Friday, May 29, 2009

The Liberal Party slogan: I know you are, but what am I?

The Liberal Party ended the week on a pretty sad note. Their efforts to grill the Government over debt and deficit died a dull death as the Government went into full-on infrastructure photo mode.

In retaliation the Libs pulled out their own props, but like most things they do, they went too far and instead of making a point they just looked childish.

It was so wonderful to start the day off with a laugh as Julie Bishop came out and said:

"I've never seen a prime minister stoop to the sort of silly antics that we saw this week,'' she said.

Mr Rudd was playing with "silly props, and all sorts of antics which were quite demeaning of the office of Prime Minister''.

Former prime minister John Howard set higher standards in question time, Ms Bishop said.
"He was able to promote his policies through his words, through his arguments."

Ah yes Julie, and I guess that wasn't you standing next to Joe Hockey on Thursday trying to unveil the big dumb chart?

Bishop has been reduced to the rich girl in the school yard who has got caught smoking and is complaining that it's not fair " 'cos the other girls were doing it too!"

Note to Julie: you can't take the high road if you're already walking along the ditch.

Then the Liberals thought they had got a great one with revelations during Budget Estimates that people who had died since the end of the last financial year were receiving the stimulus cash payout. The Libs thought this was gold because it apparently demonstrates how wasteful the whole stimulus package was. Never mind that the $14 million that went to dead people is only about 0.175% of the entire $8 billion stimulus package. Nope, in the mind of Malcolm Turnbull that 0.175% meant the whole thing was a sham.

Never mind that the money would be spent by the beneficiaries of the estate (ie still creating stimulus).

But then this great strategy by the Libs all turned to poo when Rudd took a very smart line and pointed out that the Liberals probably shouldn't have so much glee about talking about people who had recently died, and also that since these people had paid tax in 2007-08, they (or their estate) deserved the payment like every other tax payer.

Incidentally this payment to dead people happened in the US as well - you can't avoid it happening if you're doing it through the tax system. I guess Turnbull or Hockey thinks Rudd should have been reading the obituary column in the paper each morning and then getting on the phone to the Tax Commissioner and telling him not send out the payments to those people.

To show how bad the week ended up being, Turnbull today was reduced to saying Rudd was exploiting the grieving families of these dead stimulants. (Yes you read that right, Rudd is exploiting them, not Turnbull, not the Liberals.)

This is a brilliant example of Turnbull's abilities of self delusion.

Here he was in Question Time on Thursday (first question by the way):

Mr TURNBULL (2.19 pm)—My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that in life, it is said, there are only two certainties: death and taxes. Given today’s revelations that this government’s reckless cash splash has resulted in $14 million in cheques being sent out to the dead, isn’t the Prime Minister reminding the Australian people of a third certainty: that Labor can never be trusted with taxpayers’ money?

So Turnbull goes for a laugh, but thinks he's not being disrespectful? How about Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham:

If anybody saw any of the dead out there spending up big at Harvey Norman's or Coles or Woolworths, please let me know.

Did Turnbull pull up Birmingham for that comment? He probably should have because here are some of the responses from relatives of dead people who received the $900:

TALKBACK CALLER, ABC RADIO: My wife had passed away three days earlier, then we received the cheque and we used it to pay for her funeral. I mean, she paid her taxes.

SECOND TALKBACK CALLER, ABC RADIO: My wife passed away about halfway through the financial year, and look, I had no problem spending the $900 supporting my two young boys.

Or how about this in The Age on Friday?

A GRIEVING young widow has lashed out at Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull for attacking the stimulus cash payments to dead people including her late husband and victims of the Black Saturday bushfires.

Wodonga-based widow Jodie Gay, whose husband died four months ago, said she was horrified that Coalition MPs had joked about dead people not being seen out spending the money. She told Seven News she spent the payment on her husband's gravestone and expenses for her daughter.

Oops. So now the Libs are in the position of being criticised by the family members of people who died in the Victorian bushfires.

I think we can say that wasn't quite the reaction they were hoping for.

But then, the Liberals haven't had a coherent or winning strategy for a good 2-3 years, so it was probably a bit much hoping they would come up with two in a week - but it does take some talent to fail at both. And that type of talent, Turnbull and the Liberals have in spades.

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