't the minister anymore? We shall see.

  10. As an Indi resident I had been skeptical of claims of alienated grass-roots Liberal Party members, given the usual rah-rah chorus for the newly pre-selected candidate, and the general reticence of rural residents to talk about politics. Yesterday I met the genuine article - grazier, party member, election booth staffer - who was as relieved as I was that Abbott had gone, (as an unelectable PM, in his view) but was dismayed to the point of writing a letter to resign from election day duties, because he could not stomach the candidate anymore.

  11. You make some extremely valid points and sensible arguments. Although I no longer vote Liberal I was ensconced in in their clammy grasp for many years and personally knew some of those liver spotted hands you describe, very well in some cases (father of the house, Howard et al). In my experience, they still believe that the old boys network and school tie is the way to choose a government. You can tell by the fact that very few have any real world experience that things will surely go awry.
    At least the Labor Party does not have these preconceptions, they still prefer to nominate a union official
    The problem as I see it is that there is no diversity and therefore no opinions that divert from the party line.
    Whilst I hate to admit it Lambie and Muir are 2 of the only people in parliament without a person financial agenda and they alone stand up and go 'Nope, not acceptable, the pople will suffer'.

    1. Lachlan Ridge22/9/15 11:39 am

      As someone from the false dichotomy of "the other side" I heartily concur.

      We need more people with real life experience in our political institutions, and that includes the senior levels of the public sector and the judiciary.

    2. Rubbish both. What's this 'real life' experience that is so crucial to being a good politician? A good set of ears (for listening, silly) is the best asset a politician can have. Unfortunately too many of them only have a good mouth.

      There's nothing that says you need to have had 'a real job' to know what others in the workforce go through, just as it is no essential to have children to know what pressures families face. If relevant experience had to be had before enacting any function of government, there would never be anyone with quite the right 'real life experience' to do it. And how would philosophy be studied? Nobody has experience of it, as far as I can see.
      People learn from lots of places, not just direct experience.

    3. Lachlan Ridge2/10/15 5:07 pm

      Rubbish yourself!

      The lack of empathy for the impact of public policy by those who both design and implement public policy is directly related to their experience of that policy.

      On the upside, it explains why it is more effective if the Minister for Women is, perhaps, a woman, or if the Disability Commissioner has some direct experience of being disabled, to use but two examples. A downside example would be the Job Network, which is developed, designed and implemented by people who will never have to rely on a Centrelink benefit and, as such, will never have to negotiate the inanity of the "training" provided by the "market based" providers, which is simply code for humiliating unemployed people by treating them as imbeciles. Or maybe we could get a bunch of people whose closest experience of conflict is an internal party ballot and have them sign off on a strategy of destabilising the Middle East while allying ourselves the Wahhabist regime that is sponsoring our erstwhile "enemies".

      These are examples that show that shit public policy is the sum product of letting dumb fuckers make decisions that will have no direct consequence on themselves. It is the lack of relevant experience that hamstrings the function of not just government, but much of the private sector as well. A focus group is not a synonym for collective wisdom! This is what is meant by real life experience - knowing what it will feel like - as a human being - if the policy succeeds, fails or does a bit of both. People who abstract policy impacts are a dime a dozen in public life, and society would be better off if the entire contingent of them went and took a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut.

      I once questioned a state union secretary (who had never worked in the industry his union represented) about the efficaciousness of having someone in his position lead or be able to even organise an industry. His response was that a doctor didn't need to have cancer in order to treat it. I replied that may be true, but if that hypothetical doctor did have experience as a cancer patient it would sure improve their bedside manner.

      This - http://ogun.stanford.edu/~bnayfeh/plan.html - explains your predicament well

  12. It is all looking pretty much the same isn't it? I am not feeling as excited as the PM about the future. But what would I know? I am not a merchant banker.
    I don't think the honeymoon will last long. How can it? All the policies that the majority of Australians have rejected, as measured by the polls, are still in place.
    And what will happen internally if those polls start to record Abbott levels of dissatisfaction?
    In my opinion Abbott's problem was not his blunt delivery style but the product he was trying to sell. Abbott made himself very clear. Turnbull's words are saturated in honey but it will be hard to sweeten the removal of penalty rates when your family depends on those.

  13. Now here's a word I haven't had to use for a while, however I can only say that Malcolm Turnbull, for all his 'brilliance' is a poseur. Oh how many of them have I come across in my life, all the way from Classics Camp & Latin Competitions at Sydney University when I was in High School, competing against the Private School types who thought that their education in a gated school community made them naturally superior to me and mine from a Selective Public High School. Oh how we used to laugh when we beat their long socks off!

    Such that, Malcolm may now be attempting to accentuate his humble beginnings in life, and which I now understand they were, for his father at least, who I learnt this week was 'just' an electrician before he went on to make his modest fortune as a Hotel Broker; but, I fear, Malcolm Turnbull his son will never be able to scrub from his soul that pretentious wankerism that becomes ingrained simply from attending a school for 13 years which cultivates that 'talent' relentlessly in all it's pupils. For if they have that, and not real talent per se, then they can at least aspire to Middle Management in a bank, the backbench of the Liberal Party, or somesuch! Job done, school.

    So with atmospherics like that hanging around the neck of our new Prime Minister like an albatross, my mind became roiled and the word 'poseur' floated to the top based upon two observations of the newly-minted 'Menzian' PM this week.

    Firstly, in their face-off at the War Memorial to commemorate War Correspondents, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull played true to type. Brendan, the swot with the eidetic memory to beat them all, reeled off facts and figures like a boss. Turnbull, the Rhodes Scholar, quoted Thucydides. Sigh. I'm sure it impressed...someone.

    Secondly, I only just learnt this week that Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, is not actually related by blood line to the man, himself, Governor William Bligh, in the same way Labor's Anna Bligh is. It's actually an affectation that the family adopted as some sort of expression of sycophantic toadying to the 'great' man. Not something I have heard explicated by the man himself, and funny, as in peculiar, coming from the man who would create an Australian Republic if he could, to be tugging the forelock at the Kings and Queens Men in that way. If it were me I would have told my dad to shove the family tradition and send it out into the wide blue yonder in the same way the Mutineers on the Bounty sent Governor Bligh off on his merry way.

    Not Malcolm. He chooses to flaunt it. Like a poseur.

    Anyway, we'll see how long he can maintain his new and improved persona, which at other times, when he is not quoting Thucydides, he tells us is his new leaf that he has turned over for our benefit.

    Or will he not be able to break the habits of a lifetime. Like Abbott was unable to.

    Finally, Malcolm may have been able to close deals within the rarified atmosphere of Gold Man Sachs Land, but did he get a good deal out of the builders who renovated his Spanish Hacienda style mansion for the Prince and Princess of Point Piper? That is the question!

  14. Andrew, it may be time for you to dust off that old declaration 'Abbott Will Never Be PM' and just add 'AGAIN'.

    Hopefully you will be wrong a second time.

    It seems though that Abbott will make a mighty effort to retake the Lodge.

    I know you do not think that is possible but I am not at all sure.

  15. Hopefully you will be right this time.

    Got confused.