Monday, August 17, 2009

On the QT: Billy Brownless and bad draft picks

Last night I was chatting with my Dad about various things AFL, and we cast our minds to some horror draft picks made by the Crows. For any Crows’ fan, when you think bad draft picks you think Laurence Angwin who in 2000 was drafted at Number 7 (still the highest pick the Crows have ever had). He arrived with much fanfare, and then he went on to play a total of zero games for the Crows. He then was picked up by Carlton where he played 4 games before being sacked after turning up to training stoned.

All fans of any footy club would be able to mention at least one “Laurence Angwin” for their club, and yet despite the lottery that is the AFL Draft, each year teams near the bottom of the table will be accused of tanking for priority draft picks. So bad has the Liberal Party been this year that one would be led to believe they are tanking in the interests of getting some priority picks for the next election…. except I’m not sure if that’s how the system works.

Either way, I think in their current leader Malcolm Turnbull, they may have an Angwin. Ok, I don’t expect Turnbull to front up to Question Time having dropped a few tabs of ecstasy beforehand, but he certainly has not lived up to all the fanfare he had when he was drafted from Goldman Sachs. He was put straight into the first 22, and after the Liberals lost the 2007 Grand Final he was thought a chance of being made captain despite his inexperience. After Nelson was found wanting, Turnbull was duly made captain, and the Liberal Party fans thought they had done well with their draft pick – more Chris Judd than Angwin.

Alas, since he has been asked to play in the centre of the park, he has been found rather less talented than what the recruiters thought when he was picked up in the 2004 Draft.

Take today’s Question Time. He had the first question and he asked Rudd about news reports from Saturday’s The Australian that the Henry Tax Review was considering putting a “wealth tax” on homes over $2 million (why this would concern anyone living outside of Point Piper, I’m not sure). Now by Saturday late morning Swan had put out a media release denying the story:

The story published on the front page of today’s Weekend Australian in relation to capital gains tax on family homes is factually incorrect.

There has been no request from the Government to the Australia’s Future Tax System review to model such proposals, we are advised that no such modelling is being carried out by the review, and therefore no recommendation of this sort will be made to us by the panel.

The Government is not considering and will not consider the policy outlined in that article today.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ken Henry, the Secretary of the Treasury, this morning (before Question Time) in a speech to the Australian Industry Group said:

"There's a reference there to us possibly considering applying capital gains tax to the owner occupied house, well, I don't think there was anybody in the country was more shocked to learn about that on Saturday morning than me. It was pure fiction."

So the story had been denied completely by all involved, and yet Turnbull asks a question on it. All it did was allow Rudd to note that Turnbull has been known to have some “historic connections” with people in Treasury, and then repeat the denials. It was the ultimate free kick for Rudd, who doesn’t need any help at the moment.

Later, Turnbull obviously thought the ALP wasn’t in front by enough, and decided to ask Rudd a virtual Dorothy Dixer on prices and interest rates. Now given that since the 07 election, interest rates have gone through the floor, and inflation has gone down due to the global financial crisis, it was an amazingly asinine question, that pretty much let Rudd talk about everything and anything he wanted to on the economy – cue “10 interest rate rises under Howard” etc etc etc (you know the script). In footy terms it was like Turnbull had kicked across his own goal and found the opposition full forward 10 metres out, straight in front.

The Government had a pretty fun day – Garrett was looking pretty loose and came up with a nice line about the current Liberal Party going so far to the right on environmental issues that they were making John Howard look like Al Gore; Kate Ellis, in one of her few non-Dorothy Dix moments at the dispatch box, slapped down Sophie Mirabella so nicely that Bronwyn Bishop felt the need to make a pointless point of order just to give some relief.

Lindsay Tanner had the most fun (as he often does) when Joe Hockey asked him a question based on something he had previously said about negative gearing. Tanner pointed out what Hockey had failed to mention, namely that he was quoting something Tanner had said 15 years ago. Tanner had no problems in saying he no longer stood by those statements, and added for good measure that if that was the best the Liberal Party had, then he would be sleeping very well tonight. He also decided that it was as good a time as any to put the knife into Hockey’s future leadership ambitions by referring to him as the Billy Brownless of the Liberal Party – a jovial type, but not one who you would trust with the leadership.

At this point I’m not sure who comes off worst by the comparison – Billy or Joe – Brownless played some good games for Geelong and certainly was no mug as a player, much as is the case with Hockey. But there is one fact that as a mad AFL fan Tanner would be aware – Brownless played in four grand finals with Geelong and never won any of them. At the rate this Liberal Party is going, losing four elections is not out of the question – and you can bet Rudd, Tanner, Gillard and co are already thinking in such terms – after all Rudd is a Brisbane Lions supporter so he knows about stringing a few Premierships in a row.

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