GREG RAY: Liberal dose for cronies

The way Tony’s going, it will only take another couple of stuff-ups to put him so far on the nose that not even Uncle Rupert will be able to keep dressing him up like a hero.IT’S a bit funny, in a way, watching senior Libs pumping out off-the-record briefings to the Press, explaining that all the dumb ideas the federal government keeps coming up with are entirely the Prime Minister’s.
Wuxi Plastic Surgery

One minute the government is never going to back down on its Medicare attack. Next minute the alleged ‘‘reforms’’ are off the table.

One minute the government is determined to turn Australia’s universities into a laissez-faire corporate free-for-all. Next minute it’s willing to compromise.

Now the government has moved on to welfare (cough, cough) ‘‘reform’’, with hard man Scott Morrison declaring war on rorters. Unless they wear white collars.

And to ‘‘tax reform’’, with the government’s de facto policy greenhouse, the Business Council of Australia, lining up with its transnational members like Rio Tinto to promote the idea of hammering ordinary folk harder to make up the revenue shortfall caused by corporate tax dodging.

And, happy days, to industrial relations ‘‘reform’’ where the usual suspects are demanding the usual things: lower wages for mug punters, fewer legislative protections for mug punters and more ice-cream for fat cats.

Oh, and don’t forget superannuation. It needs reform too. The big banks that own a vast chunk of the industry and have demonstrated in scandal after scandal how trustworthy they really are, want the government to make life miserable for industry super funds, because they have trade union representatives on their boards.

Nothing to do with the fact that bank-owned products rip so many fees out of their account-holders that their market performance looks bad compared to industry funds.

All this government seems to do is try its butt off to deliver everything on the wish-lists of its corporate sponsors. Big banks, big mining companies, big whatever.

Abbott is busting himself to bits trying to deliver for the corporate cronies. Every time he charges another brick wall and falls down dazed, his own ministers shake their heads and look at the ground, embarrassed.

His mates in the financial press blame the Senate. Bad senators! How dare they not just step out of the way and let Australia get shoved down discredited US-style pathways in healthcare and tertiary education?

But for once the smug corporate propaganda isn’t working, not least because most voters, even dyed-blue Libs who’d die in a ditch rather than ever be seen voting for anything other than the party of the upper crust, can’t see any sense in much of what Abbott is killing himself trying to do.

Australia doesn’t need a Margaret Thatcher in tight red underpants right now. It just needs a competent administrator with a bit of goodwill and decency. Somebody who doesn’t only stand for a narrow elite.

It’s hard to see anybody who could fit that description in either of the big parties at present, but you never know, I suppose. Anyway, the way Tony’s going, it will only take another couple of stuff-ups to put him so far on the nose that not even Uncle Rupert will be able to keep dressing him up like a hero.

Who’s next in line? Scott Morrison? That would be good for Labor. Malcolm Turnbull? Could the Coalition hard men get that desperate? I doubt it.

Julie Bishop? Worth watching, ever since the foreign minister reportedly ‘‘went bananas’’ at the PM in December, having found out that she was going to be compulsorily chaperoned at the United Nations conference on climate change.

Apparently the government was worried she might depart from the script laid down by the mining companies. The one that says coal is always the answer and that renewable energy is the work of the devil. I don’t think she did depart from the script, so that worked out OK.

This week Bishop was in Washington at a business conference where she came out with the remark that if some transnational corporations stopped evading tax in the countries where they actually made most of their money, those robbed countries wouldn’t need to put their hands out for overseas aid.

She figured that the tax evaded by the big corporates from the affected countries could be up to $US160billion a year, more than the $US135billion in global foreign aid transfers.

Is she pitching for a job, or what?