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The Coalition’s populism could have dangerous economic consequences

While Tony Abbott’s grave misjudgement in elevating Barnaby Joyce to a position of economic responsibility in the Opposition is already becoming apparent – along with its dangers for Australia’s attractiveness to investors – the full extent of the Coalition’s policy shift is only now becoming apparent.

This is not a lurch to the Right in the sense understood in recent decades.  It is shift toward populism – and the crassest form of populism – that entails a marked step in directions more traditionally regarded as the Left.

Abbott’s own preference for regulation over the operations of the market is apparent, placing him firmly in the populist Left on economic policy.

But disturbingly, Kevin Andrews has signalled what would amount to a disastrous retreat from the high immigration policy pursued by both sides of politics for decades, one of the key drivers and props of Australia’s economic performance.

It also suggests that notional Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison will be the moderate but ineffectual face on a hardline, populist policy driven by more extreme figures.

Andrews wants immigration reduced to around 35,000 “as a starting point”.  In 2006, net migration was 182,000; the following year, 216,000 and in 2008, 253,000.

The economic ramifications of that were neatly demonstrated on the front page of the Liberal house organ today, when The Australian, as part of its efforts to sell a new round of industrial relations deregulation, reported employer warnings of skills shortages re-emerging as unemployment peaked and began falling.

The Coalition’s response to that appears to be not merely a return to individual contracts, but to slash immigration by 85%, depriving employers of much-needed labour.

The policy prescriptions being advanced by the Coalition wouldn’t look out of place on the far Left – opposition to foreign investment, resistance to high immigration levels, support for regulation and intervention in the economy.  Cuts to immigration would also attract support from the left of the Green movement, where high immigration is regarded as an environmental disaster.

Andrews’s proposal, and Barnaby Joyce’s lunatic claims, mark not merely a retreat from the policies pursued by the Howard Government – Andrews as Immigration Minister happily presided over an Immigration program of over 200,000 – but a break with the economic orthodoxy followed for the most part by both sides of politics since the 1980s.

The exception was Labor’s period of drift away from the reformist tradition of Hawke and Keating under Kim Beazley and Simon Crean.  The Coalition now appears to be undergoing a similar, but far more febrile, version of that episode.

It will also confirm the concern of senior Government ministers that the Coalition would become desperate enough to resort to a xenophobic immigration policy in an attempt to appeal to blue-collar voters who see immigrants purely as employment rivals.

The next step may well be protectionism, especially in Government procurement.

Where are the countervailing influences in the Liberal Party that will uphold the party’s recent reform tradition?  Joe Hockey, now the most powerful moderate, lacks the policy grunt to resist the populist urgings of Abbott, Joyce and Andrews.  Nick Minchin’s ministerial record was undistinguished, mainly because he was more focussed on factional warfare than on his policy responsibilities.  He certainly failed to play the traditional Finance Minister’s role of Dr No in the final Howard term.

It will be up to the party’s key business backers to explain just how disastrous the prescriptions of Andrews and Joyce will be. It might perhaps be too much to expect the commentariat to do the same.  But one can imagine how Julia Gillard in 2002 would have been pummelled by the right-wing media if she had called for an 85% cut in immigration, or if a Labor shadow Finance minister had attacked Chinese investment and suggested America was going to default.  They would have been called unfit to hold office, and correctly so.

Let’s see if there’s a double standard when Coalition figures peddle that nonsense.

In the unlikely event that this economically disastrous populism gets Abbott elected, there’s always the chance wiser heads will prevail in government.  If it doesn’t, the Coalition will have shredded its reputation for economic competence not merely with voters but with its business base.

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  • 1
    shepherdmarilyn
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    What economic competence? GST? Foreign debt? Wasting mining booms?

    I know, they wasted $3 billion locking up refugees and more billions killing them in their own countries before they could be refugees.

  • 2
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    It takes a huge lunge to the Right to propel yourself around to the meet the extreme edge of the Left head on, but it occurred to me yesterday that this is precisely what they’ve done.

    Thanks for fleshing out the details of this bizarre bit of contortion, but I’ll not hold my breath waiting for the MSM to hold it to ridicule.

  • 3
    Andrew Bartlett
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    For those who thought Kevin Andrews’ performance regarding Mohamad Haneef demonstrated how poorly he understood migration matters, this latest outburst confirms it in spades.

    Mr Andrews has been reported as saying immigration numbers are “pretty much plucked out of thin air” – a truly astonishing piece of ignorance from someone who only recently actually had the responsibility for setting the numbers for our migration intake.

    I thought those advocating zero-net migration (approx some number of permanenet arrivals as permanent departures each year) had a poor enough idea of reality. But Andrews is suggesting we aim for negative migration, while at the same maintaining the extraordinarily expensive and inefficient baby bonus to encourage people to have more children.

    I am curious what happened to the idea of shadow ministers speaking within their portfolio. It seems under Tony Abbott’s lead, every shadow minister has got free reign to give voice to every thought bubble on any topic.

    I’ve seen some comments wondering why Tony Abbott didn’t find a shadow position for Pauline Hanson, but it looks like she’s advising them on economic and immigration policy.

  • 4
    aubrey conversely
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    “Joe Hockey ….. lacks the policy grunt to resist the populist urgings of Abbott, Joyce and Andrews.”

    Or to do anything useful at all, really.

    It looks like Abbot has distributed his old DLP song books to the team.

  • 5
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    …well, not the ridicule it clearly deserves, and especially not from the Oz.

  • 6
    Most Peculiar Mama
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Your increasingly shrill and myopic partisanship is getting boring.

    Today marks the arrival of the 54th asylum seeker boat laden with wealthy Sri-Lankans in Australian waters this year.

    Laughably, and with no small degree of irony, you seem fixated on seeing this issue as a Coalition problem.

    “…But one can imagine how Julia Gillard in 2002 would have been pummelled by the right-wing media if she had called for an 85% cut in immigration…They would have been called unfit to hold office, and correctly so…”

    Overlooking your fervent desperation to believe in “right-wing media” exists (or existed) in Australia, I believe Ms Gillard can hoist herself on her own petard without your assistance:

    …transcript from the Sunday program, Sunday October 18, 2009

    Laurie Oakes: I’ve got here a shadow minister’s press release headed, “Another boat on the way. Another policy failure.” Do you agree that every boat of asylum seekers that arrives represents a policy failure by the Government?

    Julia Gillard: Well, what I believe, Laurie, and what I think we can see from the conduct of the Opposition, is they’re all about playing politics with this issue. They say a lot of inconsistent things. Some days they’re in favour of temporary protection visas. Some days they’re against them. Some days they’re in favour of the Howard Pacific solution. Some days they’re against it. Each and every day they’re playing politics –

    LO: But what about you? What about you? “Another boat on the way. Another policy failure.” Is that right?

    JG: Oh well Laurie, I think what Australians know and what the Government knows is that we live in a world where people get displaced from their home countries for a variety of reasons. We’re seeing the aftermath of a civil war in Sri Lanka, for example, so people move because of that kind of violence. What, obviously, the world wants is for people, if they have to flee their homes, to then stop when they can get in contact with responsible authorities, like the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees, and have their claims processed. What we don’t want is we don’t want people risking long and dangerous journeys overseas where they might get into distress and get into real difficulty.

    LO: You see, that press statement is dated April 23, 2003, and it’s issued by then shadow minister Julia Gillard. So why is one boat arrival then a failure of government policy, but 30-plus arrivals this year is not a failure of government policy.

    Julia Gillard.

    Pwned.

  • 7
    Most Peculiar Mama
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I note one of Canada’s main media outlets (right-wing Bernard??) are calling for a global One-Child policy to combat “climate change”.

    Seems an entirely sensible idea…and is the elephant in the room at Copenhagen.

    Why is this not seen by you as having “dangerous economic consequences”?

  • 8
    Smithee
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    If high population equalled prosperity then Bangladesh would be a superpower and Finland would be in the third world.

    This article is just the usual left-wing propaganda that won’t admit alternative positions or policies.

  • 9
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Good article Bernard. Hey, I used to be a Liberal supporter, but over the last couple of weeks, can’t do that anymore. Since they dumped Malcolm, this bunch is starting to look very scary. What you rightly say about the crass populism and their appeal to some directions traditionally regarded as left is beginning to look like similar movements in the 1930s in Europe (I don’t recall Mussolini or Hitler encouraging market deregulation and free-trade). I don’t make that comparison lightly…my family of origin were victims of both fascism and communism in Croatia, and this stuff is starting to look awfully familiar, particularly in respect of the former.

  • 10
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Why is this not seen by you as having “dangerous economic consequences”?

    Yeah Bernard – why aren’t you writing about the Canadian press on an Australian blog you pinko!

    MPM – it’s the proof we need that Mr Keane is part of our communist vegan overlords.

  • 11
    The Zebras
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Most Peculiar Mama – “pwnd” WANKER!

  • 12
    Dotty Daphon
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Hey, leave vegans out of this!

  • 13
    Jackon Taylor
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Most Peculiar Mama,

    There are clearly more illegal entrants in Australia due to visa overstay who arrive at airports rather than by boat. Your obsession, as well as that of many in the community and a large slice of the media, with boat entrants is truly bizarre. I cannot help but feel it is more of an emotional issue than a logical one.

    Also, the claim that the Sri Lankans who arrive here are ‘wealthy’ is highly unbelievable. If they were wealthy they would surely have obtained tourist visas, entered by commercial airplane and applied for refugee status once they arrived onshore. The prospect of your family drowning in a leaky boat is unappealing when the option of a comfortable flight is available.

  • 14
    Most Peculiar Mama
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    @Possum Comitatus

    Don’t trip over that double-standard will you dear.

    I see Bernard cherry-picks data to suit his argument…much like yourself.

  • 15
    Ian Bryant
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    I thought nobody cared about the boats any more. It was only a small article on page 2 of today’s Tele.

  • 16
    jenauthor
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    @MSM
    ‘Your increasingly shrill and myopic partisanship is getting boring.’

    Sweetheart — yours is worse than myopic — yours borders on the legally blind! Cherry-picking data goes both ways …every ‘grab’ from interviews or speeches automatically loses proper context. And giving a one line answer to an interviewer on a grossly complex problem also changes context.

    And, of course, people hear what they want to hear (I readily admit I do too but at least I don’t pretend I have all the answers like some newly elevated coalition pollies). Thus all of Rudd’s reviews — not being expert he goes to experts for advice — to my way of thinking a sensible option — afterall if I were building a house I’d get a builder to do the work — not a farmer, or a lawyer or an accountant.

  • 17
    oldskool
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    @ MPM

    Seriously, NOT commenting in an Australian blog about an article in foreign press, regarding population issues, when BK is discussing Australian Politics is SO not Cherry Picking!!!

    DO you get 2UE on that hat?

  • 18
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Let’s see if there’s a double standard when Coalition figures peddle that nonsense.

    Of course there will be.

  • 19
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    yeah, Possum, why do you use facts so much? Is it because you can’t make up your own reality like MPM?

  • 20
    Bolly Knickers
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Most Peculiar Mama….damn straight you are. Very peculiar. Strange.

    “Your increasingly shrill and myopic partisanship is getting boring.

    Today marks the arrival of the 54th asylum seeker boat laden with wealthy Sri-Lankans in Australian waters this year.”

    Clearly, you are another ignorant Australian who has NO IDEA what is going on in terms of asylum seekers, who they are, and the conditions where they are coming from. You don’t know…and obviously don’t care judging by your own MYOPIC and xenophobic shrill.

    It’s a good thing you didn’t let on about your own conservative views…just in case anyone thought you were being partisan or anything.

  • 21
    David Sanderson
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The Abbottonians are moving towards rank populism but it is easy to over-estimate how frightening that is.

    Firstly, after their first flush of enthusiasm the Abbottonians will be forced to moderate somewhat by party hard heads, moderates and their friends in the business world.

    Secondly, rank populism is by its nature erratic and difficult to control and that is likely to accelerate the fissuring of the party. Rank populism is likely to do much more damage to the Liberal Party than to the body politic as a whole.

    Thirdly, rank populism is just not that popular. If it was Hanson would now be PM. It does seem to threaten a destabilisation of the political consensus but that threat creates a defensive reaction which is much stronger than the populist threat. The major cost of populism is a hardening of social divisions, especially around race, and we are likely to see a rise in the kind of Hansonist racial conflicts that culminated in the Cronulla riots. Rank populism allows the small minority of extreme bigots and racists to feel they have greater social sanction to act out their aggressive or violent fantasies.

    So, rank populism is a very regrettable development but it is not ultimately a threat to the political order and its biggest threat is to the party that embraces it.

  • 22
    Altakoi
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    You’re right, it is getting dizzying watching the Libs vear from free market, globalisation idealogs to economically protectionist, socially isolationist and, apparantly, in favour of stern regulation of the banking sector in the public interest. Are they channeling the old labour party? Would be nice to have at least one labour party back in Australian politics but I am not sure I can be convinced of Abbotts sincerity.

  • 23
    jeebus
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    You’re not wrong, Bernard. All of the parties shifted to the right during Howard’s time in leadership, with Labour colonising the centre-right, and the coalition building their new base over conquered One Nation heartland.

    With Rudd’s election, the pendulum has begun to swing back to the left, and Turnbull was attempting to re-take some of the conceded middle ground by adopting a few progressive policies.

    The old guard was having none of that, though, and now the Coalition finds itself in the grips of a populist political revolution that will fail, for the sole reason that it was initiated from the top down, rather than the ground up.

    There is no mass unrest in the electorate agitating for a revolution, and there will be few receptive ears for the fire and brimstone spewing forth from Abbott’s front bench. The economy is doing well, and most people are relieved that Australia escaped the global recession.

    Viva la moderation!

  • 24
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    It’s Leftist hypocrisy that you have to gasp at.

    The swing to the left (and not the good kind but the nutter self labeled ‘progressives’) of Labor under Rudd is not the issue but the swing right of the Coalition.

    It’s not the usual Labor fiscal insanity apparently in question but the Liberals and that’s despite these loons driving the Federal government into more debt than ever before in history with projections for that to more than double.

    Despite all that its Labor that are fiscally responsible according to Swan and now Bernard Keane.

    Now sooner out of one puppet’s mouth than out the other.

  • 25
    Gary Johnson
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Strewth Bernard, only the Rudd govt has had a “westpac “mortgage on populism ever since it was elected…it’s a gimme mate…to try and foist that on the coalition at this point in time is a little bit weird. I am completely apolitical, but can’t you say one bad word about the Labour govt…and just maybe one little bitsy witsy good word about the coalition?…some balance perhaps??…

  • 26
    jenauthor
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    What planet are you on, James?

    The way things are looking — things are going to be better than previous projections … I’ve seen no sane projections that say the debt will double — it should be less than expected with the latest figures.

    Unfortunately for the Libs — they really have no credible leg to stand on when criticising the govt on these issues. Thus we have people like Barney making up populist stuff, I guess they’re hoping to divert the electorate from the truth. Alas, I don;t think they have a hope of that!

  • 27
    john2066
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    This would make sense except if you read Kevin Andrews’ comments, he has no intention of cutting immigration at all, he’s just vaguely floating a balloon about a ‘starting point’ to pick up votes. When in power I can guarantee the Liberals will continue the bipartisan policy of insanely high immigration.

  • 28
    Rocket Rocket
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    The lack of discipline by Andrews and Joyce is breathtaking. All it needs is one interview of Tony Abbott – “Mr.Abbott, do you endorse the views of you colleagues as expressed today?” – would be interesting.

    Actually I can’t believe Abbott was so stupid as to put Barnaby in Shadow Cabinet. I predict he won’t stay there long – he’ll “storm out” to make some Nats v Libs point to try and shore up the Nats vote.

  • 29
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    @jenauthor.

    The Federal debt is reported as $115 billion now.

    The Budget Forecast was for it to reach $300 billion.

    That figure, you should recall, was one neither Rudd nor Swan were apparently able to articulate no matter how many times nor in how many ways reporters asked.

    115 goes into 300 more than 2 and a half times to be not even precise.

  • 30
    george
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    This is what the Liberal party does, and I’m glad it’s pushing them even more to the extremes. The fantasy, from them and some of their MSM supporters, has always been that “the Libs are the better economic managers”.

    Really? And a party that is truly a better manager of the economy needs to vilify people, spread lies about refugees, create hysteria about “boat people” coming to “get you”, and cater to the racists in our society?

    No, it’s because they have nothing to offer in the way of real governance that they need to flame the racism and ignorance, and pander to the 10% of Australians that sway one way or another based on their “understanding” of what is happening around them.

    I’m not saying for one moment that the Labor party is perfect, but there’s a kind of unique vile scum that will use human pain and suffering to procure votes, and they tend to be found under the rock that is the Liberal party.

  • 31
    jenauthor
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    @JamesK

    Your inference was that it would be double the already published projections … thus $600 billion (in your figures).

    Current assertions are that the max figure will end up no where near the projected $300 billion because govt revenues will be much higher than expected since employment has remain relatively stable (and not escalating as projected) and business has continued to chug along despite the pessimism from some quarters.

    Anybody who knows their ancient history will realise the government simply used the Periclean principle when fighting the GFC. Pericles took Athens from poverty into riches in a few short years by putting everyone to work on public construction etc. Their economy surged to form what is remembered as a Golden Age.

  • 32
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    @jenauthor

    I can’t see how unless you speak a foreign version of English of which I have been unaware.

    $115 billion debt is already a record and it will at least double despite the good news on employment. So probably less than $300 billion but not more than $70 billion less.

    Remember Keating’s $96 billion?

    It only took Rudd 2 years with a starting point of more than $20 billion in the bank.

    Those billions just roll off the tongue and pen these days don’t they?

    Children are in power now. Or maybe teens on speed.

  • 33
    george
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    @jenauthor,

    “Anybody who knows their ancient history will realise the government simply used the Periclean principle when fighting the GFC. Pericles took Athens from poverty into riches in a few short years by putting everyone to work on public construction etc.”

    Absolutely correct!

    And what public construction did the Rudd gov. spend it on? Schools. As Dr. Gruen points out from Treasury (and as reported by Poss recently), there was a distinct reason why the Government sent loads of cash to Schools (footnote #2 in the online report):

    “The largest component of the investment spending, the school-based infrastructure spending, has a number of elements to enable speedy construction. School land is available immediately without the need for planning approval; hence no planning delays. Further, schools chose from standard designs rather than developing their own, to speed up construction. School-based infrastructure spending has the advantage of providing stimulus to almost every population area of the country; useful because the economic slowdown was expected to be geographically widespread. Finally, school infrastructure projects have low import content, which raises the domestic stimulatory impact. Kennedy (2009) provides more detail on features of the stimulus package designed to ensure that it translated into spending in the economy as rapidly as possible”

    The full speech is well worth the read:

    http://www.treasury.gov.au/documents/1686/HTML/docshell.asp?URL=Australian_Business_Economists_Annual_Forecasting_Conf_2009.htm

  • 34
    jenauthor
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    ‘It only took Rudd 2 years with a starting point of more than $20 billion in the bank.

    Those billions just roll off the tongue and pen these days don’t they?

    Children are in power now. Or maybe teens on speed.’

    Translating Keating’s $96b in today’s terms it would likely be more. And there’s an old adage — you need to spend money to make it. Would you take out a home loan knowing you’ll repay more than twice the value of the property — most Aussies do. At times debt is a necessity — in th GFC the alternative would be unthinkable.

    Those in power are not children or thinking like them. It was a rational response to a serious problem.

    Those who say different would probably stand by and watch someone bleed to death whilst deciding whether to call an ambulance or a taxi!

  • 35
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Debt = p Ă— (1 + r)t

    Debt = 96 Ă— (1 + 0.03)13years

    Debt = $141 billion at a 3% inflation rate

    Equals less than half Rudd’s projected $300 billion

  • 36
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    $175Bn is due to loss of tax receipts. Mostly due to Costello’s structural budget deficit becoming a cash one with the GFC.

    Howard & Costello spent too much on pork & tax cuts and got away with it because the economy was booming. Very, very poor economic management, much like Howard as Treasurer in Fraser’s cabinet, 21.36% cash rate and 10% unemployment and $9Bn deficit.

  • 37
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Well Jovial, I prefer Costello’s $20 billion in the bank after repaying $96billion over 9 years type “(v)ery, very poor economic management” to Rudd/Swan’s $135 billion withdrawal over two years with an overdraft facility to $300 billion type “(v)ery, very poor economic management”.

  • 38
    jeebus
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    @Jen & JamesK – it’s facile to measure public debt in absolute numbers, when what really matters is its percentage of the national economy. Compared to America’s 51%, the UK’s 67%, and Canada’s 71%, Australia’s 18% is positively rosy.

    Considering our economy is growing at a reasonable pace again, JamesK’s hysteria is (as usual) completely overblown.

    http://buttonwood.economist.com/content/gdc

  • 39
    JamesK
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    So…Jeebus $14,250 Federal debt for each man, woman, teenager, child, baby and neonate in the country is just dandy?

    That excludes State governmental and personal debt of course.

    Being reassured by a lefty that their spending of other people’s money is just dandy is on a par to being reassured that that Mr Baldy is a safe bet for your childcare needs.

  • 40
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    JamesK, is the Governor of the Reserve Bank a ‘lefty’ too? ‘Coz he sure doesn’t sound one tiny bit concerned about the government’s debt levels, and if they were so astronomical as to be a problem, he’d be the first one to say so.

    Maybe you ought to learn some basic economics instead of repeating the hysterical claptrap of yokels like Barnyard.

  • 41
    elvis
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Lets leave left and right to one side for a tick

    It appears to me relating to immigration we have embarked on the ultimate PONSI scheme of proping up an unsustainable (exponential growth) economic system of consumerism at all costs to maintain what was previously created.
    While also persuing an equally damaging short term sell off, of as much energy, for a cheap price, to keep a floundering short sighted “kitch buying” metality prolonged.

    Government debt levels etc are a result of a greedy and endulged population and the above mentioned PONSI system.

    Anyone for massive population growth with agribusiness and water supply dependent on declining and in the near future more expensive oil?

    Shheeez

  • 42
    sean
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Is that the same andrew bartlett who’s running for the greens this time around? God spare us..

    You cannot spout on about the environment and the seriousness of Global warming and maintain at the same time that Australian immigration should be sustained at the current level (the highest growth rate in the world). THis is not some lunatic argument but a pretty mainstream environmental argument – from everybody from tim flannery to Ross Gittins to Bob carr.

    Yes, I know Andrews is flagging it for craven, opportunistic populist political reasons but that should not mean that any broaching of the issue is off bounds.

    We know Bernard that as population explodes so does GDP. Its a sheer weight of numbers thing. So what. Are they better off in the US cos they’ve got 30 times the population of oz. If you stopped fetishising economic growth you might actually begin to appreciate the things that actually matter – liveability, quality of life, space, the environment etc. Until you do, stop going on about how all this shambolic climate politics and the stupidity and cynicism of it all is driving you nuts..

  • 43
    MrRyan
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Holy God, The conservative party (liberal? really) has no chance as long as it’s fielding fruit loops such as Dennis Jensen.
    http://www.stopdennisjensen.com/2009/12/dennis-jensen-quotes.html

  • 44
    beachcomber
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    In just a few days, the Opposition has shown it is erratic, incompetent and undisciplined.

    Abbott may be the most erratic. He tells us one day that he does not believe in Climate Change, then tells us he’s a greenie and will have a Climate Change Plan in the New Year. Then he tells us the world is not warming, it’s actually cooling. I’m uncertain what planet he is on, but if is Earth he must be taking something. Now he has shown he can’t add up and made an error of billions in his costings. And he is the Leader?

    And now Joyce is running around like Chicken Little saying the US is going to collapse, and Queensland is going to collapse, and it’s all awful, and how he wants to move to the Lower House, and how China is horrible and we should not deal with them, and then says the next thing that pops into the space between his ears. And he’s in charge of the money!

    Next Kevin Andrews, a failed Immigration Minister, is speaking outside his portfolio and wants to slash immigration to a fraction of what he and Howard allowed.

    And Bronny hasn’t started up yet. Wilson Tuckey must be wondering why he missed out on a job if the other idiots made it.

    It’s going to be a long summer.

  • 45
    Rollo
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    It has to be said: Barnaby is sounding like a Communist.

    The Coalition have gone feral. Really. If I was a dinky-di Libs supporter, I would seriously be worried about what Abbott, Andrews, and Joyce are saying each day; total fluctuations in their message and Abbott has basically gone rogue. Someone said in another thread that Joe Hockey just didn`t seem like he wanted to be there when being interviewed because he knew he couldn`t sound convincing while the Carnival swirled around him.

    Do any of the Coalition supporters in this thread really think a coherent message is being made? Or that the ALP aren`t meekly batting these statements of profound lunacy away at the moment on purpose? Do you not think the ALP machine isn`t drooling at every soundbite they can make into an ad?

    There is no coherency to the Coalition at the mo. They are just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind that sounds oppositional. They are taking every opportunity in the media to be heard rather than bunkering down and having at least a semblance of strategy and cogency of thought.

    The only thing they have going for them is if Copenhagen breaks down. That is the only thing they have. You don`t build a house on a rolling mudslide and you don`t build a cogent thought-plateau on what you can not control. You don`t rule out mechanisms for futurity just so you can so you are different.

    I would really like to know from the Coalitionists who reside here in the Crikeysphere if they think the Coalition is being convincing.

  • 46
    beachcomber
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Re Andrew Bartlett (re Abbott and Hansonism) maybe David Oldfield is back in Abbott’s employ as Chief of Staff.

  • 47
    jackle
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    The Nats have a proud and long history of agrarian socialism – single-desk wheat board, for example.

  • 48
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I take issue with that statement Bernard. I’ve been saying Oz is over populated for the past ten years or more, and Populate and Perish has always been my theme. I think-in order to be fair to everyone-that the government should make a two child policy for everyone.

    Kevin Andrews is yet another Catholic card-carrier who would look more at home in a cardinal’s outfit. Stuff the influence of big-business-no country can be allowed to have a never-ending production line of clones. Just so they can keep the factories making business a fortune.

    And no-one, ever, ever, ever has accused me of being populist

  • 49
    Bullmore's Ghost
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    ^ Kevin Andrews would look more at home in a funeral director’s outfit.

  • 50
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Keane is right in that if people from an opposition Labor party had said these things they would have kicked from dawn to dusk by the MSM and labelled dangerous morons.

    If Andrews and Joyce in government instituted their thought bubbles as policy it would a guaranteed path to the country’s ruin.

    advocating zero-net migration

    So I gather Andrews must have a simultaneous policy of delaying the pension to 80 as the elderly will never by allowed to retire or could we afford to pay them.

    Even a year 11 practice shadow cabinet would produce better than Abbott’s present lot.

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