Flogging a moribund horse

I suppose if you’re on the race track heading for a distant finishing line, one you can’t really yet see, even although your horse is tired and lagging way behind the field, you keep flogging it mindlessly, desperately hoping it will survive the race, buoyed by wild imaginings that it will get its second wind and bolt to the post.  What else can you do?  To acknowledge that the horse is moribund, to accept that it probably can’t even get to the finishing line, to have to dismount and quietly lead it back to the stables to be put out to pasture, would evoke ridicule from rivals and a realization by the betting public that the horse is finished, indeed was never really a starter.  So you press on, convincing yourself that each shout of the race-caller confirms that you’re on track for victory, no matter how far ahead the other horses are. [more]

The horse is Debt and Deficit, out of Stimulus too Much, by the now-deceased Economic Credibility.  It’s trained by newcomer Malcolm Turnbull who is yet to win a race on this track, ridden by apprentice Joe Hockey who still has a problem reading horse races, with Helen Coonan as the devoted strapper who thinks the horse can do no wrong.  It is transported in a horse float labelled ‘Labor’s Debt Bombshell’, no doubt anticipating that Debt and Deficit will explode in the faces of the other horses, particularly the one way out in front.  The horse’s owner, Federal Coalition, has a mixed stable of stayers – some now aging and close to retirement, some too cranky to put on the track, some too frisky to control let alone race, some youngsters that might become winners with more training, and some also-rans who will never make it.

In the face of the economic data that continues to emerge here and overseas, together with the considered opinion of most economists that the stimulus was necessary, was effective and needs to continue, and that the debt incurred is small and manageable, the only explanation for the Coalition’s persistence with Debt and Deficit and its insistence that the stimulus was too much and now needs withdrawal, is that it can’t think of anything else to do; it has no other horses ready to race.

Let’s look at the economic data.  To date, Australia has avoided recession.  The Federal Coalition would have us believe this was due to a combination of the Howard financial legacy, the sound well-regulated state of our banks, the interest rate cuts, the resurgence of China’s hunger for resources to feed its growing economy, and of course the GFC was not as bad as the Government insisted, leading to panic and cash splashed around recklessly to support an economy that hardly needed it, and jobs that weren’t going to disappear as imagined.   In true Basil Fawlty fashion, the instruction went out from the Coalition spin doctors, ‘don’t mention the stimulus package’, which all duly followed. 

Although everyone acknowledges the multiplicity of factors that contributed to the good outcome, asked on several occasions – surely the stimulus must have made a contribution to the good outcome – Joe Hockey had a simple answer: No – it was all the other factors.  This came easy for Joe, who would have made a better contortionist than a jockey.  He argued the Coalition line that it would support a stimulus, then that it wouldn’t, then that it was too much and poorly targeted, then that it would cause massive deficits and debt, then when the stimulus worked and things turned out better than expected, that the stimulus was hardly needed and should be withdrawn.  Any internal inconsistencies in his argument were of no consequence to him, he rode Debt and Deficit as if it was a champion streaking ahead to the winning post.

A multitude of local economists, even some initially sceptical about the size and targeting of the stimulus, now acknowledge the stimulus saved us from recession, business failures and steeply rising unemployment.  Add to that the opinion of the G20 leaders and finance ministers expressed only last weekend, the IMF, the OECD, the World Bank, the BIS, the governor of the Reserve Bank yesterday and the Secretary to the Treasury last week, and you have a pretty impressive body of opinion extolling the benefit of, indeed the necessity for the stimulus program, and the need to continue it until the economy shows it no longer needs the stimulus.  Of course all these authorities might be wrong, and the few sceptics, Turnbull, Hockey and Coonan right.  But who would back them in?

Even after hearing what Glenn Stevens said yesterday at the Greens-initiated Senate hearing, Coonan has her own twisted interpretation.  Stevens said: "Debt levels will not put significant upward pressure on borrowing costs.” In other words debt will not increase interest rates, and "I think it is a bit hard to claim that as of this moment there is too much growth in the economy so I haven't really had a serious problem with what has occurred on the fiscal front thus far."  In other words the stimulus package was responsible and acceptable and still needed.  And about the danger of rising interest rates: “I would say myself that actually it's the possibility of very low interest rates for a long period is the bigger contributor to likely asset imbalances. That's actually an argument I think for making sure that the return towards normal on monetary policy is not delayed."  

Instead of seeing that Stevens was saying a return to ‘normal’ interest rates from the current ‘emergency’ levels was desirable, and keeping them low a danger, Coonan’s take was: “He was very clear that if that spending were cancelled, that is the unspent stimulus, interest rates would result, at least interest rates would remain lower for longer.” whatever that means.  Steve Fielding though takes the cake with: “Reserve Bank in no uncertain terms said that if the government spends another $20-$30b it will put upward pressure on interest rates.” which is not what Stevens said at all.  This is the syndrome of hearing what you want to hear.

Today the Final Budget Outcome 2008-09 “...recorded an underlying cash deficit of $27.1 billion (2.3 per cent of GDP) for 2008-09. This outcome was $5.0 billion better than expected at the time of the 200910 Budget, reflecting lower than anticipated spending of $2.2 billion and higher cash receipts of $2.8 billion.”   Less was spent on unemployment benefits as fewer than expected were unemployed.  This will come as a nasty shock to the Coalition who predicated its ‘debt and deficit’ campaign on huge deficits going on for years leading to a $315 billion debt, an appalling burden for future generations.  In February Turnbull predicted every man woman and child in Australia would be weighed down by a debt of $9500.  That was wrong even then as this piece, REALITY CHECK: "It's the children I'm thinking about”, by Peter Martin shows.  So horrifying was this prospect that the Coalition constructed a ‘debt truck’ adorned with ‘Labor’s Debt Bombshell’ complete with a menacing bomb on which '$315 billion' was inscribed.  This too was wrong - the debt truck will need to be scrapped.  Earlier this month Martin wrote another piece The Coalition Debt Truck: Running on empty in which, quoting an estimate from Westpac, he pointed out that “Australia's government debt is set to top out at just $108 billion rather than $200 billion or more, used by the Coalition to justify its claim that the Rudd government plans to "lump every Australian with $9500 in debt".  Today’s budget figures reinforce that estimate.

So where are the horses at?  The stimulus has worked no matter what the sceptics say.  It has saved Australia from recession and high unemployment.  Consensus is that it needs to be continued until the fragile economy is stable and self-sustaining.  The Reserve Bank asserts that the debt incurred from the stimulus is modest, especially when compared with other countries, is quite manageable, and will not put upward pressure on interest rates.  The latest budget figures and projections indicate that the total debt will be nowhere near the grossly exaggerated $315 billion that the Coalition predicted; it may end up being around half of that.

The call for drawing back the stimulus is based on the Coalition view that it is more important to avoid debt than to build infrastructure in schools and major infrastructure such as roads, rail, ports and broadband.  And preserving jobs and businesses in the process is also secondary to avoiding debt.  This is consistent with the Coalition’s position over many years – bringing in surplus budgets at the expense of needed infrastructure, which it neglected for most of its four terms.

The Coalition is wrong on every count.  Yet it flogs its exhausted Debt and Deficit relentlessly, it insists its horse is on track to victory; it backs its trainer, its jockey and its strapper; it believes the punters will bet heavily on it.  It has wagered a lot of money on this horse, so can’t bring itself to retire it from the race, even although most of the smart money is on the Government’s horse.  It argues that white is black; that it is right, that the horse will survive and in an unprecedented burst of pace will take the prize.

But let’s face it, if Debt and Deficit is not already dead, it’s moribund.  To continue to ride it until it finally breathes its last, looks foolish.  Its sire, Economic Credibility, would turn in his grave and wonder how he ever got mixed up with Stimulus too Much.  Getting a more vibrant horse that has some hope of winning seems what sensible owners would do, a horse that the trainer can handle, the jockey can ride, the strapper can nurture lovingly, one that the punters might back.  That would seem more rational.  Admittedly though, rational behaviour doesn’t always come naturally, as the Coalition has so amply demonstrated.

What do you think?

 

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Rx

29/09/2009George Megalogenis reminds us that "[T]he former Coalition government left behind $58bn in gross debt". http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25889885-5013871,00.html Out of the $108 billion debt estimated by Westpac, that means that: MORE THAN HALF THE DEBT IS THE COALITION'S!

Bushfire Bill

29/09/2009I'm taking refuge here after causing a near riot and flame war at PB over Polanski's arrest (I presented the case for letting him go). If politics is a race then Rudd has lapped Turnbull three times already. The only reason the Coalition has caught up a little in Newspoll (a VERY little, and then only in the bush, if you read the figures correctly) is that Rudd slowed down a bit to wave to the crowd. The fantasies that the Libs are going through now usually come crashing down on election night, around 8.30 pm, when the pragmatists hunker down on Kerry's panel and confess they never had a chance. Andrew Robb, where are you when your party needs you? Until then, I'm afraid, we'll have to put up with it. It's not doing Rudd any harm for the naysayers to yodell into their beers predicting that all the other horses will fall over and allow them a miracle win. It happened once before: that Aussie at the Winter Olympics, wasn't it? The Libs ought to get him to stand for preselection. He's a lucky guy. And they're going to need all the luck they can muster to win this one.

Michael

29/09/2009The Coalition has nowhere to go. No political philosophy except being used to ruling (being born to rule needs five, six generations maximum to become genetically embedded), and being used to ruling provides no underpinning to carry on when suddenly you aren't. Howard did a great job on eliminating challengers, with a perfect understanding of Costello as a manque successor who would never make the move, always citing party loyalty, but actually manifesting failure of nerve. I suspect Costello's passing on picking up the baton on election night 2007 didn't even surprise John Howard, or if it did, most certainly did not Janette. So, no groomed successor, no real understanding of why a Liberal is a Liberal (how many of their oft-lionised small business operators do Coalition politicians really number amongst their friends?), and a leader many in the party room apparently elected to watch over-reach and eliminate himself from ever bothering them again, or others in the same room voted for as the only idjut in that room who didn't realise that he was carrying a smelly can to the next election.

Acerbic Conehead

29/09/2009BB, you say you caused a 'flame war' over at PB. Is that why they call you, 'Bushfire' Bill (boom, tish)?

vote1maxine

30/09/2009Ad Astra In keeping with your horse racing analogy, the cliche "flogging a dead horse" implied in your opening paragraph comes to mind. The punters know this as evidenced by the polls.The coalition needs a Bart Cummings stable of new racing steads such as Dynamic Policies, Political Vision, Carbon Killer & Renewal. As long as they remain in denial that their champion Phar Lap Howie is dead and they keep trying to clone from his DNA, it will be several races before they will become competitive on the track again.

Ebenezer

30/09/2009The smart money is on the Kevinator. Smart money very rarely looses.

Bushfire Bill

30/09/2009[i]"BB, you say you caused a 'flame war' over at PB. Is that why they call you, 'Bushfire' Bill (boom, tish)?[/i]" Could be, but I doused it before it got started. Too many flame wars over there lately.

Ad astra reply

30/09/2009Rx The $315 billion debt has always been an exaggeration, conjured up by the Coalition to make Labor’s debt look horrendous, (which it wouldn’t have been even at that level), but now with the economy improving, Turnbull will be hoisted on his own petard because the total debt will likely be much lower, and the Government will be able to say to the Coalition, ‘the debt is much lower that you predicted’, and if it turns out to be about half that predicted, that will be a big plus for the Government. Maybe then Wayne Swan will be able to point out that even the lesser debt is partly that of the Coalition, as George points out so well. BB I noticed the flame war when I did my usual scan on PB late last night. You certainly stirred up some righteous indignation. Anyway, you’re always welcome here. The write up in [i]The Australian[/i] of the [i]Newspoll[/i] quarterly analysis was a typical ‘Shanahanesque’ exercise ‘highlight the only bit of data that favours the Coalition’. Several pieces have rebutted that flight into fantasy: Possum’s [i]Voting Divides – City vs Regional[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2009/09/28/voting-divides-city-vs-regional/ ,Tim Gartrell's piece in [i]The Punch, The one conclusion from Newspoll: Turnbull is cactus[/i] http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/the-one-conclusion-from-newspoll-is-turnbull-is-cactus/?from=scroller&pos=10&referrer=article&link=text and Jack the Insider on his blog [i]Grand Final poll a disaster for Coalition[/i], http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/jacktheinsider/index.php/theaustralian/comments/grand_final_poll_a_disaster_for_coalition/ all worth a read. The figures paint an awful situation for the Coalition with strong Labor gains in WA, SA and Victoria more than offsetting small losses in the regions. Jack the Insider estimates 94/53 seats post election based on these figures. The loss in the regions highlighted by [i]The Australian[/i] was derived by comparing the latest [i]Newspoll[/i] results with the previous one, not with the 2007 election results; Labor is well ahead of its election result. Possum’s seats estimate, based on the last quarter is 101/46. [i]The Australian’s[/i] journalists too are flogging a moribund horse. Michael That’s the problem – Howard’s legacy, on which the Coalition prides itself so much, did not include a succession plan, leaving them in the chaos in which they now wallow. Turnbull is a disaster for them but they have no one else. Neither do they have a coherent philosophy or policy framework that might attract voters’ attention. Acerbic Conehead I’m sure BB would have preferred less ‘boom-tish’. vote1maxine Clever extension of the horses’ metaphor. My use of ‘moribund’ rather that ‘dead’ was perhaps too generous, but I notice that yesterday Joe Hockey was out bellowing in his inimitable style that the Government’s ‘wrecking ball’ metaphor was now defunct as the hole punched in revenue over the forward estimates would no longer be what the Government estimated. Of course Joe is basing his assertion on the fact that revenue in the 2008-09 budget year was $2.8 billion more than expected, so the projected budget hole is now $210 minus $2.8 billion, $207.2 billion. That fact that Joe feels he needs to grasp that miniscule scrap of financial data shows how desperate for a news grab he is, and how he is still flogging the horse, which he believes is not yet dead. Eb You’re right; I wonder what odds on the next election the bookies would give us now.

Bushfire Bill

30/09/2009[i]"I noticed the flame war when I did my usual scan on PB late last night."[/i] They're a great bunch of bloggers over there, and the site doesn't need a war about Roman Polanski's legal problems. I said my piece and left it at that. Otherwise it could have gone on for hundreds of posts. The negative reaction of some there to Polanski's plight at least puts paid to the Akerman-type notion that Lefties are a homogenous bunch of libertarian wankers for whom anything goes, morality-wize. They're as straight as the next lot. My contention was that 30 years' denial of access to the hub of film-making for the entire world is, for a top echelon film-maker like Polanski, more than enough punishment to outweigh the few weeks in jail he avoided by skipping town. We seem to so often ignore the good that people do in favour of the bad or the stupid, irrespective of their previous suffering, whether they have atoned for their crime, have been forgiven for it, or have balanced the scales by their efforts in other areas. If I can segue this thought into the current political "debate" (surely only such because the media insists on keeping it alive), the few schools that have complained about the BER stimulus package, for example, generate more noise than the thousands that are delighted with the program. The Coalition would have us throw out the baby with the bathwater. Indeed, they make no distinction between the baby [i]and[/i] the bathwater. Terms such as "complete fiasco", "program in tatters" and the like, based on just a few complaints ignore the overwhelming good that the program has done, both for employment and for education. There are always critics who have an axe to grind, who will only see the negatives. This results in a misinformed population, a too-defensive government and slows progress towards a goal that no-one (if being honest) should genuinely disagree with (especially when they refuse to present an alternative). It would have been quite proper and appropriate for the Coalition to criticise the government's handling of the GFC response without having to condemn the entire process. But they have a vested interest in typifying Labor as "all bad, all the time" on the economy and just about any other issue. Hence we see the oxygen-sucking efforts to paint them as inept with China, pathetic regarding the G20 and dangerous (the latest scare campaign) on Swine Flu vaccinations. I confidently predict that if anyone at all suffers any ill effects from the vaccination (or even suffers symptoms half-plausibly attributable to it) there will be hell to pay. The bad will inevitably be amplified in the interests of phoney "balance", so much that it will be presented as completely outweighing the good that the program achieves. We have already seen the start of this with the Health Minister being interviewed on TV news about possible side-effects from use of the vaccine, despite the fact that this vaccine was developed using the same techniques that are used to develop regular flu vaccines, every year without controversy (certainly without involving the Health Minister caught in the headlights of a beat-up seeking camera crew). The result will be many more people contracting Swine Flu than should be, and some of them dying. For what? Five seconds' worth of outrage in an Akerman or a Bolt blog, another couple of angry epithets flung at "KRudd" and unwarranted fear in our society. When there is no genuine reason for the wowsers among us to fire up their sense of moral outrage, the media will be sure to invent one. It helps us compensate for the sorry states of our own lives by being able to look down upon and condemn others, whether their travails are our business or not.

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30/09/2009BB You’re right, if there are any serious side effects from the swine flu vaccination, or even trivial ones, the MSM will be on to them in the same way as it magnified the few problems in implementing the schools program. I feel quite apprehensive for Nicola Roxon and the Government. Of course the vaccine is only being [i][b]offered[/i][/b]; it is not compulsory. People have a choice. On the other hand, if the vaccine was withheld the media would scream blue murder that Australians were being deprived of ‘a life-saving vaccine’. The most serious side effect is Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a neurological condition causing paralysis, which may be reversible, but sometimes can cause death. A Victorian ex-governor died from it a couple of years ago. Peter Collignon of the ANU has been warning about the side effects of the swine flu vaccine, but says little about the mortality and morbidity it’s preventing. He wants to wait until the effects overseas are ascertained, but as a second wave of swine flu might hit us suddenly, Nicola Roxon’s advisers have advised her to offer the vaccine now. Collignon estimates the incidence of GBS as one in 100,000, but Nicola was quoting one in a million; I don’t know her source. The problem is that there is so little experience with swine flu vaccine. There's a piece in [i]The Washington Post[/i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/29/AR2009092902800.html by a professor from Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health (probably the top public health institution in the US) that talks about the safety of swine flu vaccine. He says [i]“GBS has not been convincingly or consistently linked to any other influenza vaccine before or since. So the link between GBS and influenza vaccines remains controversial but it is a relatively low risk, if any.”[/i] He points out that [i]“Most rigorous studies have suggested there was either a low or no risk of developing GBS after immunization with the 1976 H1N1[/i] [swine flu] [i]vaccine when compared to the general population.”[/i] We have had 36,500 confirmed cases in Australia and 178 have died after contracting swine flu this winter. So the side effects need, as in all therapeutics, to be set against the risk, and the benefits of vaccination. The problem is that as the ones who get side effects can never know if they would have got the illness anyway, it is easy for the media to make the case that the ‘cure is worse than the illness’. As an analogy, all of us could avoid injury and death on the roads but staying perpetually indoors, but we take the risk of travelling on the roads because without that our society would grind to a halt. It’s all a question of risk versus benefit, but don’t expect the media to play it that way.

BH

30/09/2009Love the racing analogies AA and VMax1 and Kevinator sounds so good that you know it will be a winner. The Oppn are looking and sounding desperate on telly lately. The strain is showing - Coonan, Hockey, Morrison, Abbott and ..... where is Turnbull? And no wonder when Swannie seems to be sailing through calmly even when ridiculed by the inconsequential Palmer bloke. (Am I allowed to say I am enjoying watching all this!!) BB - you are entitled to your opinions on any subject. I read it all this morning and you actually made me think a bit harder about Polanski. Doesn't hurt us all to search our preconceived thoughts. And as you say, they really are a good mob over at PB and actually very good at apologising when wRONg. Your experience showed when you doused the thing.

Bushfire Bill

30/09/2009When I used the word "doused" I wasn't implying that I had any proprietorial influence over what PB debates. It wasn't a sort of self-aggrandising "power" statement. It was simply a reflection that it takes two to tango, and that one of them didn't want to dance.

monica

30/09/2009AA and others who visit and post, I think they, the Opposition, truly, really don't know how to be an effective opposition. Their problems are, IMO, added to by Her Maj's Loyal Leader of the Opposition, being a mostly clueless politician. It's a weird thing watching and listening to them. Flogging a moribund horse is certainly one way of seeing them. Headless chooks appeals to me.

Ebenezer

1/10/2009[quote]Eb You’re right; I wonder what odds on the next election the bookies would give us now. [/quote] I just checked at sportingbet. Next Federal Election. ALP $1.30 Coalition $3.25.

Ad astra reply

1/10/2009Eb Thanks. On these matters the bookies are usually right.

Rx

1/10/2009Ebenezer, AA, Talking of betting sites can I suggest the site: way2bet.com.au It compiles, aggregates and compares the odds from a number of the big betting sites. Their 'Elections' section is: http://way2bet.com.au/news/Elections Here's the bookies' odds for the next federal election: http://way2bet.com.au/odds_comparison/18031/19810/42292/Australian+Federal+Election+-+2010-2011

Bushfire Bill

1/10/2009Malcolm's got the whip out, and it'll need more than 18 cuts in the last furlong. My scenario of Turnbull quitting in righteous disgust before the election now moves to odds-on.

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1/10/2009Rx Thanks - good links to add to my favourites. BB This is the first time Malcolm has taken a stand. He will rise or fall by it. By the sound of some of his renegade backbench today, falling looks a more likely option. But with three weeks to go before the final showdown, the marginals might get the wind up and support him. I will be an interesting time.

Michael Cusack

1/10/2009Your analogies have all referred to gallopers, so I will add a trotting flavour. I think it is self evident that the Coalition have got to get into the gig called Policymaking, but they refuse to do so. Why? Many say its because they refuse to believe that the electorate really meant to vote them out at the last election. A terrible mistake was made that would be remedied at the first opportunity. I wonder if a sense of paralysis has entered their system as slowly but remorselessly the realisation that they are electorally doomed filters into the back of their minds. Why bust a gut doing hard yakka on policy development if there is no chance of still being a runner when the work begins to pay off. Most coalition nags will be in cans of Pal before the electoral tide turns!

Sir Ian Crisp

2/10/2009BB, any chance of putting up 6/4 about The Banker administering self-immolation? I'd like to have a few thousand on that outcome but only at 6/4. Hell, 6/4....fancy meeting someone able to divide 6 by 4. The Teachers' Union must be wondering what went wrong in my class. Ad Astra, if you put up a 'Turnbull Walks' topic be careful not to fall into the trap of using language like you did on hairy-chested Fielding (were you channeling one of those nasty, shallow journos when you wrote that piece?). Remember those bloggers' rules? You must do better than Milne et al.

Bushfire Bill

2/10/2009Sir Ian, Turnbull's a pragmatist. I've always said he'd quit when he realises he can't wein over the trogs of the Lib Right, and head for Tuscany. Perhaps his sojurn there just recently reminded him of how pleasant it is to sit back watching grapes grow before sauntering off for an afternoon na[p and a nice pasta dinner in town? Why would you want to try to lead the unleadable when a pleasant time under the Tuscan sun beckons (plus all those millions to spend)?

mick smetafor

2/10/2009agree bb, and as a pragmatist,i reckon he has found a way to get off the lame old nag with dignity.

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2/10/2009Michael Cusack Welcome to [i]The Political Sword[/i]. I think even Malcolm Turnbull might agree with your assessment of the Coalition’s apparent reluctance to develop policy. Today he called those in his party room who want to contribute nothing to the ETS debate, but simply oppose it, irresponsible, reckless and lazy. I think you’re right; some have given up hope of winning the next election, and therefore can’t see any point in busting a gut now to develop policy Sir Ian BB has answered your first comment. Whether Turnbull will self-immolate is a matter of conjecture. Certainly his description today of his opponents, and his portrayal of them this afternoon as ‘smart-arse’, may relieve him of that duty – they may take on the role of enthusiastic flame throwers. Regarding the second comment, I re-read [i]The power of one[/i] about Fielding’s defeat of the alcopops legislation, looking for the ‘channelling’ comments to which you refer. I guess you’re referring to the sentence: “It is not surprising that his reprehensible, stupid and illogical actions have so little support.” I haven’t had any reason to change my views about Fielding’s actions. I hope my language accurately reflects the situation I’m describing, and that the rationale for using it is always clear. mick smetafor Welcome too to [i]The Political Sword[/i]. If Turnbull does ‘get off the nag with dignity’, it will be because for once he has taken a stand against his renegade back bench. His satisfaction rating may rise in Tuesday’s [i]Newspoll[/i], but that won’t help if his backbench prevails, and even if they don’t, how can he effectively lead an Opposition that has so many who are openly contemptuous of him?

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2/10/2009On the Turnbull subject, [i]Crikey's[/i] Bernard Keane in a piece [i]Turnbull's high stake gamble[/i] writes: [quote]"It’s been clear for several weeks that Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership would suffer serious damage if his backbench colleagues knocked back the raft of amendments Ian Macfarlane is preparing for the Government’s CPRS bill. Turnbull’s statement yesterday that it would become a leadership issue if they did so was only a statement of the obvious. "Just to make things crystal-clear, Turnbull said he wouldn’t "lead a party that is not as committed to as effective action on climate change as I am". "Putting aside that he has been leading just such a party for over 12 months, if he had confined his remarks to those, it would have been an aggressive but fairly safe gamble to force recalcitrants into line. "Turnbull isn’t worried his backbench will reject his strategy. He is confident he will convince most of his backbenchers of the implacable logic that rejecting the CPRS amendments would be electoral suicide. By lifting the stakes in the way he did yesterday, he increases the pressure on the holdouts to fall into line. It also enables him to paint a successful partyroom outcome as a major victory, and perhaps a circuit-breaker for a leader mired in months of terrible polls. "And the true recalcitrants are small in number once you ignore the Nationals, who are in denial about climate change, the desire of Australians to address climate change, and the fact that they themselves committed to an ETS before the last election. They were never going to vote for emissions trading of any kind. So who in the Liberal Party is the problem? The same names keep recurring. Wilson Tuckey, who can’t resist a microphone. Corey Bernardi, a right-winger bitter about being sacked by Turnbull for indiscipline. Turncoat Nat Julian McGauran. Outright denialist Dennis Jensen. "As John Hewson put it so aptly this morning in an interview, there are some politicians who prefer being in Opposition, where it’s easier to get a profile, than in Government. But in his language today, Turnbull is changing this argument from one about climate change and electoral tactics to one about his own style and leadership. You can tell from the reaction of some of his colleagues, who started to use terms like "brain snap". "Calling those among his own MPs who refused to fall into line "reckless and irresponsible" and, later, 'anonymous smartarses', is not merely likely to get their backs up -- making negotiation and compromise an ever-more distant outcome -- but will again concentrate everyone’s minds on the way Turnbull does politics. Remember that Government campaign about Turnbull’s judgment? The incessant suggestion, in the aftermath of the Godwin Grech business, that he lacked it? By so aggressively going after a rump of disaffected backbenchers, Turnbull will again prompt even supportive colleagues to wonder if he simply lacks what it takes to succeed at the highest level in politics.[/quote] For the rest go to [i]Crikey[/i] at http://www.crikey.com.au/2009/10/02/malcolm-turnbull-leads-with-his-chin-again/

Austin 3:16

3/10/2009Turbull resigns over his parties inability to deal with the ETS, thus he misses out on leading the conservatives to electoral annihilation at the next election. After the disaster of the next election he again pursues the Liberal leadership.
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?