Australian Political elite’s deliberate dereliction of duty

Australian Political elite’s deliberate dereliction of duty. By Peta Credlin.

As the city of Constantinople was threatened by the Ottoman horde, it’s said, the Byzantine establishment was arguing over the sex of angels. Our country is not under any immediate and direct existential threat, yet there’s an equal lack of seriousness about our policy debate. …

Gary Banks was chairman of the Productivity Commission from its inception in 1998 until 2013. He recently made some comments. Here’s Credlin’s summary:

Banks said Australia was going backwards on energy, industrial relations, tax and government spending, with the public losing confidence in democracy. …

“The monumental bungling of the so-called energy transition”, he said, had seen governments “maximise the cost to the nation of reducing emissions” while evidence-based policy had been abandoned in favour of what he called “simple-minded belief”. So much so, he said, that the 24/7 electricity on which modern life depends had become “an unreliable luxury”.

The basic problem, he said, was that we had become incapable of having a sensible conversation about any serious subject.

On energy in particular, “we are in a situation where it’s become impossible to openly discuss the best way forward”, he said. “Any attempt to use evidence or logic immediately brands you as a ‘denier’.”

In Ukraine, he said, “power stations are destroyed by Russian missiles. In Australia we blow them up ourselves. And we do this without having a way to replace the critical 24/7 service they provide.” And if “that’s not bad enough”, he said, “our governments are making it hard for gas to step into the breach — and are dismissing nuclear out of hand”.

Here’s Banks on workplace policy: “On the one hand, we have been busily eliminating our comparative advantage in energy, while on the other we are reviving our traditional disadvantage with respect to labour.”

And on government spending: “While education spending has gone up a lot, student attainment has gone down, at least by OECD standards. Health spending has continued its upward trajectory, but indicators of performance continue to languish. Then there’s the fiscal sinkhole called the NDIS, a painful lesson about the unintended consequences of policy on the run.”…

“I never thought the sovereign risk issues prevalent in certain Third World or socialist countries would one day afflict my own.”

An elite kept in lockstep by self-policing of dissidents, conforming strictly to their echo chamber, safe from contrary facts:

But here’s the challenge. Is there any contender for government proposing to reverse policy on any of these issues? Essentially, green-left Labor, so unlike the Labor of Bob Hawke and even Paul Keating, is an enthusiast for all this folly. And the Coalition, frightened by focus groups, is not much better. …

In the sense that it’s so out of normal character, it’s the Coalition that’s more culpable for the subsequent drift into policy irresponsibility. If there’s no longer much faith in small government and private wealth creation, that can hardly be the fault of the Labor Party, which never really believed in it, but true Liberals should hang their economic head in shame.

Tony Abbott was the last Coalition prime minister or premier who could be described as an economic reformer, with his scrapping of the carbon and mining taxes, annual red-tape repeal days and free-trade deals with our biggest economic partners.

The elite dismiss opinions or facts presented by non-elite players, because they know such people are uncouth, racist, or just plain stupid. (Hey, if they were clever, they have good government contacts or jobs and believe the dominant paradigm like us.) These people are convinced they have a monopoly on truth and wisdom, and democracy can increasingly get stuffed. And how is elite opinion actually formed? We don’t talk about that.

Competition among the elite used to keep them honest, but now they march in lockstep, afraid to voice an opinion against the herd for fear of being cancelled.