Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cutting Through The Crap

The Prime Minister addressed the nation's heavyweight political journalists at the National Press Club in Canberra today, mainly as part of her selling tour of the carbon tax. In response to one of the questions at the end of her speech, Julia had some, one would think, commonsense advice to her audience - "Don't write crap".

It is a relief to note that in the past couple of days we have started to get a glimmer of thoughtful media analysis cutting through the crap, ignoring the side shows, and providing a proper review of carbon tax proposal.

That means less discussion about Tony Abbott's daily photo ops, visiting "hardworking" business owners to scare the bejesus out of them about how the carbon tax will destroy their business. This hasn't stopped him from continuing his trips, although he has now stepped it up notch to include his family as seen at the fish market yesterday.

One starts to wonder whether the ongoing Chicken Little approach by Abbott and Co is starting to wear just a little bit thin. Not yet with the public (though there may be cracks appearing - see this report on tonight's Abbott Forum), and certainly not by the loony fringes of the media - hello Andrew.  However, there are a number of articles by serious commentators in the mainstream press that are starting to call out Tony Abbott for his "sky is falling" hysterics, and realising that the Emperor's New Clothes are illusory. (Try to keep up with my analogous metaphorical references).

It's useful to have the weight of the numbers on your side and in this instance the numbers refer to the large percentage of Australian economists that believe that the Government's carbon policy trumps the opposition's "direct action" policy. Michael Stuchbury (Economics Editor for The Australian) has picked up on this with these two recent articles:

Economists Mostly Agree on Things, Survey Finds
PM Trounces Abbott in Economists' Survey

Peter Martin is a respected economics and business journalist currently writing for Fairfax. Here is his take on Economists v Tony Abbott:

Abbott. Economists Vote.

On The Drum (ABC website) Queensland academic John Quiggin also looks at why economists don't like the Abbott plan.

Lenore Taylor, writing for Fairfax (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age) as National Affairs Correspondent wrote this piece yesterday (and yes, the Chicken Little reference above was copied from her - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery):

Facts Assail Chicken Little Act

In other, related news, the recently announced takeover proposal of Macarthur Coal has seen an interesting development where the Chairman of the company, Keith de Lacy has indicated that the proposed carbon tax will be able to be easily absorbed by the mining companies, seemingly at odds with the pronouncements of the mining industry's own peak body.

The kicker to this news is the revelation that Joe Hockey is adamant that Mr. De Lacy is wrong. It is amazing to see the number of groups and individuals that Abbott and Co think are wrong in supporting the carbon tax.  (And  Newsflash to Joe Hockey - whilst economists aren't elected to run the country neither are politicians. You don't "run" a country.  Politicians are not directors of Australia Ltd, as there is no Australia Ltd.)

Trouble could also be brewing within the Liberal Party as Malcolm Turnbull is having difficulty in clearly articulating his support for Tony's direct action plan. His performance on ABC radio yesterday should have warned his party that the direct action plan may not be the policy that the Opposition will be presenting at the next election. Listen to the interview, or read the transcript here.

The Government have got a long way to go before they are out of the woods politically, but this is not a sprint, it's more like a long distance race. And I think Abbott is carelessly expending all his energy in the first hundred metres. It's good that some in the media are starting to see, and more importantly report, this.


I liked this article by Lenore Taylor in Fairfax this morning:

Price Fantasies of Veg Growers and Barrow Pushers

It's not just the Opposition spouting crap about the proposed carbon tax. Various industry groups are out there overstating the price implications of the carbon tax, or some media's interpretation of their overstatements. I applaud Lenore for highlighting this.


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