A New Political Climate
I hope it has dawned on business organisations by now that Tony Abbott has no interest whatsoever in an economic reform agenda. None. Zero. Not a minimal interest, not an occasional interest, not a hidden interest lurking beneath the overriding desire to win votes. As someone remarked, he is a Democratic Labor Party figure, not a contemporary Liberal who expects to be measured on an agenda of increased productivity.
The latest confirmation is his facile position that the increased super contribution of 12 percent by 2019-2020 will be retained under a coalition government, even while he will forgo Labor’s mining tax. The decision on the mining tax is itself remarkable. Abbott will be going into the next election saying he will repeal a tax that mining companies – or at least the bigger ones – will have agreed to pay and will be paying. No, he will say, take it back – I insist.
There is more interest in the Abbott policy alternative, as carbon lifts from the agenda. All his easy lines are catching up with him.
Abbott already had a 57 percent dissatisfaction rating which confirms the electorate is on to him even when locked into a dislike of Labor.
There are obviously more Labor-inclined voters than the 30 percent measured in the last Newspoll. Labor needs to be thinking strategically about how to bring them back, especially when the carbon tax and the mining tax are in place and not generating front page stories. One clue might lie in the QANTAS dispute. No matter what one thinks of union action blocking productivity improvement, one has to acknowledge that public sympathy was overwhelmingly against QANTAS and its lockout. It’s a reminder to many Australian employees of their vulnerability, just like the wharf dispute in 1998 and the WorkChoices legislation.
In any case, the political atmospherics have changed:
• the Labor vote is recovering
• the carbon legislation is in place; and
• the contradictions and negativism in Abbott are on display and the media will expose them.