Dispiriting campaign can’t show us the way forward

Dispiriting campaign can’t show us the way forward, by Greg Sheidan, commenting on the Australian election campaign.

Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten are good men, so it hasn’t featured the vitriol and poison of the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton contest. In Australia, the pure hatred of the social media twitterverse, as bad here as anywhere, has not been adopted by mainstream party leaders. For which much thanks. But in many such trends Australia is often a late adopter rather than an outlier. …

To some extent the Opposition Leader has a program. He wants to revisit the politics of the late 1960s. He wants the state to become much bigger, taxes to get much higher and social spending to go on rising and rising. This is the story all over Western politics at the moment, as one nation after another makes social spending promises to itself that it cannot possibly honour. …

Labor under Shorten has now proposed to take every feeble Coalition mistake and make it much worse. You think the bank tax was makeshift, watch this: we’re going to give government-funded pay rises to any sector we want to bribe, and we’re going to increase taxes, all willy-nilly, on any sector that doesn’t routinely vote for us. …

I wouldn’t vote for Clive Palmer or Pauline Hanson in a pink fit, but they are both less extreme, and less dangerous to the nation, than the Greens. …

1972:

But in truth the Coalition is much the same, only less so. The first federal election campaign I paid close attention to was in 1972, when Gough Whitlam beat Billy McMahon. Leaving the rhetoric aside, Whitlam offered a massive increase in the size of the state and new spending in every direction at an unprecedented rate. McMahon’s response was just to say “me too”, only less so. …

The Whitlam experiment ended in disaster. He was the worst prime minister Australia has had. He produced catastrophic inflation and a massive boost to unemployment; by the last year of his government Australia was travelling so badly that more people left the country to live overseas than came here to join the Australian dream.