Government Of Crises

…Government By Crises, For The Sake Of Crises

The Abbotts Family

With each passing day we re-discover this is a pretty awful government. Unfortunately it is also joyless and lacking in efficacy so there’s only ridicule and contempt that can be salvaged from their daily misdeeds. Most days I run into Pleiades, he starts off by telling me how awful the Federal Government is, and how unbelievably incompetent they are followed by a description of the latest cock-up. Lately the cock-ups have been getting worse and taken as a whole, starts to deliver a picture of government that is largely without an agenda worth calling an agenda, and a Prime Minister who so believes in his own rhetorical flourishes, he believes it harder than most people would dare to believe in anything.

Here’s Robert Gottliebsen offering up advice to Tony Abbott in the wake of the Holden-closing-announcement. No.1 reads:

1. At the election Tony Abbott did not seek a mandate from the Australian people to close the automotive industry so he has given Bill Shorten a carbon tax-style issue, which will be particularly effective in South Australia and Victoria. If Shorten follows the Abbott popular appeal formula that the Coalition leader used with such devastation against Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, Shorten will achieve similar opinion poll results. Don’t be surprised if those poor Coalition opinion polls cause leadership change speculation in a year or two.

I’m not sure how forcing GM’s hand into closing Holden’s manufacturing in Australia counts under the “no surprises” thing Mr. Abbott promised Australia. I’d be mightily surprised by the turn of events if I were one of Holden’s assembly line workers. I’m sure they were delighted when Tony Abbott offered up the Olympic Dam mine project as a place to seek their next employment, seeing that BHP shelved that one in August 2012.

Pleiades sent me an article from behind the Pay Wall at Crikey where Paddy Manning runs through the inherent contradictions of the Abbott position (if it could even be called that).

The cargo cult mentality surrounding BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine is ridiculous.

Now Prime Minister Tony Abbott seems to be hoping a BHP expansion of the copper/gold/uranium mine will help clean up the damage caused by the government’s bizarre mis-handling of Holden. Abbott told Parliament on Wednesday:
“There is much that we can be hopeful and optimistic about in the resilience of the South Australian economy, particularly if government can do all that is necessary to ensure that the Olympic Dam mine expansion goes ahead.”

If that’s seriously Abbott’s back-up plan, to retrain and redeploy ex-Holden workers in Adelaide at BHP, then nothing could illustrate better that this government is absolutely winging it on the car industry and did not anticipate Holden’s decision yesterday.

It is verging on insulting to Holden’s workers at the doomed Elizabeth plant to tell them they may have a future at a mining project that was shelved in August 2012 after literally years of debate and speculation.

BHP already faced a significant over-expectation problem: in South Australia at least, the $30 billion expansion — which would have converted the underground mine to open-cut, eventually creating the world’s largest hole — was almost expected to cure poverty.

It would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.  The worst part is that the Coalition brought it on themselves by pushing for an answer so hard.

For Holden management, which had been in commercial-in-confidence discussions with the government for months, it was a clear signal that the federal cabinet had turned on the company, and wanted a swift end.

Holden staff members were not the only ones listening in to the ”extraordinary” events unfold in Canberra. So was GMH managing director Mike Devereux.

For weeks Holden management had been fighting a battle over the timing of the announcement regarding the company’s manufacturing operations in Australia.

The facts were simple to Mr Devereux’s masters in Detroit. To them, Australia was suffering a severe case of ”Dutch disease” – an economic malaise by which a mining boom had pushed up the local currency and wages for industrial workers.

Without government assistance, head office in Detroit had decided that making cars in Australia no longer added up – to the tune of $3750 a car per year.

Mike Devereaux is putting out the line that the Government isn’t to blame but what are we to make of this debacle but to sheet home the blame to a pugnacious ideologically laden and pragmatically bereft Federal Government. John Birmingham thinks it’s symptomatic of a government that has no sense for working but delicate issues that demand carefully crafted and nuanced answers. He might be right even, but it doesn’t bode well for the years ahead. The best thing would be for a Double Dissolution to rid ourselves of this mob.

Oh, and they can’t even meet their own pledges on the NBN. Surprise!

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