Home truths needed for befuddled voters

Home truths needed for befuddled voters


Opinion
Peter Austin says the country know exactly what a Bill Shorten led Labor government will do once elected to office, having shared their plans for years.

Peter Austin says the country know exactly what a Bill Shorten led Labor government will do once elected to office, having shared their plans for years.

Aa

Peter Austin says the country know exactly what a Bill Shorten led Labor government will do once elected to office, having shared their plans for years.

Aa

The federal election campaign, as I write this, is only a little over a week old, and yet it seems like at least a month already. Almost four more weeks of argy-bargy, claim and counter-claim lie ahead.

In many ways I liken this election, in its seriousness, and potential impact on the nation, to the 1972 election when Gough Whitlam stormed into office, ousting the hapless Billy McMahon.

The big difference is that in 1972, nobody knew much about the incoming Whitlam government's policy agenda, except that it would have broad socialistic overtones. We had to wait and see how it unfolded, largely as an exercise in policy-making on the run.

This time, it's very different. We know exactly what a Shorten Labor government would do once elected to office; he and his front-bench team have been sharing their plans with us for years.

We know, therefore, that a Shorten Labor government would implement a nation-changing program that redistributed wealth on a vast scale and locked us into a carbon emissions reduction regime that would decimate Australian industry.

The real danger is that once installed in office, the next Labor government could prove extremely difficult to remove, because its policies would expand its "client" base to the point where it became electorally entrenched.

Many voters, I suspect, are confused by ongoing debate about the two major parties' policies, especially those relating to taxation and energy, and are looking for clearer guidance on what the future holds.

In my view, Scott Morrison therefore needs to cut through the argy-bargy that has characterised the campaign so far, find clear air and spell out some key messages.

Foremost among these must be the likely cost to the nation of Labor's emissions target, which according to modelling by former ABARES boss Brian Fisher would result in 340,000 job losses by 2030.

Further examples - in language ordinary voters can understand - have been cited in recent weeks by former Nats senator Ron Boswell, such as the likely impacts on agriculture and transport.

And we needn't imagine the only casualties of Labor's emissions target will be big-ticket energy users like aluminium smelters: think also abattoirs, fertiliser plants, stockfeed mills, cotton gins and a host of regionally-based food processing industries.

Morrison needs to announce some new policy initiatives that sharpen the Coalition's differences from Labor. One could be a (long overdue) commitment to explore nuclear power, and another a serious investigation of a north-south water transfer scheme to bolster the overtaxed Murray-Darling system. This country has ample resources for our needs, if only we chose to harness them. But if the Greens have their way - and with Labor in power, they well might - our resources will be as good as mothballed.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by