Who is the culprit?

When you reflect on the dilapidated state of federal politics; when you question how on earth we have become encumbered with so many appalling policies, do you ever ask: 'Why is it so?'

I do often. And when I do, one culprit emerges over and again. Who is it?  

Who in this motley collection is the culprit? Who is responsible for these policy calamities?

You be the judge. It's not a big challenge for the politically astute, but it might be revealing for the casual political observer.

Let's look at just a handful of policy catastrophes that afflict us still.

Consider global warming
Leaving aside the uninformed utterances of our new One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts and all the other climate deniers, there is strong consensus among thousands of climate scientists that the planet is warming inexorably towards levels dangerous to life on earth, which if not curtailed will become irreversible. A majority of ordinary people believe this to be true, and want something purposeful and effective to be done about it. So what is being done?

All our government is doing is implementing its so-called 'Direct Action Plan'. No environmental scientist or economist worth their salt can demonstrate that it is working, or even can work. It's a dud. Since Labor's 'carbon tax' was repealed and the DAP began, carbon emissions, which had begun to fall, are now rising again. Forget all Greg Hunt's talk about Australia 'meeting and beating' its emission targets, and Josh Frydenberg's reiteration of it. Emissions are increasing. We are not pulling our weight as global citizens. We are frauds in the climate change world.

Why is it so?

Who was it who thwarted the move towards an Emissions Trading Scheme that PM Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull had agreed upon? Who used this nascent agreement to upend Turnbull and take his position? You know. Who used the repeal of the 'toxic carbon tax' as a powerful weapon in gaining power. You know.

Have you reflected upon how destructive a move this was, one that left this nation far behind comparable countries, one that made us a pariah? We have never recovered from that, and never will while we have no ETS.

Turnbull lost his leadership over this, and even today clings to it by a thread, obliged as he is by his deal with the conservative clique in his party to make no change to climate change policy. But he was not the culprit. He did not dream up the DAP; he supports it now only to save his skin. It was he who boldly said he would not lead a government that did not take effective action to combat global warming. His support for the DAP is insincere. It puts the lie to his previous pro-ETS utterances. It belittles him. You know who the culprit is in this sorry tale of missed opportunities and ineffective action.

Of all the misdemeanours of our prime culprit, this is the most egregious. It is quite the most dangerous. It is shameful. You know who the culprit is.

Consider the National Broadband Network

It is a strange coincidence that our prime culprit and our current PM were also the players in this sorry saga. Labor proposed a fibre-to-the-premises NBN that experts around the world acknowledge is the ideal model, one that would give the best results and provide this nation with an enduring position in the communications world, and a competitive advantage over those nations with inferior models.

You will have no difficulty recalling who instructed the then Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to 'demolish the NBN'. Demolition was his modus operandi. Anything Labor did must be demolished irrespective of whether it was in our national interest to keep it. Turnbull must have been horrified. His reaction was to create a hybrid, multi-technology model with a substandard compromise of fibre-to-the-node on the street corner with ageing copper wire to the premises. Turnbull knew this was an inferior model, but at least it was better than demolition. So we are now stuck with a model that will leave this nation well behind in the world of communications and uncompetitive, just when our PM tells us that we must be innovative so that we can be globally competitive.

It is shameful that this has occurred for no other reason than our prime culprit regarded anything Labor created was anathema, and therefore must be destroyed. It is shameful too that tech-head Turnbull now vigorously but unconvincingly defends the Coalition's NBN. He knows it will be inferior, probably will cost the same as Labor's, and might be no faster in rollout. Turnbull has sold us another pup with his FTTN NBN. But there is no gainsaying who is the prime culprit in this lamentable saga. But for him we could have had the best, but now we are stuck with second-best or worse. All the talk about the excessive costs and slow rollout of Labor's model has turned out to be bunk. Now Turnbull is trying to convince us that users don't want the fast speeds Labor's FTTP guaranteed. Has he checked whether businessmen want and need very fast speeds to be competitive?

Our prime culprit has inflicted on our nation yet another destructive decision born of adversarial hatred of anything his opponents proposed to do. You know who he is.

Consider marriage equality

We all know our prime culprit does not support same sex marriage, no matter what he says. So, knowing there was clamour from the community to introduce marriage equality to reverse the Howard government's 2004 insertion of 'between a man and a woman' into the Marriage Act, done so subtly by a simple parliamentary vote, our prime culprit sought to thwart attempts to change the Act by insisting it be put to a plebiscite after the recent election.

He knew a plebiscite would delay a decision; he knew that he could obscure the matter by allowing lots of time for debate and argument 'from both sides'. He is ideologically opposed; same sex marriage is contrary to his religious beliefs. He does not want it, although the community does. He hopes that by fostering debate religious groups can cast doubts in the minds of voters. He knows that doubt is a potent element in any public vote, be it referendum or plebiscite.

He knows that if his allies in opposing marriage equality, prominent among whom is the so-called but unrepresentative Australian Christian Lobby with its persuasive spokesman Lyle Shelton, are given a chance to spread misinformation, fear and doubt, even bigoted views, it might engender a 'No' vote in the plebiscite. He is devious, cunning and ruthless. His conservative supporters have locked PM Turnbull into supporting the plebiscite, although Turnbull himself supports marriage equality.

If the plebiscite fails to reach a majority in favour of marriage equality, just one prime culprit will be responsible.

Now think about income and wealth inequality

You don't hear Liberals talking about inequality - they accept it as the normal state of affairs. There have always been the Lords and the Ladies and the Serfs to bow before them. Driven by their entrenched neoliberal belief in the power and wisdom of markets, they cling tenaciously to the long-discredited theory of supply-side economics, colloquially known as 'trickle down' economics, which posits that tax cuts given to the top end of town trickle down as benefits to the workers in the form of more jobs and better pay. It's bunk, but advocates recite this belief like a catechism mindlessly repeated during worship.

All the evidence is that inequality is increasing in this country. It has been for years. It shows no sign of lessening. The construction of the 2014 Budget made inequality even worse. Neo-liberals don't acknowledge this; neither do they care about it.

Who is the culprit?

Some may identify Joe Hockey, or his successor, Scott Morrison, but think about who put them up to their budgetary strategy. The 2014 Budget was not Hockey's; the punitive attack on the less well off was authorised and endorsed by our prime culprit. He was the one who was prepared to punish the poor. Even his supporters acknowledged that the Budget was unfair, the most unfair in many years, and that those who had the least were targeted for the most punishment. Why is our prime culprit so mean?

To add insult to injury, the Coalition now proposes to give generous tax cuts to businesses. This includes the banks and wealthy international companies, many of whom pay little or no tax anyway.

The budgetary assault on the less well off and the attack on Hockey's 'leaners' are shameful, and equally the handouts to the well off are obscene.

So who is the culprit?

We know that there are a few good politicians, many mediocre ones, several poor ones, and an occasional lamentable one. This piece argues that there is one person, just one, who has inflicted on the Australian public a succession of appalling policies, just four of which I have outlined. His egregious actions have diminished us as a nation.

He has made us a pariah in the world of climate change action. He has thrust upon us an inferior broadband network that will curtail our competitiveness. He has manipulated the debate about marriage equality to diminish its chances of becoming law despite the public's wish that it be so. He has accepted inequality as the norm in our society and has sought to make it worse.

Can you think of a single politician who has inflicted so much destruction, so much damage on our society? Can you identify a meaner person whose adversarial nature has caused so much harm?

Yet he still hovers in the background like a ghost of things past, quietly, subtly eroding confidence in his successor, hoping for another opportunity to wreak havoc once more upon our lucky country.

You know who the culprit is.

If you are still scratching your head, click here!

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25/09/2016Nailed it but the rest are just as complicit

John Herring

25/09/2016Nailed it perfectly and it also proves that the person who took his place has the same policies even though most he would not have wanted at all. They will both go down as pariahs in socoety and history will prove this.

Mark Metcalf

25/09/2016Tell Rhinos markets know best....


25/09/2016They threw up Abbott and Turnbull whose policies are practically identical. Only the quirks of these leaders differ. It's the interests that control the party, not the party itself, and certainly not one leader rather than another.

David Stanley

25/09/2016You've identified the actor, but not the scriptwriter. Cui bono?


25/09/2016thanks to Tony Abbott I have had my inner activist awoken. His attack dog behaviour as LOTO and his utter disrespect for then PM Julia Gillard was gob smackingly appalling. He trashed the highest office in our great nation. Gillards misogyny speech sums abbott up perfectly. He has single handedly destroyed the politics of our time and it will take great strength and a lot of time to recover. He and his cohort of nut-jobs are not relevant for 21st century Australia yet there they are niggling irritants destroying the fair-go Australia we all love ... *sigh*


25/09/2016I agree completely with Alphonse. The main "culprit" is just a hired thug, like the rest of the party. The "hirers" try to stay out of sight.


25/09/2016I was wondering how to disagree with the basic thrust of this otherwise worthwhile article without appearing to be pedantic and nit picking - how to present what I see as the real culprit and not Tony Abbott - or whoever. So I went off and did other things for a few hours and when I returned there was my cue -from Stanley. And I would like to extend his analogy - hopefully he would agree, Tony is just a bit player, an actor - and in the words of Alfred Hitchcock , 'actors are just cattle' whose role is to utter lines written by others and be shuffled around in front of a camera by the real creators. Such as Stanley's script writer, the director, the camera man [sic] and probably most importantly [after all they are the ones who actually receive the Oscar for "Best Picture] the producers. So who do these roles correspond to in the scenario above? Well the producers are the 'powers-that-be', the vested interests, Stanley's "Cui bono". In recent years in Oz they are exemplified by small,in numbers, but powerful elites such as the IPA, BCA, MCA , the Board of the RBA ,and a stack of other loveable TLAs excluding [?] those signifying unions - lets use shorthand jargon and call them 'capitalists' or the '1%' or the 'social elite'. They run the show, not directly but essentially. The current star director, the bridge between the producers, and he is also a member of that group [dare I say 'class'] also, is Rupert. Lesser counterparts abound in lesser productions - the head of the ABC Michelle Guthrie for example. I'll let you figure out who fills the rest of the roles and leave you with this. Actors come - and go. They have their day. If they get rave reviews and pull audiences they will get another film. If they flop ...well there are plenty of actors out there, sack this one, get another - the stand-in, the understudy who goes on when the star falls over.. But the show will go on with or without the old faces. And us, the paying public, the audience, the workers, our job is to buy tickets and clap?

Mortalised Spirit

25/09/2016White colonial capitalism

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25/09/2016Folks Firstly, welcome to those of you who are new commenters on TPS. Do come again. I enjoyed reading all your comments. It is easy to agree with the proposition that our prime suspect is after all just a bit player, an actor, the hired thug of the big boys: the top end of town, the coal and mining barons, and of course the tabloid king, Rupert Murdoch. That proposition renders him insignificant in the grand scheme of Australian politics. The legacy he has left us is lamentable. History will not be kind to him.

Max Gross

26/09/2016Yes, we know, and there he still is, Bluffman, skulking like a serial killer unable to leave the scene of his crimes. But when you refer to "the conservative clique in his party" you seem to suggest that their are non-conservative elements within it. Surely you know that the "Liberal" party is not only conservative to the core but, these days, an extremist ideological wasps nest of nutters, crooks and happy clappers!.


26/09/2016The prime culprit expressed his credentials in the lead up to the defeat of Howard in 2007, declaring openly upon realising the demise of the then Howard government , that the only two positions in opposition suitable for himself were as Opposition leader or shadow Treasurer. Anything else would be a demotion. No more single minded, self centred career politician have we experienced, blinded by an inability to accept any views beyond those offered by his puppeteers and userers, a relic of the dictatorial Catholic Church from a time past and devoid of integrity. A bully by nature, allowed to run unfettered by a cowering Liberal party, learning nothing from Howard's betrayal of workers, unable to declare citizen credentials and the destroyer a massive majority while PM, the culprit continues to sulk around the House, reverting to the spoiler tactics familiar for all to see. The culprit has stymied and retarded the best interests of a nation. The true indication of this person is his inability to find a role outside of politics and his intention to impose himself further.


26/09/2016I agree with everything you have written but why are people, silly people still voting for the conservative parties. Are they like my friend who voted for Malcolm because he looked like a leader. Malcolm has proven himself to be spineless and weak and no leader. Only out for himself and power.

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26/09/2016Thank you folks for your further comments. Apropos climate change did you see the article in [i]The Conversation[/i] this morning, which began: "[i]Public support for action on climate change is rebounding despite political uncertainty, according to survey results released today by The Climate Institute. According to the poll, 65% of Australians think the nation should take a leadership position and 77% agree that climate change is happening, up from 70% in 2015. The Climate Institute’s chief executive, John Connor, said that “public support on renewable energy and climate change is the strongest it’s been since 2008”.[/i] Despite our prime culprit's culpability on climate change, the public is waking up to the charade the LNP is enacting, and reacting against it's ineffective response. You can't fool the people indefinitely! Here's the link to the article: https://theconversation.com/public-support-for-climate-action-on-the-up-after-dark-days-climate-institute-survey-65942?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%2026%202016%20-%205669&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20September%2026%202016%20-%205669+CID_1938f6b5e01c8ee77f83002da0cf5c91&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Public%20support%20for%20climate%20action%20on%20the%20up%20after%20dark%20days%20Climate%20Institute%20survey


27/09/2016When will Australians wake up and stop voting against their best interests? The 1% will always vote for the mob that we currently have in government due to self interest but what I can't figure out is where the other 49 plus% comes from. Poor fellow my country.

Lawry Roberts

29/09/2016Not really true. Its the adversarial nature of The Westminster System that's the problem and too many career politicians who come from the legal profession. Both major partys' are oxymoronic; The Liberals are not and Labor seldom have though The Greens, in the old fashioned sense of the word, most certainly are.
T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?