Monday, May 5, 2014
What is good for the goose is good for the other goose
Fairfax has kicked off what will no doubt be a long series of reports on links between the Liberal Party and corporate lobbyists with an attack on Joe Hockey. After all, as the Piping Shrike has presciently pointed out, if Labor is going to be smashed on links with dodgy unionists all the way through its term in government, why shouldn't there also be pushback on the Liberals' functionally identical links with the business end of town when they assume high office?
While I agree with the Shrike's conclusion that Clive Palmer is the big winner in all of this as the major parties have no answer to charges that they have been captured to some extent by rentseekers and grubs, I think some further thought is required on the implications for the Australian polity. Palmer will be a populist, but what does that mean exactly? Will he target the Nationals' base and support a return to protectionism? How much of the Liberals' platform will he block? What will be the price he exacts out of Abbott... how much of his arse will Abbott have to sell? The longer the Abbott administration creaks on and the more that the polls go against the government, the more power Palmer accumulates in the forthcoming negotiations.
we should already be seeing interest rate rises, and the RBA will be dragged into monetary action by the turn of the year. December is a common time for federal major party leadership spills in Australia (four of the last ten), and December 1 this year will mark five years since Abbott himself challenged Turnbull and won by a single vote.
The Sydney papers smell blood with ICAC just having boned a prominent NSW Liberal, and they are already tarring Hockey and Abbott with the brush of Eddie Obeid. Media pressure will grow as the new Senate sits, giving Palmer a rails run to insert whatever will get him more votes into the government agenda. A defection or two from the Nats would further destabilise the chaotic Senate.
It would not be surprising at all to see momentum for Scott Morrison build and build. A shift in leadership would mean a fresh start, and an opportunity to slough off the barnacles of Abbott's promises - specifically, his pet projects like PPL and Direct Action. The logic is inescapable for the Liberal back room, and they wouldn't care much about looking like Labor. Abbott has already done that for them.