Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Missed today’s Question Time? Don’t worry if you saw yesterday’s, you saw today’s (minus two sprigs of wattle worn by Rudd and Turnbull).

Yesterday the opposition asked about the Henry Tax Review recommending to the Government bringing in a tax on houses over $2m on the basis of a report in The Australian. They did it again today. Yesterday the Government said the article was fiction; they did again today.

Yesterday the opposition then asked about the Henry Review recommending tax increases on any old tax they could think of; they did it again today. Yesterday the Government ruled nothing in or out, but instead said Australia needed a “root and branch” tax review; they did again today.

Yesterday the opposition quoted something Lindsay Tanner had said about negative gearing 15 years ago; he laughed at them. Today they asked Swan about something Tanner had said 15 years ago on negative gearing; today Swan laughed at them.

It was a dumb day really. The opposition asked its first eight questions to Swan, but it was actually the same questions asked eight times. But it wasn’t a case of Swan squirming away; in fact his first response to Turnbull was pretty strong. By the end Swan could hardly be bothered and he gave Truss a one sentence response to a question on if the Government would rule out an increase on fuel excise. I guess the Liberal Party will now put out a string of media releases claiming the Government is secretly planning to raise every tax in the land and invent some new ones as well. Sigh. It’s all so old and dull. The Liberal Party has been trying to scare the voters about ALP taxes since Menzies’ day. It’s an old dodge that doesn’t work very well when the ALP is in power, because it is hard to scare the voters about a Government that is already the Government. The public has seen Rudd for nearly three years now; they may think many things about him, but scary is not one of them.

The Government as well kept to a pretty straight theme – attacking Turnbull’s judgement. Expect this to be the case from now till election day – when you’ve got around 60% of the voters thinking Turnbull is doing a bad job, it’s obvious the ALP will continue to keep pointing out his perceived faults. And it’ll probably work – people generally agree with their own opinions, the trouble with the Opposition is they have to convince the voters that what they think about Rudd is wrong; a much tougher ask.

The one interesting question of the day was from Julie Bishop who was trying to get Stephen Smith to admit that China is annoyed with Australia granting a visa to Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer. Smith got up and pretty much admitted that China is well and truly pissed off with Australia; and yet Bishop – dopey as it gets – kept trying to make a point of order. Did she listen to what he was saying? Did she understand it?

Bizarrely the next question from the Liberals was to Peter Garrett arguing that the Government's policy on ceiling insulation was encouraging the importation of inferior “cheap, Chinese pink bats”. Just how that was supposed to help the Sino-Aussie relationship, I’m not sure.

And just how the whole China kerfuffle fits in with the story that China has just agreed to buy $50b worth of liquefied natural gas is also something I’m not sure of. Perhaps it seems that foreign affairs is a bit more complicated than Julie Bishop would like.

And the sprigs of wattle? They were worn by Rudd and Turnbull (and oddly only Rudd and Turnbull) to commemorate Vietnam Veterans' Day. Turnbull’s was a particularly large sprig that gave him the edge over Rudd in the fauna stakes; though perhaps sprigs of wattle are like some men's cars, the size of which is an attempt to make up for things lacking elsewhere… perhaps when Turnbull actually comes up with a policy he'll be less worried about the size of his wattle.

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