Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Labor party's use of misleading advertising in 2016 came back to bite them in 2019

The Mediscare campaign in 2016 seemed a good idea at the time but it was a gross disortion of the facts. So it legitimated scare campaigns by the coalition in 2019. 

The Left never seem able to think ahead.  They never think their dirty deals will just lead to them being hit by similar deeds further down the track.  Some call it the "Harry Reid" effect -- after "clever" Harry abolished the filibuster and inadvertently gave the USA two very conservative High Court judges

Like many I was surprised by the election result two Saturday’s ago. While for many the double of Scott Morrison winning the prime ministership and Tony Abbott losing his seat was the perfect double, I only expected one of those events to unfold.

Bill Shorten’s loss must be personally devastating for him. I’ve heard that his house was half packed up, ready for the move into The Lodge. I know shadow ministers were organising post election briefings with heads of department, as well as lining up new names to take on such roles after the election. Shorten had already planned the timing and agenda of his first cabinet meeting before counting even started.

Never before has the phrase “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” been more appropriate.

While plenty of Labor die hards are angry at the scare campaign the government mounted, the simple fact is what goes around comes around. And, being frank, if politicians can’t sell their way past a scare campaign, they lack the necessary political skills to succeed.

Yes, labelling the franking credits policy a “retiree tax” was deeply misleading. It only affected four per cent of retirees. Pensioners and part pensioners were excluded. And anyone securing franking credits as part of a self managed super fund could shift their investments into a managed fund and the credits would still do their job.

But Labor failed to cut through with such details, and yes many more people were convinced Labor’s policies would hurt them than was actually the case. The scare campaign hit its mark.

Then there was the scare campaign on death duties. Yes some Labor frontbenchers has written about the virtue of inheritance taxes in the past — such as Andrew Leigh during his time in academia. But it wasn’t Labor policy, had been specifically ruled out by Shorten, and the chances of Labor ever changing their minds and introducing death taxes were zero. Yet the scare campaign persisted.

While I would welcome reforms to ensure truth in political advertising, without them the bottom line is Shorten was hit by a double decker karma bus. Because he launched an equally invalid, misleading and false scare campaign against the government back in 2016. The Mediscare campaign was effective. It almost cost Malcolm Turnbull the election. It certainly reduced his majority. It drew Labor close enough such that Shorten’s campaigning skills were praised and Labor’s performance defied expectations. It meant Anthony Albanese couldn’t challenge the always unpopular Shorten.

What goes around comes around. A Labor scare campaign in 2016 saves Shorten’s leadership and crippled the authority of the then PM in the election’s aftermath. A Liberal scare campaign in 2019 cost Shorten the prime ministership and has sured up Scott Morrison’s authority as PM.

It’s all very unedifying. It’s not conducive to good politicking and good policy making. But I do believe, with or without truth in political advertising reforms, politicians worth their salt should be able to successfully defeat such scare campaigns. If they are good enough, and if their reforms are good enough.

When they can’t they have no one to blame but themselves. Especially when they dabbled in the black arts themselves, just three years earlier.


New Labor leader Anthony Albanese calls for end to climate wars

Albo wants bipartisanship?  Maybe.  He still believes in global warming but sounds flexible about the policies resulting from that

Anthony Albanese has called for an end to the climate wars, saying he wants to work with Scott Morrison on an emissions reduction plan that benefits both the environment and the economy.

After being confirmed as the party’s new leader on Monday morning, the senior leftwinger has also urged more people to join the Labor party, saying the movement needs to be “larger and more inclusive” to win an election in three years’ time.

Arguing the opposition had many lessons to learn following its shock election defeat under Bill Shorten, Albanese said he believed that “conflict fatigue” was among the reasons the party had failed to convince voters of the need for change.

“People want solutions, not arguments. They have conflict fatigue,” Albanese said. “I am a values politician, but I also say this to Scott Morrison – I’m not Tony Abbott.”

Flagging his desire to see bipartisanship on the vexed issues of constitutional recognition for indigenous Australians and climate policy, Albanese said he was prepared to work with the Coalition to develop a consensus position on a national emissions reduction plan.

“Let me say this unequivocally – the science is in, climate change is real, we must act,” Albanese said.

“Action will create jobs, it will benefit our economy and it will benefit our environment.

“The time for the ongoing conflict over these issues surely is over.”

But while indicating he was prepared to cooperate on some policy areas, Albanese also pledged to “strongly, forcefully” hold the Morrison government to account.

Albanese’s call for climate policy certainty comes as Labor’s shadow environment minister Tony Burke indicated the party could move away from its support of a direct market mechanism to tackle emissions reduction, suggesting Labor shift to a regulation and spending model, such as that being advocated by the Democrats in the US.

Albanese said he was neither a “neither a climate sceptic, nor … a market sceptic”, saying he had consulted with business about the need for policy certainty.

“They are crying out for certainty, and it is time that the government worked with the opposition to deliver that certainty going into the future.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has indicated the Coalition will pursue the climate policy it took to the election which centres on a $3.5bn emissions reduction fund.

Pledging to work hard over the next three years to convince people of the need to vote Labor, Albanese acknowledged the party needed to do more to “reach out” to those who didn’t support either major party at the May 18 election, while conceding Labor had a “big mountain to climb” to form government.

“I want to see a larger, more inclusive party, and the first thing I want to say to all those millions of Australians who were disappointed with our performance…(is) join up, get involved, make us stronger for the next challenge,” Albanese said.

“I am up for a hard job. I am up for hard work. “I intend to do my best to work with the Australian people to ensure that we elect a Labor government next time.”

Flaunting his credentials as a “consultative” leader with experience across a range of portfolios, Albanese said he believed Labor should be the natural party of government that embraced both economic and social policy reform.

“We can’t judge the economy separate from the people it’s meant to serve,” Albanese said. “It’s not in my view economic or social policy - it’s both, hand in hand.”

But he said he would “hasten slowly” on policy development after the party regrouped following last Saturday’s election defeat that has been widely blamed on the party’s expansive policy agenda.

Albanese assumes the leadership uncontested after none of his potential rivals nominated for the role. His deputy is expected to be Victorian MP from the right faction, Richard Marles.

The Labor caucus will meet on Thursday to endorse the positions and confirm the carve up of Albanese’s frontbench, with 16 positions to be allocated to the party’s Right faction, and 14 for Left-aligned MPs.


Albo has a new fudge on the Adani coalmine

Says it is not for him to decide

Anthony Albanese has continued to question the economics around the Adani mine, but says a climate change convoy which enraged Queensland communities was “very unproductive.”

The incoming Opposition Leader today fielded multiple questions about his repeated refusal to back the Adani mine,, despite the issue costing Labor votes in north and central Queensland.

Mr Albanese, who is making his first trip to the Sunshine State today, said this morning the markets would ultimately decide the economic case for Adani and pointed to its history of missing deadlines.

“It’s not up to government to determine that, it’s up to markets themselves,” he told ABC radio.

“One of the things that has occurred over a period of time is that the company has not met a range of timelines that they’ve put forward.

“But we will see what decisions the company make once the approvals are made or not made.”

Climate change and the Adani mine has been labelled key reasons behind Bill Shorten’s disastrous performance in Queensland at the federal election, where Labor only managed a primary vote of over 27 per cent.

One of the key issues was a “climate change convoy” of activists led by former Greens leader Bob Brown which travelled through north and central Queensland protesting Adani.

Several Labor MPs have pointed to the convoy as a factor working against them in the campaign and Mr Albanese poured scorn on the activists this morning. “The truth is that was incredibly provocative and did nothing to advance, in my view, a genuine debate about climate change,” he said. “To reduce it to a debate about a single mine is very unproductive, it does nothing to advance the debate.

“Good policy is about jobs as well as clean energy, as well as making sure we take the community with us … people could do with less yelling and more genuine debate.”

Mr Albanese will be confirmed as Labor leader by his parliamentary colleagues on Thursday, as he will his presumptive deputy Richard Marles.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor said this morning that Mr Albanese had to be clearer if he supported the coal export industry. “Is he going to support them? He seems to be pretty unclear on that,” Mr Taylor told Sky News.

“I’m pleased that he is not saying he’s going to get in the way (of Adani) ... we want to see these industries succeed.”

Mine craft doesn’t add up

Yesterday Mr Albanese has questioned the “economics” of opening up the Galilee Basin to coalmining and refused to publicly support Adani’s $2 billion Carmichael mine, ahead of his visit to Queensland today to win back blue-collar workers.

The inner-Sydney left-wing powerbroker, who previously called into question the future of thermal coal and the feasibility of the Adani project, is facing internal pressure to further distance Labor from the coal industry.

Asked yesterday whether he supported the Adani coalmine, Mr Albanese, who will today visit the northern Brisbane electorate of Longman which Labor lost to the Coalition, said he would “respect the process” but did not endorse jobs for central Queensland.

“There is the other issue with regard to Adani, and indeed to the whole issue of the Galilee coal basin, the issue of the economics of it, the basic cost-benefit ratios,” Mr Albanese said, after being confirmed as the ALP’s 21st leader.

“One of the things, for example, that was put forward, was that it should receive a subsidised railway line. No, I didn’t support subsidisin­g a railway line for a private­-sector operation.”

Labor MPs and candidates in the central and north Queensland seats of Flynn, Capricornia, Dawson­ and Herbert signed petitions before the election calling for the development of the Galilee, a 247,000sq m thermal coal basin in central Queensland with an estimated 27 billion ­tonnes of untapped coal.

Six coalmines in the Galilee Basin have been approved by the state government, which could generate 16,000 jobs and nearly double Australia’s thermal coal production. Mr Albanese faces the task of reversing massive swings in Queensland against Labor at the May 18 election and the loss of two seats, including the Townsville seat of Herbert, which relies on mining to generate jobs and business.

The party’s election failure prompted Queensland’s Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to immediately intervene to end the delays to the approval process of the Adani mine project.

Mr Marles also refused yesterday to throw his support behind the Adani mine but backtracked on comments he made before the election suggesting it would be a “good thing” if global demand for Australian coal collapsed.

“The comments I made earlier this year were tone-deaf and I regret­ them and I was apologising for them within a couple of days of making them,” Mr Marles said. “It failed to acknowledge the significance of every person’s job.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan lashed Mr Albanese and Mr Marles for refusing to say they supported the Adani coalmine.

“The Labor Party have heard nothing and learned nothing from the election result,” Senator Canavan said. “People voted last week to protect their jobs, protect their futures, but the Labor Party are showing again that they are no longer the party of workers.”

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane, a former Coalition resources ministe­r, said Mr Albanese should throw his support behind jobs in central Queensland.

“It doesn’t really matter what Anthony Albanese thinks about viability — that is a decision for the company and its sharehold­ers,” Mr Macfarlane said. “The project will proceed or not on the basis of its commercial viabili­ty and that will be assessed by the company and its shareholders.”

Senator Canavan said he used Mr Marles’s comments — when he said the collapse of coal exports would be a “good thing” — against Labor during the campaign.

The coal and Adani issues helped the Liberal National Party win Herbert and retain Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn, with swings to the government.

The result, which included a statewide primary vote of just 27 per cent, stunned senior Labor figures and prompted the Palasz­czuk state government to demand a fast-tracking of its Adani approvals process, with a decision on the future of the mine to be made within weeks.


It’s the word police who threaten harm

Bill Shorten offered a comprehensive social vision and was rejected. This is consistent with a renewed commitment by Australians to freedom of expression and relig­ion. Three-quarters of us strongly support legal protections for freedom of thought, conscience and belief, according to a YouGov/ Galaxy­ opinion poll of 1033 people on behalf of the Institute for Civil Society before the federal­ election. At that time the Israel Folau controversy was runnin­g hot.

Yet if free speech advocates are to prevail, they must answer the most serious case in favour of speech restrictions: that speech can harm. The argument against Folau’s words is that they are detrimental to others’ mental health. In our therapeutic culture this means that words, as well as sticks and stones, can be judged harmful.

John Stuart Mill’s doctrine that government can restrict our actions only “to prevent harm to others” was intended to protect us from ­coercive moralism. Nowadays, the principle is invoked for precisely the opposite reason: to restrict freedom — freedom of speech and religion in particular.

Citing Folau’s social media post, gay former rugby league player Ian Roberts said: “These types of remarks can and do push people over the edge … There are literally kids in the suburbs killing themselves.”

Similarly, Greens leader Richard Di Natale­ condemned the 2017 postal survey on same-sex marriage because­ it could lead “young people (to) take their lives on the back of a hateful and divisive debate in the community”.

But it is not merely with LGBTQ issues that indirect-harm arguments are used to condemn or silence speech. Progressive leftists seized on the Christchurch massacre of 51 Muslims to launch an all-out attack on conservative critics of Islamic immigration and multiculturalism. TV presenter Waleed Aly said he wasn’t surprised by the March 15 massacre, given the anti-Islamic sentiments of the media and politicians. Former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs called for a new “hate speech” law in response to former senator Fraser Anning’s comments blaming Muslims themselves for the mass shooting.

Di Natale went further and called for new “laws that regulate our media”. Speaking of “people like” Andrew Bolt, Alan Jones, and Chris Kenny, Di Natale said “if they want to use hate speech to divide the community then they’re going to be held to account for that hate speech”.

To be blunt, suicide, social division­ and terrorism are being weaponised to silence conservative speech. There are three serious problems with the justifi­ca­tions offered for the restrictive speech laws so beloved by many progressives.

First, the causes of social traged­ies such as gay suicide and anti-Muslim terrorism are com­plex­ and diffuse, making it impossible to determine the exten­t to which speech is responsible. Surely drug addiction, relationship break­down, isolation and mental health issues play significant roles.

Second, banning speech that allegedly feeds into a dangerous atmosphere seriously under­estim­ates how much speech would be silenced. As well as the Kennys and Bolts, shouldn’t we ban leftist critics of Israel and US foreign policy, whose ideas resonate with the justifica­tions of many anti-Israel terror attacks? Why stop there — what about climate change? Greens MP Adam Bandt has declared we need to announce a state of climate emergency in Australia. If anything justifies the banning of speech, it’s the possibility that the world could end if we listen to climate change deniers. What about sexism that feeds into systemic inequality and even domestic violence? Let’s ban everything that perpetuates sexist stereotypes: Disney cartoons, Barbie­ dolls, the Koran, the Bible, sexist jokes and hip-hop music.

Third, criticism of Islamic immigr­ation or policies on gender and sexuality is political speech, and what speech is more valuable to a democracy? No doubt such debate sometimes degenerates into abuse, but even then regulation must be relucta­nt lest it morphs into the wholesale suppression of controversial speech.

The attitude of Di Natale and Triggs, among others, shows how real this danger is. Folau’s criticism of homosex­ual­ity is religious expression, and freedom of religion is foundational to any liberal democracy. Get rid of it and you are left with a kind of progressive atheocracy.

Conservatives and liberals need to learn how to respond to “harm arguments” against basic freedoms because these are rhetor­ically powerful and will become only more frequent. It is necessary to point out that such arguments render valuable speech open to censorship.

A potential, indirect link betwee­n contentious speech and actual harm is not enough to justify incursions into freedom of expression. The public policy emph­as­is must be on a realistic approach to social problems, focusin­g on evidence of the many contributing factors, while keeping in mind the importance of our liberal democratic freedoms.

Of course there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech any more than there is absolute freedom of association (I cannot join the mafia) or freedom of movement (I cannot just move into my neighbour’s house). Yet all too often calls to regulate speech look like opportunistic attacks on conservatism and religion, or exasperated attempts to create the appear­ance of control over intract­able social problems.

Enemies of free speech and religiou­s freedom have been maddene­d by the Coalition’s May 18 victory. But they have not been beaten. Defenders of fundamental freedoms need to arm themselves with good arguments for, as progressives have just learned, empty slogans are never enough.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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