There is still one minor party that could shake Aussie politics to the core

Paul Kelly makes plenty of sense today:

The old empires are striking back. The hubris and limits of the minor parties are starkly revealed with the Liberals coming to power in South Australia, Labor’s victory in Batman, the Greens denied in a seat they aspired to win and the Nick Xenophon bubble in a long-overdue implosion.

…Xenophon’s hubris, stunts and contempt for policy proved too much for voters…The Greens are stagnant and internally divided, inspired by dreams of becoming a genuine third-party force but unable to broaden their appeal much beyond their partisans.

I think Xenophon speaks for itself. His campaign was a bogan embarrassment, especially so for the most patrician polity in Australia. For an SA specialist he sure doesn’t know where he comes from.

More interesting is The Greens, from Di Natalie himself:

“This was always going to be close,” he said before his only scheduled media event, a late-night appearance on the ABC, on Sunday. “We made incredible inroads in Labor’s heartland with a positive campaign on Adani, refugees and inequality, but it is absolutely clear that we have to get our own house in order if we’re going to win back traditional Greens voters who were turned off by the leaking and sabotage from a few individuals with a destructive agenda.”

Hmm, well, it’s more than that. I am a natural Greens voter, am anti-Adani and pro-refugee. I was impressed with Di Natalie when he first took the helm yet a few years later his leadership so repulses me that I’m happy to see this result.

For the answer, let’s turn to the worst political analysis of the weekend, from Peter Hartcher discussing Malcolm Turnbull’s terrible polls:

 What’s happened?

“The long period of growth may be leading all of us as a community to somehow think that’s just the natural state of affairs, that we don’t need to do anything to achieve it,” said the former governor of the Reserve Bank Glenn Stevens in his parting remarks in 2016. “That’s not really so.”

ANU political scientist Ian McAllister confirms this suspicion. The survey data show that “there is a growing detachment in people’s minds between economic conditions and what the government does – people see much less of a connection between the two.”

In other words, Australians now think that growth and prosperity is automatic and inevitable. We now give no credit to the governments that preside over conditions that are the envy of the rest of the world.

Most Australians have no experience of recession. With a 27-year boom, you need to be at least 45 to have any adult memory of the last recession. The median age of Australians? 38.

If politics is about the hip pocket and everything is so good then why the disconnect? It’s not because things are so good. They may appear to look good but for the individual they have never been worse in people’s lived experience. Per capita growth, jobs, salaries, income, living standards and prospects are all caught in a lost decade. That is the hop pocket that matters.

In that sense Do-nothing Malcolm’s and The Greens’ failure are the opposite sides of the same coin. Both offer policies that will only make per capita living standards worse with no explanation for it.

The Government has completely failed to explain the post-China and mining boom environment and its only policy redress is to stuff the nation with people, guaranteeing historically weak wages.

The Greens don’t appear to understand the economics of this and want to stuff the nation with even more people, scorching the environment in the process.

I mean, seriously, one is supposed to be the great economic manager and the other great environmental custodian!

The problem for both parties is that they have allowed One Nation to monopolise the only ground that matters today to the swing voter: the deleterious effects of mass immigration.

Which brings us to “the deal”. Via the AFR:

The Turnbull government intends putting its company tax cut legislation to a Senate vote in the next two weeks as One Nation softens its outright opposition to the cuts and returns to the negotiating table.

After One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said six weeks ago her party, which has the sole balance of power on the Senate crossbench, would not be supporting any more company tax cuts, the party has been talking with the government and has another meeting with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann scheduled for Monday.

The government has significantly boosted its lobbying of the crossbench in recent weeks. Former Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson has taken a temporary job in Senator Cormann’s office and is liaising with the crossbenchers, helping present the business case for the cuts and to answer any questions.

Talk about a shameless swamp. Business is going hard at it:

Pauline Hanson’s north Queensland heartland has been targeted as part of an 11th-hour campaign by the business community to pressure One Nation and fellow Senate crossbenchers to pass the remainder of the corporate tax cuts, with claims that unless big business was included, tax cuts for small businesses would become “meaningless”.

A direct appeal from the peak industry groups representing both small businesses and large companies across the country has been sent to all crossbenchers overnight ahead of the Senate returning next week to debate the Enterprise Tax Plan bill.

With the government still lacking the numbers in the Senate, the bill is destined for failure unless One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team can be turned.

Five-minute video petitions from the Business Council of Australia and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia, shot in Townsville, have been clearly aimed at One Nation, which is holding out against expanding the current tax cuts for companies with turnover of under $50 million to include a drop in the current rate of 30 per cent to 25 per cent for all companies.

It’s obvious that a corporate tax cut would be Budget vandalism over the long run. It would increase deficits, barely add to growth, do nothing for wages and add to the entitlement killing the country. However, in the short term it would look good as it pushed Australia into the global profits boom and lifted the ASX, certainly for a run into the next election.

Thus there is a political deal to be made here. One reason ON might loosen its grip on the cuts is that it could get something very significant in return. The obvious candidate is a big cut to the immigration intake.

The Government has to do it anyway. It’s the only chance it has of re-election. The polity is boiling over about not being consulted on the crush-loading of cities. The debate has swung violently against continuation of the huge intake as the growth lobby’s arguments have collapsed. So much so that we’re told that media outlets are struggling to find volunteers to debate the pro-immigration position. Fear of being labelled a racist has flipped to fear of public rage.

For the Government, then, offering to halve immigration in return for passing corporate tax cuts would be giving away a millstone round its neck in return for a huge win. Moreover, its corporate donors could be placated by the lower tax offsetting the higher wages, and Tony Abbott will be at least neutered if not brought back into the fold.

The upside for ON and the Coalition in this deal very obvious:

  • yes, it would hand Pauline Hanson a spectacular win, consolidating her support but it would also position the Coalition right along side her, recapturing some big slice of ON preferences, without the party having to get its hands dirty;
  • moreover, it would deliver a gigantic wedge to the Labor reform agenda as it handed the Coalition a housing affordability platform, a stronger wages platform, a growth platform, a fairness platform and the upper hand in environmental values, as well as strategic policy. Plus it would preserve negative gearing for the faithful.

Everything that Labor is campaigning on would come under extreme stress and every reform loser become a natural Coalition voter. The entire Fake Left would enter a spectacular “racism” meltdown that would expose its the repellent hypocrisy on everything from wages to house prices and living standards.

There is still one minor party that could shake Aussie politics to the core.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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