From The Australian late yesterday:
Asked again today if he agreed with his top economic adviser, Mr Abbott replied: “Millions of Australians have mortgages and the last thing they want to see is the decline in the value of their most important asset.
“(Mr Shorten) is someone who wants to be the prime minister of Australia and he wants your house to be worth less.
“Do not trust this man with your house price, do not trust this man with your superannuation, do not trust this man with your future and do not trust this man with the government of Australia because what he wants is your house to be worth less.”
There you have it. The political battle lines drawn for the next election. Tony Abbott sporting the grey armband as aged champion versus a half-formed and weak-kneed Labor Party still wondering what it stands for.
The central battleground will be your house (or your not house as the case may be). It is the pivot point in the entire inter-generational war:
- it is the primary vehicle for Boomer retirement and is tax, as well as pension means testing exempt. That is, hugely subsidised and in the future kept aloft only on the back of the young being overly-taxed;
- it is grotesquely inflated, very valuable to the landed and a source of endless despair and disenfranchisement for everyone else, and
- to boot, it is the nucleus of the hollowed out Australian economy that the young will inherit and have to try to repair.
If it has any sense, the Labor Party will accept this challenge head on. If Abbott wants to paint the Liberal Party into a corner of silver entitlement then Labor should oblige it and offer a complete alternative platform based around an Australian future for its children: superannuation reform, housing affordability, meritocracy and climate change mitigation.
I have no idea what the pollsters will make of it but if communicated effectively I can tell you right now that it will win the hearts of Australians via one single word: fairness.
The Abbott agenda is shockingly biased, unsustainable for the Budget, economically destructive and marginalising for the vast majority of Australians under 50 years of age. It is a singularity of grey entitlement and against every principle that the Liberal Party claims to stand for.
There is no way that a political party can carry that kind of contradiction to a winning election position if it faces a competent opposition. Were Anthony Albanese in charge, who is no great orator but can carry a simple and authentic message, I’d say Labor would win. If Chris Bowen were in charge his steady hand and calm debating skills would win comfortably (and will still be useful from the position of Shadow Treasurer).
But with Bill “Kinglsayer” Shorten at the helm the outcome is much less clear. Shorten presents as flighty, it’s not clear what he stands for (though he has been solid on climate change) and is slippery in debate rather than consistent. As well, his path to power was to personally assassinate two sitting Prime Ministers. How on earth is he ever going to wash out that damned spot?
Tony Abbott is not Prime Minister material. He never was. His talent, instinct, demeanor and intellect work only in opposition. He does not win hearts, he divides them with moral panic. If it’s not a carbon tax crisis it’s a Budget crisis or an ISIS crisis. He is demagogue not pedagogue, an old world Catholic preacher of fire and brimstone not a reasoned and calculating Protestant.
You can feel this power in the quote above. It has all the hallmarks of his famously destructive campaign against the carbon price. Simplistic, blame-laced, empowering the righteously entitled, violently yoking heterogeneous ideas in a fused political unit that rouses the feeble-minded to brown-shirted rage.
He was made for such a fight. As ludicrous and destructive as it is, with the great real estate rentier machine behind him, he will have every household in the country second-guessing their wealth. And he will have them doing it as the economy falls apart, making them change-averse. The Kingslayer will have the fight of his life.
In truth, this is the war that Australian needed last election. Now it is too late anyway. Whoever wins the next election will watch helplessly as house prices fall.
But it is a moment of truth for what is to come after. With the great Australian adjustment entering full roar, will recontruction be done for and by a united community, the labour and sacrifices equally distributed, Australia’s precious social fabric and liberalism protected? Or, will it be torn apart by a kind of soft fascism that protects the hyenas and jackals as they feast on the carcass of a nation?