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Federal Government

METHOD TO THE MONK’S MADNESS: Insiders damn Abbott on parental leave but punters might lap it up

santa The federal election is coming in six months or so.

The polls make clear Labor goes in with a considerable advantage, with a highly popular leader despite increasingly noisy chatter about him and his style and a regrettable six months wasted on climate change last year.

Gough Whitlam was re-elected in 1974 despite getting many of the political basics utterly wrong.

For all Rudd’s faults, his errors have been minor by comparison.

Australia’s economy is the strongest in the world and while we always wonder about giving government credit for “economic management” when it mostly manages itself if it was good enough for Howard/Costello to boast about it’s good enough for Rudd/Swan.

So the starting point is that Rudd will be re-elected. And deserves to be re-elected for getting the basics of good government right and being a moderate Labor government only occasionally seduced by lefty-bureaucratic stupidity.

FLICKING THE SWITCH TO COMPETE
And that world of certainty was the one in which former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull appeared to operate reasonably comfortably. He was willing to fly the flag for freedom and Liberal principle and do so with an unquestioned style and erudition.

When this soft Opposition thing reached an absurd point, the Liberal party room stumbled into action, putting up Tony Abbott, a reluctant conscript to the leadership.

But having secured the Leadership, Abbott’s view, frequently expressed to colleagues, is that he wasn’t going to die wondering and that he wasn’t preparing for long-term Opposition, he’s in it to win it.

Common enough rhetoric from any Leader but it does seem at this point that he means it.

THE BIGGEST RISK IS TAKING NONE
Outflanking Labor to the left on paid parental leave has been messy, it might even be bad policy, it might make fundraising from big corporates difficult but it is almost certainly politically smart.

The Canberra Press Gallery is preoccupied with process stories, who was consulted, and the change of rhetoric and role for the players in Canberra.

We suspect the vast majority of working mums and prospective working mums as they contemplate the biggest decision they’ll ever make about the timing and composition of their family will spend a lot of time worrying about what the business lobby thinks or the few Liberals in the party room who really believe in limited government.

The truth is that no amount of government-funded compensation or hand-outs can ever compensate parents for the cost of raising a child. But the offer of six months fully paid leave after the birth of a child is no doubt a tempting one, a little less pressure on the family budget for those coping with or contemplating huge new financial pressures that come with the arrival of a child.

ECONOMIC POPULISM IS – D’OH – POPULAR
Abbott’s plan to tax big corporates to fund paid parental leave is definitely economic populism. We don’t agree with it but nor do we agree with baby bonuses or family payments or any of the bizarre collection of hand-outs assembled by the past few governments where it takes the people’s money and then hands it back to them – less the substantial cost of administration – and with a nice new Orwellian sounding title on it. Our view is probably in a minority of less than 1%. There has been mostly bipartisan support for these measures.

And that’s the thing about economic populism. It is popular.

And it will win Tony Abbott votes at the next election. It will certainly win him many more than it will cost him. Many compare his crazy-brave approach with Mark Latham’s. And that might well be his political epitaph if it all goes wrong, if he comes off as too aggressive, too edgy and too conservative.

But in one move he has left Labor puzzled, put them on the back foot on an issue they’d previously thought they’d own and has also done much to negate criticism of him that he might be revisiting the policy direction of WorkChoices.

MORE BA THAN MAD MARK
Tony Abbott probably won’t – maybe even can’t – win the next election. Australians seem very reluctant to turf out first-term governments, even if provoked by disastrous maladministration or the biggest new tax impost ever (GST).

But every Liberal spooked by his approach should remember that he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to make them competitive. Shaking things up. Triangulating to use the Dick Morris term by stealing your opponent’s ground on welfare while appealing to a traditional conservative strength in family. Disrupting the certainty that Rudd will be re-elected.

And you never know, if he keeps ignoring the Gallery and the pontificators and addressing the real concerns of voters with bold, attention-grabbing ideas he might just steal an election from right under Rudd’s nose.

The nation’s most consistent pro-family, big government but avowedly anti-communist advocate BA Santamaria may be dead. But his legacy lives on.

Discussion

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  1. It might be bad policy, but it’s bloody shrewd politics. Abbott has put Rudd in a corner and Rudd will have no option but to try and match Abbott’s scheme, but because Rudd has been so quick to criticise Abbott and effectively become the chief apoligist and lobbyist for big business, he will have no choice but to fund it through general revenue. If we have to have paid maternity leave, it’s no brainer that the average punter will say big business should pay. Abbott has also demonstrated the Libs are the party of small business by exempting them from the levy. All round not a bad days work from Tony.

    Posted by Broadchurch | March 10, 2010, 13:50
  2. If Abbott wins the election, I suspect his maternity leave policy will become a non-core promise and be ditched. That’s why he didn’t consult the party room because he has no intention of implementing his policy.

    Posted by Anon | March 10, 2010, 14:25
  3. I think that The Monk’s right wing policies will eventually come back and bite him on the bum. One look and you will see his maternity
    leave policy is pitched right at the top end people who don’y need
    it anyway.

    Posted by Argus Tuft | March 10, 2010, 14:30
  4. Tony Abbott is playing the media like a fiddle with this character of whacky Tony in the budgy smugglers who shoots straight from the hip (in contrast to the jargon laden talk of Rudd, a stark contrast to his brilliant media performances when in Opposition).

    He is also playing smart politics in terms of taking an opposing view on climate change and painting it as a tax likely to hurt the back pocket of those in the heartland. Similarly with parental leave he is appealing to John Howard’s battlers who love nothing better than baby bonuses and don’t really care if big business pays or Heather Riddout and the ACTU aren’t happy.

    Rudd is ahead because first term governments are rarely thrown out, but all of his election triggers aren’t vote winners (including a referendum on national health reform which amounts to a change to the funding model -wow and dumbs down the Victorian system)and the Mad Monk is crafty.

    Rudd should get his act together as he is looking spooked of late.

    Posted by Anonymous | March 10, 2010, 14:55
  5. I love to put a big ‘love bite’ on Tony’s bum, I wish he notice me more and comment on my nice new stove pipe slacks.

    Posted by Pissy Chryne | March 10, 2010, 14:56
  6. Vexnews obviously has a very unusual understanding of the legacy of Bob Santamaria who is indeed one of Tony’s inspirations. Santamaria and his National Civic Council were/are certainly big government on some issues such as free trade and industrial relations but they are actually in favour of much smaller government than people give them credit for. For example, whilst the NCC does support Family Tax Benefit handouts as a means to assist families, they actually recognise that there is way too much church involved. They’d rather income splitting which has been seriously considered by Coalition governments in the past. This policy simply means that parents pay less tax rather than all this churn nonsense.

    When it comes to this paid maternity leave, the NCC is actually strongly opposed to new taxes on businesses to fund maternity leave as they view it as discriminatory in that it favours working mothers who plan to return to the workforce after a short period of time. This scheme does nothing to give equal support for stay at home mothers (overwhelming Coalition voters).

    Posted by In the know | March 10, 2010, 16:00
  7. This article shows a very unusual understanding of the legacy of Bob Santamaria who is indeed one of Tony’s inspirations. Santamaria and his National Civic Council were/are certainly big government on some issues such as free trade and industrial relations but they are actually in favour of much smaller government than people give them credit for. For example, whilst the NCC does support Family Tax Benefit handouts as a means to assist families, they actually recognise that there is way too much church involved. They’d rather income splitting which has been seriously considered by Coalition governments in the past. This policy simply means that parents pay less tax rather than all this churn nonsense.
    When it comes to this paid maternity leave, the NCC is actually strongly opposed to new taxes on businesses to fund maternity leave as they view it as discriminatory in that it favours working mothers who plan to return to the workforce after a short period of time. This scheme does nothing to give equal support for stay at home mothers (overwhelmingly Coalition voters).

    Posted by In the know | March 10, 2010, 16:03
  8. Just have a look at all the Labor-sucks at Fairfax screaming their tiny tits off and then tell me it’s not good policy/politics.Yesterday Labor Groupie-in-Chief,Hartcher,was apoplectic,as was the accurately self-described “craven apologist for the Government” Coorey.Today they’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel and dredged up Turnbull.Any of the Press Gallery clowns who think that Abbott is just a Conservative version of Latham are deluding themselves but then that’s really what they do best isn’t it?

    Posted by Anonymous | March 10, 2010, 16:51
  9. Alan meet me later, as I need you to ‘ream’ me.

    Posted by Pissy Chryne | March 10, 2010, 17:48
  10. You know…

    Who ever is trying to portray “Pissy Chryne” may be the same low life who tries to portray “RDR” – Richard Della-Riva.

    I’ve been following Vexnews for a long time, this is by far the most pathetic and immature attempt I have seen on here to date to ‘discredit’ a person. Well done you bafoon.

    Posted by darkhorse | March 10, 2010, 20:07
  11. Im getting Abbot’s head tattooed onto my breast.

    Posted by Juicy Julia Gizzard | March 10, 2010, 23:07
  12. Ah, the politics of greed.
    Big businesses, such as oil companies, will pass on this tax to all consumers, so as to pay maternity leave at $100,000 plus annual salary equivalents to their wealthy private company ’employed’ supporters, and at $30,000 annual equivalent to home care workers and others on minimum wages.
    And this mob cane Labor over the so-called ‘politics of greed’! ROFLMAO!!!
    Just another ‘let the rich get richer’ stunt, like income splitting.

    Posted by Anon | March 10, 2010, 23:13
  13. I’ve got Tony’s face as a tat on my backside, his mouth is my anus.

    Posted by Pissy Chryne | March 10, 2010, 23:35
  14. If only some of the State Libs had half as much political SMARTS as Abbot , Labor would have lost many States to the Libs
    Santamaria was a Smart operator

    Posted by Mother | March 11, 2010, 8:41
  15. This maternity tax stinks. I smell a rat. Some Liberals, however, are hoping this is a Big Trick to woo bogan mums.

    Posted by Ben | March 11, 2010, 11:04
  16. Hey darkhorse

    What is a bafoon? That is the most pathetic and immature way I have ever seen on Vexnews to discredit Tammy Lobato.

    You buffoon.

    Posted by Micky D | March 11, 2010, 14:12
  17. Hi, I am trying to read this blog via RSS, but im getting a strange error message.. can you please assist? [VEXNEWS: Anyone else having this problem?]

    Posted by sterling silver jewelry | March 29, 2010, 21:16

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