Introducing a new year end segment at MB in which we have listed our most inept individual and collective aylites for you to vote on to “fire”, Donald Trump style, for this year’s under-performance. It’s pretty simple. We’ve listed our chosen many. You choose your top five. Then we’ll publish the list in priority order next week.
Candidates in no particular order for the 2016 Most Sackable list include:
- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull deserves the shaft for doing nothing to run the country while betraying his every policy principle, calling a double-dissolution election on the flimsiest of excuses, barely not losing it only thanks to resurgent minor parties taking Labor seats in SA, and populating the senate with more nutters than it had before, thanks to his own legislation to prevent just that. An eminently sackable year if there ever was one.
- Sticking with government, Treasurer Scott Morrison should fall on his sword for a complete failure to generate a sustained, credible and constructive economic narrative for the country. His constant lies about negative gearing, relentless pursuit of brain fart corporate tax cuts, abdication of reform, Budget of Lies and general emptiness have left the nation bereft of economic oxygen and hope. He should return the favour by boning himself and going back to realty.
- Shifting parties, the Australian Greens need a full season in the lower grades of the VFL for zigging towards mainstream policies just when the polity zagged towards the fringes. The party’s absolutist intolerance of intolerance displayed at every juncture served mightily to polarise vital debates around social justice issues, population and the environment and played a key role in elevating One Nation to a position of national standing it could not have hoped for itself as it mulled a comeback. Get you gone, Greens, to some poncing cafe.
- Likewise, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen gets a nasty brown gong for his spectacularly mistimed endorsement of open-borders immigration on the eve of the US election. For failing to read a rampaging de-globalisation trend that was bearing down on him like a runaway train we say to Chris Bowen “wake up” and go find another job where not looking after the interests of Australians is a pre-requisite.
- Within the executive, one man stands out for 2016 opprobrium. Captain Glenn Stevens deserves to have some vital control cord cut on his career Cessna for blowing the Dumb Bubble then flying off into the sunset leaving poor Phil Lowe to carry the can. Having done great work post-GFC to devereage Australia, the good Captain threw it all away on a desperate gambit for one last round of housing inflation when his precious fifty year mining boom collapsed unexpectedly in four. Although much of this damage was done pre-2016, Captain Glenn’s abandonment of the sinking ship this year definitely requires him to be rehired and unceremoniously booted from office (or, in RBA terms, promoted to some far flung nation where plastic bank note bribes are unheard of).
- Another political individual for whom we struggle to find sufficiently pejorative language in 2016 is Andrew Robb. Some would say he deserves the guillotine for the most singularly egregious violation of ministerial standards of the year. Just five months after leaving as trade minister he took a job with China’s Landbridge Group, the shadowy Chinese corporation now running Darwin Port amid objections by both our spooks and the US. In doing so, Robb took with him fresh insider knowledge and “five eyes” intelligence (including from the US) that could be used to bolster the push for a Chinese trading bloc in the region, against US interests. His rehiring and firing for crimes against the national interest might literally require the use of matches.
- While on the subject of national interest, we can’t go past the Yuhu clique. Yes, we would see everyone involved with China’s Yuhu Group in Australia fired. That includes Sam Dastayari, Bob Carr, super-uber China bull James Laurenceson and the chairman itself Mr Xiangmo Huang, for being a part, deliberately or otherwise, of the Beijing soft power push to undermine Australian democracy and ANZUS. You’re all sacked and should consider yourselves fortunate that exile is no longer common legal practice.
- From one great policy corrupter of the past to one of the future. Grant King, former CEO of Origin Energy and head of the Business Council turned a $25bn company into an $8bn one this year. He is also a card carrying member of the east coast gas cartel that is gouging everyone to subsidise its LNG export losses. Not only did King not have the good graces to disappear to some distant Swiss retreat for a decade or so after finally resigning, he instead took the policy reins at the Business Council of Australia. You’re fired seventeen billion times over, Grant.
- Speaking of the BCA, it certainly knows illustrious failure when it sees it and, for that matter, the entire lobby deserves to be sacked as it flops around around wondering how best to next distort Australian policy in favour of Davos Men. Its championing of the Coalition brain fart corporate tax cut policy was especially egregious and warrants an extended red card.
- A special sacking has to go Davos Man more generally this year as well. His total failure to foresee, interpret, prepare for, address or engage with the angst of the working and middle classes of developed economies has resulted in a worldwide de-globalisation revolution on a par with 1989 that now threatens the very underpinnings of his existence. To Davos Man in 2016 we simply say, appropriately enough, f#%k off!
- Sticking with an international theme, the greatest policy error for 2016 has to see China’s NDRC get a particular communist boot into the long grass. It’s tragic coal policy reform managed to virtually overnight double the price of thermal coal and iron ore, quadruple the price of coking coal and deliver that nation an inflation and terms of trade shock that will haunt it throughout 2017. Moreover, it reversed the same policy months later! In our best Mandarin we say Nǐ jiěgù!
- Then there are the suffering shareholders. For them we can’t go past John McGrath and his IPO flop of the year. Losing new shareholders -58% in under a year, issuing a profit warning, shedding staff like bouncing lice, misreading the property market while creaming it yourself is just what we might have expected from a real estate agent. For failing to break the stereotype, John McGrath, you get the twenty-one bum salute.
- An associated sacking has to go to the pathological realty fluffers at Fairfax media. Flufferfax, as it become known, embarked upon such a bowel-shaking fear campaign about rising house prices in 2016 that it played some material role in paralysing the property market as transaction volumes tanked, tearing asunder the revenues upon which the firm now squarely rests. For betraying the public interest, its own shareholders, and common decency, we send Domainfax straight past the dole queue and into the knackers.
- Special terminations must also go to two Domainfax writers in particular. The first is to one that has actually had a pretty good year but succeeded in destroying 364 good days with the worst article of 2016. Peter Martin’s effusive praise for the Coalition negative gearing reform shocker, that proposed mandated house price rises in perpetuity, deserves a visit to CES all on its own. Martin also penned a spurious piece advocating open borders and a “Big Australia”, which shouldn’t be ignored. Second, former rising star Jessica Irvine has got to go for her unquestioning support for a property price inflation immigration system that she purports to resist. Your fired, Jessica, for inter-generational apostasy!
- Speaking of rent-seeking journalists, first out the door has to be Robert Gottliebsen for services rendered to whichever interest he spoke with last on the phone. His Highrise Harry ventriloquism reached new highs this year and his perverse wrecking of every public policy good knew no equal. For sheer ethical irradiation, Gotti gets kicked into some kind of deep lead-lined bunker where he is canned for good.
- Finally, to show that we are nothing if not fair and balanced, we offer up our own scalp. H&H’s discussion that Fortescue Metals Group was worth shorting at $4 mid-year has so far proven a real stinker, even if he did also suggest that a one year time frame was prudent.
Choose your top five below.