Your honeymoon is over, PM: it's time to fill the policy vacuum

There is early evidence that tax and interest rate cuts won’t be enough to offset the weaknesses in the economy or global uncertainties.

12/09/2019 6:00:00 AM

'I had hoped, perhaps naively, that Morrison would turn his miracle into genuine good government and reform, particularly with productivity, innovation, tax and transfers, climate and energy, and relations with China and our near region.' | OPINION

There is early evidence that tax and interest rate cuts won’t be enough to offset the weaknesses in the economy or global uncertainties.

Very large text sizeWhen is serious government going to start in this country? I understand that Morrison was afforded a reasonable holiday period, with minimal scrutiny, to celebrate his "miracle" win. This has included several overseas trips to press the flesh with other leaders, even though these have made little headway on major global and regional challenges.

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Illustration: Matt DavidsonCredit:But it is now more than six years since the Coalition came to power, during which time Australians have had to endure the disruption and distraction of three Liberal prime ministers. Scott Morrison has been Prime Minister for more than a year. By any objective assessment, you could hardly claim it has been a period of genuine, evidence-based, policy development or implementation.

Far too much has been accredited to Morrison’s miracle, in his terms, that he was able to tap the values of the so-called “quiet Australians”. From my US experience, this language has unfortunate echoes of the “silent majority” that Richard Nixon claimed swung behind him after the Kennedy/Johnson years.

AdvertisementBut how much of Morrison's win was driven by values or policy difference rather than a very skillful, slogan-based marketing campaign against an unfortunate opponent, Bill Shorten, who was almost universally disliked and not trusted? This week, the Australian National University's voter behaviour project concluded from fresh data that the biggest drain on Labor's support in the month before the election came from Shorten's personal unpopularity rather than Labor policies.

LoadingClearly, Shorten was Morrison’s best asset in the campaign. Shorten’s policy agenda didn’t help, but I also doubt it was definitive.I also doubt Morrison slogans claiming a strong economy in which the “fundamentals are strong”, and his commitment to “keep it strong”, were definitive. They didn’t resonate with the lived experience of most Australians – flat wages, record debts and mounting job insecurity.

It became a choice between the lesser of two evils. Now Australians are living with “the evil of two policy lessers”.Morrison has opted to sustain the fiction that he should govern in the interests of the quiet Australians. He attempts this, as if still in campaign mode, by focusing on the opposition and wedging Labor with parliamentary votes on what he claims are “values” issues.

Loading“I thought I should just ask them a few questions” Morrison said of extending the cashless welfare debit card and drug-testing welfare recipients, while ignoring the chorus of calls for an increase in the Newstart allowance and deporting a Tamil family.

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Wedging will get Morrison a standing ovation at a Liberal Party state executive meeting – but it won't deliver good government. By pursuing these narrow interpretations of values, rather than governing in the broader national interest, Morrison is in danger of painting himself and his government into a very small electoral corner.

For what it’s worth, the latest Newspoll is 51/49 in the government’s favour – so little has changed. The biggest danger for Morrison is that he starts to believe his own rhetoric and favourable initial media.I had hoped, perhaps naively, that Morrison would turn his miracle into genuine good government and reform, particularly with productivity, innovation, tax and transfers, climate and energy, and relations with China and our near region. Unfortunately, Morrison is proving to be no better than his predecessors, with little interest in a long-term policy agenda, preferring to run on prejudice and opportunism.

LoadingRecent days have exposed the hollowness of the government’s economic policy rhetoric. Growth is not at all "strong”. It is weak.Sure, the government is paying out on its campaign promises to deliver tax cuts and a budget surplus. There is a real question as to whether these will be affordable or sustainable as we move to the realities of the 2020s: the global drift towards recession, an accelerating trade war, and extreme volatility in financial markets that harbor bubbles in stock, property, bond, commodity and currency markets.

There is early evidence, in terms of retail sales and business conditions and confidence, that the recent tax and interest rate cuts won’t be enough to offset our structural weaknesses and global uncertainties. The risk is a further drift toward recession as the government continues to ignore its policy inadequacies and inconsistencies.

Its responses so far are showing the cracks. It attempts to blame our slowing growth on “global headwinds” while the data reveal the first current account surplus since 1975 and the considerable contribution of net exports and government spending to sustain even our very weak growth.

As tough as it is to embrace a genuine reform agenda, it is more essential now than it has been in decades. Voters, including the quiet Australians, are sick of short-term politics and policy drift. They will reward a government that shows real policy leadership to meet their needs and aspirations.

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Really, why? He's just another Big Australia property shill. His job is to maintain the status quo, for his donors have made It. The exact same things that lost the ALP/Greens coalition the election. I wonder what 'relation with China' means. Dependency of Australia on China is undesirable. China is rising like Hitler in the past Century, infiltrating expanding and bribing politicians to get influence. What Australia needs to do is diversify and substitute critical imports

A thinly veiled ideological attack... Served to like minded DREAMER You got what You Voted For Yep time to actually do some work instead of costing on other governments good work. Is this going to be the government to deliver us our first recession in 28 years ? It will be their fault as they have done nothing

Morrison and his team have done an amazing job, congrats to all.

Alan Jones calls on the PM to help farmers | Sky News AustraliaBroadcaster Alan Jones has called on the Prime Minister to take greater action for Australian farmers as drought and bushfires devastate parts of the country. \n\nSpeaking on Jones and Credlin, Mr Jones said “Canberra will tell you they’re not forgotten, but they’re just words”. \n\n“Mobilise the nation’s resources to address this catastrophe because if our farms go Prime Minister, we are all gone,” he said. \n\n“This is a rural Australia really in a state of play that it’s never been in before.” \n\nImage: News Corp Australia Maybe a coherent policy on carbon, climate change and pollution? Or is this going to be another reason to ignore the issue in favour of unsupportable subsidies. LOL it seems Alan Jones is confusing ScoMo with God? Not much HE can do about a weakened polar vortex, missing southern ocean winds, high temperatures and low rainfall over the next few months? auspol climatechange Certain farmers need assist Bush fires, back burning and fire breaks need attention, all Australian rivers need attention, but farming in Australia has always been a make it or break it industry, you cannot keep feeding money and resources into farms that aren’t going to produce.

Rocket siren forces Israel PM off stage during West Bank annexation speechIsrael Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is evacuated during a speech due to air-raid sirens, moments after announcing a plan to annex a part of the occupied West Bank. Only TheirABC could do a story on Hamas rockets fired into Israel and not once mention they were targeted at civilians. Perfect timing!! he is a warmonger

Tamil family supporters call for meeting with PM | Sky News AustraliaFriends of the Tamil family - currently held in detention on Christmas Island - have travelled from Biloela to Canberra in hope of speaking with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. \n\n“We really just wanted to come down and hopefully get five minutes of the Prime Minister’s time to really put our case forward to him why this family is so important to us and why we want them back in Biloela,” family friend Angela Fredricks said.\n\nThe Prime Minister has so far rejected calls to use ministerial discretion to grant the family a permanent visa, warning it would re-ignite the people smuggling trade.\n\nThe family of four will remain in Australia until September 18 after the Federal Court extended an injunction preventing the government from deporting the youngest daughter.\n\nImage: News Corp Australia Similar to the way Bob Brown traveled to Adani? Yeah didn’t work then won’t work now Wtf part of ILLEGAL and 8 COURT RULINGS don't they get? letthemstay Thumbs down please

Drug crime a 'small issue' as Thai PM stands by minister once jailed in SydneyThe Herald and The Age's revelations about the minister who spent four years in a Sydney jail dominated front pages in Thailand. Thank you SMH 🙏 please don’t stop ! Until the end “We Thailand” we appreciate it. FinancialKb Welcome to Thailand, every thing are possible

'Part of the same Pacific family': Fiji PM visits Australia, despite scathing climate attackFijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is visiting Australia just weeks after slamming Australian PM Scott Morrison for being 'insulting and condescending'. Bula Barney Banana 🍌 It will be football diplomacy Fiji

ASIO warned PM over MP's ties to ChinaNewly-elected Liberal MP Gladys Liu has cut ties with some Chinese organisations after questions about their links to China's propaganda arm. 9News Keep digging who else in state or federal government is in the pockets of China auspol 9NewsSyd SCOMO trying to ignore and hope it goes away 9NewsMelb Lack of response just shows how complacent Australians really are. Are you paying attention?