July 30th 2016

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Success of sex-change surgery a propaganda lie

CANBERRA OBSERVED Add two to cabinet as a conservative estimate

GENDER WARS Safe Schools provokes personal pronoun furore

ELECTION ROUNDUP Captain Titanic shuffles deck chairs

EDITORIAL Why court rules against Beijing on South China Sea

VICTORIA Turnbull must move to douse CFA dispute

ENVIRONMENT Wind, solar push up SA electricity prices


AUSTRALIAN HISTORY Dr John Burton - public servant and Soviet agent

U.S. HISTORY AND POLITICS Is Trump long-awaited successor to Huey Long?

MUSIC A medium whose meaning is hidden from words

CINEMA No man on the mean roads of the Outback: Goldstone

BOOK REVIEW A significant first novel

BOOK REVIEW A certain rottenness in the state of Victoria


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Captain Titanic shuffles deck chairs

by Peter Kelleher

News Weekly, July 30, 2016

As Malcolm Turnbull pulled the smoking remnants of his majority from the fire of the election, he deftly moved to disappoint conservatives by making no room in his new cabinet for age and wisdom, merely shifting around some of the deck chairs.

Rather he has extended the exile of some of the Coalition’s most experienced members in Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and Eric Abetz. This even as the poster boy for Mr Turnbull’s generation of the future, Wyatt Roy, was shown the exit.


“Full steam ahead, mates!”

To say that there is lingering resentment within the Coalition over the coup that displaced Tony Abbott is an understatement. And, more to the point, it is undoubtedly a fact that some of the swing against the Coalition in the election, particularly in western Sydney and Tasmania, was due to the disaffection of many in the electorate who had first been won over in the 2013 election; voters who were not “naturally” Liberal or Nationals supporters but had been persuaded that Mr Abbott would protect their interests – the ones known as “Tony’s tradies”. These floating voters were scarcely likely to hold on after a millionaire banker, who (legally, let it be said) has large amounts of money squirreled away in the Cayman Islands tax haven, had dislodged their man.


No doubt to compensate for the rising influence of the Nationals, Mr Turnbull has invited LNP conservative Matt Canavan into the inner circle, giving him the combined portfolio of resources and northern Australia.

Senator Canavan has a record on pushing for more family-friendly tax reform, in particular he has supported the idea of single-income families being able to split their income so that they do not pay significantly more tax than does a double-income family on the same all-up income.

After an election campaign that at best could be characterised as desultory, Mr Turnbull now faces a Senate at least as refractory as the one he called a double dissolution to dissolve. The return of the likes of Jacqui Lambie, an expanded Nick Xenophon and a handful of Greens is only complicated by the arrival on the scene of a refurbished Pauline Hanson and a gritty and overblown Derryn Hinch.

So, what greater hope, one might ask, does he have now of reestablishing his building-industry watchdog than he had before the election? Well, none, even though the inability to get the watchdog past the former Senate was the trigger that Mr Turnbull pulled to clean out the entire upper house in a double-dissolution election.

The keynote of the election was the quest for certainty; certainty of a reliable Senate, certainty of an ability to rule, and to pass legislation.

But certainty is the one thing that Mr Turnbull has not delivered. In particular he has if anything raised to fever pitch the uncertainty about superannuation. Going into an election with a promise to place a limit on personal super contributions that may or may not be retrospective according to your grasp of the English language, is a hit to his very heartland.

Those people on the cusp of retirement right now are the generation known as the Baby Boomers. And, if I may speak very generally (being a Late Boomer myself), that is the generation that has been nurtured under the aegis of the welfare state and has managed to pull the blanket along with it as it has aged. As a result, one thing these Boomers cannot abide is uncertainty. It is, after all, the same generation that has been pushing for the abolition of uncertainty around death with its facile indifference to or even support for euthanasia.

One of the few certainties that does emerge from the election is that, luckily for the Coalition, in Victoria anger over the Andrews Labor Government’s clumsy bullying of the state’s volunteer firefighters will have pulled back the anti-Coalition protest vote, thus allowing the Coalition to hold on there even against a large generalised swing against it nationwide. Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has rejected the assertion that the CFA brushfire had any sway in the election. He could hardly say otherwise!

Mr Turnbull has squeaked over the line. Has he learned anything from the election result? Likely no. Leaving Mr Abbott and Co on the backbench signals a very likely no. Has he realised that he has delivered just the result that those who voted for him against Mr Abbott last September feared most? Definitely no. Just ask Wyatt Roy!

Where does an intelligent voter turn? The Malcolm Turnbull Liberals are unrecognisable as a conservative alternative to Labor. They are reluctant babbling social progressives where Labor are enthusiastic ones. The Nationals at least continue to look conservative, though this may not last: the Young Nats have a platform in favour of same-sex marriage.

Elsewhere, Treasury continues to be in the hands of economic rationalist ideologues to whom the words “free market” are a prayer. No likelihood from that quarter of what Pope Benedict XVI called the spirit of “gratitude” in economic life any time soon.

The minor parties continue to offer the gamut from dangerous to cranky to quixotic. Meanwhile the media has so bluffed the electorate that Christianity is the great boogeyman that “regular” Aussies – even those who may go to church at least irregularly – are ever less inclined to lodge a protest vote with parties that align themselves with it. So, they resign themselves to staying put, largely.

Nonetheless, there is the creeping gangrene of the social radicals that have no economic agenda, such as the Greens. Their endgame is coercive utopianism, combined with deconstruction of social mores and institutions, the disintegration of which will carry away all economic cares. After all, those in a state of union with nature have no need of credible or practical policies in areas such as trade/energy/money/economy.

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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