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Budget Savings, Protecting Voluntary Agencies, Clinton’s Health, Syrian War

With the imminent resumption of Parliament some warming-up is occurring. In The AustralianFinance Minister Cormann is reported as making new claims that the Coalition has already made large budget savings ($221bn over 10 years locked in) and that more could be made with Labor support. It appears Cormann refers to possible savings additional to those proposed by Turnbull to implement a miniscule $6.5 billion in budget savings said to have been agreed by Labor. But why hasn’t the Coalition detailed some possible additional savings?

GST Shares, Budget Strategy, NT Royal Cn

In my Commentary on Tuesday I suggested that Turnbull’s announcement at the WA Liberal Party’s conference held last weekend that each State would now be guaranteed a minimum share of GST revenue was, once again, lacking in any serious analysis or any checking first even with senior ministers, let alone other states. It has subsequently emerged that the new arrangements, the calculation of which has not been stated, are first to be discussed with other states and that it is unclear when they might start (although WA Premier Barnett who has an election next March says he thought it would be this calendar year). The Australian also published an analysis on the assumption that the minimum share would likely be 75% and that WA (now receiving only 30%) might not receive any future benefit from any such arrangement. My letter to the Australian on the issue was published yesterday with four others (see GST Shares).

Turnbull Continues under Fire

The questioning of Turnbull’s performance continues apace with the Financial Review editorialising under the heading “PM must break free of populists” and Andrew Bolt arguing that “It takes Turnbull a year to do nothing” (relevant articles attached). Such critiques have not yet reached a crisis point but they (and others) are increasing and no substantive response emerges. The editorial provides an indication of the concerns being expressed - “his decisiveness proved rushed”, “he was plainly wrong” and “Turnbull needs to more vigorously set out the undeniable case for the legislative trigger for the double dissolution election”. Not surprisingly, Bolt goes even further with “is it also because Turnbull really is a Labor cuckoo in a Liberal nest”, “has done absolutely nothing of real value” and for how long can Liberal MP’s “afford to cling to Turnbull. How long can Australia”.

Decision-making by Turnbull , Stone on Turnbull

My Commentary of 4 August examined Turnbull’s decisions in the period since the July 2 election when there was an opportunity to elaborate on policies neglected during the election. I concluded there was in reality a continuation of bad judgements as to both substance and process in the limited policies announced. Yesterday John Stone wrote Del-Con Notes in The Spectator surveying the election results. He described Turnbull “as a supreme narcissist”, a term seemingly being used overseas to characterise a culture seen by some as having developed around people in various walks of life who have excessive self-esteem (see discussion in an article not available digitally “Ego is not a dirty word”, Weekend AFR 6-7 Aug 2016)). Applied to Turnbull it suggests a political leader who has a limited interest in other peoples’ views or even that his own decisions turn out to be wrong. Stone concludes that “ sooner or later Turnbull will have to go” (see Spectator Australia article).

Outcome in Senate, NT Royal Cn, Rudd, Bank Interest Rates, US Defence Policy, CFMEU Behaviour

Since the election on July 2, Turnbull has continued his record of mistaken decisions as to both substance and process, plus a failure to indicate what substantive policies will be pursued other than the legislation already foreshadowed to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to make unions more accountable under the registered organisation arrangements. But unless the (recounted) loss of Herbet by 37 votes is successfully challenged and another election held there (which seems too risky a venture), he has a majority of only one in the Reps and a deficit of 16 in the Senate.This means that if the two houses sit together he would need 9 votes from cross benchers (who include no less than 4 from One Nation and 3 from Xenophon) to obtain a majority to pass that legislation, which is a possibility but clearly uncertain. It is of some importance to climate change and extremist terrorist policy that One Nation ended up with 4 Senate seats, including one held by a sceptic (Malcolm Roberts) on global warming who is well versed in the data.

Islamic Extremism – What is the Government’s Policy?

Last Friday my email distributor stopped me from sending or receiving emails because it discovered that I had arranged to transfer the responsibility to Telstra. My decision to do that reflected the sudden decision of the distributor to allow no more than a few to be recipients of my emails in one email whereas I had previously been able to include a large number as recipients of one email. The result was that a number of email recipients would have missed them and I received several inquiries about their absence. My apologies for the time taken to fix the glitch. I resume by taking you back the publication in The Australian on Thursday 21 July of an excellent analysis by Paul Monk of the Islamic problem (Paul is an acquaintance of mine who has considerable expertise as a writer and public speaker on defence and foreign policy issues). I sought to comment and succeeded in having the letter below published in The Australian on 22 July and it was accompanied by 5 letters in similar vein.

Iraq Invasion

The Chilcot report in the UK on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which took no less than 7 years to compile, has concluded that there was “no imminent threat” from Saddam Hussein at the time the US, the UK, and Australia invaded Iraq even though intelligence reports had concluded that he had acquired weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). As no WMDs were found by the invaders, it is now generally accepted that those intelligence reports were wrong, although some of those involved still argue that Saddam moved WMDs to Syria. Writing in The Times, Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips quotes several sources to that effect. She also argues that Saddam was “the god father of international terrorism”.