Credlin and Keneally: 5 November 2017
Peta Credlin: Good evening and welcome to Credlin and Keneally. I'm Peta Credlin
Kristina Keneally: And I'm Kristina Keneally.
PC: Well, we've had an interesting development in what has otherwise been a fairly uneventful couple of sitting weeks in the federal Parliament. The Government has put forward legislation to finalise the Master Plan for Higher Education into the Senate, and we had Senate Estimates last week. We've seen the High Court show its authority over the Native Title Court as well with a challenge by mining magnate and One Nation MP Andrew "Twiggy" Kligenberg, striking down a previous ruling that mining companies must both pay for rights to mining and fork over some profits on aboriginal land.
KK: A rubbish ruling if you ask me....
PC: Oh, Kristina! We haven't even gotten out the Government's plan for unifying public hospitals under the federal government falling short within the party room, so it's being scrapped for the standard left message of "securing Medicare with more funds and promoting harmonisation between the states and territories". News flash...they're already harmonised.
KK: Well, that is true. I think Mrs. Clinton wanted to have the data and profiles for patient care harmonised across Australia, and in a way she's right. The Medicare Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has proven effective. The 2% levy on income has paid for the programme full-stop, and it has allowed people who need prescriptions across the country to have free access to them with a prescription.
PC: It's going to be a cracker of an episode, and the first topic we have up is the Government and its economic management.
KK: 1) Is Clinton solidifying consensus behind liberal economic values across the political spectrum?
PC: This is a good question. The Prime Minister has largely continued the ideas of the National Party's previous government in terms of economic growth and stability. Unlike the Labor Party, this Government in the hands of Hillary Clinton and Treasurer Jim Chalmers have decided to cut corporation tax, which will be announced in the new November budget. That's another reform, actually, that the Government is doing. They are putting out a budget a couple of weeks after Senate Estimates, which means that the May budget is dead. May will now be the economic forecast and a kind of a mini budget. Particularly since the fiscal year begins in April, so announcing the next year's budget in Q3 makes sense.
KK: I think she is showing a lot of prudence. The faction of the Labor Party that I come from, the New South Wales Right governed the state with a strong sense of keeping taxes under control, promoting small businesses and fighting for equality in the workplace and better outcomes for workers. The Progressive Alliance very much fits in that mould of economic governance, and the more left federal Labor Party joining them in government definitely raised eyebrows. I would have thought that when forming a coalition, the Progressives would have snagged the ACP (Australian Centre Party) as a formal partner. Yes, there would have been less MPs on the Government side, but they could have secured a confidence and supply deal with federal Labor. I doubt Kevin Rudd would have preferred a Tony Abbot-Pauline Hanson minority Government that would have still been a minority government and would have sent everyone back to an election if the budget failed...
PC: I'm not so sure about that. NIck Xenophon, the former leader at the ACP, was a deal maker and his policies lined up a little closer to the National Party than to the Progressives, and certainly far from the Labor Party. I think the Progressives wanted to unite the left and moderate its tendencies, which could mean that the Gillard-Plibersek led Labor Left would fall out of favour and open the door for the Bill Shortens and Kevin Rudds of the world to tighten their grip on the Labor Party. It's a smart move by Clinton because she is both co-opting the Labor Right while trying to expand her party's base and appeal to Labor voters, turning them into solid Progressive voters for later decades.
KK: Peta...does that mean you're starting to back Clinton?
PC: As much as she has stolen Malcolm Turnbull's playbook of economic management, no. I still think that Hillary Clinton is shady and I think her social agenda is wrong for Australia, but her economic management is not to be messed with. I think the current Government would get returned at the next federal election, and if I were Clinton, I'd be eyeing next year for a snap general election to increase her party's numbers and get more latitude to potentially form a minority government with only confidence and supply from Labor. That would allow her to totally run Australia as how she wants, and not be beholden to the left-wing of the Labor Party. Hopefully, though, the Contract with Australia cuts through.
KK: And that comment leads us to our next segment. 2) Does the Contract with Australia signal a lurch to the left of the National Party?
PC: Yes. Though there are several conservative ideas in there that I think will offer a good picture of an alternative Government-in-waiting.
KK: Oh, come on...
PC: Yes, Kristina! Now, I know you are in love with Hillary Clinton's policies right now and are 100% behind the Progressive-Labor coalition. However, A solid 46% of voters wanted the right to be in charge of Australia. The Progressives and Labor put together are at 49%, if we go by the numbers of the last federal election, which ostensibly means that if we took out swing voters that went to the Government, there's about 45-46%. It's closer than the polls suggest. Yes, the Progressives are up 36-28 right now, and yes Labor is solid at 19%. But I think the National Party and One Nation are making key inroads in the cities, where the Progressives are strong and this Contract is the basis on which they can go to the metropolitan areas of the country and say "we can make your life better than Clinton".
KK: But can they, and is there an appetite for social conservatism? As you already said, the Government right now is managing the economy well. They're innovating, getting more capital out there for small business via the Public-Private Investment Bank, she's providing for more investment in infrastructure and encouraging states and other entities to do so with the Public Investment Bank. She's unlocked $500 billion of capital between the two that will allow for the economy to grow. The Prime Minister and the Government have done so much to help the middle class.
PC: They also put out a controversial Native Title Court that has now polarised the indigenous Australians by coming to a ruling that the Indigenous Advisory Council did not endorse, then it polarised regional Australia and the middle class with the same Native Title Court with the same ruling. That's a huge slice of the Progressive and Labor core that seemed irritated with this.
KK: Okay, and Malcolm Turnbull irritated his supporters by continuing the spend money on the NBN Co. even though the ALP under Rudd-Gillard came up with the idea. Doesn't mean that the idea wasn't right to act on in the first place.
PC: Kristina, you can say that all you want but Malcolm Turnbull never alienated people like this. Yes, I know he was a one term Prime Minister, second in a row which is rare. But this is a special time. People are more likely to react strongly to a negative news cycle now and the polls are not the end all be all. The people I've talked to as an adviser to the Leader of the Opposition have been strongly supporting Tony Abbott's opposition to Hillary Clinton. Let's not even get into the scandal with the emails. I don't think we've heard the last of that.
KK: Now it's the emails. You know, Peta. I'd tell you not to peddle right-wing conspiracy theories about the Prime Minister, but then I realise that's your job as Tony Abbott's man in the media.
PC: Ah! There we go! See if you can spot the lefty loonie in the room! Accusing people of conspiracy theories when the facts and truth don't go there way.
KK: The truth is that Hillary Clinton is Prime Minister and she'll continue to be Prime Minister for at least a second term, she'll be the longest serving Prime Minister since John Howard and the right of Australia will have to come to terms with the fact that this brand of economic centrism and social liberalism is a potent combination for years to come and they'll have to come back to the centre....
PC: And with that, we'll take a short break.